You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This

The secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century.
A storytelling podcast by Karina Longworth.
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Email Karina or follow her on Twitter

We’re Joining American Public Media’s New Podcast Network!

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Now it can be told. At the end of July, I announced my plan to take a 2-3 week summer hiatus. While I was on that hiatus, I was approached by some nice people at American Public Media and invited to join a new podcast network launched under their auspices, which would include radio shows like The Splendid Table, Dinner Party Download and Wits, as well as new podcasts from Sherman Alexie, The Emily Post Institute, and much more. I accepted, and decided to hold my Season 2 debut a little bit longer in order to match their launch schedule. And now, it’s happening: the Infinite Guest network is now live! And Season 2, Episode 1 of You Must Remember This will debut on Tuesday.

What’s going to change? There will be some branding in the podcast, and eventually, a mid-roll ad or two. but otherwise, the content of the podcast will be exactly the same. I will still do all the writing, hosting and editing myself, from my home office in LA or wherever I happen to be. I’m on the hunt for additional collaborators (both people to interview and people with voice talents), and I need to compile a library of podsafe music. But do not fear: Noah will still play Howard Hughes.

I will continue posting show notes here, and if you subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, you should find that nothing has changed. But you can also bookmark the pod’s page over at the Infinite Guest site, where you can also find other podcasts on topics such as food, sports, video game soundtracks, indie hip hop and more. 

Oh, one more thing: I had to re-edit each of my previous episodes slightly in order to minimize the use of copyright music. I had a computer disaster and lost the original project file for our “pilot,” the episode on Kim Novak, so I couldn’t re-edit it and it’s thus not part of the archive on the network. You might be able to find that episode somewhere else on the internet, at least for the time being, but I will probably have to go to those places and delete those files eventually. 

A Mid-Summer Progress Report (and Late-Summer Hiatus)

At the beginning of June, I announced my intention to ramp up my focus and produce an episode of this podcast every week until the end of July. With two days left in the month, I’ve hit a bit of a research stumbling block (in short: I’m in San Francisco and don’t have access to library materials I need, which are in Los Angeles), meaning that there will not be another new episode before July ends. So, it seems like a good time to tally the results of this experiment.

I managed to complete seven episodes in seven weeks: The Last Days of Judy Garland; Isabella Rossellini in the 1990s; The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, Chapter 1;  The Follies of 1938; Ida Lupino (The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, Chapter 2); Kay Francis and “box office poison”; and the fall and rise of Katharine Hepburn (Howard Hughes, chapter 3). It was difficult, but doable. I have definitely streamlined my production process and can now breeze through the editing in half the time it was taking me a month ago. Research and writing are now the toughest, most time consuming parts — which is probably as it should be. 

The effort seems to have paid off, in that people seem to be finding the podcast, and liking it. (Did you see us in Entertainment Weekly? That was exciting because my dad knows what it is!) So, I’m going to keep doing it!

But first, I need to take a few weeks off. There are some changes that I want to make to our web presence (as I noted on the Village Voice Film Club podcast, I want to add a wiki to allow listeners to suggest and lend support to episode topic ideas). Also, for my own sanity, I need to take some time to create a better organizational system for my ideas and research process. Also, we’re moving back to Los Angeles from San Francisco next week, and that will make for a stressful few days. Also, it’s about to be August, and I need a little bit of a vacation. 

My tentative plan is to be back with new, weekly episodes starting August 20. In the meantime, I may repost remastered versions of our first few episodes. Stay tuned for those, and for any news I have to report, by following us on Twitter

The Many Loves of Howard Hughes: Katharine Hepburn, 1938 (YMRT #11)

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A crossover episode, uniting our two ongoing series, The Many Loves of Howard Hughes and Follies of 1938, focusing on Hughes’ relationship with Katharine Hepburn, which peaked and crashed in 1938. Introduced by Hughes’ close confidant, Cary Grant, Hepburn and Hughes became a celebrity couple in the modern mold: mutually attracted in part based on the fame of the other, they were hounded by paparazzi, their rumored impending nuptials dissected by outsiders until the relationship itself frittered away. By 1938, Hepburn’s “woman wearing the pants” image had transitioned from merely controversial to cripplingly unfashionable, and when she was named in the infamous "box office poison" ad of May 1938, her career sunk as low as it would go. (Though her fame had not: note the above magazine cover, in which Kate and Howard are the glossy cover image under a tease referring to the movie quiz from the decidedly less glamorous Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year campaign — a campaign designed to help Hollywood recover from losses ostensibly incurred from the fading of stars like Hepburn.) Even as their romance was falling apart, Hughes helped to resurrect Hepburn’s career by purchasing for her the rights to the film that would change her life. He also rebounded from Hepburn by romancing two of her rivals, Bette Davis and Ginger Rogers, while proposing to just about every major female star he could find. 

!!! Show Notes !!!

If you have not already, listen to the previous episodes in these two series. First, in Follies of 1938, there was an overview of 1938 and the “Motion Pictures Greatest Year Campaign,” and then Kay Francis and box office poison. Previously in The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, we talked about the arranged marriage that got Hughes to Hollywood, and then explored the life and work of Ida Lupino, Hughes’ sometime teenage girlfriend turned pioneering film writer/director/producer. 

This episode covers some of the same events that were dramatized in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator — a film which I deliberately did not watch this week while I was working on the episode. Maybe it would have been interesting to compare Scorsese’s presentation of the Hepburn/Hughes relationship to the version presented by Hughes and Hepburn’s various biographers, but I felt I had enough on my plate just dealing with the sometimes overlapping, sometimes contradictory facts laid out in my sources. Those sources included: Kate, The Woman Who Was Hepburn by William Mann; Me, by Katharine Hepburn; The Untold Story of Howard Hughes by Peter Harry Brown; Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters by Richard Hack; and, of course, Hollywood 1938: Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year by Catherine Jurca.  

Also, Noah Segan is quite invested in his recurring role as Hughes. There was no need to bring Leo into the mix. 

Music:

"Divider," by Chris Zabriskie

"Off to Osaka," by Kevin MacLeod

"Out of the Skies, Under the Earth," by Chris Zabriskie

"Undercover Vampire Policeman," by Chris Zabriskie

"Prelude No. 21," by Chris Zabriskie

"Ghost Dance," by Kevin MacLeod

"Dances and Dames," by Kevin MacLeod

"Gymnopedie No. 3," by Eric Satie, performed by Kevin MacLeod

"If You Don’t Want My Love," covered by DNTEL

All of the above tracks, with the exception of the DNTEL cover, were sourced from the Free Music Archive.

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Follies of 1938, Chapter 2: Kay Francis, Pretty Poison (YMRT# 10)

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In May 1938, the Independent Theater Owners Association published a full-page paid editorial in The Hollywood Reporter, branding a number of big stars — including Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn and others — as “poison at the box office,” and urging the studios to cut their ties to expensive names who no longer had the drawing power they once did at the box office, in part because they symbolized a type of glamour which seemed, in 1938, to be falling out of fashion.

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All of the above named stars, while damaged by the bad press in the moment, went on to make “comeback” movies that helped to cement their legacies. That wasn’t the case for another actress mentioned in the ad, Kay Francis, who in 1938 was still Warner Brothers’ highest paid star — even though she had tried to sue the studio the previous year for casting her in too many bad movies. After roaring her way through New York in the 1920s as a flapper it girl, Kay Francis hit her career peak in 1932, the year she starred in Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise, but eventually she essentially lost her spot in the movie star firmament to Bette Davis. Today we’ll talk about the idea of box office poison, trace how and why Kay Francis became the embodiment of the meeting of 1930s movie star glamour and a devil-may-care pursuit of pleasure that marked pre-Code Hollywood, and explain why that magical combination wasn’t long for the world of the studio star system.

!!!Show notes!!!

For the first time, I’m going to suggest that if you haven’t already listened to the first episode in our 1938 series, you might want to go ahead and do so before you hit up this one. I mean, you don’t have to, but it will give you a better understanding of the general scene in 1938, and the context of the now-infamous “box office poison” scandal. 

That episode was heavily sourced from Catherine Jurca’s Hollywood 1938: Motion Pictures Greatest Year, a book which served as a starting point for this chapter. The other two MVP texts this week were Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career by Lynn Kear and John Rossman; and A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930-1960 by the great Jeanine Basinger. The former is a fun, dishy read, making stellar use of Francis’ own, incredibly bawdy diaries. The latter is simply one of my favorite film books, the best kind of historical criticism with a personal bent. They’re both available as e-books, and would make for great summer reads. 

Kay Francis appeared in over 60 films, and I’ve only been able to see less than 10 of them. In fact, this episode was delayed by at least a full day due to my difficulty getting my hands on a few films I felt I needed to see. After giving myself a very mini Francis Film Festival this week, there are two films that I cannot urge you strongly enough to seek out. First, there’s Jewel Robbery, a William Dieterle romp that’s in the vein of Trouble in Paradise (I’m not sure which film she actually shot first; they both came out the same year), but more vulgar. There’s a touch of stoner comedy in it, and Kay’s character is almost as, shall we say, sex positive as she apparently was in real life. That movie is good. One Way Passage, directed by Tay Garnett, is fucking great. I thought I had maybe seen this last summer in a Garnett retrospective at the Paris Cinematheque, but turns out I was mixing it up with two other madcap love-at-sea movies, Trade Winds and China Seas. Tay Garnett is really good at romantic-comedic-semi-tragic boat movies, and One Way Passage is, I think, the best of them. And short! 

One problem I had this week is that the supposed best currently operating video rental store in San Francisco only carried one Kay Francis film, Trouble in Paradise. I ended up buying a few DVDs from the Warner Archive (including One Way Passage), and watching a few others (including Jewel Robbery) on iTunes. There are still other films that I want to see that I haven’t yet been able to find. 

Totally coincidentally, TCM devoted part of two days to her earlier this week, but that did me no good because the apartment I’m subletting doesn’t have cable. Still, the only film they showed that I regret not being able to see was Frank Borzage’s Stranded. These YouTube clips are all I’ve seen of either of Francis’ Borzage movies; by the looks of it, Living on Velvet has more of Kay as I like her. Dan Callahan and Farren Nehme Smith have seen far more of Francis’ films than I have, and their writings on her are an invaluable guide to separating Francis’ wheat from her chaff. 

Next week, I’m going to do a Howard Hughes/1938 crossover episode, and then the week after that, jump far, far ahead in time. After that, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off, and then come back in mid-to-late August with new episodes, and (hopefully) a slightly revamped website. If you have any requests or suggests, that’s what Twitter is for

Music:

"Preludes for Piano #3" by George Gershwin

Of Separation from the Heat soundtrack, by Elliot Goldenthal

"Roads" by Portishead

"Moonlight Saving Me," performed by Blossom Dearie

"Soul le soleil exactemente (orchestre)," by Serge Gainsbourg

"Born to Be Blue," performed by Chet Baker

"The Operation," by Morrissey

"White," by Frank Ocean

"Gymnopedie (piano) No. 3 - Lent et Grave," by Eric Satie, performed by Frank Glazer

"Halo," by Loveliescrushing

Theme from Dark Victory, performed by Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Teardrop," by Loveliescrushing

"Gnossiennes No. 1," by Eric Satie, performed by Frank Glazer

"Sex and Dying in High Society," by X

The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, Part 2: The Many Loves of Ida Lupino (YMRT #9)

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In this second installment of our ongoing series, The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, we explore the life, loves and work of Ida Lupino. Hughes dated Lupino when she was a teenage starlet; nearly 20 years later, after Lupino had become the only working female feature director in 1940s Hollywood, Hughes signed his ex-girlfriend’s production company to a deal at RKO. Hughes supported Lupino as a director, but also helped to kill off her second marriage. We’ll explore how Ida’s relationship with Hughes, and other men in her life, alternately enhanced her career and complicated it. Also: haunted houses, HUAC, The Twilight Zone, post-traumatic stress, polio, more shitty pettiness from Harry Cohn, more high-minded anti-Hollywood talk from Robert Rossellini, and much more.

Show notes!

This week’s episode is quite dense with information, and I don’t have much to add. My primary sources were Ida Lupino: A Biography by William Donati; Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown; and the Senses of Cinema profile of Lupino by Wheeler Winston Dixon. The photographs that inspired the storyline are above. I used clips from this episode of The Twilight Zone, and Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife.

Lupino’s last indie directorial effort, The Bigamist, is I think, in the public domain, and watchable on YouTube, where you can also find a few segments from Lupino and Howard Duff’s CBS sitcom  Mr. Adams and Eve.

Music:

"It’s Love," performed by Blossom Dearie

"The Continental," performed by Blossom Dearie

"Naive Song," by Mirwais

"Prelude," by Gene Harris

"Melody," by Serge Gainsbourg

"Hairy Trees," by Goldfrapp

"Involution," by Mirwais

"Walking Wounded," by Everything But the Girl

"Night and Day," performed by Lena Horne

"Fable of the Elements," by Joan of Arc

"Stars" by Xx

"Keechie," by No Age

"Emperor Tomato Ketchup," by Stereolab

"Sea Within a Sea," by The Horrors

"Repeat Defender," by Don Caballero

"Butterfly," by The Verve

"Rock My Boat (Roger O’Donnell Mix)," by Dntel

"Tara," by Roxy Music

"Shatter,"by Liz Phair

"Puma," by Dntel

"Capri," from the score for Contempt, by Georges Delerue

"Off You," by The Breeders

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Today in Blurbs: Entertainment Weekly Likes Us!

Have you seen this week’s Entertainment Weekly, the one with Halle Berry on the cover? We’re in it! The magazine named You Must Remember This to their Must List of The Top 10 Things [They] Love This Week!

Perhaps not coincidentally, this weekend we also hit a new high on the iTunes Film & TV Top 10!

Nice blurbs are nice, but it’s nicer that all of y’all are downloading the podcast and, apparently, enjoying it. As I’ve said before, I started this thing with no longterm plan, and no idea if it was actually going to work. This is probably the first time in my life that I’ve done something exactly the way I want to do it, without anyone else’s direction, and without any concession to or even thought about how to make it succeed. It feels pretty great to do something without compromise and have people actually like it. So, thanks! End mush.

Follies of 1938, Part 1: Hollywood’s Greatest Year (YMRT #8)

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This micro-episode sets up a topic we’ll be exploring throughout the summer: the films, stars and scandals of 1938. By midway through that year, Hollywood was in such a desperate downswing — and so concerned that Americans were losing interest not just in specific movies but in moviegoing as a habit — that the studios banded together to launch a massive PR campaign to convince the public that 1938 was Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year. It wasn’t. 

Show Notes!

This episode is shorter than usual, and not as polished as I would like it to be, particularly in terms of the recording quality, and these things are related. Mr. You Must Remember This has a new job, for which we are in the process of temporary relocating to San Francisco. I was short on time this week, and by the time I got around to recording, I was in Los Angeles and parts of my usual recording set-up were en route to our new home. All should be back to normal by next week. I hope. 

The primary research source for this episode was Catherine Jurca’s fascinating book Hollywood 1938: Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year. I basically piggybacked on her extensive, awe-inspiring research, and tried to synthesize it into something more anecdotal. This book gave me the idea to do a series of episodes stemming from the events of 1938, and so, while most of those future episodes won’t necessarily have much to do with the MPGY campaign, I thought telling that story would be the best possible way to begin a series called Follies of 1938. 

Next week, we’re going to return to our other ongoing series, The Many Loves of Howard Hughes. The tentative plan for the next few weeks is to alternate between series, but I reserve the right to mix it up, too. 

Music!

"Preludes for Piano #1" by George Gershwin

"Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra I - Allegro" by George Gershwin, performed by Oscar Lavant with New York Philharmonic

"Preludes for Piano #3" by George Gershwin

"Preludes for Piano #2" by George Gershwin

"Lady Be Good," performed by Count Basie and his Orchestra

"Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra II - Andante Co Moto" by George Gershwin, performed by Oscar Lavant with New York Philharmonic

"You Go To My Head," performed by Marlene Dietrich

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YMRT #7: The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, Chapter 1

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The first episode of a multi-part series on the Hollywood romances of Howard Hughes traces Hughes’ arranged marriage at age 18 to Southern society belle Ella Rice; his affairs with silent star Billie Dove and Jean Harlow, who Hughes helped to establish as a sex symbol whose body was used to evoke both money and military might; and his attempt to invent himself as the most powerful independent producer in town, with his directorial debut, Hell’s Angels

Show Notes!

Key research texts this week included Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske; and Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters, by Richard Hack. There were few discrepancies in terms of the way these two books depicted this time period in Hughes’ life, and I take them somewhat more seriously than another book which I mention in the episode, Darwin Porter’s Hell’s Angel: America’s Notorious Bisexual Billionaire (typing this, I’m realizing I got the subtitle slightly wrong in the podcast; sorry!) 

This week, I watched Hell’s Angels for the first time, and was really pleasantly surprised by it. The UCLA restoration currently available on DVD is *gorgeous,” and the dialogue scenes, directed by James Whale, have a kind of vulgar, inelegant honesty to them. 

I wouldn’t consider them direct research materials, but more than nonfiction sources, I picked up the feeling of 1920s Hollywood from a number of novels, including (of course) The Day of the Locust, but also a few lesser-discussed books I’ve read over the past year: The Big Money by John Dos Passos, Hollywood by Gore Vidal, and The Western Coast by Paula Fox. I highly recommend them all. 

As previously noted, this is intended to be the first episode in a multi-part series about Hughes’ Hollywood relationships. Right now the plan is to alternate episodes on Hughes with installments of another series, which I plan to launch next week (however, I’m traveling tomorrow-Monday, so it’s possible my production schedule will get messed up.)

As always, if you like it, put a ring on it by subscribing to and/or rating and reviewing the podcast at iTunes, and tell your friends to follow us on Twitter @rememberthispod

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Music

“Ill Build a Stairway to Paradise” performed by Whiteman and his orchestra

“Safe in Heal,” performed by Sonic Youth

“Paris,” performed by Dirty Beaches

“S’Wonderful,” performed by Eddie Condon and his orchestra

“Summertime,” performed by the Sidney Bechtet Quintet

“Shadow of a Doubt,” performed by Sonic Youth

“Frelon Brun,” performed by Miles Davis 

“Life Round Here,” by James Blake

“Keechie,” by No Age

“The Man I Love,” performed by Le Quintette Du Hot Club De France

"Skeletons," by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

"Dramamine," by Sebadoh

"Fogbow," by Joan of Arc

"A Foggy Day," performed by Cyril Grantham with Geraldo and his orchestra

"Cemetary Party," by Air

"Drippy Eye," performed by Black Moth Super Rainbow

"Zoetrope," by Boards of Canada

"Alice," by Sunn O)))

"Big Louise," by Scott Walker

"With Plenty of Money and You," performed by Tony Bennett

"I Got Plenty of Nuthin’," performed by Avon Long

"Baby Vampire Made Me," by Helium

"Girl/Boy Song," by Aphex Twin

"This Hollywood Life," by The London Suede 

YMRT #6: Isabella Rossellini in the 1990s

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Today we celebrate the 62nd birthday of actress/model/filmmaker Isabella Rossellini. She was born into Hollywood scandal: her mother, Ingrid Bergman, was denounced on the floor of Congress for her adulterous relationship with Isabella’s father, Italian neorealist director Roberto Rossellini. Isabella herself would go on to have romances with Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, finding her signature film role in the latter’s Blue Velvet. But her parentage and romantic relationships are only part of the story. She made her own fortune modeling, a career which the former scoliosis patient started at the relatively advanced age of 28, ultimately serving an unprecedented 14 years as the face of Lancome. In the 1990s — a decade which began with her being dumped by David Lynch and ended with her launching a company which she referred to as “a secret feminist plot” against the beauty industry — Isabella Rossellini took her legacy into her own hands. 

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Show notes!

This podcast was inspired by an image I stumbled across, from the brochure produced in 1999 to publicize Manifesto, Rossellini’s short-lived “feminist” cosmetics line. Also, I’m always happy for a chance to talk about Death Becomes Her, about which I wrote an entire chapter in my book about Meryl Streep

I wanted to try to tell at least parts of Isabella’s story like a short story, which, practically, meant that instead of doing a lot of research from various angles, as I’ve done in previous episodes, I wanted to try to get inside my main subject’s point of view. So, one of my key sources was Isabella’s own 1997 memoir, Some of Me. This seems to be out of print, but if you’re interested in her I highly recommend it. It’s a little nutty, charmingly so, and also beautifully illustrated (it has made me obsessed with a certain 90s-vintage Dolce and Gabbana bra.). Isabella’s 1997 Fresh Air interview, which I’ve excerpted liberally within in the podcast, synthesizes a lot of the key themes of the memoir, as do many of her extended interviews, including this live chat with John Anderson, from which I excerpted a bit in which she talks about becoming a model at age 28.

It didn’t play a huge role into my research for this, but Ingrid Bergman’s autobiography is also very good. 

Of the many magazine articles I read this week, these were the most useful:

Isabella Makes a Fresh StartVanity Fair, January 1991

Isabella Rossellini, INDEX, 1999

Daddy’s GirlThe Guardian, April 30, 2006

Have Makeup Will TravelSF Gate, January 11, 2000

Isabella Rossellini Makes a Beauty Statement With Manifesto LineLA Times, January 7, 2000

“Isabella Rossellini’s Manifesto: anatomy of a commercial fragrance failure” Examiner, March 15, 2010

Music:

"Blue Velvet," performed by Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet theme, by Angelo Badalamenti

“Single,” by Everything But the Girl

“Weightless,” by Washed Out

“Jump Into the Fire,” by Harry Nilsson

“But The World Goes Round,” performed by Liza Minnelli in New York, New York

Theme from Cousins, by Angelo Badalamenti

“Middle of the Road,” by The Pretenders

“Theme d’Amour” from Alphaville, by Paul Maraki

“Jonathan,” by Fiona Apple

“Spread Your Wings,” by Spiritualized

“Apartment Song,” by Possum Dixon

"Justify My Love," by Madonna

Death Becomes Her theme, by Alan Silvestri

"Moon River," performed by Morrissey

"Blue Lines," by Massive Attack

"Les Yper Sound," by Stereolab

"Flower," by Sonic Youth

"Naked Eye," by Luscious Jackson

"A Party Able Model Of," by Joan of Arc

"Blue Velvet," performed by Lana Del Rey

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We Are the (26th) Best!

Behold - You Must Remember This has cracked iTunes’ Top 50 TV & Film Podcasts! 

Also, check out this interview with Karina, in which she talks about how the podcast comes together, why it exists, etc!