Fresh Air Weekend

Opening 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 week she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.ย 

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Middle East
12:01 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Journalist Examines Chaotic Fighting In Syria

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is a correspondent for The Guardian reporting for PBS Frontline.
Martin Argles/The Guardian AP

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:23 pm

The battle in Syria is being fought by rebel fighters who lack many of the basics typically associated with warfare: helmets, a large supply of ammo, and military planning.

"I was with one fighter who had 11 bullets, and he was, like, roaming as a freelance fighter along the front line trying to pick up a fight somewhere," journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.

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Music Reviews
10:00 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Brad Mehldau: (Unlikely) Songs By Other People

Brad Mehldau's latest covers project, Where Do You Start, came out Tuesday.
Michael Wilson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:23 pm

At this point, there's nothing special about jazz musicians playing post-Beatles pop: It's just the new normal. But one of the trendsetters on that score was pianist Brad Mehldau and his versions of Radiohead and Nick Drake tunes. Now, Mehldau's trio has a new covers album out.

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Books
11:06 am
Mon September 17, 2012

How Obama, Roberts Interpret Laws In 'The Oath'

Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2009, in Washington.
Tim Sloan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 9:25 am

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama ran on the platform of "change we can believe in" โ€” but he has a different approach to the Supreme Court's interpretation of constitutional law.

"Obama is a great believer in stability โ€” in the absence of change โ€” when it comes to the work of the Supreme Court," Jeffrey Toobin, author and senior legal analyst for CNN, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "He is the one trying to hold onto the older decisions, and [Chief Justice John] Roberts is the one who wants to move the court in a dramatically new direction."

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Fresh Air Weekend
6:03 am
Sat September 15, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: W. Kamau Bell, Michael Lewis

W. Kamau Bell's new FX weekly series Totally Biased mixes standup, sketches and interviews.
Matthias Clamer

Originally published on Sat September 15, 2012 9:19 am

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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Movies
10:45 am
Fri September 14, 2012

'Chico & Rita': An Animated Film With A Cuban Beat

Chico's story mimics the stories of many Cuban musicians who left Havana and arrived in New York City in the 1940s โ€” a time when musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were starting to emerge.
Luna Films

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 9:24 am

This interview was originally broadcast on April 12, 2012. Fernando Trueba's Chico & Rita is now out on DVD.

The animated film Chico and Rita is set in 1940s Havana, at a time when Cuban musicians were starting to leave the country and join the jazz scene in New York. It was also a time when musical styles were fusing โ€” and changing the Afro-Cuban jazz scene entirely.

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Movie Reviews
10:45 am
Fri September 14, 2012

'The Master': Filling A Void By Finding A Family

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Navy veteran Freddie Quell in The Master.
Phil Bray The Weinstein Company

Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is both feverish and glacial. The vibe is chilly, but the central character is an unholy mess โ€” and his rage saturates every frame. He's a World War II South Pacific vet named Freddie Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix to the hilt โ€” the hilt above the hilt. We meet him at war's end on a tropical beach where he and other soldiers seek sexual relief atop the figure of a woman made out of sand.

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Interviews
10:45 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Going Under The 'Boardwalk' With Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon plays federal agent Nelson Van Alden on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. "I think inside of Van Alden is a child รขย€ย” that arrested child รขย€ย” that never really got to develop its own identity," he says.
Macall B. Polay HBO

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 11:26 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 24, 2011. The third season of Boardwalk Empire starts Sunday.

HBO's Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City in the 1920s, is about organized crime in the era of Prohibition. The show stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, an Atlantic City politician who sees the coming of Prohibition as an opportunity to make even more money from illegal activities and kickbacks.

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Television
11:46 am
Thu September 13, 2012

New Shows Hit Average In Fall TV Lineup

Mamie Gummer stars as the title character in Emily Owens, M.D., the best new show on broadcast television this fall.
Jack Rowand The CW

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:58 am

Last year, the broadcast networks didn't do well at all when it came to new series development. We got ABC's clever Once Upon a Time, which was about it for the fall crop, until midseason perked things up with NBC's Smash. Otherwise, a year ago, all the exciting new fall series were on cable, thanks to Showtime's brilliant Homeland and FX's audacious American Horror Story.

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Television
11:04 am
Thu September 13, 2012

'Totally Biased' Comic On Race, Politics And Audience

W. Kamau Bell's new FX weekly series Totally Biased mixes standup, sketches and interviews.
Matthias Clamer

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 2:03 pm

Before comic W. Kamau Bell became host of the new weekly political humor show Totally Biased, which mixes standup, sketches and interviews, he had a one-man show called The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour.

"If you bring a friend of a different race, you get in 2 for 1," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Book Reviews
11:02 am
Wed September 12, 2012

'The Scientists': A Father's Lie And A Family's Legacy

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 12:20 pm

Every New York story ever written or filmed falls into one of two categories. The first โ€” like Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or the musical On the Town โ€” regards New York as the representative American city, a jam-packed distillation of the country's dreams and nightmares. The second group views New York as a foreign place โ€” a city off the coast of the U.S. mainland that somehow drifted away from Paris or Mars. Think every Manhattan movie ever made by Woody Allen.

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Politics
11:00 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Michael Lewis Studies 'Obama's Way'

Contributing editor Michael Lewis played basketball with President Obama while working on a piece for Vanity Fair.
Pete Souza The White House

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 1:05 pm

Author Michael Lewis made a radical request to the White House that he says he was almost certain would be denied: He wanted to write a piece about President Obama that would put the reader in the president's shoes.

To do this, the Vanity Fair contributing editor would need inside access. So what did he propose?

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Animals
11:47 am
Tue September 11, 2012

New Center Trains Detection Dogs To Save Lives

Eleven-week-old 11-week-old Bretagne is beginning her training as a detection dog at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, which opens Tuesday. Click here to see photos of Bretagne at the mic during her Fresh Air interview.
Sarah Griffith

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 12:27 pm

A detection dog-training center opens Tuesday, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at the University of Pennsylvania so scientists can train dogs for search-and-rescue missions โ€” and study what helps them succeed.

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Music Reviews
8:22 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Bob Dylan's Baffling And Sometimes Beautiful 'Tempest'

Bob Dylan's Tempest features 10 new songs with many feisty, baffling, sometimes beautiful moments.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 11:48 am

Bob Dylan made the rare mistake of talking about his creative process shortly before the release of Tempest. He told Rolling Stone that he'd originally wanted to write a collection of what he called "religious songs," saying, "That takes a lot more concentration to pull that off โ€” 10 times with the same thread than it does with a record like I ended up with." Which means that either his powers of concentration failed him, or he became distracted by other themes, topics and moods.

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Television
10:41 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Andrew Rannells: Gay And Serious In 'New Normal'

Andrew Rannells plays Bryan Buckley, a successful TV show producer and writer, in the new comedy The New Normal.
Frederick M Brown/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 8:23 am

After Andrew Rannells pitched himself for a starring role in NBC's The New Normal, the show's creator didn't call for a month.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, I've completely overstepped โ€” I've over-Oprah-ed this,' " Rannells tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I've ruined my chances of working with this man because I was too bold."

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Music Reviews
9:42 am
Mon September 10, 2012

The Forgotten Story Of Memphis' American Studios

"Son of a Preacher Man" was Dusty Springfield's debut on Atlantic. The entire album that spawned it, Dusty in Memphis, was recorded at American Studios.
Stan Meagher Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 10:41 am

Memphis has been a music town since anyone can remember, and it's had places to record that music since there have been records. Some of its studios โ€” Sun, Stax and Hi โ€” are well-known, but American Studios produced its share of hits, and yet it remains obscure. But that's all likely to change with Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios, both a book and a CD out now.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:03 am
Sat September 8, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Feathers, Cellphones As Trackers

Thor Hanson's own cast of Archaeopteryx lithographica presents what he calls the "ancient wing written in stone."
Thor Hanson Basic Books

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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Music Interviews
10:55 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Grammy Winner Hal David

Burt Bacharach with Hal David (right).
Lawrence Lucier Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 2:23 pm

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Movie Reviews
10:21 am
Fri September 7, 2012

'Bachelorette' Sounds Dark Comedic Depths

Party Animals: Lizzy Caplan (from left), Isla Fisher and Kirsten Dunst play the brazen bridesmaids who make trouble for bride-to-be Becky (Rebel Wilson) in Bachelorette.
Radius-TWC

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 10:55 am

Long before Bridesmaids convinced studio executives that a raunchy, female-centric comedy could find a huge audience, Leslye Headland was busy adapting her play Bachelorette into a movie. So this isn't a copycat rom-com, but the themes do overlap. Each film turns on a female rivalry: In Bridesmaids, it's between the maid of honor, Kristen Wiig, and the bride's rich friend, played by Rose Byrne. In Bachelorette, the rivalry is more complicated, more ... ugly. It's between the three, 30-ish, unmarried central characters and the bride.

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Technology
11:31 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Why Your Cell Phone Could Be Called A 'Tracker'

Many people use cellphones for purposes other than making calls. "If we call them trackers, then we're doing a much better job of informing ourselves what these devices are actually doing, and what we're really using them for," says ProPublica investigative reporter Peter Maass.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 9:29 am

Your cellphone is a tracking device collecting a lot more information about you than you may think, says ProPublica investigative reporter Peter Maass.

"They are collecting where we are โ€” not just at one particular moment in the day, but at virtually every moment of the day," Maass tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "They are also taking note of what we are buying, how we're purchasing it, how often we're purchasing it."

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Interviews
11:20 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Advocate Fights 'Ambient Dispair' In Assisted Living

Most residents in assisted living facilities are in their 80s and 90s and arrive after a traumatic event, according to Martin Bayne, who writes about long-term care reform.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 9:31 am

Martin Bayne entered an assisted living facility at 53 after he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease. The disease affected his nerves so severely, it was impossible for him to take a shower and get dressed by himself.

"When I was in my 40s, I was physically fit and very active," Bayne tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And to have to give all that up and stay in a wheelchair now and be helped by so many people to do the simplest of things โ€” it takes a little getting used to."

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