Arts

11:38am

Tue August 27, 2013
Fresh Air Theme Week: Late Night TV

Jay Leno: 'Tonight' Was About 'Trying To Get Johnny To Laugh'

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 1:53 pm

Jay Leno delivers the opening monologue during the inauguration of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 25, 1992.
Craig Fujii AP

In 1992, when Jay Leno took over from Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, he was already a familiar presence, having served as one of Carson's regular substitute hosts. Despite that experience, Leno's first few years on Tonight were rocky.

"When he started, when he was up against Letterman, Letterman beat him for the first couple of years," critic David Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "But once Leno came ahead, he was unstoppable. He never lost that audience."

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7:03am

Tue August 27, 2013
New In Paperback

Aug. 26-Sept. 1: Fashion, Family And David Foster Wallace

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 8:30 pm

After struggling with depression for much of his adult life, writer David Foster Wallace committed suicide on Sept. 12, 2008.
Giovanni Giovannetti Effigie

* Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

7:03am

Tue August 27, 2013
Book Reviews

'Cancer Chronicles' Digs Into The Complex History Of A Devastating Disease

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 11:03 am

iStockphoto.com

The government's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) tracks state cancer incidence and mortality rates. So it was only natural that George Johnson would pore over their latest data to gain some insight for his incisive new book, The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery. "Concentrating on overall cancer rates can smear over some interesting details," he writes, "and I wondered what might be lurking underneath."

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3:00am

Tue August 27, 2013
The Salt

Tortellini, The Dumpling Inspired By Venus' Navel

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 4:38 pm

Even in Sandro Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus, the goddess's belly resembles a plump, firm tortellino.
Wikimedia.org

Tortellini — small circles of rolled dough folded around a filling — are one of the most renowned members of the Italian pasta family. In the land of their birth, the region near the Italian city of Bologna, they're strictly served as broth-like dumplings.

Possibly no foodstuff in Italian cuisine is surrounded by so much history and lore.

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5:48pm

Mon August 26, 2013
The Salt

'Braai Day' Aims To Bring S. Africans Together Over Barbecue

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:30 pm

Jan Scannell, former accountant, has taken on a new identity as "Jan Braai," a South African TV show host and media personality promoting the idea of National Braai (barbecuing) Day, celebrated each year on Sept. 24.
Courtesy of Stephanus Rabie

Nelson Mandela is officially "improving," though still in critical condition at a South African hospital. His long battle with a lung infection has South Africans anxiously contemplating their "post-Mandela" future in a still racially divided country. In a unique strategy, one man is hoping to help heal those divisions with a pair of barbecue tongs.

Jan Scannell is a 32-year-old former accountant with a dream: To establish a national holiday in South Africa like July 4 called Braai Day.

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2:55pm

Mon August 26, 2013
The Salt

Sandwich Monday: A Hot Dog Cookoff

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 3:33 pm

The entry from Kuma's. There's a hot dog hiding in there somewhere.
Jamie Bernstein

There is still debate as to whether the hot dog evolved from lesser sandwich forms or is the work of an intelligent designer, but everyone can agree it's a marvel of simplicity. At the Gapers Block Hot Dog Cookoff earlier this summer in Chicago, though, five chefs were challenged to reinterpret the humble tube steak, and we were challenged to eat them all.

The chefs were told to "start with Vienna Beef hot dogs" and "use them in any way imaginable." Those instructions, when you think about it, are frighteningly open to interpretation.

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1:43pm

Mon August 26, 2013
The Salt

The Great Dumpling Debate: What Makes The Cut?

When we first started thinking about dumplings for NPR's Dumpling Week, we presumed that there wasn't much to the little balls of dough. They seemed simple, universally beloved and unencumbered by controversy.

But the semantics of the dumpling turns out to be far more fraught that we imagined. This became clear when we started wondering whether tamales, or samosas, counted as dumplings. The deeper we waded into the pool of quasi-dumpling snacks, the more we realized we needed some expert input to set us straight.

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1:19pm

Mon August 26, 2013
Television

Letterman And 'Tonight' Vet Go Behind The Scenes Of Late Night

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 10:43 am

David Letterman, pictured here in January 1982, premiered Late Night With David Letterman just a few months after his Fresh Air interview.
AP

Imagine David Letterman sitting in the reception area where you work, going virtually unrecognized. That's how it was in 1981 when Letterman visited WHYY in Philadelphia to be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, then a local program.

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11:54am

Mon August 26, 2013
Theater

'Pippin' Star Patina Miller Soars On Broadway

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 12:39 pm

Patina Miller portrays Leading Player in the Broadway revival of Pippin.
Joan Marcus

Patina Miller first got noticed on the theater scene in 2009 as the star of Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy. She earned rave reviews for playing the accidental nun who led a choir to stardom. Now she's center stage again in the Broadway revival of Pippin, the musical first launched in 1972. Miller takes on the role of Leading Player, the circus artist who guides a young prince in finding meaning and magic in his life. She won this year's Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical. You can also hear her on the newly released CD of the show's songs.

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10:51am

Mon August 26, 2013
The Two-Way

New Salinger Books Will Arrive In 2015, Authors Say

A new biography claims that unpublished fiction is on the way from late author J.D. Salinger, seen here at right posing with a friend, Donald Hartog, in 1989.
AP

A stream of fiction and stories written by reclusive author J.D. Salinger will be published between 2015 and 2020, according to a new biography about the writer of The Catcher in the Rye, who died in 2010. Some of the books will reportedly revisit beloved Salinger characters such as Holden Caulfield.

The claims come from David Shields and Shane Salerno, co-authors of the biography Salinger, which will be published next week. Days later, Salerno's documentary film of the same name will be released (and in January, it will air on PBS).

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