Fresh Air

Monday through Thursday at Noon, and Monday through Friday at 7pm on WMRA
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

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

I'm obsessed with tales of obsession. Chances are, you are too, judging by the unflagging popularity of true crime stories presented in podcasts, documentaries, movies and books.

What sets Ellen McGarrahan's just-published true crime book, Two Truths and a Lie, above so many others I've read is the moral gravity of her presence on the page and the hollow-voiced lyricism of her writing style.

National Book Award-winning author Tim O'Brien is best known for his stories about the Vietnam War, including the 1990 novel, The Things They Carried. But he says he'd give up every book he's written if it meant more time on earth with his two young sons.

Now 74, O'Brien didn't become a father until his late 50s. He says he was initially worried that having children would curtail his ability to write.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, was passed in 2010. Since then, there have been many unsuccessful attempts by Republicans to kill it. The left has been pushing to have the government insure everyone directly through what's described as "Medicare for All." Now this debate is happening during a pandemic, when health care is at the forefront of people's minds.

The history of film is inseparable from immigration. Newcomers to America didn't merely pack the nickelodeons and movie palaces, they invented Hollywood.

British actor Sacha Baron Cohen is known for creating absurd characters and then bringing them into the real world — and interacting with people who have no idea the characters aren't real.

Nearly 20 years ago he created the character of Borat Sagdiyev, a dimwitted, anti-Semitic, sexist TV journalist from Kazakhstan. The 2006 film Borat aimed to expose American bigotry, xenophobia and sexism, as the title character's unwitting scene partners reveal their true beliefs.

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:

Chloé Zhao's amazing new movie, Nomadland, begins with an elegy for Empire, Nev., one of those old-fashioned company towns that thrived during America's post-World War II manufacturing boom. But in 2011, in the wake of a devastating global recession, the local gypsum mine shut down and Empire became a ghost town, displacing hundreds of residents in the process.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Investigators are still trying to answer some key questions about the January 6 assault on the Capitol, like exactly who stormed the building that day? And what motivated them to be there? An NPR team has been analyzing the more than 200 cases the Justice Department has brought so far. The defendants include military men, extremists and hardcore Trump supporters. One thing they had in common - they were nearly all men. As Dina Temple-Raston of NPR's Investigations team explains, experts say gender likely played an outsized role in the way the day played out.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Investigators are still trying to answer some key questions about the January 6 assault on the Capitol, like exactly who stormed the building that day? And what motivated them to be there? An NPR team has been analyzing the more than 200 cases the Justice Department has brought so far. The defendants include military men, extremists and hardcore Trump supporters. One thing they had in common - they were nearly all men. As Dina Temple-Raston of NPR's Investigations team explains, experts say gender likely played an outsized role in the way the day played out.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many American families without child care and in-person schooling. Those new household burdens have largely landed on the shoulders of women, says Journalist Claire Cain Miller.

Pop culture has a genius for transforming painful history into enjoyable entertainment. It can turn Nazi POW camps into the sitcom Hogan's Heroes. It can spin the murder of Israeli athletes into the thriller Munich. It can use the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa to kickstart the superhero saga Watchmen.

Law professor and human rights activist Rosa Brooks wanted to better understand police violence and the racial disparities in America's criminal justice system, so she decided to join the police force as a volunteer.

As a reserve officer with the Washington, D.C. police department, Brooks received the same training as officers at the police academy and was sent on patrol like other police. From 2016 until 2020, she carried a badge and a gun and worked a minimum of 24 hours a month — all on a voluntary basis.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Spike Lee has spent the last four decades making movies that force America to confront its history. His latest film, Da 5 Bloods, released last year on Netflix, centers on veterans who served in the Vietnam war. In the initial screenplay, the majority of the characters where white, but Lee and cowriter Kevin Willmott purposefully rewrote them as Black soldiers.

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:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STOP! IN THE NAME OF LOVE")

THE SUPREMES: (Singing) Stop in the name of love.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Christopher Plummer, the prolific actor of stage and screen, best known for playing Captain von Trapp in "The Sound Of Music," died Friday at his home in Connecticut. He was 91. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Plummer appeared in more than a hundred films and earned widespread acclaim as a Shakespearean actor.

There have been many strong documentaries over the years about the history of the Black Panther Party, but Judas and the Black Messiah is the first major Hollywood drama I've seen that puts the organization and its activism front and center.

When it comes to fame, actor Rashida Jones has seen it all. Growing up in Hollywood as the daughter of superstar music producer Quincy Jones and Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton, Jones watched as some people rose to success — and others seemed to fade away.

In her own household, Jones' mother felt uncomfortable with her quick rise to fame at such a young age and became more introverted, while her father continued to become more famous.

In December 2020, a U.S. cybersecurity company announced it had recently uncovered a massive cyber breach. The hack dates back to March 2020, and possibly even earlier, when an adversary, believed to be Russia, hacked into the computer networks of U.S.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in today for Terry Gross.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

The year is probably too young to make this kind of pronouncement, but the new novel I know I'm going to be rereading in the coming months and spending a lot of time thinking about is Vendela Vida's We Run the Tides. It's a tough and exquisite sliver of a short novel whose world I want to remain lost in — and at the same time am relieved to have outgrown.

In 2014, Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, was killed on a sidewalk in Staten Island, N.Y., when a male police officer put him in a chokehold during a misdemeanor arrest.

Filmmaker Deirdre Fishel, who was working just a few blocks away, remembers asking a female police officer if what had happened to Garner could have happened on her watch. The officer said no — that a female officer would have been more likely to deescalate the situation.

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:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WISHIN' AND HOPIN'")

While it remains to be seen what this year's COVID-19-impacted Academy Awards ceremony will look like, my guess is that there will be an Oscar winner for best international feature, the category that until recently was known as best foreign-language film. I haven't come close to seeing the 93 films that have been accepted — a record for the Academy — but I'm happy to recommend two of them, both dramatic thrillers that demonstrate the power and persistence of love.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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