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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.

Beatles fans around the world are paying tribute to the group's longtime producer, Sir George Martin, who died Tuesday at age 90. Paul McCartney said in a statement, "The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music." George Martin also left a lasting mark on the art of record production. Whether horns or harpsichord, so many of the embellishments you hear on the Beatles' songs came from Martin. He wasn't just a good producer, says...

First, it's not really black. It's not even a color or a pigment. "Vantablack" is a "material," according to Surrey NanoSystems, the British company that created it. But this growling, rebellious material is causing quite a fuss now that renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor — who designed Chicago's Cloud Gate and the Orbit tower for the 2012 London Olympics — has bought the exclusive rights to use it in art. If you want the official explanation of what Vantablack is, check out the company's FAQ ....

President Obama has nominated Carla D. Hayden as the next librarian of Congress. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and first African-American ever to lead the world's largest library. Hayden is currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. In a White House statement, Obama says he and the first lady have known Hayden since she was at the Chicago Public Library, where she was deputy commissioner and chief librarian from 1991-1993. "Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to...

Screenwriter Meg LeFauve is having a very good year. She's nominated for an Oscar as one of the writers of Pixar's deeply original, animated movie Inside Out ; she wrote the screenplay for The Good Dinosaur ; and now she's co-writing the female superhero movie Captain Marvel . According to actress Jodie Foster, LeFauve's mentor and one-time collaborator, her gifts as a writer mirror her gifts as a person: sensitivity combined with a "keen, precise mind." By now, a...

T.J. Miller has played a dragon slayer in the How to Train Your Dragon movies, a man who doesn't always change his underwear in Big Hero 6 and a pothead who thinks he's a tech rock star in HBO's Silicon Valley . Now Marvel fans will know him as bartender Weasel, best friend to the titular superhero in the new, R-rated comic book movie Deadpool . Miller is a physical and cerebral comedian, a good combination for his Silicon Valley <...

The aptly titled Sweat is all about work — and the fear of losing it. In the new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lynn Nottage, change is coming for workers at a steel tubing plant. "They've got buttons now that can replace all of us," one character says. Sure enough, the company is about to move production to Mexico and ask longtime union workers to accept lower wages. They refuse, and end up locked out and replaced by immigrant labor. It's a scenario that has played out many...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: One of the richest men in China has made a big splash in Hollywood. Wang Jianlin's conglomerate, Wanda, announced today it will buy Legendary Entertainment. That's the American company behind movies like "Jurassic World" and "Straight Outta Compton." NPR's Elizabeth Blair has our report. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Wanda is a massive corporation in China. Its business includes huge shopping centers,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4uNiRi4lzw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIII1WdFMY4 A good attorney in a high-profile case needs to know how to change public opinion. Bill Cosby's attorney Monique Pressley is trying to do just that. Under the glare of public scrutiny, she has been vehemently defending the beleaguered comedian, projecting poise under pressure. To watch Pressley on TV, you'd never know this is her first time defending a celebrity this big against charges of this magnitude. In...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: When acid was thrown in face of the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet nearly three years ago, it was more than just a brutal attack on a high-profile figure. It was a reflection of Russian society, according to a new documentary called "Bolshoi Babylon," which premieres tonight on HBO. NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The documentary begins with stunning, close-up images of...

It isn't necessarily easy to make funny people laugh, but comedian Amy Poehler says Paula Pell can do it: "She just has this very specific way of telling a joke and being in on the joke," says Poehler. Pell has serious comedy cred: She's been a writer on Saturday Night Live for more than 20 years and has worked on 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Judd Apatow movies. Pell was behind some popular SNL characters, like the Spartan cheerleaders , middle school...

Comic Bill Burr's new animated Netflix series is set in the 1970s and definitely for mature audiences — think of it as an R-rated cross between All in the Family and The Simpsons . It's called F Is for Family, and its patriarch is the often-frustrated Frank Murphy. We learn Frank's back story in the opening credits: On high school graduation day, Frank dreamed of being a pilot. You see him soaring carefree into the sky when suddenly the debris of life starts...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2Z3y3Qw3RU What movie would be crazy enough to go up against Star Wars ? One starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their movie Sisters comes out the same weekend as the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens . Even before it opens Dec. 18, the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel is being called "the biggest movie of the year." Analysts predict Star Wars will crush the competition, taking in more than $200 million on opening weekend. A...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: The new "Star Wars" hasn't opened yet, but it's already being called the biggest movie the of the year. (SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS SONG, "OVERTURE") SIEGEL: Box office receipts for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" are expected to be so astronomical that producers of other movies are delaying their openings. But Tina Fey and Amy Poehler aren't afraid of the competition. Their movie "Sisters" also opens...

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. The new Pixar movie has been called ...

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 . In the Renwick's newly renovated gallery in Washington, D.C., nine artists were each given free rein over a space to create inspiring installations. Tara Donovan used hundreds of thousands of index cards to create a mountain range. Gabriel Dawe made a rainbow...

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. The new show has been called " Breaking Bad meets Black Swan ," and with good reason: It's the first series created by writer and producer Moira Walley-Beckett since her acclaimed work on

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Twenty-five years ago, a new Halloween tradition was launched. (SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SIMPSONS") NANCY CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Here's a story that's really scarifying. YEARDLEY SMITH: (As Lisa Simpson) Oh, brother. CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) I call it Bad Dream House (laughter). SIEGEL: The Simpsons annual "Treehouse Of Horror." These episodes have proven so popular since the first one...

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...

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 ." For over a year now, Sesame Street has been working with organizations such as Autism Speaks and Autism Self Advocacy to help reduce the stigma associated with autism spectrum disorder. As part of the campaign " See Amazing in All Children ," the adorable muppet Abby Cadabby explains in one YouTube video, "Lots of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSTywVwZCjw Hasan Minhaj was one of Jon Stewart's last hires on The Daily Show . As a correspondent, he's covered Pope Francis' recent visit to the U.S., labor issues and negotiations with Iran. On the side, he's been working on a solo theater piece called Homecoming King that gets its New York premiere off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater on Thursday. Homecoming King is a roller-coaster ride. Onstage, Minhaj is a charming, energetic...

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...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: We have a remembrance now of an actress who is not a star but who became something of a pop culture hero. The Log Lady in the cult hit series "Twin Peaks," Catherine Coulson, has died. She was 71. In her most famous role, she wore round glasses and wool cardigans and had an odd attachment to a piece of ponderosa pine. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The Log Lady was both wise...

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.) Today, at 67, Baryshnikov is still creating art of all kinds...

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. Qassemi is a bit of a paradox. He's a member of an Arab royal family, but he recently showed up at NPR's New York bureau by himself and casually dressed, looking more like a grad student than a sheikh. While clicking...

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 a 2009 interview with comedian Marc...

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...

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. In Dear Evan Hansen ...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: You know, with a lot of the news we've been hearing recently, who could blame us for wanting a laugh on a Friday morning? And it just happens to be the week that Montreal's annual comedy festival Just For Laughs is taking place up in Canada. Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr, Jane Lynch, Margaret Cho are just some of the headliners at this comedy festival. Each July it takes place in small clubs and...

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. Ortega designed big concerts for Michael Jackson, auditioning dancers and overseeing the crew. He was...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Dave Chappelle, Mike Myers, Kevin Hart, Wanda Sykes - they're among the dozens of comedians in Montreal right now for the annual Just For Laughs Festival. Writers, agents and network executives are there, too, hoping to find the next big thing. Just For Laughs is the biggest and oldest comedy festival in the world. And as NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, it's transformed from a nice, local festival to...

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