Fresh Air

Weekdays at Noon

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

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National Security
2:03 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

'Frontline' Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today's NSA

President George Bush examines the devastation at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Sept. 12, 2001, a day after a hijacked airliner slammed into the building.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 3:16 pm

When stories began to emerge about the U.S. government's massive surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet communications, it was no surprise to a group of analysts who had left the National Security Agency soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Those analysts, who'd worked on systems to detect terrorist threats, left in part because they saw the NSA embarking on a surveillance program they regarded as unconstitutional and unnecessary.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:09 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Sam Baker And Roz Chast

Sam Baker's new album is titled Say Grace.
C. Lawrence Courtesy of the artist

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:

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction: In 1986, a bomb planted by the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path exploded in the luggage rack above Sam Baker. Somehow, during his long recovery, songs focused on empathy started coming to him.

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Television
10:11 am
Fri May 9, 2014

'Penny Dreadful' Is Wonderful, But 'Rosemary's Baby' Is Dreadful

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 1:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. This weekend two very different TV productions attempt to do much the same thing - revisit old works of literature in the horror and suspense genre and adapt them with new approaches for a new generation. NBC's four hour miniseries version of Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby" barely justifies the attempt.

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Movie Reviews
10:11 am
Fri May 9, 2014

'God's Pocket' Is Horrifying, Humanist And Heartbreaking

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 11:40 am

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his final film roles, stars as Mickey in "God's Pocket," the new movie directed by John Slattery. Slattery is famous for his role as Roger Sterling on TV's "Mad Men" and over the years has directed several episodes of that AMC series. He makes the transition to feature film directing with "God's Pocket" which he and Alex Metcalf adapted from the 1983 novel by Pete Dexter.

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Interviews
10:11 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Marc Maron: A Life Fueled By 'Panic And Dread'

Marc Maron is also the author of The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life As a Reluctant Messiah.
Leigh Righton Spiegel & Grau

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 11:40 am

This interview was originally broadcast on April 29, 2013.

When Marc Maron started his podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in September 2009, he was in a dark place: He was going through a divorce, his comedy career had hit a wall and — in his mid-40s — he didn't have a Plan B.

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Author Interviews
11:26 am
Thu May 8, 2014

A Cartoonist's Funny, Heartbreaking Take On Caring For Aging Parents

Roz Chast Bloomsbury

It's never easy to talk with aging parents about the end of life, but it was maybe particularly difficult for Roz Chast and her parents, which is why her new graphic memoir is called Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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Movie Reviews
11:26 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso'

Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 6:33 pm

If the road movie has a home, it's surely the United States. After all, the settling of America was itself a kind of humongous road picture — all those wagons rolling across the new continent's spectacular vastness. And with our ceaseless love of movement, we became the first people to be transported — in every sense — by the automobile. Small wonder, then, that so many famous Hollywood films, from It Happened One Night to Thelma & Louise, are all about hitting the road.

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Television
10:44 am
Wed May 7, 2014

'Hill Street Blues' Created Two Eras For TV Drama: Before And After

Among Hill Street Blues' many innovations, says David Bianculli, was focusing on a large ensemble cast instead of one or two central stars. Pictured here: Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport, Daniel J. Travanti as Capt. Frank Furillo and Robert Prosky as Sgt. Stan Jablonski.
David Sutton NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 12:49 pm

It's very easy, and not at all inaccurate, to divide dramatic series television into two eras: before Hill Street Blues — which has just been released on DVD in its entirety for the first time -- and after. Before NBC televised Hill Street in 1981, most continuing drama series were presented as stand-alone, interchangeable hours starring the same characters. Every week, TV detectives Joe Mannix or Theo Kojak or Tony Baretta would investigate a crime, catch the villains and wait for next week to do it again.

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Author Interviews
10:44 am
Wed May 7, 2014

From Poker Amateur To World Series Competitor In 'The Noble Hustle'

Poker players take part in the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament in Las Vegas.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 11:37 am

When the World Series of Poker began in 1970, it was a pretty modest affair — seven veterans of the game competing for just the honor, no prize money. Today, more than 6,000 players pay the $10,000 entrance fee for the No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Tournament. ESPN televises the final table, and last year the winner took home more than $8 million in prize money.

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The Fresh Air Interview
11:34 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction

Sam Baker's new album is titled Say Grace.
C. Lawrence Courtesy of the artist

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Television
11:43 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Todd Barry's New Stand-Up Strategy: 'Does Anyone Want To Talk To Me?'

Todd Barry has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O'Brien.
Mindy Tucker

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 1:51 pm

Todd Barry is one of comic Louis C.K.'s favorite comedians. So when Barry had the idea to film a tour in which all he did was crowd work — or, engage the audience in improvised conversations — Louis C.K. decided to produce the film, called The Crowd Work Tour, and feature it on his website.

Barry also plays a version of himself on Louis C.K.'s show Louie, which begins a new season on Monday. He's recorded several comedy albums, appeared in the film The Wrestler and done a lot of voice-over work for animated TV series.

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Book Reviews
11:43 am
Mon May 5, 2014

In 'Hotel Florida,' Three Couples Chronicle The Spanish Civil War

Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, at the Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho.
AP

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 1:40 pm

There's something romantic about biographer Amanda Vaill's device of making the Hotel Florida in Madrid the hub of her new book about the Spanish Civil War, called Hotel Florida; but, then again, there's always been something romantic about the Spanish Civil War itself. For the Spanish loyalists — who were supported by Russia and Mexico as well as the International Brigades of civilians from Europe and the Americas — the Spanish Civil War was a gallant stand against fascism.

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Music Reviews
11:43 am
Mon May 5, 2014

tUnE-yArDs: Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing

tUnE-yArDs.
Holly Andres Courtesy of the artist.

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:32 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Alan Cumming, 'Godzilla' And Matthew Weiner

This is the third time Alan Cumming has starred in Cabaret. Each of the productions with Cumming was directed by Sam Mendes. Rob Marshall choreographed both American productions and co-directed the new one.
Andrew H. Walker Getty Images

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:

For Alan Cumming, Life Is (Once Again) A Cabaret: This is the third time Cumming has starred in the musical. He talks about the new production — everything from his costume (which he calls a "Wonder Bra" for men) to the darker themes of the show.

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Author Interviews
10:04 am
Fri May 2, 2014

The Making Of 'Godzilla,' Japan's Favorite 'Mon-Star'

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 12:23 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

We're celebrating Godzilla's 60th anniversary today on FRESH AIR. When the film was first shown in America, about 40 minutes were deleted from the original Japanese version to make it shorter and to make way for new footage that was added to make the movie more marketable to American audiences. The new footage featured an American wire service reporter whose reports provided the narration for the story.

The reporter was played by Raymond Burr, who went on to play TV lawyer Perry Mason. Here's how Burr opened the film.

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Movie Reviews
10:04 am
Fri May 2, 2014

'Ida': A Coming-Of-Age Story With An Eerie Luster

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 12:23 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

The Polish-born director Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski's is best known for the English-language movie "My Summer of Love," a lesbian coming-of-age film that was a breakthrough for actress Emily Blunt. His new film is called "Ida," spelled I-D-A and centers on an orphan who learns the secret of her past when she's on the brink of becoming a nun. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Remembrances
10:04 am
Fri May 2, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers British Actor Bob Hoskins

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 12:23 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

British actor Bob Hoskins, who played a human detective in a world of cartoon characters in the acclaimed movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," died this week after contracting pneumonia. He was 71 years old.

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Music Reviews
10:54 am
Thu May 1, 2014

The Animals: The British Invasion That Wasn't

The Animals.
Courtesy of ABKCO Records

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 12:35 pm

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Television
10:22 am
Thu May 1, 2014

'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner On The End Of Don Draper's Journey

Matthew Weiner says sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night wondering if there'd even be a Mad Men without Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper.
Michael Yarish AMC

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 12:35 pm

It's now 1969 on AMC's Mad Men, and the start of advertising genius Don Draper's final journey. Show creator Matthew Weiner is currently at work writing and shooting the series' concluding episodes. The final season, which began last month, is divided into two parts, with the second half to be shown next year.

The new season opens with Don and his advertising agency dealing with the consequences of what happened at the end of Season 6, when the partners forced Don to take a leave of absence after he chose the wrong time to tell the truth about his past.

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The Fresh Air Interview
12:27 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

At 90, 'Fiddler' Lyricist Tells His Story

Sheldon Harnick (right) with the late Jerry Bock, his long-time musical collaborator. Together they worked on musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Fiorello!
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 8:13 am

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NPR Story
1:28 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Exploring 'What We Left Behind' In Iraq

New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins finds an increasingly authoritarian prime minister — Nouri al-Maliki — sectarian violence, and concern for the future. Iraq holds parliamentary elections Wednesday.

Theater
11:59 am
Mon April 28, 2014

For Alan Cumming, Life Is (Once Again) A Cabaret

This is the third time Alan Cumming has starred in Cabaret. Each of the productions with Cumming was directed by Sam Mendes. Rob Marshall choreographed both American productions and co-directed the new one.
Andrew H. Walker Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 4:20 pm

Alan Cumming has starred in the musical Cabaret three times — a 1993 London production, a Tony-winning 1998 Broadway revival, and a new Broadway revival — and it hasn't gotten old. "It's so energetic, and it just takes up every single element of being an actor," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Cumming plays the master of ceremonies in a debaucherous Berlin nightclub called the Kit Kat Klub. The role was originated by Joel Grey, who starred in the original 1966 Broadway production as well as the 1972 movie.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:01 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Seth Meyers And Hari Kondabolu

Comic Hari Kondabolu's album Waiting for 2042 is a reference to the year the Census Bureau projects whites will be the minority in the U.S. "Don't worry, white people," he says. "You were a minority when you came to this country. Things seemed to have worked out for you."
Kyle Johnson

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:

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Movie Reviews
11:31 am
Fri April 25, 2014

In 'Locke,' A Man's Life Unravels En Route To London

Tom Hardy plays the title character in the British film Locke — in which a man's life unravels in the course of a solo drive from Birmingham to London. He's the only person the audience sees in this film, written and directed by Steven Knight.
A24

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 2:11 pm

Locke is a most unusual film. It might not seem so odd as a radio play or even a stage play. The protagonist, his situation — they're fairly conventional. But to do what Locke does as a movie — that takes daring. The film is set in one space at one time. The arc of action is continuous. There is only one character on screen and just the top third of him, a man in a car, southbound on a motorway toward London. His name is Ivan Locke, he's played by Tom Hardy, and he's upending his life in front of your eyes.

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NPR Story
11:31 am
Fri April 25, 2014

A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 1:54 pm

Originally broadcast on March 12, 2014.

Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz is also a poet. He published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org. It's titled "To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death:"

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NPR Story
11:31 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco: 'I Finally Felt Like I Was Home'

Richard Blanco is the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet.
Blue Flower Arts

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 1:54 pm

This is an excerpt from a longer interview that was originally broadcast on Feb. 18, 2013.

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NPR Story
11:31 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Poet Marie Howe On 'What The Living Do' After Loss

Marie Howe is the author of three collections of poetry. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Brad Fowler courtesy of the author

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 1:54 pm

This is an excerpt from a longer interview that was originally broadcast on Oct. 19, 2011.

A few years after her younger brother John died from AIDS-related complications in 1989, poet Marie Howe wrote him a poem in the form of a letter. Called "What the Living Do," the poem is an elegiac description of loss, and of living beyond loss.

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The Picture Show
1:41 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Tyler Hicks Tells The Story Behind His Pulitzer-Winning Nairobi Mall Photos

Tyler Hicks took this photo of a woman sheltering her children on the floor of a cafe at the Westgate Mall during an attack by militants in Nairobi on Sept. 21, 2013. The woman later contacted Hicks and told him she kept her kids quiet and still by singing along to songs that were playing on the mall loudspeakers.
Tyler Hicks The New York Times

A few days after winning a Pulitzer Prize for his photos of a 2013 terrorist attack in a Nairobi mall, Tyler Hicks received an email. It was from one of the women he'd photographed that day — sheltering her two young children on the floor of a cafe. She had heard about the Pulitzer and seen her photo on The New York Times website.

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NPR Story
12:44 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Seth Meyers' 'Late Night' Challenge: What To Do With His Hands

Seth Meyers hosts the premiere of his talk show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, in February. "The trickiest part of this job the first week was just figuring out what to do with my hands," says Meyers, who was used to holding a microphone during standup. Remembering that he had pockets was key.
Peter Kramer AP

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 2:32 pm

Seth Meyers already had his dream job. As the host of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, "I sort of had already accomplished the job I never thought I would accomplish," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. He joined the cast in 2001 and was there for 12 years.

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Music Reviews
12:44 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

For Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sometimes Sanity Is The Better Option

Jessica Lea Mayfield.
LeAnn Mueller Courtesy of the artist.

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