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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Movie Interviews
4:13 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Not-So-Cheery Disposition: Emma Thompson On Poppins' Cranky Creator

In Saving Mr. Banks, Emma Thompson plays Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, who, Thompson says, hated the whole idea of having her book made into a film.
Francois Duhamel Disney Enterprises

Emma Thompson grew up in London, the daughter of two actors. She went to Cambridge University, then began performing in sketch comedy on stage and television before getting into dramatic roles.

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Music
3:50 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Kenny Clarke, Inventor Of Modern Jazz Drumming, At 100

Kenny Clarke in 1971.
Wikimedia Commons

Jan. 9 marks the 100th birthday of drummer Kenny Clarke. One of the founders of bebop, Clarke is less well-known than allies like Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, but his influence is just as deep.

That thing that jazz drummers do — that ching-chinga-ching beat on the ride cymbal, like sleigh bells? It gives the music a light, airy, driving pulse. Clarke came up with that, and that springy shimmer came to epitomize swinging itself.

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Book Reviews
3:50 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Empty Nester In 'The Woods': A Modern Dantean Journey

drbimages iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:27 pm

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Allowing for translation, those are the immortal opening lines of Dante's Divine Comedy. Here, some seven centuries later, are some of Lynn Darling's opening lines from her new memoir, Out of the Woods: "The summer my only child left home for college, I moved from an apartment in New York City, to live alone in a small house at the end of a dirt road in the woods of central Vermont."

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Television
1:18 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

On TV This Week: 'Babylon' Has Good Fun, 'Detective' Is The Real Deal

IFC's The Spoils Of Babylon follows a sister (Kristin Wiig) and adopted brother (Tobey Maguire) caught up in a passionate romance.
Katrina Marcinowski IFC

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 2:55 pm

Two new miniseries this week are worth special mention — and couldn't be more different.

True Detective, which begins Sunday on HBO, is a combination series and miniseries, kind of like American Horror Story on FX. Each season is designed to tell a different, self-contained story, followed the next year by a new tale with new characters and sometimes even new actors. This first season of True Detective is an eight-hour murder mystery starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, neither of whom is expected to return next season.

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Europe
1:18 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

The 'Pussy Riot' Arrests, And The Crackdown That Followed

Pussy Riot members Yekaterina Samutsevich (left), Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage in a Moscow court on Oct. 10, 2012.
Natalia Kolesnikova AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 2:19 pm

Masha Gessen is a prominent journalist who is also a lesbian and an outspoken LGBT rights advocate in Russia. After Russia passed two anti-gay laws in June, she decided it was time for her, her partner and their children to leave. In late December, they moved to New York.

"The only thing more creepy than hearing someone suggest the likes of you should be burned alive is hearing someone suggest the likes of you should be burned alive and thinking, 'I know that guy.' "

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Author Interviews
10:38 am
Tue January 7, 2014

'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart's work has been translated into 26 languages.
Brigitte Lacombe Courtesy of Random House

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 12:56 pm

Novelist Gary Shteyngart was a wheezing, asthmatic and fearful 7-year-old when he and his parents emigrated from the Soviet Union to Queens, New York, in 1979. (This was soon after America negotiated a trade deal with the Soviets that included allowing Jews to immigrate to Israel, Canada or the U. S.) He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that his health was a deciding factor in his parents' decision to move.

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Author Interviews
12:05 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Fear Of Fainting, Flight And Cheese: One Man's 'Age Of Anxiety'

Yuri Arcurs iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:09 pm

Atlantic magazine editor Scott Stossel has countless phobias and anxieties — some you've heard of, others you probably haven't.

"There's a vast encyclopedia of fears and phobias," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "and pretty much any object, experience, situation you can think of, there is someone who has a phobia of it."

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Television
11:16 am
Mon January 6, 2014

'Downton' Returns, And It's As Rich As Ever

Michelle Dockery's Lady Mary is in deep mourning as Downton Abbey returns for a fourth season on PBS.
Nick Briggs Carnival Film & Television Limited

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 5:36 am

When you think about what Downton Abbey has achieved, and is continuing to pull off, it's actually pretty remarkable. In an era when the most acclaimed TV series of the decade is an edgy cable drama about a dying, meth-making criminal, Downton Abbey draws similarly large audiences on broadcast TV — public TV, at that — with an old-fashioned soap opera about servants and household staffers and those they serve. As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Mark Mulcahy, Netflix And 'Getting On'

Alex Borstein (left) and Niecy Nash star as nurses in the HBO comedy series Getting On, which was modeled after the hit BBC series of the same name.
Lacey Terrell HBO

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 9:18 am

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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Interviews
2:18 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

'Angry Days' Shows An America Torn Over Entering World War II

Before Pearl Harbor, aviator Charles Lindbergh was so vocal about his opposition to U.S. involvement in World War II that he became an unofficial leader of America's isolationist movement.
AP

This interview was originally broadcast on March 26, 2013.

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Book Reviews
12:40 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

A Critic Tours 'Echo Spring,' Home Of Beloved Boozy Writers

nito100 iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 2:19 pm

It's the quintessential "dog bites man" story. I'm talking about a new book I just read about a group of famous writers who — get this -- drank too much! I know, right? That's pretty much the equivalent of saying I just read a book about a group of famous writers who used commas in their sentences.

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Music Reviews
3:31 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

When Memphis Made A Move On Nashville's Country Monopoly

Label for Warren Smith's "Ubangi Stomp" on Sun Records.
Courtesy of the artist

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All Tech Considered
12:51 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Netflix Built Its Microgenres By Staring Into The American Soul

While counting Netflix's microgenres, Madrigal discovered the streaming service's favorite adjective: romantic. It appears in 5,272 categories.
Robert Sullivan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 8:17 pm

In the old days, a movie genre was a simple, communal category: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama. One had to locate oneself in the Drama aisle at the video store and then look for just the right thing: A dark road trip movie with a strong female lead? Aha, Thelma & Louise.

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Author Interviews
11:14 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Visible And Invisible: 'Servants' Looks At Life Downstairs

Early 20th century British maids worked long, hard days with little time off.
Topical Press Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:28 pm

Many Americans were introduced to the world of early 20th century British servants through the PBS series Downton Abbey, which premieres its fourth season Sunday. The show is set in an era when domestic service was the largest single occupation in Great Britain.

"In 1900, it was calculated to comprise a third of all women who were in the workforce," writer Lucy Lethbridge tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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Interviews
12:56 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

A More Reflective Leap On Elton John's 'Diving Board'

Elton John tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that The Diving Board is "a very adult album."
Joseph Guay Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:03 am

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Interviews
10:05 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Samberg, Taccone And Schaffer: Three's Not A Lonely Island

As kids, Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer were all obsessed with hip-hop and TV shows like Yo! MTV Raps.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:29 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on June 18, 2013.

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Interviews
10:05 am
Tue December 31, 2013

For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'

Keegan-Michael Key (left) and Jordan Peele both started their careers at Second City, Peele in Chicago and Key in Detroit.
Ian White Comedy Central

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:29 pm

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Interviews
10:11 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Vince Giordano: The Fresh Air Interview

Boardwalk Empire features music by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.
Abbot Genser HBO

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 11:39 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 06, 2013.

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Interviews
10:11 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song

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Steve Young learned about industrial musicals when he started coming across compilations, like this one, in used record stores. (You definitely want to click to enlarge this.)
Courtesy of Blast Books

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 11:39 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 05, 2013.

Why would someone write a sentimental ballad about a bathroom? For the same reason someone would write a rousing song about tractors: So the song could be used in what's called an industrial musical.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Our Favorite Books, TV, Movies And Music Of 2013

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Kevin Spacey (left) and Robin Wright star in House of Cards, directed by David Fincher. The Netflix series, which follows a Machiavellian politician, is an adaptation of a BBC series of the same name. Hear an interview with Spacey and Fincher.
Patrick Harbron Netflix

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:17 am

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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Interviews
11:19 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Mel Brooks: 'I'm An EGOT; I Don't Need Any More'

Once vehemently opposed to the idea of being the subject of a documentary, Brooks had a change of heart. The result is an American Masters episode, Mel Brooks: Make a Noise.
WNET/American Masters

This interview was originally broadcast on May 20, 2013.

Over the 60 years that Mel Brooks has been in the entertainment business, his name has become synonymous with comedy. He is the man who broke Broadway records for most Tony Award wins with The Producers (an adaptation of his own movie); who satirized Westerns and racism in Blazing Saddles; and who poked fun at monster movies with Young Frankenstein.

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Interviews
11:19 am
Fri December 27, 2013

'Inside Amy Schumer': It's Not Just Sex Stuff

Amy Schumer isn't afraid to talk sexting, dirty talk or even the fine line between rape and deeply troubling sex in her comedy.
Peter Yang Comedy Central

This interview was originally broadcast on June 25, 2013.

One of Amy Schumer's comedy routines begins with the declaration, "I'm a little sluttier than the average bear. I really am."

Degrees of sluttiness may be hard to define, but Schumer does talk frankly about many subjects — including sex — that can be uncomfortable for people, both in her stand-up act and on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, which was recently renewed for a second season.

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Interviews
10:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:36 am

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Interviews
10:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg: Friends Till 'The End'

James Franco (from left), Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride all play versions of themselves in the post-apocalyptic comedy This Is the End, written by Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg.
Suzanne Hanover Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:36 am

This interview was originally broadcast on June 11, 2013.

In This Is the End, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel — all playing themselves — are at a party at Franco's L.A. home when an earthquake hits.

At least, they think it's an earthquake. Turns out it's the Rapture — the End of Days, as foretold in the Book of Revelation, has arrived.

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Interviews
10:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Graham Nash Has 'Wild Tales' To Spare

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 10:47 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 15, 2013.

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Movie Reviews
11:16 am
Tue December 24, 2013

In A 'Miraculous Year' For Movies, Edelstein Picks His Favorites

In the sci-fi romance Her, a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in a rather unexpected place — with a computer operating system named Samantha.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 2:44 pm

"It was a miraculous year," film critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. At a time when Hollywood is churning out Blockbusters and superhero movies that are guaranteed to make money at home and overseas, "it's really great when so many interesting movies, somehow or other, manage to bleed through," he says. " ... You really feel as if directors are taking chances in their storytelling. They are creating a new syntax for every story."

Here are his favorite movies this year:

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Television
11:13 am
Tue December 24, 2013

David Bianculli's Top 10 Shows: 2013 Was A 'Good Year For TV'

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Kevin Spacey (left) and Robin Wright star in House of Cards, directed by David Fincher. The Netflix series, which follows a Machiavellian politician, is an adaptation of a BBC series of the same name. Hear an interview with Spacey and Fincher.
Patrick Harbron Netflix

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 2:44 pm

This was a good year for TV, says critic David Bianculli, and that had a lot to do with two new shows from Netflix: House of Cards, the American adaptation of the BBC political thriller series, and Orange Is the New Black, a dramatic comedy which takes place in a women's federal prison. "I was very impressed with the overall quality of what Netflix gave us," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "... That was quite a string of good shows."

So, without further ado, here's Bianculli's top-10 TV list for 2013:

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Movie Reviews
12:07 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Great New DVD Box Sets: Blasts From The Past And 'Breaking Bad'

A new MDV Entertainment boxed set called Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection features the widow of Ernie Kovacs, in shows from her 1962-64 ABC variety series, which was televised just after her husband's death.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:01 pm

Here's a short list of some of the most exciting recent TV offerings on DVD. These are sets you can still order and receive in time for the holidays — and regardless, they're perfect to dive into over the vacation period, enjoying an episode or two a night.

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Television
12:06 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

'Getting On' With It: A New HBO Show Doesn't Tiptoe Around Death

Alex Borstein (left) and Niecy Nash star as nurses in the HBO comedy series Getting On, which was modeled after the hit BBC series of the same name.
Lacey Terrell HBO

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:01 pm

When they set out to create the HBO series Getting On, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer wanted to create a different kind of workplace comedy — one that celebrated the workplace and the employees in it.

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Commentary
12:04 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards

Decades ago, the SAT test was seen as a measure of raw ability, not as something students ought to cram for. Now, test prep is a huge industry. Linguist Geoff Nunberg wonders what exactly students learn when they're flipping through vocabulary flashcards.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:01 pm

When I took the SATs a very long time ago, it didn't occur to us to cram for the vocabulary questions. Back then, the A in SAT still stood for "aptitude," and most people accepted the wholesome fiction that the tests were measures of raw ability that you couldn't prepare for — "like sticking a dipstick into your brain," one College Board researcher said.

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