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Archive for February, 2010

Would you trust this man with your radio program?

First movie greatness; then starring in TV’s smartest, funniest show; co-hosting the Academy Awards — all culminating in his performance as guest host of Studio 360.

It is the role of Alec Baldwin’s lifetime.

You heard it right.  Kurt Andersen will leave the keys when he goes on vacation, and Alec will take over for the March 26-28 show.

Alec is a longtime Studio 360 listener and fan of public radio.   Recently he began hosting New York Philharmonic This Week.   For his Studio 360 debut, Alec has invited Laura Linney (currently in Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still on Broadway), and writer Mary Karr, whose book Lit: A Memoir was one of the New York Times‘ 10 best books of 2009.

You’ll want to go to there.

– David Krasnow

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This week, Quentin Tarantino stops by Studio 360 to talk about the Academy Award-nominated film “Inglourious Basterds.” Of course, he’s no stranger to the awards circuit — he was nominated for an Oscar for Directing “Pulp Fiction” (1994) and won a little gold man for writing the film’s original screenplay. But he says one of the best perks of the buzz is meeting some of his childhood idols. In this sneak preview of his conservation with Kurt, Tarantino remembers his comic hero at age 5:

from imageshack.us

Despite all his acclaim, Tarantino is still that awestruck kid in the video store.

Kurt’s full interview with Quentin Tarantino airs this weekend:

– Jess Jiang

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Last week’s show about the Lincoln Memorial reminded me of the opportunity I had a few years ago to see Lincoln’s handwritten draft of the Emancipation Proclamation at the New-York Historical Society.

Emancipation Proclamation p. 1

The document is so fragile that it can be displayed only 10 days out of every year. It seems Lincoln wrote the landmark document in pencil on whatever paper he happened to have around his office. The cross-outs and changes are by Secretary of State William H. Seward.

Emancipation Proclamation p. 2

Here is a work with an undeniably huge impact. Though it didn’t actually free any slaves (that couldn’t happen until the Civil War ended), it was a critical precursor. It reminds me of the power of words – and that even penciled noodlings can change the course of history.

– Cary Barbor

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Move over American Idol. Presenting: Studio 360’s American Icons.

Sure, Abraham Lincoln isn’t most people’s idea of a triple threat (though his voice was said to be a reedy tenor). But his memorial in Washington, DC, has staying power. History was made there, and continues to be made there. It was the backdrop for opera singer Marian Anderson’s barrier-defying concert in 1939 and the setting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Last week we explored how the monument became America’s soapbox and guidepost – with the help of Sarah Vowell, David Strathairn, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The Lincoln Memorial is just one episode from Studio 360’s American Icons series. American Icons shows take a work of art – something that’s changed the cultural conversation – and unpack it, often with surprising results. Among these special episodes, Lincoln shares top billing with Superman, Barbie, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, and “The Wizard of Oz.”

One of the defining aspects of an American Icon is that it can both reflect and absorb our interpretations. We all have our own memories and experiences of these works of art. Now we’re at work on our next series, and we’d love to know what you think of the new Icons we’ve chosen  In the fall of 2010 we’ll broadcast episodes exploring The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “I Love Lucy,” Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Do you have particular memories about these works?

Post them below…we’re eager to hear…

– Michael Guerriero

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Bright Star

If pale young couples on the misty heath isn’t your cup of Earl Grey, “Bright Star” will change your mind about British costume dramas. Jane Campion (“The Piano“) wrote and directed this exquisite film based on the heartbreakingly short life of the poet John Keats and his intense romance with Fanny Brawne. Though its only Oscar nod is for costume design, the writing and the raw emotion of the actors will leave you spellbound.

– Michele Siegel

If pale young couples on the misty heath isn’t your cup of Earl Grey, Bright Star will change your mind about British costume dramas. Jane Campion (The Piano) wrote and directed this exquisite film based on the heartbreakingly short life of the poet John Keats and his intense romance with Fanny Brawne. Though its only Oscar nod is for costume design, the writing and the raw emotion of the actors will leave you spellbound.

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In this week’s show, Kurt says that we can find the Lincoln Memorial on the back of any old penny. Well, that old penny is getting a new backside. Last week, the United States Mint released a new one-cent coin, in honor of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. While it still features his head on one side, the memorial will no longer be engraved on the tail.

(courtesy of usmint.gov)

In its place is a union shield — with 13 vertical stripes, representing the states, joined by a bar inscribed with E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” That shield has a special association with Lincoln. An artist commissioned to create work for the U.S. Capitol building during Lincoln’s presidency used the shield in frescoes that still hang on its walls. And the union shield is prominent in some Civil War memorabilia.

Feeling nostalgic for the Lincoln Memorial? Listen to our show about the American icon:

– Jess Jiang

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With the Winter Olympics in full swing, you may have noticed there’s a lot of competition for your attention as well. In between the slaloms and the triple axels, there’s also the slightly shameful attraction of (dare I say it) the advertisements. Take this awesome one from AT&T featuring silver medal-winning snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler:

What struck me was how the tone of this ad differed sharply from the advertisements I watched a couple weeks ago between plays of the Super Bowl. In contrast to Bleiler’s cosmic athleticism, several of the Super Bowl ads depicted emasculated men reclaiming their masculinity in hyper-macho, if not misogynistic, ways. Like this one, for example:

Apparently, that put enough bees in enough bonnets to inspire this retaliatory spoof:

This sort of tit-for-tat is amusing, but something else leaves me unsettled: the retort has women lashing out not just against the advertiser, but against men in general. To me, what starts (in both videos) as a playful battle of the sexes, ends up revealing something vicious and truly disconcerting. This isn’t just about advertisers routinely preying on our insecurities, it’s about stoking fires that lead to discrimination and leave both sides burned.

And even though I may not run out to buy a shiny new AT&T cell phone after seeing Gretchen Bleiler swoop up that half-pipe into outer space, at least the message is true to the real spirit of sport: “Here’s to possibilities.”

– Erin Calabria

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