Panel Nerds: 2010’s Best Panels and Quotes


Over the course of 2010, we covered an array of politicians, authors, entertainers, media mavens, and others as they discussed their crafts and their industries. We enjoyed most of the panels, lectures, and debates we took in, while some of them fell short. Here, a rundown of our 5 favorites, followed by the 10 quotes that defined the year in New York City media panels:


1. Who: Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Mayer, interviewed by Jordan Roth
: 92nd Street Y
When: September 19
What we said: “Mayer says that theater has always told the stories of the active and vocal generation of the time; American Idiot follows in that tradition. So what’s Armstrong think of his songs being performed on stage? They’re “two different animals,” he assures. He admits, though, that certain songs have been adapted so well to Broadway that the band now plays them differently on tour. It seems that the art forms have worked in tandem even better than the duo could have imagined.”

See the full review.

2. Who: Jonathan Alter, David Remnick, moderated by Abigail Pogrebin
Where: The JCC in Manhattan
When: October 13
What we said: “Getting the president to open up was a different story. Each of the writers got around an hour total to ask Obama questions for their respective books. Neither of them found him very forthcoming. They each, separately, came to similar conclusions about the president’s childhood and demeanor. He’s deliberate, disciplined, cool, and detached, they said. What perplexes them, though, is how he rose up and became known as a communicator yet struggles in those areas today.”

See the full review.

3. Who: Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers, interviewed by Ken Auletta
Where: W Hotel – Union Square
When: March 2
What we said: “Both Meyers and Michaels were entirely upfront about the process they go through to put the show on the air. Michaels says that his show requires a certain precision and camera timing to put together that doesn’t allow for improvising, despite the comedians’ proficiencies and wishes. However, when Michaels was asked about the way NBC handled the Leno-Conan handover, he quickly silenced himself. It showed how disciplined Michaels is, and prefers his show to be.”

See the full review.

4. Who: Jimmy Fallon, interviewed by Brian Williams
: Paley Center for Media
When: May 27
What we said: “While not educating the audience, the pair was yukking it up in ways only they can. Fallon danced through the aisles, re-positioned his chair for the sake of a joke, did celebrity voice impressions, among other overall wackiness. Williams aptly played the straight man, picking his spots carefully and making the crowd laugh with his body movements and positioning. At one point, the way Williams simply moved his chin in response to some of Fallon’s antics made us laugh.”

See the full review.

5. Who: Steve Carell, interviewed by Tad Friend at the New Yorker Festival
Where: Acura at SIR Stage37
When: October 3
What we said: “Carell said that his favorite character on The Office is Toby because he does so much with so few lines and minimal amounts of screen time. This isn’t surprising though once you consider that Carell, in his roles, chooses his spots wisely, largely blending in as observers until his much-awaited entry and timely punchline. He said he’s committed to making his comedy “genuine and real” in order to avoid cliches and anything else predictable.”

See the full review.


1. “He’s the least crazy president we’ve had in a century. He’s probably the least crazy person I know.”
David Remnick shares his thoughts on the president’s psyche

2. “Is this boring?”
Steve Martin wonders aloud whether his interest in art speaks to the 92Y audience

3. “When you get to the afternoon, Fox goes from the attractive Munster daughter to the monster under the stairs.”
Brian Williams looks at how the news competition shapes up

4. “I don’t think my special brand of self confidence comes from anyone outside of me.”
Gabourey Sidibe is fine with herself

5. “If you feel the audience is ahead of you, you’re losing.”
Lorne Michaels recognizes his important it is in comedy to out think your viewers

6. “I plan to continue covering the media until I write about myself: ‘David Carr got laid off today.’”
David Carr is going to create another Moses conundrum

7. “The only acting I did in high school, I was the rear end of a horse.”
James Earl Jones has grown into larger parts since then

8. “Those who shout the loudest don’t necessarily deserve to be heard the most.”
Tony Blair dealt with this firsthand as he faced down a disruptive protester proclaiming him a “war criminal”

9. “The structure of banking is what brought us to the precipice; it destroyed our economy.”
Eliot Spitzer wants to rebuild the foundations

10. “The Long Island social scene is hanging out in the parking lot of a mall so [my acting career] was my saving grace.”
Natalie Portman doesn’t know the joy of drinking slurpees outside a CVS

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