The new BBC documentary series 'Dynasties' follows five groups of animals for up to two years, revealing their social relationships: kinship, affection, and sometimes deadly power struggles. The show's executive producer Michael Gunton talks about filming lions, tigers, painted wolves, emperor penguins, and chimpanzees. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews new albums by guitarists Steve Gunn and Michael Chapman.Growing up, Judith Grisel struggled with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Now, as a neurosc...more
Filmmaker Spike Lee is nominated for best director for 'BlackKkKlansman.' He spoke with Terry Gross about growing up in Brooklyn, gentrification, and how he got started in film. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the Amazon documentary series 'Lorena,' about Lorena Bobbitt, who made headlines in 1993 when she cut off her husband's penis. 'First Reformed,' which Paul Schrader wrote and directed, is up for an Oscar for best screenplay. Ethan Hawke stars as a divorced minister experiencing a crisis ...more
'Dynasties,' a new BBC documentary series narrated by David Attenborough, is about the complex social structures of five different groups of animals. The show's executive producer Michael Gunton talks about the power struggles among animals that played out over years of filming. "One of the essential elements of the series is that you feel close to the animals," Gunton says.
'Atlantic' journalist Franklin Foer says American real estate (including Trump Organization properties) has become a "giant magnet" for Russia's kleptocratic fortunes. Foer also talks about the Mueller investigation and Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, who will be sentenced next month on charges of witness tampering and conspiracy relating to money laundering scheme. His article about Manafort, 'American Hustler,' is nominated for a National Magazine Award.
Growing up, Judith Grisel struggled with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Now, as a neuroscientist, she's working to understand the biological basis of addiction. Her new book is 'Never Enough.' Grisel talks about how various drugs affect the brain, and her own experience with addiction. Grisel has been clean and sober for 30 years. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews two new albums by guitarists Steve Gunn and Michael Chapman.
From sports drinks to protein powders, compression therapy to cupping, there's a whole industry of products and services designed to help us adapt to and recover from exercise. But does any of it work? That's the question health journalist Christie Aschwanden set out to answer in her new book, 'Good to Go.' Also, former 'MythBusters' co-host Adam Savage spoke with 'Fresh Air' about working with kids in 'MythBusters Jr.' and a near-death experience he had in a car underwater.
Before states ran legal lotteries there was the underground street version — the numbers. When writer Bridgett M. Davis was growing up in Detroit in the '60s, her mother was a successful bookie in the African-American community. She says the numbers helped fund both an underground economy and legitimate businesses at a time when opportunities for African-Americans were limited. Davis' memoir is 'The World According to Fannie Davis.'Critic John Powers reviews the films 'Everybody Knows' and 'Cold...more
Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen spoke to 'Fresh Air' in November 2018 about 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,' a Western that often subverts the expectations of the genre. The film is up for three Academy Awards.Frank Robinson, who died Thursday, was the first player to win both the American and National League MVP award. He later became the first black manager of a major league team. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1988. Critic John Powers reviews the films 'Cold War' and 'Everybody Knows.'
Schmidt was one of the 'Times' reporters who reported in January that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation in 2017 into whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia against American interests. "I knew that it was significant," he says, yet, "It's hard to be surprised." Schmidt talks about working with anonymous sources, Trump's use of confusion as a possible tactic, and what to expect from Mueller's final report. Also, critic Ken Tucker shares hip-hop singles by 21 Sa...more
The new documentary 'The Human Element' follows photographer James Balog as he captures images of rising sea levels, melting glaciers and roaring wildfires associated with climate change. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the essay collection 'Black is the Body' by Emily Bernard.
Dreyer is the copy chief for Random House. He talks with Terry Gross about collaborating with authors, passive voice, and gender neutral pronouns. His new book is 'Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.' But, he says, "the last thing that I want to do is pass myself off as some sort of ferocious gatekeeper." Judy Garland's daughter Lorna Luft talks about what her mother went through while making the 1954 film 'A Star is Born.' The movie was produced by Sid Luft, who was...more
Before states ran legal lotteries there was the underground street version — the numbers. When writer Bridgett M. Davis was growing up in Detroit in the '60s, her mother was a successful bookie in the African American community. She says the numbers helped fund both an underground economy and legitimate businesses at a time when opportunities for African-Americans were limited. "Numbers men were also race men, and they believed in taking their largesse and reinvesting it in the community, starti...more
Film composer Nicholas Britell says when he's writing a score, he wants the audience to lose themselves in the film. "Music can have so much power, but you have to be careful with that power." Britell's score for 'If Beale Street Could Talk' is nominated for an Academy Award. He also did the score for 'Vice.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a recording of Oscar Peterson's 1969 album 'Motions & Emotions.'Sigrid Nunez's National Book Award-winning novel, 'The Friend,' is narrated by a wo...more
Nashville singer-songwriter Margo Price sold her car and pawned her wedding ring to pay for the studio time to make her first album, 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter.' The album was a success. She spoke with Terry Gross in 2017 when her second album, 'All American Made,' came out, and played songs about jail, drinking, and growing up on the family farm. Price is up for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Also, we remember character actor Dick Miller, who died this week at 90. "You don't have to be a l...more
'New York Times' reporter David Sanger says the world's leading producer of telecom equipment, China's Huawei, will be central to the spread of a global 5G network — which could pose a major threat to U.S. national security.Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a recording of Oscar Peterson's 1969 album 'Motions & Emotions.'
Composer Nicholas Britell says when he's writing a score, he wants the audience to lose themselves in the film. "Music can have so much power, but you have to be careful with that power." He talks with Terry Gross about finding the right sound for a movie and experimenting with "chopped and screwed" music for 'Moonlight.' Britell's score for 'If Beale Street Could Talk' is nominated for an Academy Award. He also did the score for 'Vice.' Also, John Powers reviews the Netflix series 'Black Earth ...more
Stephanie Land's new memoir is about her struggle to make ends meet as a single mom while cleaning houses and relying on government assistance. Land, who left an abusive relationship and was homeless, talks about how she got out of poverty, went back to school and pursued writing. Also, Ken Tucker reviews Sharon Van Etten's new album 'Remind Me Tomorrow.'
Will Hunt is fascinated with the world below us: "Every manhole, every doorway, every stairway going down into the dark [feels] like a potential portal into this like separate world." His book about exploring sewers, subway tunnels, and other hidden places around the world is 'Underground.'Also, we remember pianist and composer Michel Legrand who died Saturday. He won Oscar Awards for his compositions in 'Yentl,' 'Summer of '42' and 'The Thomas Crown Affair.' Legrand spoke with Terry Gross in 19...more
Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor started the podcast 'Ear Hustle' when Woods was a prisoner in San Quentin. Woods' sentence was recently commuted, but the two continue to tell stories of life in prison.Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews two new interpretations of Thelonious Monk's complete works.As the host of the PBS TV series 'Finding Your Roots,' Henry Louis Gates Jr. tells celebrities about their family history. Terry Gross asked Gates about his own roots.
In 2018, Roy Wood Jr. explained how the years he spent performing in comedy clubs in the South and Midwest — sometimes in places where he felt unsafe as a black man — prepared him for 'The Daily Show.' Wood has a new Comedy Central special called 'No One Loves You.' Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the reissue of Eric Dolphy's 1963 'Musical Prophet' sessions. Actor Alan Alda is the recipient of the 2019 lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1997...more
Sigrid Nunez's National Book Award-winning novel, 'The Friend,' is narrated by a woman grieving the suicide of her longtime friend and former writing professor, whom she slept with once. Nunez talks about how the subjects of the book relate to her own life. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'The Kid Who Would Be King,' a fantasy movie based on the legend of King Arthur.
Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor started the podcast 'Ear Hustle' when Woods was a prisoner in San Quentin. Woods' sentence was recently commuted, but the two continue to tell stories of life in prison.
After being accused of being a spy, 'Washington Post' Tehran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian was held in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for two and a half years. Throughout it all, he never considered giving up on writing and reporting. He talked to Terry Gross about his imprisonment and release. His memoir is 'Prisoner.'
As the host of the PBS TV series 'Finding Your Roots,' Gates tells celebrities about their family history. Terry Gross asked Gates about his own roots, and some of the more controversial aspects of DNA testing.Also, journalist Brian Palmer has written recently about taxpayer funding for confederate monuments, and groups that portray the confederate cause as noble and slavery as a benign institution. His article for 'Smithsonian Magazine' is called 'The Costs of the Confederacy.'
Richard Nixon's first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 amidst charges of bribery and tax evasion. Now, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and producer Mike Yarvitz revisit the Agnew scandal in the hit podcast 'Bag Man.' "The parallels with what was going on in the Nixon and Agnew administration 45 years ago to the efforts by the Trump administration right now ... is uncanny," Maddow says.Justin Chang reviews 'Glass,' a film by M. Night Shyamalan. By his own count, John C. Reilly has acted in ...more
Growing up in rural Idaho, Tara Westover had no birth certificate, never saw a doctor and didn't go to school. Her deeply religious parents stockpiled food and weapons for a government invasion or the end of the world. In her memoir, 'Educated,' Westover writes about how she defied her parents, and made her way to college and graduate school.Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Glass' directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Journalist Jon Ward talks about the chaos that led Ted Kennedy to challenge Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980 — and the long-lasting damage it did to the party. Ward's new book is 'Camelot's End.'Also, critic John Powers reviews 'Brexit,' an HBO movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
For many years, U.S. immigration favored immigrants from northern Europe. NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten explains how a 1965 law changed things — and led to the current debate about border security. His book is 'A Nation of Nations.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews two new interpretations of Thelonious Monk's complete works.
By his own count, Reilly has acted in almost 80 movies, including 'Boogie Nights,' 'Chicago,' 'Talladega Nights' and 'Walk Hard.' Now, he's co-starring with Steve Coogan as half of the iconic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in 'Stan & Ollie.' Reilly talks about the extreme prosthetic makeup and bodysuit he wore for the role, physical comedy, and bonding with Joaquin Phoenix while filming 'The Sisters Brothers.' Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Ghost Wall,' a slim and eerie novel by Sarah ...more
Dr. Joshua Mezrich has performed hundreds of kidney, liver and pancreas transplants. He tells us about transplants that have gone gone wrong, talking to the families of donors, and how the definition of death has changed over time. His new book of stories from the operating room is 'When Death Becomes Life.'Also, Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new recording of 'Doctor Atomic,' an opera about the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico.
Kevin Hart said he's "over" talking about the homophobic jokes that cost him the Oscars gig — but then he and Terry Gross talked about it anyway. "The bad part about being a comedian is that sometimes you just aren't funny," he says. "Sometimes to grow as a comedian you got to go through the stupid part." Ben Stiller directed the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' which dramatizes the true story of two murderers' escape from a maximum security prison in 2015. "It seemed like such an old-fash...more
Critic David Bianculli offers an appreciation of the influential HBO drama. Plus, we listen back to archival interviews with series creator David Chase and Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano. Also, contributor Soraya Nadia McDonald reviews the new season of True Detective, starring Mahershala Ali.
Kevin Hart said he's "over" talking about the homophobic jokes that cost him the Oscars gig — but then he and Terry Gross talked about it anyway. They discussed his upbringing in North Philly, how comedy is changing, and the fine line between edgy and offensive material. "The bad part about being a comedian is that sometimes you just aren't funny," he says. "Sometimes to grow as a comedian you got to go through the stupid part." Hart's new movie is 'The Upside.'
Richard Nixon's first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 amidst charges of bribery and tax evasion. Now, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and producer Mike Yarvitz revisit the Agnew scandal in the hit podcast 'Bag Man.' "The parallels with what was going on in the Nixon and Agnew administration 45 years ago to the efforts by the Trump administration right now ... is uncanny," Maddow says.
Stiller directed the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' which dramatizes the true story of two murderers' escape from a maximum security prison in 2015. "It seemed like such an old-fashioned sort of escape, and I thought, 'Wow, how can that happen in today's prison system?'" he says. Stiller talks about filming in a prison, interviewing one of the real prisoners who escaped, and also his recurring role on 'SNL' as Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen.
After a traumatic childbirth injury left her unable to walk, sit, or hold her newborn, longtime radio producer Hillary Frank started a podcast to feel less alone with her experience. 'The Longest Shortest Time' is about the surprises and absurdities of parenting. Frank, whose new book is 'Weird Parenting Wins,' talks about her birth experience and the special misogyny reserved for mothers.Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Water Cure,' a debut dystopian feminist novel by Sophie Mack...more
Adam McKay, who wrote and directed 'The Big Short' about the 2008 financial collapse, has a new comedy that draws on investigative journalism. 'Vice' charts Dick Cheney's rise from Yale dropout to vice president and "operator" behind George W. Bush. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a recording of Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' by Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.Autonomous vehicles could be the "most disruptive technology to hit society worldwide since the advent of the motor car...more
Oz, who died Dec. 28, co-founded Peace Now, a group that calls for negotiations with the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state. He was one of Israel's most popular and critically acclaimed writers. He spoke to Fresh Air in 1988, 1991 and 2004. Also, critic John Powers reviews 'Destroyer,' a noir thriller starring Nicole Kidman.
McKay, who wrote and directed 'The Big Short' about the 2008 financial collapse, has a new comedy that draws on investigative journalism. 'Vice' charts Dick Cheney's rise from Yale dropout to vice president and "operator" behind George W. Bush. "He's always kind of just been in the background. So I had to bring him to the foreground," McKay says. 'Vice' is nominated for six Golden Globes. Also, linguist Geoff Nunberg explains a communication breakdown at the Mexican border between border agents ...more
Former federal public defender Alexandra Natapoff says 13 million misdemeanors are filed each year in the U.S., trapping the innocent, punishing the poor and making society more unequal. Her book is 'Punishment Without Crime.' Also, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a recording of Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' by Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.
Malek sang at the top of his lungs while playing Queen's iconic lead singer in the new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Still, he says, "No one can sing like Freddie Mercury." Malek spoke with Terry Gross about recreating the 1985 Live Aid concert, learning to move like Mercury, and wearing prosthetic teeth. He also talks about playing a withdrawn and socially anxious hacker in the thriller series 'Mr.Robot,' and how he got started in acting. Malek is nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG award for ...more
Batiste, the music director for 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,' sits at the piano and demonstrates his "everything in the pot" style of playing. He tells Terry Gross about his influences — from Thelonious Monk to Bach. Batiste's latest album is 'Hollywood Africans.'
Raphael Bob-Waksberg's animated comedy series for Netflix satirizes Hollywood using a mix of human and animal characters. "Part of the original pitch was like, 'What's Mr. Ed like behind the scenes?'" BoJack (a horse) is a depressed, alcoholic, sexist former sitcom star in the #MeToo era.Also, rock critic Ken Tucker and film critic Justin Chang share their favorite music and movies of the year.
British singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl) uses music to explore feminist themes. She sings about the different stages of women's lives on her recent solo album, 'Record.'
The former YouTube star explores coming of age online in his film 'Eighth Grade.' "This awful D-list celebrity pressure I had experienced onstage has now been democratized," Burnham says. He talks about living with anxiety, being embarrassed by some of his early material, and why he wrote a film about a 13-year-old girl. Elsie Fisher, who plays Kayla in the film, is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Also, Kevin Whitehead remembers jazz musicians we lost this year.
Pollan, author of 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' and 'The Botany of Desire,' talks about his most recent book, 'How to Change Your Mind.' It covers the history of psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms, and how they're now being used experimentally in therapeutic settings to treat depression, addiction, and fear of death. Pollan also talks about experimenting with psychedelics. "I had an experience that was by turns frightening and ecstatic and weird," he says.
McPherson never thought he'd make a Christmas album. Then, he says, "I got a bug in my ear." He and his band perform live in studio from 'Socks,' and McPherson talks about growing up on a cattle farm.
Todd Purdum's book, 'Something Wonderful,' is about the creative partnership and strained personal relationship behind such hit shows as 'Oklahoma!,' 'Carousel,' 'South Pacific' and 'The Sound of Music.'
Emily Blunt stars as the practical and fantastical nanny in 'Mary Poppins Returns.' She spoke with Terry Gross about floating in the sky as Poppins, playing the baker's wife in the 2014 screen adaptation of Sondheim's 'Into the Woods,' and overcoming a debilitating stutter when she was young. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews two Christmas albums — one by The Monkees and one by Rodney Crowell.Actor Lucas Hedges is best known for his roles in 'Manchester by the Sea' and 'Lady Bird,' and now s...more
Wainwright's music centers on family, and how we hurt and heal each other. He spoke to Terry Gross in 1992 and 2017 about his life as a husband, father, son, philanderer and musician. He has a Netflix special called 'Surviving Twin.' Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.'