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 adventurousness— 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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5:50pm

Sat June 29, 2013
Monkey See

Girls' Legos Are A Hit, But Why Do Girls Need Special Legos?

Originally published on Sat June 29, 2013 9:55 pm

Olivia also has a treehouse.
Lego

Two years ago, in 2011, 90 percent of Lego's consumers were boys. A tough statistic to swallow for those of us who grew up playing with Lego's gender-neutral buckets of bricks. But the statistic came straight from Lego, which was then focused on boys with franchised sets based on properties like Star Wars and The Avengers after weathering a disastrous period in the 1990s that left the company on the brink of collapse.

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3:44pm

Sat June 29, 2013
Pop Culture

Lego Markets New 'Friends' For Girls

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 11:35 am

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. Two years ago, 90 percent of kids playing with Legos were boys. You heard that right. Nine-zero. That's partly because Lego had turned from gender neutral buckets of bricks to selling heavily franchised sets such as "Star Wars" or "Avengers." For our series about kids and culture, NPR's Neda Ulaby looked at Lego's recent gamble on girls.

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5:40pm

Mon June 24, 2013
The Record

Remembering The Multidimensional Music Of Bobby 'Blue' Bland

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 6:10 pm

Bobby "Blue" Bland performs on stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, in 1989.
David Redfern Redferns

5:24pm

Thu June 20, 2013
Television

'Dome' Luck: On CBS, A Drama About Getting Stuck With Each Other

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 4:55 pm

In the wake of the dome's mysterious appearance, the townspeople are cut off from access to TV, phones and the Internet, and must make do with the people and objects they have at their disposal.
CBS

One of the most anticipated shows of the summer, Under the Dome, starts Monday on CBS. It's about a tiny New England town that's suddenly and mysteriously sealed off by an impenetrable dome.

The series is the first on-screen collaboration between two of the biggest Steves in popular culture — Steven Spielberg and Stephen King.

"The Steven Squared, we call it," cracks Neal Baer, an executive producer of the show.

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3:15pm

Wed June 19, 2013
Monkey See

From Classic Toys To New Twists, Kids Go Back To Blocks

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 1:39 pm

Legos and other interlocking toys are only one kind of blocks that remain popular with kids.
iStockphoto.com

I visited Toy Fair in New York City hunting for ideas for our summer series about kids' culture. One of the big takeaways was the increasing popularity of construction games such as Legos. Sales shot up nearly 20 percent last year. Now, it seems, every major toy manufacturer is scrambling to add new games geared toward kids building things.

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2:54am

Mon June 17, 2013
Monkey See

An 'Adventure' For Kids And Maybe For Their Parents, Too

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 1:27 pm

Finn is in the middle, with the skinny arms. Jake is the dog. Together, they have Adventure Time.
Cartoon Network

Count plenty of grown-ups among the millions of fans of Adventure Time, a kids' show on Cartoon Network. Some are surely Emmy voters. (It's won three.) Others are very possibly stoners. Still others are intellectuals. Lev Grossman falls in the last category. He wrote two best-selling novels, The Magicians and The Magician King, and he's Time's senior book critic.

Grossman's critique of Adventure Time? "It's soooo smart! It's sooo intelligent!"

Hang on. He's just getting started.

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4:12pm

Fri June 7, 2013
Monkey See

A Lannister Always Pays His Debts — But Do Too Many Of His Fans Watch For Free?

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 8:29 pm

Peter Dinklage stars as the cunning, charismatic Tyrion Lannister in HBO's hit drama Game Of Thrones. One security consultant suggests that the number of people watching the popular drama through HBO's streaming service HBO Go without paying for it could be high enough to pose a real challenge for providers of such services.
Helen Sloan HBO

For today's All Things Considered story about people sharing their Netflix or Hulu Plus passwords, producer Sami Yenigun latched on to what could've been an ordinary entertainment-business story and front-loaded it with snippets of sound from Game of Thrones — attacking dragons, evil kings, treacherous harlots. He made it hilarious.

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4:14pm

Mon June 3, 2013
Monkey See

Foster Families Take Center Stage

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 1:42 pm

Cierra Ramirez, Teri Polo, and Jake T. Austin star in ABC Family's The Fosters.
Randy Holmes ABC Family

This summer, NPR is taking a closer look at media for kids, taking it as seriously as what's offered to adults. Our first piece looks at a new show starting Monday night on ABC Family.

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3:37pm

Tue May 21, 2013
Monkey See

'Arrested Development' Leads The Charge For Old Brands In New Media

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 5:43 pm

David Cross and Portia de Rossi in a scene from Arrested Development, which returns on Netflix on May 26.
Sam Urdank AP

Arrested Development returning via Netflix? Just another old-media brand reviving itself on new media.

The TV show, which originally ran on Fox from 2003 to 2006 and unveils new episodes on Netflix next weekend, finds itself in splendid company. Radiohead, Louis C.K., Veronica Mars — all found their audiences with promotion and distribution from big studios and networks. Radiohead was signed to a major music label. Louis C.K. enjoyed HBO specials and TV shows. And Veronica Mars ran on two TV networks for three years.

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5:13am

Sat May 18, 2013
Monkey See

Working Women On Television: A Mixed Bag At Best

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 1:33 pm

Geena Davis played the president in the 2005 ABC series Commander in Chief. Now, she works on issues involving women in media.
Kent Eanes AP

When actress Geena Davis was watching children's shows with her daughter a few years ago, she became so troubled by the lack of female representation, she started a think tank on gender in the media. The Geena Davis Institute recently partnered with University of Southern California professors to conduct a study analyzing gender roles and jobs on screen.

The good news? Prime-time television's pretty decent at depicting women with careers.

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