NPR Staff

It's Oct. 1, two days before the season's first Saturday Night Live goes on air. Guest host Miley Cyrus is rehearsing, rumors are flying that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going to be on the show — and executive producer Lorne Michaels is in his office overlooking studio 8H, worrying.

"Man, in New Orleans we really are fortunate — we got some of the best things in the world," Chef Paul Prudhomme once said. "And one of those things is the mufaletta sandwich."

And one of the best things about New Orleans was Prudhomme himself.

He was known for introducing blackened redfish to the rest of us, for his cooking demos and for his line of magic spices. Needless to say, Prudhomme changed the way the world saw Louisiana cooking.

He has died at the age of 75.

When comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick got the opportunity to reimagine Captain Marvel as a blond, blue-eyed fighter pilot named Carol, she made changes to the character that some fans didn't like.

Carol now wears a flight suit — not the sexy dominatrix outfit she used to wear back when she was Ms. Marvel. For that, DeConnick was accused of having a feminist agenda.

Ten years ago, Stephenie Meyer put a twist on the whole boy-meets-girl thing.

In her young adult novel Twilight, girl meets vampire and, later, werewolf. The supernatural romance between Bella and Edward sparked a saga that includes four best-selling books translated into more than 50 languages and five blockbuster movies.

For the past few years, crime has been mostly a good news story — the crime rate remains near record lows. But several major U.S. cities have been experiencing a rise in homicides and other violence this year.

Now, the Justice Department is bringing together police and prosecutors to figure out what's going on, and how the federal government can help.

For many students, Sandra Cisneros is required reading. She tells stories of working-class Latino life in America, particularly Chicago, where she grew up, and where she set her well-known book, The House on Mango Street.

The meaning of home has been a central theme in Cisneros' life and work. And in her new memoir, A House of My Own, she writes about leaving home, her parents' house — without getting married, which was a shock to her father.

In an interview with NPR's David Greene, Chrissie Hynde discusses her new memoir, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. The interview touches on portions of the book that have generated some controversy, including Hynde's description of a possible sexual assault.

Anthony Marra writes about Russia like he was born there.

Actually, the 31-year-old American lived there only a semester, as a college student. "I arrived in January without knowing a lick of Russian," he tells Morning Edition host (and former Moscow correspondent) David Greene. "I just became immediately fascinated with the extremes of life, of geography, of political events that it almost seemed impossible not to want to set a story there."

Before there was Madonna or Lady Gaga, there was Grace Jones.

The creator of that gender-bending, hypersexual persona has been a supermodel, a muse for artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, and a musician whose influence is still felt throughout popular music to this day. Now, she's telling her story in a memoir titled I'll Never Write My Memoirs, which shines a spotlight on every side of her — including Beverly Grace Jones ("Bev"), the more reserved childhood version of the future star.

Catholic bishops and other representatives of the world's more than 1 billion Roman Catholics are meeting in Rome on Sunday for the start of the Synod on the Family. This meeting will guide Church teaching on issues like marriage, divorce and contraception.

This September alone, three high school football players died after injuries sustained on the field. The latest, a 17-year-old quarterback from New Jersey, suffered a ruptured spleen during a game just over a week ago.

In some high schools across the U.S., deaths such as these — and an increased focus on the risk of head injury and concussions — have raised concerns among parents and diminished interest in the sport. At others, like the Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in suburban St. Louis, the football programs have disbanded altogether.

Caron Butler has had a stellar career. The two-time NBA All-Star has contributed his talents on the court to the Miami Heat, the LA Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks, where he was part of a championship team in 2011.

But before he got to the NBA, his life was headed in a very different direction. He had a rough upbringing in Racine, Wis., and took an unusual route to get to the pros, which included numerous drug arrests, a stint in prison and a close call that could have changed his entire life — all before he turned 18.

We often feature musicians who make cover albums — their versions of songs made popular by others. Now comes a project where writers — some of the most acclaimed of our time — cover Shakepeare's works, retelling the Bard in their own words. Jeanette Winterson's new novel, The Gap of Time, is a re-imagining of The Winter's Tale, and it's the first book in the series to be published.

The new film Freeheld tells the real life story of Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police detective, who is diagnosed with late stage lung cancer.

Hester, played by Julianne Moore, tries to get her pension benefits extended to her domestic partner Stacie Andree, played by Ellen Page. But local officials deny the request.

Ultimately the case makes national headlines, and when the city council finally rules in her favor, it's seen as a crucial victory in the civil rights movement for same-sex marriage.

The news of John Boehner's resignation as Speaker of the House has many wondering what comes next in such a deeply divided Congress.

NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with House Democratic Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about the role of the speaker and her take on the current climate of the House.

In the web-only interview, Pelosi said the House has a full agenda and that it can "be one that is a successful path to the future or it can be a calendar of chaos, and that really is up to the Republicans."

After Thursday's mass shooting at an Oregon community college, which left nine people dead and more injured, President Obama aired his frustration over gun laws in the U.S. At a news conference Friday, he called on voters to push their representatives to take action.

"You just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter, because that's what is happening on the other side," Obama said. "And that's going to take some time. I mean, the NRA has had a good start."

Food has become a serious issue over the past decade or so — how it's prepared, where it comes from, even how it's grown or raised.

It's gotten that way in no small part due to Mark Bittman. In cookbooks, newspaper columns and online videos, Bittman has become a national advocate for simple, healthful, environmentally responsible food.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lately been confronting questions about ethnic diversity, gender equality and LGBT rights.

Now the church's believers, and its critics, are watching closely to see what a membership shake-up might mean for the church. The senior governing council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is expected to name three new leaders to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after the fairly recent deaths of three elder members.

It's a classic story: A man stranded in a remote, forbidding land, left to scrabble a hard existence while he waits for help that might never come. Think of Robinson Crusoe, Tom Hanks and his beloved volleyball Wilson in Castaway -- even Gilligan's Island, for that matter.

Now, add another to that list: Mark Watney, an astronaut marooned on Mars in the new film The Martian. The movie is directed by Sir Ridley Scott, adapted from Andy Weir's best-selling novel, and filled with A-list stars like Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

You can run out of colorful adjectives trying to describe Julie d'Aubigny. She was, according to history, exquisite in appearance, a graceful and superb fencer, a sublime singer, a swashbuckling duellist, and lover of men and women, famous and cloistered — and that's just the beginning.

In 2012, Greek pop singer Monika — who is famous enough back home to be known by one name — experienced an accident that changed her life. She was on a boat with four friends when things suddenly went wrong.

"Our boat was on fire. There was an explosion because of a gas leak," she explains. "Three people couldn't swim that well, so they stayed behind and were rescued by a sailing boat, but me and my friend, we reached the coast. ... I was swimming in the sea for seven and a half hours — and at night, with huge waves."

Jacques Pépin says his new cookbook, Jacques Pépin: Heart and Soul in the Kitchen, is an invitation to join him for dinner at his house. Of course, you'll have to do all the cooking — but you can use his recipes.

Pépin will turn 80 years old this year. He says this is one of his last cookbooks, and it's timed to coincide what he says is his final PBS show, airing this fall: Jacques Pépin: Heart and Soul.

Rosemary Kennedy was a beauty, a debutante, and the daughter of one of America's most glamorous families. She was born with a wealth of advantages as the daughter of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy — but her mental development was flawed at birth, and never got beyond about a fourth-grade level.

And at the age of 23, Rosemary Kennedy underwent a new neurosurgical procedure that a couple of respected doctors said might make it easier for her to function in the world: A lobotomy. The operation left Kennedy mostly mute, withdrawn and damaged.

Stephen Sondheim is widely viewed as the greatest living composer in American musical theater. "Send in the Clowns," from the show A Little Night Music, may be his most famous work — and yet you might not recognize the song as reimagined for solo piano by Ethan Iverson of the band The Bad Plus.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



And let's go behind the scenes of a show that began just after the Vietnam War ended and premieres its 41st season in a much-changed world tomorrow night.


Apple has long touted the power and design of its devices, but recently the world's most valuable company has been emphasizing another feature: privacy. That's no small matter when many users store important private data on those devices: account numbers, personal messages, photos.

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks to NPR's Robert Siegel about how the company protects its customers' data, and how it uses — or doesn't use — that information.

Set in 1932, Indian Summers is a tale of two communities. The British rule India, and in their annual tradition, they retreat into the hills — with all their Indian servants — to stay cool during the summer. But while the British gossip over gin and tonics, the Indian streets are brewing with calls for independence. The new 10-part British TV drama — about empire and race and relationships that cross those lines — has just had its U.S. debut on Masterpiece on PBS.

People often ask dancer and choreographer Michelle Dorrance when she knew she wanted to become a professional dancer. Her answer is simple: "I just knew I would never stop tap dancing," she tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "I knew it was possible because our masters die with their shoes on. ... You dance until your '90s."