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DeWanda Wise: She's Gotta Have WHAT!?!

May 3, 2019

After getting in trouble for repeatedly being late to class, a teacher offered DeWanda Wise a choice: head to detention, or audition for the spring musical, The Music Man. Wise said it was his well-meaning push at getting her to do something constructive with her time, instead of wasting it. "He was like, 'I see promise in you,'" she told Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

In the Broadway musical The Prom, a high school PTA decides to cancel the dance rather than allow two girls to attend together. The show's creators, Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin, started writing a musical eight years ago, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. They worried that the show might feel irrelevant by now — but they were wrong. The Prom just received seven Tony nominations, including Best Musical.

It's Free Comic Book Day once again, so here we are, so here you are, and here I am, for I think the 12th time? Here, still yet again, is the drill:

Walk in to a comics shop this Saturday, May 4th, and you'll get some free comics. Many shops across the country celebrate Free Comic Book Day with events — signings, raffles, costume and trivia contests, etc. — so take the kids, and/or the kid you once were.

Here, as every year, are the relevant details:

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played the tall and shaggy Chewbacca the Wookiee in the Star Wars films, has died at the age of 74.

Say you're a filmmaker and you want to make a movie about Ted Bundy, arguably the most notorious serial killer of the 20th century. It's a normal impulse to have. The guy's an irresistible figure to storytellers: pure misogynistic evil who disguised himself for a decade under swashbuckling charm. Sure, maybe it's not the most original idea (again: "most notorious serial killer of the 20th century"), but Bundy existed, he killed somewhere between 30 and 100 young women, and people should remember that. So now, how do you tell them?

There are two fantasies at play in Long Shot, a political rom-com about a scruffy, unemployed journalist and his unlikely relationship with the glamorous Secretary of State who used to be his babysitter. The first is more or less the same formula its star, Seth Rogen, rode to stardom over a decade ago in Knocked Up, in which he played the unfortunate half of a one-night stand that leads to pregnancy and a deeper commitment to a more attractive, responsible, career-oriented woman.

In Non-Fiction, five characters in search of renewed authorship sit around in more or less fetching Paris locales, holding forth on the state of literature and publishing in the digital age. Will e-readers, and online chatter kill the book as we know it? Do texting and tweeting count as writing? Can fiction survive the age of confessional memoir? Who owns the written word anyway?

Before taking an unfortunate detour into international co-production with 2017's The Great Wall, Chinese cinematic maestro Zhang Yimou made a semi-autobiographical film called Coming Home. Although it's set almost two millennia earlier, the director's new Shadow could also bear that title. This time, though, the home that beckons is Chinese culture itself.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

We all know that the world is changing. Fast. But do we know where it is going? Not exactly.

That being the case, how can we control where it is going? And who is the "we" in control? In Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity, the technology futurist, geopolitical expert, past White House fellow, and, like this author, dedicated endurance athlete Jamie Metzl paints a picture that is at once wondrous and terrifying.

Poetry Out Loud Winner: Isabella Callery

May 2, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. In Washington, D.C., a national champion was chosen last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO: And the 2019 national champion of Poetry Out Loud, winner of $20,000, the senior, Isabella Callery from Minnesota.

(APPLAUSE)

Updated at 10:24 p.m. ET

Canada's newest version of its $10 bill, a vertical format note released late last year and featuring a female civil rights activist, has won an international competition for innovative currency.

The Canadian bill featuring the image of Viola Desmond, a Nova Scotia businesswoman and social justice pioneer, was awarded "Bank Note of the Year Award" for 2018 by the International Bank Note Society.

Tuca & Bertie is an adult animation that centers on a brassy, colorful toucan (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) and her neurotic best frien

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Mueller investigation gave us insights into how Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, hid their ill-gotten money with the help of shell companies and real estate, protecting it from the reach of the law, until the investigation. Crooks, oligarchs, kleptocrats and some of the superrich from around the world use this transnational shadow system of shell companies and real estate to stash their money.

The problem with first love is that it's almost always followed quickly by first heartbreak. While it's true that some high-school romances endure for decades, for the most part, today's teenager in love is tomorrow's emotionally destroyed young person. Teenage love is bittersweet, but the bitter has a way of overwhelming the sweet.

The legendary Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard opened before there was a Hollywood sign. For 100 years now, stars, studio heads and writers have settled into the restaurant's red leather banquettes to negotiate, gossip, drink and eat.

Anyone who has dined at Musso's has an opinion about it — and after 100 years, that adds up to a lot of opinions. They include: "It's our favorite place to go for special events," and "We go for the martinis, not the food" and "The food's not bad, especially the chicken pot pie every Thursday."

On Wednesday evening, nine high school students will compete for the title of national champion of Poetry Out Loud, a kind of annual spelling bee for poetry.

Tens of thousands of teens from across the country faced off in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands before they made it to Tuesday's semifinals at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Juliet Escoria's Juliet The Maniac is a powerful mix of biography, exploration of mental illness, and fragments of a nightmare journal of the space between girlhood and womanhood. And while the current buzzword is autofiction, I grew up admiring Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and prefer to call this a nonfiction novel. Some parts could be confused with fiction, when Escoria is writing about hallucinations, but the narrative is full of letters, notes, and even patient logs that make it more of a detailed memoir, spanning two tumultuous years in Escoria's life.

The most immediately useful question I think I can answer about What My Mother and I Don't Talk About is whether you should buy it for your mother for Mother's Day.

After all, it will hit your local bookstore's display at the start of May, just the time of year when you smack your forehead and go, "Ah, shoot, right, Mother's Day." And it seems designed to be eminently giftable — attractively neon colored, not intimidatingly thick, broken into 15 read-in-a-sitting essays.

Editor's note: This story contains poems with curse words.

To celebrate National Poetry Month — which wraps up today — All Things Considered spoke with three poets, Hanif Abdurraqib, Yanyi, and Franny Choi about what inspires them to write, and how they use poetry to express identity.

When New York Times media columnist David Carr died suddenly of previously undiagnosed lung cancer in 2015, he left behind a legacy as a journalist, a mentor and a father.

The 2018-2019 Broadway season hurtled to a close, with 14 plays and musicals opening in March and April, before the Tony Award nominations were announced on Tuesday morning. And some of the late entries into the race were handsomely rewarded.

Drawing comics with characters of diverse races is a fraught task. From the earliest political cartoons up through last year's controversial depiction of Serena Williams by Australian artist Mark Knight, comics have a long history of exaggerating physical features in the service of racist stereotypes.

Among my favorite contemporary authors, Ali Smith leads the parade. I love the brassy blast of her outrage at the world's injustices and the drumbeat of her passion for the arts. This Scottish writer gravitates naturally to outsiders and really understands loss and grief. She takes a genuine interest in old people and what we can learn from them, but also sees hope for the future in smart young people.

Less than two weeks after John Singleton suffered a massive stroke, the trailblazing filmmaker has died in Los Angeles at the age of 51. The director, who made history with 1991's Boyz n the Hood as the youngest person and first African American ever nominated for a best director Oscar, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital after his family took him off life support.

In 2015, a woman named Dee Dee Blanchard was found stabbed to death in the Missouri home she shared with her teenage daughter, Gypsy Rose.

We're recapping the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones; look for these recaps first thing on Monday mornings. Spoilers, of course, abound.

#NPRPoetry Month: Poet Danez Smith

Apr 28, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of a hugely profitable series of films that began with Iron Man in 2008. It makes sense that the opening weekend of the concluding chapter — which also happens to be a very good movie with a 96 percent critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes — would make a lot of money. But if there's a place in box office coverage for "whoa, Nellie" anymore, it is perhaps here. And so let us say: Whoa, Nellie.

Blending an emotional journey with an intoxicating romance, Alexa Martin's Fumbled — the second novel in her Playbook series — scores touchdown after touchdown in a sports romance set against a backfield of tropes (and only a few clichés).

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