Victoria Will/Invision/AP



The Skunk at the Oscar Party

Jeremy Scahill may not fit in amongst Leo and Marty, but even if he doesn’t take home a statue for his documentary ‘Dirty Wars,’ he’s already winning big with the launch of ‘The Intercept,’ his new online venture backed by Ebay’s Pierre Omidyar.

Jeremy Scahill was the only person who worked on the documentary “Dirty Wars” who could bear to watch the Academy Awards nomination ceremony. The rest of the film’s cast and crew were too nervous. In fact, director Rick Rowley, made sure he was on the subway, so he couldn’t be reached.

“And so the dude who plays ‘Thor.’ I don’t remember his name. The actor. I think he is Australian. He is announcing it and the president of the Academy is there and so I have no idea how any of it works. And then they say our name and the first thing I said was: Hhhhooooooolllllllly Shiiiiiiiiiiiit.

The rarefied world of Hollywood celebrity, of pre-Oscar parties and dinners alongside director Steve McQueen (“he’s a militant, very sharp guy”) and nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett are, for the next week at least, also the world of Scahill, a former writer for The Nation. In addition to his recent movie and book of the same name, which details the U.S. government’s largely secret paramilitary lethal drone program, he’s also the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the Worlds Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Needless to say, he’s probably the least likely guy to be hobnobbing with the stars.

Yet, a few weeks ago, he flew out to Los Angeles with his little brother in tow for one of the many pre-Oscar events.

“I walk through the red carpet and Cate Blanchett is there and DiCaprio is right behind her, and there are like a million people taking pictures of them,” he says, making a rapid clicking paparazzo noise with his tongue. “And I walk by and it’s like one guy with a Polaroid from The Socialist Worker.”

In interviews with Scahill, the entertainment press has referred to his movie as “Dirty Horse,” or occasionally “Dirty Whores,” and interviewers have a tendency to look with distaste when he describes the details of the film—footage of mutilated children, their limbs apparently torn apart by bombs from apparently American drones.

“It’s very weird. At Sundance, there would be this woman wrapped up head-to-toe in a huge fur outfit, with just her eyes peeking out and eight inch heels and her first question is ‘Sooooo…Sundance!?’” Scahill says, holding out a reporters imaginary microphone. “And it’s like, ‘Ok so, we made a film about extra judicial killings and drones and you are [wearing] some kind of thing that used to be an animal asking me a question.”’

The whole venture will have a lower wall between owner and journalist than traditional media.

The film centers around Scahill as he travels to Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia to uncover the full extent of the nation’s largely secret drone warfare program, interspersed with shots of him in his home borough of Brooklyn, working to piece together the various puzzles of the program. It has been well-reviewed and well-received, a surprise, he says, since it is merciless on President Obama’s national security program.

“I wasn’t sure how that would play with people in Hollywood, because it is a very heavy Democratic base of people. You make it about Bush, and everybody would be cheering. You make it about Obama and it forces people to look in the mirror in an uncomfortable way.”

These are interesting times for Scahill. Besides the Oscar nomination, he recently founded The Intercept, a new online national security outfit, with former Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras and backed by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar.

In Scahill’s telling, he and Greenwald actually upsold Omidyar on the idea. Scahill was visiting Greenwald at his home in Rio to talk about collaborating on some stories involving the NSA’s role in the drone program. It was in August, just when Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was being detained in Heathrow Airport for nine hours, presumably for his association with Greenwald. 

Amidst the chaos, Greenwald got an email from Omidyar. The tech mogul had thought about buying The Washington Post, but decided instead that he would start his own venture, and wondered if Greenwald wanted to be an occasional contributor.

“Glenn’s house is like Planet of the Apes,” recalls Scahill. “There are ten dogs running around, monkeys, Glenn has the Snowden docs, David has just been detained and then Glenn gets an email from like, the hundredth richest guy in the world. And he reads it and he is like, ‘Oh, I know this guy. He re-tweets me a lot and he seems like a smart guy.”’

Scahill, Greenwald, and Poitras had talked about setting up some kind of site where they could publish work that was not appropriate for the venues where they most currently were seen. Instead, that night they pitched Omidyar on starting their own news organization.

The new site will actually be a series of sites with tent-pole journalists filing long, investigative stories on their areas of interest. Younger reporters will fill in the gaps. Matt Taibbi, for example, recently recruited from Rolling Stone, will not end up at The Intercept, but at an offshoot with a largely separate staff.

The whole venture will have a lower wall between owner and journalist than traditional media. Omidyar, he says, wanted to do the project because he was interested in Fourth Amendment issues, and they are hiring teams of lawyers, not just to keep the staff from getting sued, but to actively push courts on the First Amendment, to “force confrontation with the state on these issues.”

“[Omidyar] strikes me as always sort of political, but I think that the NSA story and the expanding wars put politics for him into a much more prominent place in his existence.  This is not a side project that he is doing. Pierre writes more on our internal messaging than anyone else. And he is not micromanaging. This guy has a vision. And his vision is to confront what he sees as an assault on the privacy of Americans.”

Meanwhile, Scahill says The Intercept wants to do no less than re-write the relationship between journalists and the people they cover. If, for example, they were asked to hold a story because the White House or the Pentagon deemed that publication would harm national security, Scahill said, “Never.”

“We had a long discussion about this internally; about what our position would be if the White House asked us to not publish something. We came to the conclusion that we would always give them a chance to weigh in on a story, but we are not going to make an agreement not to publish based on what they say. They always, and everyone who works on this NSA stuff knows this, but they always say that if you publish it, it will damage national security. It has become a meaningless statement. It is like people who say ‘literally’ all the time. Everything becomes about ‘national security.’ I think we are going to have the most adversarial relationship with those entities of any media outlet with a profile. We are not going to make a deal—especially a secret deal—to decide to hold a story. We are just not going to do that.”

If people in power do not quite know what to make of this, all the better.

“I think that the White House, whether it is under Republican or Democrat, they pretty much now who they are dealing with. There are outlets like The Daily Beast, or The Huffington Post  that have risen up in the past decade, but they are very quickly just becoming part of the broader mainstream media, and with people that have spent their careers working for magazines or newspapers or what have you, and the White House believes they all speak the language on these things. With us, because we want to be adversarial, they won’t know what bat phone to call. They know who to call at The Times, they know who to call at The Post. With us, who are they going to call? Pierre? Glenn?”

He laughed at the notion of the White House calling Greenwald and imploring him to hold off on publication.

And with that, Scahill got ready to fly out to LA for Sunday’s Oscar ceremony.

“Looking forward to the Oscar swag bag. Although I tell you, everything in there is going straight to EBay.”

Vadim Ghirda/AP

Crisis in Ukraine


A Coffin Convoy to Russia

Insurgents in Ukraine send dozens of corpses back to Mother Russia in an attempt to win pity—and firepower—from the Kremlin. There’s no longer a pretense about where they came from.

DONETSK, Ukraine — Red coffins were lined up on the ground outside the Donetsk city morgue on Thursday, waiting to be filled with the dead bodies of insurgents to be taken back to where they belonged, to Russia. Long hours passed in the close air. The smell of death seemed to seep into the leaves and trees in the yard, into the clothes of those of us watching and the uniforms and suits of rebel leaders getting ready for the symbolic 115 kilometer convoy of the dead to the Russian border.

The commanders believed that the trucks filled with corpses of Russian citizens,  accompanied by the press specially invited for the occasion, would be a loud statement addressed to the Kremlin—a cry for help, so that more “Russian brothers in blood” would be summoned to battle, turn into murderers, and fight against the Ukrainian army.

Does Donetsk need to see more death, more coffins?

The civil war has to continue, say the insurgent leaders, their faces twisted with hatred.  The horrifying message written in death is meant to wake up Mother Russia, so she will supply the insurgents at last not only with recruits but with “serious” weapons.

“This is not Ukrainian land, this is a Russian land, but the Ukrainian forces destroy our men with military jets or high-caliber weapons that we don’t have,”  said Alexander Kishinets, who introduced himself as the defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic.

Recruiting fighters for a civil war and loading coffins was not what Kishinets’s life was devoted to before the revolution in Kiev, he told The Daily Beast. Instead of military operations, Kishinets led an “Island of Freedom movement for those who love life,” he said: he organized festivals, sporting events and contests for young and talented Donetsk teenagers.

Last April, Kishinets invited every Donetsk lover of a healthy lifestyle, as he put it, to do Tai Bo exercises in Lenin Square. Many of his young students took weapons and joined the anti-Ukrainian movement: “We have recruited a women’s unit and if necessary, even babushkas will join us in combat against the enemy,” he vowed. The former sports coach said he hopes that his own 19-year-old son would not have to fight against the professional military on the streets of Donetsk, but he left open that possiblity.

Behind Kishinets’s back, inside the morgue, the ceremonial room filled with the sound of sobbing as mourners cried for a 44-year-old taxi driver, Mark Zverev, a rebel who joined the “self-defense forces” earlier this spring and was driving a truck with Russian recruits on the day it was blown up.

“People, ask me, is my son a terrorist?” Zverev’s heartbroken mother moaned over her son’s coffin. “If so, all of us, all seven million people living in Luhansk and Donetsk, are terrorists and Al Qaeda is a miserable nothing compared to us,” she said.

The heartbroken mother and wife will not be the last women to shed tears over their loved ones, as southeast Ukraine sinks deeper into a war that threatens to rage endlessly through the three-lined avenues of the Donbass region. The ideologues and leaders of the insurgency know full well that this shipment of coffins back to Russia could be the first of many such caravans.

But death from Ukrainian shelling is not the only threat to the self-proclaimed republic. There are also potentially fatal problems from within, including and epidemic of crime and corruption. On Wednesday it the republic’s leaders declared a “clean-up” operation inside their own headquarters at an occupied administration building.

A group of locals gathered outside the barricaded offices watched with sympathy—and relief—as the old contingent of militia left the headquarters. The whole blood-soaked drama seemed suddenly futile, and questions circled circled in the air as plentifully as the flies around the 33 dead bodies traveling to Russia tonight. Were the reasons the rebels gave for dying truly honest, holy and pure? “I have trouble explaining to my own sister in the west of Ukraine that we are not terrorists here,” said Anna Volchuk, a young woman in a red dress, whose voice trembled with bitterness.

The rebel militia kept pouring out of the building, where they lived for weeks, with all their belongings. An obese man carried his shoes in his hand. Another confused man in camouflage pants and bedroom slippers said as he passed, “Our commander, Kolobok, ordered us to pack all our stuff and leave the building; our bags were searched at the exit.” There had been reports of a robbery at a local Metro supermarket and the commanders were checking for contraband.

Would the cleansing operation revive the image of the republic in the midst of fighting?

“There should not be robbers with guns running around Donetsk, if we want to build Novorossia,” said Elena Lashuk, a devoted volunteer, who spent weeks cooking food and helping the rebellious militia. “This is a holy, Orthodox war; we are all going to fight and bring icons to the battle field; if not the Russian army, God will defend us and deliver us from our sins,” Lashuk said.

But as the building was “cleaned of bums,” according to the commanders, they were replaced by hardened “green men” in balaclavas, who clearly were Russians. Would their war be more holy, or more effective?

In almost every room the floor was piled high with goods stolen from the Metro store—stacks of big round cheeses, bottles of vodka, and even packs of women’s tights—supplies for a siege, of sorts, in a war that grows stranger by the day.



New Energy Economy


Diesel Trains May Soon Use Natural Gas Instead

Thanks to the shale revolution and new technology, locomotives could burn a lot cleaner and cheaper.

When it was first introduced some 170 years ago, the locomotive ran on a domestic fuel source. Workers on the iron horse shoveled coal into a boiler, which propelled the engine and sent steam and smoke billowing into the sky. In the 20th century, diesel fuel displaced coal. On shorter routes, overhead electrical wires began to provide the juice.

Now, another source of domestically-mined energy is being slowly introduced to the mix: natural gas.

Thanks to the shale revolution, the U.S. has abundant supplies of natural gas. And because it can’t be exported easily, its price has fallen sharply—Especially in relation to oil. As a result, American electricity generators have latched on to cleaner-burning gas. Natural gas in 2012 accounted for 30 percent of electricity generation in the U.S., compared with 20 percent in 2005.

Natural gas has been slower to catch on as a transportation fuel. But that may be slowly changing. Indeed, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that “liquefied natural gas (LNG) will play an increasing role in powering freight locomotives in coming years.”

Why? In a word, price. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “a gallon of diesel fuel cost an average of $3.97 last year, according to federal statistics. The equivalent amount of energy in natural gas cost 48 cents at industrial prices.” According to the EIA, America’s seven major U.S. freight railroads spent $11 billion in 2012 for more than 3.6 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2012. For these railroads, fuel accounts for nearly one quarter of operating expenses. The potential cost savings is difficult to ignore.

Major manufacturers like General Electric and Caterpillar are building prototypes of locomotives that can run and natural gas and several railroads have committed to testing them in real-world conditions. BNSF, the Burlington Norther Santa Fe, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, this spring said it would conduct a pilot project with LNG-fueled locomotives in the U.S.

North of the border, Canada National (CN) has has put into service “two mainline diesel-electric locomotives fuelled principally by natural gas in revenue service in northern Alberta.” CN retrofitted the diesel engines so they could run on a blend of 90 percent natural gas and 10 percent diesel, a move that, the company said could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent. In April, Westport Innovations delivered four tenders—cars that can carry 10,000 gallons of LNG—to CN. Westport is also working with machinery giant Caterpillar on new locomotives.

General Electric and CSX are teaming up to test GE’s Next Fuel Natural Gas Retrofit kit, a set of equipment installed into regular locomotives that can use either diesel or a blend of 80 percent natural gas and 20 percent diesel. GE claims that retrofitting can “reduce locomotive fuel costs by up to 50 %.”  Meanwhile, Union Pacific says (PDF) is planning to test LNG as a fuel source for locomotives in early 2015.

The efforts are proceeding slowly and tentatively because the price differential of the fuel is only one factor to consider. Retrofitting locomotives and adding LNG tenders is an expensive proposition. The EIA projects that fuel savings could “more than offset the approximately $1 million incremental cost associated with an LNG locomotive and its tender.”

Locomotives are long-term commitments—one can last as long as 30 years. So railroad operators have to be sure that the price of natural gas will remain low. Railroad operators have to get regulatory waivers to place these new locomotives into service. And the transition will require railroads to make investments beyond new engines and LNG tenders.  They will have to build LNG fueling stations at railyards, for example. 

This uncertainty explains why the forecast, while optimistic, is highly variable. in its report, EIA suggested a wide range of scenarios for the adoption of LNG as train fuel. By 2040, it said, LNG could account for as little as 16 percent and as much 95 percent of railroads’ total energy consumption.

“The fuel economics look very favorable,” said Nicholas Chase, an economist at EIA. “But translating the cost advantage into actual use requires a lot of steps.”

This content is partner content, and was not necessarily written or created by The Daily Beast editorial team.

Christian Petersen/Getty



VA Admits Fraud Is ‘Systemic’

The White House can’t pretend anymore that there are just a few bad apples messing with veterans’ care. A new internal investigation has expanded to 42 separate VA facilities.

Just last week, top leaders including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and President Obama were wondering aloud whether the VA’s problems were limited to a few bad actors. Now, they don’t have to wonder. Messing with schedules to hide long wait times for veterans seeking medical care is “systemic” in the VA’s health-care system, according to a new report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General. And those “scheduling schemes” are placing veterans at risk.

The new report’s official judgment should resolve any doubt about how deep and widespread these issues are. As of Wednesday, when the report was released, the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) investigation had expanded to 42 separate VA facilities.

Increased calls for political action came swiftly in the report's wake and focused on VA Secretary Shinseki.

“I haven’t said this before, but I think it’s time for Gen. Shinseki to move on,” Sen. John McCain said in an appearence on CNN Wednesday.

Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, responded to the report with a statement that said Shinseki should “resign immediately.”

Less than a week ago Rep. Jeff Miller was calling for Shinseki to stay at his post until the OIG completed its investigation, but he changed course after reviewing the interim report’s findings. In his statement Miller called Shinseki a “good man who has served his country honorably,” but said that he seemed “completely oblivious to the severity of the health care challenges facing the department” and that it was “time for him to go.”

In addition to Miller, four other lawmakers also called on Shinseki to resign after the report was released, adding to the more than 50 members of Congress who have called for him to step down since the scandal broke last month. At least two new Democratic senators joined the chorus Wednesday, suggesting that more members of the president’s party are turning against his appointee in the wake of the OIG’s findings.

Though the VA’s problems have been clear for some time, it has been harder to gauge the full consequences and extent of the widespread delays. In the OIG’s report, the impact of the scheduling manipulation can actually be measured in individual veterans affected and days spent waiting for medical treatment.

Wednesday’s interim report focuses on the Phoenix VA where the scandal first broke after a whistleblower revealed widespread scheduling fraud in the facility and dangerous treatment delays for veterans.

In Phoenix, 1,700 veterans in line for medical care were kept off of official records and placed on secret waiting lists. On average it took 115 days, over three months, from the time veterans first reported to the VA until they had their first primary care appointment. Of the 226 veterans reviewed by the OIG for their report, 84% waited more than 14 days—the maximum wait time set by the VA—before they saw a medical provider.

To hide those delays, the employees in Phoenix used the same methods detailed in leaked memos provided by the Central Texas VA whistleblower who spoke with The Daily Beast. And, as the OIG’s own report suggests, their motivation for cheating the records was likely the same—to score high marks on performance evaluations and qualify for bonus pay.

According to the OIG, the most common scheduling trick used to hide delays was changing veterans’ “desired dates” for medical appointments. On Tuesday, before the OIG’s report was released, The Daily Beast gave a detailed account of the “desired date” scheme in an exclusive story based on leaked official documents and testimony from a whistleblower who says that scheduling manipulation remains rampant at the Central Texas VA where they work.

In Phoenix, 1,700 veterans in line for medical care were kept off of official records and placed on secret waiting lists. On average it took 115 days, over three months, from the time veterans first reported to the VA until they had their first primary care appointment.

Changing veterans’ desired appointment dates for medical care may have been the most common method used to game the system in Phoenix. But it wasn’t the only one. The OIG report lists four separate “scheduling schemes” used by VA employees to manipulate veterans’ appointments and hide delays.

The pressure to meet the VA’s performance measures likely led to the proliferation of “scheduling schemes,” like those detailed by the IG. Each of those scheduling tricks helped the VA’s director, who presided over a facility where veterans waited months for care, earn high marks and bonus pay.

Addressing performance measures in the report, the OIG writes: “The Phoenix HCS leadership significantly understated the time new patients waited for their primary care appointment in their FY 2013 performance appraisal accomplishments, which is one of the factors considered for awards and salary increases.”

But patient wait times is not just one of many co-equal factors considered for bonuses. It’s worth 50%, half of the overall bonus.

The OIG lays out a thorough account of how fraud was perpetrated in Phoenix but it doesn’t explain how and why a culture of deception took root. And, as the OIG acknowledges, the new report report on Phoenix is only the latest entry in a large file containing detailed warnings about wait time issues in the VA. Since 2005, the OIG has produced 18 separate reports on treatment delays, hidden wait times and problems in the VA scheduling system.

Phillip Carter—a former top Pentagon official who’s now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, studying veterans’ issues—believes that while the IG report and other investigations may new light shed on old problems, larger issues are still unresolved.

“There are systemic issues with the VA’s allocation of medical resources generally that run much deeper than Sec. Shinseki and his leadership of the VA,” Carter said, “and lay partly at the feet of Congress for neglecting this issue so long too.”

“However,” Carter added “accountability rests with the Secretary, and these issues arguably should have been fixed during Sec. Shinseki’s tenure.” 

Editor's Note: This story will be updated as new information becomes available.




The Most Random Old TV Stars to Appear on ‘Mad Men’

Is that Rory Gilmore having sex with Pete Campbell? Mr. Belding, why are you hawking Cool Whip? A look at the forgotten TV veterans to guest star on Mad Men.

We’ve all had the experience. You channel-surf through that spate of cable channels—TNT, TBS, USA—that show reruns of old (or, rather, old-ish) TV shows—ER, Party of Five, Gilmore Girls—and watch one of those series’ stars in a memorable scene and think, “I wonder whatever happened to them?” Well, increasingly, the answer seems to be, “They’ve been cast on Mad Men.”

AMC’s hit cable drama seems to be a refuge of sorts for TV stars that Hollywood, and, in turn, we seem to have forgotten about: “Is that…Alex Mack?” “Oh my god, I think that’s Mr. Belding!” “Wasn’t he on Married…With Children?” Whoever’s doing the casting for Mad Men has a penchant for digging up some of TV’s treasures from the past and putting them on screen for us to see in new and unexpected ways—like in ’60s garb having sex with Pete Campbell. (Rory Gilmore, who knew you had it in you?)

On Sunday night’s mid-season finale of Mad Men, yet another blast from TV’s past appeared in a seemingly random role. Kellie Martin, star of ER and Life Goes On (and countless Lifetime TV movies), played one of Betty’s college girlfriends. Where does she rank among the series’ most pleasantly surprising castings? Here’s a look back.

Kellie Martin

What you remember her from: She played the gifted, but socially awkward, teenage daughter Becca on the ’90s family drama Life Goes On and is responsible for a million tears for her part in one of the saddest, most shocking character deaths in TV history as Dr. Lucy Knight on ER.

Who she played on Mad Men: Martin popped up in this Sunday’s mid-season episode in a role that was simultaneously fairly innocuous and a tragic reminder of how old we’ve all gotten. A college pal of Betty’s who shows up with her family for a visit, Martin, who we fell in love with as one of Hollywood’s most talented teenage actors, played the mother of a teenager herself.

Neve Campbell

What you remember her from: Were you even around in the ’90s? Campbell was the ’90s actress, starring in a spate of the decade’s buzziest TV and film projects: the nighttime soap Party of Five, the definitive horror series Scream, the cult hit The Craft, and the impetus for every ’90s boy’s journey into manhood in Wild Things.

Who she played on Mad Men: Campbell showed up in a pivotal role in the most recent season premiere of Mad Men as Don Draper’s seatmate, on whom he unloads about his life with surprising honesty and candor. Of all the women that Don’s been seduced by, she may have been the most surprising—he spurns her advances.

Linda Cardellini

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What you remember her from: Campbell wasn’t the first ’90s icon to tangle with Don. Cardellini, who, like Kellie Martin, is an ER alum, is probably best known to TV fans (or, at least, good TV fans) for her role in the short-lived classic Freaks and Geeks. (Plus, if you have kids, you may recognize her as Velma in the live-action Scooby-Doo movies.)

Who she played on Mad Men: Cardellini earned a Guest Actress Emmy nomination for her turn last season as the neighbor Don had an affair with. Cardellini’s character still lives in Don’s building—maybe there’s time yet for the two to have another elevator run-in before the series wraps up.

Harry Hamlin

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What you know him from: People’s Sexiest Man Alive of 1987 played attorney Michael Kuzak in the ’80s legal drama L.A. Law. Before finding resurging relevance on Mad Men, he competed on Dancing with the Stars, as did his wife, Lisa Rinna.

Who he plays on Mad Men: Hamlin plays Jim Cutler, who was once SCDP’s nemesis and is now a partner seemingly hell-bent on ruining Don’s life. Also, he’s the man we all can thank for this classic GIF.

Alexis Bledel

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What you know her from: Talking a mile a minute for seven seasons as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. She also traveled with pants.

Who she played on Mad Men: She had an affair with Pete Campbell. We all saw her side boob. Then she got her brain fried. (Also, now she and Vincent Kartheiser are engaged IRL!)

David James Elliott

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What you remember him from: Elliott played the lead in the military court procedural JAG for 10 seasons on CBS. Also, JAG was on for 10 seasons!? 

Who he played on Mad Men: In the second episode of this season of Mad Men, Elliott played a rival ad man looking to woo Don away from SCDP during Don’s suspension from the agency.

Ted McGinley 

What you know him from: Lovingly (we think) called “the patron saint of shark-jumping, McGinley is famous for appearing on TV series right before they were canceled—Dynasty, Sports Night, and Charlie Lawrence among them. But you probably know him best as Marcy’s dashing doof of a husband on Married…With Children. Like Hamlin, McGinley is also no stranger to bedazzled spandex, having also competed on a season of Dancing with the Stars.

Who he played on Mad Men: McGinley played a writer on the soap opera that Megan acted on for a spell. He also propositioned Don and Megan into having a foursome.

Joanna Going

What you know her from: Going starred in the ill-fated attempt to revive the cult TV show Dark Shadows in the ’90s (prior to the ill-fated attempt to revive the series as a 2012 Johnny Depp movie). She also played the First Lady in the first two seasons of Netflix’s House of Cards.

Who she played on Mad Men: She would’ve been No. 4 in the foursome with Don, Megan, and McGinley’s Mel. Going played Arlene, the star of the soap opera that Mel writes for, who mentors Megan.

Charles Shaughnessy

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What you know him from: Perhaps harder to place with Fran Drescher honking his name, he was Mr. Sheffield on The Nanny.

Who he played on Mad Men: Saint John Powell, head honcho of the British firm that takes over Sterling Cooper.

Larisa Oleynik

What you know her from: This Mad Men sighting was very exciting for millennials. Oleynik was the heroine in Nickelodeon’s The Secret World of Alex Mack and the too-cool-for-school younger sister opposite Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You

Who she played on Mad Men: Oleynik proved deft at giggling while holding cocktails, playing Ken Cosgrove’s wife, who largely showed up at dinners, lunches, and parties as his arm candy.

Yeardley Smith

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What you know her from: More like “what you know her voice from.” Smith voices Lisa Simpson on Fox’s long-running animated series—though she’s also appeared in human form in numerous scene-stealing roles on shows including The Big Bang Theory and Dharma and Greg.

Who she played on Mad Men: In the season 3 episode “The Fog,” Smith plays a nurse at the hospital where Betty gives birth.

Dan Byrd

What you remember him from: He plays Courteney Cox’s nerdy son on Cougar Town.

Who he played on Mad Men: In the most recent season premiere, he played Joan’s new footwear client, a marketing executive who’s as in over his head as he is eager.

Dennis Haskins

What you remember him from: He’s Mr. Belding! Haskins will perennially be attached to the indelible Saved By the Bell principal.

Who he played on Mad Men: In what may be one of the most exciting “hold on, is that….?” Mad Men moments, Haskins played a test-kitchen scientist in the Cool Whip laboratory.

Stephanie Courtney

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What you remember her from: Her name might not be instantly recognizable, but she absolutely is: she’s Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady

Who she played on Mad Men: In the show’s first season, she was switchboard operator Marge. She was not impressed by the drunken debauchery at the election-return party.

Kip Pardue

What you remember him from: Playing Sunshine, the new guy with long hair in Remember the Titans. He’s also had arcs on ER and House.

Who he played on Mad Men: A Heinz ketchup executive.

Joe O’Connor

What you remember him from: More ’90s nostalgia! He was Mr. Darling, Melissa Joan Hart’s father on Clarissa Explains It All.

Who he played on Mad Men: He’s played Pete’s father-in-law, Tom Vogel, since Mad Men’s first season, who never thought Pete was good enough for his daughter, Trudy (played by another “isn’t that…?” actress, Community star Allison Brie).

Bess Armstrong

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What you remember her from: She was Angela Chases’s mom on My So-Called Life.

Who she played on Mad Men: She was last spotted dropping acid with Roger and Jane Sterling.