Fresh Air on WLRN

Monday - Thursday at 12:00pm
Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

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National Security
4:03 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

'Frontline' Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today's NSA

President George Bush examines the devastation at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Sept. 12, 2001, a day after a hijacked airliner slammed into the building.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 5:16 pm

When stories began to emerge about the U.S. government's massive surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet communications, it was no surprise to a group of analysts who had left the National Security Agency soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Those analysts, who'd worked on systems to detect terrorist threats, left in part because they saw the NSA embarking on a surveillance program they regarded as unconstitutional and unnecessary.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:09 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Sam Baker And Roz Chast

Sam Baker's new album is titled Say Grace.
C. Lawrence Courtesy of the artist

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:

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction: In 1986, a bomb planted by the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path exploded in the luggage rack above Sam Baker. Somehow, during his long recovery, songs focused on empathy started coming to him.

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Interviews
12:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Marc Maron: A Life Fueled By 'Panic And Dread'

Marc Maron is also the author of The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life As a Reluctant Messiah.
Leigh Righton Spiegel & Grau

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 1:40 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on April 29, 2013.

When Marc Maron started his podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in September 2009, he was in a dark place: He was going through a divorce, his comedy career had hit a wall and — in his mid-40s — he didn't have a Plan B.

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Television
12:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

'Penny Dreadful' Is Wonderful, But 'Rosemary's Baby' Is Dreadful

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 3:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. This weekend two very different TV productions attempt to do much the same thing - revisit old works of literature in the horror and suspense genre and adapt them with new approaches for a new generation. NBC's four hour miniseries version of Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby" barely justifies the attempt.

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Movie Reviews
12:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

'God's Pocket' Is Horrifying, Humanist And Heartbreaking

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 1:40 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his final film roles, stars as Mickey in "God's Pocket," the new movie directed by John Slattery. Slattery is famous for his role as Roger Sterling on TV's "Mad Men" and over the years has directed several episodes of that AMC series. He makes the transition to feature film directing with "God's Pocket" which he and Alex Metcalf adapted from the 1983 novel by Pete Dexter.

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Author Interviews
1:26 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

A Cartoonist's Funny, Heartbreaking Take On Caring For Aging Parents

Roz Chast Bloomsbury

It's never easy to talk with aging parents about the end of life, but it was maybe particularly difficult for Roz Chast and her parents, which is why her new graphic memoir is called Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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Movie Reviews
1:26 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso'

Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 8:33 pm

If the road movie has a home, it's surely the United States. After all, the settling of America was itself a kind of humongous road picture — all those wagons rolling across the new continent's spectacular vastness. And with our ceaseless love of movement, we became the first people to be transported — in every sense — by the automobile. Small wonder, then, that so many famous Hollywood films, from It Happened One Night to Thelma & Louise, are all about hitting the road.

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Television
1:37 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

'Hill Street Blues' Created Two Eras For TV Drama: Before And After

Among Hill Street Blues' many innovations, says David Bianculli, was focusing on a large ensemble cast instead of one or two central stars. Pictured here: Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport, Daniel J. Travanti as Capt. Frank Furillo and Robert Prosky as Sgt. Stan Jablonski.
David Sutton NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 2:49 pm

It's very easy, and not at all inaccurate, to divide dramatic series television into two eras: before Hill Street Blues — which has just been released on DVD in its entirety for the first time -- and after. Before NBC televised Hill Street in 1981, most continuing drama series were presented as stand-alone, interchangeable hours starring the same characters. Every week, TV detectives Joe Mannix or Theo Kojak or Tony Baretta would investigate a crime, catch the villains and wait for next week to do it again.

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Author Interviews
1:37 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

From Poker Amateur To World Series Competitor In 'The Noble Hustle'

Poker players take part in the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament in Las Vegas.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images

When the World Series of Poker began in 1970, it was a pretty modest affair — seven veterans of the game competing for just the honor, no prize money. Today, more than 6,000 players pay the $10,000 entrance fee for the No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Tournament. ESPN televises the final table, and last year the winner took home more than $8 million in prize money.

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The Fresh Air Interview
1:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction

Sam Baker's new album is titled Say Grace.
C. Lawrence Courtesy of the artist

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Television
1:43 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Todd Barry's New Stand-Up Strategy: 'Does Anyone Want To Talk To Me?'

Todd Barry has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O'Brien.
Mindy Tucker

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 3:51 pm

Todd Barry is one of comic Louis C.K.'s favorite comedians. So when Barry had the idea to film a tour in which all he did was crowd work — or, engage the audience in improvised conversations — Louis C.K. decided to produce the film, called The Crowd Work Tour, and feature it on his website.

Barry also plays a version of himself on Louis C.K.'s show Louie, which begins a new season on Monday. He's recorded several comedy albums, appeared in the film The Wrestler and done a lot of voice-over work for animated TV series.

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Book Reviews
1:43 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

In 'Hotel Florida,' Three Couples Chronicle The Spanish Civil War

Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, at the Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho.
AP

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 3:40 pm

There's something romantic about biographer Amanda Vaill's device of making the Hotel Florida in Madrid the hub of her new book about the Spanish Civil War, called Hotel Florida; but, then again, there's always been something romantic about the Spanish Civil War itself. For the Spanish loyalists — who were supported by Russia and Mexico as well as the International Brigades of civilians from Europe and the Americas — the Spanish Civil War was a gallant stand against fascism.

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Music Reviews
1:43 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

tUnE-yArDs: Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing

tUnE-yArDs.
Holly Andres Courtesy of the artist.

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Fresh Air Weekend
12:32 pm
Sat May 3, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Alan Cumming, 'Godzilla' And Matthew Weiner

This is the third time Alan Cumming has starred in Cabaret. Each of the productions with Cumming was directed by Sam Mendes. Rob Marshall choreographed both American productions and co-directed the new one.
Andrew H. Walker Getty Images

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:

For Alan Cumming, Life Is (Once Again) A Cabaret: This is the third time Cumming has starred in the musical. He talks about the new production — everything from his costume (which he calls a "Wonder Bra" for men) to the darker themes of the show.

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Author Interviews
12:04 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

The Making Of 'Godzilla,' Japan's Favorite 'Mon-Star'

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 2:23 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

We're celebrating Godzilla's 60th anniversary today on FRESH AIR. When the film was first shown in America, about 40 minutes were deleted from the original Japanese version to make it shorter and to make way for new footage that was added to make the movie more marketable to American audiences. The new footage featured an American wire service reporter whose reports provided the narration for the story.

The reporter was played by Raymond Burr, who went on to play TV lawyer Perry Mason. Here's how Burr opened the film.

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