Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Senior Producer/Reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

On a daily basis, she produces, edits and reports arts and cultural segments that air on NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her recent stories explored the rise of public humiliation in popular culture, consumers' changing media habits and the intersection of the arts and education.

In this position that she has held since 2003, Blair's varied work has included profiles of actor Neil Patrick Harris, rapper K'Naan, and the band Pearl Jam. She has written and produced long-form documentaries on such cultural icons as Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday. Blair oversaw the production of some of NPR's most popular special projects including "50 Great Voices," the NPR series on awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time in, and the "In Character" series which explored famous American fictional characters.

Over the years, Blair has received several honors for her work including two Peabody Awards and a Gracie.

For three and a half years, Blair lived in Paris, France, where she co-produced Le Jazz Club From Paris with Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the monthly magazine Postcard From Paris.

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Acclaimed Documentary Filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky Dies At 58

Co-director Bruce Sinofsky attends the Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory press day at HBO Studios on Jan. 6, 2012, in New York City.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 3:14 pm

Peabody and Emmy Award winning filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky has died at age 58.

Sinofsky and his longtime co-director, Joe Berlinger, made such acclaimed documentaries as Some Kind of Monster, about the heavy metal band Metallica and Brother's Keeper, about four brothers in rural upstate New York. They are perhaps best known for Paradise Lost, a trilogy of films about three teenagers convicted of killing three little boys in West Memphis, Ark.

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Games & Humor
5:32 am
Sat February 14, 2015

For Three Comedians, Valentine's Day Makes For One Big Joke

Marina Franklin says audiences can always relate to jokes about heartache. "There's nothing like getting an immediate response," she says.
Carlos Delgado Courtesy of Marina Franklin

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 8:15 am

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Television
1:41 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Miniseries Explores The Ugly Fallout Of A Disciplinary 'Slap'

Rosie (Melissa George) and barbecue hostess Aisha (Thandie Newton) comfort Rosie's 5-year-old son (Dylan Schombing) after another parent hit him.
Virginia Sherwood NBC

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 7:09 am

For a lot of parents, spanking your kids isn't an option. But not too long ago, many a child's bottom met the occasional switch. And while attitudes about corporal punishment have changed, it's still a provocative issue — one NBC is taking on in The Slap, a new miniseries that premiers Thursday.

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Movies
3:06 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

'American Sniper' Exposes Unresolved Issues About The Iraq War

Bradley Cooper stars in American Sniper, based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:47 pm

The movie American Sniper is a surprise box-office hit, but it has also become a lightning rod. Some critics say the film, based on the life of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, glorifies war. Others say it doesn't accurately portray the real Kyle. Still others say the movie — and the reactions to it — are an example of the deep disconnect between civilians and the military.

The vitriol has been ugly, the story complicated. There is no one truth. But when it comes to war, the most credible sources are often people who've experienced it firsthand.

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Dance
3:04 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

A Rare Bird: After 120 Years, Audiences Still Flock To 'Swan Lake'

Swan Lake is 120 years old and still popular. The Mariinsky Theatre's current tour of the ballet at BAM in New York City is nearly sold-out.
Valentin Baranovsky BAM

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 6:39 am

The version of Swan Lake most often performed today premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, 120 years ago this month. The ballet had been staged before, but it wasn't a hit until choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov revised it.

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Pop Culture
4:21 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

And The Moral Of The Story Is ... Kids Don't Always Understand The Moral

In the "Winter's Gift" episode of Sofia the First, Disney Princess Tiana (left) from The Princess and the Frog makes a special appearance to help Princess Sofia learn that a true gift comes from the heart.
Disney Junior

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 6:28 pm

"Slow and steady wins the race."

"What's right for one may be wrong for another."

"Treat others the way you'd like to be treated."

Morals have long been the conclusion of fables and fairy tales aimed at kids. And today's TV shows and movies are no different — they often weave lessons for the younger generation into their narratives. But do children actually absorb these messages, or do these endings just help parents feel better about the media their kids consume?

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Analysis
1:45 am
Thu January 8, 2015

'Charlie Hebdo' Laughed In The Face Of Violence; Will Future Satirists?

Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 4:36 pm

Despite a 2011 firebombing at the Charlie Hebdo offices, and continuing threats and heightened security around the building, according to its editor-in-chief, the staff of the weekly never slowed down.

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Games & Humor
1:23 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks

NBC Ben Cohen/NBC

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 9:49 am

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Television
2:20 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

In 'The Honorable Woman,' There's No One You Can Trust

Maggie Gyllenhaal says she had some reservations about taking on the role of Nessa Stein in the SundanceTV original series The Honorable Woman. Middle East conflicts are so sensitive, she says, "It's really complicated and it goes back so far."
Des Willie SundanceTV

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 6:39 pm

This is part of NPR's annual series "The Ones That Got Away," in which we look at some of the best entertainment we didn't report on this year.


"Who do you trust?" are the first words the audience hears in the political-psychological thriller The Honorable Woman. And as it turns out, the answer should be: No one.

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Movies
2:17 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Studios Hope Holiday Family Movies Will Grab Slice Of Shrinking Box Office

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:07 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hollywood likes to roll out their big family movies around the holidays. This season the lineup includes "Big Hero 6," "Annie," "Penguins Of Madagascar," and the offbeat fairy tale musical, "Into The Woods."

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Television
2:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Despite The Dope, 'High Maintenance' Is About More Than Potheads

"The guy" (Ben Sinclair, left) delivers pot to two clients played by Tanisha Long and William Jackson Harper.
Courtesy of Janky Clown Productions

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 9:40 am

A guy on a bike making home deliveries in New York City. That might not sound like the most riveting storyline for a show, but this guy is a pot dealer in Brooklyn, and each episode of High Maintenance follows a different transaction, and then some. The show is Vimeo's first foray into original Web TV, and it's been getting raves.

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Color Decoded: Stories That Span The Spectrum
1:02 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Whether Green With Envy Or Tickled Pink, We Live In A Color-Coded World

An employee at a frozen foods company in eastern Germany checks carrots for quality.
Michael Urban AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 9:00 am

Red means stop; green means go. You live in a red or a blue state. You feel green with envy, or you're tickled pink. Colors alert, provoke, attract, divide and unite us.

Thinkers from Plato to Einstein to a new cottage industry of color psychologists have studied the importance of color in our daily lives. But, as Joann and Arielle Eckstut write in their book The Secret Language of Color: "Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar."

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All Tech Considered
1:26 am
Fri November 7, 2014

The Challenge Of 'Big Hero 6': How To Make A Huggable Robot

Disney

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 2:27 pm

"Dude, you had me at 'inflatable,' " is what Disney director Don Hall told Chris Atkeson, a robotics expert at Carnegie Mellon University, back in 2011. Hall was doing research for Big Hero 6, the movie that Disney executives hope will be a worthy follow-up to the mega-blockbuster Frozen. That's no small feat for Hall and his co-director, Chris Williams.

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Fine Art
2:21 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Sotheby's Has Record Auction With Works By Giacometti, Van Gogh

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 8:23 am

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Dance
2:38 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

At 83, Dancer Carmen De Lavallade Looks Back At A Life Spent Onstage

Christopher Duggan

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:50 am

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Movies
5:22 am
Sun October 12, 2014

From VMI To James Island, Hollywood Battles To Get The Civil War Right

Actor Denzel Washington (center) is flanked by Jihmi Kennedy (left) and Morgan Freeman in the 1989 film Glory, a turning point in Hollywood's representations of the Civil War.
AP

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 11:14 am

Movies about the Civil War are almost always problematic. They're long and boring, or they're slanted, or they leave out a huge part of the story. A new movie about the Battle of New Market in 1864 has its own set of problems.

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Theater
2:23 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Play, Ball: A Theatrical Look At The 'Beauty And Brutality' Of Football

Young Mike (Joseph Carlson) antagonizes Mike (Michael Patrick Thornton) during a physical therapy session with Jerry (James Whalen).
Stan Barouh Olney Theatre Center

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 8:15 am

Theater should be as thrilling as a football game, as far as playwright — and Chicago Bears fan — Andrew Hinderaker is concerned. In fact, Hinderaker is so fascinated with the influence of football on society, he wrote a play about it called Colossal, which opens this week in Minneapolis. Productions in Dallas, New Orleans and Boston are planned for early next year.

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Movie Interviews
6:02 am
Sat September 27, 2014

'Art & Craft' Explores How One Forger Duped More Than 45 Museums

Landis works on a "Picasso" at his home. His materials — including magic markers and frames from Wal-Mart — are not those of a "proper" forger, says filmmaker Sam Cullman.
Sam Cullman Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 10:39 am

For nearly 30 years, art forger Mark Landis duped dozens of museums into accepting fakes into their collections. His stunts made headlines around the world. But Mark Landis never asked for money so he never went to jail. Now his paintings and drawings are in a touring exhibition called Intent to Deceive, and he's the subject of a new documentary called Art & Craft.

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Fine Art
2:36 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

The Fine Art Of Pricing Detroit's Collection

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 4:51 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Fine Art
3:30 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

As Museums Try To Make Ends Meet, 'Deaccession' Is The Art World's Dirty Word

Deaccessioning — the permanent removal of an object from a museum's collection — has been a big issue in Detroit. When the city declared bankruptcy, it had to put all of its assets on the table. Turns out, the most valuable asset was the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 3:57 pm

Sometimes museums get in trouble. Deep trouble. Not because they damage art, or let it get stolen ... but because they sell it. The Delaware Art Museum is the latest target of the art world's ire — for selling one painting from its collection to try and tackle a debt, and for revelations in the past few days that two more paintings are up for sale.

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Television
1:39 am
Tue August 5, 2014

From 'Good Times' To 'Honey Boo Boo': Who Is Poor On TV?

The Evans family from Good Times. Bern Nadette Stanis is second from left.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 8:47 am

Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?

In life and on TV, "poor" is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo's family, it's microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire's Baltimore ghetto, it's a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.

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Theater
3:47 am
Sat July 19, 2014

With Humor, 'Dead And Breathing' Dives Into End-Of-Life Struggles

Lizan Mitchell (left) as the wealthy and crotchety Carolyn and N.L. Graham as Veronika, her nurse, in the play Dead and Breathing.
Seth Freeman

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 6:40 pm

The play Dead and Breathing begins boldly. Sixty-eight-year-old Carolyn takes off her towel and steps into a bathtub completely naked. She's bathed by her chatty nurse, Veronika.

The wealthy, cantankerous woman is dying of cancer. Carolyn, played by Lizan Mitchell, wants to die sooner rather than later, and tries to convince the nurse (N.L. Graham) to help her do that.

It's one of the most talked-about new plays at this year's Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va., which runs through Aug. 3.

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Theater
2:53 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Actress Elaine Stritch, 'Her Own Greatest Character,' Dies At 89

Stritch first appeared on Broadway in 1944 — and was still performing occasionally even at age 89. She is pictured above in 1955.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 1:19 pm

Elaine Stritch — one of Broadway's boldest and brassiest performers — has died. With that gravelly voice — and those long legs — and that utter command of the stage, Stritch was a bona fide Broadway star. Not as a classic leading lady, necessarily, but as the hardened-yet-vulnerable performer audiences couldn't forget. Stritch died of natural causes Thursday morning at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89.

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Book Your Trip
2:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

In 'Little Engine That Could,' Some See An Early Feminist Hero

Was "I think I can" the great-grandmother of "lean in?" Some readers see the plucky locomotive as a parable about working women, but some versions of the story feature a male protagonist instead.
Platt & Munk, Penguin Young Readers Group

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:23 pm

"Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong."

The beloved tale of the little blue engine — who helps bring a broken-down train of toys to the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain — has been chugging along for a very long time. But despite the locomotive's optimistic refrain — I think I can, I think I can, I think I can — the story has a somewhat checkered past: In its tracks, The Little Engine has left both a legal battle and a debate over whether the little blue engine is male or female.

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Author Interviews
1:36 am
Fri June 20, 2014

In 'Fever,' Town's Teen Tic Epidemic Gets A Chilling Novelization

Megan Abbott's other books include Queenpin, The Song Is You and The End of Everything.

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:50 am

Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction, so it makes sense that novelists get some of their best stories from the headlines. That's what happened with mystery writer Megan Abbott. A few years ago, she was one of the millions of people captivated by news stories about a strange illness that seemed to consume a town in upstate New York. Now, Abbott has taken pieces of that true story and turned it into a chilling new novel.

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Television
2:22 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

The Return of 'Rectify,' A Critical Darling Sprung From Death Row

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 5:08 pm

Rectify is a dark, contemplative TV drama about a man released from prison after two decades on death row. It was also a critical favorite in its first season. For a glimpse into its creation, NPR's Elizabeth Blair talks to show creator Ray McKinnon and actors Aden Young and Abigail Spencer.

Movies
1:02 am
Fri June 13, 2014

'How To Train Your Dragon 2' Is More Growly And Snarly (And Wise) Than Ever

Advanced animation and audio software help bring Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his pet dragon, Toothless, to life in How to Train Your Dragon 2.
DreamWorks Animation

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 11:20 am

The dragons are more fantastic. The stakes are higher. And protagonist Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III still wants humans and dragons to live together in peace. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — one of the most anticipated family movies of the summer — opens Friday.

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War On Poverty, 50 Years Later
3:22 am
Sat May 31, 2014

In Confronting Poverty, 'Harvest Of Shame' Reaped Praise And Criticism

Workers crowd into the backs of trucks in the opening scene of 1960's Harvest of Shame.
CBS News YouTube

Originally published on Sat May 31, 2014 4:31 pm

Fifty years ago this year, President Lyndon Johnson launched his war on poverty; But just a few years before that, CBS gave millions of Americans a close look at what it means to live in poverty.

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Business
11:36 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Pfizer Drops $119 Billion Bid For AstraZeneca

William Vazquez AP

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 5:57 am

It would have been the biggest deal the pharmaceutical industry has seen in more than a decade. But for now, it's off the table.

Pfizer has withdrawn its offer to buy British drug company AstraZeneca for about $119 billion.

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which makes Lipitor and Viagra, has been circling its smaller rival AstraZeneca for months.

AstraZeneca, which makes Nexium and Crestor, has rejected every offer saying Pfizer undervalues the company, and that it wants to remain independent.

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Remembrances
3:17 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Remembering The 'Father' Of G.I. Joe

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 3:43 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Now we're going to remember the man who was known as the father of G.I. Joe. Donald Levine was a toy industry executive in the early 1960s, when the iconic action figure stormed playrooms across the country. Levine died of cancer late last week. He was 86. NPR's Elizabeth Blair does this appreciation.

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