Fresh Air

Weekdays at noon and midnight

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.

Visit the Fresh Air website for more information.

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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3:46am

Sat November 19, 2011
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Regis Philbin, Alexander Payne

Originally published on Sat November 19, 2011 4:52 pm

George Clooney in The Descendents
Fox Searchlight

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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11:24am

Fri November 18, 2011
Movie Interviews

In 'Beginners,' A Gay Man Comes Out Late In Life

Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer (left) and Ewan McGregor star as father and son in Mike Mills' Beginners.
Focus Features

This interview was originally broadcast on June 2, 2011. Beginners is now available on DVD.

Filmmaker Mike Mills' parents met in junior high school. For 45 years, they lived together, raising Mills and his older sisters, until Mills' mother died in 1999. Six months later, Mills' father — a 75-year-old retired museum director — announced that he's gay.

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7:58pm

Thu November 17, 2011
Movie Reviews

'The Descendants': In Paradise, A Stranger To Himself

Island Son: George Clooney (left, with Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) navigates tricky territory as a Hawaii man whose wife is on life support.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Writer-director Alexander Payne is either the American cinema's most acerbic humanist or its most empathetic jerk. Whichever it is, the protagonists of the novels he adapts are outsiders who pay an emotional price for their sense of superiority.

Payne's The Descendants is his first film to be told from the perspective of a person of privilege, but real-estate lawyer Matt King (George Clooney) is the ultimate outsider: a stranger to his family and his lifelong home, Hawaii.

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12:08pm

Thu November 17, 2011
Movie Interviews

Troubled Tropical Paradise In Payne's 'Descendents'

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 8:04 pm

George Clooney plays an indifferent husband and father to two daughters, including Shailene Woodley, in The Descendants.
Merie Wallace Fox Searchlight

Though he's directed only five feature films, Alexander Payne has built a reputation as one of Hollywood's most respected filmmakers. His movies find comedy in the crises of his flawed protagonists — among them Matthew Broderick as a high school teacher in Election, Jack Nicholson as a widower in About Schmidt and Paul Giamatti as a struggling author and wine snob in Sideways, for which Payne shared an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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10:51am

Thu November 17, 2011
Music Reviews

Miles Davis' Great, Often Bizarre 1967 Quintet

Miles Davis performs at the 1967 Newport Jazz Festival.
New York Daily News Archive Getty Images

Most of the material from Live in Europe 1967 has surfaced before — the set is subtitled The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 — but the Belgian concert that performance comes from makes its debut here. This Miles Davis quintet was consistently amazing, not least on its last big tour, when Davis' trumpet chops were in good shape.

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12:49pm

Wed November 16, 2011
Book Reviews

A Quaint, Compelling 'Pilgrim' Tale In The New World

I'll admit, it's kind of hokey to be talking about a novel called The Pilgrim right before Thanksgiving. What's even more quaint is the fact that The Pilgrim is one of those straightforward works of historical fiction the likes of which we don't see so much anymore.

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4:01pm

Tue November 15, 2011
Television

Filmmaker Woody Allen Gets The 'Masters' Treatment

Woody Allen's career goes under the American Masters microscope on Sunday and Monday.
MGM/Brian Hamill PBS

Woody Allen: A Documentary is the result, though not the culmination, of three very long and distinguished careers.

First, there's Robert Weide, the writer-director whose examination of Allen's life and art follows similar — and similarly impressive — documentaries on the Marx Brothers, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.

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11:06am

Tue November 15, 2011
Music Reviews

The History Of Hillbilly Boogie's Earliest Days

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 11:47 am

Jimmy Bryant.
Sundazed

Boogie-woogie was a piano style that began sometime in the early 20th century — and, by the 1930s, became a huge pop-music fad. Here, rock historian Ed Ward explains how the genre re-emerged in country music after WWII, when it was an important precursor to rock 'n' roll. Most of the tracks in this piece are from Hillbilly Boogie (Proper UK) and Frettin' Fingers: The Lightning Guitar of Jimmy Bryant.

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10:55am

Tue November 15, 2011
Movie Reviews

Astaire, Burns, Allen, In 'Distress' In London Town

Originally published on Tue November 15, 2011 11:59 am

Warner Archives

A Damsel in Distress was the third of only four films on which George Gershwin and his brother Ira collaborated. The star is Fred Astaire, but without Ginger Rogers. Their previous film together, Shall We Dance?, also with an unforgettable Gershwin score, hadn't lived up to studio expectations, and the now-famous stars were taking a break from each other.

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2:12pm

Mon November 14, 2011
Television

Regis Philbin Explains How He 'Got This Way'

Regis Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera.
Yolanda Perez Photography LLC Harper

Regis Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for clocking more hours in front of a television camera than anyone else in the history of television. The game show and talk show host has been a TV presence for more than 50 years on shows like The Joey Bishop Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, America's Got Talent and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

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10:02am

Mon November 14, 2011
Music Reviews

Two South-American Jazz Fusions (No, Not That Kind)

Sao Paulo Underground.
Paulo Borgia

Jazz has always drawn on the syncopated rhythms of Cuban music, and occasionally draws on other new world strains, like Brazilian bossa nova in the 1960s. But that interaction between North and South is ongoing.

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12:06am

Sat November 12, 2011
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Kirsten Dunst, Darrell Hammond

Originally published on Sat November 12, 2011 12:22 pm

Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, whose well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

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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12:10pm

Fri November 11, 2011
Movie Reviews

As The World Ends, A Certain 'Melancholia' Sets In

Kirsten Dunst's well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Metaphors don't come balder than the one at the center of Lars von Trier's Melancholia. It's both the emotional state of the protagonist Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, and also the name of a small planet on what might be a collision course with Earth. Actually, it does strike Earth in a lyrical, eight-minute, slow-motion prelude, but there's no way to know if that's real or a dream. Of course, the whole film can be taken as a dream, a bad but gorgeous one scored to the same few bars of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

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11:50am

Fri November 11, 2011
The Fresh Air Interview

Honoring Veterans With A Military Clarinet Quartet

Originally published on Fri November 11, 2011 12:26 pm

The Bay State Winds feature, from left to right, TSgt. Christy Bailes, SSgt. Matthew Ayala, MSgt. Jennifer Dashnaw and MSgt. Kevin Connors
TSgt Weidemann US Air Force Bands of Liberty

This interview was originally broadcast on September 9, 2011.

The Bay State Winds, the clarinet quartet of the Air Force Band of Liberty, plays music ranging from patriotic songs to Bach to Broadway. The three clarinetists and one bass clarinetist who make up the group routinely play for community members and troops both stateside and overseas.

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11:15am

Thu November 10, 2011
The Fresh Air Interview

Joe Henry: An Eclectic And Raucous 'Reverie'

Joe Henry's new album, Reverie, features all-acoustic performances from his basement.
Epitaph

Over the past two decades, Grammy Award-winning producer Joe Henry has worked with some of the biggest artists in rock, folk, jazz, soul and alt-country.

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10:57am

Thu November 10, 2011
Movie Interviews

Dunst: Expressing Something Blue In Melancholia

Justine's well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Lars von Trier's Melancholia stars Kirsten Dunst as a depressed woman on her wedding day, just before the end of the world. "Melancholia" refers not only to the mood of the film, but to the name of a planet that's now heading for a direct collision course with the planet Earth.

When it looks like Melancholia is going to destroy the planet, everyone around Dunst's character Justine panics. But Justine remains eerily calm, seeming almost revitalized by the knowledge that all life on Earth might end instantaneously.

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11:19am

Wed November 9, 2011
Country

'Four The Record,' Lambert Comes To Terms With Herself

Miranda Lambert
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Four the Record is a transitional collection for Miranda Lambert. Her preceding three albums played up the idea of Miranda as a good ol' gal with an explosive emotional streak. You saw it in titles like "Kerosene," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "Gunpowder and Lead." Four The Record is an album whose subtext is all about coming to terms with the expectations of her audience, and with her expectations for herself as a performer wanting to broaden her subject matter, to work in more varied styles.

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12:24pm

Tue November 8, 2011
Author Interviews

James Wolcott: 'Lucking Out' In 1970s New York

Originally published on Tue November 8, 2011 4:04 pm

Two pedestrians stand on Broadway at West 44th Street in New York's Times Square on a November night in 1976. In his new memoir, critic James Wolcott writes about his life in 1970s New York.
AP

When critic James Wolcott was a college sophomore, he wrote an article about Norman Mailer for his student paper. After the article was published, Wolcott found Mailer's address in a copy of Who's Who and mailed him a copy. Mailer wrote back.

"[He said]: 'When you leave college, I'd be willing to write a letter for you to editor Dan Wolf at The Village Voice," recalls Wolcott.

Wolcott knew he couldn't wait the two years until graduation. He wrote back to Mailer.

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12:01pm

Tue November 8, 2011
Animals

How Dogs Evolved Into 'Our Best Friends'

Dogs today evolved from wolves who first developed a relationship with humans on the hunting trail.
iStockphoto.com

Dogs have aided humans for thousands of years. Man's best friend has provided protection, companionship and hunting assistance since the days of the earliest human settlements.

But how and when dogs evolved from wolves is a matter of debate. Naturalist Mark Derr says there are two main schools of thought: Some researchers believe that humans domesticated wolves who were scrounging around their villages for trash. Others think that humans were taking care of wolves from the time they were puppies — until enough puppies were tamed and they somehow then evolved into dogs.

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3:52pm

Mon November 7, 2011
Book Reviews

Life Without Plot In 'Leaving The Atocha Station'

Ben Lerner's debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station is one of the most compelling books about nothing I've ever read.

Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of this kind of spinning-one's-wheels-in-the-sand fiction. Austen and Dickens and Hammett got to me early and spoiled me: I like plot. But Lerner's offbeat little novel manages to convey what everyday life feels like before we impose the structure of plot on our experience.

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12:16pm

Mon November 7, 2011
Author Interviews

'SNL's' Darrell Hammond Reveals Cutting, Abuse

Darrell Hammond
HarperCollinsPublishers

In 14 years on Saturday Night Live, Darrell Hammond did many impressions, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Sean Connery. Few of his cast members knew that Hammond struggled with drugs, alcohol and self-cutting as the result of childhood abuse.

In his memoir God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F-----: Tales of Stand-Up, 'Saturday Night Live' and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem, Hammond details the systematic brutality he suffered at the hands of his mother, who beat him, stabbed him and tortured him with a hammer and electrical outlet.

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11:56am

Mon November 7, 2011
Author Interviews

How The World's Tallest Skyscrapers Work

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 2:01 pm

Kate Ascher

When the Empire State Building was constructed in 1931, it stood 1,250 feet tall. The famous skyscraper was the world's tallest building — and held that title for more than 40 years.

Today the world's tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It stretches more than 1,000 feet above the Empire State Building — 2,717 feet into the air. The Burj Khalifa smashed the record held by Taiwan's Taipei 101, a landmark skyscraper with 101 floors. And at 1,666-feet, Taipei 101 tops the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur by 183 feet.

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2:19am

Sat November 5, 2011
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: Tom Waits, Bill Nighy

Originally published on Sat November 5, 2011 2:23 am

Tom Waits
James Michin III courtesy of the artist

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

11:36am

Fri November 4, 2011
Music Reviews

Julius Hemphill's 'Dogon A.D.' Still A Revelation 40 Years On

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 3:03 pm

Julius Hemphill's Dogon A.D.
Courtesy of the artist

Julius Hemphill's "Dogon A.D." — the 15-minute piece, and the album that's named for it — was one of the startling jazz recordings of the 1970s, a rethinking of possibilities open to the avant-garde. In the 1960s, free jazz was mostly loud and bashing, until some Chicagoans began playing a more open, quieter improvised music. That inspired St. Louis players like Hemphill, who also had ties to heartland rhythm-and-blues scenes. Hemphill's genius was to combine the Chicagoans' dramatically spare sound with a heavy backbeat. His new urban music smacked of old country blues.

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1:54am

Fri November 4, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Crazy' In Love, And Feeling Every Moment Of It

In Drake Doremus's drama Like Crazy, the lovestruck Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) are forced to separate when Anna violates the terms of her student visa.
Fred Hayes Paramount Vantage

Movies are often about falling in love and sometimes falling out of love, but the best for my money are about falling in and out of love in a way you'd need a higher order of physics to graph. That higher physicist could start with Drake Doremus's drama Like Crazy, which evokes as well as any film I've seen the now loopy, now jagged flow from infatuation to intoxication to addiction to withdrawal to re-addiction. It's not an especially deep or psychological movie. It's just crazy painful.

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12:07pm

Thu November 3, 2011
Music Reviews

Kelly Clarkson's Vocals Keep Getting 'Stronger'

Kelly Clarkson.
Harper Smith

Like a lot of successful American Idol contestants, Kelly Clarkson made her reputation as a belter — as someone who could project to the rafters and rouse a crowd — which doesn't necessarily translate into good pop singing. Ever since Bing Crosby started using the microphone as an instrument for achieving intimacy and nuance, the idea of delivering popular song as operatic aria is a flawed strategy. But everybody loves an anthem, right?

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9:57am

Thu November 3, 2011
Book Reviews

A Critic To Remember: Pauline Kael At The 'Movies'

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 12:16 pm

Pauline Kael was a film critic for The New Yorker from 1967 to 1991, as well as the author of several books, including I Lost It at the Movies and For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies.

AP

To quote the immortal title of her 1965 collection of movie reviews, Pauline Kael may have "lost it at the movies," but she infinitely renewed her wide-eyed wonder as a moviegoer in her essays for The New Yorker magazine. Kael was no virgin as a critic when she started writing for The New Yorker in 1967 — but when she loved a movie, she always wrote like she was being touched for the very first time.

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12:41pm

Wed November 2, 2011
Movie Interviews

Bill Nighy: From 'Love Actually' To 'Page Eight'

In Page Eight, Bill Nighy plays Johnny Worricker, a spy trying to help his neighbor Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) discover how her brother died.

Masterpiece Classic

Bill Nighy shot to international stardom after playing an aging rocker in the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. The part led to roles in the movies Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, Notes on a Scandal, Valkyrie, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Before his film career took off, Nighy acted on the British stage and in television. He returns to the latter in the BBC drama Page Eight, which will be broadcast stateside on PBS on Nov. 6.

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12:30pm

Wed November 2, 2011
Author Interviews

Joan Didion: Crafting An Elegy For Her Daughter

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion contemplated how the rituals of everyday life were fundamentally altered after her husband died suddenly in 2003. The book was published in 2005, just months after Didion's only child, her daughter Quintana Roo, died at age 39.

Didion pieces together her memories of her daughter's life and death in her new book Blue Nights. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that she was unable to start mourning her daughter's death until she started writing again.

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10:54am

Wed November 2, 2011
Space

Exploring 'The Hidden Reality' Of Parallel Worlds

A massive galaxy cluster about 3 billion light years from Earth.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Smithsonian Institution/Flickr

This interview was originally broadcast on January 24, 2011. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws Of the Cosmos is now available in paperback. Greene is also hosting a NOVA series based on his book The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Our universe might be really, really big — but finite. Or it might be infinitely big.

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