Fresh Air

Weekdays from 3pm to 4pm and repeated at 10pm
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Fresh Air is the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues from NPR hosted by Terry Gross. 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."

Now 43 years old, Jay-Z has become the Jay Gatsby of hip-hop: a man with a checkered background playing host to endless parties, celebrating excellence, the good life and himself. It's no wonder that he was asked to oversee the music for director Baz Luhrmann's amusement park ride version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's romantic fantasy.

On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. It's aimed at making health insurance more affordable and reducing the overall costs of health care.

Some parts of the law have already gone into effect: Insurers can't impose lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays; children can stay on their parents' plan until they're 26; children with pre-existing conditions can't be denied coverage; and all new insurance plans must cover preventive care and medical screenings.

When novelist Kate Christensen was just a toddler, she witnessed her father beating her mother. It was a scene that would haunt Christensen for decades.

And so it's with a description of that morning that she chooses to begin her memoir Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites. The book that unfolds is an examination of the reverberations of her father's violence in her life, and a meditation on how her love of food helped her cope.

As a child, she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, she refused to identify with her mother in the scenario.

We like to think that if we eat our recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, we're doing right by our bodies. Think again, says health writer Jo Robinson.

In her new book, Eating on the Wild Side, Robinson argues that our prehistoric ancestors picked and gathered wild plants that were in many ways far more healthful than the stuff we buy today at farmers' markets.

Portland, Ore. tenor saxophonist Rich Halley's quartet album Crossing the Passes on his Pine Eagle label commemorates a week-long trek over the Wallowa mountain range in Northeast Oregon, where Halley's been climbing since he was a boy. We could talk about his dual obsessions with music and nature as cultivating a love of wide-open improvisational spaces; he's got one band that only plays outdoors. But all that climbing also has practical benefits: It builds lung-power.

When Alfredo Corchado went to cover Mexico for The Dallas Morning News, he was determined not to focus on drugs and crime but rather to cover issues critical to the country's future — immigration, education and the economy.

The FX version of the Scandinavian series The Bridge, like the Showtime version of the Israeli TV series that inspired Homeland, is a major revamp as well as a crucial relocation. With Homeland, the focus became American politics and home-soil terrorism. In The Bridge, premiering July 10, the setting is changed to the U.S.-Mexico border. This allows executive producer Meredith Stiehm, a writer-producer from Homeland, to deal with everything that relocation provides — including the white-hot issues of immigration reform and border security.

In the new Showtime series Ray Donovan, Liev Schreiber stars in the title role as a man who knows how to handle a crisis. It's Donovan's job to clean up the messes of Hollywood's rich and powerful while trying to keep his own personal problems under wraps.

A TV series is something of a new turn for Schreiber, who's been acting onstage and in movies for two decades. But playing complicated characters is something he's earned a reputation for, with roles in films like Defiance and The Manchurian Candidate.

One major source of pleasure in the music Eleanor Friedberger makes as half of The Fiery Furnaces is a matter of sheer density — the density of The Fiery Furnaces' musical ideas, the thick layers of words, lyrics that operate as dense sounds with meaning to be extracted from them.

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:

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 16, 2013.

In December, the actor Dustin Hoffman sat in a box seat at the Kennedy Center as his old friend, Robert De Niro, saluted him at a celebration marking one of the highest accolades for an artist in the United States: a Kennedy Center Honor.

This interview was originally broadcast on March 28, 2013.

We're at the point when Johnny Depp's dumbest whims can lead to movies costing $200 million. I imagine Depp lying in a hammock on his private island and saying, "I've always wanted to play Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows!" and it's done. Then he says, "I've always wanted to do The Lone Ranger — but as Tonto!" and it, too, gets the green light.

When Mad Men premiered in July 2007, the character of Peggy Olson was introduced to audiences as Don Draper's naive young secretary. In the seasons that have followed, Peggy has slowly become a talented copywriter and Don's protege, meanwhile trying constantly to create a place for herself in the male-dominated world of advertising. Her development has been a centerpiece of the series.

Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy, says she has learned about the character and her growth episode by episode, script by script, just like those of us who watch the show on television.

It's been a while since I've heard a distinctive new American voice in mystery fiction: That Girl With the Dragon Tattoo dame seems to have put our homegrown hard-boiled detectives in the deep freeze. The mystery news of the past few years has chiefly come out of the Land of the Midnight Sun, dominated by the late Stieg Larsson and fellow Swedes Camilla Lackberg and Hakan Nesser, as well as Norwegians Anne Holt, Karin Fossum and Jo Nesbo.

Mozart's The Magic Flute, the last opera he lived to complete, has some of his most sublime and sublimely comic music. Technically, it's more of a musical comedy, what in German is called a Singspiel, a play with songs and spoken dialogue. I was excited to learn that it was filmed by Kenneth Branagh, whose Shakespeare movies I really admire. Mozart's mixture of fairy tale and high morality presents a great opportunity for a filmmaker; in 1975, Ingmar Bergman released a version for Swedish television that has become a beloved classic.

Children's-book writer Maurice Sendak learned a lot from author and artist Tomi Ungerer. In Far Out Isn't Far Enough, a new documentary about Ungerer, Sendak says, "I learned to be braver than I was. I think that's why [Where The Wild Things Are] was partly Tomi — his energy, his spirit.

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:

For at least as long as there have been Fall Preview issues of TV Guide, there's been a sense of optimistic excitement about the start of new television series. But more recently, producers of long-running TV shows have injected excitement into the ends of their programs' life spans as well. By announcing, in advance, that a show is going into its final season, no matter what, it ups the emotional ante on what to expect — and, with a finite end in sight, what might happen.

This interview was originally broadcast on April 11, 2012.

Carole King initially found it extremely difficult to navigate the social hierarchies of high school. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter was a few years younger than her fellow classmates and was often dismissed as being "cute."

The decade of the 1980s — when major corporations made their presence more felt in Hollywood — was for all kinds of reasons a low point in American moviegoing. But two beacons abroad, Pedro Almodovar and Neil Jordan, reminded us with movies like Law of Desire, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Mona Lisa how films could be personal and still reach a large (or large-ish) audience.

Thirty years later, we have Almodovar's I'm So Excited and Jordan's Byzantium — and these directors are still shining a light.

When the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was growing up in Nigeria she was not used to being identified by the color of her skin. That changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn.

Until 1977, Lyme disease was almost unknown. But in the decades since a Yale rheumatologist first described an unusual cluster of arthritis cases in Lyme, Conn., the disease has become the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the country. Acute symptoms of Lyme disease commonly include a bull's-eye rash followed by flu-like symptoms.

At the keys, Duke Ellington abstracted from stride piano, which modernized ragtime. Ellington's own spare percussive style then refracted through Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor, as well as a generation of freewheeling pianists active in Europe, like Aki Takase. Her new solo piano album is My Ellington, on which she plays some stride bass herself, as in "In a Mellow Tone."

One of Amy Schumer's comedy routines begins with the declaration, "I'm a little sluttier than the average bear. I really am."

Degrees of sluttiness may be hard to define, but Schumer does talk frankly about many subjects — including sex — that can be uncomfortable for people, both in her stand-up act and on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, which was recently renewed for a second season.

We live in a world filled with crimes, but most of them don't have much to tell us. They're cases of mere stupidity, cruelty or greed. But every now and then one comes along that invites larger thoughts about the culture.

About 25 years ago, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter were students in a Philadelphia high school and they wanted to impress a girl. So they formed a band ... which would go on to become the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop band The Roots. Questlove, the drummer for The Roots, says that for him, a musical future was preordained. As he recounts in a new memoir, Mo' Meta Blues, his father, Lee Andrews — a member of the successful 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts — groomed Questlove for show business from an early age.

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:

"This is just metadata. There is no content involved." That was how Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended the NSA's blanket surveillance of Americans' phone records and Internet activity. Before those revelations, not many people had heard of metadata, the term librarians and programmers use for the data that describes a particular document or record it's linked to.

Pages