Fresh Air with Terry Gross
Sheen has made a name for himself playing real historical figures, including Mozart, Caligula, Prime Minister Tony Blair and British TV host David Frost. Now, in the Showtime drama Masters of Sex, he plays the part of groundbreaking sex researcher William Masters.
Fresh Air's book critic says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked this year were written by female authors. Her favorites include a jumbo-sized Dickensian novel, a biography of Ben Franklin's sister, a comedy of manners, a stunning Scandinavian mystery and more.
"This is it," Webb said of Fitzgerald. "I have a real singer now. That's what the public wants."
In 2012, the band became another rock group that was celebrating its 50th anniversary. This year, it released Made in California, an eight-hour, six-disc retrospective of their career that, perhaps inadvertently, shows how this once-great force in American popular music faded from public view.
Leaked internal documents reveal new insights into the goals and finances of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations to develop model bills that lawmakers try to pass in their state legislatures.
Nina Borg, the heroine of Death of a Nightingale, is a Red Cross nurse on a mission to save the dispossessed. But she neglects her own family as she rescues those in need in Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol's elaborately plotted page-turner.
At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation in the international opera world, and one of the most versatile. Among his recordings this year are albums dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.
Novelist Delia Ephron says that losing her older sister Nora was like "losing an arm." But for all their collaboration and closeness, Delia writes about the complications of sisterhood in her new collection of autobiographical essays, Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.).
Director Alexander Payne talks about his new film Nebraska. Alexis Madrigal explores the best way to share photos of his new baby. And Ben Bradlee Jr. talks about The Kid, his new biography of baseball player Ted Williams.
HBO's new TV special is part biography, part music-appreciation lesson and part performance piece. Critic David Bianculli says it's a superbly compiled work, overseen by two of the people most intimately familiar with the composer himself.
Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen continue to mine American pop culture in their latest film. It's 1961 in Greenwich Village, and a homeless folk singer is trying desperately to break out. Critic David Edelstein says the overarching tone of the film is snotty, condescending and cruel.
The New York Times calls Stephen Sondheim the "greatest and perhaps best-known artist in American musical theater." Sondheim composed the music and lyrics for, among others, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company. In 2010 he joined Fresh Air to discuss his career in musical theater.
New York City is home to more paintings by Johannes Vermeer — eight — than any other city. And until mid-January, it's playing host to one more: the world-renowned Girl with a Pearl Earring. Critic Lloyd Schwartz says, since the painting's 1994 restoration, "It's even more breathtaking than I remembered."
How close are TV interrogations to the real thing? Not very, says Douglas Starr. In a New Yorker article, he explores the "gold standard" of interrogation methods, developed in the 1940s. But there's concern that this technique is based on outdated science, and may produce false confessions.
With six concerts spread over eight discs, Wood Flute Songs documents the bassist's exhaustive and creative live output.
Smartphones and the Internet have made it easier than ever for people to share photos of their friends, family, pets and children. But sharing personal photos raises technological and ethical questions. Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal recently became a father and has some tips for navigating the world of online photo sharing.
The smart songwriter behind the much-beloved "Hey Sandy" returns after eight years. Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You is full of smart wordplay and Mulcahy's unmistakable voice, but it's also driven by loss.
South Africa's Mponeng gold mine is a 2.5-mile-deep network of chutes and tunnels that employs about 4,000 miners. Of course, that number doesn't include the miners who wander its tunnels clandestinely, stealing and refining ore. In a new book, journalist Matthew Hart investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.
The hitter had a swing so pure and flawless that Mickey Mantle would watch him take batting practice. But he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself. Ben Bradlee Jr. delivers a deeply personal account of Williams' life in The Kid.
Payne tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he first read Nebraska — a film about an old man who is beginning to show signs of dementia — as a comedy "with moments of gravity." Payne also directed Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants.