Fresh Air

M-Th 7p
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

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

Fresh Air's Terry Gross
Credit Will Ryan

Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions.

The Farewell opens with five cheeky words: "based on an actual lie." This funny, melancholy ensemble drama was inspired by an experience that the writer-director Lulu Wang and her family went through years ago, when they were told that Wang's grandmother was terminally ill. They decided to keep her in the dark about her diagnosis, hoping to spare her unnecessary fear and anxiety — an extreme decision, perhaps, but one that the movie suggests is hardly unheard of among Chinese families.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: If you know the show "Fiddler On The Roof," this music will sound familiar. But these lyrics won't.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing in Yiddish).

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Supreme Court handed down two decisions at the end of their session last month that could have a big impact on the outcome of elections in the States. The court ruled it had no power to intervene when states use partisan gerrymandering to draw maps for electoral districts, saying it was an issue for state legislatures and state courts. And in a related case, the court ruled that the Trump administration could not add a citizenship question to the census.

Jessup Collins wants out. The main character of Alexi Zentner's tough new novel, Copperhead, Jessup is a 17-year-old high school football star with a decent shot at getting a college scholarship. That scholarship is essential because Jessup, his mom and his kid sister live paycheck-to-paycheck in a trailer on the outskirts of an upstate New York town that sounds a lot like Ithaca.

In 2015, Travis Rieder, a medical bioethicist with Johns Hopkins University's Berman Institute of Bioethics, was involved in a motorcycle accident that crushed his left foot. In the months that followed, he underwent six different surgeries as doctors struggled first to save his foot and then to reconstruct it.

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:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Our guest is Willie Nelson, who at age 86, has a summer tour and a new album. We'll listen back to two of Terry's conversations with Willie Nelson, but let's start with our rock critic Ken Tucker and his review of Willie Nelson's new album. It's called "Ride Me Back Home," and Ken says Nelson sounds vigorous and upbeat on an album about aging and the passage of time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME ON TIME")

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. On this July Fourth, we're going to play back one of our favorite recent interviews, which also got a big response from listeners. It's the interview I recorded in May with Lizzo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EXACTLY HOW I FEEL")

LIZZO: (Singing) That's exactly how I feel. That's exactly how I feel. That's exactly how I feel. I woke up this morning...

In the viscerally unnerving films of Ari Aster, there's nothing more horrific than the reality of human grief. His haunted-house thriller, Hereditary, followed a family rocked by traumas so devastating that the eventual scenes of devil-worshipping naked boogeymen almost came as a relief. Aster's new movie, Midsommar, doesn't pack quite as terrifying a knockout punch, but it casts its own weirdly hypnotic spell.

Sarah Jessica Parker has spent much of her acting career exploring what it means to be in a relationship — and to be single. In the HBO series Sex and the City, which ran from 1998 until 2004, she played Carrie Bradshaw, a single writer chronicling her experiences with the Manhattan dating scene. Now, in the HBO comedy series, Divorce, she stars as Frances, a mother of two navigating the dissolution of her marriage.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. In the days following the 1986 explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, a military officer working to manage the response from an abandoned hotel nearby noticed a mysterious black carpet in the empty dining hall. When he got closer, he realized it was not a carpet; it was thousands of flies, alive but immobilized by the radiation in the air. That's one of the details you'll find in the book "Midnight In Chernobyl" by our guest, journalist Adam Higginbotham.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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:

On June 30, the Showtime network launches a new TV miniseries called The Loudest Voice. Based on the Gabriel Sherman book The Loudest Voice in the Room, it's a seven-part drama about the television triumphs and controversies of Roger Ailes, who created and ran the Fox News Channel.

Algorithms were around for a very long time before the public paid them any notice.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

I'll say this much for the breezy but dispiriting musical romance Yesterday: It has a clever conceit that it doesn't make the mistake of trying to explain. What explanation could there be for how The Beatles suddenly vanished from history, leaving behind only one lonely fan who remembers some of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs ever written? Like a lot of surreal comic fantasies, the movie just invites you to shrug and go along with its cheerfully ridiculous premise.

In the 1980s, Tracy Edwards dreamed of racing a sailboat around the world. But at the time, open ocean sailboat racing was a male-dominated sport. She was only able to sign on as a cook for an all-male team in the 1985-86 Whitbread Round the World Race, a grueling 33,000 mile endeavor.

Afterward, when she still wasn't able to crew, she decided to take matters into her own hands: "My mom always told me, 'If you don't like the way the world looks, change it,'" she says. "So I thought, OK, I will."

Today, antiretroviral medicines allow people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to live long, productive lives. But at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, the disease was considered a death sentence. No one was sure what caused it or how it was spread. Some doctors and nurses refused to treat patients with the disease; others protected themselves by wearing full body suits.

In the semi-autobiographical Hulu series Ramy, comic Ramy Youssef plays a first-generation Muslim American who follows some — but not all — of the rules of his religion. Youssef, whose parents immigrated from Egypt, also co-created the series. He says he can relate to his character's "picking and choosing" approach to his faith.

Mary Beth Keane's new novel is called Ask Again, Yes.

What's it called again?

That's what everyone I've raved to about this book has said to me a couple of minutes after I've told them the title. It's one of those delicate titles that instantly goes poof! into the air; but that's the only strike there is against Keane's novel which is, otherwise, one of the most unpretentiously profound books I've read in a long time.

As she grew up as a third-generation Jehovah's Witness, there were certain things Amber Scorah did not question.

When, as a teenager, the community shunned her and prevented her from participating in her father's funeral, she accepted it as appropriate punishment for having sex with her boyfriend. Rather than pulling away at that time, Scorah doubled down.

Things are looking bright for pessimists these days — the world has caught up with their sense of gloom. Well over half of those living in the developed world think their countries are heading in the wrong direction, away from the prosperity and stability that people over age 40 once took for granted.

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:

Ava DuVernay Focuses On The Central Park 5's Perspective: 'Now People Know': DuVernay's Netflix series, When They See Us, tells the story of how five black and brown teenagers were manipulated into confessing to a brutal rape they did not commit.

Legion and Jessica Jones come from the more recent generations of Marvel comics, featuring relatively obscure characters. Neither show's protagonist is a superhero in the conventional sense of wearing a costume or having a secret identity, and both are battling inner demons as well as powerful adversaries. Yet even though they're technically comic-book stories, these shows are impressively ambitious and surprisingly satisfying.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, Bill Hader, became famous as a performer and writer on "Saturday Night Live" for his original characters like Stefon and his impressions of people like Vincent Price. Now Hader stars in the HBO series "Barry," which he co-created, co-writes, and he serves as one of the directors. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on demand, and the show's been renewed for a third. Last year, after Season 1, Hader won the Emmy for best lead actor in a comedy series.

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