Dr. Homer Venters spent nine years overseeing the care of thousands of inmates on New York City's Rikers Island. He details horrific cases of inmate deaths from beatings and neglect, and how a new medical record system could be used as a human rights tool. "Jail settings [are] incredibly dehumanizing, and they dehumanize the individuals who pass through them," Dr. Venters says. Security staff and health staff can stop seeing inmates as people. "They look at them as problems. They look at them as...more
'Saturday Night Live' cast member Aidy Bryant mourns the time she lost in her teens and early 20s feeling self-conscious about her weight and living in fear of judgment about her body. "The second I stopped being afraid of someone calling me fat, I was able to start to focus on my goals and my dreams," Bryant says. Now she stars in the Hulu series 'Shrill,' based on Lindy West's memoir about being fat and feminist. The series follows Annie, a journalist struggling with body acceptance. Bryant ta...more
Hal Blaine, one of the most prolific drummers in rock 'n' roll history, played on recordings with the Beach Boys, Elvis, Sinatra and many others. He died Monday at age 90. Blaine was part of the group of sought-after studio musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew." He spoke with Terry Gross in 2001. Chef Lidia Bastianich grew up eating farm-to-table meals with her Italian family. After they fled Europe as refugees, she drew on those meals in opening her first restaurant. Her 2018 book, 'My Americ...more
'Saturday Night Live' cast member Aidy Bryant mourns the time she lost in her teens and early 20s feeling self-conscious about her weight and living in fear of judgment about her body. She recalls counting calories, trying diets and hating everything about her body. "The second I stopped being afraid of someone calling me fat, I was able to start to focus on my goals and my dreams," Bryant says. Now she stars in the Hulu series 'Shrill,' based on Lindy West's memoir about being fat and feminist....more
How could an ER visit in which a patient receives nothing more than a Band-Aid cost $629? Sarah Kliff, a health policy reporter for 'Vox,' spent over a year reading ER bills and investigating the reasons behind the high costs. Emergency rooms have a facility fee, which can range from the low hundreds to the high thousands, where the patient pays essentially for just walking through the door. Kliff will also talk about the GOP's latest attempts to cut back Obamacare, and what a Medicare-for-all p...more
David McCraw, deputy general counsel for 'The New York Times,' talks about legal issues he's faced on the job — from the president's lawyer threatening to sue for libel to the decision to publish WikiLeaks documents and #MeToo allegations. His book is 'Truth in Our Times.'Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album 'Take the Neon Lights' from Steph Richards' quartet.
Barbara Brown Taylor, an ordained Episcopal priest, left her job as rector of a church to become a professor of religion. Her new book, 'Holy Envy,' is about how teaching the religions of the world changed her understanding of her own faith, and how her students, who were mostly Christian, responded when she took them to mosques, synagogues, and Buddhist and Hindu temples. "I hoped it would be a way to convince them that they could find things they liked about other traditions, and it would not ...more
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's new film, 'Never Look Away,' tells the story of an artist who grows up in Nazi Germany, comes of age in East Germany and travels to the West to find freedom for himself and his art. Jane Mayer's explosive new 'New Yorker' article reveals that Fox News killed the Stormy Daniels story in 2016 before the election to protect Donald Trump, and that President Trump tried to order the Justice Department to file a lawsuit to stop AT&T from acquiring Time Warner — a dea...more
We mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mario Puzo's novel 'The Godfather' by listening back to our '96 interview with Puzo and our '16 interview with director Francis Ford Coppola, who adapted the novel into the iconic film. Film critic Justin Chang reviews the new 'Captain Marvel,' starring Brie Larson.
Past administrations have had favored members of the press, says 'New Yorker' investigative reporter Jane Mayer, "but nothing where someone is so close in that they are coordinating on a daily basis with the president." Mayer's explosive new report reveals that Fox News killed the Stormy Daniels story in 2016 before the election to protect Donald Trump, and that President Trump tried to order the Justice Department to file a lawsuit to stop AT&T from acquiring Time Warner — a deal that would hur...more
The film 'Never Look Away' is about a painter who is first exposed to modern art as child growing up in Nazi Germany. His aunt takes him to an exhibit of modern art curated by Nazis, meant to show what degenerate art looks like — the kind of art the Nazis banned. By the time the boy becomes an art student, Russian communists have taken over East Germany where he lives, and all art is expected to be propaganda, showing images of happy working people. Later, he flees to West Germany and attends ...more
Journalist Alex Kotlowitz spent a summer in Chicago chronicling people whose lives were changed or lost due to gun violence. He likens the trauma of living with gun violence to the PTSD some veterans experience. "Once you've had one act of violence around you it's hard to escape it, and so I just wanted to get at how the violence gets in people's bones," he says. His book is 'An American Summer.' Also, Ken Tucker reviews Maren Morris' new album 'Girl.'
Pediatrician Thomas Boyce has treated children who seem to be completely unflappable and unfazed by their surroundings — as well as those who are extremely sensitive to their environments. Over the years, he began to liken these two types of children to two very different flowers: dandelions and orchids. He talks about his research and gives advice on how to parent "orchid children." Boyce's book is 'The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive.' Also, book cri...more
Pamela Adlon directs, co-writes and stars in the FX comedy series 'Better Things,' which begins its third season on Thursday. The show centers on a single working mother of three daughters who is also trying to help her elderly mother and keep her acting career alive. Adlon tells Terry Gross about her decision to continue making 'Better Things' after cutting ties with series co-creator Louis C.K.TV critic David Bianculli reviews the HBO documentary 'Leaving Neverland,' which explores whether Mic...more
"Dance numbers are anything but spontaneous," Donen told Fresh Air in 1996. Donen, who died Feb. 21, also directed 'On the Town,' 'Funny Face' and 'Damn Yankees,' among other films.Also, we remember 'Philadelphia Daily News' obituary writer Jim Nicholson, who died on Feb. 22, by listening back to a 1987 interview. Plus, 'Philadelphia Inquirer' journalist David Gambacorta reflects on the legendary obit writer with Dave Davies.TV critic David Bianculli reviews the HBO documentary 'Leaving Neverlan...more
According to journalist Mattathias Schwartz, a major part of Pompeo's job is traveling the world and cleaning up the president's messes. Schwartz writes about Pompeo in the 'New York Times Magazine.' He says Pompeo was the primary architect of Trump's negotiations with North Korea about its nuclear arsenal—talks which just collapsed.And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from Allison Miller's band Boom Tic Boom. Critic Justin Chang reviews the German film 'Transit,' about a man who ...more
Mary Pipher's new book, 'Women Rowing North,' chronicles the positive aspects of transitioning from middle age to old age: "At this life stage, women start granting themselves the power of no," she says. Jennifer Stockburger runs the "Test Track" for Consumer Reports, where the magazine tests out hundreds of cars, trucks and SUVs. She says there are more than 50 tests that drive each vehicle's rating. She spoke with 'Fresh Air' contributor Sonari Glinton. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan revie...more
Adlon directs, co-writes and stars in the FX comedy series 'Better Things,' which begins its third season on Thursday. The show centers on a single working mother of three daughters who is also trying to help her elderly mother and keep her acting career alive. "It's an exaggerated version of my life," Adlon says. Adlon also tells Terry Gross about her decision to continue making 'Better Things' after cutting ties with series co-creator Louis C.K.
Filmmaker Yoruba Richen's documentary, 'The Green Book: Guide to Freedom,' tells the story of the manual, first published in 1936, that helped African-Americans find safe places to stay, eat, shop and do business on the road. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews two Ray Charles albums of country music that have just been re-issued. And John Powers reviews a debut novel titled 'American Spy.'
R. Kelly was charged on Friday with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims. In an interview recorded Wednesday, Feb. 13, activist, filmmaker and writer dream hampton tells Terry Gross about her six-part docuseries 'Surviving R. Kelly,' which chronicles sexual abuse allegations against R. Kelly. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 1960s live recordings featuring singer Jeanne Lee and pianist Ran Blake. Finally, former 'MythBusters' co-host Adam Savage spoke wi...more
"No one can sing like Freddie Mercury," Malek told Terry Gross in November 2018. The actor has been nominated for an Academy Award for playing Queen's lead singer in the biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Also, filmmaker Adam McKay spoke to Terry Gross in January 2019 about his efforts to bring former vice president Dick Cheney "to the foreground" in 'Vice.' The film is up for eight Academy Awards.
Two of the people under investigation by Robert Mueller — Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi — are conspiracy theorists who believe the deep state is trying to take over America. 'New Yorker' staff writer Jeffrey Toobin tells Terry Gross how Stone and Corsi came together to support Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, and why they matter to the Mueller investigation. "If there was contact between the Trump campaign, or even Trump himself, and WikiLeaks, it went through Corsi and Stone,"...more
Last week, reports surfaced of a new videotape showing singer R. Kelly engaging in sex acts with an underage girl. This is not the first time the R&B star has been accused of sexual abuse. Allegations have circled Kelly for decades; in 2002, a videotape surfaced that purportedly showed him engaging in sexual acts with a teenage girl. Until recently, the accusations did not seem to impact his career. But activist, filmmaker and writer dream hampton isn't about to let Kelly off the hook. hampton e...more
McCabe served as acting director of the FBI after President Trump fired James Comey in the spring of 2017. McCabe felt that there was enough circumstantial evidence to open criminal and counterintelligence investigations into the president's ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice. "These were extraordinary steps. They were ones that we took only after great consideration and review," he says. In March of 2018, McCabe was fired 26 hours before he was set to retire. He talks with Terr...more
American presidents like to describe the United States as a force for freedom and independence in the world. Historian Daniel Immerwahr says there are also plenty of times in our history when we've subjugated and ruled foreign lands, sometimes with bloody conquests. Today, roughly 4 million people live in the American territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Immerwahr's new book, 'How to Hide an Empire,' looks at the history of and forces behind US terr...more
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