Fresh Air on AM 870 NewsTalk

Weekdays, Noon - 1pm

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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Book Reviews
10:48 am
Mon January 30, 2012

'An Available Man': Love After Loss

cover detail

In my family, we referred to them as "the brisket brigade" — those single ladies of a certain age who began bombarding my brother-in-law with casseroles and commiseration soon after my sister-in-law died. It's a cruel fact of life that nobody plies widows with months of home-cooked meals and baked goods; as Jonathan Swift might have modestly proposed, widows might as well eat each other — there's a surplus supply of them, anyway. But, a new widower gets the Crock-Pots and the romantic fantasies all fired up.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:24 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Stew: 'Making It' After A Tough Breakup

Stew.
Courtesy of the artist

Stew's new album Making It is, in part, about his relationship with his ex-girlfriend and songwriting partner, Heidi Rodewald.

The two musicians, who still work together professionally, dated each other for years. They collaborated on songs for their band The Negro Problem, as well as on orchestrations for Passing Strange, their semi-autobiographical Broadway musical about a young African-American trying to understand himself while traveling around Europe. But during Passing Strange's initial run in Berkeley, Calif., Stew and Rodewald broke up.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:53 am
Sat January 28, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Glocks, David Milch, The Smiths

This Glock was used at a police department and then sold at an auction.
iStockphoto.com

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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Television
10:49 am
Fri January 27, 2012

HBO's 'Luck': A Winning TV Show, Set At The Track

Nick Nolte plays a horse owner who spent most of his career working as a horse trainer in Luck.
HBO

It isn't a long shot that David Milch's newest series for HBO, called Luck, will be on par with his HBO series Deadwood. It's a sure thing. HBO sent out all nine episodes of the show's first season for preview, so there's no guesswork here.

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Movie Interviews
10:31 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Woody Allen: Blending Real Life With Fiction

Fresh Air in 2009. " href="/post/woody-allen-blending-real-life-fiction" class="noexit lightbox">
"Making a movie is a great distraction from the real agonies of the world," filmmaker Woody Allen told Fresh Air in 2009.
Brian Hamill/MGM PBS

This interview was originally broadcast on June 15, 2009.

For someone who has spent the majority of his career making comedies, Woody Allen sees the world — and his lifelong profession — through a surprisingly dark lens.

"Life is a terrible trial, and very harsh and very full of suffering ... [Film] is a different kind of pain. Making a movie is a great distraction from the real agonies of the world," Allen tells Terry Gross.

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Music Reviews
11:46 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Jimmy Owens Navigates Monk's 'Brilliant Corners'

Jimmy Owens mostly dresses Monk's tunes for uptown wear — Monk the Harlem jam session swinger.
Stephanie Myers

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 3:27 pm

In 1974, trumpeter Jimmy Owens helped prepare and played on a Carnegie Hall concert of Thelonious Monk's music. On the night in question, the orchestra featured a surprise soloist: Monk himself. It was one of the pianist's last public performances.

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Movie Reviews
11:23 am
Thu January 26, 2012

In 'Albert Nobbs,' Glenn Close Does More Than Pass

Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) and Helen (Mia Wasikowska) go on a series of awkward dates in Albert Nobbs, a film based on a 1918 George Moore story.
Patrick Redmond Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 1:39 pm

As Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close has hair that's cropped and orangey, and a voice that rarely rises above a nasal croak. She lives and works as a waiter in a high-toned hotel, where she stands with lips pressed together, tight yet tremulous, her searching eyes her only naturally moving parts. She resembles no man I've seen, but no woman, either. She's the personification of fear — fear of being discovered to be a woman. Because hers is a society that treats all poor people badly, but poor women worse.

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Television
12:13 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

David Milch: Trying His 'Luck' With Horse Racing

Luck, the new HBO drama created by David Milch, is about the inside world of horse racing.
Gusmano Cesaretti HBO

Veteran TV writer and producer David Milch grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. But a few times each year, Milch would accompany his father across the state to Saratoga Springs, where the two would bet on horse races.

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Music Reviews
11:17 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Long Live The Smiths' 'Complete Works'

The Smiths.
Wright Photo/Rhino Records

When Steven Patrick Morrissey was 13, he was watching The Old Grey Whistle Test, a BBC rock television show, when the New York Dolls came on. Later, he called it "my first real emotional experience." It was hardly his last: Growing up awkward, tall and shy in suburban Manchester, he was the archetypal kid who didn't fit in, writing poetry and letters to members of the British rock press, disagreeing articulately with their critics.

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Television
11:00 am
Wed January 25, 2012

A Boy's Magical 'Touch' Predicts The Future

When Kiefer Sutherland ended his series of very long, very intense days as Jack Bauer on the Fox series 24, few people, including Sutherland himself, expected him to be starring in another TV series right away.
Fox

The new Fox series Touch stars Kiefer Sutherland as a father — a widower — raising a withdrawn preteen son with behavioral problems.

But it doesn't begin with Sutherland.

It begins, instead, with the son — Jake, played by David Mazouz — providing the narration that opens the series. By the time the opening narration is over, you already know you're watching something a little different.

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Fresh Air Weekend
12:50 am
Sat January 21, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Michael Fassbender, Mushrooms

Uncomfortably Numb: For Brandon (Michael Fassbender), the endless pursuit of sex doesn't involve any particular pleasure — only a driving obsession.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 11:17 am

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 Interviews
12:14 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Remembering Bandleader And Producer Johnny Otis

Johnny Otis (center), shown playing with his band The Johnny Otis Revue.
Charlie Gillett Collection Redferns Via Getty Images

Bandleader and producer Johnny Otis, who launched and then nurtured the careers of many of R&B's greatest singers, died Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90.

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Movie Interviews
12:11 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Brad Pitt: On Life, Movies And 'Moneyball'

Brad Pitt, left, plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's, in the movie Moneyball. His assistant Peter Brand is played by Jonah Hill.
Melinda Sue Gordon Sony Pictures

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 12:16 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on September 22, 2011.

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Remembrances
11:54 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Etta James: The 1994 Fresh Air Interview

Etta James onstage at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Rick Diamond Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 10:54 am

Etta James, the legendary vocalist who is perhaps best known for her version of the song "At Last," has died. She was 73.

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Author Interviews
10:57 am
Fri January 20, 2012

The Inquisition: A Model For Modern Interrogators

An illustration shows heretics being tortured and nailed to wooden posts during the first Inquisition.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 1:42 pm

The individuals who participated in the first Inquisition 800 years ago kept detailed records of their activities. Vast archival collections at the Vatican, in France and in Spain contain accounts of torture victims' cries, descriptions of funeral pyres and even meticulous financial records about the price of torture equipment.

"[There are] expense accounts [for things] like how much did the rope cost to tie the hands of the person you burnt at the stake," says writer Cullen Murphy. "The people who were doing interrogations were meticulous."

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Movie Reviews
11:57 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

'Coriolanus': A People's Hero Turns On His Own

Bare-Knuckle Politics: The battle-hardened Roman general Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) runs for office at the urging of his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) — but it turns out he's no booster of majority rule.
Larry D. Horricks The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 12:16 pm

Ralph Fiennes showed up for a frenzied cameo near the end of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, and her hand-held, adrenaline-charged approach clearly inspired his film of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which he both acts and directs the bloody hell out of.

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Movie Reviews
11:52 am
Thu January 19, 2012

In 'Miss Bala,' Bullets And Beauty Pageants Collide

Stephanie Sigman plays Laura, a beauty queen drawn into the world of Mexican drug cartels, in the film Miss Bala.
20th Century Fox

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 1:57 pm

If you read the headlines, you know that the Mexican government is engaged in a long, deadly battle against the country's astonishingly powerful drug dealers, known as narcotraficantes or simply narcos. Hardly a day goes by without news of another shootout or massacre. Nearly 50,000 people have died in the 5-year-old drug war, the majority of them innocent citizens.

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Author Interviews
11:45 am
Wed January 18, 2012

The Man Who Studies The Fungus Among Us

The Shroom With A View: Mushrooms are fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies found all over the world. They can grow in practically any environment with moisture.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 5:39 pm

For the past 30 years, botanist Nicholas Money has studied the microorganisms that most people associate with bad smells, itchy toes, damp basements and rotten food. A renowned fungal researcher at Miami University in Ohio, Money has devoted his career to studying indoor molds, fungal movements and the mysterious world of mycology.

Why mold and mushrooms?

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Movie Interviews
11:09 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Michael Fassbender: Portraying An Addict's 'Shame'

In Shame, Brandon (Michael Fassbender) pursues sex not for pleasure but to fulfill a driving compulsion.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 5:39 pm

In the past year, actor Michael Fassbender has played a mutant villain in X-Men: First Class, psychoanalyst Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre and a sex addict in Shame.

It was his role in Shame that recently earned Fassbender a string of accolades, including Best Actor nominations at the Golden Globes and a variety of critics associations.

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Movie Reviews
11:48 am
Tue January 17, 2012

'A Separation' Of Hearts, Minds And Ideas In Iran

Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi) are at odds first about whether to leave Iran for life abroad — and then about more pressing issues.
Sony Picture Classics.

Over the past 30-odd years, we've grown used to thinking of Iran and the United States as enemies — from the Ayatollah Khomeini dubbing America "The Great Satan" to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which has led President Obama to spearhead international sanctions and some of his Republican rivals to talk of bombing Iran.

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Author Interviews
10:38 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Writing About The Midwestern Muslim Experience

Ayad Akhtar is a first generation Pakistani-American screenwriter and playwright from Milwaukee. American Dervish is his first novel.
Nina Subin Little, Brown

Playwright Ayad Akhtar's debut novel, American Dervish, tells the story of Hayat Shah, a Pakistani-American boy in Milwaukee coming to terms with his religion and identity.

Ahktar says that he drew from the sensibilities of Jewish writers and filmmakers like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and Woody Allen when thinking about how to give form to his experiences growing up as a young Muslim in the Midwest.

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Television
8:06 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Get 'Lost' In J.J. Abrams' Latest Show 'Alcatraz'

In the two-hour premiere episode of Alcatraz, Rebecca (Sarah Jones) looks for clues to a missing prisoner from the 1960s who suddenly reappears in modern day.
FX

Originally published on Mon January 16, 2012 8:29 am

Let's begin with Justified – because, frankly, that's the one that's got me the most excited.

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Author Interviews
7:39 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Legal Scholar: Jim Crow Still Exists In America

Under Jim Crow laws, black Americans were relegated to a subordinate status for decades. Things like literacy tests for voters and laws designed to prevent blacks from serving on juries were commonplace in nearly a dozen Southern states.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:41 am
Sat January 14, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Gary Oldman, Rin Tin Tin

Oldman played Sirius Black to Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter in the blockbuster franchise.
Murray Close Warner Bros. Pictures

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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Television
10:56 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Walton Goggins: Playing Bad Boy Boyd On 'Justified'

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 12:11 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on May 26, 2010. Justified returns for a third season on Fx on January 17, 2012 at 10pm EST.

One of actor Walton Goggins' earliest moments on stage came at a Georgia hog-calling competition when he was just 10 years old.

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Television
10:56 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Timothy Olyphant: Laying Down 'Justified' Laws

Timothy Olyphant plays Raylan Givens, a present-day U.S. marshal with Wild West inclinations on the FX series Justified.
Mark Seliger FX

This interview was originally broadcast on March 28, 2011. Justified begins its third season next week.

Timothy Olyphant plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on the FX series Justified.

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Movie Reviews
3:02 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

An 'Iron Lady' Fully Inhabited By Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep (center) stars as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's biopic about the former prime minister of the United Kingdom.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 12:12 pm

I admit I was biased against the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady. Not, you understand, against Thatcher and her Tory politics. Against Meryl Streep and her accents. Which are great, no doubt. But I went in resolved not to fall for her pyrotechnics yet again. I wanted realism.

Well, it didn't take long to realize that I was watching not only one of the greatest impersonations I'd ever seen — but one that was also emotionally real.

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Country
12:02 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Janie Fricke: The 'Country Side Of Bluegrass'

Janie Fricke.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 2:14 pm

Janie Fricke has had a long, winding career. She started out as a singer of TV commercial jingles, warbling for Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Red Lobster, among other clients. She then moved on to singing back-up vocals for stars such as Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.

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Movie Interviews
11:46 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Gary Oldman: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sirius

Gary Oldman has played characters from Beethoven to Pontius Pilate to Tom Stoppard's take on Hamlet's schoolmate, Rosencrantz, in the 1990 film Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.
Matt Sayles AP

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 3:10 pm

Gary Oldman watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy when it aired as a BBC miniseries in 1979, but he purposely avoided a second viewing before signing up to play George Smiley in a new film adaptation of John le Carre's classic 1974 novel.

"I really thought that I would be contaminated by it," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "And I didn't want to do an impersonation."

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Television
10:52 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Bill Moyers Is Back On TV — And Better Than Ever

Bill Moyers began his career in journalism as a junior reporter at the Marshall News Messenger in Marshall, Texas.
Peter Krogh ©Peter Krogh

It's one of my favorite TV moments of this year. On Tuesday, the night of the New Hampshire primary, Stephen Colbert had Bill Moyers as his special guest on The Colbert Report. Moyers was there to publicize his return from retirement and the launch of his new TV series, Moyers & Company. Colbert booked him to help him do just that — but as his on-screen persona Stephen Colbert, the pontificating political conservative, he was there to throw good-natured verbal punches.

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