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48 minutes | May 21, 2022
Best Of: George Floyd's Life / The Queer History Of A Women's Prison
We remember George Floyd as we approach the second anniversary of his murder. We'll speak with Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa. They argue that George Floyd's struggles in life reflect the challenges and pressures of institutional racism in the country. Their new book is His Name is George Floyd. Also, we'll hear about the Women's House of Detention, the forgotten women's prison in Greenwich Village that played a role in the gay rights movement of the '60s, including the Stonewall Uprising. Angela Davis and Afeni Shakur, Tupac's mother, were incarcerated there. We'll talk with Hugh Ryan, whose new book is about what this prison tells us about queer history. David Bianculli will review the new HBO documentary George Carlin's American Dream.
46 minutes | May 20, 2022
Carlin was one of the most famous comics to emerge from the '60s counterculture. After it was broadcast on radio, his comic monologue Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Television became the focus of an obscenity case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Carlin is the subject of a new two-part HBO documentary by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio. Carlin spoke with Terry Gross in 1990 and 2004. Our TV critic, David Bianculli also reviews the documentary. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the reissue of Max Roach's classic 1960 album We Insist! Freedom Now Suite. Last month, it was named to the National Recording Registry.
45 minutes | May 19, 2022
Political Discord In The White Evangelical Church
New York Times journalist Ruth Graham says many pastors are being pressured to resist vaccines and mask mandates, embrace Trump's claims about election fraud and adopt QANON-based conspiracy theories. Maureen Corrigan shares four terrific novels perfect for your early summer reading: This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub, Search by Michelle Huneven, One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips, and Knock Off the Hat by Richard Stevenson.
45 minutes | May 18, 2022
How Systemic Racism Shaped George Floyd's Life
As we approach the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, two journalists report on the life of the man whose death sparked a massive protest movement and a national conversation about race. Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa drew on hundreds of interviews and countless public and private records to reconstruct the course of Floyd's often-troubled life. A gentle man who sometimes worried that his size intimidated people, George Floyd grew up in poverty, and had big aspirations. But the authors argue his opportunities were limited time and again by the effects of systemic racism. Their new book is His Name Is George Floyd: One Man's Life, and the Struggle for Racial Justice.
45 minutes | May 17, 2022
Frank Bruni On Vision Lost & Found
After experiencing a rare kind of stroke, NYT writer Frank Bruni suddenly became blind in his right eye. Doctors told him there was a decent chance the same could happen to his other eye. It forced him to make a decision: He could focus on what had been lost or on what remained. He chose the latter. Bruni's new memoir is The Beauty of Dusk.
45 minutes | May 16, 2022
The Queer History Of The Women's House Of Detention
In New York City, in the 20th century, tens of thousands of women and transmasculine people were incarcerated at the so-called "House of D." Author Hugh Ryan says that in many cases, the prisoners were charged with crimes related to gender non-conforming behavior. "Drunkenness, waywardism, disobedience to their parents, being out at night by themselves, wearing pants, accepting a date from a man, accepting a ride from a man," Ryan says. "All of these things could have gotten you arrested if you were perceived as the 'wrong kind of woman.'" In his new book, The Women's House of Detention, Ryan writes about the prison, and about the role it played in the gay rights movement of the '60s, including the Stonewall Uprising of 1969.
49 minutes | May 14, 2022
Best Of: Rosie Perez / Stephen Merchant
Rosie Perez was a dancer on Soul Train, the choreographer for "the Fly Girls," the dancers on the sketch comedy show In Living Color, and she did the now-famous dance in the opening credit sequence of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. She's now co-starring in the HBO max series The Flight Attendant. We'll talk about her career and how she managed to become so successful after having been raised as a ward of the state in St. Joseph's Catholic Home for Children in New York, and later in foster care. Maureen Corrigan reviews Hernan Diaz's new novel, Trust. Also, we speak with comedian, writer, director and actor Stephen Merchant. With Ricky Gervais, he co-created the British comedy The Office. He has a new comedy thriller series called The Outlaws.
46 minutes | May 13, 2022
Met Opera Star Anthony Roth Costanzo
A decade ago, Costanzo had surgery that threatened to destroy his singing voice. Now he stars as a gender-fluid Egyptian pharaoh in the Met Opera's production of Philip Glass' Akhnaten. He's a countertenor, meaning he sings in a high range that's associated with women's voices. He knows all about the history of countertenors and their predecessors, castrati. Justin Chang reviews the new film Memoria, starring Tilda Swinton, which he calls a "sonic detective story."
46 minutes | May 12, 2022
How Tucker Carlson Conquered Cable
The New York Times did an exhaustive survey of the Fox News hosts' broadcasts. Reporter Nicholas Confessore says Carlson's show is based on ideas that were once "caged in a dark corner of American life." Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Trust by Hernan Diaz.
46 minutes | May 11, 2022
Former Attorney General Eric Holder
Holder was America's first Black attorney general when he served in the Obama administration. He has a new book called Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote.
45 minutes | May 10, 2022
British Comedy Writer & Actor Stephen Merchant
Merchant co-created the British Office and Extras with Ricky Gervais. His new show, The Outlaws, is about people court-ordered to do community service for low-level crimes. He spoke with producer Sam Briger about what inspired the new series, his best writing advice, and how being very tall (6'7") has informed his personality. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from The Clarinet Trio.
46 minutes | May 9, 2022
Raised in a convent for abandoned kids, The Flight Attendant co-star used to dream of stability and a loving home. Now that she has it, Perez says, "It's priceless." We talk with Perez about overcoming the trauma of her childhood, how a fight with Spike Lee helped land her breakthrough role in Do the Right Thing, and her brief — but impactful — time dancing on Soul Train.
49 minutes | May 7, 2022
Best Of: Alexander Skarsgård / Comedy Writer Jessi Klein
Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård describes himself as "quite a mellow guy." Playing a Viking warrior in the film The Northman gave Skarsgård a chance to tap into his animalistic nature. We talk about being a child actor in Sweden, growing up in a bohemian family, and his roles in Big Little Lies and Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" music video. Ken Tucker reviews Bonnie Raitt's new album, Just Like That... Jessi Klein was the head writer of Inside Amy Schumer and is one of the lead voices in the animated Netflix series Big Mouth. She has a new book of essays about motherhood called I'll Show Myself Out. Klein talks about how having a baby made her feel like a stranger in her own body and life. "There's just no way to comprehend how completely your old identity vanishes," Klein says.
45 minutes | May 6, 2022
'Better Things' Star Pamela Adlon
Adlon is the co-creator, director and star of the FX comedy series Better Things, which ended its fifth and final season last month. The Peabody award-winning series has been heralded as a "masterpiece of unreal realism." Her character, like Adlon herself, is the single mother of three girls, who is also helping her aging mother, and trying to keep her acting career alive. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Justin Chang reviews the French film Happening.
44 minutes | May 5, 2022
How The UK Became A Safe-Deposit Box For Russian Oligarchs
We talk with journalist Oliver Bullough about how Russian oligarchs have stashed their wealth and laundered their money in Britain, and how that's helped Putin – and the Russian state – launch its war in Ukraine. There's so much oligarch money in London, it's been nicknamed "Londongrad." Bullough says the UK has developed a system of bankers, lawyers, accountants and PR managers who work to help Russian kleptocrats hide their wealth.
45 minutes | May 4, 2022
The Swedish actor describes himself as "quite a mellow guy." Playing a Viking warrior in the film The Northman gave Skarsgård a chance to tap into his animalistic nature. We talk about being a child actor in Sweden, growing up in a bohemian family, and his roles in Big Little Lies, Succession, and Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" music video. Also, John Powers reviews HBO Max's new drama series The Staircase, inspired by the true crime story and documentary series about the 2001 suspicious death of Kathleen Peterson.
46 minutes | May 3, 2022
How GOP Leaders (Briefly) Turned Against Trump After Jan. 6
In their book, This Will Not Pass, NYT journalists Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns reveal that GOP leaders, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell privately discussed removing Trump from office.
45 minutes | May 2, 2022
Stopping Mass Shootings Before They Happen
Mother Jones national affairs editor Mark Follman has studied mass shootings in America for much of the past decade. He says a growing number of mental health experts, educators and law enforcement leaders are engaged in the emerging field of behavioral threat assessment. They study the psychology and behavior of past mass shooters, interviewing many in prison. They then train local personnel to look for those patterns at schools or workplaces, and intervene to get troubled people help before they turn to violence. The approach raises privacy questions, but its advocates believe it's already been effective in preventing tragedies. Follman's new book is Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America. Ken Tucker reviews Bonnie Raitt's new album, Just Like That...
48 minutes | Apr 30, 2022
Best Of: Tim McGraw / Zain Asher
Country music singers McGraw and Faith Hill star in the Paramount+ series 1883. The show tells the story of a group of Eastern European immigrants trying to make their way in covered wagons from Texas to Oregon. We talk with McGraw about the series and learning about his birth father, MLB pitcher Tug McGraw. When CNN international anchor Zain Asher was 5, her father died in a car accident in Nigeria. Asher's new memoir, Where the Children Take Us, is largely about her mother's remarkable life – surviving poverty, genocide and civil war in Nigeria, then raising four children in a struggling neighborhood in London, and giving them the skills, resilience and determination to be successful in life.
46 minutes | Apr 29, 2022
The Wonder of the Human Voice
We talk with 'New Yorker' writer John Colapinto, author of This Is the Voice, about how voices work, how they evolved in our prehistoric ancestors, how babies learn to vocalize words of their parents' languages so quickly, and what makes voices sexy or authoritative. Colapinto's own vocal injury led him to explore this subject. Film critic Justin Chang reviews Petite Maman, a new film by Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma.
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