Tue May 12, 2015

Still Playing: The Theater That Saw The Birth Of Cinema

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 1:22 pm

The world's oldest operating cinema, the Eden, in La Ciotat, southern France, screened some of the first films of the Lumiere brothers in 1895.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat AFP/Getty Images

Not far from the glitzy Mediterranean film festival venue of Cannes lies another town with a connection to cinema. There are no stars or red carpet, but La Ciotat has an even longer relationship with film, and boasts the world's oldest surviving movie theater.

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Tue May 12, 2015
Music Interviews

Jerry Garcia's Advice To Bill Kreutzmann: 'Don't Rush'

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 8:22 am

In his new memoir, Deal, drummer Bill Kreutzmann tells a story about the Grateful Dead's tour of Egypt. Instead of filling hookahs with "black, gooey tobacco," the band "filled the entire hookah with hash. No tobacco!" In the midst of Middle East trouble, the Grateful Dead's members were unwitting ambassadors of American culture.

"Everybody had fun," Kreutzmann tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "Yes, indeed."

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Mon May 11, 2015

Athol Fugard Breaks Fences Around 'The Painted Rocks At Revolver Creek'

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 9:00 pm

Joan Marcus Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown

At 82, legendary South African playwright Athol Fugard is still actively writing and directing new plays. His latest, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, which looks at his country during the apartheid era and after, opens off-Broadway tonight.

For decades, Fugard worked tirelessly, both in South Africa and in exile, to illuminate the injustices of apartheid in his plays. And when it finally ended and Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994, Fugard was convinced his career was over.

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Mon May 11, 2015
Goats and Soda

He Couldn't Stop Painting Rocks — And Now He Has Inspired A Play

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 10:05 am

Nukain Mabuza paints his stone garden in the mid-1970s.
Rene Lion-Cachet Courtesy of JFC Clarke

Two South African artists have come together on an off-Broadway stage in New York City: One is the world-famous playwright Athol Fugard, known for his dramas critical of the cruelties of apartheid. The other is the little-known artist Nukain Mabuza, who carved out an outlet for his creative vision despite the restrictions of apartheid — and now serves as the inspiration for Fugard's latest play, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, opening May 11.

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Mon May 11, 2015

The Great 'Beyond': Contemplating Life, Sex And Elevators In Space

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 4:53 pm

Astronomer Chris Impey examines the possibilities of the universe in his new book Beyond. "I like the idea that the universe — the boundless possibility of 20 billion habitable worlds — has led to things that we can barely imagine," he says. In the 1970s, NASA Ames conducted several space colony studies, commissioning renderings of the giant spacecraft which could house entire cities.
Rick Guidice NASA Ames Research Center

The possibility of humans colonizing outer space may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but British astronomer Chris Impey says that if the U.S. were pumping more money into the space program, the sci-fi fantasy would be well on its way to reality.

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Mon May 11, 2015
Monkey See

What Is Upfronts Week, Anyway?: 5 Questions Answered

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 11:16 am

The limited information of upfronts week: This is John Stamos in the new comedy Grandfathered, coming to Fox. In it, he apparently hangs out with this baby!
Jennifer Clasen Fox

What's upfronts week, anyway?

Upfronts week is when the broadcast networks, in this order and in general, (1) make final decisions about canceling or keeping existing shows, (2) unveil their schedules for the fall and spring seasons, and (3) present their new shows to advertisers to kick off their ad sales. In other words, "Look at this beautiful show! Wouldn't you like to put your beautiful commercial right between the first and second acts?"

What do we know about new shows at this point?

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Mon May 11, 2015
Monkey See

The End Of 'American Idol'

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 2:23 pm

Ryan Seacrest (from left), Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban
Matthias Vriens-McGrath Fox

[Note: Listen to the audio above to hear a conversation I had with Pop Culture Happy Hour team member Stephen Thompson about the end of the show.]

Ahead of its fall programming presentation to advertisers in the afternoon, Fox announced Monday that the 15th season of American Idol, which will begin in January 2016, will be the last.

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Mon May 11, 2015

Sculptor Chris Burden Dies At 69

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 10:45 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Now we remember an artist who never felt he needed to think like everyone else. Chris Burden has died of cancer at the age of 69. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has more.

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Mon May 11, 2015

Documentary Spotlights Perfectly Accessorized Iris Apfel

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 10:45 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Everyone gets dressed in the morning, but Iris Apfel has made it her art form. She is 93 now and a subject of a documentary opening around the country this month titled "Iris." NPR's Ina Jaffe covers aging and caught up with the fashion icon.

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Sun May 10, 2015
Author Interviews

Danielewski Returns With A Long, Sideways Look At 'The Familiar'

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 6:46 am

On pages 68-69 from Mark Danielewski's The Familiar, Volume 1, the main character Xanther looks out the window of her father's car during a rainy drive.
Mark Z. Danielewski Courtesy of Pantheon, a division of Random House LLC.

If you met the author Mark Danielewski on an elevator, here's how your conversation might go:

"What are you doing these days?"

"I'm writing a novel," he replies. "It's 27 volumes long."

"Wow," you might say. "What's it about?"

"It's about this little girl who finds a little kitten."

"Twenty-seven volumes, huh?"

"Ah, it's a very intense subject."

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