Fresh Air

Weekdays 3-4 PM, rebroadcast 9-10 PM
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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:

Obvious Child centers on Donna Stern, an aspiring standup comic in her late 20s who's out of her depth in the grown-up world. After getting smashed and having unprotected sex with a guy she barely knows, Donna discovers she's pregnant and decides to have an abortion. It shouldn't be a particularly earthshaking turn. But in a world of rom-coms like Knocked Up and Juno, in which the heroines make the heartwarming decision to go ahead with their pregnancies, this modest little indie movie feels momentous.

Scott Anderson's book explains how British officer T.E. Lawrence used his knowledge of Arab culture and medieval history to advance British causes. Originally broadcast Aug. 19, 2013.

Hillary Clinton: The Fresh Air Interview

Jun 12, 2014

Hillary Clinton is on a national book tour for her new memoir, Hard Choices. The book outlines her four years as secretary of state during President Obama's first term, when she met with leaders all over the world.

One of her priorities was to campaign for gay rights and women's rights. She says she saw the "full gamut" on how women were treated, and in some cases it was "painful to observe."

Film director and writer John Waters has broken many taboos and created intentionally perverse scenarios in his films — most notably in Pink Flamingos, about a competition for the title "the filthiest person alive."

Waters, who is now 68, was looking for an adventure he could write about. So he decided to hitchhike cross-country from his home in Baltimore to his co-op apartment in San Francisco.

Any novel that opens on a young American woman running a bookshop in a small town nestled in the Welsh countryside promises a glimpse into a life lived far from the madding crowd. That's the quaint plotline Tom Rachman's new novel tells uninterruptedly for the length of one brief chapter. Thereafter, Rachman returns only occasionally to the World's End bookshop and its shelves sporting idiosyncratic labels like: Artists Who Were Unpleasant to Their Spouses; History, the Dull Bits; and Books You Pretend to Have Read but Haven't.

Shep Gordon's job is managing musicians and chefs and turning them into stars. Gordon created celebrities out of the likes of Alice Cooper and Anne Murray, but he says fame isn't necessarily a good thing.

"I made excuses to myself for how I made a living and tried to do it as honorably as I could, but I can't say that I'm proud," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. " ... If you make someone famous, they have to pay a price."

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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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

I know people who cried at the trailer of the romantic teen cancer movie The Fault in Our Stars — at the movie they'll need a life preserver to keep from drowning in a flood of tears. Me, I didn't cry, though at times my tear ducts tingled; I was on the verge. The film is a little slick for my taste, too engineered. But it's gently directed by Josh Boone and beautifully acted. Whatever the faults, it's not in the stars.

When the thoroughbreds burst out of the starting gate at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, fans will have their eyes on California Chrome as a potential Triple Crown winner. And there to interview the winner on horseback will be Donna Barton Brothers, an analyst for NBC Sports.

Before she was an analyst, Brothers had a distinguished career as a jockey, winning more than 1,100 races before retiring in 1998. When she retired, Brothers tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, she knew it was time to get out in part because it started to feel dangerous.

Broadway had never seen anything like it when Show Boat arrived at the Ziegfeld Theatre in 1927. The score was unforgettable and the story tackled complex racial issues. There have been three movie versions, but the best one — James Whale's 1936 production — has only just been released on DVD.

Show Boat was the first great serious Broadway musical. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the songs, and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., who produced it, departed from typical musical comedy material, with its chorus lines and songs showcasing star performers.

Miranda Lambert's new album is called Platinum. Lambert has become one of the best-selling artists in country music, and one of the most critically acclaimed. Rock critic Ken Tucker says her new album continues Lambert's ongoing project to create songs about women who are complex, fun-loving, and assertive.

The American rate of juvenile incarceration is seven times that of Great Britain, and 18 times that of France. It costs, on average, $88,000 a year to keep a youth locked up — far more than the U.S. spends on a child's education.

But the biggest problem with juvenile incarceration, author Nell Bernstein tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, is that instead of helping troubled kids get their lives back on track, detention usually makes their problems worse, and sets them in the direction of more crime and self-destructive behavior.

Humans have put a man on the moon, harnessed the atom and built supercomputers that can perform quadrillions of calculations per second. But try to get five people with telephones talking to each other and our high-tech society can break down.

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The New York City band Golem describe their music as punk-klezmer. Music critic Milo Miles says that on the group's new album, Tanz, they mange to find new ways to balance urban irreverence with folk tradition.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Denzel Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson have received rave reviews for their starring roles in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun. The play by Lorraine Hansberry debuted on Broadway in 1959 and was adapted to a film two years later. The current production ends its run on June 15.

"I'm in tears because it has truly been the highlight of my theatrical career," Jackson tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

John Fullbright's Songs is the most interestingly uneven album I've heard in a while. The work of a smart young man, it's also the work of a self-conscious young man who's prone to mistaking articulate melancholy for wisdom. Fullbright's debut album contained bold melodies and told stories about daydreamers and offbeat people. On Songs, Fullbright opts for pure mood-setting, sounding morose in an attempt to signal subtle passion, but that's not really how it plays out.

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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DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. Ted Rosenthal an early winter of the Thelonious Monk Piano Competition has played George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he's recorded a version for jazz trio as part of the problem. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Rosenthal has a real feel for the material.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RHAPSODY IN BLUE")

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 21, 2014.

Joaquin Phoenix started his acting career in 1982, when he was about 8, on an episode of the TV series Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. (His brother, the late River Phoenix, was a regular in the series.) He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he still vividly remembers his first time on a set.

One of the most unsettling rooms in an important art exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie is a room in which numerous empty frames are hanging, with guesses about which paintings might have been in them. The paintings themselves were all lost or destroyed by the Nazis. Encouraged by Hitler, most Nazis (Joseph Goebbels was the rare exception) considered everything but the most hidebound, traditionally realistic paintings and sculptures to be "degenerate," a threat to the Aryan ideals of German culture.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, the Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, was introduced to a large American audience through the film "Bridesmaids," in which he co-starred as a police officer with a crush on Annie, played by Kristen Wiig.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BRIDESMAIDS")

KRISTIN WIIG: (As Annie) I didn't know that you could be a cop here if you weren't a citizen.

O'DOWD: (As Rhodes) You can't.

WIIG: (As Annie) No?

In her memoirs, Maya Angelou explored how race and gender affected her life. Her first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 and describes growing up in the segregated South. It includes the story of how, as a child, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. After the rape, she withdrew into herself and went through a long period of not speaking.

Highlights From The Cannes Film Festival

May 28, 2014

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Cannes Film Festival, the most important international film festival, concluded this past weekend. Getting an award at Cannes gives a new film the kind of pedigree that helps ensure good international distribution. FRESH AIR's critic-at-large, John Powers, who is also the film critic for Vogue, reported on the festival, as he's done many years.

China's economic engagement in Africa can be measured in dollars — for instance, the $71 million airport expansion contract in Mali, funded by American foreign aid, that went to a Chinese construction firm.

More remarkably, it can be measured in people: More than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved to Africa, buying land, starting businesses and settling among local populations.

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