Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

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3:19am

Fri January 11, 2013
Television

'Living' In Color, Long Before 'Girls'

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:14 pm

Living Single (1993-1998) featured four young, black, professional women in New York — including Queen Latifah as the ambitious head of a small magazine.
E.J. Camp Corbis

The second season of HBO's critically acclaimed series Girls begins Sunday night, but the show about 20-something girls navigating their social and work lives in New York has itself been criticized for not being diverse enough.

By now, most of you have heard the buzz about Girls: It's written by 26-year-old Lena Dunham, and stars a quartet of young women whose plans sometimes crash face-first into life's nasty realities.

The show's smart dialogue attracted writer Allison Samuels, a cultural critic for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

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6:13am

Sat December 29, 2012
Politics

Ruiz Part Of The New Class Of A Diverse Congress

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 5:38 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer in for Scott Simon.

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5:14pm

Wed December 12, 2012
U.S.

New Policy For Young Immigrants Creates Paperwork Deluge

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:29 pm

A crowd seeks help applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in August. Schools have been inundated with requests for the documents needed to qualify.
Jonathan Alcorn Reuters/Landov

In the six months since a new law opened a path to temporary legal status for some young immigrants in the U.S., more than 300,000 people have applied — and have rushed to request qualifying documents from their schools.

The law, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, offers legal status, renewable every two years, to people ages 30 and younger who were brought to the country as children. Applicants must prove they were in the U.S. for five consecutive years — something most easily achieved through school transcripts.

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2:21am

Wed December 5, 2012
Books

Susan Straight: One Home Town, Many Voices

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 9:09 am

Courtesy of McSweeney's

Think of all the great writers who have made their hometowns literary history — William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Wolfe, to name a few. Now, Susan Straight is getting the same praise for her portrayal of Riverside, Calif. It's a small town at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains, an hour east of Los Angeles.

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4:48pm

Mon November 26, 2012
Television

Comedians Parody Two Sides Of President Obama

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 6:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have an avid following for their weekly show, "Key and Peele" on Comedy Central. They've parodied everything from the names of black athletes to white people with dreadlocks. This year, the duo set their sights on the presidential campaign and examined the role that race played in it.

NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has that story.

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3:26am

Tue November 20, 2012
Movies

Controversial Casting For A Nina Simone Biopic

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:35 am

Nina Simone (left) and actress Zoe Saldana are seen in this composite image. Saldana has been cast to play the late singer in a film biopic.
John Minihan/Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

The rumors that had been around for a couple of years have finally been confirmed: At long last, there's a film in the works about the turbulent life of Nina Simone, otherwise known as the "High Priestess of Soul."

Simone was famous from the 1950s through the '70s for her music and her civil rights activism. And although she died in 2003, her voice remains popular on TV, movie soundtracks and commercials.

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4:33pm

Wed October 31, 2012
Digital Life

A Mohawk Hero In The Not-So-Diverse Gaming World

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 5:49 pm

For the latest installment of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series, set in Colonial America, the hooded main character is part Mohawk. The company brought in a Mohawk consultant and hired a Native actor to play the role.
Courtesy of Ubisoft

The Assassin's Creed video game series has become a megahit for gaming enthusiasts. The story line follows a bloody war between Assassins and the Knights Templar, first during the Crusades and then in Renaissance Italy.

The newly released Assassins Creed III crosses the ocean and a couple of centuries so the action could take place during the Revolutionary War and would be wildly anticipated on its own.

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7:05am

Thu October 25, 2012
Election 2012

A Challenging House Race In California's Heartland

Freshman California Rep. Jeff Denham, a self-described Valley farmer and Republican businessman, is in a battle against challenger Jose Hernandez, former NASA astronaut and engineer-businessman in a realigned district in the San Joaquin Valley. It's a tight race, with lots of money being poured into both candidates from their respective parties.

6:22am

Sun September 16, 2012
Arts & Life

Beverly Hills' Refuge For The Stars Turns 100

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 5:26 pm

The Beverly Hills Hotel as it looked when it opened in 1912. The bleak landscape would eventually be replaced by lush tropical foliage, and after the depression, the white Spanish Mission-style hotel would be painted its now-famous pink.
Courtesy of Robert S. Anderson

The Beverly Hills Hotel, a place fondly known as the Pink Palace, has preserved guests' privacy and indulged their every whim for 100 years, and the entire year will be filled with celebrations of its centennial.

There have been parties for the neighbors, parties for the staff, and a celebration this week as the hotel becomes the first historic landmark in the city of Beverly Hills, Calif.

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4:36pm

Wed September 5, 2012
Politics

Eva Longoria Offers DNC A Bridge To Latino Voters

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Democrats have always attracted a sparkly contingent of A-list celebrities to their party. This evening we'll feature one who's a celebrity and an important bridge to a much-coveted voter demographic. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates has this profile of a woman who is equal parts actress and activist.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: Eva Longoria became famous as the self-centered Gabrielle Solis in ABC's hit comedy "Desperate Housewives."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES")

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