The Dinner Party on WUNC

Sat 4p
  • Hosted by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano

This program's final broadcast on WUNC was November 26, 2017. This page remains here as an archive.

The Dinner Party is a culture show designed to help you dazzle your friends at your next social gathering. Launched as a podcast in 2010, The Dinner Party is beloved by audiences for its spontaneity, thoughtfulness and exuberance. The show was lauded by Wallpaper magazine as one of the “Top 40 Reasons to Live in America” and hosts Gagliano and Newnam were named to Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” list.

Hosts Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano
Credit APM

What happened to your WUNC coffee mug, Rico?
Credit APM

The show unfolds like a dinner party, kicking off with “The Icebreaker”— a joke to warm things up. Next comes “Small Talk,” in which top print and online journalists from around the country share their favorite odd news story of the week.  The “Cocktails” portion of the show features a true tale from this week in history with a handcrafted cocktail recipe themed after that it.

Later, we usually “Eavesdrop” on an author reading from a hot new release or answer listeners’ burning etiquette questions. The marquee segment of the show is the “Guest of Honor,” in which hosts Gagliano and Newnam interview some of the most fascinating celebrities in the world and routinely get them to talk about the most unexpected, dinner-party-worthy subjects.


Quilt Gives Us New Slang and Chill Party Vibes

Mar 25, 2016

We caught up with the four members of the band Quilt a few weeks back at Marfa Myths — an arts and culture festival co-sponsored by their record label, Mexican Summer. Quilt have a new album out called “Plaza.” Here they are with a playlist to chill by.

Quilt: We are the band Quilt and this is our dinner party soundtrack.

The Beach Boys – “Vegetables”

Peanut Precursor Is Not Extinct, But Alive In Andes

Mar 25, 2016
Javier, Carla

Lopez, Kristina

Daniel Clowes got his start in the ’80s, drawing comics for Cracked magazine. And he went on to become probably the most respected graphic novelist in America.

His blend of humor, horror, realism and surrealism has won him over a dozen Eisner and Harvey Awards… and he earned an Oscar nomination for adapting his comic “Ghost World” for the big screen.

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave and here to answer them is, once again, Cameron Esposito. We talked to her earlier in the show about her new comedy special “Marriage Material.”

Cameron, you ready to take on these questions?

Cameron Esposito: Yes I am.

Going in for a hug and getting a handshake instead

340: Jeff Nichols, Lauren Weedman, Tindersticks

Mar 18, 2016

Southern filmmaker Jeff Nichols (“Mud,” the new “Midnight Special”) brings sci-fi down to earth, then offers up some pearls of wisdom… One of the art world’s bright lights, Dan Colen, muses on his new visions– part-Disney, part-J.M.W. Turner… Scene-stealer and storyteller Lauren Weedman tells a tale of moms and “Miss Fortune”… We recall the day when Niagara did not Fall… Stuart Staples (of Tindersticks) spins a soundtrack that’s easygoing and elegiac… And we check the hype on the (deep breath!) scotch shortage. Plus, advice with “Ask Polly,” & a new breed of biker-rebel.

Lopez, Kristina

If you believe news stories that have been flying around for the last few months… the world’s in the midst of a whiskey shortage. Especially of very old Scotch.

Lopez, Kristina

This week, Rico interviewed Reid Mitenbuler, author of “Bourbon Empire,” about his skepticism of recent reports that claim there’s a whiskey shortage on the horizon. What didn’t make the final cut from his chat with Rico is this list of great, but cheap(er) Scotch and whiskey brands for us non-millionaires. Check out his recommendations below.

Heather Havrilesky Gives Us the Silent Treatment

Mar 18, 2016

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and back with us to answer them this week is writer Heather Havrilesky. Her existential advice column “Ask Polly” in New York fashion blog “The Cut” has guided her loyal readers through tepid relationships, friend breakups, work anxieties, and many more. Browse the archive. You’ll find questions like, “Am I a boring, empty, soulless fake?”

Lopez, Kristina

Lauren Weedman turned heads with her scene-stealing role on HBO’s “Looking” — which earned her a Critic’s Choice nomination. She’s also turned her colorful life into nine one-woman shows and two books. The latest is “Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All from Someone Who Is Not Okay.” She regales us with a tale from the book and a transcript is below.

Thank You For Entering

Mar 10, 2016

We’ll be contacting the winners via email. Good luck and cheers!

Lopez, Kristina

Icebreaker: What washes up on tiny beaches? Microwaves! – Author Tiphanie Yanique.

Small talk: People in the small New Zealand town of Blackball are being terrorized by a gang of wild… goats.

History & Cocktail: Muscle car enthusiasts everywhere have a reason to celebrate today:

Your Invitation to the Ultimate Roving Dinner Party

Mar 8, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Dear Dinner Party Fans,

Who said dinner parties had to be held at home?

Consider this your invitation to the ultimate *roving* dinner party in one of the most intriguing travel destinations in the world: Cuba!

Lopez, Kristina

Back in the late ’80s and ’90s, the L.A. band Jane’s Addiction became one of the defining rock bands of the era, racking up five Grammy nominations and launching the Lollapalooza rock festival. With their blend of progressive metal and psychedelia, they still sell out tours whenever they emerge from periodic hiatuses.

Lopez, Kristina

On stage and screen, Alan Cumming has played — among other parts — Dionysus, the Devil, God, a Marvel superhero, and every character in a one-man staging of “MacBeth.”

In recent years, he’s co-hosted the Tonys, stolen scenes on “The Good Wife,” written a best-selling memoir, and revived his iconic role as the master of ceremonies in the musical “Cabaret.” Which is fitting because his new project is an album of live cabaret performances recorded at the famed Café Carlyle in New York City.

Alan Cumming Is NOT a Performing Poodle

Mar 4, 2016

Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is Scotland’s own Alan Cumming. After telling us a few tales about his secret “Cabaret” club [aka his dressing room] and sharing insights about the sappy songs on his new album, he stuck around to tell our listeners how to behave.

Lopez, Kristina

Tom Holkenborg. a.k.a. “Junkie XL” has remixed pop stars from Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake, and composed soundtracks for blockbuster films like “Deadpool.”

Steve Smith on Winning a Sci-Tech Oscar for Airwall

Feb 26, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Let’s meet the one guy on our NOTscars special who actually has been honored this week by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences: Steve Smith, a Canadian who co-created the “Airwall.”

The invention is like a giant air mattress standing on one edge, which can be inflated easily on a movie set and used as a green screen. Actors act in front of it, and later, special effects can be superimposed onto the screen. Watch it in action below.

And the Award for Best Award Goes to…

Feb 26, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

The award for Most Meta Award goes to: us.  As we present our NOTscar award… for the Best Awards.

We scoured the world, using a tool we call Google, to find the most interesting award ceremony around… and we discovered The Ernie Awards. Which a group of women give out annually in Australia in recognition of the most sexist remarks of the year. According to their website, the ceremony is attended by hundreds of women and “A few brave men.”

The Shortest Acceptance Speech Ever for a Best Vine Video

Feb 26, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Here’s the video for reference:

‘Tangerine’ Star Mya Taylor Talks Hollywood Realness

Feb 26, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Actor Mya Taylor debuted this year in “Tangerine” – a buddy film about two transgender women of the night who spend Christmas Eve trekking across Hollywood. She won a Gotham award for the role, and the film’s producers, the Duplass brothers, launched an Oscar campaign on her behalf — the first time that’s ever been done on behalf of an openly transgender actor.

The Gas Glitch That Led to a Penny Price War

Feb 19, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Roy Choi Puts the ‘Food’ Back in Fast Food With LocoL

Feb 19, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Fast food is a $200 billion dollar a year industry in the U.S., but it’s actually a staple of some people’s diets because it’s some of the only food in their neighborhood and because — shock — they like the taste.

Recently, two world-renowned chefs — Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson – decided to fight fryer with fryer by creating a chain that serves food which looks, costs, and tastes like fast food… but is made from wholesome ingredients.

Adam McKay Will Lie to You About Will Ferrell

Feb 19, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Adam McKay is a former head writer for “Saturday Night Live” and is best known for huge comedies starring Will Ferrell which he directed and co-wrote — including “Anchorman” and “Talledega Nights.” But his latest, “The Big Short,” is a drama… and it has earned him an Oscar nomination.

Lopez, Kristina

Families love George Miller’s animated musical “Happy Feet,” and of course his talking-pig epic “Babe: Pig In The City.” But he’s most celebrated for creating what many consider the greatest action movies ever made: the four “Mad Max” films.

George Miller – ‘Delayed Diagnosis’

Feb 19, 2016

Lena Waithe, Romantic Master-mind

Feb 12, 2016
Lopez, Kristina

Lena Waithe was named one of Variety’s 10 comics to watch in 2014. She’s also a producer of films like the Sundance hit “Dear White People,” and of a new drama series about her native Chicago, coming to Showtime.

Lopez, Kristina

After Lena told her tale of how a general business meeting turned into an amazing love story, we heard the sound of sixteen hundred people falling for the actor, writer and producer in the form of uproarious applause. When it died down, Brendan and Rico asked her to sit with them for a chat.

Interview Highlights:
On how that love story actually helped win her the role of Denise on “Master of None.”

Father John Misty drummed and sang with the band Fleet Foxes. But his solo albums — full of cynical, yet heartbreaking folk-rock songs — have made him an indie star.  After performing a few songs, we had him share with us his dinner party soundtrack: A playlist of songs he’d spin at a party. His choices included everything from Harry Nilsson covering an old pop classic to a song that’s… well, a little blue.

Lopez, Kristina

After Jenny, as Marcel the Shell, and Jason performed a scene from “Goodfellas” (yes, really) we decided that scene presents just a perfect example of how not to behave and was, therefore, the perfect segue into answering our audience’s etiquette questions.

Lopez, Kristina