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Arts and Culture

What's most striking about the first two episodes of ABC's new The Muppets, premiering Tuesday night, is that the live celebrities seem to have a better idea of what a Muppet-centered show should feel like than the Muppet characters do.

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One of the most painful ironies of the TV business is the way short term business needs force action that makes no sense in the long run.

Consider this week's start of the fall TV season. There's a heap of brand new programs coming to the networks just as broadcasters face more competition than ever from shows on cable and online. This means there's never been a greater need for ambitious, groundbreaking material to prove the broadcast networks haven't become the buggy whips of the media business.

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America's favorite fictional cub reporter has died.

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JACK LARSON: (As Jimmy Olsen) Look, my name is Olsen, Jim Olsen. I'm a reporter for The Planet. There's my identification.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And the Emmy goes to "Olive Kitteridge."

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The hard numbers on Sunday night's Primetime Emmy Awards told a story that could look a little dull to the glancing eye.

Marriage for same-sex couples is now the law of the land. While it took effect in Illinois in 2014, the United States Supreme Court made it available across the country earlier this year. So what's next in the push for rights in the LGBT community? That's a question I posed at a recent conference in Springfield:

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Last night, history was made at the Emmy Awards. Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy as outstanding lead actress in a drama series. Here she is accepting that award.

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Viola Davis made history at Sunday night's Emmy Awards when she won for best actress in a drama for How to Get Away With Murder: It's the first time that award has gone to a black woman.

When Davis' award was announced, Taraji P. Henson — nominated for the same award for her work on Empire — gave Davis a fierce hug and a one-woman standing ovation.

Writer Percival Everett is a man of the West: the region, for him, is a place of calm and comfort, danger and extremes. His new collection of short stories, Half an Inch of Water, is set largely in Wyoming, where Everett lived for a time and which he says might be his favorite state. ("It's so sparsely populated," he says as praise.)

But the prolific author wrote his new book far away from that iconic landscape.

"I wrote these while I was in Paris," Everett tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I was living in Paris, and for some reason I started writing ranch stories.

For those who have never seen the show American Ninja Warrior: Imagine an Army obstacle course, redesigned by Dr. Seuss and a team of rock-climbing acrobats. Competitors have to thread their way through the daunting obstacles, completing a number of stages before they can hope to finish the whole thing.

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Life With A Comedian Isn't Always Funny

Sep 20, 2015

Kelly Carlin, George Carlin's daughter, released a new memoir called A Carlin Home Companion, about growing up as the only daughter of one of the greatest comedians of all time. (This encore piece first aired on All Things Considered on Sept. 15.)

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Exploring Mental Illness Through Photography

Sep 20, 2015

A young artist is hoping to challenge preconceived ideas about mental illness in her latest work.  Laura Kennedy walked through the exhibit at the Rachel Cooper Gallery at Illinois State University.

 

 

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Actress Bonnie Milligan should be belting out songs in a production of Head Over Heels at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. But belting and smoke don't mix — and that's causing problems this year at one of the country's oldest and most respected theater festivals.

As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

After an action-packed chase through the dried-up LA River, The Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, rescues a kid named John Connor on his motorcycle. They're running from a cyborg dressed as a cop — an advanced prototype called the T-1000.

The wildly successful prime-time soap opera Empire is back: Season 2 kicks off next week.

The Season 1 finale brought in 17 million viewers — despite the conventional wisdom that the days of broadcast television drawing in audiences like that are over.

When Chinelo Okparanta started writing her novel Under the Udala Trees, she didn't have to look far for inspiration into her main character's tragic backstory.

"My mother watched her father die in the war, the same way my protagonist does," the Nigerian-American author tells NPR's Arun Rath. She's referring to the 1967 Biafran War in Nigeria — a civil war that was catastrophic for the Igbo people, who had tried to secede from Nigeria and form their own nation of Biafra.

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In a year when more than 400 series will air on various television-like platforms, why should anyone still care about Sunday night's Emmy Awards?

The short answer: It's still the biggest honor in TV, handed out by the very people who make all the stuff we're watching on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and big-screen monitors.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Not My Job is the game where we quiz well-known people about things that they wouldn't have any reason to know anything about. So we've invited Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, to answer three questions about celebratory parades.

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Mary McGrory became a columnist in a time when women in journalism were still called "doll." She wrote a nationally syndicated column for more than 50 years, first for The Washington Star and then for The Washington Post, and in 1975 she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

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