Fresh Air

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All Tech Considered
1:51 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 9:17 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
12:14 pm
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 4:28 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
11:12 am
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 9:03 am

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Interviews
11:05 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 1:29 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on June 18, 2013.

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Interviews
11:05 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 1:29 pm

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Interviews
11:11 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 12:39 pm

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

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Interviews
11:11 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 12:39 pm

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
8:03 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 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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Interviews
12:19 pm
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
11:03 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

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 12:19 pm

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
11:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Brings Lessons From Space Down To Earth

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 12:36 pm

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Interviews
11:17 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 12:36 pm

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
11:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

Graham Nash Has 'Wild Tales' To Spare

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 11:47 am

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

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Movie Reviews
12:16 pm
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 3:44 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
12:13 pm
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 3:44 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
1:08 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 3:01 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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Commentary
12:53 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 3:01 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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Television
12:43 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 3:01 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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Fresh Air Weekend
8:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: The Coen Brothers And 'Anchorman 2'

Joel (left) and Ethan Coen wrote and directed Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and True Grit. Their latest film is Inside Llewyn Davis.
Stuart C. Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 10:50 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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Remembrances
11:32 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Fresh Air Remembers Country Music Artist Ray Price

Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Price, pictured above in 1983, died Monday at age 87.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:24 pm

Pioneering country music artist Ray Price — who created hits like "Heartaches by the Number" — died Monday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87 years old. Price was born in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1926. When he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, he was described by musician Kris Kristofferson as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today.

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Interviews
11:18 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Jason Isbell Locates His Musical Compass On 'Southeastern'

Jason Isbell was previously a member of Drive-By Truckers. His solo albums include Sirens of the Ditch and Here We Rest.
Eric England Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:24 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on July 17, 2013.

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Movie Reviews
11:18 am
Fri December 20, 2013

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

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 Fri December 20, 2013 2:24 pm

Her is the best film of the year by a so-wide margin. It's gorgeous, funny, deep — and I can hear some smart aleck say, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Let me tell you, I'd like to!

I certainly identify with the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with his computer operating system, his OS, which calls itself — sorry, I gotta say "who calls herself" — Samantha, and who sounds like a breathy young woman.

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Movie Interviews
12:09 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A 'Kind Of A Big Deal' Gets Even Bigger In 'Anchorman 2'

Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate reprise their roles as competing news anchors in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 1:43 pm

Way back in the 2004 film Anchorman, Ron Burgundy was a local TV-news host in '70s San Diego. Fast-forward to this year's sequel, and that epic haircut is national news: Set in 1980, Anchorman 2 follows Will Ferrell's vain, shallow character as he graduates to a CNN-style cable news network.

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Commentary
10:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year

President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a "selfie" with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:48 am

I feel a little defensive about choosing "selfie" as my Word of the Year for 2013. I've usually been partial to words that encapsulate one of the year's major stories, such as "occupy" or "big data." Or "privacy," which is the word Dictionary.com chose this year. But others go with what I think of as mayfly words — the ones that bubble briefly to the surface in the wake of some fad or fashion.

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Music Reviews
2:09 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Michele Rosewoman Goes Back To Afro-Cuban Jazz's Future

Michele Rosewoman (bottom right) is joined by batá percussionists in performance with her New Yor-Uba Ensemble in 2013.
Tom Ehrlich Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 2:57 pm

When Michele Rosewoman was growing up in the Bay Area, she played piano from childhood and congas from her teens. After moving to New York in the late 1970s, she began making music in two areas: modern jazz and traditional Cuban music. Before long, she started combining the two in her New Yor-Uba band.

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