Last season, the New York City Ballet and other large dance companies in the U.S. had an average attendance of only 73 percent, according to Dance/USA. But this year, the City Ballet is facing a different attendance issue: sold-out tickets for their entire two-week run of “Swan Lake.”
What changed, you might ask? Two words: “Black Swan.” And one more word: “Oscar.”
In 1853, a steamship named the Winfield Scott ran aground near the Channel Islands, which are off the coast of California. Unfortunately, when the ship landed, so did a certain foreign species that reproduced quickly, and ate the eggs of native birds and reptiles: the black rat. In 2001, the National Park Service began fighting the rats with poison. Members of a fringe environmental group responded by scattering vitamin K — an antidote to the poison. It’s this real struggle between warring environmentalists, humans, and animals that is at the center of T.C. Boyle’s newest novel “When the Killing’s Done.”
All this week on the Takeaway, we’re talking with people who are nominated for Oscars, and who’ve worked behind the scenes on Oscar-nominated films. Jed Rothstein is the director of “Killing in the Name,” which is nominated for best documentary short. “Killing in the Name” centers on Ashraf Al-Khaled, whose 2005 wedding was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing three out of four of his and his wife’s parents, and a total of 27 of their guests.
Today’s Los Angeles Times features an article about the lack of recognition that casting directors get at the Oscars. Today’s New York Times features a brief piece on the lack of recognition that opening and closing credit sequences get at the awards. For years, there have been campaigns to remedy the lack of recognition that stuntmen get at the Academies. And no doubt, for as long as the Oscars continue to exist, there will be even more categories (many that we’ve never heard of) that some people think ought to be added to the awards show.
In America, we’re told from the time we’re born that there’s no one else like us in the world, and that our unique personalities really and truly are one of a kind. But is this really true? And if so, how did our personalities get the way they are? Is there any way to change our personalities to make our lives easier?
Over thirty-five years ago, a woman in traditional Apache dress named Sacheen Littlefeather accepted Marlon Brando’s Oscar for “The Godfather.” But do you remember why Brando chose her to take his place?
Twenty years ago, the red AIDS ribbon was every star’s favorite Oscars accessory. But almost as quickly as it became trendy, it disappeared. Do you remember the last year all the celebrities wore red ribbons?
And a mere two years ago, the Kodak Theatre exploded into thunderous applause when Sean Penn said protestors outside the venue should be ashamed of themselves. But do you remember the reason for the protests?
While not the biggest weekend for new film releases, today does kick off a varied menu, from Liam Neeson's thriller "Unkown" to the "Vidal Sassoon" documentary. We check in with Takeaway producer Kristen Meinzer and Takeaway film contributor Rafer Guzman to get a grasp on what's hot and what will flop.
Each week, Rafer and Kristen spar about the movies they think you should or shouldn't see. This week, they ponder whether the new paranormal teen romance film "I Am Number Four" is the new "Twilight" or just a substandard rip-off. And it's one of those rare times when they're actually in agreement.
Four years ago this month at age thirty-nine, Playboy model, reality star and tabloid fixture Anna Nicole Smith died. Her tumultuous life included dropping out of high school, teen parenthood, stripping, plastic surgery, accusations of gold-digging, and repeated struggles with drugs and alcohol. But while Anna Nicole is no longer with us, she’s alive and well at the Royal Opera House in London. A new opera called 'Anna Nicole' premiered last night. Composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage and written by Richard Thomas, it stars Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role.
What makes us creative? What can make us more creative? And where do truly creative people find their inspiration? These are questions that Kurt Andersen and Julie Burstein have been asking for over a decade on PRI’s arts and culture program Studio 360. Kurt is the host of the show. Julie is its former executive producer. And this week, a new book penned by Julie, with a forward by Kurt, hits stores. It’s called “Spark: How Creativity Works,” and it features insights from some of the greatest creative minds of our time, including Chuck Close, Yo Yo Ma, Rosanne Cash, Kevin Bacon, and Joyce Carol Oates.
The narrative of African Americans “passing” into white culture has long persisted. These stories are often tragic and filled with shame, secrecy, and the abandonment of home and family. In his new book, “The Invisible Line,” Daniel Sharfstein looks at three families that were once identified as black and are now viewed as white. These stories are ones of pride as white families reconnect with their African-American roots.
Let’s make something clear. I am not a gambler. I hate the stock market. I have no interest in watching celebrity poker. On the two occasions I visited Las Vegas, I played only the penny slots (and limited the value of the pennies to $20 total for 6 hours, not counting the extra $20 my sister pushed on me).
That being said, I cannot resist a little Oscar gambling. And I’m not alone. According to Gambling911.com, the Oscars are “the 3rd biggest single day betting event of the year after the Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby” and “the most wagered on nonsporting event after the U.S. Presidential race.”
It’s said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions…But does that apply to the leaders of powerful countries? What if programs that were intended to help Americans — things like pensions, healthcare, and subsidized housing were hurting us instead? Dambisa Moyo is an economist and author of the new book: "How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – and the Stark Choices ahead."
We often look at war in terms of numbers of soldiers deployed, numbers of lost lives, and of dollars spent on battles and reconstruction. But war is about much more; it’s about sounds and sights, and about shared experiences, and though we rarely talk about it, war is also about food. Annia Ciezadlo explores this particular aspect of war in her new book: “Day of Honey: a Memoir of Food, Love, and War.”
Today the granddaddy of all dog shows — the Westminster Dog Show — kicks off. As you may know, it’s something of a beauty contest for dogs. And last year, we commemorated the event by asking listeners to submit pictures of their dogs for our cutest dog contest. But this year, we’re more interested in brains than looks. We’re asking you to send in pictures and videos of your dogs being brilliant. As she did last year, WNYC's Sarah Montague will judge your entries this week. And today we’re talking with two scientists who know a thing or two about canine intelligence.
Over 249 million Americans live on the three percent of land that constitutes our cities. More than half of America’s income is earned in 22 metropolitan areas. And people live longer in New York City than anywhere else in the U.S. That being said, our nation continues to grapple with negative perceptions about cities. Images of loud, dirty, noisy, graffiti and crime-ridden urban wastelands persist. Economist Ed Glaeser wants to change that. He’s convinced that cities make us better, and that the proof can be seen everywhere from Minneapolis to Shanghai.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and I can’t think of a better time to discuss what’s come to be known as the Best Actress Oscar Curse. No doubt, you’ve heard about it by now. If you haven’t, here’s a little crash course, starting with Sandra Bullock.
On Valentine’s Day, we’re going to be joined by the high priests of the top forty love song: Air Supply, also known as Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock. Their mission: to help Takeaway listeners with their love song conundrums. Whether it’s the best song for getting over a breakup or the best song for saying “I love you,” Graham and Russell have plenty of wisdom to share. Tell us: what love song do you love (or hate) the most?
This week, Kristen and Rafer talk about "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," and about whether or not either of them are Beliebers after seeing the new doc.
A new book traces Barack Obama's Kenyan family back twenty-three generations, or roughly half a millennium. Peter Firstbrook was a documentary filmmaker for our partner, the BBC, for 25 years, is the author of “The Obamas: The Untold Story of an African Family.” Using oral testimony from family and historical documents, Firstbrook uncovered some fascinating details of the president's family, including questions about how President Obama's father died.