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Forget the fava beans.

The main reason Jonathan Demme's Oscar-winning 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs gets its hooks in you — and leaves you feeling vaguely distracted and discomfited long after it's over — isn't anything Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter says.

It's how he says it. And to whom.

In the reality of the film, of course, he's directing his consummate, artisanal brand of creepiness at Jodie Foster's FBI agent, Clarice Starling.

For more than four decades, Jonathan Demme threaded a diverse path through the film industry — beginning as a publicist, filming everything from documentaries to comedic sendups, and finally earning the status of Oscar-winning elder statesman. He was 73.

The director died Wednesday in Manhattan from complications of esophageal cancer. His publicist, 42 West, confirmed Demme's death to NPR.

Demme made films such as The Silence of the Lambs and Stop Making Sense that have helped define their respective genres.

'Maud' Doesn't Quite Live Up To Its Heroine's Example

Apr 26, 2017

Before "fandom" was even a word, women were making pilgrimages to Prince Edward Island to pay homage to a certain red-haired orphan girl named Anne. There's such an industry built up around Anne of Green Gables that it's sort of surprising there aren't dozens of novels about her creator, L.M. Montgomery. In many ways, she's the perfect heroine for a work of young adult historical fiction — she was a girl born ahead of her time, full of potential and possessed of a deep longing for love and creative success.

In the summer of 1945, John F. Kennedy traveled across Europe working as a journalist. He kept a diary during those months on the road, which reveals a future president trying to make sense of a rapidly changing postwar world.

The leather-bound diary will be put up for auction Wednesday, after sitting quietly for nearly six decades in the hands of a former campaign worker. Bidding is expected to top $200,000.

Be warned: This story talks about characters who are forced into sexual slavery.

Hulu's excellent adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, is a horror show unveiled in slow motion.

As the first episode begins, Mad Men alumna Elisabeth Moss is running, fleeing security forces with her daughter, minutes before they are both captured.

Two years ago, life was good for Sheryl Sandberg. The Facebook senior executive and mother of two had a best-selling book (Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead) and she and her husband, Dave Goldberg, decided to take a vacation. But on that vacation, Goldberg collapsed at the gym from heart failure and died. He was 47 years old.

"It was in the early morning hours of July 2 that I was kidnapped."

On the opening page of Guy Delisle's Hostage, those words hang in a slate-gray night sky, above a building in a nondescript neighborhood of what we soon learn is a small town west of Chechnya.

That same, muted grayscale color-scheme will stay with us throughout the book, because the man imparting those words — Christophe André, a Doctors Without Borders administrator assigned to the Caucasus region in 1997 — will spend the bulk of Hostage's 432 pages in darkness.

Ernest Hemingway liked to get up early.

He did his best writing in the morning, standing in front of his typewriter, plucking the keys as fast as the words might come to him. This was fortunate, because by 11 a.m., the Havana heat began to creep into his rented room at the Hotel Ambos Mundos. He couldn't think in the swelter, much less write.

When mentally ill inmates in New York City's Rikers Island jail become too sick, violent, delusional or suicidal for the jail to handle, they're sent to Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward for treatment.

The inmates in Bellevue are awaiting trial for a variety of offenses, ranging from sleeping on the subway to murder. But for Dr. Elizabeth Ford, a psychiatrist who treats them, the charges against her patients are secondary.

The first thing you may notice about Great News, a comedy premiering Tuesday night on NBC, is its similarities to 30 Rock. Here, a news producer named Katie (Briga Heelan) has her work life disrupted when her boss (Adam Campbell) hires her loving but overbearing mom (the great Andrea Martin, late of SCTV and truckloads of comedy since then) as an intern at the station. And while the focus is news rather than late night, the frustrated goofball at the center of a constantly careening television production has a familiar tone.

For only the third time ever, the government released today a national report card examining the knowledge, understanding and abilities of U.S. eighth-graders in visual arts and music.

And in many ways, the numbers aren't great, with little progress shown in most categories since the last time the assessment was given in 2008. One bright spot: The achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white peers has narrowed. But Hispanics and African-Americans still lag far behind white and Asian eighth-graders.

Robert M. Pirsig, who inspired generations to road trip across America with his "novelistic autobigraphy," Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died Monday at the age of 88.

His publisher William Morrow & Company said in a statement that Pirsig died at his home in South Berwick, Maine, "after a period of failing health."

Lillian Hellman's 1939 melodrama The Little Foxes has two great roles for actresses over the age of 40. Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon fill those roles in a new revival on Broadway ... but with one big twist: Linney and Nixon play both roles and switch off at different performances.

Editor's note: This post is about chefs and they can be quite coarse when they talk. Don't be surprised by a little foul language.

In these acrimonious times, many restaurants are treading the fine line between hospitality and politics. Anxiety-inducing though it might be, restaurants have found themselves in this awkward position before.

Just ask Jeremiah Tower, one of America's most influential chefs, who faced a similarly sticky situation four decades ago.

Dani Shapiro's new memoir, Hourglass, opens on a scene from a marriage: On a winter's day, Shapiro looks out a window of her old house in Connecticut, and spots her husband. Now pushing 60, he is standing in the driveway in his bathrobe, his pale legs stuffed into galoshes, aiming a rifle at the woodpecker, who for months has been jackhammering holes into the side of their house.

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Novelist Ann Brashares' parents divorced when she was young. "It wasn't an amicable split ..." she says, "And in some way the divisions just kept going, even to this day they do." Those experiences inspired Brashares — who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series — to write her new novel, The Whole Thing Together.

Inside a tiny, hard-to-find storefront in Brooklyn lies the darkly whimsical world of a most unusual "candy alchemist."

He calls himself "Eugene J.," and this real-life Willy Wonka is whipping up his own new confections across town from where Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will open on Broadway later this month.

Not much is known about this quiet man in black, who prefers to keep the focus on the candy. Behind a purple satin curtain, he toils away on his latest invention.

After years working as a nurse in critical care units, Anne Webster found herself lying in the hospital struggling to get well. She had been given the wrong dose of a chemotherapy medication to treat Crohn's disease. The mistake had caused her bone marrow to shut down, and she'd developed pneumonia.

As she lay in the hospital, she thought, "If I live, I'm gonna write about this."

After three weeks, she recovered. And the experience led Webster to write Chemo Brain, a poem about how the drug scrambled her thinking.

Mona Haydar is a Syrian-American artist from Flint, Mich. She wears a hijab with pride. She's been a performance poet for 13 years, writing about love, trauma, loss and joy.

Back in 2010, science writer Rebecca Skloot published a book that sounded like science fiction — except it was real. Skloot told the story of how a tissue sample from a young African-American woman in Baltimore, taken without her knowledge or consent, went on to become "immortal." Her cells contributed to scientific breakthroughs across disciplines and around the world, and they even went up with some of the first space missions.

In 1978, Ina Garten was working for the White House Office of Management and Budget, and felt like it was time for a change. When she came across a newspaper ad for a food store for sale in the Hamptons, she bought it. That store — the Barefoot Contessa — grew into a career, a series of cookbooks and a popular show on the Food Network.

And yet, after all that success, she's somehow still barefoot. We've invited her to answer three questions about footwear.

Speeches in book form have become a reliable cash cow for publishers. The usual formula is this: Find a commencement speech that's gone viral on YouTube, publish it with illustrations in a small hardcover format, and watch as it gets snapped up by the target demographic (in this case, that would be "people who realized they forgot to buy a present while driving to their nephew's high school graduation").

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:

'I Basically Ran On Adrenaline': A Staffer Remembers Obama's White House: Alyssa Mastromonaco worked in the West Wing for six exhilarating and exhausting years. She describes that era in her new memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

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In the early days of the 20th century, the United States Radium Corporation had factories in New Jersey and Illinois, where they employed mostly women to paint watch and clock faces with their luminous radium paint. The paint got everywhere — hair, hands, clothes, and mouths.

They were called the shining girls, because they quite literally glowed in the dark. And they were dying.

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