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Arts and culture

Marsai Martin is a star.

"I knew that I wanted to act since I was old enough to reason," says Henry Winkler. "I never had a Plan B. I never deviated. I never thought that there was anything else that I could possibly do in this world except to try and be a working actor."

After Winkler graduated with an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama in 1970, one of his earliest roles was as the cool, leather-jacket-wearing Fonz on the classic sitcom Happy Days, which ran from 1974 until 1984.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Welcome to Delmarva Public Radio’s celebration of National Poetry Month featuring “Literary Biographies with Sue Ellen Thompson.” I’m your host Harold Wilson.

A mention of the Secret Service today might conjure up images of unsmiling men and women wearing sunglasses and dark suits, surrounding the president, perhaps discreetly touching their earpieces once in a while.

Or if you're a history buff, your thoughts might turn to 19th-century lawmen hot on the trail of counterfeiters. (Investigating financial crimes is still part of the agency's purview.)

The youngest executive producer working in Hollywood makes her big-screen debut this weekend.

Little is a comedy where a big and powerful tech executive wakes up as a little kid. In the end credits, the movie screen reads: "Introducing Marsai Martin."

Marsai may be new to the big screen, but she needs no introduction to fans of the ABC sitcom Black-ish, in which she's starred since 2014. In fact, she's been acting for almost a decade. She's now 14 years old — "almost 15," she says.

It sounds like propaganda meant to misdirect WWII Germans: a lone foreigner running riot in occupied France, everywhere at once, unrecognizable despite a trademark gait, able to bewitch information out of anyone, single-handedly stirring up resistance — and then vanishing.

The German secret police couldn't even be sure what country she was from. It would be easy to believe the Limping Lady wasn't real.

But she was.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

"When you play the game of thrones," Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) told Ned Stark (Sean Bean) icily — but of course she says everything icily — "you win ... or you die."

Foreshadowing? To say the least. More like fiveshadowing.

There was the preacher who told his followers he could teach them to defy gravity. And another who insisted the sun is actually at the center of the earth. Then there was the Quaker who became delirious, died, and then was said to have come back to life as the reincarnated Jesus Christ.

Last winter, I took my father to the live journalism show Pop-Up Magazine. Neither of us expected to cry, but five minutes into documentarian Erin Lee Carr's beautifully constructed tribute to her late father, the famed New York Times media reporter David Carr, we were sobbing.

Carr wept, too. I left the event deeply moved, and deeply grateful to have my own father there. I expected Carr's memoir, All That You Leave Behind, to elicit the same level of feeling. On the page, however, she is much less successful at getting her emotions across.

The new novel Trust Exercise opens with teenagers attending an elite performing arts high school in the 1980s.

There, the theater kids form heartfelt friendships and relationships, and then sabotage them. Their semi-tyrannical drama teacher both inspires and manipulates them — with his "trust exercises."

Midway through, the book leaps forward in time and perspective. One of the students, Karen, is now an adult, re-thinking her past.

Sixteen parents, including actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, face new charges in the college admissions scandal that has already snared dozens of wealthy individuals. The Justice Department announced Tuesday that a second superseding indictment has charged them with money laundering and conspiring to commit fraud.

Emerge from winter hibernation and get your blood moving with three young adult novels featuring girls who realize they must take a stand against unjust establishments, regardless of the personal cost.

In 1943, a German university student named Sophie Scholl was executed for distributing pamphlets that criticized the Nazi regime. White Rose, named for the resistance group that Sophie belonged to, tells the story of how Sophie went from being a carefree member of the League of German Girls to a brave rebel who was willing to give up her life to undermine the Nazis.

Book groups, meet your next selection. Trust Exercise, Susan Choi's powerful fifth novel, will give you plenty to talk about. At 257 pages, it's not a major time commitment, but be warned that it is impossible to discuss this book meaningfully if everyone hasn't read the whole thing. It's also tricky to review, as it derives so much of its impact from audacious narrative twists that I don't want to risk spoiling.

If you ask Aisha Dee to describe her show The Bold Type, she says it's like drinking a glass of rosé while reading a Cosmo. It's "real world" but it's also "wish fulfillment," she says.

Dee, Katie Stevens and Meghann Fahy star as Kat, Jane and Sutton — three best friends living in New York and working together at Scarlet magazine, a fictional outlet inspired by Cosmopolitan. The Freeform comedy series begins its third season Tuesday night.

If you could bottle the keen curiosity the new FX series Fosse/Verdon has about the details of both Bob Fosse's genius and his destructive, dishonest, sexually harassing, emotionally abusive behavior, you would perhaps have a little bit of curiosity to spare to make up for the project's limited interest in what it all meant for Gwen Verdon and countless other women he treated like hot garbage.

Conan O'Brien once memorably described Robert Caro's sweeping series of biographies about Lyndon Baines Johnson as Harry Potter for adults. But perhaps the better comparison is the nonfiction version of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice And Fire.

It's over.

After four seasons and 157(!) original songs, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend came to an end Friday night, with a supremely satisfying finale that felt both surprising and inevitable, which is precisely the needle that finales need to thread. (And how about that concert special? With the surprise reveal of Michael Hyatt — the show's MVP recurring cast member — at the end? I may have whooped.)

Last updated at 7:02 p.m. ET on April 28, 2019.

For the past few years, NPR has celebrated National Poetry Month by turning to the talents of our audience — your haikus, limericks, odes ... the list goes on.

Earlier this month, All Things Considered once again called on listeners to tweet their original poems to us in 140 characters or less by using #NPRPoetry. Our favorites will be featured both on-air and online.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Before she was a novelist (and occasional NPR contributor), Arkady Martine was a Byzantine historian and an apprentice city planner — and that expertise is on display in her new book A Memory Called Empire. It's the story of an ambassador from a small, independent space station on the edge of a huge, devouring galactic empire, who arrives in the imperial capital and is almost immediately launched on a wild ride of intrigue, courtly manners, poetry and plotting.

"We're your oldest friend, your ancient enemy ..." warn the chorus of Namwali Serpell's lush speculative novel The Old Drift.

Can you guess who they are? "We're perfectly matched ..." they say. "We're both useless, ubiquitous species. But while you all rule the earth and destroy it for kicks, we linger and loaf, unsung heroes. We've been around here as long as you have — for eons before, say the fossils."

It was the morning after the election of America's first black president, and Kwame Onwuachi was hungover. He'd been partying all night. He was dealing drugs to survive after he dropped out of college. He was, he says, lost.

But when he saw President Obama, something clicked. "I thought, I can do anything. And I immediately flushed everything that I had down the toilet and was like, I need to find myself," Onwuachi recalls.

This is a story about something that didn't happen. A movie that was never made. It was supposed to be a collaboration between the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and the Marx Brothers.

The astronaut alone in their capsule. The explorer stranded far from home. The one who wakes to the flickering light and failing systems of their underground bunker. The lonely survivor in a ruined world — Last Man Alive.

The recent discovery of mummified cats in a well-preserved tomb probably shouldn't be surprising. It's a long-established fact that ancient Egyptians loved cats.

What's perhaps more remarkable, however, is the fact that a tomb unveiled on Friday contained a sort of mummified menagerie of 50 animals — and there were mummified mice and falcons in addition to the cats.

The Canadian writer Miriam Toews opens her astonishing eighth novel, Women Talking, with a matter-of-fact Author's Note. Between 2005 and 2009, she explains, eight men in a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia raped many of the girls and women in their community, first rendering them unconscious with cow anesthetic. Women Talking is "both a reaction through fiction to these true-life events, and an act of female imagination." It is also a work of deep moral intelligence, a master class in ethics beautifully dressed as a novel.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Ann Beattie has been hailed as the voice of her generation, but she's never taken that distinction too seriously. Beattie's short stories began appearing in The New Yorker in the 1970s. In her latest book, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck, the voice of the boomer generation focuses on a new generation — the Millennials.

Beattie has published more than 20 books over the course of her career, both novels and short story collections. She says short stories come more easily to her. Novels, she admits, are "endlessly fascinating," but more of a struggle.

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