Kentucky Author Forum Presents

Great Conversations

The University of Louisville's Kentucky Author Forum is a non-profit, nationally recognized literary event. Four times each year, renowned authors are paired with interviewers — who are interesting in their own right — and their conversation is taped before a live audience at Louisville's Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. (Ticket infomation)
The program later airs on KET and on PBS stations nationwide as Great Conversations.

Recent guests include Pat Conroy (memoir "The Death of Santini") interviewed by book critic, Maureen Corrigan; Congressman John Lewis (graphic novel "March") interviewed by Rachel Maddow, MSNBC news and information show host; and Chris Matthews ("Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked") interviewed by columnist and political commentator, E.J. Dionne Jr.
| Broadcast Schedule

Coming up this season:

Monday, Dec. 29 at 8/7 pm on KET
Timothy Geithner interviewed by James Surowiecki

Watch Video: Philippe de Montebello and Michael Kimmelman

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Philippe de Montebello, the longest serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the organizationís history, retired in 2008 from the post.

Montebello didnít retire from the art world, however. He recently published, (September 2014) alongside British art critic Martin Gayford, "Rendez-vous with Art," which addresses the questions of how and why we look at art. The two experts discuss key works by prominent artists as well as the effects a museumís layout can have on a visitorís experience. They interpret pieces on display in venues such as the Louvre, the Prado, the Palazzo Pitti, and other prestigious institutions.

In this session, Montebello is interviewed by Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic and longtime art critic for the New York Times, who is sure to bring a strong air of authority and insight to the discussion.

The Video Archives

Selected programs from Great Conversations are available for online viewing. Many are also available on DVD from KET; call 800-945-9167 or e-mail for information.

Note: More recent programs are in Flash® format; many older programs are available only in Windows Media® or RealVideo®. To play Windows Media in Firefox, you need the Windows Media Player browser plugin installed. How to install the Windows Media plugin for Firefox.



  • Chris Matthews
    Chris Matthews is anchor of MSNBC's Hardball and served as a top aide to Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill. His new book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked, offers a personal history of the years when President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill served together. He is interviewed by E.J. Dionne Jr., senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and syndicated columnist for the Washington Post. (2014)
    Watch program and "After the Show" web exclusive videos
  • Pat Conroy
    Pat Conroy explores the last years of his father's life in The Death of Santini. He is interviewed by Maureen Corrigan, the book critic for NPR's Fresh Air and a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University. (2013)
    Watch program and "After the Show" web exclusive videos
  • Congressman John Lewis
    U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, tells the story of his role in the civil rights movement in the first volume of March, a graphic novel trilogy. The publication marks the first time a sitting member of Congress has authored a graphic novel. He is interviewed by Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. (2013)
    Watch program and "After the Show" web exclusive videos
  • Elaine Pagels
    Renowned religion scholar and author of The Gnostic Gospels and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation. Interviewer: Gustav Niebuhr, associate professor in religion and the media at Syracuse University. (2013)
    Watch program and "After the Show" web exclusive videos
  • Jared Diamond
    Author of The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? Interviewer: Sarah Hrdy, a primatologist and evolutionary theorist and the author of Mothers and Others (2013)
    Watch program and "After the Show" web exclusive videos



  • Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
    Author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Interviewer: Dr. David Scadden, professor of medicine at Harvard University. (2011)
  • Rosanne Cash
    Author of Composed: A Memoir. Interviewer: Nick Spitzer, producer and host of public radio's American Routes. (2011)
  • Billy Collins
    Author of Horoscopes of the Dead: Poems. Interviewer: Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion. (2011)
  • Dr. Eric Kandel
    Author of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. Interviewer: Jonah Lehrer, contributing editor, Wired. (2011)

In alphabetical order:

  • Madeleine Albright
    U.S. secretary of state during the Clinton administration and author of Madame Secretary. Interviewer: CNN correspondent Richard Roth (2003)
  • R.W. Apple Jr.
    Associate editor of the New York Times and author of Apple’s America. Interviewer: journalist Tom Brokaw (2005)
  • Karen Armstrong
    Author of a number of books on religion, including A History of God and Buddha. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Robert Siegel (2004)
  • Margaret Atwood
    Acclaimed novelist, poet, and critic. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Ira Flatow (2004)
  • James Baker III
    Former U.S. Secretary of State, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group appointed in March 2006, and author of Work Hard, Study ... and Keep Out of Politics! Interviewer: CNN national correspondent John King (2007)
  • A. Scott Berg
    Author of Lindbergh, a critically acclaimed biography of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Interviewer: Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1998)
  • David Boren
    President of the University of Oklahoma, former governor and U.S. senator, and author of A Letter to America. Interviewer: National Public Radio correspondent Neal Conan (2008)
  • Stephen Breyer
    U.S. Supreme Court justice and author of Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution. Interviewer: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams (2008)
  • Tom Brokaw
    Former NBC News anchor and author of Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today. Interviewer: Washington Post senior editor Rick Atkinson (2007)
  • Rosanne Cash
    Author of Composed: A Memoir. Interviewer: Nick Spitzer, producer and host of public radio's American Routes. (2011)
  • Gen. Wesley Clark
    Five-star general, former commander of NATO European Forces and NATO Air Campaign Kosovo, and author of Waging Modern War. Interviewer: Joe Klein, New Yorker correspondent and author (2001)
  • Billy Collins
    Author of Horoscopes of the Dead: Poems. Interviewer: Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion. (2011)
  • E.L. Doctorow
    Novelist who has mixed fictional characters with real-life events in such books as Ragtime, World’s Fair, and The March. Interviewer: Christopher Lydon (2001)
  • Richard Ellis
    Author of On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear and marine conservationist. Interviewer: Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet (2010)
  • Ari Fleischer
    Primary spokesman for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003 and author of Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House. Interviewer: CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante (2005)
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at Harvard University and author of America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans. Interviewer: National Public Radio correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates (2004)
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
    ZZ Packer, author of "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere", interviews author Elizabeth Gilbert about her #1 New York Times bestselling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia" and her reissued novel, "Stern Men." (2009)
  • Malcolm Gladwell
    Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers: The Story of Success. Interviewer: Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and The Adventures of Johnny Bunko (2009)
  • Jane Goodall
    Anthropologist and author of Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey. Interviewer: Richard Wrangham, chair of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University (1999)
  • David Halberstam
    Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of The Children, which recounts the remarkable stories of young people involved in the early days of the civil rights movement. Interviewer: Roger Wilkins, professor, George Mason University. (1998)
  • Arianna Huffington
    Author of Third World America. Interviewer: Howard Fineman, (2010)
  • Vernon Jordan
    Managing director, Lazard Freres & Co., past president of the National Urban League, and author of the memoir Vernon Can Read. Interviewer: Ronald Brownstein, senior Washington correspondent, The Los Angeles Times (2002)
  • Robert Kagan
    Senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, contributing editor of The New Republic, and author of Paradise and Power. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Neal Conan (2004)
  • Dr. Eric Kandel
    Author of In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. Interviewer: Jonah Lehrer, contributing editor, Wired. (2011)
  • Sue Monk Kidd
    Best-selling novelist and author of The Mermaid Chair. Interviewer: Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, professor of clinical psychiatry (2006)
  • Arthur Levitt
    Former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and author of Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don’t Want You to Know; What You Can Do to Fight Back. Interviewer: Jane Bryant Quinn (2002)
  • John McCain
    Four-term U.S. Senator (R-AZ), decorated Vietnam veteran, and author of Character Is Destiny. Interviewer: National Public Radio host Robert Siegel (2006)
  • Bill McKibben
    Environmental journalist and author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. Interviewer: Wendell Berry, Kentucky farmer, essayist, novelist, and poet (2007)
  • Greg Mortenson
    Literacy advocate, Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace founder, and author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace ... One School at a Time. Interviewer: Jacki Lyden, National Public Radio (2008)
  • Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
    Author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Interviewer: Dr. David Scadden, professor of medicine at Harvard University. (2011)
  • Azar Nafisi
    A former teacher of English literature at the University of Tehran, witness to the Iranian revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power, and author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Interviewer: civil rights reporter Karl Fleming (2005)
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
    First woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and author of The Majesty of the Law. Interviewer: Pete Williams (2003)
  • Daniel Okrent
    Author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Interviewer: John Huey, editor-in-chief of Time (2010)
  • David Plouffe
    Author of The Audacity to Win. Interviewer: Richard Wolffe, MSNBC (2010)
  • Michael Pollan
    New York Times Magazine contributor, journalism teacher, and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Interviewer: Michael Shnayerson, author of Coal River (2008)
  • Sister Helen Prejean
    Counselor to death row inmates and author of Dead Man Walking. Interviewer: Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, native of Danville, Ky., University of Kentucky graduate, and Yale professor (1996)
  • Ruth Reichl
    New York Times restaurant critic, editor of Gourmet magazine, and author of the memoir Tender at the Bone. Interviewer: Susan Stamberg, National Public Radio (1999)
  • Dennis Ross
    Ambassador, chief Middle East peace negotiator under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and author of The Missing Peace. Interviewer: National Public Radio foreign correspondent Jacki Lyden (2004)
  • Michael Sandel
    Author of Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? and Harvard professor. Interviewer: journalist John S. Carroll (2009)
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin
    Author of Too Big to Fail. Interviewer: journalist Bethany McLean, Vanity Fair (2010)
  • George Soros
    Holocaust survivor, international financier and philanthropist, and author of The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror. Interviewer: John D. Podesta, Center for American Progress (2006)
  • Gene Sperling
    President Clinton’s national economic adviser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a frequent columnist and commentator on economic issues, and author of The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity. Interviewer: John Ydstie, National Public Radio (2006)
  • Strobe Talbott
    Former deputy secretary of state and ambassador-at-large and author of The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy. Interviewer: journalist David Halberstam (2002)
  • John Updike
    The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of Golf Dreams. Interviewer: Robert Siegel of National Public Radio (1996)
  • Lawrence Wright
    Screenwriter, New Yorker staff writer, and author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Interviewer: Peter Bergen, journalist and terrorism analyst (2006)

The Kentucky Author Forum is sponsored by the University of Louisville as part of its Challenge for Excellence, with support from Brown-Forman and the Humana Foundation. The series founder and producer is Mary Moss Greenebaum. The programs are produced for television by KET.