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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Music Interviews
9:24 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Jeremy Denk: Playing Ligeti With A Dash Of Humor

Jeremy Denk has recently written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 9:03 pm

Not many classical pianists maintain blogs where they ruminate on everything from eating a terrible bowl of meatballs while on tour with Joshua Bell to seeing Twilight: New Moon (twice) and hearing strains of a Schubert song.

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Theater
11:02 am
Tue May 22, 2012

David Alan Grier's 'Sporting Life' On Broadway

In Porgy and Bess, David Alan Grier plays the drug dealer Sporting Life, a role closely associated with Sammy Davis Jr. and Cab Calloway.
Courtesy of the American Repertory Theater

In 1935, George Gershwin brought the script for his folk opera Porgy and Bess to the opera's original cast, which was entirely made up of African-American actors. "[In the original], every other word was N-word this, N-word that," says actor David Alan Grier. "[And] there's a very famous story: Al Jolson really wanted to play Porgy, in blackface."

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Book Reviews
11:02 am
Tue May 22, 2012

'Right-Hand': A Lush Prequel To 'Mason's Retreat'

Originally published on Tue May 22, 2012 11:22 am

Whenever I think about Christopher Tilghman's writing — and I have many times since his atmospheric novel, Mason's Retreat, came out more than 15 years ago — I think of critic John Leonard. John, among many other distinctions, was my predecessor as book critic for Fresh Air and, every once in a while before his death in 2008, we'd have occasion to talk or exchange e-mails about books. I remember John sending me a note in 1996, in which he mentioned Mason's Retreat and said of Tilghman, "He's the real deal."

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Music Reviews
11:38 am
Mon May 21, 2012

John Fullbright: How To Connect 'From The Ground Up'

Though he's not yet 25, Fullbright's music sounds like he's lived through a lot — or at least thought it through.
Vicki Farmer

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 7:51 am

John Fullbright's voice rises up and around the guitar chords in "Me Wanting You," his tone intended to haunt the person he's addressing. His desire, his "me wanting you," is as direct as he can possibly make it — it's not a cry of despair or hope or lust. It's the sound of someone intent on making as strong a connection with the listener as he possibly can.

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Movie Interviews
11:16 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Sacha Baron Cohen: The Fresh Air Interview

Sacha Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, the authoritarian, anti-Semitic and unexpectedly sympathetic protagonist of The Dictator.
Melinda Sue Gordon Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 7:51 am

Actor and writer Sacha Baron Cohen is famous for taking his characters — Ali G., Borat, Bruno — into the real world, interacting with people who have no idea that they're dealing with a fictional character. But his new movie, The Dictator, is a scripted comedy about a tyrant on the loose in New York.


Interview Highlights

On why he enjoyed playing a dictator

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Fresh Air Weekend
4:43 am
Sat May 19, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Audra McDonald, 'Weight Of The Nation'

Audra McDonald.
Michael Wilson Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

Originally published on Sat May 19, 2012 4:49 pm

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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Remembrances
11:30 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Donna Summer, Queen Of Disco

Donna Summer, pictured above in 1976, died Thursday at age 63. She had cancer.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 2:34 pm

Donna Summer, the queen of disco, died Thursday at her home in Naples, Fla., after a long struggle with cancer. She was 63. Born LaDonna Andrea Gaines, she grew up in a large Boston family singing gospel music and became an icon of a powerful cultural movement, a celebrated sex queen and a staple of gay club life.

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Remembrances
11:26 am
Fri May 18, 2012

A Conversation With Carlos Fuentes

Mexican author Carlos Fuentes poses for a photo after a news conference in Mexico City on March 12. Fuentes died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City. He was 83.
Alexandre Meneghini AP

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 2:35 pm

Carlos Fuentes, one of the most influential writers in the Latin American world, died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City. He was 83. A prolific writer, Fuentes wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as political nonfiction and essays that criticized the Mexican government during the 1980s and '90s.

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Remembrances
10:59 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Remembering Vidal Sassoon, An Iconic Hairdresser

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:47 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 10, 2011.

The British hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, who created some of the most iconic hairstyles of the 20th century, died on May 9 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.

Sassoon's creations included the geometric, the Wash-and-Wear, the short bob Nancy Kwan wore in The World of Suzie Wong and Mia Farrow's famous pixie cut for Rosemary's Baby.

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Movie Reviews
11:15 am
Wed May 16, 2012

'The Dictator' Rules With A Satirist's Fist

Sacha Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, the authoritarian, anti-Semitic and unexpectedly sympathetic protagonist of The Dictator.
Melinda Sue Gordon Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 12:30 pm

Many fans will be disappointed that Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator is a more or less conventional comedy and not an ambush-interview mockumentary in the style of Borat and Bruno. But that guerrilla-clown shtick would be tough to sustain: Why not let him try something else? The good news is that The Dictator is loose and slap-happy and full of sharp political barbs and has funny actors moving in and out — and at a lickety-split 83 minutes, it doesn't wear out its welcome.

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Theater
9:45 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Audra McDonald: Shaping 'Bess' On Broadway

Audra McDonald.
Michael Wilson Courtesy of Nonesuch Records

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 12:23 pm

Audra McDonald has starred in stage classics and on TV, where she played a leading role on the ABC drama Private Practice for four seasons. But the actress might be better known for her stunning voice and for her performances in the Broadway productions of Carousel, Master Class and Ragtime, which helped her rack up three Tony Awards before the age of 30. She won a fourth Tony for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun, putting her in the company of Broadway greats Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin.

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Television
11:23 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Johnny Carson Gets The 'Masters' Treatment

Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of The Tonight Show.
NBC/Photofest PBS

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 12:15 pm

Johnny Carson walked away from The Tonight Show, after 30 years at the top of the late-night ratings, of his own volition. And except for a few fleeting TV appearances after he retired, he never looked back — and never went back. When filmmaker Peter Jones would send an annual letter to Carson, asking for his cooperation in a TV biography of him, the answer was always no. One year, Carson went so far as to explain why: Let the work, he said, speak for itself.

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Your Health
10:42 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Pounding Away At America's Obesity Epidemic

In the United States, more than 78 million adults and 12 million children are obese.
Jessica Dimmock HBO

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 11:37 am

The numbers are staggering: One-third of Americans are obese; another third are overweight. Some 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes. An additional 79 million more are pre-diabetic. Thanks to these figures, the children of today have a good chance of becoming the first generation of Americans to die at younger ages than their parents.

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Fresh Air Weekend
3:38 am
Sat May 12, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Lena Dunham, Gretchen Reynolds

Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 10:22 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:

Lena Dunham Addresses Criticism Aimed At 'Girls': The creator and star of HBO's new series Girls addresses the growing backlash against the show, which follows four 20-somethings as they navigate the ups and downs of life in New York City.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:25 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Fresh Air At 25: A Live Musical Tribute

Richard Thompson is one of many guests who have performed on Fresh Air.
Pamela Littky

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:48 am

Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the day Fresh Air became a daily national NPR program. Before that, the show was broadcast only on WHYY in Philadelphia. How long ago was May 11, 1987? On Fresh Air's first edition, TV critic David Bianculli reviewed the finale of the TV series Hill Street Blues.

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Movie Reviews
11:36 am
Thu May 10, 2012

'Dark Shadows': A Vampire Returns, Without His Bite

After Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) rises from the grave in the 1970s, 200 years after he was imprisoned, he returns to his ancestral home and befriends his descendants, including David Collins (Gully McGrath).
Peter Mountain Warner Brothers Pictures

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 9:22 am

Two score and four years ago, I'd fly home from fourth grade for the 4 p.m. broadcast of Dark Shadows. In 1968, vampires and werewolves weren't mainstream — the era's horror films mostly played drive-ins — yet here on TV was a daily horror soap opera.

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Fitness & Nutrition
11:38 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Stand Up, Walk Around, Even Just For '20 Minutes'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 12:14 pm

If you're sitting at a desk reading this article, take a minute and stand up. That's the latest advice from New York Times Phys Ed columnist Gretchen Reynolds. In her new book, The First 20 Minutes, Reynolds details some of the surprisingly simple ways you can combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

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Remembrances
8:36 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Author Maurice Sendak

In this Sept. 25, 1985 file photo, author Maurice Sendak poses with one of the characters from his book Where the Wild Things Are, designed for the operatic adaptation of his book in St. Paul, Minn. Sendak died, Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn. He was 83.
LS AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:49 am

Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, whose classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are became a perennial and award-winning favorite for generations of children, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Sendak appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross several times over the years. In 1989, he told Terry Gross that he didn't ever write with children in mind — but that somehow what he wrote turned out to be for children nonetheless.

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Remembrances
10:44 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch.
Bryan Bedder Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 2:31 pm

Adam "MCA" Yauch, one of the founding members of the Beastie Boys, died Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 47.

With his raspy voice, Yauch started making music with Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) when they were all teenagers in New York City in the early 1980s. The Beastie Boys started out as a punk band, but in 1987, the group released Licensed to Ill, the first hop-hop album to reach No. 1 on the pop charts.

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Television
10:13 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Lena Dunham Addresses Criticism Aimed At 'Girls'

Girls has been compared to Sex and the City. The characters, played by (from left) Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham and Zosia Mamet, navigate the ups and downs of life in New York City.
HBO

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 10:42 am

Lena Dunham was just 23 years old when her second feature film, Tiny Furniture, won the best narrative feature prize at the South by Southwest Film Festival. The movie's success led to Dunham striking a deal with HBO for a comedy series about a group of 20-something girls navigating New York City.

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Fresh Air Weekend
2:13 am
Sat May 5, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Sissy Spacek, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Sissy Spacek received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Sat May 5, 2012 10:32 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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Author Interviews
10:23 am
Fri May 4, 2012

The U.S. Ambassador Inside Hitler's Berlin

Adolf Hitler (right) with his foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1941.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

This interview was originally broadcast on May 9, 2011. In The Garden Of Beasts is now available in paperback.

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Movie Reviews
10:23 am
Fri May 4, 2012

A Gershwin Biopic That Ain't Necessarily So True

George Gershwin's most famous works include Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and the opera Porgy and Bess.
Warner Archives

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 2:58 pm

The movie Rhapsody in Blue, a biography of George Gershwin, was released only eight years after his death from a brain tumor at the age of 38. It's a good subject: Gershwin wrote some of the best popular songs ever produced in this country, but he also had ambitions to be a serious classical composer and wrote symphonic music, concertos and an opera — all of which are still performed.

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Movie Reviews
10:54 am
Thu May 3, 2012

'The Avengers': A Marvel-ous Whedonesque Ride

Thor (Chris Hemsworth, left) and Captain America (Chris Evans) join up with Iron Man and the Hulk to save the Earth in The Avengers.
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 5:29 pm

Two spheres merge in The Avengers: the Marvel Comics universe and the Whedonverse, fans' name for the nerdy wisecracking existentialist superhero world of writer-director Joss Whedon.

The Whedon cult is smaller but maybe more fervent, inspiring academic conferences on such subjects as free will vs. determinism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I find a lot of Whedon's banter self-consciously smart-alecky, but I love how he can spoof his subjects without robbing them of stature.

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Television
10:47 am
Thu May 3, 2012

The Man Who Revitalized 'Doctor Who' And 'Sherlock'

Steven Moffat is the co-creator of Sherlock. He's also the lead writer and executive producer for the British science-fiction TV show Doctor Who.
Toby Canham Getty

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 11:35 am

TV writer and producer Steven Moffat specializes in injecting new life into old, familiar characters and stories. He first worked his magic on the revived edition of Doctor Who, leading to several BAFTA and Hugo Awards for the series.

More recently, he has turned his eye to the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes. As the co-creator of the critically acclaimed BBC series Sherlock, Moffat is responsible for updating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous fictional creation for a modern-day audience.

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