Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:25 pm
A few months ago, Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show, interrogated a special guest: James Corden. When asked what he did for a living, Corden replied demurely, "I don't do anything at the moment."
That is set to change Monday night, when Corden succeeds Ferguson as the host of The Late Late Show.
He is 36 and English. Ferguson is Scottish: Score one for diversity.
Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 8:56 am
In her first novel, Hausfrau, poet Jill Alexander Essbaum has created a heroine who is not without precedent. Her name is Anna and she is, as we learn in the first sentence, "a good wife, mostly." That phrase, written with a poet's precision, contains a kernel of truth and a world of lies.
As a woman frustrated by the parameters of her own life, Essbaum's character has much in common with some literary heavyweights from the past.
Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 8:56 am
Growing up, writer Caryl Phillips sometimes felt like an outsider. "I think that's very commonplace in British life," he tells NPR's Scott Simon. "I certainly, as the child of migrants to Britain, felt that at times."
In January, historical romance queen Julia Quinn finished up her latest series, the Smythe-Smith Quartet — and told readers that next, she'd be headed back to her beloved Bridgerton family. Given that all eight Bridgerton siblings already have their own books, I'm not sure how she's going to do it — but I can tell you that those words sent Quinn fans into an ecstatic tizzy of pleasure.
#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.
This week, we share with you four reads.
From Nina Totenberg, NPR's legal affairs correspondent:
Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 9:23 am
Listen to the Story
While our pal Stephen Thompson is in Austin, Glen Weldon and I are happy to be spending the week talking to our pals Barrie Hardymon and Chris Klimek about the latest Nick Hornby novel, Funny Girl. It follows the life cycle of a British sitcom born in the 1960s, from its inception through its period of popularity, right through its fade and its status as a piece of nostalgia.
Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 11:52 am
America is hooked on stories of redemption and rebirth, be it Cheryl Strayed rediscovering herself by hiking the Pacific Trail or the late David Carr pulling himself out of the crack-house and into TheNew York Times. We just love tales about healing.
Carola Dibbell is a veteran music journalist, and it shows. In her debut novel The Only Ones — which may or may not be named after the cult '70s band — Dibbell writes rhythmically and lyrically about New York City's outer boroughs in the latter half of the 21st century, where life in American has been radically altered by waves of populace-decimating pandemics. The economy is a shambles. People subsist partly on a manufactured foodstuff called Process that's dropped into struggling neighborhoods. The streets of the city are hosed down regularly with industrial-strength antiseptic.
Empire closed out its remarkable first season on Wednesday night with a two-hour finale that proved once again one of the fundamental lessons brought to you by this show: whether this is your cup of tea or not, the people who make Empire reallyknow what they're doing.
In the finale (and if this needs saying, we're about to talk about the finale, so don't claim you weren't warned), we finally got the answers to some of the questions asked in the pilot, while at the same time, it was only entirely clear what was going on about half the time.
Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 10:59 am
During the Stalin years, there were tight restrictions on science fiction in the Soviet Union. Writers were pressured and boxed in, urged to stick to themes of adventure, space travel and the glowing prospect of Soviet scientific and technological achievements.
Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 10:18 am
Last night was Empire's season finale, and at one of D.C.'s biggest Empire watch parties, a sharply dressed crowd of hundreds is huddled around every flat-screen in The Stone Fish Grill Lounge downtown.
"Here we go! Here we go! Here we go, come on everyone! Round of applause!" shouts one of the hosts for the night. "It's Empire time!"
Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 11:48 am
On Nov. 28, 1973, France's Versailles Palace hosted an impossibly glamorous moment in fashion: a competition between five French couture designers and five up-and-coming Americans. The event was a fundraiser to help restore the palace, but it also made for a groundbreaking runway show.
Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 3:48 pm
France is considering banning the use of anorexic models in the fashion industry.
Legislation debated Tuesday in France's Parliament would require modeling agencies to get medical certificates from models to prove that they have a body mass index of at least 18. And models would have to get routine checkups. Agencies that violate the law would be subject to fines of up to 75,000 euros ($80,968) and even prison time.
Websites and online forums that glorify anorexia and other eating disorders also would be banned.
Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 2:48 pm
After he was arrested for robbing people at knifepoint in 2003, Daniel Genis was nicknamed the "apologetic bandit" in the press. He offered apologies to his victims as he took their cash. The money was stolen to pay off his debt to his heroin dealer.
"I really, really did not want to do this," Genis tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I had to work my nerve up every time and I was also really, really bad at it."
Sarah Wendell is the wrangler and editor and general mischief-maker at the site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which reviews and discusses romance novels and serves as a home for many devoted romance fans. She's also a fascinating speaker and writer, so when she was in town recently, we had her into the studio. First up is this Small Batch, in which Sarah and I talk about romance readers, e-reading, rating sexy books with numbers of hot peppers, and why there's an optimism at the heart of reading romance.
It was hard not to compare HBO's six-part miniseries The Jinx to the hit podcast Serial. Both featured serialized storytelling from reporters unafraid to be part of the stories they were telling; both were very well received. But the similarities dissipated as the conclusions approached.
Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 5:51 pm
As its freshman season ends Wednesday night, Fox's hip-hop family drama Empire has emerged as that rarest of birds in the broadcast TV industry: a show where the viewership is always going up.
When the series debuted Jan. 7, it drew a respectable 9.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. But then the show about a family-run music empire achieved something few others have ever managed: It increased its audience every week, growing to 14.9 million viewers on March 4.
Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 2:17 pm
Cults and religions exist on a continuum, not in clearly delineated categories. It's even hard to claim that the distinction between the two comes down to "knowing it when you see it." For the most vulnerable people, the victims of groups that sit nebulously on the divide between cult and religion, that kind of clarity is what's often lacking.