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NPR Poetry Month: Andrea Davis Pinkney

5 hours ago

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Edie Falco starred in the groundbreaking HBO show, Oz, and then gained fame and a boatload of awards playing Carmela on HBO's The Sopranos. She followed that up by creating another iconic character, Nurse Jackie, on Showtime. Her new movie is a drama called Outside In.

Since Falco starred in The Sopranos, we've invited her to play a game called "Woke up this morning and got myself an aria" — three questions about tenors.

Click the listen link above to see how she does.

An elite group of movie lovers in the Saudi capital Riyadh got a special treat on Wednesday — a screening of the Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther. The invitation-only event marked the lifting of a ban on cinemas that's lasted more than three decades. It also heralds a new era for Saudi filmmakers, who for years have faced harassment from Saudi authorities for pursuing a profession considered haram, or forbidden, in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

In January, Ursula K. Le Guin died. Her Washington Post obituary is glowing; it notes that The Left Hand of Darkness "was cited by literary critic Harold Bloom in The Western Canon, his overview of classic literature, and paved the way for Ms. Le Guin's broader acceptance." It also, reverentially, identifies her as the "grande dame" of science fiction.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

The basic rule of Scandal for seven seasons, under its creator, Shonda Rhimes, has been that absolutely anything can happen, but very little of it really matters.

The first question that faced us before we could complete our Summer Movie Preview was a simple one. What is the summer movie season?

William Friedkin Meets 'The Devil And Father Amorth'

Apr 19, 2018

"The director of The Exorcist witnesses a real exorcism." It's a hook too devilish to resist, so in 2016 Vanity Fair sent filmmaker William Friedkin to Italy to file a story about Father Gabriele Amorth. Rome's leading exorcist was then 91 and, though he didn't yet know it, only a few months from death. He plowed ahead with his work, performing a ritual on a woman he believed to be possessed by Satan, and invited Friedkin to document it, in a rare sit-in.

As he announced with The Artist, writer-director Michel Hazanavicius makes movies about movies. So it was nearly inevitable that he would someday burlesque the work of Jean-Luc Godard, the Franco-Swiss director who virtually invented the meta-film. The result, Godard Mon Amour, is fascinating but not as much fun as the movies its title character made between 1959 and 1966.

Novelist Richard Powers lives in a house perched on a hillside, just on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "It's very much a tree house," he says with a laugh. "That's why I live here."

His latest book, The Overstory, brought him to the old growth forests of Tennessee. The novel follows the lives of nine different people, all determined to save ancient trees from destruction. Their lives become entwined as they fight to save virgin forests, with unforeseen consequences.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

An attorney for Carver County, Minn., announced today that no charges will be brought in connection with Prince's death and that the musician likely had no idea the vicodin pills he overdosed on were laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl.

"There is no evidence that any person associated with Prince knew that Prince possessed counterfeit pills that contained fentanyl," attorney Mark Metz said during a news conference. "Prince likely had no idea he was taking fentanyl pills that could kill him.

Wyatt Cenac knows his aesthetic, and his aesthetic seems to be "PBS in the 1970s."

The logo of his new HBO series Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas looks precisely like the public television of a couple decades ago, with its friendly-looking sans serif lowercase letters in earthy colors. The set is the same way, looking much like one that a host might have wandered around to talk about the beginnings of the world or the ways of the penguin.

If you grew up in Texas, chances are you've heard the old joke about the man teaching his son about good manners. "Never ask a man if he's from Texas," the father said. "If he is, he'll tell you. And if he's not, there's no use in embarrassing him."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Many years ago, at a party where I was very drunk, I asked a much-desired woman of my friendly acquaintance what it was like to be pretty.

Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods wanted to start a podcast about life in prison. It would be for inmates, by inmates, to be played on the closed-circuit station in San Quentin State Prison in California — "for the inside," as Woods says.

Woods is serving a 31-years-to-life sentence for attempted second-degree robbery. Poor is a visual artist who volunteers at San Quentin.

Allan Monga had never given much thought to poetry before last summer, when he arrived in Maine as an asylum-seeker from Zambia.

At the time, he was almost completely alone, living at a teen shelter in Portland and nervous about speaking with anyone in his new country.

"It was really hard for me," says Monga, 19. "I didn't really know anyone. It was hard to trust anyone."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

It's not about the numbering.

You'll be hearing a lot this week about the publishing milestone DC Comics' Action Comics has achieved, with the publication of issue #1000, on shelves (physical and digital) today. And I don't mean to dismiss that achievement, believe me. It's 2018, and periodical publishing is a lot like the Man of Steel in the penultimate panel of 1992's "Death of Superman" storyline: Beaten to a bloody pulp and hovering at death's door.

Two-thirds of the way through Alexander Chee's How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, I abandoned my sharpened reviewer's pencil in favor of luxuriating in the words. Chee's writing has a mesmerizing quality; his sentences are rife with profound truths without lapsing into the didactic.

Netflix blew past Wall Street expectations this week and added 7.4 million new subscribers between January and March — giving it a total of 125 million paying subscribers worldwide. Its popularity is leaving rivals Amazon and Hulu in the dust as it continues to add new content.

But can the service that made binge watching popular keep it up as a big rival gears up to take it on?

One of my greatest lessons in the power of representation on TV came from watching an episode of Scandal.

In fall 2013, I spent an evening with a group of black and brown women watching an installment from the show's third season. We were gathered in a comfortable, tastefully decorated town house in Washington, D.C. Spirits were high — everyone was ready to watch political fixer supreme Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) tackle the latest bizarro crisis invented by series creator Shonda Rhimes.

Every weekday for more than three decades, his baritone steadied our mornings. Even in moments of chaos and crisis, Carl Kasell brought unflappable authority to the news. But behind that hid a lively sense of humor, revealed to listeners late in his career, when he became the beloved judge and official scorekeeper for Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! NPR's news quiz show.

Kasell died Tuesday from complications from Alzheimer's disease in Potomac, Md. He was 84.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday

New York City has removed a statue of J. Marion Sims, a 19th-century gynecologist who experimented on enslaved women, from a pedestal in Central Park.

The statue will be moved to a cemetery in Brooklyn where Sims, sometimes called the "father of gynecology," is buried. A new informational plaque will be added both to the empty pedestal and the relocated statue, and the city is commissioning new artwork to reflect the issues raised by Sims' legacy.

It's been almost a year since since James Comey first learned that President Trump had fired him. The former FBI director was in Los Angeles visiting the field office for a diversity event when a ticker announcing his ouster scrolled across the bottom of a TV screen.

"I thought it was a scam," Comey says. "I went back to talking to the people who were gathered in front of me."

In a year that hasn't exactly been full of joyful tidings, Julian Barnes' latest novel struck me as one of the saddest books I've read in some time. Beautifully done, but heartrending. It isn't about belligerent politicians, refugees fleeing for their lives, or schoolchildren being gunned down, but it's a tragedy nonetheless — albeit on a much smaller scale. The Only Story concerns the pained recollections of an aging Englishman's life-changing only love.

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