Fresh Air

Weekdays at 11am
Terry Gross

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Fresh Air is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and broadcast nationally by NPR.

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Fresh Air Weekend
1:08 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Chris O'Dowd, The Nazi War On Modern Art And Cannes

Max Beckmann's biblical and political triptych Departure (right) hangs on the same wall as Adolf Ziegler's Four Elements triptych, which Hitler owned. Both pieces are part of the Neue Galerie's "Degenerate Art" exhibit.
Courtesy of Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 12:26 pm

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 Reviews
9:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Jazz Pianist Ted Rosenthal Has A Feel For Gershwin

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 9:45 am

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. Ted Rosenthal an early winter of the Thelonious Monk Piano Competition has played George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" solo and with symphonic and jazz orchestras. Now he's recorded a version for jazz trio as part of the problem. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Rosenthal has a real feel for the material.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RHAPSODY IN BLUE")

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Interviews
9:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Phoenix To Self: 'Why Am I Talking About This? ... Joaquin, Shut Up'

Joaquin Phoenix's Her character, Theodore, has a job writing intimate — and sometimes erotic — cards and letters on behalf of other people.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 1:30 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 21, 2014.

Joaquin Phoenix started his acting career in 1982, when he was about 8, on an episode of the TV series Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. (His brother, the late River Phoenix, was a regular in the series.) He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he still vividly remembers his first time on a set.

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Fine Art
12:18 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

'Degenerate' Exhibit Recalls Nazi War On Modern Art

The Neue Galerie exhibit's empty frames represent paintings that were lost or destroyed by the Nazis. They appear beside works that survived Nazi rule, like George Grosz's Portrait of the Writer Max Hermann-Neisse (lower right).
Courtesy of Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 12:28 pm

One of the most unsettling rooms in an important art exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie is a room in which numerous empty frames are hanging, with guesses about which paintings might have been in them. The paintings themselves were all lost or destroyed by the Nazis. Encouraged by Hitler, most Nazis (Joseph Goebbels was the rare exception) considered everything but the most hidebound, traditionally realistic paintings and sculptures to be "degenerate," a threat to the Aryan ideals of German culture.

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NPR Story
12:18 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

From The Screen To Broadway: Chris O'Dowd Takes On 'Of Mice And Men'

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 1:50 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, the Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, was introduced to a large American audience through the film "Bridesmaids," in which he co-starred as a police officer with a crush on Annie, played by Kristen Wiig.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BRIDESMAIDS")

KRISTIN WIIG: (As Annie) I didn't know that you could be a cop here if you weren't a citizen.

O'DOWD: (As Rhodes) You can't.

WIIG: (As Annie) No?

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Author Interviews
1:10 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Poet And Memoirist Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's most recent autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom, looked back on her complicated relationship with her mother.
Doug Mills AP

In her memoirs, Maya Angelou explored how race and gender affected her life. Her first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 and describes growing up in the segregated South. It includes the story of how, as a child, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. After the rape, she withdrew into herself and went through a long period of not speaking.

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NPR Story
12:45 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Highlights From The Cannes Film Festival

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Cannes Film Festival, the most important international film festival, concluded this past weekend. Getting an award at Cannes gives a new film the kind of pedigree that helps ensure good international distribution. FRESH AIR's critic-at-large, John Powers, who is also the film critic for Vogue, reported on the festival, as he's done many years.

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Books
12:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers

Over the next few years China will build a multi-billion dollar railway linking the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi (shown here), based on an agreement signed earlier this month by East African and Chinese officials. It's one of many examples of China's increasing economic engagement with African countries.
Tony Karumba AFP/Getty Images

China's economic engagement in Africa can be measured in dollars — for instance, the $71 million airport expansion contract in Mali, funded by American foreign aid, that went to a Chinese construction firm.

More remarkably, it can be measured in people: More than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved to Africa, buying land, starting businesses and settling among local populations.

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Music
12:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

The Bronze Buckaroo Rides Off Into The Sunset

The smooth baritone Herb Jeffries, who recorded the 1940 hit "Flamingo" with the Duke Ellington orchestra, was also the first black singing cowboy on the silver screen, nicknamed the Bronze Buckaroo. Herb Jeffries died Sunday at age of about 100. His exact age is uncertain. Terry Gross spoke with Herb Jeffries in 1995.

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Commentary
12:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

150 Years After Marx, 'Capital' Still Can't Shake Loose Of 'Das Kapital'

A lot of things had to come together to turn Thomas Piketty's controversial Capital in the Twenty-First Century into the tome of the season. There's its timeliness, its surprising accessibility and the audacity of its thesis, that capitalism inevitably leads to greater concentrations of wealth at the very top.

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Music Reviews
12:03 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Two New Items From Hank Williams

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 9:46 am

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Interviews
12:03 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty

Maj. Frank Capra sits at his War Department desk in Washington on March 6, 1942. Capra's non-War Department films include It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
AP

This interview was originally broadcast on March 3, 2014.

When America entered World War II, some of Hollywood's most celebrated directors enlisted and risked their lives. But they weren't fighting — they were filming combat.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:14 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Louis C.K., Miles Davis And A Military Dog

In Louie, Louis C.K. plays a comic who finds comedy in uncomfortable, touchy topics.
K.C. Bailey FX

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:

Read more
Movie Interviews
10:38 am
Fri May 23, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Cinematographer Gordon Willis

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 11:27 am

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Television
10:38 am
Fri May 23, 2014

HBO's 'The Normal Heart' Looks At The Early Days Of The AIDS Crisis

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 11:27 am

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer's 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts. Almost 30 years later, the drama is both presented and viewed differently. It almost has to be.

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Music Interviews
10:38 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Donovan To Be Inducted Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 11:27 am

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN")

DONOVAN: (Singing) Color and sky brush and blue. Scarlet fleece changes you. Crimson ball sinks from view. Wear your love like heaven. Wear your love like heaven. Wear your love like heaven. Wear...

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The Impact of War
1:41 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Civilian Life Taught This Military Dog Some New Tricks

In this image from the June issue of National Geographic, Jose Armenta and his wife, Eliana, relax with their Boston terriers Oreo and Sassy, and Zenit, a German shepherd they adopted from the Marines.
Adam Ferguson National Geographic

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 2:59 pm

As a dog handler in the Marines, it was Jose Armenta's job to walk ahead of his platoon and search for roadside bombs with his dog, Zenit, a German shepherd trained for explosives detection and patrol. In 2011, while searching for IEDs planted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, a bomb they didn't detect exploded and Armenta was thrown 20 feet. He narrowly survived, but both his legs had to be amputated above the knee. Zenit was uninjured and redeployed with a new handler.

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Book Reviews
1:24 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

A Second Posthumous Collection From Rock Critic Ellen Willis

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 1:54 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Ellen Willis was the first rock critic for The New Yorker is. She was also a radical feminist writer and activist. Her work appeared in the Village Voice, where she was a columnist, as well as in Rolling Stone and The Nation.

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Remembrances
1:24 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Civil Rights Activist Vincent Harding

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 1:54 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The Civil Rights activist and historian Vincent Harding died Monday at the age of 82. He was the first director of what's now called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta. And his books include "Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero" and "There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America." Harding wrote several speeches for King, including King's controversial, now famous 1967 speech opposing the war in Vietnam. Here's an excerpt.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

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Author Interviews
2:20 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How The Koch Brothers Remade America's Political Landscape

David Koch is one-half of politically and economically powerful duo known as the Koch brothers. He and his brother, Charles, are tied in sixth place on the list of the wealthiest men on the planet.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 3:08 pm

Brothers Charles and David Koch are the subject of the new book Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. The author, Daniel Schulman, describes the Kochs as having pumped hundreds of millions into remaking the American political landscape, trying to bring their libertarian views into the mainstream.

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Book Reviews
12:25 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

'Chameleon' Has Cabaret, Spies And A Plot Fit For Lifetime

German troops march towards Paris' Arc de Triomphe in 1943.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 2:20 pm

Even the most restrained plot summary of Francine Prose's latest novel sounds like a teaser for a late night Lifetime TV movie. Here goes: In the Paris of the late 1920s, a butch lesbian race car driver named Lou Villars has her license revoked by the French government for daring to dress as a man in public. Lou goes on to become a performer in a risque review at the Chameleon Club, a smoky nightclub where threadbare artists and thrill-seeking aristocrats mingle in the half-light.

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Television
11:01 am
Tue May 20, 2014

'The Maya Rudolph Show' And What It'll Take To Bring Back Variety

The Maya Rudolph Show premiered Monday night with guest appearances from Sean Hayes, Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg.
Paul Drinkwater NBC

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 4:40 pm

On Monday night, NBC presented The Maya Rudolph Show, a one-hour prime-time variety special executive produced by Lorne Michaels and featuring many of their mutual Saturday Night Live cohorts, including Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell. It also co-starred Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes and singer Janelle Monae. The Maya Rudolph Show was an intentional effort to bring back the old-school TV variety show, but with a new-school slant that bathed most of the show in a distancing self-awareness.

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Author Interviews
11:01 am
Tue May 20, 2014

In Life And Fiction, Edward St. Aubyn Sheds The Weight Of His Past

Edward St. Aubyn's 2006 novel Mother's Milk was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Timothy Allen Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 4:39 pm

The winner of the United Kingdom's only literary prize for comic fiction was awarded Monday to Edward St. Aubyn for his new book, a satire about Britain's most prestigious literary award. The novel is called Lost for Words and it was just published in the U.S.

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Television
12:40 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'

In Louie, Louis C.K. plays a comic who finds comedy in uncomfortable, touchy topics.
K.C. Bailey FX

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 12:59 pm

Louis C.K. is now commonly acknowledged as one of the greatest comics of his generation. His celebrated FX series, Louie, started its fourth season a couple weeks ago, after a 19-month hiatus.

Louis C.K. created, writes, directs and stars in the series as a standup comic named Louie, who, like Louis C.K., is the divorced father of two young girls and shares custody with their mother. Last year, Louis C.K. also had prominent roles in two films: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and David O. Russell's American Hustle.

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:03 am
Sat May 17, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Glenn Greenwald, 'Godzilla' And Todd Barry

Reporter Glenn Greenwald speaks to reporters in Hong Kong on June 10, 2013, just days after publishing a series of reports about the NSA's mass surveillance programs.
Vincent Yu AP

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 10:44 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:

Read more
Music Reviews
10:05 am
Fri May 16, 2014

In 1970, Miles Davis Played Four Sets For A New Audience

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 11:36 am

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

In June 1970, Miles Davis played four nights at New York's rock palace Fillmore East, following earlier appearances there and at San Francisco's Fillmore West. A complete recording of all four of those June sets are now available for the first time.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the jazz trumpeter had gone to the Fillmore in search of a new audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good evening. With great pleasure, Mr. Miles Davis.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MILES DAVIS: (Instrumental)

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Movie Reviews
10:04 am
Fri May 16, 2014

'Godzilla': A Fire-Breathing Behemoth Returns To The Big Screen

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 1:41 pm

Transcript

DAVIE DAVIES, HOST:

Since 1954, the fire-breathing behemoth Godzilla has had many incarnations. In the Japanese original he was a thinly disguised symbol of the atom bomb but in later films he would fight other giant monsters and even space aliens. In 1998 there was a poorly received American remake by Roland Emmerich. Now comes another American version at a time when the restored original is also in theaters and available on DVD.

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Interviews
10:04 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Making It In The Big Leagues Was A 'Long Shot' For Catcher Mike Piazza

Retired Major League Baseball player Mike Piazza's new autobiography, Long Shot, addresses the steroid controversy and recalls the first game after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Simon and Schuster

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 1:41 pm

This interview was originally broadcast March 7, 2013.

Back in 1988, it wasn't until the 62nd round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft that the Los Angeles Dodgers finally picked Mike Piazza. Nobody expected him to make it in the big leagues. But he did. He made his major league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 1, 1992, and he hit his first home run just 12 days later.

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Europe
3:25 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Former Ambassador To Russia: Putin Has No Master Plan For Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul during a walk in Moscow's Red Square in May 2013.
Mladen Antonov AP

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 6:02 pm

When Russian President Vladimir Putin started vilifying the U.S., and state-controlled media took his cue, Michael McFaul was portrayed as one of the American villains. McFaul was the American ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February of this year. He planned to leave just after the Sochi Olympics, which ended up coinciding with the Ukrainian Parliament voting to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, leading to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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National Security
10:12 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Greenwald On NSA Leaks: 'We've Erred On The Side Of Excess Caution'

Reporter Glenn Greenwald speaks to reporters in Hong Kong on June 10, 2013, just days after publishing a series of reports about the NSA's mass surveillance programs.
Vincent Yu AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 2:24 pm

When Edward Snowden was ready to leak the classified documents he'd stolen from the National Security Agency, the first journalist he contacted was Glenn Greenwald. Snowden knew of Greenwald through his coverage of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping scandal, and he said he believed Greenwald could be counted on to understand the dangers of mass surveillance and not back down in the face of government pressure.

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