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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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

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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

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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

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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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Business
3:06 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Edgy Video Promotes Christie's Contemporary Art Sale

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 3:24 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a new way of marketing high-end art.

Spring auction season has kicked off in New York City. Yesterday, paintings by Picasso and Monet helped the auction house, Christie's, cello most $300 million worth of paintings.

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, this year, Christie's is promoting its auctions in a new way, with something that looks a lot like a music video.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It's pretty slick.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Monkey See
2:21 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Maintaining The IMAX Experience, From Museum To Multiplex

IMAX

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 9:17 am

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens this weekend, and some moviegoers will pay up to $6 more to see it in IMAX, where the screens are bigger and the action should be more intense. "So real you can feel it in your bones," is how IMAX puts it. But is the IMAX at the multiplex the same as the IMAX you can see at the museum?

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Dance
2:19 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Bolshoi Director Makes First U.S. Visit Since Acid Attack

Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin addresses the media during a meeting at the Bolshoi Theater. Filin was nearly blinded last year in an acid attack masterminded by one of the company's dancers.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 6:13 pm

Relations between Russia and the U.S. are at one of the lowest points since the Cold War. But one man is trying to do what he can to build a bridge between the two countries, despite his own personal tragedy. Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, is in the U.S. for the first time since an assailant threw acid in his face last year, partially blinding him.

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Television
2:40 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Colbert Plans To Take Up The Late Night Mic For CBS

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 6:12 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The coveted spot held by David Letterman for 21 years will go to Stephen Colbert. CBS made the announcement today. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, diehard fans of the Emmy Award-winning "Colbert Report" are mourning this news and others are excited to see what the real Colbert has in store.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: First, Stephen Colbert has said he will not be doing "The Late Show" in character, meaning the over-the-top, right-wing narcissistic character he created for Comedy Central.

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Fine Art
2:05 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

A Tiny Renoir, Stolen In The '50s, Finally Comes Home To Baltimore Museum

Renoir's On the Shore of the Seine returns to the Baltimore Museum of Art more than 60 years after its theft. Rumor has it Renoir painted the tiny piece on a linen napkin for his mistress. It was stolen from the museum in 1951 and resurfaced in 2012 when a woman tried to sell it, claiming she had bought it at a flea market.
AP

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 7:23 am

It has the makings of a great mystery: artwork stolen from a prominent museum, plus the FBI, a beautiful woman and an intrepid reporter. But this isn't fiction; it's a strange, true tale of how a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir has now safely returned home to Baltimore.

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Television
2:44 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Fans Of 'The Good Wife' Rocked By [Spoiler Alert]

Matthew Goode (left) as Finn Polmar and Josh Charles (right) as Will Gardner in Sunday night's episode of CBS's The Good Wife.
CBS

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 4:46 pm

The CBS legal drama The Good Wife centers on smart, attractive Chicago lawyer Alicia Florrick. She's "the good wife" because she stood by her politician husband when he cheated on her.

But the show's most compelling story line has always been between Alicia and another lawyer, Will Gardner. And if you don't want to know what happened in that storyline last night, stop reading NOW.

No, Really: Major Spoiler Ahead

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The Two-Way
11:46 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Smithsonian Institution Gets A New Director

Cornell University President David Skorton speaks during a news conference Monday in Washington, D.C.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 1:36 pm

The new head of the Smithsonian Institution was announced Monday. David Skorton will leave his job as president of Cornell University to become the institution's 13th secretary since its founding in 1846.

Skorton becomes the first physician to lead the Smithsonian. He's a board-certified cardiologist and amateur jazz musician. Most importantly for the Smithsonian, he's a skilled fundraiser. Skorton led a team that raised $5 billion during his eight years at Cornell.

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Author Interviews
5:56 am
Sat March 1, 2014

With Teens And Social Media, Lack Of Context Is Everything

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 9:03 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You know, as I host this program, I'm on a social media platform - Twitter, as a matter of fact. There is no group that takes that new social media platform more than teenagers, and that's exactly what worries a lot of parents. Danah Boyd is a respected researcher in the world of social media. She spent years studying teenagers and how they interact online. Her findings are in a new book called "It's Complicated." In this encore broadcast, NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

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Technology
6:06 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Online, Researcher Says, Teens Do What They've Always Done

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 8:04 am

Researcher danah boyd is obsessed with how teenagers use the Internet. For the legions of adults who are worried about them, that's a good thing.

With a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley, and a masters from MIT, and as a senior researcher with Microsoft, boyd is something of a star in the world of social media. For her new book It's Complicated, she spent about eight years studying teenagers and how they interact online. She says she wrote the book in part to help parents, educators and journalists relax. "The kids are all right," she says.

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