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March 28, 2020
Comic and 'WTF' podcast host Marc Maron named his new Netflix stand-up special 'End Times Fun' before the COVID-19 pandemic started — but now the title feels eerily apt. He talked with Terry Gross about how he's handling the crisis as a "recovering hypochondriac." Hank Azaria plays a colorful baseball announcer in the IFC comedy series 'Brockmire,' which is now in its 4th and final season. Azaria spoke with Dave Davies about the series, and why he doesn't voice the Indian American convenience store owner Apu on 'The Simpsons' anymore.
March 27, 2020
Sondheim, who turned 90 on March 22, composed the music and wrote lyrics for 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Company' and other Broadway shows. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2010 about his career in musical theater. (Part 1 of this interview was released on March 20.)
March 26, 2020
Journalist Benjamin Wittes spoke with Terry Gross about how President Trump has changed the presidency fundamentally — and how we're seeing the impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the author, with Susan Hennessey, of 'Unmaking the Presidency.'We remember Broadway playwright Terrence McNally, who died March 24 due to complications related to COVID-19. He won Tony awards for 'Kiss of the Spider Woman,' 'Ragtime' and 'Master Class.' He spoke with 'Fresh Air' in 1993.
March 25, 2020
'Omnivore's Dilemma' author Michael Pollan talks about his audiobook, 'Caffeine: How Coffee and Tea Created the Modern World.' He describes caffeine as the world's most widely-used psychoactive drug. (Originally broadcast Feb. 2020)Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from guitarist Jeff Parker.
March 24, 2020
Author Max Brooks became an expert on disaster preparedness — from pandemics to nuclear war — through researching for his books, 'World War Z,' 'Germ Warfare' and the forthcoming 'Devolution.' He spoke with Terry Gross about how the federal government is designed to respond to crises like COVID-19 — and what is preventing the tasks forces from being deployed. He'll also explain why "panic is not preparation," and how to have good "fact-hygiene."
March 23, 2020
Maron named his new Netflix comedy special 'End Times Fun' before the COVID-19 pandemic started — but now the title feels eerily apt. He talked with Terry Gross about how he's handling the crisis as a "recovering hypochondriac," and what he's doing to pass the time in isolation. Maron co-stars in the Netflix series 'GLOW' and hosts the interview podcast 'WTF.'
March 21, 2020
Octavia Spencer stars in the new Netflix limited series 'Self Made' as Madam C.J. Walker, America's first black, female, self-made millionaire. She sold hair and makeup products to black women in the early 1900s. John Powers reviews the Hulu series 'Little Fires Everywhere,' starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.The Philadelphia Orchestra has shuttered its doors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin reflects on their final performance in an empty concert hall, which was livestreamed for more half a million viewers at home.
March 20, 2020
Broadway is dark because of the virus, but that doesn't need to stop us from celebrating the 90th birthday of Broadway's best living composer and lyricist—and one of the best in the history of Broadway, Stephen Sondheim. His 90th birthday is Sunday. We're listening back to our interview from 2010, which we recorded on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He wrote the songs for 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Follies,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Sunday in the Park with George' and 'Merrily We Roll Along.' Revivals of two of his shows had to go dark because of the virus: 'West Side Story,' for which he wrote the lyrics, and 'Company.'
March 19, 2020
The Philadelphia Orchestra has shuttered its doors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin reflects on their final performance in an empty concert hall, which was livestreamed for more half a million viewers at home. He spoke with Terry Gross about the unusual performance and how music comforts us in troubling times. Also, we'll hear an excerpt of our interview with the conductor from last year.
March 18, 2020
Jesse Wegman, author of 'Let the People Pick the President,' says the Electoral College's winner-take-all rule is not mandated by the Constitution: "There's nothing keeping us from changing it." Wegman talks about how winner-take-all came to be, attempts to change it, and how the Electoral College disproportionately affects people of color.
March 17, 2020
Azaria plays a colorful baseball announcer in the IFC comedy series 'Brockmire,' which is now in its 4th and final season. Azaria spoke with 'Fresh Air' about sobriety, his flamboyant character in 'The Birdcage,' and why he doesn't voice the Indian American convenience store owner Apu on 'The Simpsons' anymore.Also, John Powers reviews the Hulu series 'Little Fires Everywhere,' starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.
March 16, 2020
Spencer stars in the new Netflix limited series 'Self Made' as Madam C.J. Walker, America's first female self-made millionaire. She sold hair and makeup products to black women in the early 1900s. Spencer talks about Walker's legacy, playing a maid in'The Help,' and learning to speak up for better pay in Hollywood. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the K-pop group BTS' new album 'Map of the Soul.'
March 14, 2020
James McBride's new novel, 'Deacon King Kong,' takes place in 1969, in a Brooklyn housing project similar to the one he grew up in. "In this book and in this community, people generally love each other," he says.RuPaul describes his drag persona as "one-part Cher, two-parts David Bowie, one-part Diana Ross and two heaping spoonfuls of Dolly Parton." The reality show he hosts and created, 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' is now in its 12th season on VH1.
March 13, 2020
Roth's 2004 novel, 'The Plot Against America,' is an alternative history which imagines Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh beats FDR in the 1940 presidential election and the U.S. sides with the Germans in WWII. We'll listen back to Terry Gross' interview with Roth about the novel, and TV critic David Bianculli will review the new HBO miniseries that's based on the book. Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always' about a teenage girl in small-town Pennsylvania who decides to have an abortion.
March 12, 2020
​Politico reporter Dan Diamond says dysfunction within the White House, infighting and the need to flatter Trump have caused distractions that have slowed the response to the new pandemic.​
March 11, 2020
'New York Times' Beirut Bureau Chief Ben Hubbard says Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is full of contradictions: He ended a ban on women driving, but his agents also carried out the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hubbard's book, 'MBS,' tells the story of the enigmatic leader. Hubbard says MBS could rule the country for the next 50 years.Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Writers & Lovers' by Lily King.
March 10, 2020
RuPaul describes his drag persona as "one-part Cher, two-parts David Bowie, one-part Diana Ross and two heaping spoonfuls of Dolly Parton." The reality show he hosts and created, 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' is now in its 12th season on VH1. He talks with Terry Gross about his early punk style of drag, becoming a "glamizon," and the best advice his mother gave him. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead shares a remembrance of legendary pianist McCoy Tyner. He died last Friday at 81.
March 9, 2020
James McBride's new novel, 'Deacon King Kong,' takes place in 1969, in a Brooklyn housing project similar to the one he grew up in. "In this book and in this community, people generally love each other," he says. McBride is best known for his '95 memoir 'The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.' Also, Ken Tucker reviews Best Coast's new album, 'Almost Tomorrow.'
March 7, 2020
Louise Erdrich talks about her new novel, 'The Night Watchman.' It was inspired by her grandfather, a chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who fought a Congressional initiative to move indigenous peoples off their land and into cities. Critic John Powers reviews the genre-bending film 'Bacurau,' about a small Brazilian town grappling with a series of mysterious events.In her memoir, 'The Watergate Girl,' Jill Wine-Banks talks about confronting Nixon White House insiders on the witness stand and enduring sexism in the courtroom.
March 6, 2020
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert Caro was never interested in only telling the stories of great men. Instead, he says, "I wanted to use their lives to show how political power worked." He talks about his two most famous works — biographies of Lyndon Johnson and New York City planner Robert Moses. Caro's memoir about his process, 'Working,' is now out in paperback. He spoke with Dave Davies last year.Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews two new sci-fi/fantasy shows — 'Devs' on Hulu and 'Amazing Stories' on Apple TV+.
March 5, 2020
For 50 years, countries all over the world bought encryption technology from a Swiss company, called Crypto AG, to protect their communications with diplomats, soldiers and spies. What they didn't know is that the firm was actually owned by the CIA and German intelligence, which rigged the encryption products so they could spy on the countries that bought them. 'Washington Post' reporter Greg Miller tells the story. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the Western 'First Cow.'
March 4, 2020
Erdrich's new novel, 'The Night Watchman,' was inspired by her grandfather, a chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who fought a Congressional initiative to move indigenous peoples off their land and into cities. Erdrich says the policy amounted to tribal termination. "Termination was a way to finally resolve what Congress thought of as 'the Indian problem,'" she says.Also, critic John Powers reviews the genre-bending film 'Bacurau,' about a small Brazilian town grappling with a series of mysterious events.
March 3, 2020
In 2014, the 27-year-old son of adventurer Roman Dial walked alone into the Costa Rican wilderness. "I'm planning on doing 4 days in the jungle," he wrote in an email before leaving. "It should be difficult to get lost forever." Then he vanished. Dial talks about his frantic search for his son — and for answers to what happened. His book is 'The Adventurer's Son.' Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Scratched,' Elizabeth Tallent's new memoir about perfectionism.
March 2, 2020
As a parole officer in New Orleans, Jason Hardy was responsible for 220 individuals — four times the recommended caseload. He says the parole and probation system fails the most vulnerable.Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album of ballads from trumpeter Jeremy Pelt.
February 29, 2020
In the HBO series 'The Outsider,' which was adapted from a Stephen King novel, Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn plays a detective trying to solve a murder — and resisting the idea that the killer may be a supernatural entity. Also, Ken Tucker reviews a newly released live album from Bryan Ferry, best-known as the lead man of Roxy Music.Axios reporter Jonathan Swan says the president has "crossed a psychological line" since impeachment, developing a list of disloyal officials to oust — and suggesting loyalists to replace them. "Experience matters far, far less to Trump than loyalty," Swan says. "It's not even close."
February 28, 2020
Bryant co-writes and stars in the comedy series 'Shrill,' based on Lindy West's book about identifying as fat and a feminist. Bryant is also a cast member on 'Saturday Night Live.' (Originally broadcast March 2019) Also, we listen back to excerpts of interviews with rhythm guitarist Marty Grosz. Now 90, he tells his story in the memoir, 'It's a Sin to Tell a Lie.' He spoke with Terry Gross in 1984 and 2004 and also played some of his music. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the dystopian novel, 'The Resisters.'
February 27, 2020
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan says the president has "crossed a psychological line" since impeachment, developing a list of disloyal officials to oust — and suggesting loyalists to replace them. "Experience matters far, far less to Trump than loyalty," Swan says. "It's not even close."
February 26, 2020
In the HBO series, which was adapted from a Stephen King novel, the Australian actor plays a detective trying to solve a murder — and resisting the idea that the killer may be a supernatural entity. He talks about masking his accent, acting with his eyes and how his role on 'The Outsider' is a departure from the "baddies" he's played in the past. Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Wendy,' a loose retelling of 'Peter Pan,' directed by Benh Zeitlin.
February 25, 2020
How can one company be so wildly successful — and so thoroughly distrusted? 'Wired' Editor-at-Large Steven Levy reflects on Facebook's enigmatic leader and its reckless drive for expansion in his new book, 'Facebook: The Inside Story.'Also, Ken Tucker reviews a newly released live album from Bryan Ferry, best-known as the lead man of Roxy Music.
February 24, 2020
In his new book, 'Supreme Inequality,' lawyer/journalist Adam Cohen makes the case that the Supreme Court has been "a right-wing court for 50 years," siding with corporations and the wealthy — and against the poor.And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'Life Goes On,' a record by Carla Bley's trio.
February 22, 2020
Claire Danes has played CIA agent Carrie Mathison on 'Homeland' for 8 seasons. As the last season begins on Showtime, she looks back on the series. She also spoke with Terry Gross about her break-out role on 'My So-Called Life' when she was a teen.Critic John Powers reviews the French film 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire.' The music duo Rachael & Vilray perform songs from their self-titled debut album, which draws on the music of the '30s and '40s. Rachael Price is also the lead singer of Lake Street Dive. They spoke with producer Sam Briger.
February 21, 2020
Growing up, Bridgett M. Davis' mother booked and banked bets from their home in Detroit. She writes about her experience — and the role of "the numbers" in the black community — in her memoir, 'The World According to Fannie Davis.' (Originally broadcast Feb. 2019) TV critic David Bianculli reviews the latest season of 'Better Call Saul.'
February 20, 2020
Danes has played CIA agent Carrie Mathison on 'Homeland' for 8 seasons. As the last season begins on Showtime, she looks back on the series. She also spoke with Terry Gross about her break-out role on 'My So-Called Life' when she was a teen. "I remember just being amazed ... that somebody out there had been able to articulate what I was going through so, so perfectly," she says. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the new adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Emma.'
February 19, 2020
In his book 'Dark Towers,' David Enrich traces Deutsche Bank's shadowy practices, from laundering money for Russian oligarchs to the violation of international sanctions. Enrich, who is the finance editor at the 'New York Times,' also talks about the bank's long relationship with Donald Trump, and the suspicious activity that has gone unchecked. Also, critic John Powers reviews the Amazon series 'Hunters' starring Al Pacino.
February 18, 2020
The music duo perform songs from their self-titled debut album, which draws on the music of the '30s and '40s. "There is a timeless quality to these old standards," Vilray says. Rachael Price is also the lead singer of Lake Street Dive. They spoke with producer Sam Briger. Also, we remember Ernest Hemingway biographer A. E. Hotchner. He died Feb. 15. Hotchner spoke with Terry Gross in 1999.
February 17, 2020
'Washington Post' reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker discuss presidential rages, erratic decision-making and other troubling tendencies of the Trump presidency. Their new book is 'A Very Stable Genius.' (Aired Jan. 22, updated Feb. 12, following Trump's impeachment acquittal.) Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a record by saxophonist Ellery Eskelin.
February 15, 2020
The Trump campaign is planning to spend $1 billion and a lot will go towards disinformation and propaganda. 'Atlantic' journalist McKay Coppins talks about what he learned about the new techniques the campaign and its supporters are using to spread disinformation, discredit journalists, and dismantle the mainstream media.Justin Chang reviews 'And Then We Danced,' a gay romance about Georgian folk dance partners. 'Omnivore's Dilemma' author Michael Pollan talks about his new audiobook, 'Caffeine: How Coffee and Tea Created the Modern World.' He describes caffeine as the world's most widely-used psychoactive drug.
February 14, 2020
Nick Hornby's 1995 novel, 'High Fidelity,' about a heartsick record shop owner, was made into a film starring John Cusack in 2000. Now it's been adapted and updated into a new Hulu series, starring Zoë Kravitz. Hornby spoke with Terry Gross when the book came out about judging people based on their pop culture tastes — an idea central to the story. Also, we remember the frontman of the South African a capella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala. He died this week at 78. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1991 about collaborating with Paul Simon on 'Graceland' and growing up on a farm. Justin Chang reviews 'And Then We Danced,' a gay romance about Georgian folk dance partners.
February 13, 2020
The new FRONTLINE PBS documentary 'Amazon Empire' investigates Amazon's business practices, as well as questions surrounding privacy, surveillance and regulation. We talk with James Jacoby, the film's director and correspondent, about how the company went from being an online bookseller to having its hands in space travel and facial recognition software.Also, Ken Tucker reviews singer-songwriter John Moreland's new album 'LP5.'
February 12, 2020
In her memoir, 'The Watergate Girl,' Jill Wine-Banks talks about confronting Nixon White House insiders on the witness stand, enduring sexism in the courtroom and how the Watergate probe differs from Trump's impeachment. She's now a legal analyst for MSNBC. And book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Deepa Anappara's novel 'Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.'
February 11, 2020
The Trump campaign is planning to spend $1 billion and a lot will go towards disinformation and propaganda. 'Atlantic' journalist McKay Coppins created a new Facebook account so he could "like" MAGA-related pages, join MAGA groups, and receive messaging being sent to Trump supporters. He'll tell us what he learned about the new techniques the campaign and its supporters are using to spread disinformation, discredit journalists, and dismantle the mainstream media.
February 10, 2020
'Omnivore's Dilemma' author Michael Pollan talks about his new audiobook, 'Caffeine: How Coffee and Tea Created the Modern World.' He describes caffeine as the world's most widely-used psychoactive drug. "Here's a drug we use every day. ... We never think about it as a drug or an addiction, but that's exactly what it is," Pollan says. "I thought, why not explore that relationship?"Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from guitarist Jeff Parker.
February 8, 2020
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert's Oscar-nominated documentary goes inside a Chinese-owned automotive glass factory in Ohio, where a unionized GM plant once stood. The filmmakers talk about the work culture clash in the factory.Justin Chang reviews the Russian movie 'Beanpole.' Writer Eilene Zimmerman didn't learn of her ex-husband's addiction to cocaine and opioids until after his drug-related death. Her memoir, 'Smacked,' explores how her former spouse, a wealthy, high-powered attorney, hid his addiction and depression from her and their two children.
February 7, 2020
'Joker' director Todd Phillips talks about how he disguised his "deep-dive character study" film as a comic book movie. It's nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture.Also, we remember 'Spartacus' actor Kirk Douglas, who died Thursday at 103. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1988.Film critic Justin Chang reviews the Russian movie 'Beanpole.'
February 6, 2020
'New Yorker' staff writer Adam Entous says the U.S. could face further retaliation from Iran for the death of General Soleimani: "If you look at their history, they take a long time before they strike back."TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Tommy,' a new CBS cop drama starring Edie Falco.
February 5, 2020
Science writer David Quammen talks about the new virus in China, what we learned from SARS, and how viruses travel from animal to animal to humans. "When there's an animal host, then it becomes much, much more difficult to eradicate or even control an infectious virus," Quammen says.Also, Ken Tucker reviews the new album, 'Have We Met,' by the Canadian band Destroyer.
February 4, 2020
Eilene Zimmerman didn't learn of her ex-husband's addiction to cocaine and opioids until after his drug-related death. Her memoir, 'Smacked,' explores how her former spouse, a wealthy, high-powered attorney, hid his addiction and depression from her and their two children. "This had happened in front of us, and we hadn't recognized it," she says. Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Emma Copley Eisenberg's new book, 'The Third Rainbow Girl,' which centers on the 1980 murders of two young hitchhikers.
February 3, 2020
Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert's Oscar-nominated documentary goes inside a Chinese-owned automotive glass factory in Ohio. The filmmakers talk about the culture clash in the factory, the workers' attempt to unionize, and how Reichert's cancer diagnosis has changed her work.
February 1, 2020
Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which represents people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced or abused in state jails and prisons. EJI founded a museum and monument in Montgomery, Ala., to address the atrocities of slavery, lynching and segregation. His 2014 memoir 'Just Mercy' is now a movie starring Michael B. Jordan.Film critic Justin Chang reviews the indie movie 'The Assistant,' inspired by the allegations against Harvey Weinstein.Amy Rigby's memoir, 'Girl to City,' tracks how a Catholic girl from the Pittsburgh suburbs became part of New York City punk scene — and invented and reinvented herself as a performer, songwriter and a mother.
January 31, 2020
Banderas earned his first ever Oscar nomination for his role in Pedro Almodóvar's 'Pain and Glory.' He plays a screenwriter and director who stops making movies because of physical and spiritual pain. Banderas talks about how his experience having a heart attack informed his performance. Critic John Powers reviews the British TV show 'Giri/Haji' on Netflix, about a Tokyo policeman who goes to London to bring home a murderer.
January 30, 2020
Kim Ghattas grew up in Lebanon during the civil war and covered the Middle East for the BBC for 20 years. She says events in the Mideast in 1979 set off a wave of extremism and violence that continues today. Her new book is 'Black Wave.' Also, we talk with 'Mudlark' author Lara Maiklem. She scours the edge of London's tidal River Thames in search of items that were lost to history. Among her finds: Roman pottery, medieval jug handles and a 500-year-old child's shoe.
January 29, 2020
Imagine the power grid goes out in a major city on Election Day. Or the losing candidate refuses to concede. How secure are new voting machines? These are among the things law professor Rick Hasen considers in his book, 'Election Meltdown.' "There's lots of ways that things could go south," he says. Also, Ken Tucker reviews the concept album, 'The Neon Skyline' by Andy Shauf.
January 28, 2020
Rigby's memoir, 'Girl to City,' tracks how a Catholic girl from the Pittsburgh suburbs became part of New York City punk scene — and invented and reinvented herself as a performer, songwriter and a mother. She talks about going on tour with her baby, her manifesto, and meeting her husband, Wreckless Eric. And film critic Justin Chang reviews the indie movie 'The Assistant,' inspired by the allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
January 27, 2020
In his new book, 'The Bomb,' journalist Fred Kaplan pulls back the curtain on how U.S. presidents, their advisers and generals have thought about, planned for — and sometimes narrowly avoided — nuclear war.Also, we remember longtime PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer. He died last week at 85.
January 25, 2020
Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Washington Post' reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker did over 200 interviews with Trump administration insiders. Their new book, 'A Very Stable Genius,' details presidential rages, erratic decision-making and other troubling tendencies of the Trump presidency.Ken Tucker reviews Marcus King's solo album, 'El Dorado.'British actor Tim Roth can be seen in the Tarantino films 'Reservoir Dogs,' 'The Hateful Eight' and 'Pulp Fiction. His new movie is 'The Song of Names.'
January 24, 2020
To mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, we're revisiting archival interviews with Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, and Holocaust historian Laurence Rees.
January 23, 2020
'New Yorker' editor David Rohde says Barr acts as Trump's political "sword and shield," which has made him the most feared, criticized and effective member of the president's cabinet. He talks about the attorney general with contributor Dave Davies. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Star Trek: Picard,' dropping today on CBS All Access.
January 22, 2020
Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Washington Post' reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker did over 200 interviews with Trump administration insiders. Their new book, 'A Very Stable Genius,' details presidential rages, erratic decision-making and other troubling tendencies of the Trump presidency.Also, we remember Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones. He died yesterday at 77. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1987.
January 21, 2020
The British actor can be seen in the Tarantino films 'Reservoir Dogs,' 'The Hateful Eight' and 'Pulp Fiction,' and the new movie 'The Song of Names.' His first onscreen role was a white supremacist skinhead in the 1982 TV movie 'Made in Britain.' "There were questions asked about it in Parliament," Roth says. "It took me by surprise. I got chased by skinheads down the road in London."Also, Ken Tucker reviews Marcus King's solo album, 'El Dorado.'
January 20, 2020
Public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which represents people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced or abused in state jails and prisons. In 2018, EJI founded a museum and monument in Montgomery, Ala., to address the atrocities of slavery, lynching and segregation. "We need to create institutions in this country that motivate more people to say 'Never again,'" he says. Stevenson's 2014 memoir 'Just Mercy' is now a movie starring Michael B. Jordan.
January 18, 2020
Martin Scorsese's latest film, 'The Irishman,' is up for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. He spoke with Terry Gross about childhood, redemption and getting kicked out of seminary school.Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews, 'Ow!,' a newly resurfaced live recording of saxophonists Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin.Peggy Orenstein's new book, 'Boys & Sex,' is based on extensive interviews with more than 100 college and college-bound boys between the ages of 16 and 22. "When I was doing ['Girls & Sex'] the kind of core issue with girls was that they were being cut off from their bodies and not understanding their bodies' response and their needs and their limits and their desires," she says. "With boys, it felt like they were being cut off from their hearts."
January 17, 2020
Religion scholar Elaine Pagels lost her young son to terminal illness and her husband a year later in an accident. Her book, 'Why Religion?,' combines memoir and biblical scholarship to reflect on loss and faith. It's now out in paperback. Also, we remember late spiritual leader Ram Dass. In the '60s and '70s, Dass, along with Timothy Leary, became interested in the religious potential of LSD. He was a practitioner of Eastern-inspired philosophy, and was careful to distance himself from corruption and cult-like behavior of other gurus. Dass spoke with Terry Gross in 1990. John Powers marks the 100th anniversary of Italian neorealist director Federico Fellini's birth.
January 16, 2020
'Intercept' Senior National Security Correspondent James Risen says new documents show how Iran has embedded itself in the politics of its neighbor, Iraq — and that the late Gen. Soleimani oversaw Iran's proxy wars in Iraq and Syria.Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Seven Worlds, One Planet,' a BBC nature docuseries.
January 15, 2020
Scorsese's latest film, 'The Irishman,' is up for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. He spoke with Terry Gross about death, redemption and his biggest flop. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the WWI epic '1917.'
January 14, 2020
Reporters Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld won a Pulitzer for their investigation of Trump's 2016 hush money payments to Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels. Their new book is 'The Fixers: The Bottom-feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th President.'Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'American Dirt,' Jeanine Cummins' literary thriller about the treacherous journey a migrant mother takes with her son.
January 13, 2020
In the 1890s, Wilmington, N.C. was a mixed-race community with a thriving black middle class, black aldermen and police officers, and a black newspaper. White supremacists saw this as an abomination, and plotted a bloody purge around the 1898 election. They rampaged through the streets, killing 60 black men, and banished prominent black people and their white allies from the city. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Zucchino tells the story in his new book, 'Wilmington's Lie.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews, 'Ow!,' a newly resurfaced live recording of saxophonists Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin.
January 11, 2020
'Joker' is an origin story for the villain in the Batman series, but director Todd Phillips says it's not a comic book movie. "It really started as an experiment, so to speak. ... Maybe you could get one of those deep-dive character study movies done nowadays in the studio system if you disguise it as a comic book film." Author Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast 'Trump, Inc.' and the author of the new book 'American Oligarchs,' talks with Terry Gross about the family histories of both the Trumps and the Kushners — and their "marriage of money and power."John Powers reviews HBO's adaptation of Stephen King's thriller 'The Outsider.'
January 10, 2020
Buck Henry, who died Jan. 8, co-wrote the film 'Get Smart' with Mel Brooks and made regular appearances as a guest host on 'Saturday Night Live' in the show's early years. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1997 at the New York Film Forum about his masterpiece, 'The Graduate.' Also, we remember jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon. He sang with Benny Goodman and was bandleader and sidekick for Merv Griffin's talk show for many years. He spoke with 'Fresh Air' in 1993. John Powers reviews HBO's adaptation of Stephen King's thriller 'The Outsider.'
January 9, 2020
'New Yorker' staff writer Evan Osnos says that China is building up its military, and Pentagon analysts now believe it could defeat U.S. forces in a confrontation along its borders. "China is the big story we don't talk about every day," Osnos says. "It's the fact of American political and diplomatic life we'll be contending with for most of the rest of this century."
January 8, 2020
Author Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast 'Trump, Inc.' and the author of the new book 'American Oligarchs' talks with Terry Gross about the family histories of both the Trumps and the Kushners, and their "marriage of money and power."Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews a new anthology of Jean Stafford novels.
January 7, 2020
Peggy Orenstein's new book, 'Boys & Sex,' is based on extensive interviews with more than 100 college and college-bound boys between the ages of 16 and 22. "When I was doing ['Girls & Sex'] the kind of core issue with girls was that they were being cut off from their bodies and not understanding their bodies' response and their needs and their limits and their desires," she says. "With boys, it felt like they were being cut off from their hearts." Orenstein talks about hookup culture, homophobia, and the effects of internet porn.Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist' on NBC.
January 6, 2020
'Joker' is an origin story for the villain in the Batman series, but director Todd Phillips says it's not a comic book movie. "It really started as an experiment, so to speak. ... Maybe you could get one of those deep-dive character study movies done nowadays in the studio system if you disguise it as a comic book film." Phillips talks about the score, working with Joaquin Phoenix, and the divisive reaction to the movie.
January 4, 2020
We close out our 'Best of the Decade' series with two of our favorite film directors. Jordan Peele made his directorial debut in 2017 with the "social thriller" 'Get Out.' Francis Ford Coppola, also spoke with Terry Gross in 2017 about the studio battle that went on behind-the-scenes of his 1972 movie 'The Godfather.'
January 3, 2020
Our Best of the Decade series continues with two music icons. First, Patti Smith spoke with Terry Gross in 2010 about 'Just Kids,' her memoir about her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. And then we listen back to part of Bruce Springsteen's 2016 conversation about his memoir, 'Born to Run.'
January 2, 2020
Our Best of the Decade series continues with two of the most influential writers of our time. In 2015, Coates discussed his book 'Between the World and Me.' Formatted as a letter to his son, Coates writes about the different forms of violence young African Americans face on the street, in school and from the police. Morrison, who died in 2019, spoke with Terry Gross in 2015 about aging and regret.
January 1, 2020
Our Best of the Decade series continues with three music interviews. Carolina Chocolate Drops are a old-time string band from Durham, N.C. Jazz singer Catherine Russell sang back-up for Paul Simon, David Bowie and Jackson Browne. Jon Batiste is the bandleader for 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.'
December 31, 2019
Our Best of the Decade series continues with two irreverent New Yorkers. Stern, the "King of All Media," spoke with Terry Gross this year about how he evolved from his early shock-jock days. Also, we listen back to a 2010 interview with the late comic Joan Rivers about being a pioneer for women in comedy.
December 30, 2019
Our Best of the Decade series continues with two giants of the media world we lost too soon. Chef-turned-travel-host Anthony Bourdain took us around the world with CNN's 'Parts Unknown.' He died in 2018. David Carr was the media columnist for 'The New York Times.' He died in 2015. And linguist Geoff Nunberg reveals his word of the year.
December 30, 2019
Adam Sandler plays a jewelry store owner who's deep in debt in a new thriller, 'Uncut Gems,' by writer/directors Josh and Benny Safdie. The movie was inspired by the brothers' father, who worked in the NYC diamond district. John Powers shares his "Ghost List" of things he wished he reviewed during the year. Also, TV critic David Bianculli talks with Terry Gross about his favorite TV of 2019.
December 27, 2019
As part of our Best of the Decade series, we listen back to interviews about two Broadway phenomena. First we hear from 'Hamilton' creator Lin-Manuel Miranda about how his "mixed tape" musical came together. And we revisit to our interview with 'South Park' creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone about their outrageous show about Mormon missionaries in Uganda.
December 26, 2019
This week, we are listening back to some of our favorite interviews from the past decade. We listen back to our 2012 and 2016 interviews with Meryl Streep. Also, Carrie Fisher spoke with Terry Gross about 'The Princess Diarist,' her memoir based on the journal she kept while filming the 'Star Wars' movies.
December 25, 2019
To celebrate Christmas, we listen back to a concert given by the late singer and actress in 1997. Clooney spoke with Terry Gross about her childhood, being on the road as a young performer with her sister, and working with Bing Crosby.
December 24, 2019
Singer-songwriter JD McPherson never thought he'd make a Christmas album. Then, he says, "I got a bug in my ear." He and his band perform live in studio from 'Socks,' and McPherson talks about growing up on a cattle farm in Oklahoma. And critic Ken Tucker reviews Tyler Childers' album, 'Country Squire.'
December 23, 2019
TV critic David Bianculli and film critic Justin Chang sit down with Terry Gross to share their top 10 lists and talk about larger themes. And John Powers shares his "Ghost List," the books, TV, music and movies he didn't get to review in 2019.
December 21, 2019
Charlize Theron's new film, 'Bombshell,' follows the women of Fox News who accused then-CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. She talks about playing former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly and growing up in apartheid-era South Africa. Rock critic Ken Tucker shares his favorite albums of 2019 — which all happen to be made by women. Julie Andrews talks about her career and family life with Terry Gross. "It was what it was: Chaotic, loving, crazy, wonderful, terrible," she says. She's joined by her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, who reflects on what it was like growing up with Mary Poppins as your mom. The mother/daughter duo chronicle Andrews' early years in Hollywood in a new memoir, 'Home Work.'
December 20, 2019
Jack Goldsmith's memoir 'In Hoffa's Shadow' centers on his investigation into his stepfather's involvement in the 1975 disappearance of mob-connected labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa is portrayed by Al Pacino in Martin Scorsese's new Netflix film 'The Irishman.' (Originally broadcast Oct. 2019) Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews Greta Gerwig's new adaptation of 'Little Women.'
December 19, 2019
Sandler plays a jewelry store owner who's deep in debt in a new thriller by writer/directors Josh and Benny Safdie. The movie was inspired by the brothers' father, who worked in the NYC diamond district.
December 18, 2019
After a 3-year legal battle, 'The Washington Post' obtained a trove of government documents, unpublished notes and interviews that reveals U.S. officials misled the public about the course of the war. 'Post' reporter Craig Whitlock says candid comments by American military and diplomatic personnel depict muddled strategic thinking and jaw-dropping dysfunction in the war effort.
December 17, 2019
Andrews talks about her career and family life with Terry Gross. "It was what it was: Chaotic, loving, crazy, wonderful, terrible," she says. She's joined by her eldest daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, who reflects on what it was like growing up with Mary Poppins as your mom: "It was sometimes difficult to share her." The mother/daughter duo chronicle Andrews' early years in Hollywood in a new memoir, 'Home Work.' Also, we remember 'Do the Right Thing' actor Danny Aiello who died Dec. 12. He spoke with 'Fresh Air' in 1992.
December 16, 2019
Theron has direct experience with what she calls the "psychological damage" of sexual harassment. Her new film, 'Bombshell,' follows the women of Fox News who accused then-CEO Roger Ailes of inappropriate behavior. Theron talks about transforming her face to play anchor Megyn Kelly, confronting the man who harassed her earlier in her career, and growing up in apartheid-era South Africa.
December 14, 2019
"Your average thrift store in the United States only sells about one third of the stuff that ends up on its shelves," Adam Minter says. "The rest of the stuff ends up somewhere else." His book, 'Secondhand,' follows the things that don't sell — from cheap and soiled clothes to old gym equipment.Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Uncut Gems.' Alex Borstein's won back-to-back Emmys for playing a tough, street-wise talent manager on the Amazon series, 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.' She says the character reminds her of her mother and grandmother.
December 13, 2019
Before Sykes became a comic, she worked at the NSA and had top security clearance. Now she takes on the president in her Emmy-nominated Netflix special 'Not Normal.' (Originally broadcast Aug. 2019.) Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Bernardine Evaristo's nuanced and entertaining Booker Prize-winning novel 'Girl, Woman, Other.'
December 12, 2019
'New York Times' investigative reporter Sarah Kliff talks about the costs and challenges of switching to a universal healthcare system — and what it might mean to eliminate private insurance entirely. "There's this whole infrastructure of healthcare that other countries didn't have to confront when they built their universal systems in the 1940s and '50s," Kliff says. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Uncut Gems,' starring Adam Sandler.
December 11, 2019
O'Brien recently switched up the format of his late-night show, and has launched the second season of his podcast, 'Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend.' He says the name of his podcast is a joke — sort of. "Sometimes when you're in the public eye, it can get murky as to who's really my friend. Who's going to come visit me in the hospital? Who's going to come over to my house when my dog dies and drink cocoa with me? Who are those people?" He also talks about his unusual career trajectory, and how his comedy has been driven in part by anxiety.Also, contributor Soraya Nadia McDonald reviews the movie 'Hala' on Apple TV+. It's a coming-of-age film about a Pakistani American teenager in Chicago.
December 10, 2019
CNN analyst Peter Bergen reflects on Trump's soured relationships with Generals Mattis, McMaster and Kelly. "He's gotten rid of the most competent people he had in his circle," Bergen says. "Trump is now running his cabinet like he ran his real estate company. ... It's a bunch of yes men supporting a one-man show." His book is 'Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'Trio Plus,' from Todd Marcus.
December 9, 2019
Borstein's won back-to-back Emmys for playing a tough, street-wise talent manager on the Amazon series, 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.' She says the character reminds her of her mother and grandmother. She talks about her roles on 'Mad TV,' 'Getting On,' and being the comic relief in her family. Also, critic Ken Tucker picks his top 10 albums of 2019 — all by women.
December 7, 2019
Edward Norton wrote, directed and stars in the film noir 'Motherless Brooklyn,' about a private investigator with Tourette's syndrome who discovers corruption in the world of New York City planning. He talks about the movie and his own personal connection to the world of urban planning.Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan picks her top 10 books of 2019.David Harbour talks about working alongside teen actors in 'Stranger Things,' and his bipolar disorder. "Acting allowed me to channel this neurosis into a character," he tells 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger.
December 6, 2019
This weekend Tilson Thomas will receive the Kennedy Center Lifetime Artistic Achievement award. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1995 and 2012 about his work and growing up in the theater. Also we remember Mary Previte, who worked for 30 years with teenagers in detention in Camden, NJ where the center she ran became a model for others across the country. "We took terror out of their lives," she says, "When boys and girls come in, one of the first messages the officers will say is, 'We will not let you hurt somebody while you're here, and we will not let anyone hurt you.'" Previte died last month at the age of 87.
December 5, 2019
After six months in office, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky is "quite cynical" and feels "there are no reliable allies," journalist Simon Shuster says. Shuster recently interviewed Zelensky for 'Time.'Also, John Powers reviews the French film, 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire.'
December 4, 2019
"Your average thrift store in the United States only sells about one third of the stuff that ends up on its shelves," Adam Minter says. "The rest of the stuff ends up somewhere else." His book, 'Secondhand,' follows the things that don't sell — from cheap and soiled clothes to old gym equipment. Also, Ken Tucker reviews a new album from Hootie & the Blowfish, their first in over a decade.The best way to support Fresh Air is by donating to your local station. Go to donate.npr.org/freshair.
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