Arts/Life

Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
4:36 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Real-Life Shipwreck Survivor Helped 'Life Of Pi' Get Lost At Sea

Steven Callahan survived for 76 days adrift in an inflatable life raft. This 2002 photo shows Callahan with an improved life raft he designed after his ordeal. While enduring shark attacks, rain and helpless drifting, Callahan dreamed of a better survival vessel. Once he returned to land, he spent almost two decades designing this one, featuring a rigid exterior, a removable canopy and a sail.
Pat Wellenbach Associated Press

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 6:06 am

In Life of Pi, one of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture this year, a boy suffers a shipwreck and is lost at sea. It's a fictional story, of course, based on a novel, but director Ang Lee nevertheless wanted the movie to have depth and realism. But how do you add a realistic edge to someone drifting alone in the sea? For most people, even those in the imaginative business of movie-making, it's hard to picture the perils and isolation of months without rescue.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
4:03 am
Sun February 24, 2013

These 'Great Tales Of Terror' Live Up To Their Promise

Duncan P Walker iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:40 am

Michael Dirda's latest book is On Conan Doyle.

When I was a boy growing up in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio, I used to ride my beloved Roadmaster bicycle to the branch library. Located in the Plaza Shopping Center, this former storefront was just around the corner from the W.T. Grant's and Merit Shoes. Inside there were perhaps six small tables, a couple of reading chairs, the librarian's checkout desk, and light oak bookshelves along three walls. There can't have been more than one- or two-thousand books.

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Sunday Puzzle
2:29 am
Sun February 24, 2013

Rolling R's Into Wise Words

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 5:03 am

On-air challenge: You will be given some words starting with the letter R. You name a proverb or saying that contains each one.

Last week's challenge from listener Gary Alvstad of Tustin, Calif.: Name a well-known movie in two words with a total of 13 letters. Each of the two words contains the letter C. Drop both C's. The letters that remain in the second word of the title will be in alphabetical order, and the letters that remain in the first word will be in reverse alphabetical order. What movie is it?

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Author Interviews
3:35 pm
Sat February 23, 2013

Craving Solitude In 'Ten White Geese'

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 4:40 pm

Gerbrand Bakker's new international best-seller, Ten White Geese, opens with a mysterious woman alone on a Welsh farm. Humiliated by an affair with a student, she turns up alone at the farm, looking for nothing and no one. She answers to the name Emily, but that is actually the first name of the American poet about whom she is writing her doctoral dissertation. Her husband has no idea where she is.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
11:56 am
Sat February 23, 2013

The Four Biggest Best Picture Oscar Upsets, Statistically Speaking

The cast of Crash celebrates after its surprise upset of Brokeback Mountain for best picture, at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 12:28 pm

By the time the curtains rise on the Academy Awards ceremony each year, Oscar-watching prognosticators are already reasonably sure which films are going to take home top prizes.

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The Record
7:57 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Clive Davis: A Life With A 'Soundtrack'

Clive Davis poses with Whitney Houston, then a rising star, shortly after Houston signed a contract with Arista Records in 1983.
AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 9:55 am

If Columbia Records hadn't signed Bruce Springsteen in the early 1970s, there's a chance The Boss could have just been a small-stakes act, playing gigs around Asbury Park.

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Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
7:03 am
Sat February 23, 2013

EW's Oscar Guy: Predictions, Backstage Tales

Anthony Breznican is a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly and its chief Oscars correspondent.
Anthony Breznican

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 4:40 pm

Like millions of Americans, Anthony Breznican will be watching the Oscars this Sunday night. But unlike the rest of us, Breznican, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, will be watching from backstage. As EW's chief Oscars correspondent, he escapes the confines of the press rooms for a more intimate look at the ceremony — the kind of view most journalists can only dream of.

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Art & Design
3:31 am
Sat February 23, 2013

'Nordic Cool' Illuminates D.C.'s Kennedy Center

Nordic Cool Facade.
Yassine El Mansouri Courtesy: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 11:18 pm

What is Nordic cool?

Right now, it's a massive festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with artists and designers displaying art and culture from their very top sliver of the globe.

The festival arrives at what seems like just the right moment for Americans.

From the Danish modern furniture of the 1950s to the omnipresence of Ikea, Americans have long been attracted to the austere design of Nordic countries.

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Arts
4:05 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Sofia Talvik

Oscars 2013: The 85th Annual Academy Awards
10:54 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Despite Dark Themes, A Big Oscar Bounce

Despite its dark themes (slavery and the Civil War are hardly feel-good topics), Lincoln, like other Oscar nominees, has done very well at the box office. Disney has spent about $10 million campaigning for the best-picture prize, hoping for a payoff down the line.
DreamWorks

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:47 pm

How much is a best-picture Oscar worth? Not the statuette — winners are required to sell that back to the Academy for a buck if they want to get rid of it. No, what's the Oscar worth at the box office?

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Faith Matters
10:16 am
Fri February 22, 2013

The Benefits Of Letting Bygones Be Bygones

Forgiving someone who's done you wrong can be challenging, but learning how to do it can benefit your mind and body. Frederic Luskin of the Stanford Forgiveness Project writes about this in his book, Forgive For Good. He joins host Michel Martin to talk about why learning to forgive is worth it.

Barbershop
10:15 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Will 'Blade Runner' Be The New O.J.?

South African Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail, but the hearing brought to light bizarre details about the murder charges against him. So will the case turn into another O.J. Simpson fiasco? Host Michel Martin asks the barbershop guys for their thoughts.

Monkey See
8:16 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Our Oscars Omnibus

The tiger shows his toughness in Ang Lee's Life Of Pi.
20th Century Fox

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 9:27 am

  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

In an instance of truth in advertising, this week's NPR round-table pop-culture podcast offers almost a full hour of mostly Oscars analysis. All four of us saw all nine Best Picture contenders, so we'll be covering everything from what happened when Stephen Thompson finally sat down to watch Les Miserables after quoting the featurette for months to Glen's surprising theories about Amour. (Very surprising.)

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Ask Me Another
8:15 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Steve Guttenberg: How To Make It In Hollywood

"About the third or fourth time [I sneaked into a famous casting director's office], I jumped up on his desk and started dancing. So he said, 'Look. Just sit down. I'll give you five minutes.' And it was like having five minutes with God."
Josh Rogosin NPR

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 9:28 am

No matter your age, there's probably a Steve Guttenberg movie that was significant to you in some way. Were you a college student in the early 80s? Police Academy probably made you laugh. Spent movie nights with the kids? Bet you rented Three Men and a Baby at the local Blockbuster. A child of the 90s? Zeus and Roxanne.

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NPR Story
8:10 am
Fri February 22, 2013

The Guttenberg Bible

Actor Steve Guttenberg steps up for his Ask Me Another Challenge, entitled "Three Men and a Baby." His task? Guess which of three men is the father of some famous babies.
Josh Rogosin NPR

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 4:43 pm

You may know this week's V.I.P. (Very Important Puzzler) Steve Guttenberg from such iconic films as Diner, Cocoon, and Three Men and a Baby. But he wears plenty of other hats – author, reality show contestant, even Guinness World Record holder. In this episode we'll explore all things Gute. Plus, we'll dine out on some soft rock, give movies the Randy Newman treatment, and find out that Mark Twain isn't all he's cracked up to be.

Monkey See
7:00 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Best Original Song, Least Original Category

Randy Newman performs "We Belong Together," his Academy-Award-winning entry in the Best Original Song category from the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Newman has been nominated 15 times for the award.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 11:24 am

If you only read the cheery, overly optimistic press releases from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on its upcoming musical throw-down this Sunday – Adele will be performing! And Norah Jones! And Barbara Streisand! And there's going to be some kind of tribute to musicals of the last 10 years (but not all of them)! – you might think that the Academy loves and understands music.

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From The NPR Bookshelves
5:03 am
Fri February 22, 2013

And The Academy Award Goes To: Great Reads About The Silver Screen

AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 2:09 pm

You may perhaps not have noticed, but the 85th annual Academy Awards are coming up this weekend. In Oscar's honor, we dug into the archives for some of the best books about the movies — and the books that became movies. And Cary Grant, because we love him even though Oscar didn't.

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Hollywood Jobs
10:03 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

For Publicist Marvin Levy, It's All About Eyeballs

Spielberg's Schindler's List will mark its 20th year in 2013. Levy was in charge of the publicity campaign for the film and still has his original press kit.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 9:14 am

Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln has earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director. Another Spielberg film — the multi-Oscar winning Schindler's List — will be celebrating 20 years since its release. These films have at least two important things in common: Spielberg and publicist Marvin Levy.

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Movies
4:01 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Baby Boomers Return To The Multiplex, And Hollywood Notices

Maggie Smith plays aging opera diva Jean in the film Quartet. Increasingly, movies are turning their attention to older subjects in order to draw in older audiences.
The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:26 am

If you're not counting the days until the release of Iron Man 3, if you're not sure who Kristen Stewart is, and if the last romantic comedy you saw starred Meryl Streep, you just may be over 50.

That's a segment of the moviegoing audience that may have been neglected once — but no more. A number of films appealing to older audiences, or films that have themes closely related to aging, have been scooping up nominations for Oscars and other awards.

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

'Red Flag,' 'Rubberneck': A Filmmaker Turns Inward (Twice)

The deeply personal narrative that drives writer-director Alex Karpovsky's road trip comedy Red Flag even extends to his protagonist's name. (Pictured: Karpovsky and Caroline White)
Tribeca Film

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:08 am

You might know him best as Ray, the self-centered, arrogant coffeehouse manager from Lena Dunham's Girls. Or as Jed, the self-centered, arrogant date from Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture.

But in two features out this week, Alex Karpovsky is much more than that: He's the psychotic obsessive Paul in the psychological thriller Rubberneck, and an anxious filmmaker named ... well, Alex Karpovsky, in the road comedy Red Flag.

And yes, there's may be some self-centered arrogance to those characters as well.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

'Snitch': Johnson And The Rock, At Odds In A Drug Drama

As hard-hitting father John, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, goes deep undercover to save his son from stern drug-crime laws.
Steve Dietl Summit Entertainment

"Inspired by true events" — a phrase that implies the greatest possible distance between something that actually happened and what's about to happen on screen — Snitch tries to be two movies at once.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

'Inescapable' Ambiguities In Prewar Syria

Paul (Joshua Jackson, left), a suave Canadian diplomat in chaotic Damascus, works to help Adib (Alexander Siddig) find his missing daughter as the city falls apart.
IFC Films

It's hard to imagine an upside to the civil war now causing unspeakable suffering in Syria. But the conflict has turned out to be a break for the makers of Inescapable, a feverish political thriller written and directed by Ruba Nadda, a Canadian of Syrian origin whose last film was the languorous 2009 romance Cairo Time.

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Author Interviews
11:51 am
Thu February 21, 2013

'Erasing Death' Explores The Science Of Resuscitation

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 12:39 pm

What happens when we die? Wouldn't we all like to know. We can't bring people back from the dead to tell us — but in some cases, we almost can. Resuscitation medicine is now sometimes capable of reviving people after their heart has stopped beating and their brain has flat-lined; Dr. Sam Parnia, a critical care doctor and director of resuscitation research at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, studies what these people experience in that period after their heart stops and before they're resuscitated. This includes visions such as bright lights and out-of-body experiences.

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Book Reviews
11:13 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Karen Russell's 'Vampires' Deserve The Raves

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 12:39 pm

I don't have a good track record when it comes to raving about Karen Russell. Last year, along with my two fellow judges, I nominated Russell's novel, Swamplandia!, as well as two other finalists, for the Pulitzer Prize. Result? The Pulitzer Board made headlines by deciding not to give out the award in Fiction. Nevertheless, I rave on: this time about Russell's new short story collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove.

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The Salt
10:20 am
Thu February 21, 2013

This Music Is Bananas (Really)

Making a banana piano is easy with the MaKey MaKey.
Jay Silver/Flickr

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 10:26 am

Fresh produce has never been hipper.

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Monkey See
7:42 am
Thu February 21, 2013

'Argo' Is The Best Picture Frontrunner, But Why?

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and actor-director Ben Affleck in Argo.
Claire Folger AP

Programming Note: Sunday night, we'll be live-blogging the Academy Awards here at NPR.org, and the Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! team will be covering the red-carpet fashions, so be sure to join us to share your thoughts and see whether Affleck, Argo, and Daniel Day-Lewis have the big nights predicted for them.

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The Two-Way
5:19 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Book News: Even Mark Twain Has A Shirtless Picture On The Internet

A photo of Mark Twain from the 1880s.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 4:50 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Open Culture dug up an old picture of Mark Twain, who clearly did not heed his own (possibly apocryphal) advice: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."
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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu February 21, 2013

The Satisfactions Of Simplicity In 'Jackal's Share'

iStockphoto.com

Chris Morgan Jones' latest espionage novel, The Jackal's Share, makes a reader appreciate the attractions of simplicity. There aren't any glitzy tricks here: no over-the-top villains or weapons arsenals; no le Carre-like meditations on the existential identity of the spy.

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Tina Brown's Must-Reads
12:59 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Tina Brown's Must Reads: The Post-Sept. 11 World

Gen. Stanley McChrystal during a retirement ceremony in 2010. His comments in a Rolling Stone interview helped lead to his resignation.
Brendan Smialowski Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 8:27 am

Tina Brown, editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, joins NPR's Steve Inskeep again for an occasional feature Morning Edition likes to call Word of Mouth. She tells us what she's been reading and gives us recommendations.

This month, Brown sent three recommendations that all deal with the post-Sept. 11 world — stories of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the military and political issues that shape the Middle East and the world at large.

A General Talks Back

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Hollywood Jobs
10:05 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

For Film Set Decorators, Tiny Details Count

The third floor of the Warner Brothers Prop House holds a host of antiques available for rent by set decorators working on television and films. Each of the building's four floors is as big as a football field.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 1:07 pm

Picture Rick's smoky cafe in Casablanca, Lincoln's office at the White House of the 1860s, or the Mos Eisley cantina on the desert planet of Tatooine: A production designer came up with the overall look of those movie sets. But the booze on Rick's bar or the pens on Lincoln's desk — it took a set decorator and a crew to make them look authentic and believable.

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