Fresh Air on AM 870 NewsTalk

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Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Fresh Air is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and broadcast nationally by NPR.

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Theater
3:19 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

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

Allan Jones plays debonair leading man Gaylord Ravenal and Irene Dunne is the enchanting Magnolia in the 1936 film version of Show Boat, which has just been released on DVD.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 9:32 am

Broadway had never seen anything like it when Show Boat arrived at the Ziegfeld Theatre in 1927. The score was unforgettable and the story tackled complex racial issues. There have been three movie versions, but the best one — James Whale's 1936 production — has only just been released on DVD.

Show Boat was the first great serious Broadway musical. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the songs, and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., who produced it, departed from typical musical comedy material, with its chorus lines and songs showcasing star performers.

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Music
3:28 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Miranda Lambert's 'Platinum' Has Backyard Swagger

Miranda Lambert's new album is called Platinum. Lambert has become one of the best-selling artists in country music, and one of the most critically acclaimed. Rock critic Ken Tucker says her new album continues Lambert's ongoing project to create songs about women who are complex, fun-loving, and assertive.

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Law
3:28 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 4:57 pm

The American rate of juvenile incarceration is seven times that of Great Britain, and 18 times that of France. It costs, on average, $88,000 a year to keep a youth locked up — far more than the U.S. spends on a child's education.

But the biggest problem with juvenile incarceration, author Nell Bernstein tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, is that instead of helping troubled kids get their lives back on track, detention usually makes their problems worse, and sets them in the direction of more crime and self-destructive behavior.

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All Tech Considered
3:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

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

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 3:53 pm

Humans have put a man on the moon, harnessed the atom and built supercomputers that can perform quadrillions of calculations per second. But try to get five people with telephones talking to each other and our high-tech society can break down.

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World
3:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

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

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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Music
3:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Golem Ain't Your Grandparents' Klezmer

The New York City band Golem describe their music as punk-klezmer. Music critic Milo Miles says that on the group's new album, Tanz, they mange to find new ways to balance urban irreverence with folk tradition.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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Theater
3:09 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

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

Denzel Washington plays Walter Lee, the role played by Sidney Poitier in the 1959 Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun. Sophie Okonedo, known for her Academy Award nomination for Hotel Rwanda, plays Ruth Younger in her New York stage debut.
Brigitte Lacombe

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 4:05 pm

Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson have received rave reviews for their starring roles in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun. The play by Lorraine Hansberry debuted on Broadway in 1959 and was adapted to a film two years later. The current production ends its run on June 15.

"I'm in tears because it has truly been the highlight of my theatrical career," Jackson tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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Music Reviews
3:09 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

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

John Fullbright's new album is called Songs.
Courtesy of the artist

John Fullbright's Songs is the most interestingly uneven album I've heard in a while. The work of a smart young man, it's also the work of a self-conscious young man who's prone to mistaking articulate melancholy for wisdom. Fullbright's debut album contained bold melodies and told stories about daydreamers and offbeat people. On Songs, Fullbright opts for pure mood-setting, sounding morose in an attempt to signal subtle passion, but that's not really how it plays out.

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Fresh Air Weekend
3:08 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

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

Max Beckmann's biblical and political triptych Departure (right) hangs on the same wall as Adolf Ziegler's Four Elements triptych, which Hitler owned. Both pieces are part of the Neue Galerie's "Degenerate Art" exhibit.
Courtesy of Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 2:26 pm

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Music Reviews
11:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Jazz Pianist Ted Rosenthal Has A Feel For Gershwin

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 11:45 am

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. Ted Rosenthal an early winter of the Thelonious Monk Piano Competition 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 the problem. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Rosenthal has a real feel for the material.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RHAPSODY IN BLUE")

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Interviews
11:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

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

Joaquin Phoenix's Her character, Theodore, has a job writing intimate — and sometimes erotic — cards and letters on behalf of other people.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 3:30 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 21, 2014.

Joaquin Phoenix started his acting career in 1982, when he was about 8, on an episode of the TV series Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. (His brother, the late River Phoenix, was a regular in the series.) He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he still vividly remembers his first time on a set.

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NPR Story
2:18 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

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

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 3:50 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, the Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, was introduced to a large American audience through the film "Bridesmaids," in which he co-starred as a police officer with a crush on Annie, played by Kristen Wiig.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BRIDESMAIDS")

KRISTIN WIIG: (As Annie) I didn't know that you could be a cop here if you weren't a citizen.

O'DOWD: (As Rhodes) You can't.

WIIG: (As Annie) No?

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Fine Art
2:18 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

'Degenerate' Exhibit Recalls Nazi War On Modern Art

The Neue Galerie exhibit's empty frames represent paintings that were lost or destroyed by the Nazis. They appear beside works that survived Nazi rule, like George Grosz's Portrait of the Writer Max Hermann-Neisse (lower right).
Courtesy of Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 2:28 pm

One of the most unsettling rooms in an important art exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie is a room in which numerous empty frames are hanging, with guesses about which paintings might have been in them. The paintings themselves were all lost or destroyed by the Nazis. Encouraged by Hitler, most Nazis (Joseph Goebbels was the rare exception) considered everything but the most hidebound, traditionally realistic paintings and sculptures to be "degenerate," a threat to the Aryan ideals of German culture.

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NPR Story
2:45 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Highlights From The Cannes Film Festival

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Cannes Film Festival, the most important international film festival, concluded this past weekend. Getting an award at Cannes gives a new film the kind of pedigree that helps ensure good international distribution. FRESH AIR's critic-at-large, John Powers, who is also the film critic for Vogue, reported on the festival, as he's done many years.

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Author Interviews
2:45 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Poet And Memoirist Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's most recent autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom, looked back on her complicated relationship with her mother.
Doug Mills AP

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 3:10 pm

In her memoirs, Maya Angelou explored how race and gender affected her life. Her first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 and describes growing up in the segregated South. It includes the story of how, as a child, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. After the rape, she withdrew into herself and went through a long period of not speaking.

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Commentary
2:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

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

A lot of things had to come together to turn Thomas Piketty's controversial Capital in the Twenty-First Century into the tome of the season. There's its timeliness, its surprising accessibility and the audacity of its thesis, that capitalism inevitably leads to greater concentrations of wealth at the very top.

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Books
2:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers

Over the next few years China will build a multi-billion dollar railway linking the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi (shown here), based on an agreement signed earlier this month by East African and Chinese officials. It's one of many examples of China's increasing economic engagement with African countries.
Tony Karumba AFP/Getty Images

China's economic engagement in Africa can be measured in dollars — for instance, the $71 million airport expansion contract in Mali, funded by American foreign aid, that went to a Chinese construction firm.

More remarkably, it can be measured in people: More than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved to Africa, buying land, starting businesses and settling among local populations.

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Music
2:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

The Bronze Buckaroo Rides Off Into The Sunset

The smooth baritone Herb Jeffries, who recorded the 1940 hit "Flamingo" with the Duke Ellington orchestra, was also the first black singing cowboy on the silver screen, nicknamed the Bronze Buckaroo. Herb Jeffries died Sunday at age of about 100. His exact age is uncertain. Terry Gross spoke with Herb Jeffries in 1995.

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Music Reviews
2:03 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Two New Items From Hank Williams

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 11:46 am

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Interviews
2:03 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty

Maj. Frank Capra sits at his War Department desk in Washington on March 6, 1942. Capra's non-War Department films include It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
AP

This interview was originally broadcast on March 3, 2014.

When America entered World War II, some of Hollywood's most celebrated directors enlisted and risked their lives. But they weren't fighting — they were filming combat.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:14 am
Sat May 24, 2014

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

In Louie, Louis C.K. plays a comic who finds comedy in uncomfortable, touchy topics.
K.C. Bailey FX

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Movie Interviews
12:38 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Cinematographer Gordon Willis

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:27 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Television
12:38 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

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

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:27 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer's 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts. Almost 30 years later, the drama is both presented and viewed differently. It almost has to be.

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Music Interviews
12:38 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Donovan To Be Inducted Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:27 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN")

DONOVAN: (Singing) Color and sky brush and blue. Scarlet fleece changes you. Crimson ball sinks from view. Wear your love like heaven. Wear your love like heaven. Wear your love like heaven. Wear...

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The Impact of War
3:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Civilian Life Taught This Military Dog Some New Tricks

In this image from the June issue of National Geographic, Jose Armenta and his wife, Eliana, relax with their Boston terriers Oreo and Sassy, and Zenit, a German shepherd they adopted from the Marines.
Adam Ferguson National Geographic

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 4:59 pm

As a dog handler in the Marines, it was Jose Armenta's job to walk ahead of his platoon and search for roadside bombs with his dog, Zenit, a German shepherd trained for explosives detection and patrol. In 2011, while searching for IEDs planted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, a bomb they didn't detect exploded and Armenta was thrown 20 feet. He narrowly survived, but both his legs had to be amputated above the knee. Zenit was uninjured and redeployed with a new handler.

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Remembrances
3:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Civil Rights Activist Vincent Harding

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The Civil Rights activist and historian Vincent Harding died Monday at the age of 82. He was the first director of what's now called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta. And his books include "Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero" and "There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America." Harding wrote several speeches for King, including King's controversial, now famous 1967 speech opposing the war in Vietnam. Here's an excerpt.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

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Book Reviews
3:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

A Second Posthumous Collection From Rock Critic Ellen Willis

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Ellen Willis was the first rock critic for The New Yorker is. She was also a radical feminist writer and activist. Her work appeared in the Village Voice, where she was a columnist, as well as in Rolling Stone and The Nation.

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Author Interviews
4:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How The Koch Brothers Remade America's Political Landscape

David Koch is one-half of politically and economically powerful duo known as the Koch brothers. He and his brother, Charles, are tied in sixth place on the list of the wealthiest men on the planet.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 5:08 pm

Brothers Charles and David Koch are the subject of the new book Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. The author, Daniel Schulman, describes the Kochs as having pumped hundreds of millions into remaking the American political landscape, trying to bring their libertarian views into the mainstream.

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Book Reviews
4:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

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

German troops march towards Paris' Arc de Triomphe in 1943.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 4:20 pm

Even the most restrained plot summary of Francine Prose's latest novel sounds like a teaser for a late night Lifetime TV movie. Here goes: In the Paris of the late 1920s, a butch lesbian race car driver named Lou Villars has her license revoked by the French government for daring to dress as a man in public. Lou goes on to become a performer in a risque review at the Chameleon Club, a smoky nightclub where threadbare artists and thrill-seeking aristocrats mingle in the half-light.

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Television
1:01 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

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

The Maya Rudolph Show premiered Monday night with guest appearances from Sean Hayes, Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg.
Paul Drinkwater NBC

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 6:40 pm

On Monday night, NBC presented The Maya Rudolph Show, a one-hour prime-time variety special executive produced by Lorne Michaels and featuring many of their mutual Saturday Night Live cohorts, including Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell. It also co-starred Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes and singer Janelle Monae. The Maya Rudolph Show was an intentional effort to bring back the old-school TV variety show, but with a new-school slant that bathed most of the show in a distancing self-awareness.

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