Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.
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Thede's HBO series, A Black Lady Sketch Show, is the first sketch comedy show solely written, directed and starring Black women. "It is a nonstop job," she says of the various hats she wears. Thede spoke with guest interviewer Tonya Mosley. Also, Justin Chang reviews the noir thriller Emily the Criminal, starring Aubrey Plaza. And Lloyd Schwartz a reissue of Judy Garland films.
Over this past year, the Taliban have broken their promises to allow girls to continue their schooling and women to keep their jobs. Many girls and women are disappearing — arrested for violating the morality code, or abducted and forced to marry one of the Taliban. We talk with British/Iranian journalist Ramita Navai, who went undercover to speak to women who were victimized by the Taliban, and women working underground to help women escape brutality. Her new PBS Frontline documentary is called Afghanistan Undercover. Also, we talk with Will Bunch, author of After the Ivory Tower Falls, about how college tuition became so expensive, driving students and parents into debt. Justin Chang reviews the film Ali & Ava.
Lamont Dozier was one third of the Motown songwriting team Holland Dozier Holland. He died Monday at the age of 81. Along with brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, he helped define the Motown sound, writing 10 Number One top hits for The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye — songs like "You Can't Hurry Love," "Baby Love," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Can't Help Myself," "Heatwave," and "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch." They spoke with Terry Gross in 2003.Justin Chang reviews The British romantic drama Ali & Ava.
Investigator Paul Holes spent his career cracking cold cases. His work led to the arrest of the so-called Golden State Killer in 2018. He spoke with us about the case the the impact the work has had on his mental health. His memoir is Unmasked.Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Mohsin Hamid's latest novel, The Last White Man.
Melanie Lynskey spoke with Fresh Air producer Ann Marie Baldonado about coming up as an actress in the '90s and 2000s, when she was typecast as the best friend. Now she's the lead in the Showtime series Yellowjackets. John Powers reviews the second season of Reservation Dogs.
The first time women's soccer was included in the Olympics, in 1996, the U.S. team won the gold, and Briana Scurry was the team's goalie. She went on to win a second gold medal and a World Cup. Her soccer career was ended by a severe concussion, in a collision on the field. Unable to work, broke and in despair, she pawned her gold medals. She got them back–and got the surgery she needed– with the help of the woman who became her wife.Also, we'll talk with Washington Post reporter Scott Higham about how America's opioid industry resembled a drug cartel. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead will review a new album by the Tyshawn Sorey Trio.
Russell, who led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles, died Sunday at the age of 88. He was also the first Black head coach in the NBA and a civil rights activist. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2001. Also, we remember a champion of traditional Irish music, Mick Moloney. He died last week at 77. He was a musician and a musicologist who revived forgotten Irish songs. His passion was finding connections between Irish, African and American roots music. And Ken Tucker reviews Beyoncé's RENAISSANCE.
Journalist Ramita Navai went undercover in Afghanistan to film her new PBS Frontline documentary and found that girls and women are being arrested for violating the morality code. Also many girls are abducted and forced to marry Talibs.
Journalist Will Bunch says instead of opening the door to a better life, college leaves many students deep in debt and unable to find well-paying jobs. His new book is After the Ivory Tower Falls.Podcast critic Nick Quah reviews two podcasts about counterculture, Mother Country Radicals and I Was Never There.Also, we remember radio pioneer Larry Josephson.
It's estimated that more than 107,000 people in the United States died due to opioid overdoses in 2021. Washington Post journalist Scott Higham says it's "the equivalent of a 737 Boeing crashing and burning and killing everybody on board every single day." In the new book, American Cartel, Higham and co-author Sari Horwitz make the case that the pharmaceutical industry operated like a drug cartel, with manufacturers at the top; wholesalers in the middle; and pharmacies at the level of "street dealers."
Better Call Saul, the prequel and spin-off to Breaking Bad, has only a few episodes left. We talk with the show's star, Bob Odenkirk, and showrunner/co-creator Peter Gould. While filming Better Call Saul, one scene was interrupted for the worst imaginable reason: Odenkirk had a heart attack that was nearly fatal. He'll tell us about returning to life–and to that scene.Cory Silverberg's new book, You Know, Sex, touches only briefly on reproduction. Instead, it centers on young people and the questions they might have about pleasure, power and identity.
The actor is Emmy nominated for his co-starring role in Scenes from a Marriage. We talk about his latest projects, grief and fatherhood, and his evangelical Christian upbringing. "We grew up with a very, very real sense of the impending doom of the apocalypse," he says. Also, John Powers reviews Darren Star's new bingeable show starring Neil Patrick Harris, Uncoupled.
New York Times journalist Charles Homans says scores of groups at the state and local levels, with the help of right wing media figures and activists, are taking aim at the electoral system.Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews Tyshawn Sorey's album Mesmerism. Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
Cory Silverberg's new book, You Know, Sex, touches only briefly on reproduction. Instead, it centers on young people and the questions they might have about pleasure, power and identity. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reflects on the Jan. 6 committee hearings as if they were a drama series.
A great chapter in the history of TV is about to end. Better Call Saul, the prequel and spin-off to Breaking Bad, has only 4 episodes left. We talk with the show's star, Bob Odenkirk. In Breaking Bad, he was the sleazy, fast-talking lawyer Saul Goodman, known for his slip-and-fall cases and frivolous lawsuits. Secretly, he represented drug lords. In the prequel, we learn Saul's origin story. We'll also talk with Peter Gould, the writer who created the character Saul on Breaking Bad, and went on to co-create Better Call Saul and become the showrunner. While filming Better Call Saul, one scene was interrupted for the worst imaginable reason: Odenkirk had a heart attack that was nearly fatal. He'll tell us about returning to life–and to that scene.
The Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop is about a Black gay man working as an usher on Broadway. Michael R. Jackson talks about writing the book, music and lyrics and how his time working as an usher at The Lion King on Broadway inspired it.Maureen Corrigan reviews The Poet's House.Ms. Marvel is the first show or film in the Marvel universe to feature a Muslim hero. Creator and heat writer Bisha K. Ali drew on her own experiences growing up in England as the child of Pakistani parents.
The HBO dark comedy series Barry is about a Marine vet-turned-hit man who starts taking acting classes, but is conflicted between the desire to open up emotionally and the need to hide the truth. We hear from Bill Hader who stars as the hitman, and co-created, co-writes, and directs many episodes. And we hear from Henry Winkler, who co-stars as Barry's narcissistic acting coach. Both actors have won Emmys for their roles, and are nominated again this year. Film critic Justin Chang reviews Nope, the new sci-fi epic from director Jordan Peele.
Journalist Maggie Severns explains how the Conservative Partnership Institute helped push the Republican party further to the right and became what she calls a "clubhouse" for insurrectionists.Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews Ethan Hawke's 6-part documentary series about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, The Last Movie Stars.
An estimated 280,000 soldiers suffered facial trauma in WWI. Medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris tells the story of Harold Gillies, the surgeon who pioneered reconstructive surgery, trying to restore function and help the men return to society. Her book is The Facemaker.Also, John Powers reviews The Bear on FX/Hulu.
Ms. Marvel is the first show or film in the Marvel universe to feature a Muslim hero. Creator and heat writer Bisha K. Ali drew on her own experiences growing up in England as the child of Pakistani-born parents. Maureen Corrigan shares some books that are good for getting through the chaos of summer air travel. Also, we remember artist Claes Oldenburg, known for his monumental sculptures of everyday objects. He died July 18 at 93.
The Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical is about a Black gay man working as an usher on Broadway. Michael R. Jackson talks about writing the book, music and lyrics and how his time working as an usher at The Lion King on Broadway inspired it.
Chrysta Bilton's mother was a lesbian who asked a man she'd just met to be her sperm donor. It was only much later that Bilton learned the same man had donated sperm to countless other women. Bilton tells the story of connecting with her 35 siblings and her unusual childhood in her memoir Normal Family.Ken Tucker reviews Bartees Strange's new album, Farm to Table.Rafael Agustin's parents were physicians in Ecuador, but when they came to the U.S. they worked at a car wash and Kmart to get by. It wasn't until he was a teen that he learned they were undocumented. Agustin tells his story in his new memoir, Illegally Yours. He wrote for the TV series Jane the Virgin and is the CEO of the Latino Film Institute.
The singer, composer and guitarist has had a lifelong passion for the jazz and blues of the '20s and '30s. In the '60s and '70s, he made a series of influential recordings with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Paul Butterfield's Better Days, and Maria Muldaur. His new double CD, titled His Last Letter, traces the musical influences of his life, and is arranged for, and performed with, Dutch chamber musicians. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2009. Justin Chang reviews the new thriller The Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling.
Chrysta Bilton's mother was a lesbian who asked a man she'd just met to be her sperm donor. It was only much later that Bilton learned the same man had donated sperm to countless other women. Bilton tells the story of uncovering her 35 siblings and her unusual childhood in her memoir Normal Family. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new HBO reality series The Rehearsal, where participants practice real-life scenarios.
Rafael Agustin's parents were physicians in Ecuador, but when they came to the U.S. they worked at a car wash and Kmart to get by. It wasn't until he was a teen that he learned they were undocumented. Agustin tells his story in his new memoir, Illegally Yours. He wrote for the TV series Jane the Virgin and is the CEO of the Latino Film Institute. Also, Ken Tucker reviews the album Beatopia from the artist beabadoobee, out July 15.
The British Empire covered 24% of the Earth's land mass by 1920. Harvard historian Caroline Elkins says British rulers portrayed themselves as benevolent, but used systematic violence to maintain control. Her book is Legacy of Violence.Later, TV critic David Bianculli reviews Better Call Saul, whose final handful of episodes begin tonight and Kevin Whitehead reviews trombonist Jacob Garchik's latest album.
Dr. Jay Wellons regularly feels the exhilaration of saving a child from near certain death — and sometimes the anguish of failing to prevent it. He shares stories from the operating room, and talks about how the overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact pregnant women whose fetuses have neurological defects. His new memoir is All That Moves Us.Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the science fiction movie Apples, set during a pandemic of sudden memory loss.Finally, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell grew up in Jamaica, and helped launch the careers of reggae stars like Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, as well as rock bands like U2. His memoir is The Islander.
Washington and Rapinoe are among this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Washington's films include "Malcolm X," "Philadelphia," "Glory," and "Training Day." Rapinoe is a soccer champion and LGBTQ activist. She fought for, and helped win, equal pay in women's soccer. Also, Justin Chang reviews the new French film Both Sides of the Blade, starring Juliette Binoche and directed by Claire Denis.
The court's super majority of conservative judges has already passed down rulings about abortion and the 2nd Amendment. New York Times journalist Adam Liptak says more legal upheavals are likely. "[It's] a court that seems to be in an exceptional hurry," he says.
Dr. Jay Wellons regularly feels the exhilaration of saving a child from near certain death — and sometimes the anguish of failing to prevent it. He's operated on various parts of the pediatric central nervous system, including performing spine surgery on an in-utero fetus to correct spina bifida. He says he has a big book of photos and mementos from his patients that he pulls out whenever he needs to be lifted up or grounded. "I will always pull that file out and just flip through it and just think, 'This is why we do what we do,'" he says. He also talks about how the overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact pregnant women whose fetuses have neurological defects. His new memoir is All That Moves Us.Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the new album from Bartees Strange.
Historian Kelly Lytle Hernández tells the story of the rebels who fled Mexico to the United States, and helped incite the 1910 Mexican Revolution that overthrew dictator Porfirio Díaz. Hernández spoke with guest interviewer Tonya Mosley about her new book, Bad Mexicans. "People who were being disparaged at that time as 'bad Mexicans' in the United States were those who organized, those who protested against the conditions of what was then known as Juan Crow, a similar form of social marginalization as Jim Crow," Hernández says.Also, Maureen Corrigan recommends the new novel The Poet's House, which she describes as a wry and vivid story about class, competition, and the magic of art. And Lloyd Schwartz reviews early recordings by the late violinist Joseph Szigeti.
Mat Johnson's new satirical novel, Invisible Things, is set in the future, on a moon of Jupiter, in an artificial ecosystem designed to replicate life on Earth. We talk about writing satire in our current political climate, mass denialism in America, and being a caretaker of his late mother.Nick Quah reviews new podcasts that are directly inspired by reality TV's mechanics and style.Comic Joel Kim Booster speaks with guest interviewer Sam Sanders about his new film Fire Island (which he wrote and stars in). Inspired by Pride and Prejudice, it's a rom-com about a group of gay friends and explores racism and classism in their community.
Eddie Muller hosts the TCM series Noir Alley. An expanded edition of his book, Dark City, chronicles film noir from the '40s and '50s. We talk about the femme fatale, the sexiness of the genre, and why film noir flourished in the post-WWII era.Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album Nuna by pianist David Virelles.
Mat Johnson's new satirical novel, Invisible Things, is set in the future, on a moon of Jupiter, in an artificial ecosystem designed to replicate life on Earth. We talk about writing satire in our current political climate, mass denialism in America, and being a caretaker of his late mother.
Writer John Vercher trained in mixed martial arts as a young man. His novel, After the Lights Go Out, centers on a veteran MMA fighter who is experiencing memory loss, severe mood swings and tinnitus. The book is also about the fighter's biracial identity. Also, Nick Quah reviews new podcasts that are directly inspired by reality TV's mechanics and style.