Fresh Air

Fresh Air Podcast

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.

How America Became A Nation Of Immigrants
For many years, U.S. immigration favored immigrants from ​​northern Europe. NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten explains how a 1965 law changed things — and led to the current debate about border security. His book is 'A Nation of Nations.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews two new interpretations of Thelonious Monk's complete works....

John C. Reilly
By his own count, Reilly has acted in almost 80 movies, including 'Boogie Nights,' 'Chicago,' 'Talladega Nights' and 'Walk Hard.' Now, he's co-starring with Steve Coogan as half of the iconic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in 'Stan & Ollie.' Reilly talks about the extreme prosthetic makeup and bodysuit he wore for the role, physical comedy, and bonding with Joaquin Phoenix while filming 'The Sisters Brothers.' Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Ghost Wall,' a slim and eerie novel by Sarah Moss....

Notes From A Transplant Surgeon
Dr. Joshua Mezrich has performed hundreds of kidney, liver and pancreas transplants. He tells us about transplants that have gone gone wrong, talking to the families of donors, and how the definition of death has changed over time. His new book of stories from the operating room is 'When Death Becomes Life.'Also, Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new recording of 'Doctor Atomic,' an opera about the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico....


Best Of: Kevin Hart / Ben Stiller
Kevin Hart said he's "over" talking about the homophobic jokes that cost him the Oscars gig — but then he and Terry Gross talked about it anyway. "The bad part about being a comedian is that sometimes you just aren't funny," he says. "Sometimes to grow as a comedian you got to go through the stupid part." Ben Stiller directed the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' which dramatizes the true story of two murderers' escape from a maximum security prison in 2015. "It seemed like such an old-fashioned sort o...

'The Sopranos' - 20th Anniversary Show
Critic David Bianculli offers an appreciation of the influential HBO drama. Plus, we listen back to archival interviews with series creator David Chase and Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano. Also, contributor Soraya Nadia McDonald reviews the new season of True Detective, starring Mahershala Ali....

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart said he's "over" talking about the homophobic jokes that cost him the Oscars gig — but then he and Terry Gross talked about it anyway. They discussed his upbringing in North Philly, how comedy is changing, and the fine line between edgy and offensive material. "The bad part about being a comedian is that sometimes you just aren't funny," he says. "Sometimes to grow as a comedian you got to go through the stupid part." Hart's new movie is 'The Upside.'...


Rachel Maddow Investigates Spiro Agnew's Bribery Scandal
Richard Nixon's first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 amidst charges of bribery and tax evasion. Now, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and producer Mike Yarvitz revisit the Agnew scandal in the hit podcast 'Bag Man.' "The parallels with what was going on in the Nixon and Agnew administration 45 years ago to the efforts by the Trump administration right now ... is uncanny," Maddow says....

Ben Stiller On 'Escape At Dannemora'
Stiller directed the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' which dramatizes the true story of two murderers' escape from a maximum security prison in 2015. "It seemed like such an old-fashioned sort of escape, and I thought, 'Wow, how can that happen in today's prison system?'" he says. Stiller talks about filming in a prison, interviewing one of the real prisoners who escaped, and also his recurring role on 'SNL' as Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen....

Hillary Frank On Pain, Parenting & Podcasting
After a traumatic childbirth injury left her unable to walk, sit, or hold her newborn, longtime radio producer Hillary Frank started a podcast to feel less alone with her experience. 'The Longest Shortest Time' is about the surprises and absurdities of parenting. Frank, whose new book is 'Weird Parenting Wins,' talks about her birth experience and the special misogyny reserved for mothers.Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Water Cure,' a debut dystopian feminist novel by Sophie Mackintosh....


Best Of: Adam McKay / Driverless Cars
Adam McKay, who wrote and directed 'The Big Short' about the 2008 financial collapse, has a new comedy that draws on investigative journalism. 'Vice' charts Dick Cheney's rise from Yale dropout to vice president and "operator" behind George W. Bush. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a recording of Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' by Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.Autonomous vehicles could be the "most disruptive technology to hit society worldwide since the advent of the motor car," says form...

Remembering Peace Advocate & Writer Amos Oz
Oz, who died Dec. 28, co-founded Peace Now, a group that calls for negotiations with the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state. He was one of Israel's most popular and critically acclaimed writers. He spoke to Fresh Air in 1988, 1991 and 2004. Also, critic John Powers reviews 'Destroyer,' a noir thriller starring Nicole Kidman....

Filmmaker Adam McKay On 'Vice'
McKay, who wrote and directed 'The Big Short' about the 2008 financial collapse, has a new comedy that draws on investigative journalism. 'Vice' charts Dick Cheney's rise from Yale dropout to vice president and "operator" behind George W. Bush. "He's always kind of just been in the background. So I had to bring him to the foreground," McKay says. 'Vice' is nominated for six Golden Globes. Also, linguist Geoff Nunberg explains a communication breakdown at the Mexican border between border agents and asylum s...


The Injustice Of America's Misdemeanor System
Former federal public defender Alexandra Natapoff says 13 million misdemeanors are filed each year in the U.S., trapping the innocent, punishing the poor and making society more unequal. Her book is 'Punishment Without Crime.' Also, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a recording of Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' by Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters....

Best Of 2018: Actor Rami Malek On Becoming Freddie Mercury
Malek sang at the top of his lungs while playing Queen's iconic lead singer in the new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Still, he says, "No one can sing like Freddie Mercury." Malek spoke with Terry Gross about recreating the 1985 Live Aid concert, learning to move like Mercury, and wearing prosthetic teeth. He also talks about playing a withdrawn and socially anxious hacker in the thriller series 'Mr.Robot,' and how he got started in acting. Malek is nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG award for his performa...

Best Of 2018: Jon Batiste, Band Leader For Colbert's 'Late Show'
Batiste, the music director for 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,' sits at the piano and demonstrates his "everything in the pot" style of playing. He tells Terry Gross about his influences — from Thelonious Monk to Bach. Batiste's latest album is 'Hollywood Africans.'...


Best Of 2018: 'BoJack Horseman' Creator
Raphael Bob-Waksberg's animated comedy series for Netflix satirizes Hollywood using a mix of human and animal characters. "Part of the original pitch was like, 'What's Mr. Ed like behind the scenes?'" BoJack (a horse) is a depressed, alcoholic, sexist former sitcom star in the #MeToo era.Also, rock critic Ken Tucker and film critic Justin Chang share their favorite music and movies of the year....

Best Of 2018: Tracey Thorn
British singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl) uses music to explore feminist themes. She sings about the different stages of women's lives on her recent solo album, 'Record.'...

Best Of 2018: Comic Bo Burnham On 'Eighth Grade'
The former YouTube star explores coming of age online in his film 'Eighth Grade.' "This awful D-list celebrity pressure I had experienced onstage has now been democratized," Burnham says. He talks about living with anxiety, being embarrassed by some of his early material, and why he wrote a film about a 13-year-old girl. Elsie Fisher, who plays Kayla in the film, is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Also, Kevin Whitehead remembers jazz musicians we lost this year....


Best Of 2018: Michael Pollan On The 'New Science' Of Psychedelics
Pollan, author of 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' and 'The Botany of Desire,' talks about his most recent book, 'How to Change Your Mind.' It covers the history of psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms, and how they're now being used experimentally in therapeutic settings to treat depression, addiction, and fear of death. Pollan also talks about experimenting with psychedelics. "I had an experience that was by turns frightening and ecstatic and weird," he says....

A Rockabilly Christmas Concert With JD McPherson
McPherson never thought he'd make a Christmas album. Then, he says, "I got a bug in my ear." He and his band perform live in studio from 'Socks,' and McPherson talks about growing up on a cattle farm....


Best Of: Emily Blunt / Lucas Hedges
Emily Blunt stars as the practical and fantastical nanny in 'Mary Poppins Returns.' She spoke with Terry Gross about floating in the sky as Poppins, playing the baker's wife in the 2014 screen adaptation of Sondheim's 'Into the Woods,' and overcoming a debilitating stutter when she was young. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews two Christmas albums — one by The Monkees and one by Rodney Crowell.Actor Lucas Hedges is best known for his roles in 'Manchester by the Sea' and 'Lady Bird,' and now stars in the ...

Singer-Songwriter Loudon Wainwright III
Wainwright's music centers on family, and how we hurt and heal each other. He spoke to Terry Gross in 1992 and 2017 about his life as a husband, father, son, philanderer and musician. He has a Netflix special called 'Surviving Twin.' Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.'...

The Best TV & Movies Of 2018
TV critic David Bianculli and film critic Justin Chang sit down with Terry Gross to share their picks for the best of the year....


'Iraq's Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge'
'New Yorker' reporter Ben Taub says hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, are being detained, tortured, killed or cast out for suspected association with ISIS. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reflects on the year in music....

Emily Blunt On 'Mary Poppins Returns'
Blunt stars as the practical and fantastical nanny in 'Mary Poppins Returns.' She spoke with Terry Gross about floating in the sky as Poppins, singing for Stephen Sondheim in 'Into the Woods,' and her audition for 'The Devil Wears Prada.'...

The Remarkable Life Of Frederick Douglass
Historian David Blight talks about Frederick Douglass' escape from slavery, his passionate leadership in the abolitionist movement, and his gift as a writer and orator. Blight's new biography is 'Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.' Also, critic John Powers shares his "Ghost List," things he wishes he had reviewed earlier in the year....


Best Of: Actor Richard E. Grant / Rockabilly Christmas With JD McPherson
Richard E. Grant co-stars as the alcoholic sidekick to Melissa McCarthy in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?', which tells the story of a broke writer who makes money by forging literary letters. Grant talks about growing up in Swaziland, witnessing his mother have an affair and narrowly escaping an attack by his own father. Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her picks for the best books of the year. Songwriter JD McPherson pledged he'd never do an album of Christmas songs — but we're so glad he's broken that pro...

Bruce Springsteen
"The Boss" spoke with Terry Gross at his New Jersey home studio in 2016, when his memoir came out, about masculinity, depression, and wishing he was his stage persona. His one-man show, 'Springsteen on Broadway,' will debut on Netflix Dec. 16. Also, Justin Chang reviews 'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins' new film, 'If Beale Street Could Talk,' an adaptation of the 1974 novel by James Baldwin....

Actor Richard E. Grant
Grant co-stars with Melissa McCarthy in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' about Lee Israel, a broke writer who makes money by forging literary letters by famous writers, with the help of her friend Jack. Grant is nominated for a SAG award and a Golden Globe for his performance. He talks with Terry Gross about growing up in Swaziland and witnessing his mother have an affair, narrowly escaping an attack by his own father, and finding refuge in theater....


From Convict To Criminal Justice Reporter
Keri Blakinger is a criminal justice reporter for the 'Houston Chronicle,' but before she reported on prisons, she spent almost 2 years locked up on narcotics charges. Blakinger spoke with Terry Gross about surviving a suicide attempt, solitary confinement, and finishing her degree at Cornell before becoming a reporter. Her reporting has led to prison reform in Texas. "I was so lucky to come out of this and I've been so privileged in so many ways to end up with hope and second chances and a happy ending," ...

A Roots & Rockabilly Christmas Concert With JD McPherson
Songwriter JD McPherson pledged he'd never do an album of Christmas songs — but we're so glad he's broken that promise. He and his band perform live in-studio from their album 'Socks,' and McPherson talks about his upbringing on a cattle farm in rural Oklahoma....

How Driverless Cars Could Change Roads, Jobs & Daily Life
Autonomous vehicles could be the "most disruptive technology to hit society worldwide since the advent of the motor car," says former New York City traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz. We talk about what driverless cars could mean for traffic, infrastructure and pedestrians. His book is 'No One at the Wheel.' Critic Maureen Corrigan picks her top 10 books of 2018....


Best Of: Bradley Cooper / Samin Nosrat
Bradley Cooper talks about writing, directing and starring in his remake of 'A Star is Born.' He not only had to learn how to direct, he had to learn how to sing and play guitar for his role as musician Jackson Maine opposite Lady Gaga. Salt, fat, acid, heat – those are the four elements to mastering cooking, according to James Beard-winning cookbook author Samin Nosrat. She's adapted her bestselling cookbook, 'Salt Fat Acid Heat,' into a four-part Netflix docuseries. She spoke with producer Sam Briger....

The Bizarre World Of Industrial Musicals
Why would someone write a sentimental ballad about a bathroom? For the same reason someone would write a rousing song about air conditioners: So the song could be used in what's called an industrial musical. These musicals were like Broadway shows but they were written and performed for corporate sale meetings and conventions from the '50s to the '80s. Sheldon Harnick, John Russell and Steve Young discuss these musicals written and performed at the behest of corporations. (Originally broadcast Nov. 5, 2013....

Actor Lucas Hedges / Samin Nosrat Part 2
Hedges is best known for his roles in 'Manchester by the Sea' and 'Lady Bird,' and now stars in the movie 'Ben is Back' as a teenager in rehab for opioid addiction. He's also nominated for a Golden Globe for 'Boy Erased,' about a teenager subjected to gay conversion therapy by his conservative Baptist parents. Hedges talks about growing up obsessed with actors, his ADHD, and crying onscreen versus real life. Samin Nosrat, host of the Netflix docuseries 'Salt Fat Acid Heat,' says those are the four key eleme...


Rock Hudson's Double Life
Hudson lived a double life as a Hollywood heartthrob and a closeted gay man. Biographer Mark Griffin says Hudson's death from AIDS in 1985 was a turning point in public awareness of the epidemic. His book is 'All That Heaven Allows.' TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new season of Amazon's Emmy-winning series 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.'...

'Remaking Journalism' In An Age Of Information Chaos
In 'Breaking News,' former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger reflects on the blockbuster stories he helped publish over the course of his 20-year tenure running the British newspaper (including the Snowden and Assange leaks). "Journalism has to remake itself if it is to be the answer to the world of information chaos that we're in danger of living in," he says. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album 'The Space' by pianist Kenny Werner....

Bradley Cooper On 'A Star Is Born' / Samin Nosrat On 'Salt Fat Acid Heat'
Bradley Cooper talks about writing, directing and starring in his remake of 'A Star is Born.' He not only had to learn how to direct, he had to learn how to sing and play guitar for his role as musician Jackson Maine. Cooper talks about changing his voice for the film, what he learned from Clint Eastwood about directing, and casting his dog, Charlie. Salt, fat, acid, heat – those are the four elements to mastering cooking, according to James Beard-winning cookbook author Samin Nosrat. She's adapted her bes...


Best Of: Rami Malek On 'Bohemian Rhapsody' / The 'Profound' Power Of The Immune System
Rami Malek sang at the top of his lungs while playing Queen's iconic lead singer in the new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Still, he says, "No one can sing like Freddie Mercury." Malek spoke with Terry Gross about learning to sing and move like Mercury, and wearing prosthetic teeth. Critic John Powers reviews 'Insurrecto' by Gina Apostol. The novel is about two women, a Filipina translator and an American filmmaker, on a road trip in the Philippines. Immunologist Daniel Davis says scientists are harnessing the...

Remembering Magician Ricky Jay
Ricky Jay, the magician, sleight-of-hand artist, actor, and writer died Saturday at the age of 72. "There are a number of effects in the panoply of magic where the method is really better than the effect," Jay told Terry Gross in 1998. "Something happens where what's happening behind the scenes is 20 times more interesting than what you're actually seeing, and you're dying to say to the audience, 'Boy, if you could just see!' and you really can't." Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Roma,' written and ...

'Widower's Notebook' Draws A Portrait Of Grief And Guilt
Five years ago, Jonathan Santlofer's wife died suddenly, throwing him into a "fugue state" of grief. Sketching her portrait from old photographs has helped him stay close to her. His memoir is 'The Widower's Notebook.' Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel 'Come With Me' by Helen Schulman, about regrets and risk-taking in the Internet age....


Trauma Surgeon Takes On The NRA
After the NRA tweeted that "self-important anti-gun doctors" should "stay in their lane," trauma surgeon Dr. Joseph Sakran started #ThisIsOurLane, mobilizing doctors around the issue of gun safety. Sakran became a surgeon after being shot in the throat when he was 17. Also, critic John Powers reviews 'Insurrecto' by Gina Apostol. The novel is about two women, a Filipina translator and an American filmmaker on a road trip in the Philippines....

Inside Nancy Pelosi's Bid For Speakership
Journalist Robert Draper talks about why Republicans love to attack Pelosi, the challenges she faces from within her own party, and her bid to be speaker of the House. Draper wrote a cover story about Pelosi for the 'New York Times Magazine.'Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'Sophisticated Giant,' a new biography of the late saxophonist Dexter Gordon....

The 'Profound' Power Of The Immune System
Immunologist Daniel Davis says scientists are harnessing the power of the immune system to create new medications to fight cancer, auto-immune conditions and other diseases. He also talks about how the immune system is affected by stress, sleep, and age. Davis' book is 'The Beautiful Cure.' Also, rock critic Ken Tucker shares an appreciation of country artist Lefty Frizzell. The new box set, 'An Article From Life,' spans his career....


Best Of: The Coen Brothers / Free Climbing Yosemite's 'Dawn Wall'
Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen ('Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,' 'No Country for Old Men') pay homage to old Westerns with their new film, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.' The movie is a collection of six stories that often subvert the expectations of the genre.Rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson talk about scaling the 3,000 foot sheer vertical face of Yosemite's El Capitan that was long thought impossible to ascend. The documentary about their historic climb is 'The Dawn Wall.'...

Jazz Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant
McLorin Salvant grew up in Miami as the child of a Haitian father and a French mother. She first studied classical voice, but turned to jazz because it offered her more range. "I never wanted to sound clean and pretty," she told Terry Gross in 2015. "In jazz, I felt I could sing these deep, husky lows if I want, and then these really tiny, laser highs if I want, as well." Her new record is 'The Window,' which critic Kevin Whitehead says is "riveting."...

Musicians Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis come from different generations, but both play the old style of country music — her brother is Jerry Lee Lewis. The duo performed for Terry Gross in the 'Fresh Air' studio in September, sharing stories and songs from their new album, 'Wild! Wild! Wild!'...


Actor Rami Malek On Becoming Freddie Mercury
Malek sang at the top of his lungs while playing Queen's iconic lead singer in the new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Still, he says, "No one can sing like Freddie Mercury." Malek spoke with Terry Gross about recreating the 1985 Live Aid concert, learning to move like Mercury, and wearing prosthetic teeth. He also talks about playing a withdrawn and socially anxious hacker in the thriller series 'Mr.Robot,' and how he got started in acting....

Free Climbing Yosemite's 'Dawn Wall'
Rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson talk about scaling the 3,000 foot sheer vertical face of Yosemite's El Capitan that was long thought impossible to ascend. The duo discuss sleeping in portaledges — tents suspended more than a thousand feet in the air — and the personal risks and rewards of rock climbing. The new documentary about their historic climb is 'The Dawn Wall.' John Powers reviews two new crime dramas based on true stories — the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' starring Patric...

Filmmakers Joel & Ethan Coen
The Coen brothers ('Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,' 'No Country for Old Men') pay homage to old Westerns with their new film, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.' The movie is a collection of six stories that often subvert the expectations of the genre....


Best Of: 'Never Home Alone' With Bugs & Bacteria / 'Burning' Star Steven Yeun
"Every surface, every bit of air, every bit of water in your home is alive," says scientist Rob Dunn. His new book, 'Never Home Alone,' examines the bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites and insects we live with — from armpit bacteria to black mold in our walls. Also, linguist Geoff Nunberg chooses 'nationalist' as his word of 2018.In 'Burning,' Steven Yeun plays a mysterious South Korean playboy who may or may not be murdering his girlfriends. "To this day, I'm the only one who knows who Ben really is," he s...

40 Years Later, What We Learned From Jonestown
On Nov. 18, 1978, an itinerant preacher, faith healer and civil rights activist named the Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 of his followers to kill themselves by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their Jonestown settlement in the jungle of Guyana. 40 years later, questions still linger regarding the Jonestown massacre and the man who inspired it. Journalist Jeff Guinn details how Jones captivated his followers in the book 'The Road to Jonestown.' Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the AMC spy thrill...

The Russian Disinformation Playbook: Exploit Tension, Sow Chaos
A new video series by 'New York Times' reporter Adam Ellick explores Russia's role in spreading fake news, dating back to the '80s conspiracy theory that the AIDS virus was created by the U.S. military. Ellick also talks about the impact of Russian disinformation in the U.S. "This country is so split and divided that we're now using this Soviet disinformation playbook on ourselves."Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the heist thriller 'Widows,' starring Viola Davis and directed by Steve McQueen....


'Shirkers' Dir. Sandi Tan / 'Burning' Star Steven Yeun
Sandi Tan was 19 when she wrote and starred in a film directed by her 40-year old mentor. But then her mentor disappeared and took the film's footage with him. 20 years later, Tan got the footage back. She revisits the mystery of her mentor's disappearance and the film that was never made in a new Netflix documentary 'Shirkers.' In 'Burning,' Steven Yeun plays a mysterious South Korean playboy who may or may not be murdering his girlfriends. "To this day, I'm the only one who knows who Ben really is," he sa...

Remembering Stan Lee / 'Seduction' In Old Hollywood
Karina Longworth's new book, 'Seduction,' focuses on 10 women that had relationships with Howard Hughes and the exploitation of actresses in Old Hollywood. She also reflects on the #MeToo movement and women coming forward against Harvey Weinstein: "The thing that I've come to understand from studying the 20th century of Hollywood is that these things have always happened, and they were never talked about publicly," she says. "So just the fact that we're having a conversation is completely revolutionary." L...

With Bugs & Bacteria Living In Your Home, You're 'Never Home Alone'
"Every surface, every bit of air, every bit of water in your home is alive," says scientist Rob Dunn. His new book, 'Never Home Alone,' examines the bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites and insects we live with — from armpit bacteria to black mold in our walls. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'A Ladder to the Sky' by John Boyne. She calls it "maliciously witty, erudite and ingeniously constructed."...


Best Of: 'How Hearts Can Heal' After Tragedy / Chef José Andrés
Religion scholar Elaine Pagels lost her young son to terminal illness and her husband a year later in an accident. Her new book, 'Why Religion?' combines memoir and biblical scholarship and reflects on loss and faith. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the album 'Interstate Gospel' from the country trio Pistol Annies, comprised of Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley.Chef José Andrés talks about why "vegetables are sexy," reinventing the Philly Cheesesteak and growing up in Spain. His memoir is...

Queen Guitarist Brian May
Terry Gross spoke with Queen lead guitarist Brian May in 2010 about recording the many vocals in 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' writing the anthem 'We Will Rock You' and getting a PhD in astrophysics. The new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' about Freddie Mercury and the meteoric rise of Queen, is now in theaters. Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the Coen Brothers' new film, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,' coming to Netflix Nov. 16....

The Humanitarian Crisis In Yemen
In 2015, Saudi Arabia initiated a bombing campaign against Yemen that contributed to what is now the world's largest humanitarian crisis. Today, 14 million people in Yemen face starvation. Journalist Robert Worth says the country is "no longer a functioning state" — and that Americans share some of the blame, since the Obama administration backed the Saudis. "We gave a green light for it in 2015, and then we stood by and let it continue as it got worse and worse," he says....


Did Law Enforcement Overlook The Threat Of Far-Right Extremism?
'New York Times Magazine' journalist Janet Reitman says domestic counter-terrorism strategists ignored the rising danger of far-right extremism — which enabled the movement to grow and become more dangerous. Juan Gabriel Vásquez's novel, 'The Shape Of The Ruins,' centers on the 1948 assassination of Colombian political leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, the years of violence that followed and the conspiracy theories concerning his death. Vásquez spoke with 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger.Also Rock critic Ken Tuc...

The Fugitive Slave Act & The 'Struggle For America's Soul'
Author Andrew Delbanco says the 1850 law paved the way for the Civil War by endangering the lives of both escaped slaves and free black men and women in the North. His book is 'The War Before The War.'Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the psychological thriller 'Burning.'...

'Why Religion?' Asks 'How Hearts Can Heal' After Tragedy
Religion scholar Elaine Pagels lost her young son to terminal illness and her husband a year later in an accident. Her new book combines memoir and biblical scholarship and reflects on loss and faith. Also, Lloyd Schwartz visits two art exhibitions — the Met's big Delacroix retrospective and the Morgan Library's Pontormo collection....


Best Of: Jonah Hill / How Newt Gingrich 'Broke Politics'
Jonah Hill always wanted to be a writer and director, but an unexpected complement in an acting class shifted him towards performing instead. He co-starred in 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Superbad,' and 'Moneyball.' Now he's written and directed his first movie, 'Mid90s,' about a group of young skateboarders. He talks about toxic masculinity, self-acceptance, and his experience directing for the first time. Maureen Corrigan reviews 'If You Ask Me,' a book of advice columns by Eleanor Roosevelt. 'Atlantic' jo...

Comic Hasan Minhaj
"I'm an Indian-American-Muslim kid, but am I more Indian or am I more American?" Minhaj asks. The former 'Daily Show' correspondent has a new weekly political comedy series on Neflix called 'Patriot Act.' Minhaj spoke with Terry Gross in 2017 when his comedy special 'Homecoming King' was released and he had just done the White House Correspondents' dinner. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Homecoming' on Amazon Prime Video. The series stars Julia Roberts as a therapist who's working with a soldier r...

How Newt Gingrich 'Broke Politics'
'Atlantic' journalist McKay Coppins says that by the time the former speaker of the house left Congress in 1999, he had enshrined a "combative, tribal, angry attitude in politics that would infect our national discourse in Washington and Congress for decades to come." Coppins explains how Gingrich set the stage for President Trump's rise, and how Democrats are now using some of his tactics. Coppins' new article is 'The Man Who Broke Politics.' Also, critic David Edelstein reviews the Orson Welles film 'The ...


Is SCOTUS Too Powerful?
Author David A. Kaplan warns that the Supreme Court is becoming increasingly polarized — and influential: "Why should nine unelected, unaccountable judges dictate so much policy in the country?" We'll also talk about what Trump's two appointees – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – mean for the future of the court. Kaplan's book is 'The Most Dangerous Branch.'Also, Ken Tucker reviews Kurt Vile's new album, 'Bottle It In.'...

Jonah Hill
Hill always wanted to be a writer and director, but an unexpected complement in an acting class shifted him towards performing instead. He co-starred in 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Superbad,' and 'Moneyball.' Now he's written and directed his first movie, 'Mid90s,' about a group of young skateboarders. He talks about toxic masculinity, self-acceptance, and his experience directing for the first time. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Let The People See,' the story of Emmett Till....

White Nationalism And The Synagogue Massacre
Journalist Eli Saslow says white nationalism inspired the man who killed 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue: "In the horrific hierarchy of white nationalist beliefs, they really consider Jews their primary enemy." Saslow spoke with Terry Gross Monday morning about the tragedy and its "straight line" to the white nationalist movement. Also, we'll listen back to an excerpt of the interview with Saslow and former white nationalist Derek Black from September. Saslow's book, 'Rising Out of Hatred,' focuses on Derek, w...


Best Of: Melissa McCarthy / Paul Dano
McCarthy is not interested in playing pleasant characters. "Who wants to watch that?" she says. "There's nothing to sink your teeth into. ... The people I love and like are filled with quirks and eccentricities." McCarthy spoke with Terry Gross about playing Sean Spicer on 'SNL' and her role as literary forger Lee Israel in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissued album, from 1981, featuring diverse musicians playing songs that Nino Rota composed for Federico Fellini mo...

Lou Reed: A Life
Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor for 'Rolling Stone,' says he sought to write the biography that Lou Reed "deserved." DeCurtis didn't shy away from writing about the darker side of Reed's life, including addiction and domestic abuse. "It wasn't like I had to go looking for the drugs and the sex," he says. "Lou wrote about it ... so I felt it was fair game." 'Lou Reed: A Life' is now out in paperback. DeCurtis spoke with Terry Gross in 2017....

Corruption, Scandal & The Big Business Of College Basketball
A federal jury on Wednesday convicted three men of conspiring to use cash payments to recruit players to top basketball programs. Writer Michael Sokolove says the case exposes the sordid competition for young athletes, involving apparel companies, scouts, coaches, parents and so-called street agents, or runners, who seek out players as young as 12. "They're exploitative, they're dealers in human, athletic flesh, and they're trying to get their hooks into kids, and get their hooks into families and get into ...


Actor Paul Dano On Anxiety, Directing, And 'Wildlife'
The 'Love & Mercy' and 'Little Miss Sunshine' actor steps behind the camera for 'Wildlife,' an adaptation of Richard Ford's novel about a boy whose parents are separating. The film was informed by Dano's own parents' relationship. "I think someone else would have wanted to make a film about a kid who rebels; for me, I remember being in the middle, feeling the ground shake and not wanting to tip," he says.Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissued album, from 1981, featuring diverse musicians playi...

How Republican Voter Suppression Efforts Are Targeting Minorities
Twenty-four states have implemented new voting restrictions disproportionately affecting minorities — ranging from requiring voter IDs to closing polling places. We talk with 'Mother Jones' reporter Ari Berman about voter suppression and the ongoing fight for voter rights. "The 2018 election could go in two different ways," he says. "It could be tainted by voter suppression, or it could be remembered as an election in which voting rights were expanded for millions of people."...

Melissa McCarthy
McCarthy is not interested in playing pleasant characters. Flawless women with perfect clothes and relationships? Nope, not for her. "Who wants to watch that?" she says. "There's nothing to sink your teeth into. ... The people I love and like are filled with quirks and eccentricities." McCarthy spoke with Terry Gross about 'Bridesmaids,' playing Sean Spicer on 'SNL,' and her role as literary forger Lee Israel in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'Also, John Powers reviews the BBC drama 'Bodyguard,' dropping on Netfl...


Best Of: 'BoJack Horseman' Creator / 'Hey, Kiddo' Author
Raphael Bob-Waksberg's animated comedy series for Netflix, 'BoJack Horseman,' satirizes Hollywood using a mix of human and animal characters. "Part of the original pitch was like, 'What's Mr. Ed like behind the scenes?'" BoJack (a horse) is a depressed, alcoholic, sexist former sitcom star in the #MeToo era.Justin Chang reviews 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' starring Melissa McCarthy as a con artist who forges letters from famous authors. Jarrett J. Krosoczka's National Book Award-nominated graphic memoir 'Hey,...

A Father & Son's Story Of Addiction And Recovery
David Sheff and his son Nic both wrote memoirs about the family's experience with Nic's addition. Their stories are now the basis of the film, 'Beautiful Boy,' starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. They spoke with Terry Gross in 2008 and 2013.'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' stars Melissa McCarthy as a misanthropic con artist who forges letters from famous authors. Critic Justin Chang feels like McCarthy's entire career has been working toward this role....

Trump's Tax Schemes, Explained
Investigative reporters Susanne Craig and David Barstow say the president received today's equivalent of $413 million from his father's real estate empire, with the help of schemes to avoid paying taxes, including fraud. Also, critic Ken Tucker reviews the album 'Desperate Man' by Eric Church....


'BoJack Horseman' Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Raphael Bob-Waksberg's animated comedy series for Netflix satirizes Hollywood using a mix of human and animal characters. "Part of the original pitch was like, 'What's Mr. Ed like behind the scenes?'" BoJack (a horse) is a depressed, alcoholic, sexist former sitcom star in the #MeToo era....

Graphic Memoirist Grapples With Family Addiction In 'Hey, Kiddo'
Jarrett J. Krosoczka's National Book Award-nominated graphic memoir 'Hey, Kiddo' is about growing up with a mother addicted to heroin. Krosoczka initially didn't want to write about his childhood because he felt it was too dark. "It took it took a long time for me to gain that courage to make this book," he says. "I share that for those young readers out there who are dealing with heavy issues at home. ... I feel like I owe it to these readers to put myself out there."...

Comic Phoebe Robinson
Robinson is the co-host of '2 Dope Queens,' a live comedy show and podcast showcasing comedians from a variety of different backgrounds. The show is now a series of four HBO specials, with more in the works. She also hosts the podcast 'Sooo Many White Guys.' Her new book of personal essays is 'Everything's Trash, But It's Okay.'Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews the new novel 'Washington Black' about a runaway slave. And 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger interviews the book's author Esi Edugyan....


Best Of: 'First Man' Dir. Damien Chazelle / Leonard Cohen's Legacy
The Oscar-winning director ('La La Land') talks about his new film, 'First Man,' which stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in the 10 years leading up to the moon landing. Chazelle wanted to show how loud, rickety, and nauseating space travel was at the time. He used full-scale replicas that spun and shook violently — with the actors and cameras inside. "The sweat you see on screen will be real. The shaking will be real. Even some of the terror will be real. The nausea will be real. And, by extension, the a...

John Waters, The "Pope Of Trash"
The 'Pink Flamingos' filmmaker made a name for himself by setting new lows in bad taste. Now, a new retrospective of his work is at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Originally broadcast 2004 and 2010. Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews Amazon's 'The Romanoffs,' a new anthology series by 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner....

'Rethinking Sex, Power, And Consent On Campus'
Journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of 'Blurred Lines,' says one of the challenges when it comes to handling sexual assault cases on college campuses is that there isn't a universally agreed-upon definition of what sexual assault is. She spent three years reporting on college campuses for the book. Grigoriadis talks about the Kavanaugh hearings, rape culture, and how she sees the national conversation about sexual assault shifting. Also, Ken Tucker reviews an album by bluegrass musicians Hazel Dickens an...


'First Man' Director Damien Chazelle
The Oscar-winning director ('La La Land') talks about his new film, 'First Man,' which stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in the 10 years leading up to the moon landing. Chazelle wanted to show how loud, rickety, and nauseating space travel was at the time. He used full-scale replicas that spun and shook violently — with the actors and cameras inside. "The sweat you see on screen will be real. The shaking will be real. Even some of the terror will be real. The nausea will be real. And, by extension, the a...

'The Weaponization Of Social Media'
P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking say social media has been manipulated to fuel popular uprisings and affect the course of military and political campaigns. Their new book is 'LikeWar.'The story of the 2011 terror attack on a Norwegian summer camp is the subject of a new movie by Paul Greengrass, the British filmmaker best known for such acclaimed docudramas as 'United 93,' and 'Captain Phillips.' John Powers reviews '22 July,' streaming on Netflix....

Leonard Cohen The Poet, Writer, And Father
Leonard Cohen died in 2016, leaving behind many unpublished poems and lyrics. His son Adam Cohen discusses 'The Flame,' a collection of some of Leonard's final works. Adam remembers when his father was composing his best known song, Hallelujah. "It took him 12 years. It started when I was very, very young. I'd hear verses, I think there are 84 verses to that song," Adam says....


Best Of: Infertility And 'Private Life' / What Does Mark Zuckerberg Believe In?
Filmmaker Tamara Jenkins drew on her own "by-any-means-necessary" effort to have a child for her new film 'Private Life.' It stars Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti as a couple in their 40s who are struggling with IVF. Critic David Edelstein reviews 'A Star is Born.' 'New Yorker' staff writer Evan Osnos talks how Facebook became vulnerable to spreading disinformation, how Zuckerberg is attempting to combat fake news, and the inherent problems in monitoring political content without violating users' free speech...

Ballet Dancer Wendy Whelan
Whelan danced for the New York City Ballet for three decades. The documentary 'Restless Creature,' available on Netflix, chronicles Whelan's recovery from hip surgery and her final performance with the New York City Ballet in 2014. "It was terrifying to lose that mode of expression that I was so in touch with, that I so loved, that I so cultivated for my whole entire life," she says. (Originally broadcast July 2017). Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead shares an appreciation of Jimmy Blanton on what would've been h...

'Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?'
'New Yorker' staff writer Evan Osnos talks how Facebook became vulnerable to spreading disinformation, how Zuckerberg is attempting to combat fake news, and the inherent problems in monitoring political content without violating users' free speech. "Over and over again Mark Zuckerberg believed that being at odds with the public was not a sign that you were doing something wrong, it was a sign that you were doing something innovative," Osnos says....


A Couple Struggles With Infertility In 'Private Life'
Filmmaker Tamara Jenkins drew on her own "by-any-means-necessary" effort to have a child for her new film 'Private Life.' It stars Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti as a couple in their 40s who are struggling with IVF. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Heartland' by Sarah Smarsh, a memoir of growing up working class — and below the poverty line....

Michael Lewis On 'The Fifth Risk'
Lewis, author of 'Moneyball' and 'The Big Short,' examines the energy, agriculture and commerce departments under President Trump. Lewis warns that half of the top 700 positions in the administration remain unfilled, and some of the people who have been appointed have conflicts of interest, or are unqualified, making them unprepared to deal with risks. "Many of them are potentially catastrophic risks — the risk of a pandemic, or the risk of a nuclear accident, or the risk of a terrorist attack — one after a...

The Challenges Of Reporting In The Trump Era
Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Washington Post' reporter Greg Miller talks about breaking news, anonymous sourcing, and "lies" versus "falsehoods." His book is 'The Apprentice: Trump, Russia And The Subversion Of American Democracy.' TV critic David Bianculli considers how '60 Minutes' and 'SNL' responded to the Kavanaugh hearings....


Best Of: Jon Batiste / Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis
Jon Batiste, the musical director for 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,' sits at the piano and demonstrates his "everything in the pot" style of playing. He tells Terry Gross about his influences — from Thelonious Monk to Bach. Batiste's new album is 'Hollywood Africans.'Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis come from different generations, but both play the old style of country music — her brother is Jerry Lee Lewis. They share stories and songs from their new album, 'Wild! Wild! Wild!'...

Robert Redford
Redford has announced that he's retiring from acting, and that his role in the new film 'The Old Man and the Gun,' will be his last. In 2013, he spoke with Terry Gross about being a heartthrob, his love of nature, and how he was almost not cast in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.' Critic Justin Chang reviews 'Monsters and Men,' Reinaldo Marcus Green's haunting new film about three Brooklyn men whose lives are impacted by the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in their neighborhoo...

'Is Democracy Dying?'
'Atlantic' journalist Anne Applebaum says the changes taking place in Poland — including a rise of conspiracy theories and attacks on the free press — mirror similar shifts happening in the U.S. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the return of 'Murphy Brown.'...