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Airs Monday through Thursday at 2pm on 93.9 FM and weekdays at 9pm on AM 820

"If you want to understand a political conflict, it helps to understand the culture in which that conflict is taking place," says host Terry Gross. Fresh Air is one of the most popular programs on public radio, breaking the "talk show" mold, and Gross is known for her fearless and insightful interviews with prominent figures in American arts, politics, and popular culture. "When there is a crisis in a foreign country, we sometimes call up that country's leading novelist or filmmaker to get the cultural perspective." Fresh Air features daily reports and reviews from critics and commentators on music, books, movies, and other cultural phenomena that invade the national psyche.

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  • Terry Gross

    Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air's interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by host and executive producer Terry Gross' unique approach.

Latest Stories from Fresh Air

Last updated: Friday, July 25 2014 01:43 AM

'Panic In A Suitcase' Puts A Fresh Spin On A Coming-To-America Story

Friday, July 25 2014 01:33 AM

Yelena Akhtiorskaya's debut novel is about a family that emigrates from Odessa to the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, N.Y. It's a funny tale full of insider knowledge and offbeat words.

Human Rights Watch Researcher Reports ISIS Abuses In Iraq

Friday, July 25 2014 01:33 AM

Letta Tayler recently returned from Iraq, where she documented stories about the militant Islamist group ISIS and abuses by the Iraqi government. She tells Fresh Air what she learned.

'A Hard Day's Night': A Pop Artifact That Still Crackles With Energy

Thursday, July 24 2014 01:34 AM

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day's Night, a spectacular restoration is in theaters and on DVD. The black-and-white photography of the Beatles is gorgeous, and the movie isn't half bad.

Cat PDA Vs. Human PDA, And Other Animal Behavior Explained

Thursday, July 24 2014 01:33 AM

Veterinarian Vint Virga works with pets and zoo animals on behavior disorders. He talks about how house cats are more fulfilled when they forage for food, and how to show animals affection.

Fresh Air Remembers Actress And Singer Elaine Stritch

Wednesday, July 23 2014 01:33 AM

The Broadway star used to describe herself as a Catholic, diabetic alcoholic. She died last week at the age of 89. In 1999, she talked with Terry Gross when she was starring in a revival of Sail Away.

How Scientists Created A Typhus Vaccine In A 'Fantastic Laboratory'

Wednesday, July 23 2014 01:33 AM

Arthur Allen's new book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, describes how a WWII scientist in Poland smuggled the typhus vaccine to Jews — while his team made a weakened version for the Nazis.

On 'Tomlinson Hill,' Journalist Seeks Truth And Reconciliation

Tuesday, July 22 2014 01:33 AM

Chris Tomlinson covered conflict, including apartheid in Africa, for 11 years. Then the great-great-grandson of Texas slaveholders realized he needed to write a book about his family's history.

Fresh Air Weekend: Angela Ricketts; Chaz Ebert And Steve James

Sunday, July 20 2014 01:33 AM

In her book No Man's War, Angela Ricketts writes about raising three kids while her husband deployed. Filmmaker Steve James and Chaz Ebert discuss Life Itself, a documentary about Robert Ebert.

'Live In The Present': Charlie Haden Remembered

Saturday, July 19 2014 01:33 AM

"You have to see your unimportance before you can see your importance and your significance to the world," Haden told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1992. The bassist died on July 11.

Every Composer Needs A Great Storyteller

Thursday, July 17 2014 01:33 AM

EMI has just reissued a broad spectrum of German conductor Otto Klemperer's recordings, including a box set of one of the composers he's most associated with: Gustav Mahler.

Nigeria's Boko Haram 'More Extreme Than Al-Qaida,' Journalist Says

Thursday, July 17 2014 01:33 AM

Journalist Alex Perry wrote the new e-book The Hunt for Boko Haram: Investigating the Terror Tearing Nigeria Apart. He says Boko Haram doesn't have logical reasons for the atrocious acts it commits.

The Cowboy That Wasn't A Cowboy Sings

Wednesday, July 16 2014 01:32 AM

A new album from Cowboy Jack Clement has the prolific producer performing many of his best-known compositions with help of Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell and John Prine.

An Army Wife Charts Her Struggles In 'No Man's War'

Wednesday, July 16 2014 01:32 AM

In her new book, Angela Ricketts writes about raising three kids while her husband deployed eight times over 22 years. Each separation "kind of blackens your soul," she says.

'Fresh Air' Remembers South African Writer Nadine Gordimer

Tuesday, July 15 2014 01:39 AM

Nadine Gordimer has written about the agonies of apartheid in her novels and short stories. She died Sunday at the age of 90. In 1989, she spoke with Terry Gross during a visit to the U.S.

'Mockingbird Next Door': A Genteel Peek Into Harper Lee's Quiet Life

Tuesday, July 15 2014 01:39 AM

After Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, she became a recluse and lived with her sister, Alice, in Alabama. Reporter Marja Mills uses rich detail to provides glimpses into their twilight years.

How A Factory Man Fought To Save His Furniture Company

Tuesday, July 15 2014 01:39 AM

Virginia furniture owner John Bassett III was determined to beat out foreign competitors. Author Beth Macy documents him, and the collapse of the U.S. furniture industry, in her new book, Factory Man.

Fresh Air Weekend: Richard Linklater, Strand Of Oaks And Brian Krebs

Sunday, July 13 2014 01:33 AM

Writer-director Richard Linklater discusses his new film Boyhood; Ken Tucker has a review of the latest Strand Of Oaks album; and blogger Brian Krebs talks about covering cybercriminals.

In A Remarkable Feat, 'Boyhood' Makes Time Visible

Saturday, July 12 2014 01:38 AM

Boyhood is about a boy in Texas whose parents have separated. Filmed over 12 years, audiences watch him grow up — and his worldview evolve. The cumulative power of the movie is tremendous.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Soul Singer And Songwriter Bobby Womack

Saturday, July 12 2014 01:37 AM

Womack sang for a gospel group with his brothers called the Valentinos. It's All Over Now was their first international hit. Womack, who died June 27 at the age of 70, talked with Terry Gross in 1999.

Fred Hersch Knows His Trios

Friday, July 11 2014 01:33 AM

Fred Hersch pulls together jazz piano traditions that have little in common. Kevin Whitehead says the classic piano, bass and drums trio format suits Hersch best of all in a review of Floating.

10 Years Later, Mystery Heroine 'Maisie Dobbs' Gains New Life

Friday, July 11 2014 01:33 AM

Jacqueline Winspear's debut mystery, Maisie Dobbs, set in England around World War I, came out in paperback a decade ago. A new edition testifies to the enduring allure of the traditional mystery.

Filmed Over 12 Years, 'Boyhood' Follows A Kid's Coming Of Age

Friday, July 11 2014 01:33 AM

Writer-director Richard Linklater says picking the film's star was vital because he had to guess what he'd be like at 18. "I just went with a kid who seemed kind of the most interesting."

If Jim Lauderdale Is A Song, More People Should Hear It

Thursday, July 10 2014 01:33 AM

Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker says Lauderdale's career is at once admirable and somewhat puzzling.

'The Strain' And 'Extant' Play On Fears Of Forces Out Of Our Control

Thursday, July 10 2014 01:33 AM

This week, two new TV series begin in the threats-from-nowhere genre: Extant on CBS and The Strain on FX. The better of the two, The Strain, about a disease outbreak, is effectively creepy.

Biologist Says Promoting Diversity Is Key To 'Keeping The Bees'

Thursday, July 10 2014 01:33 AM

Laurence Packer says humans need to appreciate both domestic bees and the some 20,000 species of wild bees. His book Keeping The Bees explores all types, including some that feed on tears.

'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The French Like

Wednesday, July 09 2014 01:33 AM

The film Violette is a fictionalized portrait of Violette Leduc, the trailblazing French novelist who was considered difficult. The strangely gripping movie captures a key moment in feminist history.

The Hazards Of Probing The Internet's Dark Side

Wednesday, July 09 2014 01:33 AM

Brian Krebs, who broke the Target security breach story last year, says cybercriminals are "some very bad people." He tells Terry Gross about how they have found creative ways to taunt him.

The Westerlies Come On Home With Horvitz

Tuesday, July 08 2014 01:33 AM

The brass players' debut album is a set of pieces by Seattle-based composer and improviser Wayne Horvitz

'Fresh Air' Remembers Actor Meshach Taylor

Tuesday, July 08 2014 01:33 AM

Taylor was best known for his role as Anthony Bouvier on the TV sitcom Designing Women. Taylor's other TV series included Buffalo Bill and Dave's World. He chatted with Terry Gross in 1990.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Screenwriter Paul Mazursky

Tuesday, July 08 2014 01:33 AM

Mazursky wrote such films as Next Stop, Greenwich Village; An Unmarried Woman; and Down and Out in Beverly Hills. He died last week at the age of 84. He talked with Terry Gross in 1991 and 1999.

Fresh Air Weekend: Joel McHale, 'Friendship,' And 'The Great Fish Swap'

Sunday, July 06 2014 01:33 AM

Comedian Joel McHale talks bad TV and filming a thriller; Maureen Corrigan says Friendship is a startlingly nice novel; and author Paul Greenberg discusses why most of the fish we eat is imported.

In Charming Film 'Begin Again,' Music Can Save A Life

Friday, July 04 2014 01:33 AM

Keira Knightley plays a heartbroken singer-songwriter who teams up with a drunken producer in Begin Again. Irish director John Carney, who had a surprise hit with the musical Once, hit his mark again.

'Life Itself': An Unflinching Documentary Of Roger Ebert's Life And Death

Friday, July 04 2014 01:33 AM

In late 2012, filmmaker Steve James and Roger Ebert began talking about filming a documentary based on Ebert's memoir. Ebert's wife, Chaz, agreed. They didn't know that he would die within months.

Strand Of Oaks: Songs Heal All Wounds

Thursday, July 03 2014 01:33 AM

If you're going to be downbeat, glum, or morose, it's best to do it the way Timothy Showalter does it.

'Friendship': A Startlingly Nice Novel By A Tough-Girl Blogger

Thursday, July 03 2014 01:33 AM

Emily Gould's first novel stars 30-something single women in New York City who are figuring out what's important in life. It's worth picking up for its sharp social observations and inspired wordplay.

As Supreme Court Term Ends, Journalist Examines Its Decisions

Thursday, July 03 2014 01:33 AM

The Supreme Court term ended Monday. The New York Times correspondent and lawyer Adam Liptak talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about what the decisions reveal about the nine justices.

Do Feelings Compute? If Not, The Turing Test Doesn't Mean Much

Wednesday, July 02 2014 01:33 AM

For the first time, a computer passed the test for machines engaging in intelligent thought. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says the real test is whether computers can behave the same way thinking people do.

'The Great Fish Swap': How America Is Downgrading Its Seafood Supply

Wednesday, July 02 2014 01:32 AM

One-third of the seafood Americans catch is sold abroad, but most of the seafood we eat here is imported and often of lower quality. Why? Author Paul Greenberg says it has to do with American tastes.

Comedian Joel McHale Talks Dyslexia, Bad TV And Filming A Thriller

Tuesday, July 01 2014 01:33 AM

The host of The Soup co-stars in the thriller Deliver Us From Evil. "I felt like a 12-year-old getting to be in an action film," McHale tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Fresh Air Weekend: Mary Gauthier, Miranda Lambert, The Women Behind 'Obvious Child'

Sunday, June 29 2014 01:33 AM

Singer Mary Gauthier discusses what inspired Trouble & Love; Ken Tucker reviews Miranda Lambert's latest album Platinum; and the women behind Obvious Child talk farts, abortion and stage fright.

In The Mood For Apocalypse? Skip 'Transformers,' See 'Snowpiercer'

Saturday, June 28 2014 01:33 AM

Film critic David Edelstein says Snowpiercer — a dystopian film based on a French graphic novel — is far more invigorating and potent than Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.

After The Rapture, Who Are 'The Leftovers'?

Saturday, June 28 2014 01:33 AM

Tom Perrotta's 2011 novel examined the aftermath of an unexplained rapturelike event. A new HBO series inspired by The Leftovers begins Sunday. Originally broadcast Aug. 25, 2011.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Actor Eli Wallach

Saturday, June 28 2014 01:33 AM

Wallach made a career of playing the villain in films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven. He died Tuesday at the age of 98. Wallach talked with Terry Gross in 1990.

'Most Dangerous Book': A Rich Treasury Charting James Joyce's 'Ulysses'

Friday, June 27 2014 01:33 AM

There are many heroes in Kevin Birmingham's new book about the novel that sparked a revolution, but James Joyce isn't one of them. The strength of The Most Dangerous Book lies in its subtle details.

Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' Has A Firm Grasp On Pop History

Friday, June 27 2014 01:33 AM

Lana Del Rey continues a time-honored pop tradition of developing a public persona that challenges fans to decide what's real and what's not.

The Women Behind 'Obvious Child' Talk Farts, Abortion And Stage Fright

Friday, June 27 2014 01:33 AM

For her first feature film, director Gillian Robespierre says she wanted to cast Jenny Slate in the role as an empowered, funny woman. They tell Fresh Air what shaped them as women in comedy.

Dexter Filkins On ISIS And The 'Bitter Consequences' Of The Iraq War

Thursday, June 26 2014 01:33 AM

The journalist who covered the war in Iraq, and its aftermath, details the militant Sunni Islamist group, the power it has in Iraq and Syria and how its war is destabilizing neighboring countries.

Mary Gauthier De-Romanticizes Romantic Love

Wednesday, June 25 2014 01:33 AM

Trouble & Love is about a relationship that went bad. "I think that this is one where Mary finally gets the lesson," Gauthier tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Writer And Middle East Scholar Fouad Ajami

Tuesday, June 24 2014 01:33 AM

In 1988, Ajami spoke with Terry Gross about an essay he'd written about how political catastrophe came to Beruit, Lebanon, and how the city where he grew up became a land of cruelty and hatred.

50 Years Ago, Students Fought For Black Rights During 'Freedom Summer'

Tuesday, June 24 2014 01:33 AM

A PBS documentary about the 1964 movement to get blacks to vote in Mississippi airs Tuesday. Freedom Summer director Stanley Nelson and organizer Charles Cobb discuss the dangers the students faced.

Fresh Air Weekend: John Oliver, Parquet Courts And Joshua Ferris

Sunday, June 22 2014 01:33 AM

Comedian John Oliver pokes fun on his new show on HBO; Ken Tucker reviews Parquet Courts' third record; and writer Joshua Ferris discusses his latest novel about a dentist wrestling with his atheism.

'Jersey Boys' And 'Venus In Fur' Are Just As Intense On Screen

Saturday, June 21 2014 01:33 AM

Two veteran directors adapted the Broadway shows to film. And while many such translations are too stage-bound, critic David Edelstein says Clint Eastwood and Roman Polanski got the balance right.

Remembering Horace Silver, Hard Bop Pioneer

Saturday, June 21 2014 01:33 AM

Jazz pianist, bandleader and composer Horace Silver died Wednesday at age 85. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead says that Silver had been off the scene awhile, but his influence is as strong as ever.

A Reclusive Novelist Reckons With His Legacy '& Sons'

Saturday, June 21 2014 01:33 AM

David Gilbert tells the story of a famous, aging writer whose children do not feel as warmly toward him as his readers do. Originally broadcast July 23, 2013.

John Oliver Is No One's Friend On His New HBO Show

Friday, June 20 2014 01:33 AM

The comedian who was a correspondent on The Daily Show for 7 1/2 years now pokes fun on Last Week Tonight. Oliver talks about tasing his leg, temping for a thief and remaining an outsider.

A Double Dose Of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Free-Funk

Thursday, June 19 2014 01:35 AM

Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society's Man Dance and its sequel Barbeque Dog are now available again as downloads, after being out of print for ages.

Someday Soon You May Swallow A Computer With Your Pill

Thursday, June 19 2014 01:35 AM

Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal explains how a tiny computer attaches to a pill you ingest to record how your body responds. It sounds crazy, he says, but it was approved by the FDA.

Writer Reflects On Aircraft Carrier's Mission To The Persian Gulf

Thursday, June 19 2014 01:35 AM

Geoff Dyer spent two weeks aboard the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush for his book Another Great Day at Sea. He talks with Fresh Air about his book, and the carrier's latest position for possible air strikes.

Parquet Courts' Misery Is Exhilarating

Wednesday, June 18 2014 01:33 AM

The quartet has drawn comparisons to the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, and Sonic Youth, but rock critic Ken Tucker says this album proves Parquet Courts is an original.

Joshua Ferris Takes On Atheism In 'To Rise Again'

Wednesday, June 18 2014 01:33 AM

In Joshua Ferris' third novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, the protagonist is a dentist wrestling with his atheism. Ferris says his character, like all dentists, is "chronically misunderstood."

'Fresh Air' Remembers Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott

Tuesday, June 17 2014 01:33 AM

Scott, who had a rare genetic condition that made him sound like a woman, was popular in '50s but didn't make any records between 1975 and 1992. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1992 about his comeback.

A-List Celebrities Flock To Late-Night 'Graham Norton Show'

Tuesday, June 17 2014 01:33 AM

The late-night talk show, imported by BBC America, has been around for years. TV critic David Bianculli says it's never been better — it's like eavesdropping on an all-star cocktail party.

'Fargo' TV Series Captures The Best And Worst Of America

Tuesday, June 17 2014 01:33 AM

The finale of the Fargo TV series airs Tuesday. The characters are different, like a deputy sheriff played by Allison Tolman. But writer Noah Hawley says the Coen brothers told him he "nailed it."

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Supermensch,' Conference Calls And John Waters

Sunday, June 15 2014 01:33 AM

This week Mike Myers talks about his Shep Gordan documentary, Alexis Madrigal explains why we still need conference calls, and Waters hitchhikes across America.

'Obvious Child': A Momentous Film Of Small, Embarrassing Truths

Saturday, June 14 2014 01:33 AM

The indie film depicts a standup comic who decides to have an abortion after a one-night stand. David Edelstein lauds director Gillian Robespierre's courage.

'Lawrence' Of Arabia: From Archaeologist To War Hero

Saturday, June 14 2014 01:33 AM

Scott Anderson's book explains how British officer T.E. Lawrence used his knowledge of Arab culture and medieval history to advance British causes. Originally broadcast Aug. 19, 2013.

Hillary Clinton: The Fresh Air Interview

Friday, June 13 2014 01:33 AM

Clinton's new memoir, Hard Choices, outlines her four years as secretary of state under President Obama. She talks about her vote for the Iraq War, women's rights and political "gamers."

In Big Bill Broonzy's Blues, Brothers Find A Way To Sing Together

Thursday, June 12 2014 01:33 AM

Dave and Phil Alvin have made their first full album together in nearly 30 years, a tribute to one of their early influences. "His persona was so big to me," Phil Alvin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Invisible 'Supermensch' Avoided The Spotlight While Making Others Famous

Tuesday, June 10 2014 01:33 AM

Mike Myers' documentary Supermensch chronicles the work of Shep Gordon, who has "jump-started" the careers of superstar musicians and chefs. Now, it's Gordon's turn for a taste of celebrity.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Raisin In The Sun,' 'Orange Is The New Black,' China's 'Ambition'

Sunday, June 08 2014 01:33 AM

A Raisin in the Sun returns to Broadway, Orange Is the New Black begins season two, and writer Evan Osnos talks about about China's economic expansion.

Beautiful Acting Aside, It Isn't Hard To Find Fault In 'Our Stars'

Saturday, June 07 2014 01:33 AM

The adaptation of John Green's bestselling young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars — about two teens with cancer — is among the year's most anticipated films, but David Edelstein wasn't impressed.

New Season Of 'Orange Is The New Black' Has A Strong, Unsettling Start

Saturday, June 07 2014 01:33 AM

Netflix's women-in-prison series, based on a memoir by Piper Kerman, returns Friday. Fresh Air listens back to interviews with Kerman and series creator Jenji Kohan.

1936 'Show Boat': A Multiracial, Musical Melodrama, Now Out On DVD

Friday, June 06 2014 01:33 AM

With an unforgettable story and score, the 1927 musical tackled complex racial issues. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz says the 1936 film version of Show Boat is the best — and it's now out on DVD.

For Jockey Donna Barton Brothers, Horse Racing Runs In The Family

Friday, June 06 2014 01:33 AM

At the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, former jockey Donna Barton Brothers will interview the winner on horseback. Now an analyst for NBC, Brothers won more than 1,100 races before retiring in 1998.

Miranda Lambert's 'Platinum' Has Backyard Swagger

Thursday, June 05 2014 01:34 AM

Platinum continues Miranda Lambert's ongoing project to create songs about women who are complex, fun-loving, and assertive.

'Burning Down The House' Makes The Case Against Juvenile Incarceration

Thursday, June 05 2014 01:34 AM

In her new book, Nell Bernstein says America's juvenile justice system is overdue for reform. Time in jail as a child or teen, she says, is the best predictor of adult criminality and incarceration.

Golem Ain't Your Grandparents' Klezmer

Wednesday, June 04 2014 01:33 AM

The New York City band Golem describes its music as punk-klezmer. On Tanz, they mange to find new ways to balance urban irreverence with folk tradition.

Have We Reached The End Of The Line For The Conference Call?

Wednesday, June 04 2014 01:33 AM

Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal considers why people still jump on frustrating conference calls. While tech startups aim to kill the PIN, he says, the phone bridges generations.

A 'New Yorker' Writer's Take On China's 'Age Of Ambition'

Wednesday, June 04 2014 01:33 AM

On the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, author Evan Osnos discusses his new book that explores the tensions between China's economic expansion and its commitment to authoritarian rule.

John Fullbright's Uneven 'Songs' Finds A Way To Fascinate

Tuesday, June 03 2014 01:33 AM

Songs feels like the work of an artist who's still figuring out who he is, where he wants to go, and what he wants to elaborate upon — or invent anew.

'Raisin In The Sun' Revival: A Uniquely American Story Is Back On Broadway

Tuesday, June 03 2014 01:33 AM

Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson star in the latest production of the play, which debuted in 1959. The revival's run is nearing its end — and Jackson says she's "in tears."

Fresh Air Weekend: Chris O'Dowd, The Nazi War On Modern Art And Cannes

Sunday, June 01 2014 01:33 AM

The actor plays Lenny in a revival of the theatrical adaptation of Of Mice and Men; a New York exhibit reunites works from two Nazi art shows; critic John Powers discusses the festival's winners.

Jazz Pianist Ted Rosenthal Has A Feel For Gershwin

Saturday, May 31 2014 01:33 AM

Rosenthal has played George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he's recorded a version for jazz trio as part of an all-Gershwin album.

Phoenix To Self: 'Why Am I Talking About This? ... Joaquin, Shut Up'

Saturday, May 31 2014 01:33 AM

The elusive actor tells Fresh Air about his new film, Her -- but he insists he's not really that interesting. "If I was driving and I heard this, I'd change the channel," he says.

'Degenerate' Exhibit Recalls Nazi War On Modern Art

Friday, May 30 2014 01:33 AM

In 1937, two Nazi art shows aimed to teach the public to despise modernist art and show them what art should be. An exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie reunites works from both landmark shows.

From The Screen To Broadway: Chris O'Dowd Takes On 'Of Mice And Men'

Friday, May 30 2014 01:33 AM

The Irish actor was introduced to a large American audience through the film Bridesmaids. He's now playing Lenny in the revival of the theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Poet And Memoirist Maya Angelou

Thursday, May 29 2014 01:33 AM

In 1986, Angelou spoke to Terry Gross about Southern influences in her writing, her love of autobiography and how, as a traumatized young girl, poetry inspired her to start speaking again.

Highlights From The Cannes Film Festival

Thursday, May 29 2014 01:33 AM

The festival concluded Saturday. Fresh Air critic John Powers discusses the winners and the films that generated the biggest responses — both positive and negative.

China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers

Wednesday, May 28 2014 01:33 AM

In China's Second Continent, Howard French explores the Chinese presence in 15 African countries. The relationship goes beyond economics: more than a million Chinese citizens have migrated to Africa.

The Bronze Buckaroo Rides Off Into The Sunset

Wednesday, May 28 2014 01:33 AM

The black singing cowboy Herb Jeffries sang a Duke Ellington hit and appeared in 1930s westerns like Harlem Rides the Range and The Bronze Buckaroo.

150 Years After Marx, 'Capital' Still Can't Shake Loose Of 'Das Kapital'

Wednesday, May 28 2014 01:33 AM

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century evokes another famous tome with "capital" in its title, and makes comparisons inevitable.

Two New Items From Hank Williams

Tuesday, May 27 2014 01:33 AM

Williams is commonly considered the most important country music songwriter. Critic Ken Tucker has a review of a newly released CD of radio broadcasts and DVD of TV performances.

During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty

Tuesday, May 27 2014 01:33 AM

A new book looks at how the military and Hollywood directors teamed up during the war. The films they made helped show Americans what was at stake, and served as evidence during the Nuremberg Trials.

Fresh Air Weekend: Louis C.K., Miles Davis And A Military Dog

Sunday, May 25 2014 01:33 AM

The comic's show, Louie, is now in its fourth season; Davis' performances at New York's Fillmore East are now out in full; and a Marine dog adjusts to civilian life.

'The Immigrant': An Ellis Island Period Drama From James Gray

Saturday, May 24 2014 01:33 AM

In the director's latest film, Marion Cotillard plays a Polish woman trying to free her sister from the island's infirmary and Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as a shady businessman.

Donovan To Be Inducted Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Saturday, May 24 2014 01:33 AM

The singer-songwriter wrote several '60s folk rock hippie anthems, including "Sunshine Superman." He spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2004.

HBO's 'The Normal Heart' Looks At The Early Days Of The AIDS Crisis

Saturday, May 24 2014 01:33 AM

On Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of Larry Kramer's 1985 play. Kramer himself wrote the adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Cinematographer Gordon Willis

Saturday, May 24 2014 01:33 AM

Willis shot eight Woody Allen films and the entire Godfather trilogy. He died Sunday at 82. Willis spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2002.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Civil Rights Activist Vincent Harding

Friday, May 23 2014 01:33 AM

Harding died Monday at 82. He wrote several speeches for Martin Luther King Jr., including his controversial 1967 speech opposing the war in Vietnam. Harding spoke to Fresh Air in 1988.

A Second Posthumous Collection From Rock Critic Ellen Willis

Friday, May 23 2014 01:33 AM

The Essential Ellen Willis focuses on the writer's explicitly feminist culture criticism. It was edited by Willis' daughter, who published an earlier collection of her mother's essays in 2011.

Civilian Life Taught This Military Dog Some New Tricks

Friday, May 23 2014 01:33 AM

As a bomb-detecting dog, Zenit the German shepherd never chased his tail or dug holes. Those are skills he learned after he was adopted by his former professional partner, Cpl. Jose Armenta.

'Chameleon' Has Cabaret, Spies And A Plot Fit For Lifetime

Thursday, May 22 2014 01:33 AM

Francine Prose's latest novel was inspired by a 1932 photo of two lesbians, one of whom was in the Gestapo. Critic Maureen Corrigan says it's an ingenious excursion into the Parisian demimonde.

How The Koch Brothers Remade America's Political Landscape

Thursday, May 22 2014 01:33 AM

Charles and David Koch have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bring their libertarian views into the mainstream. In a new book, Daniel Schulman looks at the roots of their ideology.

'The Maya Rudolph Show' And What It'll Take To Bring Back Variety

Wednesday, May 21 2014 01:33 AM

The comedian's prime-time NBC special is the latest rare attempt by network TV to revive the long-dormant genre. Fresh Air's critic doesn't think it succeeded, but he encourages TV to try, try again.

In Life And Fiction, Edward St. Aubyn Sheds The Weight Of His Past

Wednesday, May 21 2014 01:33 AM

The writer is best known for his semi-autobiographical novels about an Englishman from a posh but monstrous family. St. Aubyn's new book marks a departure.

Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'

Tuesday, May 20 2014 01:33 AM

The comic tells Fresh Air that after Season 3, he "aggressively forgot the show existed for a few months." Then he got back to work. Louie is now in its fourth season.

Fresh Air Weekend: Glenn Greenwald, 'Godzilla' And Todd Barry

Sunday, May 18 2014 01:33 AM

Greenwald says he "erred on the side of excess caution" when writing about Edward Snowden's NSA leaks; David Edelstein reviews the latest Godzilla; and Barry tries a new stand-up strategy.

'Godzilla': A Fire-Breathing Behemoth Returns To The Big Screen

Saturday, May 17 2014 01:33 AM

In the Japanese original, he was a thinly disguised symbol of the atom bomb, but in later films he fought other giant monsters and even space aliens. The latest Godzilla is directed by Gareth Edwards.

In 1970, Miles Davis Played Four Sets For A New Audience

Saturday, May 17 2014 01:33 AM

That June, Miles Davis played four nights at the New York rock palace Fillmore East. Those performances are now out in full for the first time.

Making It In The Big Leagues Was A 'Long Shot' For Catcher Mike Piazza

Saturday, May 17 2014 01:33 AM

In his memoir, the catcher opens up about getting drafted in the 62nd round, his feud with Roger Clemens and what it's like to go into retirement. Leaving the game, he says, was "like a small death."

Former Ambassador To Russia: Putin Has No Master Plan For Ukraine

Friday, May 16 2014 01:33 AM

Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February 2014, says, "I've never seen [Putin] devote a speech to the necessity of reuniting Crimea with Russia. That came only recently."

Greenwald On NSA Leaks: 'We've Erred On The Side Of Excess Caution'

Thursday, May 15 2014 01:33 AM

Journalist Glenn Greenwald says he and his team weighed the public's interest against the potential harm to innocent people when deciding how many of Edward Snowden's leaked documents to make public.

Ray LaMontagne Finds The Bright Side On 'Supernova'

Wednesday, May 14 2014 01:33 AM

The achievement of Supernova is that, five albums in, LaMontagne hasn't settled into a formula or a fall-back recurring mood. Here, the singer-songwriter explores a sunny, psychedelic side.

'Good Doctor' Puts Past Medical Practices Under An Ethical Microscope

Wednesday, May 14 2014 01:33 AM

In a new book, bioethicist and internist Barron Lerner recalls how he came to question some of his father's medical practices — practices that were common among many doctors of that generation.

'Frontline' Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today's NSA

Tuesday, May 13 2014 01:33 AM

PBS looks at the origins of the agency's surveillance program and the extraordinary steps top government officials took to give it legal cover and keep it hidden.

Fresh Air Weekend: Sam Baker And Roz Chast

Sunday, May 11 2014 01:33 AM

A musician finds grace in the wake of destruction and a cartoonist reflects on caring for aging parents.

'Penny Dreadful' Is Wonderful, But 'Rosemary's Baby' Is Dreadful

Saturday, May 10 2014 01:33 AM

Critic David Bianculli reviews the two new TV programs in the horror genre competing for viewers and attention: NBC's modern-day remake of Rosemary's Baby and Showtime's Victorian Penny Dreadful.

'God's Pocket' Is Horrifying, Humanist And Heartbreaking

Saturday, May 10 2014 01:33 AM

Many people will find God's Pocket depressing, but once you get past the despair and carnage it's full of life. In one of his last film roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as hapless Mickey Scarpato.

Marc Maron: A Life Fueled By 'Panic And Dread'

Saturday, May 10 2014 01:33 AM

The comedian turned his life around when he started "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in 2009. He has parlayed the popularity of the podcast into a new television show called Maron.

Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso'

Friday, May 09 2014 01:33 AM

The 1962 comic drama follows two young men: one who smacks of Italy's joyless '50s and one who embodies the prosperity and recklessness of the '60s. The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

A Cartoonist's Funny, Heartbreaking Take On Caring For Aging Parents

Friday, May 09 2014 01:33 AM

In Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast combines text, cartoons, sketches and photos to describe her interactions with her parents during the last years of their lives.

'Hill Street Blues' Created Two Eras For TV Drama: Before And After

Thursday, May 08 2014 01:33 AM

In 1981, NBC presented a new police series that went on to make TV history. Hill Street Blues has just been released on DVD in its entirety for the first time.

From Poker Amateur To World Series Competitor In 'The Noble Hustle'

Thursday, May 08 2014 01:33 AM

Colson Whitehead's new book was born of an assignment to write about the World Series of Poker for Grantland. It's a sharp observational tale of the game, those who play it and how it changed him.

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction

Wednesday, May 07 2014 01:33 AM

In 1986, a bomb planted by the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path exploded in the luggage rack above Sam Baker. Somehow, during his long recovery, songs focused on empathy started coming to him.

In 'Hotel Florida,' Three Couples Chronicle The Spanish Civil War

Tuesday, May 06 2014 01:33 AM

Biographer Amanda Vaill's new book delves deeply into the lives of journalists like Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, whose documenting of the war helped shape public perception.

tUnE-yArDs: Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing

Tuesday, May 06 2014 01:33 AM

On Nikki Nack, Merrill Garbus worries over the notion that she's just an accumulation of her influences, and she fights back wonderfully.

Todd Barry's New Stand-Up Strategy: 'Does Anyone Want To Talk To Me?'

Tuesday, May 06 2014 01:33 AM

Last year, the comedian teamed up with Louis C.K. to film a tour in which all he did was crowd work, or engage the audience in improvised conversations.

Fresh Air Weekend: Alan Cumming, 'Godzilla' And Matthew Weiner

Sunday, May 04 2014 01:33 AM

Cumming is starring in Cabaret for a third time, critic John Powers considers the movie monster and Mad Men's creator reflects on the end of Don Draper's journey.

'Ida': A Coming-Of-Age Story With An Eerie Luster

Saturday, May 03 2014 01:33 AM

Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski's new film centers on an orphan who learns the secret of her past when she's on the brink of becoming a nun.

'Fresh Air' Remembers British Actor Bob Hoskins

Saturday, May 03 2014 01:33 AM

Hoskins, who played a human detective in a world of cartoon characters in the acclaimed movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, died this week after contracting pneumonia. He was 71 years old.

Review: Drummer Billy Hart's 'One Is The Other'

Saturday, May 03 2014 01:33 AM

Hart has recorded hundreds of albums, backing, among many others, pianist Herbie Hancock. But he sometimes records under his own name too, especially now that he has a well-seasoned quartet.

The Making Of 'Godzilla,' Japan's Favorite 'Mon-Star'

Saturday, May 03 2014 01:33 AM

Steve Ryfle is the author of a book about the making of the film and its many sequels. He spoke to Fresh Air in 2004, on the film's 50th anniversary.

Movie Monsters, Monster Movies And Why 'Godzilla' Endures

Saturday, May 03 2014 01:33 AM

Unlike Jaws and Alien, whose creatures are soulless things to be destroyed, Godzilla resonates because of something that once defined the best monster movies — a sense of compassion for the monster.

The Animals: The British Invasion That Wasn't

Friday, May 02 2014 01:39 AM

Largely ignored today, the rough-and-tumble quintet from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne gets reassessed in a new box set, titled The Mickie Most Years & More.

'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner On The End Of Don Draper's Journey

Friday, May 02 2014 01:39 AM

Weiner is currently writing and shooting the show's final episodes. He tells Fresh Air, "I'm going to be leaving these characters in a place where they belong."

At 90, 'Fiddler' Lyricist Tells His Story

Thursday, May 01 2014 01:39 AM

"Any successful lyricist has to be part playwright and has to be able to put himself into the minds and the hearts and the souls of the characters," Sheldon Harnick tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Exploring 'What We Left Behind' In Iraq

Wednesday, April 30 2014 01:33 AM

New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins finds an increasingly authoritarian prime minister — Nouri al-Maliki — sectarian violence, and concern for the future. Iraq holds parliamentary elections Wednesday.

For Alan Cumming, Life Is (Once Again) A Cabaret

Tuesday, April 29 2014 01:33 AM

This is the third time Cumming has starred in the musical. He talks about the new production — everything from his costume (which he calls a "Wonder Bra" for men) to the darker themes of the show.

Fresh Air Weekend: Seth Meyers And Hari Kondabolu

Sunday, April 27 2014 01:33 AM

Seth Meyers talks about leaving Saturday Night Live to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. And Hari Kondabolu describes his career path from immigrant-rights organizer to comedian.

In 'Locke,' A Man's Life Unravels En Route To London

Saturday, April 26 2014 01:33 AM

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is the only person the audience sees in this daring film by Steven Knight. Viewers spend an hour and a half in the car with him, on a solo drive from Birmingham to London.

A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'

Saturday, April 26 2014 01:33 AM

Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org.

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco: 'I Finally Felt Like I Was Home'

Saturday, April 26 2014 01:33 AM

Blanco, who read his poem "One Today" at Obama's second inauguration, is the first immigrant, Latino and openly gay poet chosen to read at an inauguration.

Poet Marie Howe On 'What The Living Do' After Loss

Saturday, April 26 2014 01:33 AM

"Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we're going to die," Howe says.

Tyler Hicks Tells The Story Behind His Pulitzer-Winning Nairobi Mall Photos

Friday, April 25 2014 01:33 AM

The New York Times photojournalist happened to be nearby when Islamist militants launched an attack on shoppers inside an upscale Kenyan mall — he rushed inside and took photos as the event unfolded.

For Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sometimes Sanity Is The Better Option

Thursday, April 24 2014 01:33 AM

Make My Head Sing... is an album of contradictions. It's full of unreliable narrators who sometimes revel in jealousy, willful insanity and drugs, even as her voice and the music suggest otherwise.

Seth Meyers' 'Late Night' Challenge: What To Do With His Hands

Thursday, April 24 2014 01:33 AM

Meyers left a dream job hosting Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. Meyers says not having a mic in hand — like he did in standup — took some adjusting.

For Comic Hari Kondabolu, Explaining The Joke IS The Joke

Tuesday, April 22 2014 01:33 AM

Many comedians think that explaining jokes ruins jokes, but Hari Kondabolu doesn't mind. Especially when it comes to jokes about race and ethnicity, he's willing to explain until everyone gets it.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Missing Microbes,' 'The Both,' And Mike Judge's 'Silicon Valley'

Sunday, April 20 2014 01:33 AM

Dr. Martin Blaser explains why modern medicine may not be doing your microbiome any favors. Aimee Mann and Ted Leo team up to become the duo "The Both." And Mike Judge pokes fun at programmers.

Undead Hipsters And An Abstract Alien Star In Two Arty Horror Pics

Saturday, April 19 2014 01:33 AM

Every so often an arthouse director dips a toe into the horror genre and you realize vampires and space aliens are subjects too rich to be the property of schlockmeisters, says critic David Edelstein.

'Inside Amy Schumer': It's Not Just Sex Stuff

Saturday, April 19 2014 01:33 AM

Amy Schumer's Comedy Central special was called Mostly Sex Stuff but her comedy is about more than that. In her stand-up and her show Inside Amy Schumer, she tackles racism, awkward moments and more.

A Duo's Debut Album: A Collaboration From 'The Both'

Friday, April 18 2014 01:33 AM

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo began performing together in 2012, when Leo was Mann's opening act. Mann began joining Leo onstage during his set. Their debut album is "The Both."

'Bintel Brief' And 'Hellfighters': American Stories, Powerfully Illustrated

Friday, April 18 2014 01:33 AM

Critic Maureen Corrigan recommends two graphic novels — one about a Yiddish advice column in the early 1900s and another about a regiment of African-American soldiers who fought during World War I.

'Silicon Valley' Asks: Is Your Startup Really Making The World Better?

Friday, April 18 2014 01:33 AM

Mike Judge's HBO sitcom pokes fun at programmers hoping to hit it rich. It's not the first time Judge has satirized the workplace: His 1999 cult film Office Space explored desk-job-induced ennui.

Exploring Life's Incurable Soiledness With The Father Of Italian Noir

Thursday, April 17 2014 01:30 AM

A crackling new translation of Giorgio Scerbanenco's crime novel Private Venus has just been released. Critic John Powers read it in a single sitting.

Edward Snowden: From 'Geeky' Dropout To NSA Leaker

Thursday, April 17 2014 01:30 AM

What motivated the former NSA contractor to divulge carefully guarded NSA secrets? A new Vanity Fair article takes a look back at the "kid from the Maryland suburbs."

FX's 'Fargo' Is Neither Remake Nor Sequel

Wednesday, April 16 2014 01:33 AM

The cable network premieres a new drama series tonight. It's called Fargo, and has the same title as the 1996 Coen Brothers movie. Critic David Bianculli says it's very definitely a wonderful show in that same wacky spirit – but it's just as important to note what this new Fargo is not. It's not a remake — and it's not a sequel.

Pakistan, The Taliban And The Real 'Enemy' Of The Afghanistan War

Wednesday, April 16 2014 01:33 AM

In a new book, New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall offers new information about how Pakistan has helped the Taliban in Afghanistan and may have helped hide Osama bin Laden.

Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors

Tuesday, April 15 2014 01:37 AM

In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin Blaser argues that the overuse of antibiotics, as well as now-common practices like C-sections, may be messing with gut microbes.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Mad Men' And 'Frozen'

Sunday, April 13 2014 01:33 AM

Edie Falco discusses sobriety, The Sopranos, and Nurse Jackie's self-medication. We tell you everything we're allowed to about Mad Men, and we talk princesses with the songwriters behind "Let It Go."

Without Giving Too Much Away, Here's What We Can Say About 'Mad Men'

Saturday, April 12 2014 01:33 AM

The AMC period drama returns Sunday, with the usual shroud of secrecy that makes it difficult — but not impossible — to review. Fresh Air critic David Bianculli does his best.

Colbert Moves Into Letterman's Coveted Late Night Spot

Saturday, April 12 2014 01:33 AM

CBS announced Thursday that the spot held by David Letterman for 21 years will go to Stephen Colbert.

At Last, David O. Russell Is Making The Films He Was Meant To Make

Saturday, April 12 2014 01:33 AM

David O. Russell, director of American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, first spoke with Terry Gross back in 1994. In February, he told her that after 20 years, he's finally met his aspirations.

Songwriters Behind 'Frozen' Let Go Of The Princess Mythology

Friday, April 11 2014 01:33 AM

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez tell Terry Gross about the inspiration for "Let It Go" and a "very strong strike across the bow at all princess-myth things" song that didn't make the film.

Edie Falco On Sobriety, The Sopranos, And Nurse Jackie's Self-Medication

Thursday, April 10 2014 01:33 AM

Falco plays ER nurse Jackie Peyton, who is competent at her high-stress job but struggles with addiction. The sixth season of Nurse Jackie begins Sunday on Showtime.

'Parenthood' Is Hard, But NBC Gets This Family Drama Right

Wednesday, April 09 2014 01:33 AM

Critic David Bianculli says family dramas have always been one of television's most difficult genres to do properly — without getting too sweet, too overwrought, or too predictable.

A Nonbeliever Tries To Make Sense Of The Visions She Had As A Teen

Wednesday, April 09 2014 01:33 AM

Barbara Ehrenreich — a rationalist, atheist and scientist by training — has written a new memoir called Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything.

Peter Matthiessen On Writing And Zen Buddhism

Tuesday, April 08 2014 01:33 AM

Fresh Air listens back to our 1989 interview with Snow Leopard author and Paris Review co-founder Peter Matthiessen, who died Saturday at age 86. His new novel In Paradise comes out Tuesday.

If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?

Tuesday, April 08 2014 01:33 AM

In How Jesus Became God, Bart Ehrman explores how a Jewish preacher from Galilee was transformed into a deity. "Jesus himself didn't call himself God and didn't consider himself God," Ehrman says.

Fresh Air Weekend: Michael Lewis, Jon Langford, And A Housekeeping How-To

Sunday, April 06 2014 01:36 AM

On a "rigged" Wall Street, milliseconds make all the difference. Jon Langford sings our impulse to destroy. And new cleaning guide that will help even with the embarrassing stains.

HBO Fills Sunday Night Lineup With Entertaining Power Struggles

Friday, April 04 2014 01:33 AM

This week, HBO airs the season premieres of two returning series — Game of Thrones and Veep -- and launches a new series called Silicon Valley. Fresh Air's TV critic has seen them all.

Embarrassing Stains? This Housekeeping Guide Gets That Life Is Messy

Friday, April 04 2014 01:33 AM

Jerry Seinfeld joked that if you have bloodstains on your clothes, you have bigger problems than the laundry. But Jolie Kerr helps with all the stains in a new book, My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag.

Jon Langford Sings Our Impulse To Destroy

Thursday, April 03 2014 01:33 AM

The Mekons and Waco Brothers veteran often places his left-wing politics front and center in his music and his art. Here Be Monsters has a way of mixing pretty melodies with harsh criticisms.

While Warning Of Chinese Cyberthreat, U.S. Launches Its Own Attack

Thursday, April 03 2014 01:33 AM

The NSA managed to penetrate the networks of the giant Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, documents show. Journalist David Sanger says cyber-espionage is an "entirely new field of conflict."

This Tightly Choreographed Tale Of Ambition And Ballet Will 'Astonish'

Wednesday, April 02 2014 01:33 AM

Maggie Shipstead tells the story of a disciplined dancer who can't make it into the spotlight. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Shipstead is "Edith Wharton with a millennial generation edge."

On A 'Rigged' Wall Street, Milliseconds Make All The Difference

Wednesday, April 02 2014 01:33 AM

"The stock market is rigged," Michael Lewis says. In his new book Flash Boys, he describes how computerized transactions known as high-frequency trading are creating an uneven playing field.

Fight Sound With Sound: Grateful Dead's Arena Combat

Tuesday, April 01 2014 01:33 AM

In 1974, sound engineer Owsley Stanley crafted a superior live experience with an enormous conglomeration of amps and speakers called the Wall of Sound. Dave's Picks Volume 9 captures this era.

Son Of A Secret Smuggler Digs Up The Truth About His Dad

Tuesday, April 01 2014 01:33 AM

Tony Dokoupil's father was once busted for distributing enough marijuana "to roll a joint for every college-age person in America." In The Last Pirate, Dokoupil reflects on his dad's time as a dealer.

Fresh Air Weekend: Bryan Cranston, 'Redeployment' And A New Yorker Cartoonist

Sunday, March 30 2014 01:33 AM

Cranston reinvents himself post-Breaking Bad; former Marine Phil Klay explores his Iraq experience through short stories; Bob Mankoff says humor is both a creative and a cognitive process.

In 'Noah,' Earth And The Bible Get A Computer-Generated Reboot

Saturday, March 29 2014 01:33 AM

Darren Aronofsky's latest film is a big-budget Bible story called, simply, Noah. Russell Crowe plays the title character, and the movie also features Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson.

'The Good Wife' Delivers A Game-Changing Stunner

Saturday, March 29 2014 01:33 AM

Last Sunday, the CBS drama delivered something major and unexpected. If you don't know what happened, and don't wish to, you may not want to listen, but Fresh Air's critic has a lot to say about it.

'The Fall Of The House Of Dixie' Built A New U.S.

Saturday, March 29 2014 01:33 AM

In a his book, historian Bruce Levine says that from the destruction of the South emerged an entirely new country, making the Civil War equivalent to a second American Revolution.

From Walter White To LBJ, Bryan Cranston Is A Master Of Transformation

Friday, March 28 2014 01:33 AM

While Breaking Bad fans were watching him portray Walt in the series' final episodes, Cranston was already reinventing himself — playing Lyndon B. Johnson in the play All the Way.

'Redeployment' Explores Iraq War's Physical And Psychic Costs

Thursday, March 27 2014 01:33 AM

In his short story collection, former Marine Phil Klay takes his experience in Iraq and clarifies it, lucidly tracing the moral, political and psychological curlicues of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

'Sleep Donation': A Dark, Futuristic Lullaby For Insomniacs

Thursday, March 27 2014 01:33 AM

Karen Russell's new book imagines a mysterious insomnia epidemic so serious that many are dying from lack of sleep. But the cure — sleep donations from babies — is hard to swallow.

'Thief' Delivers An Unfiltered Depiction Of Life In Lagos

Wednesday, March 26 2014 01:33 AM

Teju Cole's latest book describes a young New York doctor's visit back to his Nigerian hometown, where he encounters a Clockwork Orange world of misery and corruption.

How Crimea's Annexation Plays To Russians' Soviet Nostalgia

Wednesday, March 26 2014 01:33 AM

For those who viewed the end of the Soviet Union as a tragedy, Crimea was a chance to showcase Russia's strength. Now Russia may have changed its relationship with the outside world for years to come.

After A Painful Year, Bud Powell's Triumpant 1953 Return

Tuesday, March 25 2014 01:33 AM

On Feb. 5, 1953, Powell was uncommunicative face to face at the New York jazz club Birdland. But when he sat at the keys, it was a whole other story.

New Yorker Cartoon Editor Explores What Makes Us Get It

Tuesday, March 25 2014 01:33 AM

Humor is both a creative and a cognitive process, says Bob Mankoff, who has contributed cartoons to The New Yorker since 1977. His memoir is called How About Never — Is Never Good For You?

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Blood Will Out,' An Opera Powerhouse And A Reading

Sunday, March 23 2014 01:33 AM

Author Walter Kirn explores the depths of Clark Rockefeller's deception, mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick reflects on her career and Lloyd Schwartz shares a poem about friendship and loss.

'Nymphomaniac': Chasing Sex, But Only On Her Terms

Saturday, March 22 2014 01:33 AM

Charlotte Gainsbourg and newcomer Stacy Martin anchor Lars von Trier's four-hour inquiry into the nature of impulse and desire.

Criminologist Believes Violent Behavior Is Biological

Saturday, March 22 2014 01:33 AM

Adrian Raine argues that violent behavior has biological roots just like depression or schizophrenia. This raises questions about treatment, accountability and punishment, including the death penalty.

Sara Evans: Country Power Ballads With A Punch

Friday, March 21 2014 01:33 AM

Surrounded on the charts by younger men and their big hits about drinking and partying, Sara Evans' hit-single success of Slow Me Down's title song all the more heartening.

'Test Kitchen': Have Your (Gluten-Free) Cake, And Love Eating It Too

Friday, March 21 2014 01:33 AM

America's Test Kitchen knows how to make gluten-free food taste just as good as the regular stuff. The ATK team tells Fresh Air about the best packaged pasta, and the secrets of gluten-free baking.

When Your Best Friend Is A Star — And You're Her Minion

Thursday, March 20 2014 01:34 AM

The British import Doll & Em is another inside-Hollywood comedy from HBO; Emily Mortimer and her real-life friend Dolly Wells play outsize versions of themselves.

For Opera Powerhouse Dolora Zajick, 'Singing Is Connected To The Body'

Thursday, March 20 2014 01:34 AM

The mezzo-soprano discovered opera as a 22-year-old pre-med student. She took "a crack at a singing career" and has been at the Metropolitan Opera for 25 years. Now she's helping emerging singers.

What U.S. Learned From 'Heathen School' Wasn't Part Of The Lesson Plan

Wednesday, March 19 2014 01:33 AM

The 19th century Connecticut school sought to convert young men from Hawaii, China, India and the Native American nations and then send them home as Christian missionaries. It did not go as planned.

Jazz Composer Tries Something New With 'A Trumpet In The Morning'

Wednesday, March 19 2014 01:33 AM

Musician Marty Ehrlich doesn't play much on his new album; instead, he conducts an ensemble that performs his compositions. He tells Fresh Air about his first album devoted to his orchestral music.

Cannibals And Colonialism: Solving The Mystery Of Michael Rockefeller

Wednesday, March 19 2014 01:33 AM

The son of one of America's wealthiest families disappeared off the island of New Guinea in 1961. Writer Carl Hoffman explains how he thinks Rockefeller died and why the truth was kept hidden.

'Fresh Air' Remembers Comedian David Brenner

Tuesday, March 18 2014 01:33 AM

Brenner appeared on The Tonight Show more than 150 times, often as the substitute host. The comic died Saturday at 78. He spoke to Fresh Air in 1990.

Author Penelope Lively Shares 'The View From Old Age'

Tuesday, March 18 2014 01:33 AM

In Dancing Fish And Ammonites, the British writer reflects on growing older. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about adjusting to her husband's death and losing the desire for new things.

Fresh Air Weekend: Wes Anderson, Driverless Cars And 'Overwhelmed'

Sunday, March 16 2014 01:33 AM

The filmmaker discusses his latest project, The Grand Budapest Hotel; the once-futuristic concept is closer to becoming a reality; and author Brigid Schulte looks at the pressures on working moms.

NBC Hostage Drama 'Crisis' Takes Viewers On A Rare TV Trip

Saturday, March 15 2014 01:33 AM

The show's season-long crime story follows a busload of kids whose field trip gets detoured by kidnappers. Critic David Bianculli says it could wind up being just as good — and intense-- as 24.

In Digestion: Mary Roach Explains What Happens To The Food We Eat

Saturday, March 15 2014 01:33 AM

With books like Stiff and Spook, Roach has built a reputation for making unpalatable subjects entertaining. In Gulp, she tackles the human digestive system, from the mouth on down.

For Sandy Hook Killer's Father, Tragedy Outweighs Love For His Son

Friday, March 14 2014 01:33 AM

Peter Lanza opened up to writer Andrew Solomon about Adam's life and how he tried to help him. Solomon says, "[Peter] would've liked to save the world and himself from the horror of what happened."

Box Set Illustrates Clifford Jordan's Impeccable Taste In Musicians

Thursday, March 13 2014 01:33 AM

Starting in the late 1960s, the jazz saxophonist produced a series of recordings that came out on the musicians-owned Strata-East label. Those seven albums are now collected in a box set.

A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'

Thursday, March 13 2014 01:33 AM

Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz recently published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org.

Wes Anderson: 'We Made A Pastiche' Of Eastern Europe's Greatest Hits

Thursday, March 13 2014 01:33 AM

The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place in the fictional European country of Zubrowka on the eve of war. Anderson shot much of the film in Germany, drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape.

Angel Olsen: A Voice Of Confounding Power

Wednesday, March 12 2014 01:33 AM

Olsen has often been called a folk singer, but Ken Tucker says her new album — her first with a backing band — takes her music into an unclassifiable realm.

For Working Moms, Key To Balance May Lie In Elusive Leisure Time

Wednesday, March 12 2014 01:33 AM

If waiting for help when your car breaks down doesn't strike you as a leisurely activity, it may be time to reconsider. A new book looks at time management challenges of being a working parent.

'Blood Will Out' Reveals Secrets Of A Murderous Master Manipulator

Tuesday, March 11 2014 01:33 AM

Author Walter Kirn thought he was befriending an eccentric Rockefeller, but his pal turned out to be an impostor wanted for murder. Kirn's new book explores the depths of that deception.

Fresh Air Weekend: WWII Filmmakers, Kevin Young And Solitary Confinement

Sunday, March 09 2014 02:33 AM

A look at how the military and Hollywood teamed up during World War II; poet Kevin Young says his new book has a blues sensibility; and how California convicts organized a statewide hunger strike.

'Grand Budapest Hotel': Kitsch, Cameos And A Gloriously Stylized Europe

Saturday, March 08 2014 02:33 AM

Wes Anderson's new feature takes place at a resort hotel, between World Wars I and II. Fresh Air's critic says the visuals are so witty they transcend camp, but the dialogue isn't quite at that level.

Fresh Air Remembers Surgeon And 'How We Die' Author Sherwin Nuland

Saturday, March 08 2014 02:33 AM

Nuland's book won a National Book Award and impacted the national debate about end-of-life care. He died on Monday at 83. Nuland spoke to Fresh Air in 1994.

'Americanah' Author Explains 'Learning' To Be Black In The U.S.

Saturday, March 08 2014 02:33 AM

When Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie moved from Nigeria to the U.S., she was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in America. Her novel explores race in contemporary America.

Pharrell Williams: Just Exhilaratingly Happy

Friday, March 07 2014 02:33 AM

To hear G I R L, you'd think Pharrell's world consisted of grooving on catchy beats and flirting with women. It's a lightweight image that draws gravitas from his prolific work ethic.

How 4 Inmates Launched A Statewide Hunger Strike From Solitary

Friday, March 07 2014 02:33 AM

The California convicts overcame the extreme isolation of their imprisonment to organize a 30,000-prisoner-strong movement. Their goal? To end long-term incarceration in solitary confinement.

'Schmuck' Revisits The Golden Age Of Radio, And A Bygone Manhattan

Thursday, March 06 2014 02:31 AM

Ross Klavan's novel follows two radio sidekicks in midcentury New York: golden-voiced straight man Ted Fox, who has an eye for a good-looking dame, and funnyman Jerry Elkin, a veteran of World War II.

The Case For Tammany Hall Being On The Right Side Of History

Thursday, March 06 2014 02:31 AM

In a new book, Terry Golway takes a sympathetic view of Manhattan's infamous political machine. He says, "Tammany Hall was there for the poor immigrant who was otherwise friendless in New York."

By The Time Your Car Goes Driverless, You Won't Know The Difference

Wednesday, March 05 2014 02:33 AM

The once-futuristic concept is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Parallel parking? Let the car find the perfect approach. Squeezing into a tight space? Hop out and use your smartphone.

Fresh Air Remembers Literary Biographer Justin Kaplan

Wednesday, March 05 2014 02:33 AM

Kaplan died Sunday at 88. His biography of Mark Twain won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He also edited two editions of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Kaplan spoke to Fresh Air in 1992.

Kevin Young On Blues, Poetry And 'Laughing To Keep From Crying'

Wednesday, March 05 2014 02:33 AM

The poet describes his new book — about the death of his father and the birth of his son — as having a blues sensibility. "There are moments of humor even in the sorrow," he says.

Chuck Mead: Gleefully Sinister Country Serenades

Tuesday, March 04 2014 02:33 AM

Mead hooks the listener, eager to show us the bleak side of what seemed like a bright scenario. That's the way he operates during much of Free State Serenade.

During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty

Tuesday, March 04 2014 02:33 AM

A new book looks at how the military and Hollywood directors teamed up during the war. The films they made helped show Americans what was at stake, and served as evidence during the Nuremberg Trials.

Fresh Air Weekend: The Cosmos, Harold Ramis, And Protecting Your Data Online

Sunday, March 02 2014 02:33 AM

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why the cosmos shouldn't make you feel small. Critic John Powers remembers Harold Ramis. And if you think you're anonymous online, think again.

Liam Neeson's Action Chops Take Flight In 'Non-Stop'

Saturday, March 01 2014 02:33 AM

Neeson became a bankable action hero in 2008 after the thriller Taken. Now almost 62, he's still getting out of tight corners with his fists. His new film unfolds on a transatlantic flight.

A New 'Testament' Told From Mary's Point Of View

Saturday, March 01 2014 02:33 AM

In The Testament of Mary, Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life 20 years after her son's crucifixion, what she might have done to ease her son's suffering. (Originally broadcast on Nov. 28, 2012.)

Remembering Harold Ramis, Master Of The 'Smart Dumb-Movie'

Friday, February 28 2014 02:33 AM

Best known for Animal House, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, Ramis died Monday at 69. Critic John Powers says Ramis was like a favorite uncle who spices up the family reunion by spiking the punch.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Cosmos Shouldn't Make You Feel Small

Friday, February 28 2014 02:33 AM

The astrophysicist says that participating in a "great unfolding of a cosmic story" should make us feel large, not small. This spring, Tyson hosts a TV series called Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey.

These Stories Consider Solitude, With Echoes Of Emily Dickinson

Thursday, February 27 2014 02:36 AM

It's been 15 years since acclaimed writer Lorrie Moore has brought out a new short story collection. Bark has some clunkers and some keepers, but critic Maureen Corrigan says it was worth the wait.

In Benghazi, U.S. Intelligence Wasn't Focused On 'Homegrown Militants'

Thursday, February 27 2014 02:35 AM

New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick spent months on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, trying to get to the bottom of the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate.

Still 'Out To Lunch' 50 Years Later

Wednesday, February 26 2014 02:33 AM

Eric Dolphy's creativity was exploding early in 1964, and he was finding more players who could keep up. Out to Lunch is free and focused, dissonant and catchy, wide open and swinging all at once.

Harold Ramis On Working At 'Playboy' And Writing 'Animal House'

Wednesday, February 26 2014 02:33 AM

The comedy actor, writer and director had co-written and planned to star in the long-awaited Ghostbusters III — but did not get the chance. He died Monday in Chicago at age 69.

During World War I, Germany Unleashed 'Terrorist Cell In America'

Wednesday, February 26 2014 02:33 AM

In Dark Invasion, Howard Blum explores the campaign of sabotage that Germany inflicted on an unsuspecting U.S. As ships and factories blew up, "no one really suspected a spy network," he says.

Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry

Tuesday, February 25 2014 02:33 AM

Daughter of Everything is a superb pop album with one foot in the past and another in the future.

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again

Tuesday, February 25 2014 02:33 AM

In Dragnet Nation, Julia Angwin describes an oppressive blanket of electronic data surveillance. "There's a price you pay for living in the modern world," she says. "You have to share your data."

Fresh Air Weekend: David O. Russell, 'Last Of The Unjust,' And 'Sonic Wonders'

Sunday, February 23 2014 02:33 AM

At last, Russell is making the films "he was meant to make." For a rabbi who worked with the Nazis, is judgment "unjust"? And we follow one man's quest to find the "sonic wonders of the world."

'Wind Rises' Is Exquisite, And Likely To Be Hayao Miyazaki's Last

Saturday, February 22 2014 02:35 AM

The new film from the acclaimed Japanese animator spans 30 years and centers on a young man who dreams of designing the perfect airplane in the early 1930s. (Recommended)

Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again

Saturday, February 22 2014 02:35 AM

The leading man known for his good looks and charm has lately been taking on more serious roles in films such as Bernie, Magic Mike and Mud. We'll listen back to excerpts from an April 2013 interview.

Director Alexander Payne On Mining Every Film For Comic Potential

Saturday, February 22 2014 02:35 AM

Payne says he first read Nebraska — about a man who is showing signs of dementia — as a comedy. We'll listen back to an interview with Payne originally broadcast on Dec. 2, 2013.

At Last, David O. Russell Is Making The Films He Was Meant To Make

Friday, February 21 2014 02:33 AM

David O. Russell, director of American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, first spoke with Terry Gross back in 1994. On Thursday, he tells her that after 20 years, he's finally met his aspirations.

For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'?

Thursday, February 20 2014 02:39 AM

Claude Lanzmann's documentary profiles a Viennese rabbi put to work in a Czech concentration camp. Although Benjamin Murmelstein was himself not a free man, he was despised by fellow Jewish prisoners.

One Man's Quest To Find The 'Sonic Wonders Of The World'

Thursday, February 20 2014 02:38 AM

Acoustic engineer Trevor Cox has traveled around the globe to hear whispering arches and singing sand dunes. Closer to home, he can also explain why your singing sounds better in the shower.

With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show'

Wednesday, February 19 2014 02:33 AM

On Monday night, Jimmy Fallon paid homage to 60 years of Tonight Show history while claiming his own place in line. "I just want to do the best I can and take care of the show for a while," he said. "If you guys let me stick around long enough maybe I'll get the hang of it."

Teens Rehearse For Adulthood In Wolitzer's 'Interestings'

Wednesday, February 19 2014 02:33 AM

Meg Wolitzer's novel is about lifelong friendship tinged with jealousy. It begins at a summer camp in 1974 and follows a group of friends through middle age. Wolitzer says her teen years were a rehearsal for her adult life and that today she is "different" but "in the same shell."

In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots

Tuesday, February 18 2014 06:19 PM

"New Orleans buries too many of its young," Wynton Marsalis says in the documentary's introduction. The Whole Gritty City, airing Saturday on CBS, follows young students who take refuge in New Orleans marching bands.

A Closer Look At How Corporations Influence Congress

Tuesday, February 18 2014 06:19 PM

Eric Lipton, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates. He also explains the revolving door between Congress and lobby groups, and how non-profit think tanks aren't always what they seem.

Don't Know What To Do With Your Life? Neither Did Thoreau

Tuesday, February 18 2014 02:33 AM

A new biography reveals that young Thoreau took quite a few detours on his path to Walden. A gossipy young man who loved eating popcorn, ice skating and listening to his music box, schoolmates and neighbors found him standoffish and regarded his fascination with plants and Indian relics as downright odd.

In 'Passage,' Caro Mines LBJ's Changing Political Roles

Tuesday, February 18 2014 02:33 AM

The fourth volume in Robert Caro's monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson is The Passage of Power; it explores the period between 1958 and 1964 during which Johnson went from powerful Senate majority leader to powerless vice president to — suddenly — president of the United States. Originally broadcast on May 13, 2013.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Extreme Medicine,' Lake Street Dive, 'When We Get Home'

Sunday, February 16 2014 02:33 AM

Dr. Kevin Fong practices "extreme medicine" from deep sea to outer space. Lake Street Dive comes out with a new album called Bad Self Portraits. And a military couple describes their long recovery in Plenty of Time When We Get Home.

At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots

Saturday, February 15 2014 02:33 AM

Redford says filming All Is Lost was a "pure cinematic experience — the way films used to be." He talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about how it's been "sort of weird" being known for his good looks, and about how he nearly wasn't cast in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (Originally broadcast on Dec. 12, 2013.)

In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots

Friday, February 14 2014 02:33 AM

"New Orleans buries too many of its young," Wynton Marsalis says in the documentary's introduction. The Whole Gritty City, airing Saturday on CBS, follows young students who take refuge in New Orleans marching bands.

A Closer Look At How Corporations Influence Congress

Friday, February 14 2014 02:33 AM

Eric Lipton, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates. He also explains the revolving door between Congress and lobby groups, and how non-profit think tanks aren't always what they seem.

In Session: Frank Wess' 'Magic 201' Offers One Last Lesson

Wednesday, February 12 2014 02:38 AM

There's something tender and specific about the ways elders like Frank Wess shaped their notes.

Practicing 'Extreme Medicine,' From Deep Sea To Outer Space

Wednesday, February 12 2014 02:38 AM

In his new book, Dr. Kevin Fong explores how humans survive extremes of heat, cold, outer space and deep sea. "We're still exploring the human body and what medicine can do in the same way that the great explorers of the 20th century and every age before them explored the world," he says.

Hangin' Tuff: Eric Church Takes A Chance On 'The Outsiders'

Tuesday, February 11 2014 02:33 AM

Church uses the power he's accrued from hit records to make exactly the kind of album he wants.

For Military Couples, It's A Long Recovery 'When We Get Home'

Tuesday, February 11 2014 02:33 AM

Kayla Williams and Brian McGough met in Iraq in 2003. Williams' new memoir, Plenty of Time When We Get Home, describes their homecoming after McGough suffered physical and cognitive injuries in an IED explosion.

Fresh Air Weekend: Tim Gunn, 'Borgen' And The Parenting Paradox

Sunday, February 09 2014 02:33 AM

Project Runway's Tim Gunn "makes it work," John Powers says Borgen is Denmark's West Wing (but better), and Jennifer Senior explores the trials and triumphs of parenting in her book All Joy and No Fun.

Masterpieces In Peril, 'Monuments Men' Protects, But Also Panders

Saturday, February 08 2014 02:33 AM

George Clooney's film tells the largely true story of a World War II squad of art experts assigned to protect European masterworks from Nazi theft and Allied bombardment. Critic David Edelstein says the film is engaging and earnest, but a little formulaic.

Fresh Air Celebrates The 50th Anniversary Of The Beatles' Arrival

Saturday, February 08 2014 02:33 AM

On Feb. 7, 1964, the Beatles touched down at JFK airport. To mark the day, we'll listen back to a 1995 interview with Ringo Starr and a 2001 interview with Paul McCartney.

Before He Joined Congress, A South African Janitor's Disco Past

Friday, February 07 2014 02:35 AM

Penny Penny put down his broom and picked up a mic for his 1994 debut, now reissued.

Author: When It Comes To High-Speed Internet, U.S. 'Falling Way Behind'

Friday, February 07 2014 02:35 AM

The U.S. needs to start treating the Internet like electricity or railroads, law professor and author Susan Crawford says. "We can't create a level playing field for all Americans or indeed compete on the world stage without having some form of government involvement," she says.

Triumph Of The Bookworms: Two Novels To Cure Your Winter Blues

Thursday, February 06 2014 02:34 AM

Alena, a reworking of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, takes place in the contemporary art world, while The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles is a "delicious French romp." Critic Maureen Corrigan says both novels are "exquisite vehicles of escape fiction."

Tim Gunn: On And Off The Runway, 'Life Is A Big Collaboration'

Thursday, February 06 2014 02:34 AM

"Make it work," the fashion guru tells designers on Project Runway. But life hasn't always "worked" for Gunn. He talks with Terry Gross about being bullied, being gay in the '60s and '70s, and how his mother thinks he should "dress more like Mitt Romney."

'Borgen' Is Denmark's 'West Wing' (But Even Better)

Wednesday, February 05 2014 02:34 AM

Critic John Powers says that Borgen, a Danish TV series about a woman who unexpectedly becomes Denmark's prime minister is "irresistibly bingeable." The third and final season has just been released on DVD.

Are We Having Fun Yet? New Book Explores The Paradox Of Parenting

Wednesday, February 05 2014 02:33 AM

Kids can be magical and maddening. The title of Jennifer Senior's book — All Joy and No Fun — contrasts the strains of day-to-day parenting with the transcendent experience of raising a child.

Philip Seymour Hoffman On Acting: An 'Exhausting' And 'Satisfying' Art

Tuesday, February 04 2014 02:33 AM

We listen back to interviews with Hoffman from 1999 and 2008, when he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross that carrying the emotional life of a character could be "burdensome." He was found dead on Sunday at age 46.

Fresh Air Weekend: Ann Patchett, Ray Didinger And A Country Dilemma

Sunday, February 02 2014 02:33 AM

Patchett reflects on her first marriage, the sports writer looks at the myth of the "dumb" football player and Ken Tucker considers the challenge of keeping country music commercially viable.

Midwestern Memoir Tracks 'Flyover Lives' Of Author's Forebears

Saturday, February 01 2014 02:33 AM

Diane Johnson often writes about American heroines living in France, but when she began her memoir, she found herself drawn back to her native ground in America's heartland. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Flyover Lives "lets scenes and conversations speak for themselves, accruing power as they lodge in readers' minds."

Too Much Of A Good Thing? Jane Ira Bloom's Beautiful Ballads

Saturday, February 01 2014 02:33 AM

On Sixteen Sunsets, the soprano saxophonist varies and honors melody like Billie Holiday.

Pioneer Billie Jean King Moved The Baseline For Women's Tennis

Saturday, February 01 2014 02:33 AM

A PBS documentary looks at King's legacy as both a tennis champion — she has a record 20 Wimbledon titles — and the leader of a female player uprising that demanded fairer treatment and pay. She tells Fresh Air about the challenges of being a female player before there was a women's league.

Ron 'Jaws' Jaworski On What It's Like To Play The Super Bowl

Friday, January 31 2014 02:37 AM

Jaworski spent 16 years in the NFL, most of them with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he took to the Super Bowl in 1981. Now the former quarterback works as a football analyst for ESPN. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies about what it feels like to play in the big game.

Sports Writer Ray Didinger On The Myth Of The 'Dumb' Football Player

Friday, January 31 2014 02:37 AM

Didinger, who has been covering football for decades, says there's a lot of thought that goes into successfully executing a football play. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, "I really don't think you can be truly a dumb guy and play this game at the NFL level."

Don't Pigeonhole Me, Bro: New Country Albums On The Borderline

Thursday, January 30 2014 02:34 AM

Both Jon Pardi and Jason Eady have to confront the dilemma of all young country musicians: how to navigate the pop current that keeps country music commercially viable while connecting to a past that fewer and fewer listeners are aware of.

How Industrial Chemical Regulation Failed West Virginia

Thursday, January 30 2014 02:34 AM

For Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward, the recent chemical spill — and sometimes confusing information authorities have provided about the risks to citizens — reflect long-standing regulatory failures in the state. He says West Virginia has "basically ignored" recommendations for stricter oversight.

Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change

Wednesday, January 29 2014 02:33 AM

A new book explores the ways melting Arctic ice yield new shipping channels, new oil and gas resources — and potential profits. Journalist McKenzie Funk delves into the "booming business of global warming" in Windfall.

Pete Seeger Remembers Guthrie, Hopping Trains And Sharing Songs

Wednesday, January 29 2014 02:33 AM

Seeger believed songs were a way of binding people to a cause. He talks about fellow folk music icon Woody Guthrie and jumping railroad cars in an archival interview from 1985.

On This Spanish Slave Ship, Nothing Was As It Seemed

Tuesday, January 28 2014 02:33 AM

In The Empire of Necessity, historian Greg Grandin tells the story of a slave revolt at sea. The 1805 event inspired Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, and Grandin's account of the human horror is a work of power and precision.

'Pope And Mussolini' Tells The 'Secret History' Of Fascism And The Church

Tuesday, January 28 2014 02:33 AM

It's commonly thought that the Catholic Church fought heroically against the fascists in Italy. But in The Pope and Mussolini, historian David Kertzer says the church actually lent organizational strength and moral legitimacy to Mussolini's regime.

Fresh Air Weekend: Joaquin Phoenix And A Self-Help Skeptic

Sunday, January 26 2014 02:40 AM

The elusive actor tells Fresh Air about his new film, Her; his wacky 2009 David Letterman interview; and what it was like to be a child actor. And Jessica Lamb-Shapiro's new book, Promise Land, looks at what the self-help industry has to offer.

Middle-Aged And Divorced, 'Gloria' Takes On Life's Uncertainties

Saturday, January 25 2014 02:33 AM

Gloria is a new film from Chile that centers on a late-middle-aged divorced woman whose life is full of ambiguity. She's played by Paulina Garcia, who won the top acting prize — the Silver Bear — at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, where the movie was a surprise hit. It opens this week in New York and Los Angeles, and wider next month.

Tom Hanks Is 'Captain Phillips' In High-Seas Hostage Drama

Saturday, January 25 2014 02:33 AM

The film tells the true story of Richard Phillips, whose container ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Navy SEAL sharpshooters eventually freed the captain from the small lifeboat where he was held hostage for five days. Tom Hanks stars in the film, which is directed by Paul Greengrass.

On 'Hard Working Americans,' Songs For The Ordinary Joe

Friday, January 24 2014 02:33 AM

Todd Snider, Widespread Panic's Dave Schools and Duane Trucks perform in a new band that specializes in covering working-class songs.

Patchett: In Bad Relationships, 'There Comes A Day When You Gotta Go'

Friday, January 24 2014 02:33 AM

Ann Patchett got married and divorced young. When she met the man who would eventually become her second husband she said: "I'll be true, I'll be faithful, I'll see you every day ... but I don't want to get married and I don't want to live together." Her new book is This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage.

Empty Nester In 'The Woods': A Modern Dantean Journey

Thursday, January 23 2014 09:02 PM

When writer Lynn Darling found herself at a turning point in her life, she sought solitude and enlightenment in the woods of Vermont. Her new memoir, Out of the Woods, describes that midlife experience. Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan calls it "a compelling story of internal exploration, as well as outward-bound adventure."

Kenny Clarke, Inventor Of Modern Jazz Drumming, At 100

Thursday, January 23 2014 09:02 PM

The drummer known as "Klook" was a founder of bebop — and a man endlessly open to possibilities.

Not-So-Cheery Disposition: Emma Thompson On Poppins' Cranky Creator

Thursday, January 23 2014 09:02 PM

When it came to turning her children's book into a movie, Thompson says, P.L. Travers was patronizing, demeaning, rude, and "reminded me of Margaret Thatcher." Thompson plays the acerbic author in Saving Mr. Banks.

Three Protesters, One 'Square': Film Goes Inside Egypt's Revolution

Thursday, January 23 2014 08:45 PM

As we approach the third anniversary of the demonstrations in Egypt, Fresh Air critic John Powers reviews a documentary that captures the story of Cairo's Tahrir Square. He says the film "is less a final reckoning than an exciting bulletin from the front lines of an unfinished revolution."

As A Latina, Sonia Sotomayor Says, 'You Have To Work Harder'

Thursday, January 23 2014 08:45 PM

The Supreme Court justice tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "In every position that I've been in, there have been naysayers who don't believe I'm qualified or who don't believe I can do the work." She has committed herself to proving those people wrong.

Skeptic Takes A Tour Of Self-Help's 'Promise Land'

Thursday, January 23 2014 02:37 AM

Despite being the daughter of a child psychologist and self-help author, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro has spent most of her life recoiling from the self-help industry. But eventually, her curiosity got the best of her. She tells Fresh Air about self-help's high- and low-brow iterations and the ways the industry helped her address her fears.

Phoenix To Self: 'Why Am I Talking About This? ... Joaquin, Shut Up'

Wednesday, January 22 2014 02:33 AM

The elusive actor tells Fresh Air about his new film, Her -- but he insists he's not really that interesting. "If I was driving and I heard this, I'd change the channel," he says.

Lafayette Gilchrist: An Old Soul, At Ease In A Modern World

Tuesday, January 21 2014 10:17 PM

On Gilchrist's The View From Here, go-go dance beats inform his piano the same way freight-train boogie-woogie does.

The Politics Of Passing 1964's Civil Rights Act

Tuesday, January 21 2014 10:16 PM

The act, among other things, ended the era of legal segregation in public accommodations, like restaurants and hotels. This year marks the 50th anniversary of its passage. Author Todd Purdum joins Fresh Air to talk about the legislative and political battles that surrounded it.

Hackers? Techies? What To Call San Francisco's Newcomers

Tuesday, January 21 2014 07:51 PM

Linguist Geoff Nunberg lives in the Mission and says young tech employees have been pouring into the neighborhood. But what to call these new residents? He says the term "techie" used to suggest a computer whiz with no social skills; now it suggests one with no social conscience.

Book Chronicles The Building Of Roger Ailes' Fox News Empire

Tuesday, January 21 2014 07:50 PM

Gabriel Sherman traces the beginning of Fox News' success back to its wall-to-wall coverage of Monica Lewinsky. He says, "Ratings during the Lewinsky scandal exploded more than 400 percent, so you saw instantly that there was a market for this type of ... television." Sherman's book is called The Loudest Voice In The Room.

Fresh Air Weekend: Roger Ailes, Rosanne Cash And Sonia Sotomayor

Sunday, January 19 2014 02:33 AM

Gabriel Sherman traces the beginning of Fox News' success, Ken Tucker calls Cash's new album a timeless work of comfort and quiet joy, and the Supreme Court justice explains how, as a Latina, she had to work harder.

Jack Ryan Gets A Makeover, And A Quick Trip To Moscow

Saturday, January 18 2014 02:33 AM

Tom Clancy's wonkish spy returns in a new thriller from Kenneth Branagh, with Star Trek's Chris Pine in the title role and the director playing a menacing Russian bad guy out to bring the U.S. to its knees.

'Klansville, U.S.A.' Chronicles The Rise And Fall Of The KKK

Saturday, January 18 2014 02:33 AM

Author and sociologist David Cunningham speaks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the origins of cross burnings and white hoods, and why North Carolina had more Klan members during the height of the civil rights movement than all other Southern states combined.

The Soul Singer Who Never Quite Made It

Wednesday, January 15 2014 10:42 PM

There was a time when people in the know in Memphis described James Govan as Otis Redding's natural successor. A new compilation collects some of his unreleased recordings.

Why The GOP Is Winning The Statehouse War

Wednesday, January 15 2014 10:42 PM

In an increasing number of states, one party controls both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office. While both parties have contributed to the trend, the Republicans have had a lot more success with it. Reporter Nicholas Confessore credits the foresight of GOP strategists.

Uneven But Vital, Bruce Springsteen Has 'High Hopes'

Wednesday, January 15 2014 03:10 PM

His 18th album is a mixed-bag assortment of covers and originals brimming with undimmed eagerness.

Chang-rae Lee Stretches For Dystopic Drama, But Doesn't Quite Reach

Wednesday, January 15 2014 03:10 PM

Lee is acclaimed for his realistic and historical fiction, but he's made a foray into the futuristic sci-fi genre with a new novel called On Such a Full Sea. Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan says sometimes it's better for writers to stick closer to familiar shores.

'What Everyone Needs To Know' About Today's Cyberthreats

Wednesday, January 15 2014 03:09 PM

For an extra layer of online protection, author P.W. Singer advises making your security answers something counterintuitive, like pizza.

Fresh Air Weekend: Emma Thompson, Gary Shteyngart, 'Babylon' And 'Detective'

Sunday, January 12 2014 02:33 AM

The actress takes on Mary Poppins' acerbic creator, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. and David Bianculli says two new miniseries are worth special mention — and couldn't be more different.

Rosanne Cash: Seeking A 'Thread' Through Southern History

Saturday, January 11 2014 02:33 AM

Ken Tucker says The River & The Thread is a travelogue; a timeless work of comfort and quiet joy.

Remembering Activist Poet Amiri Baraka

Saturday, January 11 2014 02:33 AM

Baraka was one of the key black literary voices of the 1960s. The political and social views that inspired his writing changed over the years, from his bohemian days as a young man in Greenwich Village to his later years as a Marxist. He spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1986.

'Invisible Woman' Charts Charles Dickens' Hidden Relationship

Saturday, January 11 2014 02:33 AM

A new film explores the affair between Dickens and a young actress for whom he left his wife, but who for years never showed up in biographies of Dickens. It's the second film directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also plays Dickens.

Julian Fellowes On The Rules Of 'Downton'

Saturday, January 11 2014 02:33 AM

On the hit PBS Masterpiece series, the social rules the characters have always known are changing as the world events of the 20th century unfold. The series' creator, Julian Fellowes, says his relatives who lived through that era inspired his lasting interest in class.

On TV This Week: 'Babylon' Has Good Fun, 'Detective' Is The Real Deal

Thursday, January 09 2014 04:02 PM

Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli says two new miniseries this week are worth special mention — and couldn't be more different. The Spoils Of Babylon is a miniseries soap-opera spoof on IFC; True Detective looks like the best HBO drama since The Wire.

The 'Pussy Riot' Arrests, And The Crackdown That Followed

Thursday, January 09 2014 04:02 PM

According to Russian journalist Masha Gessen, the 2012 arrests were the start of a campaign by Vladimir Putin and his supporters against government critics. Gessen, who is also an LGBT rights advocate, recently moved to New York with her partner and their children in response to the anti-gay laws Russia passed in June.

'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart

Tuesday, January 07 2014 08:21 PM

In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."

'Downton' Returns, And It's As Rich As Ever

Tuesday, January 07 2014 04:12 PM

Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television. And when the whole of the TV universe is fragmenting, that isn't just impressive — it's almost impossible. Critic David Bianculli ponders the hit show's unlikely success.

Fear Of Fainting, Flight And Cheese: One Man's 'Age Of Anxiety'

Tuesday, January 07 2014 04:12 PM

Since about age 2, Atlantic editor Scott Stossel has been "a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears and neuroses." Today, his phobias include asthenophobia, a fear of fainting; aerophobia, a fear of flying; and turophobia, a fear of cheese. He wrote his latest book to help understand and find relief from his anxious suffering.

Fresh Air Weekend: Mark Mulcahy, Netflix And 'Getting On'

Sunday, January 05 2014 02:33 AM

The songwriter behind the much-beloved "Hey Sandy" returns after eight years with Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You; Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal reflects on the online streaming and DVD rental service's bizarrely personalized microgenres; and a new HBO comedy takes place in the geriatric extended-care wing of a California hospital.

A Critic Tours 'Echo Spring,' Home Of Beloved Boozy Writers

Saturday, January 04 2014 02:34 AM

A new book by critic Olivia Laing explores the link between alcohol and writing through the commentaries of famous writers who were themselves alcoholics. Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan calls Laing's readings "exquisite," and says she wisely avoids "any one-size-fits-all conclusions about the bond between the pen and the bottle."

'Angry Days' Shows An America Torn Over Entering World War II

Saturday, January 04 2014 02:34 AM

World War II is often thought of as a good and just war — a war the U.S. had to fight. But it wasn't that simple. Public debate was heated between interventionism, which President Roosevelt supported, and isolationism, which aviator Charles Lindbergh became an unofficial spokesman for.

Visible And Invisible: 'Servants' Looks At Life Downstairs

Thursday, January 02 2014 09:00 PM

Author Lucy Lethbridge explores the history of British servants through their diaries, letters and memoirs. She says, "What I found particularly fascinating was how ... butlers were so butlery"; the old caricature of the clever manservant and the silly master is one "butlers have appeared to play to the hilt."

When Memphis Made A Move On Nashville's Country Monopoly

Thursday, January 02 2014 09:00 PM

A new nine-hour box set, titled Sun Country Box: 1950-1959, collects Sun Records' country output.

Netflix Built Its Microgenres By Staring Into The American Soul

Thursday, January 02 2014 09:00 PM

Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal counted 76,897 microgenres on the online streaming and DVD rental service, many of which are bizarrely personalized (Violent Action Thrillers Starring Bruce Willis, Tearjerkers From The 1970s). He says the company "knows you."

A More Reflective Leap On Elton John's 'Diving Board'

Wednesday, January 01 2014 09:00 PM

The pop star has a flair for the extravagant, to say the least, but his album The Diving Board is stripped down. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the "Elton John excess," his fear of sex as a young man, and how Liberace's example encouraged John to make the piano a star instrument.

Samberg, Taccone And Schaffer: Three's Not A Lonely Island

Tuesday, December 31 2013 09:00 PM

As the brains behind the hip-hop parody group responsible for digital shorts like "D--- in a Box," Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have produced some of the funniest Saturday Night Live material in recent memory. Here, they talk about comedy, Yo! MTV Raps and adolescence.

For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'

Tuesday, December 31 2013 09:00 PM

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele each have a white mother and black father, and a lot of the jokes on their Comedy Central show are about race. Peele tells Fresh Air that their backgrounds allow them to do characters others would feel uncomfortable doing.

Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song

Monday, December 30 2013 09:00 PM

Industrial musicals were like Broadway shows, only written and performed for corporate sales meetings or conventions. And as ridiculous as the songs were — "My bathroom, my bathroom is a private kind of place" — they were often delivered by very talented people.

Vince Giordano: The Fresh Air Interview

Monday, December 30 2013 09:00 PM

Giordano has been obsessed with 1920s jazz since he first heard it on his grandparents' Victrola. His band the Nighthawks performs the music heard on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Fresh Air Weekend: Our Favorite Books, TV, Movies And Music Of 2013

Saturday, December 28 2013 09:00 PM

David Edelstein says it was a "miraculous year" for movies. David Bianculli says two Netflix shows this year changed the game. Maureen Corrigan says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked were written by female authors. And Ken Tucker picks his 10 favorite albums.

Mel Brooks: 'I'm An EGOT; I Don't Need Any More'

Friday, December 27 2013 09:00 PM

The screenwriter, producer, director and actor, whose name has become synonymous with American comedy, talks about his penchant for spoofs and his decades-long friendship with Carl Reiner. Brooks is among a handful of people who've won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

'Inside Amy Schumer': It's Not Just Sex Stuff

Friday, December 27 2013 09:00 PM

Amy Schumer talks a lot about sex — so much so that her Comedy Central special was called simply Mostly Sex Stuff. But her comedy is about much more than that. On her show Inside Amy Schumer, as well as in her stand-up, she tackles racism and awkward moments, and yes, sex, too. Also sex.

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg: Friends Till 'The End'

Thursday, December 26 2013 09:00 PM

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg met as adolescents on the Vancouver bar mitzvah circuit — and soon after began writing the script for what would become the movie Superbad. Their project This Is the End, is a disaster-movie spoof in which the Rapture hits home in Hollywood.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth

Thursday, December 26 2013 09:00 PM

The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he's learned in a book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

Graham Nash Has 'Wild Tales' To Spare

Wednesday, December 25 2013 09:00 PM

As part of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the British singer-songwriter helped define a West Coast sound. Here, he discusses the influence of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and marijuana on his career, as well as his memoir, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.

In A 'Miraculous Year' For Movies, Edelstein Picks His Favorites

Tuesday, December 24 2013 09:00 PM

In 2013, "you really feel as if directors are taking chances in their storytelling," says film critic David Edelstein. He loved the movie Her, and says the biggest surprises of the year were All Is Lost and Much Ado About Nothing. He also explains why 12 Years a Slave didn't make his top 10.

David Bianculli's Top 10 Shows: 2013 Was A 'Good Year For TV'

Tuesday, December 24 2013 09:00 PM

Two new shows from Netflix -- House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black — changed the TV landscape, but Bianculli's top pick for 2013 is AMC's Breaking Bad. "It ended as brilliantly as it began," he says. "I'm so grateful for that series."

'Getting On' With It: A New HBO Show Doesn't Tiptoe Around Death

Monday, December 23 2013 09:00 PM

Set in the geriatric extended-care wing of a California hospital, Getting On is a different kind of workplace comedy. Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer adapted the show from a BBC series of the same name, and added new material largely inspired by experiences they had with their own mothers.

Great New DVD Box Sets: Blasts From The Past And 'Breaking Bad'

Monday, December 23 2013 09:00 PM

In addition to Breaking Bad, critic David Bianculli recommends some rare television treats from the '60s and '70s that are now available on DVD. They include Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, The Rutles: Anthology and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards

Monday, December 23 2013 09:00 PM

Many students prepare for the SAT by drilling themselves on esoteric, arcane and recondite words — like esoteric, arcane and recondite. Linguist Geoff Nunberg doesn't discourage these efforts, but he does have a word of caution: memorizing a definition is hardly the same as learning a new word.

Fresh Air Weekend: The Coen Brothers And 'Anchorman 2'

Sunday, December 22 2013 02:33 AM

Filmmaking duo Joel and Ethan Coen talk about the writing process, Inside Llewyn Davis, disobedient cats, and the cult status of their 1998 film The Big Lebowski. And Adam McKay and Will Ferrell discuss Ron Burgundy, making movies, and that epic 'stache.

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

Saturday, December 21 2013 02:36 AM

The film Her, written and directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), follows a lonely man who falls in love with a computer operating system. Critic David Edelstein says it's the best film of the year by far. (Recommended)

Fresh Air Remembers Country Music Artist Ray Price

Saturday, December 21 2013 02:36 AM

When Price was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, he was described as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today. He died Monday at the age of 87. We'll listen back to a 1999 interview he did with Terry Gross.

Jason Isbell Locates His Musical Compass On 'Southeastern'

Saturday, December 21 2013 02:36 AM

The singer-songwriter earned a name for himself while playing with Drive-By Truckers and The 400 Unit, but on this album — written after he got sober — Isbell finds a new level of emotional honesty. Here, he talks with Terry Gross about his life and plays songs from Southeastern.

Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year

Friday, December 20 2013 02:39 AM

Linguist Geoff Nunberg says he feels a little defensive about choosing "selfie" — a word that wears its ephemerality on its outstretched sleeve — as the word of 2013. But not only was this a year when we couldn't stop posting photos of ourselves online; we couldn't stop talking about it either.

A 'Kind Of A Big Deal' Gets Even Bigger In 'Anchorman 2'

Friday, December 20 2013 02:39 AM

In a sequel, Ron Burgundy makes the leap from local to national news. "We felt like we needed to jack up the stakes," says director and co-writer Adam McKay. He and star Will Ferrell join Terry Gross to talk about making movies — and that epic 'stache.

Michele Rosewoman Goes Back To Afro-Cuban Jazz's Future

Thursday, December 19 2013 02:33 AM

You could look at Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba band as reuniting cousins who've drifted apart: jazz and folkloric Cuban music with its own family ties to the slave coast of West Africa.

In Francis' First Year, A 'Radical Pope' Seeks To Save His Church

Thursday, December 19 2013 02:33 AM

"Who am I to judge?" With those five words, Pope Francis "stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of popes and bishops," writes columnist James Carroll.

Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2013

Wednesday, December 18 2013 02:33 AM

Jason Isbell's Southeastern, Kanye West's Yeezus and an assortment of remarkable women dominated the Fresh Air critic's year in listening.

The Coen Bros. On Writing, 'Lebowski' And Literally Herding Cats

Wednesday, December 18 2013 02:33 AM

Inside Llewyn Davis -- starring Oscar Isaac and a disobedient cat — is the latest from the filmmaking duo. The brothers talk with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about their writing process ("It's mostly napping") and the cult status of their 1998 film The Big Lebowski ("How do you explain that? I have no idea.")

A Former Girl-Group Singer Goes 'All Or Nothing'

Tuesday, December 17 2013 02:33 AM

With new songs and covers, La La Brooks' All or Nothing isn't just an attempted career comeback.

Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Pianist Jimmy Amadie

Tuesday, December 17 2013 02:33 AM

With a career derailed due to severe hand problems, Amadie found a way to play the music he loved.

Holiday Music To Bring Folks Together

Tuesday, December 17 2013 02:33 AM

This Thanksgiving there were a lot of articles online about arming yourself with good information before arguing politics at seasonal dinners. With so much contention in the air, maybe music can help bring folks with opposing views together.

The Camels Were 'Impossible': Peter O'Toole Remembers 'Arabia'

Tuesday, December 17 2013 02:33 AM

"I can't imagine anyone whom I'm less like than T.E. Lawrence," O'Toole told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1993. The handsome actor — who made his name in the 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia — died Saturday at the age of 81.

Fresh Air Weekend: Robert Redford, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Sheen

Sunday, December 15 2013 02:33 AM

At 77, Redford returns to his roots; Ella Fitzgerald's early years have been collected in a Chick Webb box set; and Michael Sheen talks about the "accuracy and invention" of taking on real-life roles.

A 'Hustle' With Flow (And Plenty Of Flair)

Saturday, December 14 2013 02:34 AM

A pair of con artists and their FBI wrangler go after political corruption in American Hustle, inspired by the Abscam scandal of the '70s. Critic David Edelstein says the film, directed by David O. Russell, is "a bit of a hustle itself" — and still a hell of a ride. (Recommended)

Celebrating The Centennial Of Lyricist Sammy Cahn

Saturday, December 14 2013 02:34 AM

Cahn spoke with Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1985, and — as you'll hear — he'd sing his songs at the slightest provocation. He died in 1993, at the age of 79.

Fresh Air Remembers Jazz Guitarist Jim Hall

Saturday, December 14 2013 02:34 AM

The guitarist, composer and arranger died in his sleep Tuesday at 83. Hall was known for a subtle, lyrical playing style, a gift for innovation and collaborations with a host of talented musicians in a career that stretched more than seven decades. Hear an interview from 1989.

At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots

Friday, December 13 2013 04:47 AM

Redford says filming All Is Lost was a "pure cinematic experience — the way films used to be." He talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about how it's been "sort of weird" being known for his good looks, and about how he nearly wasn't cast in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Need A Read? Here Are Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2013

Thursday, December 12 2013 02:34 AM

Fresh Air's book critic says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked this year were written by female authors. Her favorites include a jumbo-sized Dickensian novel, a biography of Ben Franklin's sister, a comedy of manners, a stunning Scandinavian mystery and more.

Ella Fitzgerald's Early Years Collected In A Chick Webb Box Set

Thursday, December 12 2013 02:33 AM

"This is it," Webb said of Fitzgerald. "I have a real singer now. That's what the public wants."

Michael Sheen On The 'Accuracy And Invention' Of Real-Life Roles

Thursday, December 12 2013 02:33 AM

Sheen has made a name for himself playing real historical figures, including Mozart, Caligula, Prime Minister Tony Blair and British TV host David Frost. Now, in the Showtime drama Masters of Sex, he plays the part of groundbreaking sex researcher William Masters.

Frustrating Heroine Stars In Fresh, Feminist 'Nightingale'

Wednesday, December 11 2013 02:33 AM

Nina Borg, the heroine of Death of a Nightingale, is a Red Cross nurse on a mission to save the dispossessed. But she neglects her own family as she rescues those in need in Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol's elaborately plotted page-turner.

A Nostalgic — But Bumpy — Journey With The Beach Boys

Wednesday, December 11 2013 02:33 AM

In 2012, the band became another rock group that was celebrating its 50th anniversary. This year, it released Made in California, an eight-hour, six-disc retrospective of their career that, perhaps inadvertently, shows how this once-great force in American popular music faded from public view.

How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations

Wednesday, December 11 2013 02:33 AM

Leaked internal documents reveal new insights into the goals and finances of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations to develop model bills that lawmakers try to pass in their state legislatures.

Review: Jonas Kaufmann Sings Wagner And Verdi

Monday, December 09 2013 07:18 PM

At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation in the international opera world, and one of the most versatile. Among his recordings this year are albums dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.

Delia Ephron On The Closeness And Complexity Of Sisterhood

Monday, December 09 2013 07:18 PM

Novelist Delia Ephron says that losing her older sister Nora was like "losing an arm." But for all their collaboration and closeness, Delia writes about the complications of sisterhood in her new collection of autobiographical essays, Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.).

Fresh Air Weekend: Alexander Payne, Baby Photos And Ted Williams

Sunday, December 08 2013 02:33 AM

Director Alexander Payne talks about his new film Nebraska. Alexis Madrigal explores the best way to share photos of his new baby. And Ben Bradlee Jr. talks about The Kid, his new biography of baseball player Ted Williams.

Great Soundtrack Aside, 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Hits A Sour Note

Saturday, December 07 2013 02:34 AM

Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen continue to mine American pop culture in their latest film. It's 1961 in Greenwich Village, and a homeless folk singer is trying desperately to break out. Critic David Edelstein says the overarching tone of the film is snotty, condescending and cruel.

'On Sondheim': The Musical-Theater Legend At 80

Saturday, December 07 2013 02:34 AM

The New York Times calls Stephen Sondheim the "greatest and perhaps best-known artist in American musical theater." Sondheim composed the music and lyrics for, among others, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company. In 2010 he joined Fresh Air to discuss his career in musical theater.

Delightful 'Six By Sondheim' Leaves You Wanting Six More

Saturday, December 07 2013 02:33 AM

HBO's new TV special is part biography, part music-appreciation lesson and part performance piece. Critic David Bianculli says it's a superbly compiled work, overseen by two of the people most intimately familiar with the composer himself.

'Pearl Earring' Is The Crown Jewel Of The Frick's Dutch Exhibit

Friday, December 06 2013 02:33 AM

New York City is home to more paintings by Johannes Vermeer — eight — than any other city. And until mid-January, it's playing host to one more: the world-renowned Girl with a Pearl Earring. Critic Lloyd Schwartz says, since the painting's 1994 restoration, "It's even more breathtaking than I remembered."

William Parker's Abstract Grooves Collected In Box Set

Friday, December 06 2013 02:33 AM

With six concerts spread over eight discs, Wood Flute Songs documents the bassist's exhaustive and creative live output.

Beyond Good Cop/Bad Cop: A Look At Real-Life Interrogations

Friday, December 06 2013 02:33 AM

How close are TV interrogations to the real thing? Not very, says Douglas Starr. In a New Yorker article, he explores the "gold standard" of interrogation methods, developed in the 1940s. But there's concern that this technique is based on outdated science, and may produce false confessions.

What To Expect When You're Expecting ... To Share Your Baby Photos

Thursday, December 05 2013 02:33 AM

Smartphones and the Internet have made it easier than ever for people to share photos of their friends, family, pets and children. But sharing personal photos raises technological and ethical questions. Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal recently became a father and has some tips for navigating the world of online photo sharing.

Mark Mulcahy Is The 'Moving Forward Type'

Thursday, December 05 2013 02:33 AM

The smart songwriter behind the much-beloved "Hey Sandy" returns after eight years. Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You is full of smart wordplay and Mulcahy's unmistakable voice, but it's also driven by loss.

Ted Williams: A Perfectionist Ballplayer With Many Demons

Wednesday, December 04 2013 02:33 AM

The hitter had a swing so pure and flawless that Mickey Mantle would watch him take batting practice. But he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself. Ben Bradlee Jr. delivers a deeply personal account of Williams' life in The Kid.

Underground Cities And 'Ghost' Miners: What Some People Do For Gold

Wednesday, December 04 2013 02:33 AM

South Africa's Mponeng gold mine is a 2.5-mile-deep network of chutes and tunnels that employs about 4,000 miners. Of course, that number doesn't include the miners who wander its tunnels clandestinely, stealing and refining ore. In a new book, journalist Matthew Hart investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.

Director Alexander Payne On Mining Every Film For Comic Potential

Tuesday, December 03 2013 02:33 AM

Payne tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he first read Nebraska — a film about an old man who is beginning to show signs of dementia — as a comedy "with moments of gravity." Payne also directed Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants.

Fresh Air Weekend: Anjelica Huston, 'Nebraska' And Turkey Tips

Sunday, December 01 2013 02:33 AM

The actor's new memoir, A Story Lately Told, ends just as her Hollywood career is taking off. Critic David Edelstein calls Alexander Payne's latest film a "superb balancing act." America's Test Kitchen shares tricks for buying, seasoning and cooking your bird this year.

A Korean Cult Thriller Gets A Spike Lee Makeover

Saturday, November 30 2013 02:33 AM

Oldboy, the director's remake of a 2003 film of the same name, follows a man who's held captive for 20 years — and out for revenge after his release. Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson star.

Billy Crystal Finds Fun In Growing Old (But Still Can't Find His Keys)

Saturday, November 30 2013 02:33 AM

Crystal isn't happy about turning 65, but at least he's finding a way to laugh about it. The actor and comedian's memoir — Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? — is on the best-seller list.

In Memoir, Linda Ronstadt Describes Her 'Simple Dreams'

Friday, November 29 2013 02:36 AM

Ronstadt recently revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing. Her memoir, Simple Dreams, reflects on a long career. In this conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, she offers frank insights on sex, drugs, and why "competition was for horse races."

At The BBC, The Beatles Shocked An Institution

Thursday, November 28 2013 02:33 AM

Between 1962 and 1965, The Beatles were featured on 53 BBC radio programs. For The Beatles: The BBC Archives, executive producer Kevin Howlett had to search for many of these recordings, and they weren't easy to find.

Thanksgivukkah Stress Getting You Down? Here's A Literary Escape Plan

Wednesday, November 27 2013 02:33 AM

For critic Maureen Corrigan, this year's hybrid family holiday may be best celebrated by escaping into a book. Her recommendations include a kids' book about Russian Jews who identify with the Pilgrims, and a novel that contemplates class divides during wartime through the lens of a football game.

After Ailing, A Favorite Conductor Stages His Comeback

Wednesday, November 27 2013 02:33 AM

Live at Carnegie Hall captures a riveting experience with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and a beloved conductor, James Levine, who has been plagued with a variety of medical troubles.

Don't Stuff The Turkey And Other Tips From 'America's Test Kitchen'

Wednesday, November 27 2013 02:33 AM

Jack Bishop and Bridget Lancaster of the public TV series share tips for buying, seasoning and cooking a turkey (hint: bigger isn't necessarily better, keep lots of salt around, and give the bird a break before carving). They also give advice on how to make some of their favorite side dishes.

Will The Real Llewyn Davis Please Stand Up?

Tuesday, November 26 2013 02:33 AM

Dave Van Ronk's autobiography inspired Joel and Ethan Coen's new movie about a '60s folksinger. Though he died in 2002, a new anthology ought to help give Van Ronk a long-needed boost.

Roosevelt's Polio Wasn't A Secret: He Used It To His 'Advantage'

Tuesday, November 26 2013 02:33 AM

In The Man He Became, historian James Tobin says, despite misimpressions to the contrary, Americans of Franklin Roosevelt's day were well-aware of his disability — it was an important part of the personal narrative that helped him win the presidency.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Junkyard,' 'Great Beauty,' 'Narco Cultura,' Key And Peele

Sunday, November 24 2013 02:35 AM

Adam Minter looks at the business of recycling what developed nations throw away, critic John Powers praises two films of excess, and Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele explain how their biracial roots bestow special comedic "power."

How Live TV Helped America Mourn The Loss Of JFK

Saturday, November 23 2013 02:34 AM

Critic David Bianculli remembers watching the original news coverage of Kennedy's assassination — four days of unprecedented television — when he was 10 years old. He recalls how from that point on, TV, not radio, was the dominant medium for breaking news.

Botched Investigation Fuels Kennedy Conspiracy Theories

Saturday, November 23 2013 02:33 AM

It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and polls show that a majority of Americans still believe Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, not a lone assassin. Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act, explores what keeps these conspiracy theories alive.

Shortened Term Limited JFK's Accomplishments, But Not His Contributions

Saturday, November 23 2013 02:33 AM

Fresh Air's Dave Davies discusses John F. Kennedy's abbreviated term in office with presidential historian Robert Dallek, who finds that while you can make an argument that Kennedy accomplished little, he represents something special in the American experience. Dallek's latest book is Camelot's Court: Inside The Kennedy White House.

Personhood In The Womb: A Constitutional Question

Friday, November 22 2013 02:33 AM

A study released this year examined cases where law enforcement intervened in the lives of pregnant women who were believed to be endangering their fetuses. State laws are stepping in on behalf of the fetuses' constitutional rights — but what of the mothers' rights? Fresh Air looks at three perspectives in the debate.

For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'

Thursday, November 21 2013 02:33 AM

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele each have a white mother and black father, and a lot of the jokes on their Comedy Central show are about race. Peele tells Fresh Air that their backgrounds allow them to do characters others would feel uncomfortable doing.

'Great Beauty,' 'Narco Cultura': Excess, Succeeding Wildly

Wednesday, November 20 2013 02:33 AM

Critic John Powers says Italy's submission for the best foreign language film Oscar and a documentary about the Mexican drug war got him thinking about a William Blake proverb: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."

Anjelica Huston Tells Her 'Story' Of Growing Up With A Director Dad

Wednesday, November 20 2013 02:33 AM

The actor's new memoir, A Story Lately Told, ends just as her Hollywood career is taking off. It covers her early life growing up in Ireland, the daughter of Maltese Falcon director John Huston. The two first collaborated on 1969's Walk With Love And Death, a project that proved disastrous for their relationship.

Fresh Air Remembers 'Golden Notebook' Author Doris Lessing

Tuesday, November 19 2013 02:33 AM

Lessing's 1962 book was regarded as among the most important feminist novels of its time. She died Sunday. Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Lessing in 1988 and 1992.

'Promised Land' Wrestles With Israel's Brutal Contradictions

Tuesday, November 19 2013 02:33 AM

Journalist Ari Shavit says Israel must find a way to reconcile its democratic values with the reality of everyday life there. His new book draws from interviews with hundreds of Israelis — both Jews and Arabs — as well as his military experience and Zionist family history.

Fresh Air Weekend: Bruce Dern, Booker Ervin And 'Hyperbole And A Half'

Sunday, November 17 2013 02:33 AM

The veteran actor discusses his new film, Nebraska, Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissue of Ervin's 1960 album The Book Cooks and blogger/illustrator/author Allie Brosh opens up about her crippling depression.

Across 'Nebraska,' On A Journey That Goes Beyond The Trip

Saturday, November 16 2013 02:33 AM

Critic David Edelstein calls the film, in which an elderly man sets out to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize, a "superb balancing act" from director Alexander Payne.

Two Sides Of Holiday Cheer From Kelly Clarkson, Nick Lowe

Saturday, November 16 2013 02:33 AM

Whether glossy and heartfelt (Clarkson's Wrapped in Red) or earnest and playful (Lowe's Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family), these albums can help conjure a holiday mood in the month before Christmas.

Carol Burnett: The Fresh Air Interview

Saturday, November 16 2013 02:33 AM

Carol Burnett won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October. The award ceremony will be broadcast on PBS Sunday, Nov. 24. Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviewed Burnett in 2003.

Actor Bruce Dern Gets Up Close And Personal In 'Nebraska'

Friday, November 15 2013 02:39 AM

Dern's new film follows a man named Woody who is starting to show signs of dementia. When Woody falls for one of those junk-mail sweepstakes come-ons, he becomes convinced that he's won $1 million and sets out on foot to collect the cash. Dern tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "[Nebraska] is the most personal movie I've ever done in my career."

A 'Marriage', A Divorce, A Dying Dog And Essays Done Right

Thursday, November 14 2013 02:31 AM

Essay collections are underrated and often ignored in favor of short stories or novels. But in the hands of a writer as practiced as Ann Patchett, critic Maureen Corrigan says the essay becomes an expansive storytelling vessel. Patchett's new book is This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage.

Christmas Lights Make Slippers In Global 'Junkyard' Economy

Thursday, November 14 2013 02:31 AM

The Chinese town of Shijiao is known for recycling discarded Christmas tree lights for their copper and wire insulation, which are then used to support growing economies and make slipper soles, respectively. In Junkyard Planet, Adam Minter explores the business of recycling what developed nations throw away.

Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form?

Wednesday, November 13 2013 02:33 AM

The flap over the Kentucky senator's articles and speeches is just the latest in a series of cases of plagiarism by high-profile journalists and politicians. Linguist Geoff Nunberg looks at the way the word plagiarism has been used since it was invented by the Romans and wonders if it's always immoral or just bad form.

Even When It Hurts 'ALOT,' Brosh Faces Life With Plenty Of 'Hyperbole'

Wednesday, November 13 2013 02:33 AM

On her Hyperbole and a Half blog, Allie Brosh writes stories about her life illustrated with a "very precise crudeness." Most are lighthearted — about her dog or her favorite grammatical mistake ("a lot" vs. "alot) — but her most popular posts have also been the most upsetting, about her crippling depression.

No Need To Cook The Books: Booker Ervin's Debut LP Reissued

Tuesday, November 12 2013 02:33 AM

Down-home and majestic, the tenor saxophonist's sound was like a cane stalk shooting up out of rich earth. His 1960 album The Book Cooks features fellow sax-man Zoot Sims in a friendly square-off.

In 'Fire And Forget,' Vets Turned Writers Tell Their War Stories

Tuesday, November 12 2013 02:33 AM

Roy Scranton and Jacob Siegel edited and contributed to the collection of short stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They tell Fresh Air about how soldiers cope with the fear of death, and why many soldiers feel conflicted about sharing their experience with a larger audience.

Fresh Air Weekend: Roy Choi, Industrial Musicals And 'The Story Of A New Name'

Sunday, November 10 2013 02:33 AM

A Los Angeles chef explains how the Korean taco pulled its chefs' backgrounds into one food truck offering, Critic John Powers reviews Elena Ferrante's latest book and the author of Everything's Coming Up Profits explains the history of corporate show tunes.

Stephen Colbert: In Good 'Company' On Broadway

Saturday, November 09 2013 02:34 AM

The political satirist and comedian talks about his Broadway performance (and performance anxieties).

A Daughter Remembers Her 'Entertainer' Father

Saturday, November 09 2013 02:34 AM

Margaret Talbot tells the story of her father, actor Lyle Talbot, in her memoir The Entertainer. He began his career as an assistant to a traveling hypnotist, and went on to star in movies with Shirley Temple and Humphrey Bogart — and played next-door neighbor Joe Randolph on Ozzie and Harriet.

Vince Giordano: The Fresh Air Interview

Thursday, November 07 2013 02:35 AM

Giordano has been obsessed with 1920s jazz since he first heard it on his grandparents' Victrola. His band the Nighthawks performs the music heard on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song

Wednesday, November 06 2013 02:33 AM

Industrial musicals were like Broadway shows, only written and performed for corporate sales meetings or conventions. And as ridiculous as the songs were — "My bathroom, my bathroom is a private kind of place" — they were often delivered by very talented people.

Female Friendship Puts 'New' Angle On Italian Classism And Machismo

Tuesday, November 05 2013 02:33 AM

Bound by the confines of gender and finances, two young women take divergent paths in Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, the second book in her "Neapolitan Novels" trilogy. Critic John Powers believes the bold, expansive series to be semi-autobiographical, a revelation from a secretive author who won't reveal her true name.

Amir ElSaffar Navigates Uncharted Blue Notes On 'Alchemy'

Tuesday, November 05 2013 02:33 AM

Alchemy is a step forward in defining and refining the trumpeter's mix of jazz and Iraqi rhythms.

From Sulking To Sanctions, A Street-Level View Of Life In Iran

Tuesday, November 05 2013 02:33 AM

Journalist Hooman Majd's new book, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay, was inspired by the year he and his young American family spent in Tehran, where Majd was born. He tells Fresh Air about the country's long-standing tradition of sulking, and what sets Tehran apart from most other Islamic metropolises.

Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Hadfield, Brandy Clark, Kennedy Conspiracies

Sunday, November 03 2013 01:33 AM

Astronaut Chris Hadfield brings lessons from space down to Earth in his new book. Ken Tucker says Brandy Clark's 12 Stories album is "modestly amazing." And Philip Shenon's new book explores how a botched investigation fueled Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

From Kids' Books To Erotica, Tomi Ungerer's 'Far Out' Life

Saturday, November 02 2013 01:33 AM

The famed author and illustrator broke the rules of American children's literature in the '50s and '60s, but many Americans have never heard of him. The documentary Far Out Isn't Far Enough — now out on DVD — looks at his life and work. (Originally broadcast July 1, 2013.)

The Story Behind The Stunts: Remembering Hollywood's Hal Needham

Saturday, November 02 2013 01:33 AM

Throughout his career, Needham did the kind of stunts that would either end with a spectacular shot ... or an ambulance. On Oct. 25, Needham died of cancer at age 82. We listen back to a 2011 interview, in which he tells the stories behind some of his most daring stunts.

Dickensian Ambition And Emotion Make 'Goldfinch' Worth The Wait

Friday, November 01 2013 01:33 AM

Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time — she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992. But critic Maureen Corrigan says she'd gladly wait another 10 years for a book as extraordinary as Tartt's latest work, The Goldfinch, an "exuberantly plotted triumph."

Brandy Clark Tells The 'Stories' That Are Tough To Hear

Friday, November 01 2013 01:33 AM

Ken Tucker calls the country singer-songwriter's new 12 Stories a "modestly amazing album." Every song is striking, textured and finely detailed.

Jared Leto Was 'Seduced' By Role Of Rayon In 'Buyers Club'

Friday, November 01 2013 01:33 AM

In Dallas Buyers Club, Leto plays Rayon, a transgender woman who is living with HIV and a drug habit. Rayon becomes an unlikely friend to Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a rodeo cowboy who starts smuggling HIV drugs from Mexico in the 1980s after he's diagnosed as HIV-positive and given just a few weeks to live.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth

Thursday, October 31 2013 01:34 AM

The former International Space Station commander achieved Internet stardom with his in-space rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." After three missions and a total of six months in space he shares what he's learned in a new book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.

Never Back Down: Fresh Air Remembers Lou Reed

Wednesday, October 30 2013 01:33 AM

"In Lou Reed's world, when you were Lou's friend you knew it," his longtime publicist Bill Bentley tells Terry Gross. Fresh Air dedicates an entire hour to the transgressive and transcendent Velvet Underground co-founder, with music and commentary by original Velvets John Cale and Maureen Tucker.

Botched Investigation Fuels Kennedy Conspiracy Theories

Tuesday, October 29 2013 01:38 AM

It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and polls show that a majority of Americans still believe Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, not a lone assassin. Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act, explores what keeps these conspiracy theories alive.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Wheelmen,' 'Jezebel' And '12 Years A Slave'

Sunday, October 27 2013 01:33 AM

The new book Wheelmen exposes doping culture and the Lance Armstrong conspiracy. Critic Maureen Corrigan says if you're looking to read "lady things," choose Jezebel over Bridget Jones. And director Steve McQueen and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor talk about the new film 12 Years a Slave.

In Emotionally Charged 'Blue,' Sex Is Graphic, But Not Gratuitous

Saturday, October 26 2013 01:33 AM

Blue Is the Warmest Color, a coming-of-age movie about the love affair between two young women, has been criticized as pornographic and exploitive. But critic David Edelstein says the film artfully captures the intensity of sexual discovery — and dependency. (Recommended)

Anat Cohen: Bringing The Clarinet To The World

Saturday, October 26 2013 01:33 AM

On her latest album, Claroscuro, the jazz clarinetist explores influences that range from Louis Armstrong to Brazilian music to that of her native Israel. It's this desire to adapt the instrument to so many musical traditions that has earned Cohen such acclaim. (Originally broadcast on Feb. 6, 2013.)

Historian Says '12 Years' Is A Story The Nation Must Remember

Friday, October 25 2013 01:41 AM

Yale historian David Blight says Americans like to think of themselves as "the country that freed the slaves," but prefer not to dwell on the sobering history that came first. He says the new film 12 Years a Slave is a rare, effective depiction of slavery in the United States.

'12 Years A Slave' Was A Film That 'No One Was Making'

Friday, October 25 2013 01:40 AM

Director Steve McQueen tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he wanted to help fill a "huge hole in the canon of cinema." And actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose parents are from Nigeria, says he grew up feeling "a sense of unity amongst African people and people of African heritage."

Europe Swings The Body Electric

Thursday, October 24 2013 01:33 AM

What had been an infrequent novelty — mixing electronic and '30s beats with scat and big band-ish horn solos — has become more and more common among European dance musicians and producers. Critic Milo Miles looks at two compilations that highlight this European dance trend.

'Insurgent' Wing Grapples For Control Of The GOP

Thursday, October 24 2013 01:33 AM

New York Times national political correspondent Jonathan Martin explains the Republican rift that was widened by the recent budget battles. He talks about how the divisions may play out in upcoming elections and traces the history of the battle between establishment Republicans and the "insurgent" conservatives.

It's A Family Affair On Linda Thompson's 'Won't Be Long Now'

Wednesday, October 23 2013 01:33 AM

The singer-songwriter's new album sounds like a collection of songs that could have been sung a hundred years ago, or written and recorded just a few weeks ago. She's joined on the album by her ex-husband, Richard Thompson, and their three children.

Antibiotics Can't Keep Up With 'Nightmare' Superbugs

Wednesday, October 23 2013 01:33 AM

On Tuesday night, PBS' Frontline will investigate how decades of antibiotic overuse has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. Journalist David Hoffman says that understanding and fighting these bacteria should be a national priority.

If You're Looking To Read 'Lady Things,' Choose Jezebel Over Jones

Tuesday, October 22 2013 01:33 AM

Bridget Jones hasn't aged well. At 51, she's the "geriatric mum" of two small children, and finds herself yearning to plunge back into dating. Critic Maureen Corrigan says if you're looking for jolly feminist cultural commentary, you'd be better off reading a witty "encyclopedia of lady things" from the creators of the website Jezebel.

'Wheelmen' Exposes Doping Culture And The Armstrong 'Conspiracy'

Tuesday, October 22 2013 01:33 AM

Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell say that champion cyclist Lance Armstrong was at the center of "the greatest sports conspiracy ever." Their book chronicles everything from group blood transfusions on the team bus to extensive efforts to silence and intimidate those who might expose the abuse.

Fresh Air Weekend: Billy Crystal And Graham Nash

Sunday, October 20 2013 01:33 AM

Crystal isn't happy about turning 65, but at least he's finding a way to laugh about it. His new book is called Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? And British singer-songwriter Graham Nash has written new memoir Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.

At Home At Sea: Robert Redford, At His Best Alone

Saturday, October 19 2013 01:33 AM

The actor is a cast of one in All Is Lost, about a man adrift alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Fresh Air critic David Edelstein says Redford and director J.C. Chandor have pulled off the ultimate fusion of actor and character. (Recommended)

'Let's Explore': David Sedaris On His Public Private Life

Saturday, October 19 2013 01:33 AM

The best-selling author and humorist has kept journals for 36 years. Those diaries have been the jumping-off point for the personal essays that appear in his collections, including Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. (Originally broadcast on April 24, 2013.)

'Dancing On The Edge' Is Fun For Both The Eyes And The Ears

Friday, October 18 2013 01:33 AM

Set in London in the early 1930s, the five-part miniseries is about a black jazz band trying to crack the dance halls and radio playlists. Critic David Bianculli says this music-centered show features full, unpredictable characters and some exceptionally intriguing performances.

Billy Crystal Finds Fun In Growing Old (But Still Can't Find His Keys)

Friday, October 18 2013 01:33 AM

Crystal isn't happy about turning 65, but at least he's finding a way to laugh about it. The actor and comedian's new memoir — Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? — is on the best-seller list and he'll be back on Broadway in November.

A Peek Into The Private Lives Of 'Burton And Taylor'

Thursday, October 17 2013 01:33 AM

A new made-for-TV movie from BBC America dramatizes one particular period in the intertwined lives of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Critic David Bianculli says less is more, and the film's narrow biographic focus is one of its strengths.

Meet 'The Brothers' Who Shaped U.S. Policy, Inside And Out

Thursday, October 17 2013 01:33 AM

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed John Foster Dulles as secretary of state, and Allen Dulles as director of the CIA. In his new book, The Brothers, journalist Stephen Kinzer says the Dulles' actions "helped set off some of the world's most profound long-term crises."

Graham Nash Has 'Wild Tales' To Spare

Wednesday, October 16 2013 01:33 AM

As part of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the British singer-songwriter helped define a West Coast sound. Here, he discusses the influence of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and marijuana on his career, as well as his new memoir, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.

'The Blow' Puts An Artsy, Electro-Pop Spin On Attraction

Tuesday, October 15 2013 01:33 AM

Musical duo The Blow, in which the singing of Khaela Maricich meets the mixing of Melissa Dyne, has just released a new eponymous collection. Critic Ken Tucker says the electro-pop on the album is self-aware, sexy and smart — and, while informed by the art world, never dips into "art-rock" territory.

One-Stop Shop: Jeff Bezos Wants You To Buy 'Everything' On Amazon

Tuesday, October 15 2013 01:33 AM

In his new book, The Everything Store, journalist Brad Stone says Amazon "ended up forever changing the way we shop and read." He says CEO Jeff Bezos started out selling books, but always had the intention of turning the online market into a company that sold everything.

Fresh Air Weekend: Tom Hanks, Ben Franklin's Sister, Daniel Radcliffe

Sunday, October 13 2013 01:36 AM

Tom Hanks plays Captain Phillips in a high-seas hostage drama. Historian Jill Lepore introduces us to Jane, Ben Franklin's younger sister. And we catch up with child-actor-turned-artist Daniel Radcliffe now that he's in his post-Potter years.

A Pirate Saga More Sobering Than Swashbuckling

Saturday, October 12 2013 01:34 AM

Tom Hanks stars as the title character in the gripping Captain Phillips, opposite the compelling Somali-born actor Barkhad Abdi as the leader of a pirate band that attacks his freighter in the Gulf of Aden. (Recommended)

Parenting A Child Who's Fallen 'Far From The Tree'

Saturday, October 12 2013 01:34 AM

Andrew Solomon's book is about families with children who are profoundly different or likely to be stigmatized. "We all love flawed children," says Solomon, "and the general assumption that these more extreme flaws make ... children somehow unlovable — it wasn't true of most of my experience."

Two Bluegrass Truths From James King And Alan Jackson

Friday, October 11 2013 01:33 AM

On Three Chords and the Truth, bluegrass musician James King picks from the canon of country music to rearrange its songs as bluegrass. On The Bluegrass Album, country star Alan Jackson has recorded his first collection of bluegrass music — some classics, some originals.

Meet Ben's Sister Jane, History's Forgotten Franklin

Friday, October 11 2013 01:33 AM

For centuries, the memory of Jane Franklin has languished in brother Benjamin's shadow. While Ben is on currency and splashed across textbooks, Jane's life of curiosity and hardship has been forgotten. In Book of Ages, historian Jill Lepore draws a portrait of one of the American Revolution's "little women."

From Child Actor To Artist: Radcliffe Reflects On Post-Potter Life

Friday, October 11 2013 01:33 AM

Since wrapping up the last Harry Potter film, Daniel Radcliffe has taken on roles you may not have expected from the former boy wizard. He tells Fresh Air that starting his acting career so young gave him a sense of purpose he wasn't finding in the British school system, and he hasn't looked back since.

Ahmad Jamal Weaves Old And New On 'Saturday Morning'

Thursday, October 10 2013 01:38 AM

The jazz pianist uses his new record to recall works of yesteryear and simultaneously illustrate his new sense of direction. Jamal isn't playing the way he did 60 years ago, now that he's finished warming up.

One Thing Obama Can Do: Decide The Fate Of The Keystone Pipeline

Thursday, October 10 2013 01:38 AM

The president alone can approve or reject construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is designed to take crude oil extracted from Alberta, Canada, through America's heartland to refineries on the Gulf Coast. New Yorker journalist Ryan Lizza says Obama could use the decision as a "symbolic turning point in the kind of energy future he wants America to have."

Elizabeth Smart Says Kidnapper Was A 'Master At Manipulation'

Wednesday, October 09 2013 03:40 AM

Smart, who was held captive for nine months at age 14, describes the 2002 ordeal in a new memoir called My Story. She's now an advocate for children's safety education and says "the best punishment" she can give her abusers is to move on with her life and be happy.

Out Of Lahiri's Muddy 'Lowland,' An Ambitious Story Soars

Tuesday, October 08 2013 01:33 AM

Jhumpa Lahiri's new novel, The Lowland, is on the long list for the National Book Award and the shortlist for the Man Booker. Critic Maureen Corrigan says Lahiri should start making room in her trophy cabinet; The Lowland is a beautiful tale of a family transformed by political violence.

Tom Hanks Is 'Captain Phillips' In High-Seas Hostage Drama

Tuesday, October 08 2013 01:33 AM

The film tells the true story of Richard Phillips, whose container ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Navy SEAL sharpshooters eventually freed the captain from the small lifeboat where he was held hostage for five days. Tom Hanks stars in the film, which is directed by Paul Greengrass.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Breaking Bad,' Holland's 'Prism,' Pitcher Jamie Moyer

Sunday, October 06 2013 01:33 AM

Writers Peter Gould and Thomas Schnauz talk about the finale of the AMC series. Dave Holland's Prism features one of the loudest bands of the bassist's career. And in a new memoir, Just Tell Me I Can't, Moyer explains how he became a better pitcher in his 40s than his 20s.

Houston, We Have A Space Flick: A Sentimental Mission In Zero 'Gravity'

Saturday, October 05 2013 01:34 AM

Director Alfonso Cuaron puts you in orbit with novice astronaut Sandra Bullock and veteran-on-his-last-mission George Clooney as their space shuttle gets demolished by debris from an exploded Soviet satellite. Critic David Edelstein says that you should watch this movie on the biggest screen you can find.

This Opera Will Eat Your Heart Out

Saturday, October 05 2013 01:34 AM

In few operas does all the mayhem express what underlies George Benjamin's Written on Skin. The work conveys a profound awareness of human cruelty and its inextricable connection to passion and art.

Pioneering 'Masters Of Sex' Brought Science To The Bedroom

Saturday, October 05 2013 01:34 AM

William Masters and Virginia Johnson became famous in the 1960s for their research into the physiology of human sexuality. In Masters of Sex, biographer Thomas Maier explores the duo's research methods, which for years remained shrouded in secrecy. Originally broadcast July 30, 2013.

'Breaking Bad' Writers: 'This Is It; There's No More'

Friday, October 04 2013 01:33 AM

The AMC show about a high school chemistry teacher turned meth dealer ended its fifth and final season on Sunday. Writers Peter Gould and Thomas Schnauz say there was "absolute sadness" in the writers' room as they put the last plot points into place.

On 'Days Are Gone,' Three Sisters HAIM It Up

Thursday, October 03 2013 01:30 AM

Can the highly publicized band turn its hype into hits? Ken Tucker wants to join the fan club.

At 49, Jamie Moyer's Pitching Career Goes Into Extra Innings

Thursday, October 03 2013 01:30 AM

In a new memoir called Just Tell Me I Can't Moyer explains how he became a better pitcher in his 40s than his 20s. Moyer's story isn't just the tale of a talented guy who hung on a little longer than others; with the help of a sports psychologist, he managed to gain control of the mental side of his game.

Dave Holland's 'Prism' Goes To 11, Elegantly

Wednesday, October 02 2013 01:37 AM

Prism features one of the loudest bands of the bassist's career. The pleasures of the groove here are complex and deep — it's not just about moving feet.

Chris Matthews Looks Back On A Time 'When Politics Worked'

Wednesday, October 02 2013 01:37 AM

In his new book Tip and the Gipper, MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews reflects on his time as a top aide to Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill during Ronald Reagan's presidency. He compares O'Neill and Reagan's unlikely friendship to today's approach of "government by tantrum."

Don't Feel Too Bad For Sad-Sack Bob Schneider

Tuesday, October 01 2013 01:37 AM

Schneider's Burden of Proof is a frequently beautiful, often morose, downcast album. You get the sense that, when he sings about not connecting with someone he loves, he's also singing about not connecting with a bigger audience.

How Our Stone Age Bodies Struggle To Stay Healthy In Modern Times

Tuesday, October 01 2013 01:37 AM

In The Story of the Human Body, evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman explains how our bodies haven't adapted to modern conditions. The result is "mismatch diseases" — ailments that occur because our bodies weren't designed for the environments in which we now live.

Fresh Air Weekend: Elton John, 'Masters Of Sex' And 'Merchants Of Meth'

Sunday, September 29 2013 01:34 AM

The pop star discusses his fear of sex as a young man, John Powers critiques the new Showtime series' retrograde portrayals of sex and Mother Jones' Jonah Engle looks at where meth cooks' and pharmaceutical companies' interests intersect.

Gordon-Levitt's 'Don Jon' Is An Openhearted Directorial Debut

Saturday, September 28 2013 01:31 AM

Joseph Gordon-Levitt also wrote and stars in the film, about a prolific seducer and porn addict who changes his ways when Scarlett Johansson's character enters the picture. Critic David Edelstein says Don Jon is smart, with a subversive touch.

Jeremy Denk: Playing Ligeti With A Dash Of Humor

Saturday, September 28 2013 01:30 AM

The pianist's latest album features some of the most difficult etudes ever written for solo piano by the Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti. "Ligeti took the piano to places it had never been before," he says, "and makes demands of the pianist and the mind that had never been made before."

Vijay Iyer: Self-Taught Jazz Pianist Goes 'Solo'

Saturday, September 28 2013 01:30 AM

A jazz pianist and bandleader, Iyer is one of the most critically acclaimed musicians of the past decade. He also has a masters in physics. Here, he explains why he decided to switch to a full-time career as a jazz musician, and describes what influenced his album Solo.

'Masters Of Sex' Get Unmasterful Treatment On Showtime

Friday, September 27 2013 01:34 AM

The series follows the stories of science pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who helped bring sexuality into the light. Critic John Powers says it clearly aspires to be "the Mad Men of sex" -- but falls short in both its eye for detail and its retrograde portrayals of sex.

Bumpy, Bikers And The Story Behind 'Leader Of The Pack'

Friday, September 27 2013 01:34 AM

When record producer and songwriter George "Shadow" Morton died on Valentine's Day this year, he left behind a legacy as murky as his nickname, which he got from disappearing on long benders. A new compilation collects Morton's hits for The Shangri-Las, Iron Butterfly and Janis Ian.

Big Pharma And Meth Cooks Agree: Keep Cold Meds Over The Counter

Friday, September 27 2013 01:34 AM

In 2006, Oregon successfully made pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of meth, a prescription drug. Since then, Mother Jones' Jonah Engle reports, 24 states have tried to follow suit — and 23 have failed. Engle attributes those failures to pharmaceutical companies' massive lobbying efforts.

Meet The Iranian Commander Pulling Strings In Syria's War

Thursday, September 26 2013 01:36 AM

Qassem Suleimani is the chief of a powerful branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. He is considered to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans during the Iraq War, and now he is helping to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

TV Trips Into Fall, But These Days Who Knows Where To Look?

Wednesday, September 25 2013 01:33 AM

TV critic David Bianculli points to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg, and The Blacklist, starring James Spader, as shows to watch this season. Other debuts, like The Michael J. Fox Show and The Crazy Ones, show plenty of potential.

Lucy Schwartz Is In Love With Her Own Voice, And That's OK

Wednesday, September 25 2013 01:33 AM

Frequently on her new album Timekeeper, Schwartz sounds like a throwback to another era. Her singing sometimes possesses the spirit of a more lighthearted Laura Nyro, and she has a healthy fondness for The Beatles.

'Reaped' Is A Reminder That No One Is Promised Tomorrow

Wednesday, September 25 2013 01:33 AM

In Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward recalls the deaths of five young men in her life, which she believes were all connected to being poor and black in the rural South. "It made me feel that I wasn't promised some long life. ... That's not a given for me."

A More Reflective Leap On Elton John's 'Diving Board'

Tuesday, September 24 2013 01:30 AM

The pop star has a flair for the extravagant, to say the least, but his new album is stripped down. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the "Elton John excess," his fear of sex as a young man, and how Liberace's example encouraged John to make the piano a star instrument.

Fresh Air Weekend: Linda Ronstadt, Charles Manson And Robbie Fulks

Sunday, September 22 2013 01:33 AM

Ronstadt reflects on her long career, Jeff Guinn explores the rise of a cult leader and Ken Tucker reviews Fulks' new album.

Gandolfini Is So Vivid In 'Enough Said,' You Forget He's Gone

Saturday, September 21 2013 05:56 AM

The late actor stars opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the new comedy about a divorced TV archivist who falls in love with a divorced masseuse. David Edelstein praises Louis-Dreyfus' farcical timing, as well Gandolfini's ability to change his rhythm and demeanor.

Soderbergh's Liberace, 'Behind The Candelabra'

Saturday, September 21 2013 05:56 AM

In his HBO film, the acclaimed director examines the five-year relationship between the flamboyant entertainer and Scott Thorson, who was 40 years Liberace's junior and still a teenager when they met. Michael Douglas plays Liberace and Matt Damon plays Thorson.

Gandolfini Is So Vivid In 'Enough Said,' You Forget He's Gone

Saturday, September 21 2013 03:46 AM

The late actor stars opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the new comedy about a divorced TV archivist who falls in love with a divorced masseuse. David Edelstein praises Louis-Dreyfus' farcical timing, as well Gandolfini's ability to change his rhythm and demeanor.

Gandolfini Is So Vivid In 'Enough Said,' You Forget He's Gone

Saturday, September 21 2013 01:36 AM

The late actor stars opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the new comedy about a divorced TV archivist who falls in love with a divorced masseuse. David Edelstein praises Louis-Dreyfus' farcical timing, as well Gandolfini's ability to change his rhythm and demeanor.

Robbie Fulks: Exhilarating And Bitter On 'Gone Away Backward'

Friday, September 20 2013 01:34 AM

The singer's new album is a work of great, accomplished craft about the pointlessness of crafting anything you care about, because the world is just going to ruin it on you.

Years After Historic Ruling, Execution Still A 'Random' Justice

Friday, September 20 2013 01:33 AM

Evan Mandery's A Wild Justice is an account of the legal battles that led to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down capital punishment, then reversing course four years later. He says that today, prisoners who are sentenced to death have a 10 percent chance of actually being executed.

Bio Credits Manson's Terrible Rise To Right Place And Time

Thursday, September 19 2013 01:31 AM

California parolee Charles Manson arrived in San Francisco in 1967, when the city was full of young waifs looking for a guru. In Manson, Jeff Guinn argues that if the cult leader had instead been paroled in a place like Nebraska, he likely would not have been so successful.

In Memoir, Linda Ronstadt Describes Her 'Simple Dreams'

Wednesday, September 18 2013 01:33 AM

Last month, Ronstadt revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing. Her new memoir, Simple Dreams, reflects on a long career. In this conversation with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, she offers frank insights on sex, drugs, and why "competition was for horse races."

The Masters At His Fingertips, Art Hodes Pays Tribute To Bessie Smith

Tuesday, September 17 2013 01:36 AM

The jazz pianist's powerful 1976 album I Remember Bessie conveys a profound sense of loss.

Introducing 'Miss Anne,' The White Women Of A Black Renaissance

Tuesday, September 17 2013 01:35 AM

That's the collective nickname Harlem-ites used for them: white women who risked family exile and social ostracism to be part of the movement. They were philanthropists and thrill seekers,educators and artists, hostesses and lovers. Carla Kaplan tells their stories in Miss Anne in Harlem.

Barnard President: Today's 'Wonder Women' Must Reframe Feminism

Tuesday, September 17 2013 01:35 AM

Many think of the feminist movement as a thing of the past, but Debora Spar says the battle isn't won yet. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the misinterpretation that got us where we are, and the need to improve support and pay for working women.

Fresh Air Weekend: Snowden Leaks, Billie Jean King And Jonathan Lethem

Sunday, September 15 2013 01:36 AM

Journalist Barton Gellman recounts how he began corresponding with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, a new documentary looks at King's legacy as both a tennis champion and the leader of a female player uprising, and Lethem's new novel was inspired by his own family story.

Mindy Kaling Loves Rom Coms (And Being The Boss)

Saturday, September 14 2013 01:33 AM

The actress played Kelly Kapoor on The Office, a role she also wrote and produced. Now she runs a new Fox comedy, The Mindy Project, in which she stars as an obstetrician whose personal life is a mess. Kaling tells Fresh Air that her late mother inspired her character's career.

'Totally Biased' Comic On Race, Politics And Audience

Saturday, September 14 2013 01:33 AM

Comic W. Kamau Bell's new show, produced by Chris Rock, mixes standup, sketches and interviews. Bell tells Fresh Air about the origins of his political humor and why it's important for him to have a multiracial audience.

The Internet's 'Twerk' Effect Makes Dictionaries Less Complete

Friday, September 13 2013 01:33 AM

When dictionaries add trendy words like "twerk," they're prioritizing the fleeting language habits of the young, says Geoff Nunberg. And our fascination with novel words tends to eclipse subtle changes in the meanings of old ones — "which are often more consequential," he says.

Pioneer Billie Jean King Moved The Baseline For Women's Tennis

Friday, September 13 2013 01:33 AM

A new PBS documentary looks at King's legacy as both a tennis champion — she has a record 20 Wimbledon titles — and the leader of a female player uprising that demanded fairer treatment and pay. She tells Fresh Air about the challenges of being a female player before there was a women's league.

Reporter Had To Decide If Snowden Leaks Were 'The Real Thing'

Thursday, September 12 2013 01:31 AM

Before whistle-blower Edward Snowden became a household name, he was an anonymous source. The Washington Post's Barton Gellman recounts how he began corresponding with Snowden and the process of reporting on the government's Internet data mining program.

Bob Dylan's 'Self Portrait,' Now In Vivid Color

Wednesday, September 11 2013 01:33 AM

A key to the ongoing allure of Dylan's music lies in its ability to stand apart from its time. A new collection of alternate takes and demos re-evaluates the critical flop that was 1970's Self Portrait.

Woodrow Wilson Brought New Executive Style To The White House

Wednesday, September 11 2013 01:33 AM

No. 28 was the first president to team up with America's legislative branch, and he used a groundbreaking moral argument to get the U.S. involved in World War I. A. Scott Berg's new book, Wilson, fills in missing pieces of the president's life.

When Duke Flirted With The Queen

Tuesday, September 10 2013 01:34 AM

Duke Ellington's piece for Queen Elizabeth II is included in a new collection of late-period suites.

For Novelist Jonathan Lethem, Radicalism Runs In The Family

Tuesday, September 10 2013 01:34 AM

His new book, Dissident Gardens, follows three generations of an activist family, from Rose, a secular Jew and communist, to Sergius, her commune-raised grandson. The book is fiction, but its characters were inspired by Lethem's own family story.

The Dawn Of Sun Records: 15 Hours Of Blues

Saturday, September 07 2013 01:33 AM

In 1950, a red-haired Alabama boy who'd learned about radio and electronics in the U.S. Army opened a recording studio to document the blues and country music he loved. A new box set compiles the beginnings of Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service, and the record label he would soon create.

Katey Sagal, Holding Court On 'Sons Of Anarchy'

Saturday, September 07 2013 01:33 AM

The actress plays Gemma, the fierce matriarch of the biker gang in the FX series. She's best-known for playing the acerbic Peg Bundy on the long-running show Married With Children.

On Its New Album, Superchunk Makes The Downtrodden Sound Upbeat

Friday, September 06 2013 01:33 AM

The long-running rock band's latest album is driven by themes of loss and grief, set against ferocious guitars and soaring vocals. Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker says the provocatively titled I Hate Music is full of typically superlative moments.

What's Mittens Thinking? Make 'Sense' Of Your Cat's Behavior

Friday, September 06 2013 01:33 AM

Kitties don't play — they hunt. And their aloof appearance has evolutionary roots. In a new book, anthrozoologist John Bradshaw explains cats' mysterious nature and looks at how the cat's relationship with humans has changed over the years.

From McDermott, An Extraordinary Story Of An Ordinary 'Someone'

Thursday, September 05 2013 01:31 AM

Alice McDermott's characters can often be described as average, and Marie, the heroine of her latest novel, is no exception. But critic Maureen Corrigan says the power of McDermott's writing is that she can make even Marie's run-of-the-mill life one for the record books.

Program Fights Gun Violence Bravado With 'Story Of Suffering'

Thursday, September 05 2013 01:31 AM

Cradle to Grave brings at-risk youth into a Philadelphia hospital to get them to think about the consequences of getting shot. "You only have to die one time," the director tells them, "but the people that you leave behind die a little bit each and every day for the rest of their lives."

Beyond The Shadows: Apple's iOS 7 Is All About The Screen

Wednesday, September 04 2013 01:34 AM

The new mobile operating system's design acknowledges that we no longer need physical analogs — like a camera shutter or old-timey microphone — to describe an app's function.

At 60, 'Challenges Are Opportunities' For John Zorn

Wednesday, September 04 2013 01:34 AM

At 60, New York City composer John Zorn is wiser, sure, but no less prolific, thoughtful and antagonistic than before. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that, at his age, "there are no more doubts."

Jason Isbell Locates His Musical Compass On 'Southeastern'

Tuesday, September 03 2013 01:33 AM

The singer-songwriter earned a name for himself while playing with Drive-By Truckers and The 400 Unit, but on his new album — written after he got sober — Isbell finds a new level of emotional honesty. Here, he talks with Terry Gross about his life and plays songs from Southeastern.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'America's Test Kitchen,' 'Short Term 12' And Demian Bichir

Sunday, September 01 2013 01:33 AM

This week, America's Test Kitchen experts give pointers on grilling peaches, tofu and burgers; film critic David Edelstein recommends Short Term 12; and actor Demian Bichir explains how The Bridge aims to give equal treatment to both sides of the border.

Questlove's Roots: A 'Meta' Memoir Of A Lifetime In Music

Saturday, August 31 2013 01:33 AM

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the co-founder of and drummer for the hip-hop band The Roots, has been a musician since he was a teen. In Mo' Meta Blues, he explains how his musician father groomed him for a life in show business from an early age.

Seth Meyers' Prime-Time Political Parody

Friday, August 30 2013 01:33 AM

For Fresh Air's Late Night week, we listen back to a 2008 interview with Seth Meyers, head writer at Saturday Night Live, and the co-anchor of Weekend Update. Meyers will be taking over from Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, now that Fallon is moving to The Tonight Show. A longer version of this interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 29, 2008.

Late Night 'Thank You Notes' From Jimmy Fallon

Friday, August 30 2013 01:33 AM

Fallon is thankful for slow walkers, people named Lloyd and the word "moist." The comedian and host of Late Night collects more than 100 nuggets of gratitude in a book called Thank You Notes. He talks with Terry Gross about giving thanks and doing impressions.

Reaching Across What's Broken, 'Short Term' Fix Or No

Thursday, August 29 2013 01:32 AM

After college, director Destin Daniel Cretton took a job at a short-term care facility for at-risk teenagers. His time there became the basis for Short Term 12, a film that took two awards at this year's South by Southwest Festival. (Recommended)

Jimmy Kimmel: Making Late Night A Family Affair

Thursday, August 29 2013 01:32 AM

This year, the late-night talk-show host set up camp in the 11:35 p.m. slot, which put him head-to-head with Jay Leno and Kimmel's idol, David Letterman. Kimmel has put a personal mark on his show by bringing in his family to help him make it happen.

Conan's 'Uphill Climb' To Late-Night Throne

Wednesday, August 28 2013 01:33 AM

When O'Brien took over for David Letterman on NBC's Late Night, he had virtually no on-air experience. In a 2003 interview, O'Brien tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about his efforts to fill Letterman's shoes and how his Irish-Catholic repression fuels his comedy.

Jay Leno: 'Tonight' Was About 'Trying To Get Johnny To Laugh'

Wednesday, August 28 2013 01:33 AM

In a 1996 interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, Leno recalled his rocky Tonight Show debut: "I got heckled my first show ... but luckily I had worked a lot of clubs so I could deal with it, and Johnny [Carson] seemed to like that."

Letterman And 'Tonight' Vet Go Behind The Scenes Of Late Night

Tuesday, August 27 2013 01:33 AM

Fresh Air kicks off its late night TV theme week with a 1981 David Letterman interview, in which the host describes how late night TV changed the comedy business, and a 1988 interview with one-time Tonight Show executive producer Fred de Cordova.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'World's End,' Robin Thicke And The 'Sports Gene'

Sunday, August 25 2013 01:33 AM

Five friends reunite for an epic pub crawl in the latest from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. Thicke's album "Blurred Lines" reveals he's an earnest nostalgist. And David Epstein explores the science behind athletic skill.

Boozy Bromance 'World's End' Rises Above Its Lowbrow Tactics

Saturday, August 24 2013 01:33 AM

Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's latest collaboration follows five friends who reunite for an epic tour of 12 suburban English pubs. Critic David Edelstein calls the sci-fi comedy "the year's most uproarious movie."

Fresh Air Remembers Crime Novelist Elmore Leonard

Saturday, August 24 2013 01:33 AM

Leonard was known for crisp dialogue and memorable villains. "The bad guys are the fun guys," he said in a 1983 interview. "The only people I have trouble with are the so-called normal types." He died Tuesday at the age of 87.

Fresh Air Remembers 'Piano Jazz' Host Marian McPartland

Saturday, August 24 2013 01:33 AM

For more than 30 years, the jazz pianist hosted one of public radio's most beloved shows. She died of natural causes on Tuesday at the age of 95. McPartland spoke with Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1987.

Aussie Detective Jack Irish Is More Than Old-School Macho

Friday, August 23 2013 01:33 AM

The fictional Australian hard-boiled detective is the star of several sharp, funny novels by Peter Temple. Two of those books have recently been adapted into TV movies starring Guy Pearce. Critic-at-large John Powers says Pearce perfectly conveys a complex blend of old and new masculinity.

Robin Thicke: Smirky But Sincere On 'Blurred Lines'

Friday, August 23 2013 01:33 AM

Listen and look past his roué image, and the chart-topper is revealed as an earnest nostalgist.

An Epic Pub Crawl Gone Wrong Culminates In 'World's End'

Friday, August 23 2013 01:33 AM

Five old high school friends reunite to finish a pub crawl they started 20 years earlier in the latest from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright — the creators of the zombie send-up Shaun of the Dead and action comedy Hot Fuzz.

'Beauty' On Orrin Evans' Block

Thursday, August 22 2013 01:33 AM

Evans can be a heavy hitter at the keyboard, but on his new album, he reins himself in a bit.

'Bridge' Actor Demian Bichir On Portraying Border Life

Thursday, August 22 2013 01:33 AM

In the new FX series, Bichir plays a Mexican detective who teams up with an El Paso cop to solve a series of murders. He tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies that The Bridge aims to give equal treatment to both sides of the border.