May 4, 2002

Saturday, May 04, 2002

It's a dose of musical drama, real and fictive, in Mississippi and on New York City street corners. Plus Jesse Green's back to invite submissions to our latest Five Sounds in Search of an Author contest.

Bush Whacking
What exactly is President Bush's position on environmental protection? Comedian Charlie Schroeder offers up one possibility in this imaginary press conference, in which the President holds forth from one of the nation's prized national parks.

Hungry for Art
Much planning went into the transfer of the Museum of Modern Art's collection to Queens while the museum undergoes renovations. Thousands of art lovers will make the trek to the temporary site, and yet a vital logistical issue remains unresolved: what's to eat? Next Big Thing producer Curtis Fox investigates the options.

The Geopolitics of Chowhounding
Chowhound Jim Leff wonders what role he might play in dooming or salvaging the Middle East peace process if he shares with the pita-chewing public his discovery of a great Palestinian restaurant in Brooklyn.

Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Alley
Next Big Thing contributor Henry Alford doesn't understand why we need another production of "Oklahoma!," now playing on Broadway. Don't Americans already know every note of this musical from start to finish? Well, as it happens, not exactly…

"Long Island Sound"
In 1947, Noel Coward wrote a never-produced play taking aim at the era's socialites, in Hollywood and Long Island. The play, "Long Island Sound," is now set for its New York world premiere. Next Big Thing host Dean Olsher meets up Scott Alan Evans and Simon Jones, artistic co-directors, with Cynthia Harris, of The Actors Company Theater, to discuss the play's origins. With an excerpt of the play, performed by Simon Jones, Scott Schafer and Rob Breckenridge.

Five Sounds in Search of an Author
Listen carefully
In between these sounds is a story and it's up to you to write it. Once again, The Next Big Thing is inviting your ideas on ways to weave a plot out of seemingly unrelated sounds. Author and Next Big Thing contributor Jesse Green will choose a winner to read his or her story on our show. You'll hear the results next week. E-mail your stories by end of day on MONDAY, May 6, 2002. Please include a daytime phone number. And remember, the time it takes to read them should come close to the time it takes to hear the sounds (about 30 seconds). Good luck!

See Me After Class
It's a crime when a teacher has inappropriate designs on a student. But what happens when a student, and her parents, have designs on the teacher? Writer David Schickler reads from his story, "The Smoker," at the New Yorker's Fiction Live Festival. The story was published in Schickler's "Kissing in Manhattan."

In Search of Robert Johnson
The story of blues master Robert Johnson trading in his soul at the crossroads has grown thin with overtelling. Next Big Thing host Dean Olsher goes to Clarksdale, Mississippi, to find out why so many Johnson fans continue to make the pilgrimage to the place where myth and reality intersect.

WNYC archives id: 13798

Hosted by:

Dean Olsher

Produced by:

Emily Botein


Henry Alford, Scott Alan Evans, Curtis Fox, Jesse Green, Cynthia Harris, Simon Jones, Scott Schafer, David Schickler and Charlie Schroeder


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About The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is Public Radio International's weekly radio features magazine. Produced by WNYC, New York Public Radio, The Next Big Thing may actually resemble a city or town near you: listeners find it a fascinating place to visit, full of little-known street corners, compelling stories, lively music, and original comedy.

The Next Big Thing is full of unusual sounds and memorable voices. It's a show in which well-known artists like Stanley Tucci and Suzanne Vega casually rub shoulders with subway strap hangers, park bench philosophers, street-corner humorists, and kids on the local basketball court.

On The Next Big Thing, creator and host Dean Olsher collaborates with some of America's most talented writers, humorists, and musicians. Regular contributors include: Meg Wolitzer, Henry Alford, Miranda July, Jesse Green, Jonathan Ames and Matt Power. In addition to soliciting stories from these great writers and reporters, Olsher also commissions original plays, music and soundscapes for his beloved medium, radio, creating an aural environment unique to The Next Big Thing.

Olsher's team of producers is inspired to seek out unusual, offbeat and sometimes quietly affecting subjects: they may ride along with former prisoners who bring puppies to those still behind bars; risk life and limb on homemade roller coasters; listen in as a young man attempts to cure his stutter; and track down an illegal immigrant facing deportation after 9/11 despite the successful, middle-class life he's made for himself in the U.S.

The program's variety is designed to appeal to the broad interests of its public radio audience. Listeners on 90 public radio stations nationwide have heard actor Ethan Hawke in a play written for the show by novelist Rick Moody. Humorists Jonathan Katz, Mark O'Donnell, David Rakoff, and Janeane Garofalo have lent their talents to satire and improv comedy, but the show is also home to sonically-enhanced serious fiction from writers like Richard Ford and poetry from Poet Laureate Billy Collins, among others. The result is a sound-rich, intimate, frequently funny, and always engaging radio show.

Says Olsher, "In many ways, The Next Big Thing is a way of paying homage to radio itself. It's about tickling that part of the mind that only radio can reach, using all the forms at which the medium excels: literary journalism, one-on-one interviews, interpretive essays, comedy, drama, and music. It's about personality, ideas, companionship, and speaking to the heart and soul through the eyes and ears of interesting, unusual people."

Olsher began his career in broadcasting at the age of 14, as a freshman at Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington, NJ. After being awarded a Bachelor of Arts at Simon's Rock College, he studied and worked in Chapel Hill, NC, before joining NPR in 1987 as a cultural reporter. At NPR, he defined his beat broadly, from the grand ("Major American Poets Gather at the White House") to the grandly absurd ("Lorena Bobbitt Found Not Guilty"), landing at WNYC in 1999 to create something new - The Next Big Thing


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