Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award winning, Senior Producer/Reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

On a daily basis, she produces, edits and reports arts and cultural segments that air on NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her recent stories explored the rise of public humiliation in popular culture, consumers' changing media habits and the intersection of the arts and education.

In this position that she has held since 2003, Blair's varied work has included profiles of actor Neil Patrick Harris, rapper K'Naan, and the band Pearl Jam. She has written and produced long-form documentaries on such cultural icons as Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday. Blair oversaw the production of some of NPR's most popular special projects including "50 Great Voices," the NPR series on awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time in, and the "In Character" series which explored famous American fictional characters.

Over the years, Blair has received several honors for her work including two Peabody Awards and a Gracie.

For three and a half years, Blair lived in Paris, France, where she co-produced Le Jazz Club From Paris with Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the monthly magazine Postcard From Paris.

It's a heart-stopping scene: The protagonist of The Good Dinosaur, an 11-year-old Apatosaurus named Arlo is chasing a little thief who's been stealing his family's food. Arlo's not looking where he's going, and he slips and falls into a river. Panic-stricken, he gasps for air as his body goes hurtling down the raging rapids. The splashes, the currents, the rocks, the sound, the details are so vivid — you feel real fear for this animated dinosaur.

When you were a little kid, everyday objects could be amazing — twigs, bugs, old tires, there was potential in everything. And it's that sense of awe that the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery is trying to recapture in its new show, Wonder.

By now, it should be no surprise that ballet has a grim underbelly — or should that be a flat stomach? The dark side of the art form has gotten its share of depictions on screen, and now it's getting a new one — this time in Flesh and Bone, a limited-run series on Starz.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Twenty-five years ago, a new Halloween tradition was launched.


NANCY CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Here's a story that's really scarifying.

Fear old women in fairy tales. For as long as people have been telling stories, crones have been scaring the wits out of children. But why does the face of evil so often belong to an old woman?

Typecasting is one explanation. "What do we have? Nags, witches, evil stepmothers, cannibals, ogres. It's quite dreadful," says Maria Tatar, who teaches a course on folklore and mythology at Harvard. Still, Tatar is quick to point out that old women are also powerful — they're often the ones who can work magic.

The muppet Julia has not yet made her TV debut, but the wide-eyed little girl with a big smile is the star of her own "digital storybook" called "We're Amazing, 1,2,3."

Among the institutions devastated by the flooding in South Carolina is the home of a ballet company.

Dancers from around the world have come to Columbia to dance in the Columbia Classical Ballet Company, founded more than 20 years ago by Radenko Pavlovich.

Now the company's 32 members have nowhere to rehearse or take classes. Their building, renovated just this summer, has been completely destroyed.

During the flooding, water reached up to the ceiling of the studio. Costumes and music scores were ruined.

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When Mikhail Baryshnikov says, "I'm really afraid to get bored with myself," he means it.

As one of the greatest ballet dancers in history, he's captivated audiences around the world. He was also the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, has danced to his own heartbeat, had a run as Carrie Bradshaw's part-time lover on HBO's Sex and the City, and so much more. (His list of credits and awards is long and eclectic.)

Wealthy art collectors often spend millions of dollars on trophy pieces by European masters, then keep them hidden from view. Not Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi: He spends his fortune on artworks by living, Arab artists, then shows them to as many people as possible.

Comedian Steve Rannazzisi has admitted to lying for years about being in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

In interviews, Rannazzisi said he escaped the south tower when terrorists crashed two airplanes into the buildings in 2001. Wednesday, he tweeted that he was in New York City that day, but in a building in Midtown.

Rannazzisi is a popular stand-up comic and one of the stars of the FX sitcom The League, about a fantasy football league.

In the comedy world, it's a commonly held belief that there's a dark side to being funny — and Kelly Carlin is living proof. The daughter of the late comic genius George Carlin has just written a memoir about her childhood. It's called A Carlin Home Companion, but it's nothing like what you'd find on Lake Wobegon.

In her book, Kelly writes that her parents, George and Brenda, could never be accused of hovering over their only child. In fact, in a 1999 HBO special George ranted about overprotective parenting:

An anxious, awkward teenager, social media, suicide. These are the themes at play in a new musical at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The production has garnered praise from both the New York Times ("sweet, sad and quite moving") and the Washington Post (which said it "radiates charm and wit)." They're not the only ones buzzing about it — this play about human behavior in the digital age will head to New York's Second Stage Theater next spring.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



What do Michael Jackson, Zac Efron, Bette Midler and Patrick Swayze have in common? They've all worked closely with choreographer Kenny Ortega — a veteran song and dance man who has inspired generations of performers.

On July 31, the Disney Channel premieres his new movie Descendants, starring a number of young, new actors as well as veterans like Kristin Chenoweth and Kathy Najimy.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



For 20 years, the New Orleans band Galactic has made people dance at clubs, festivals, house parties — you name it. "A first-rate funk band" is how The New York Times describes it.

If you're a woman of a certain size, shopping for clothes can be a downer. Even though the average American woman is around a size 14, most department store racks are devoted to smaller bodies.

But that could be changing.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



With a scruffy beard and devilish twinkle in his eye, Ron Moody's Fagin is one of the most memorable, musical theater villains of all time. Moody died Thursday at a hospital in London. He was 91.

It's impolite to stare. But when it comes to severely injured soldiers, maybe we don't look enough; or maybe we'd rather not see wounded veterans at all.

Missing for nearly 75 years, a painting by Henri Matisse is being returned to the family of its rightful owner Friday. Seated Woman belonged to renowned art dealer Paul Rosenberg, who fled the Nazis in 1940.

The story of the painting's recovery reads like a historical crime novel.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Is Sir Topham Hatt a robber baron or a paternalistic CEO? Are Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends part of a union? How does anyone make money on the Island of Sodor?

Turns out, these are some of the serious issues that have perplexed more than one grown-up forced to read or watch Thomas & Friends for the umpteenth time with their kids. On the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series, the books by Reverend Wilbert Awdry that spawned the shiny engines, we explore this elaborate train of thought.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



One of the most distinctive voices of 1950s and '60s R&B has died. Ben E. King, best known for the song "Stand By Me," died yesterday in New Jersey of natural causes. He was 76. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has more.

If you're into "slow food" — the ethical response to "fast food" — you probably want to know how the animals were treated or whether pesticides were used on your vegetables. Now, the "slow fashion" movement is in the same spirit.

"It's about understanding the process or the origins of how things are made," says Soraya Darabi, co-founder of the clothing line Zady. "Where our products come from, how they're constructed and by whom. Slow fashion is really indicative of a movement of people who want to literally slow down."

What makes a great teacher great? That's the question at the heart of 50 Great Teachers, from the NPR Ed Team.

Diana Agrest believes architecture is so much more than a marriage of form and function. For more than four decades, she's been trying to get her students to believe that too.

Something rare is happening in the world of ballet: At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., two African-American dancers will be the leads in The Washington Ballet's production of Swan Lake. Misty Copeland, soloist with American Ballet Theatre, will dance the dual role of Odette and Odile, while Brooklyn Mack of The Washington Ballet will dance Prince Siegfried.