Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

Scouring the various and often overlapping worlds of art, music, television, film, new media and literature, Ulaby's radio and online stories reflect political and economic realities, cultural issues, obsessions and transitions, as well as artistic adventurousnessβ€” and awesomeness.

Over the last few years, Ulaby has strengthened NPR's television coverage both in terms of programming and industry coverage and profiled breakout artists such as Ellen Page and Skylar Grey and behind-the-scenes tastemakers ranging from super producer Timbaland to James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features. Her stories have included a series on women record producers, an investigation into exhibitions of plastinated human bodies, and a look at the legacy of gay activist Harvey Milk. Her profiles have brought listeners into the worlds of such performers as Tyler Perry, Ryan Seacrest, Mark Ruffalo, and Courtney Love.

Ulaby has earned multiple fellowships at the Getty Arts Journalism Program at USC Annenberg as well as a fellowship at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism to study youth culture. In addition, Ulaby's weekly podcast of NPR's best arts stories. Culturetopia, won a Gracie award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation.

Joining NPR in 2000, Ulaby was recruited through NPR's Next Generation Radio, and landed a temporary position on the cultural desk as an editorial assistant. She started reporting regularly, augmenting her work with arts coverage for D.C.'s Washington City Paper.

Before coming to NPR, Ulaby worked as managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times and co-hosted a local radio program, What's Coming Out at the Movies. Her film reviews and academic articles have been published across the country and internationally. For a time, she edited fiction for The Chicago Review and served on the editing staff of the leading academic journal Critical Inquiry. Ulaby taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University and at high schools serving at-risk students.

A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal after graduating from Bryn Mawr College. She was born in Amman, Jordan, and grew up in the idyllic Midwestern college towns of Lawrence, Kansas and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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9:50am

Sat March 1, 2014
Business

A Picket Line At The Oscars: Visual-Effects Artists To Protest

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 11:37 am

Hundreds of visual-effects artists are planning to picket the Academy Awards on Sunday for the second year in a row. They're hoping to bring attention to what's been happening in their industry.

The field is losing jobs and relocating to countries with bigger subsidies for employers. It's the result of a technical revolution that's changed the profession since it kicked off in the 70s with Star Wars creator George Lucas' visual-effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.

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3:19am

Fri February 28, 2014
Oscars 2014: The 86th Annual Academy Awards

Oscar Glow, Today's Tech Help Short Films Find Their Fandom

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 9:53 am

One of this season's Oscar-nominated shorts is Mr. Hublot, a French-language animated film about a reclusive man who must learn to adapt to a new housemate β€” a robot dog.
Zeilt Productions

4:27pm

Tue February 18, 2014
Movie Interviews

Hard To Watch '12 Years A Slave'? Try Editing It

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 5:38 pm

Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the Oscar-nominated 12 Years a Slave. Director Steve McQueen and film editor Joe Walker took a restrained, formal approach to portraying the "casual nightmare" of American slavery.
Francois Duhamel Fox Searchlight Pictures

A lot of people believe 12 Years A Slave is the best film yet made about slavery in the United States. That doesn't make it easy to watch.

It also wasn't easy to edit.

"Editing is like a massive, 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle," says director Steve McQueen. He's just arrived from Europe and is relaxing in a suite in a swanky West Hollywood hotel with the film's editor, Joe Walker.

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3:31am

Tue February 18, 2014
Movies

Getting 'Dallas Buyers Club' Made Took Tenacity And 'Will'

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 11:03 am

Rayon (Jared Leto) and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) are fellow AIDS patients smuggling alternative medications into the U.S. in Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc VallΓ©e.
Anne Marie Fox Courtesy of Focus Features

6:44pm

Thu January 23, 2014
The Edge

A Baby Didn't Bump These Moms Out Of Competition

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:32 pm

Malaysian shooting athlete Nur Suryani Taibi was eight months pregnant in 2012 as she prepared for the Summer Olympics in London.
Rebecca Blackwell AP

Let's be clear: Olympians handle the physical challenges of childbirth differently than most of the rest of us.

Aretha Thurmond is a discus thrower who'd already competed in two Olympics when she went to the hospital in labor.

"So I get there and they're like, 'Yeah, whatever, you're 4 centimeters dilated. Go walk around the hospital and come back,' " she says.

Thurmond's hospital was part of a university, so she headed straight for its track, where she power-walked for the next two hours. Then the school's discus throwers came out.

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5:53pm

Wed January 15, 2014
Television

The Few, The Fervent: Fans Of 'Supernatural' Redefine TV Success

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:44 pm

Dean Winchester (left, played by Jensen Ackles) and his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) battle evil beings on CW's Supernatural. The brothers may be easy on the eyes, but sex appeal alone doesn't explain Supernatural's passionate fan base.
Cate Cameron The CW

How do you measure love?

OK, it's a huge question. And maybe not one generally applied to television. But the metrics of success determine whether a television show lives or dies. (If this is the sort of topic that seems frivolous, consider the billions of dollars TV and other copyright industries contribute to the U.S. economy. The stakes start feeling higher.)

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5:34pm

Thu January 9, 2014
Remembrances

Amiri Baraka's Legacy Both Controversial And Achingly Beautiful

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 10:31 am

Amiri Baraka, shown here in 1972, was a renowned poet whose politics strongly shaped his work.
Julian C. Wilson AP

One of America's most important β€” and controversial β€” literary figures, Amiri Baraka, died on Thursday from complications after surgery following a long illness, according to his oldest son. Baraka was 79.

Baraka co-founded the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. His literary legacy is as complicated as the times he lived through, from his childhood β€” where he recalled not being allowed to enter a segregated library β€” to the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. His poem about that attack, "Somebody Blew Up America," quickly became infamous.

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4:18pm

Mon December 23, 2013
Digital Life

A YouTube Powerhouse Looks Beyond Its Gamer Base

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:53 pm

One of Machinima's signature offerings is a series called Christopher Walkenthrough, in which creator Jason Stephens, in character as actor Christopher Walken, navigates his way through popular video games. You kind of have to see it to understand.
Machinima.com

One of the most popular channels on YouTube is aimed toward people who play video games. It's got tons of content β€” thousands of game reviews, how-to videos of people gaming away enthusiastically, even little homemade movies that people have made using video-game software.

That last format is a user-generated phenomenon called machinima β€” "little m" machinima. "Big M" Machinima is a company, and it wants to be a new media empire. It's the entity behind that YouTube channel.

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5:31pm

Thu December 5, 2013
Movies

The 'Anchorman' Legend Continues, And It's Everywhere

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:57 am

The massive marketing campaign for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has gone way beyond trailers and commercials. Some critics say the journalists are embarrassing themselves β€” and some say the character has become tiresomely ubiquitous.
Gemma LaMana Paramount Pictures

Way back in March, actor Will Ferrell took the stage on Conan O'Brien's talk show in full character as Ron Burgundy, the '70s-vintage, dopily misogynistic hero of the 2004 movie Anchorman. Lapels flaring, jazz flute in hand, he announced that the world would have to wait another nine months for the sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

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2:55am

Mon November 25, 2013
Code Switch

Hollywood's New Strategy: Supporting Chinese-Made Blockbusters

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 1:11 pm

Hollywood's version of Iron Man 3 shown in China played down the rather unfortunately named baddie, The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley.
Marvel

If you've seen the 2012 science fiction movie Looper, you might remember a telling exchange when a time-traveling hitman (Bruce Willis) sits down with a young version of himself (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and offers some advice.

"You should go to China," Willis says firmly.

Gordon-Levitt resists: "I'm going to France."

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