Fresh Air on WLRN

Monday - Thursday at 12:00pm
Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

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Author Interviews
1:38 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

In 'Passage', Caro Mines LBJ's Changing Political Roles

Vice President Spiro Agnew (right) and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the stands at the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969.
NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 3:39 pm

For the past 37 years, Robert Caro has devoted his life to writing the definitive biography of Lyndon Johnson. So far, The Years of Lyndon Johnson has four acclaimed volumes and has shown readers just how complex the 36th president was, as both a politician and a man.

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Music Reviews
12:59 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Bing Crosby: From The Vaults, Surprising Breadth

A batch of reissues and archival releases from Bing Crosby's own vaults is getting a high-profile relaunch. Above, Crosby circa 1956.
Courtesy of Universal Music

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 3:27 pm

Bing Crosby was the biggest thing in pop singing in the 1930s, a star on radio and in the movies. He remained a top star in the '40s, when Frank Sinatra began giving him competition.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:03 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Messud, Volk And Scorsese

Animated as ever when it comes to the topic of film, director Martin Scorsese delivers the 2013 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at the Kennedy Center on April 1.
NIcholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 11:12 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:

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Interviews
12:12 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Jenna Fischer: Keeping It Real At 'The Office'

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 2:37 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on June 3, 2008.

For nearly a decade, Jenna Fischer has played Pam, one of The Office's most recognizably real characters.

If you've ever worked in a clerical position in an alienating office, you'll relate to what Pam goes through. In this interview, Fischer tells Terry Gross about creating all those pained looks and knowing smiles — and about how her five years as an office temp helped to prepare her for the role.

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Interviews
12:12 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

The 'Real Life' Of Actor Steve Carell

Steve Carell spent six years as Dunder Mifflin boss Michael Scott on NBC's The Office before departing the show in 2011.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 2:37 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 24, 2007.

By the end of The-40-Year-Old Virgin, the title character had lost his virginity — and actor Steve Carell had become a star.

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Interviews
12:12 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Rainn Wilson: 'The Office' Drone Outside Of Work

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 2:37 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on July 30, 2008.

While his Office character always took himself seriously, actor Rainn Wilson seems to be all about the laughs. For the entirety of the series, Wilson has played beet-farming, archery-loving middle-management kook Dwight Schrute on the NBC hit television series.

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Author Interviews
1:51 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

'The Woman Upstairs': A Saga Of Anger And Thwarted Ambition

Picture of an old attic
Minas Panagiotakis iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 2:59 pm

"How angry am I? You don't want to know. Nobody wants to know." Those are the opening lines of Claire Messud's new novel, The Woman Upstairs. The novel is about a single woman, Nora, who hasn't fulfilled her dreams of being an artist and having children. Nora's plight is complicated when she befriends a woman who has done both.

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Television
1:29 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

In A Cluster Of New Sitcoms, 'Family Tree' Stands Tall

In the new HBO series Family Tree, Chris O'Dowd (above left, with the series' writer-director-producer Christopher Guest) stars as a guy who has just lost his job and girlfriend and fills the void by looking into his family genealogy.
HBO

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 2:29 pm

Christopher Guest, co-creator with Jim Piddock of the new HBO comedy series Family Tree, obviously is having a good time making this show — and it's contagious. It's several shows in one, and every element is a self-assured little delight.

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Remembrances
12:20 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Remembering Monster-Maker Ray Harryhausen

Medusa from 1981's Clash of the Titans is among legendary animator Ray Harryhausen's many creations.
Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 2:19 pm

Ray Harryhausen, who died Tuesday in London at age 92, became fascinated with animation after seeing King Kong in 1933. He went on to create some of the most memorable monsters of old Hollywood, from dinosaurs to mythological creatures.

His monsters, however, were never completely divorced from the real world.

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Economy
2:33 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Nearly Three Years After Dodd-Frank, Reforms Happen Slowly

loveguli iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 3:06 pm

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank bill. Reporter Gary Rivlin says "the passage of Dodd-Frank was something of a miracle." But to the chief lobbyist for the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group that represents 100 of the country's largest financial institutions, it was just "halftime."

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Movie Reviews
11:30 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Natalie Maines: A Country-Music Rebel Rocks On Her Own

Natalie Maines, former singer for the Dixie Chicks, placed the group at the center of controversy in 2003, when she publicly criticized George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
Danny Clinch Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 3:06 pm

Natalie Maines doesn't hesitate to make audacious moves, and wresting away "Mother" — Roger Waters' hymn to oppressive maternal authority figures from Pink Floyd — is the biggest one on her first solo album. Maines takes the "Mother" from Pink Floyd's The Wall and deconstructs it, emotional brick by emotional brick.

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Author Interviews
2:33 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

'Shocked': Patricia Volk's Memoir About Beauty And Its Beholders

Patricia Volk is an essayist, novelist and memoirist. She recounts her experiences growing up in a restaurant-owning family in New York City, in her memoir Stuffed.
Random House

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 3:18 pm

Patricia Volk's mother was beautiful in a way that stopped people on the street. Strangers compared her to Lana Turner and Grace Kelly. She was stylish and vain: Her beauty and its preservation mattered to her. "She had an icy blond beauty, an imperious kind of beauty," Volk tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Movies
1:20 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Scorsese Talks 'The Language of Cinema'

Animated as ever when it comes to the topic of film, director Martin Scorsese delivers the 2013 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at the Kennedy Center on April 1.
NIcholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 2:34 pm

Martin Scorsese is a legend of a director — and he's also a great film teacher, a man who balances a passion for the medium with a deep knowledge of its history. Delivering this year's installment of the National Endowment for the Humanities' prestigious Jefferson Lecture — a talk he titled "Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema" — Scorsese demonstrated his speaking chops as well.

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Television
1:54 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Linney Mines 'The Big C' For Serious Laughs

Laura Linney and Alan Alda star in The Big C, now in its fourth season on Showtime. Linney took on the role not long before her own father died of cancer.
Showtime

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:20 pm

From a young age, Laura Linney knew what she wanted to do with her life: act. There was no question.

She was a drama nerd in high school, and went onto Juilliard to study theater. But film acting was never the dream, and movie stardom definitely wasn't the goal.

"I was always completely intimidated by film," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "I was not the sort of person who grew up thinking, 'Oh, I want to be in the movies.' I loved movies; I just didn't think I particularly belonged there."

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Book Reviews
12:56 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Godwin's 'Flora': A Tale Of Remorse That Creeps Under Your Skin

Gail Godwin, whose latest novel is Flora, has been a finalist for the National Book Award and a Guggenheim fellow.
David Hermon Bloomsbury Press

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:20 pm

Gail Godwin says one of the inspirations for her new novel, called Flora, is Henry James' ghost story The Turn of the Screw. Both stories take place in isolated old houses, and both revolve around mental contests between a governess character and her young charge. There are ghosts in Flora, too: specters that arise out of what our narrator calls her "remorse." Godwin had me at that word, "remorse": It's such a great, old-fashioned word, and it suggests that there'll be a lot of awful things going on in this novel that will need to be atoned for.

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