Fresh Air

Weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to noon and from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
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Energy
11:20 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Clean-Tech Industry Facing Lean Times After Solyndra

President Obama tours the headquarters of the Solyndra solar panel company in Freemont, Calif., on May 26, 2010.The company declared bankruptcy in August 2011.
Pool Getty Images

Three years ago, venture capitalists were pouring billions of dollars into technologies like solar power, wind power, biofuels and fuel cells. The federal government followed, directing some $44.5 billion into clean technology from late 2009 to late 2011 through loans, subsidies and tax incentives.

But now the clean-tech industry is facing leaner times, in part because of cheaper natural gas prices, the effects of the financial crisis and China's growing solar industry.

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Music Reviews
10:58 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Lana Del Rey: The Self-Made Pop Star As Target

Lana Del Ray
Nicole Nodland Shore Fire

Lana Del Rey appeared on Saturday Night Live recently, giving two rather tentative performances that, depending on your point of view, were awkward and amateurish or shrewdly restrained and vulnerable. Del Rey, in her mid-20s, attracts polarizing opinions.

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Television
10:04 am
Thu February 2, 2012

The Producers Behind NBC's Musical 'Smash'

Ivy Lynn (played by Megan Hilty) is one of two actresses vying for the coveted lead role in Smash, which premieres Monday on NBC.
Will Hart NBC

Originally published on Thu February 2, 2012 11:30 am

Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan have been making musicals together for almost 20 years. They're the team behind movie musicals like Hairspray, Chicago and Annie, and the TV musicals Gypsy and The Music Man.

Now Meron and Zadan have teamed up once again on the new NBC series Smash, a drama that goes behind the scenes as a motley crew of creative types put together a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.

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Book Reviews
9:48 am
Mon January 30, 2012

'An Available Man': Love After Loss

cover detail

In my family, we referred to them as "the brisket brigade" — those single ladies of a certain age who began bombarding my brother-in-law with casseroles and commiseration soon after my sister-in-law died. It's a cruel fact of life that nobody plies widows with months of home-cooked meals and baked goods; as Jonathan Swift might have modestly proposed, widows might as well eat each other — there's a surplus supply of them, anyway. But, a new widower gets the Crock-Pots and the romantic fantasies all fired up.

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The Fresh Air Interview
9:24 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Stew: 'Making It' After A Tough Breakup

Stew.
Courtesy of the artist

Stew's new album Making It is, in part, about his relationship with his ex-girlfriend and songwriting partner, Heidi Rodewald.

The two musicians, who still work together professionally, dated each other for years. They collaborated on songs for their band The Negro Problem, as well as on orchestrations for Passing Strange, their semi-autobiographical Broadway musical about a young African-American trying to understand himself while traveling around Europe. But during Passing Strange's initial run in Berkeley, Calif., Stew and Rodewald broke up.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:53 am
Sat January 28, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Glocks, David Milch, The Smiths

This Glock was used at a police department and then sold at an auction.
iStockphoto.com

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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Television
9:49 am
Fri January 27, 2012

HBO's 'Luck': A Winning TV Show, Set At The Track

Nick Nolte plays a horse owner who spent most of his career working as a horse trainer in Luck.
HBO

It isn't a long shot that David Milch's newest series for HBO, called Luck, will be on par with his HBO series Deadwood. It's a sure thing. HBO sent out all nine episodes of the show's first season for preview, so there's no guesswork here.

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Movie Interviews
9:31 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Woody Allen: Blending Real Life With Fiction

Fresh Air in 2009. " href="/post/woody-allen-blending-real-life-fiction" class="noexit lightbox">
"Making a movie is a great distraction from the real agonies of the world," filmmaker Woody Allen told Fresh Air in 2009.
Brian Hamill/MGM PBS

This interview was originally broadcast on June 15, 2009.

For someone who has spent the majority of his career making comedies, Woody Allen sees the world — and his lifelong profession — through a surprisingly dark lens.

"Life is a terrible trial, and very harsh and very full of suffering ... [Film] is a different kind of pain. Making a movie is a great distraction from the real agonies of the world," Allen tells Terry Gross.

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Music Reviews
10:46 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Jimmy Owens Navigates Monk's 'Brilliant Corners'

Jimmy Owens mostly dresses Monk's tunes for uptown wear — Monk the Harlem jam session swinger.
Stephanie Myers

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 2:27 pm

In 1974, trumpeter Jimmy Owens helped prepare and played on a Carnegie Hall concert of Thelonious Monk's music. On the night in question, the orchestra featured a surprise soloist: Monk himself. It was one of the pianist's last public performances.

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Movie Reviews
10:23 am
Thu January 26, 2012

In 'Albert Nobbs,' Glenn Close Does More Than Pass

Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) and Helen (Mia Wasikowska) go on a series of awkward dates in Albert Nobbs, a film based on a 1918 George Moore story.
Patrick Redmond Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 12:39 pm

As Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close has hair that's cropped and orangey, and a voice that rarely rises above a nasal croak. She lives and works as a waiter in a high-toned hotel, where she stands with lips pressed together, tight yet tremulous, her searching eyes her only naturally moving parts. She resembles no man I've seen, but no woman, either. She's the personification of fear — fear of being discovered to be a woman. Because hers is a society that treats all poor people badly, but poor women worse.

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Television
11:13 am
Wed January 25, 2012

David Milch: Trying His 'Luck' With Horse Racing

Luck, the new HBO drama created by David Milch, is about the inside world of horse racing.
Gusmano Cesaretti HBO

Veteran TV writer and producer David Milch grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. But a few times each year, Milch would accompany his father across the state to Saratoga Springs, where the two would bet on horse races.

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Music Reviews
10:17 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Long Live The Smiths' 'Complete Works'

The Smiths.
Wright Photo/Rhino Records

When Steven Patrick Morrissey was 13, he was watching The Old Grey Whistle Test, a BBC rock television show, when the New York Dolls came on. Later, he called it "my first real emotional experience." It was hardly his last: Growing up awkward, tall and shy in suburban Manchester, he was the archetypal kid who didn't fit in, writing poetry and letters to members of the British rock press, disagreeing articulately with their critics.

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Television
10:00 am
Wed January 25, 2012

A Boy's Magical 'Touch' Predicts The Future

When Kiefer Sutherland ended his series of very long, very intense days as Jack Bauer on the Fox series 24, few people, including Sutherland himself, expected him to be starring in another TV series right away.
Fox

The new Fox series Touch stars Kiefer Sutherland as a father — a widower — raising a withdrawn preteen son with behavioral problems.

But it doesn't begin with Sutherland.

It begins, instead, with the son — Jake, played by David Mazouz — providing the narration that opens the series. By the time the opening narration is over, you already know you're watching something a little different.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:50 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Michael Fassbender, Mushrooms

Uncomfortably Numb: For Brandon (Michael Fassbender), the endless pursuit of sex doesn't involve any particular pleasure — only a driving obsession.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 10:17 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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Music Interviews
11:14 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Remembering Bandleader And Producer Johnny Otis

Johnny Otis (center), shown playing with his band The Johnny Otis Revue.
Charlie Gillett Collection Redferns Via Getty Images

Bandleader and producer Johnny Otis, who launched and then nurtured the careers of many of R&B's greatest singers, died Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90.

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Movie Interviews
11:11 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Brad Pitt: On Life, Movies And 'Moneyball'

Brad Pitt, left, plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's, in the movie Moneyball. His assistant Peter Brand is played by Jonah Hill.
Melinda Sue Gordon Sony Pictures

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 11:16 am

This interview was originally broadcast on September 22, 2011.

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Remembrances
10:54 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Etta James: The 1994 Fresh Air Interview

Etta James onstage at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Rick Diamond Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 9:54 am

Etta James, the legendary vocalist who is perhaps best known for her version of the song "At Last," has died. She was 73.

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Author Interviews
9:57 am
Fri January 20, 2012

The Inquisition: A Model For Modern Interrogators

An illustration shows heretics being tortured and nailed to wooden posts during the first Inquisition.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 12:42 pm

The individuals who participated in the first Inquisition 800 years ago kept detailed records of their activities. Vast archival collections at the Vatican, in France and in Spain contain accounts of torture victims' cries, descriptions of funeral pyres and even meticulous financial records about the price of torture equipment.

"[There are] expense accounts [for things] like how much did the rope cost to tie the hands of the person you burnt at the stake," says writer Cullen Murphy. "The people who were doing interrogations were meticulous."

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Movie Reviews
10:57 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

'Coriolanus': A People's Hero Turns On His Own

Bare-Knuckle Politics: The battle-hardened Roman general Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) runs for office at the urging of his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) — but it turns out he's no booster of majority rule.
Larry D. Horricks The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 11:16 am

Ralph Fiennes showed up for a frenzied cameo near the end of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, and her hand-held, adrenaline-charged approach clearly inspired his film of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which he both acts and directs the bloody hell out of.

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Movie Reviews
10:52 am
Thu January 19, 2012

In 'Miss Bala,' Bullets And Beauty Pageants Collide

Stephanie Sigman plays Laura, a beauty queen drawn into the world of Mexican drug cartels, in the film Miss Bala.
20th Century Fox

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 12:57 pm

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Author Interviews
10:45 am
Wed January 18, 2012

The Man Who Studies The Fungus Among Us

The Shroom With A View: Mushrooms are fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies found all over the world. They can grow in practically any environment with moisture.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 4:39 pm

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Movie Interviews
10:09 am
Wed January 18, 2012

Michael Fassbender: Portraying An Addict's 'Shame'

In Shame, Brandon (Michael Fassbender) pursues sex not for pleasure but to fulfill a driving compulsion.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 4:39 pm

In the past year, actor Michael Fassbender has played a mutant villain in X-Men: First Class, psychoanalyst Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre and a sex addict in Shame.

It was his role in Shame that recently earned Fassbender a string of accolades, including Best Actor nominations at the Golden Globes and a variety of critics associations.

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Movie Reviews
10:48 am
Tue January 17, 2012

'A Separation' Of Hearts, Minds And Ideas In Iran

Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi) are at odds first about whether to leave Iran for life abroad — and then about more pressing issues.
Sony Picture Classics.

Over the past 30-odd years, we've grown used to thinking of Iran and the United States as enemies — from the Ayatollah Khomeini dubbing America "The Great Satan" to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which has led President Obama to spearhead international sanctions and some of his Republican rivals to talk of bombing Iran.

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Author Interviews
9:38 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Writing About The Midwestern Muslim Experience

Ayad Akhtar is a first generation Pakistani-American screenwriter and playwright from Milwaukee. American Dervish is his first novel.
Nina Subin Little, Brown

Playwright Ayad Akhtar's debut novel, American Dervish, tells the story of Hayat Shah, a Pakistani-American boy in Milwaukee coming to terms with his religion and identity.

Ahktar says that he drew from the sensibilities of Jewish writers and filmmakers like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and Woody Allen when thinking about how to give form to his experiences growing up as a young Muslim in the Midwest.

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Television
7:06 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Get 'Lost' In J.J. Abrams' Latest Show 'Alcatraz'

In the two-hour premiere episode of Alcatraz, Rebecca (Sarah Jones) looks for clues to a missing prisoner from the 1960s who suddenly reappears in modern day.
FX

Originally published on Mon January 16, 2012 7:29 am

Let's begin with Justified – because, frankly, that's the one that's got me the most excited.

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