Fresh Air

Monday-Thursday at 7pm
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

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

The third time might be the charm for some things, but the number three after a movie title is typically shorthand for a deal with the devil.

The studio thinks there's more money to be squeezed from a particular property, and voila: Spider-Man 3, Superman III, The Godfather — God help us — Part III. OK, The Godfather's a special case. Most other threes, though, are what happens when a too-thin plot meets a too-fat budget.

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 7, 2013.

A garment factory that manufactures products for international clothing companies collapsed outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, last month, killing more than 400 workers and injuring scores of others. It came on the heels of a fire at another factory in November 2012; that incident killed 112 workers.

Factories like these in Bangladesh pump out what author Elizabeth Cline calls "fast fashion," or clothes made on the cheap by big chains such as H&M, Zara, Esprit, Lee, Wrangler, Nike, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart.

If reality TV has a redeeming value, it's that it teaches you to be suspicious of claims that you're seeing real people doing real things. This is especially so in an age when memoirs bristle with made-up events, and everyone from the Kardashians to the Obamas orchestrate their media coverage. These days, it's hard to tell whether an article, book or TV show is showing you the real person or only a performance.

Twenty years ago, when brain imaging made it possible for researchers to study the minds of violent criminals and compare them to the brain imaging of "normal" people, a whole new field of research — neurocriminology — opened up.

Adrian Raine was the first person to conduct a brain imaging study on murderers and has since continued to study the brains of violent criminals and psychopaths. His research has convinced him that while there is a social and environmental element to violent behavior, there's another side of the coin, and that side is biology.

Studios are putting most of their eggs in $100 million baskets these days, even as American independent filmmakers go hungry from lack of mainstream attention. But two of my favorite American indie writer-directors, Jeff Nichols and Ramin Bahrani, have new films with bigger stars than they've had before — films they hope will break through to wider audiences. The results, at least artistically, are impressive.

C.J. Chivers: On The Ground In Syria

Apr 30, 2013

New York Times reporter C.J. Chivers, has spent much of the past year with the rebels in Syria, and has written poignantly about the impact of the fighting on the lives of ordinary Syrians and its devastating impact on that ancient land. Before becoming a journalist Chivers was a Marine and his knowledge of the military sometimes leads him to stories that only an insider would see.

When Marc Maron started his podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in September 2009, he was in a dark place: He was going through a divorce, his comedy career had hit a wall and — in his mid-40s — he didn't have a Plan B.

"I was at a place in my life where I had gotten very cynical," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I had lost a lot of hope for my comedy and everything else, and I really feel that I was no longer able to really appreciate other people's stories. I had lost my ability to really kind of listen and enjoy the company of other people."

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:

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The great country singer George Jones died today. He was 81. We're going to listen back to an excerpt of the interview I recorded with him.

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 17, 2012.

If a good voice is genetic, it's likely Barbra Streisand got hers from her mother. Streisand's mother was too shy to ever perform professionally, but she had a lyric soprano and would sing at bar mitzvahs in their Brooklyn neighborhood when Streisand was a girl.

Mass shootings, bus crashes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks — we've gotten adept at talking about these things. Act of God or act of man, they're all horrific. At least that was the word you kept hearing from politicians and newscasters describing the Boston bombings and the explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas.

Matthew Weiner On 'Mad Men' And Meaning

Apr 25, 2013

The sixth season of AMC's Mad Men, which premiered April 7, jumps forward in time a few months from where the fifth season concluded. The first episode of the season comes to a close on New Year's Day 1968. That date was designed to set the tone for the entire season.

That year, says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, is, "as far as I can tell, in the top two or three worst years in U.S. history."

David Sedaris writes personal stories, funny tales about his life growing up in a Greek family outside of Raleigh, N.C., about working as an elf in Santa's workshop at Christmastime, and about living abroad with his longtime partner, Hugh.

Equilateral is a weird little novel, but any reader familiar with Ken Kalfus expects his writing to go off-road. Kalfus wrote one of the best and certainly the least sentimental novels about New York City post-9/11. I loved A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, but I stopped assigning it to students in my New York lit class because they were usually turned off by its black humor and lack of uplift. Equilateral doesn't run that same risk of being in bad taste as social commentary because, at first, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with current events.

Rectify, a new drama series from the Sundance Channel, wants to stand out from the pack — and it certainly succeeds at that. It's a six-hour limited series, more along the British model of TV than ours here in the States. If these first six installments catch on enough, the story will continue. If not, that's it.

And Rectify is so unusual a show, with its own deliberate pace and premise and approach, that it may not build enough viewership to keep going. But that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile show, or a memorable one — because it is.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again

Apr 23, 2013

Matthew McConaughey earned early attention as a sensitive actor with his turn in the 1996 legal drama A Time to Kill -- but since then he has mostly made a career with leading-man roles in romantic comedies like How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days, Failure to Launch and The Wedding Planner.

He calls these "tomorrow roles," and he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he appreciates them for what they are: parts he could land one day and walk on set to film the next day.

Pages