I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we take a closer look at iconic public service ad campaigns like Smokey Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog. And while everyone knows the good causes they promote, do we know if they actually work? We'll hear more about that just ahead. First, though, we talk about a new initiative that's taking a leap to bring diversity to the world of ballet.
On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we start by breaking down last weekend's very somber Emmy ceremony, from the repeated death announcements to the perplexing dance routines to a couple of welcome victories that put a more positive spin on the whole thing. Did the host impress? What about poor Shemar Moore? And who will defend interpretive dance?
Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 9:13 am
If you were still cheering for Walter White at the start of the sixth season (or, as AMC contracts call it, the second half of the fifth season), a mustard stain on a doctor's jacket might be one reason why.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 6:53 am
Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, early 1942. The Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City, Mo., has the stage, and Charlie "Bird" Parker picks up his alto saxophone:
"The rhythm section had him by the tail, but there was no holding or cornering Bird. Disappearing acts were his specialty. Just when you thought you had him, he'd move, coming up with another idea, one that was as bold as red paint on a white sheet."
Three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali has been the subject of many documentaries. But a new one has arrived in theaters: The Trials of Muhammad Ali looks at the former champion's religious and political beliefs.
Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education, spent years advocating for an overhaul of the American education system. She supported the No Child Left Behind Act, the charter school movement and standardized testing.
But Ravitch recently — and very publicly — changed her mind. She looked at the data and decided that the kinds of changes she'd supported weren't working. Now she's a prominent critic of things like charter schools and school choice — and she's particularly opposed to privatizing schools.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 9:32 am
Most fans of '60s soul know of Muscle Shoals, the tiny Alabama town that produced huge hits. But only the genre's most studious followers will be able to watch Muscle Shoals without being regularly astonished: Even if it sometimes gets lost in its byways, Greg "Freddy" Camalier's documentary tells an extraordinary story.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:29 pm
Fast-food giant McDonald's has made a commitment to stop marketing sodas as a beverage option in kids' Happy Meals.
Instead, the chain has committed to market and promote only milk, water and juice with the children's meals.
Now, if parents order a Coke or Sprite with their child's Happy Meal, they won't be turned down. But sodas will no longer be marketed or promoted visually in any of McDonald's advertisements or in-store visuals.
The U.S. financial sector's 2007-2008 swoon hurt a lot of people, but it's been a bonanza for documentary filmmakers with an interest in economics. The last five years have seen dozens of movies about the dismal science, most of them pegged to the Great Recession.
The latest is Inequality for All, a showcase for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (He served under Bill Clinton, who borrowed much of his fellow Rhodes scholar's rhetoric, if fewer of his prescriptions.)
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:41 pm
The best advice for those looking to remake foreign horror movie hits? Don't.
At best, the results tend to be well-made but redundant copies (The Ring, Let Me In). At worst, the misbegotten rehashes that result miss capturing the originals' frights so completely that they nearly take their inspirations down with them (The Grudge, The Vanishing). Everyone's better off if you just leave these things be.
Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 7:25 am
Paving the way for a brand-new subgenre — the gay romantic thriller — the atmospheric neo-noir Out in the Dark tells of a Palestinian university student who seeks refuge from the homophobia of his traditionalist West Bank village in the more gay-friendly atmosphere of metropolitan Tel Aviv.
Way back in the 1950s — before people tweeted snapshots of their privates or posted their hookup diaries online — it was considered inappropriate to talk too much about sex. The guardians of culture treated it as something better kept in the dark.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 1:22 pm
Lots of people think of fish as brain food. And there's good reason.
Many kinds of fish — think salmon, sardines, tuna — contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fat, which have been shown to fight inflammation and improve the function of our neurons.
The online journal TheRoot.com, which focuses on African-American politics, culture and society, recently released its list of the 100 most important black influencers between the ages of 25 and 45. The list includes several known leaders and achievers, including NPR's own Audie Cornish, and Gene Demby and Matt Thompson of our Code Switch team. But there are also religious leaders, community activists and others who may not be household names ... yet.
"Every love story is a potential grief story," Julian Barnes writes in Levels of Life, a quirky but ultimately powerful meditation on things that uplift us — literally, as in hot air balloons, and emotionally, as in love — and things that bring us crashing to earth: to wit, that great leveler, the death of a loved one.
Willie Nelson has been forced to pull out of the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival and three other shows due to a shoulder injury. Nelson's publicist said Wednesday that the 80-year-old country music star is under a doctor's orders to rest his shoulder for a week, meaning he'll miss shows in Carmel, Ind., Charlotte, Mich., Springfield, Ill., and Saturday's appearance at the festival hosted by Zac Brown in Nashville, Tenn. The individual dates have or will be rescheduled.
Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 4:22 pm
In my memory, Tarell Alvin McCraney's plays are weighted with silence. It fills the stage like a stone, so that even when characters are talking or singing or shouting, the emptiness echoes hard and heavy.
A new local non-profit is using art, music, and comedy to help raise funds for local students. The Illinois Independent Arts Association hosts what's called a 'Springfield Renaissance' show this Saturday at Donnie's Homespun restaurant and venue in Springfield. Local musicians include Carrie Jo Stucki aka CJ Thunder Stucki, and band Lowder featuring Josie Loweder. Proceeds will benefit the band program at Washington Middle School. Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Eric Heyen and Jaimie Kelly of the group about it:
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 2:03 pm
From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.
While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.