Fresh Air
Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network. Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.
Terry Gross and Marc Maron took the stage at WNYC's RadioLoveFest on May 6. ...
WTF host Marc Maron asks the Fresh Air host about her childhood, her start in radio and her record-strewn apartment; Rob Burnett recounts the silly and somber moments of his tenure with the Late Show.

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:

Terry Gross To Marc Maron: 'Life Is Harder Than Radio': The WTF host asks the Fresh Air host about her childhood, her start in radio and her record-strewn apartment. Gross says Maron's "no bulls***" style made her feel comfortable opening up.

Letterman's Executive Producer: 'He's Meant A Lot To A Lot Of People': Rob Burnett started working with David Letterman as an intern in 1985. He talks with Terry Gross about the absurd and somber moments of his three-decade tenure with the Late Show.

You can listen to the original interviews here:

Terry Gross To Marc Maron: 'Life Is Harder Than Radio'

Letterman's Executive Producer: 'He's Meant A Lot To A Lot Of People'

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In So We Read On, Maureen Corrigan looks at the story behind The Great Gatsby, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's life to the era in which it's set. Originally broadcast Sept. 8, 2014.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Casey (Britt Robertson) experiences a fantastic futuristic world in Tomorrow...
Brad Bird's new sci-fi adventure film features George Clooney, Britt Robertson and an endless sense of possibilities. David Edelstein says the film makes a "near-hysterical case" against pessimism.

Much of Brad Bird's Disney sci-fi adventure Tomorrowland is terrific fun, but it's one of the strangest family movies I've seen: Bird's not just making a case for hope, he's making a furious, near-hysterical case against anti-hope.

After a perplexing prologue in which George Clooney in a futuristic suit addresses an unseen audience, Bird flashes back to perhaps the 20th century's most enduring symbol of technological optimism: The 1964 New York World's Fair. Clooney's character, Frank Walker, is a pre-teen science nerd who's demonstrating his semi-functional homemade jetpack to a British scientist called Nix played by Hugh Laurie. Nix belittles Frank, but a young girl named Athena, who appears to be Nix's daughter, secretly slips the boy a World's Fair pin that transports him somewhere fabulous.

I can't describe where that is because the fun in Tomorrowland comes from being constantly upended. What I can say is that for Bird the '64 fair is utopia. This was an era when kids made rockets in garages out of vacuum cleaner parts; when a clean, cheerful "city of the future" inspired awe instead of cynicism. For Frank, anything seems possible.

Frank is not the movie's protagonist, but it's someone cut from the same cloth. Casey Newton is a present-day Florida teen (played by Britt Robertson) whose dad works for NASA overseeing the dismantling of rockets that will never be used. A budding rocket scientist, she's so outraged by the failure to support the space program, she sends homemade drones to sabotage the equipment --and gets caught. Sprung from jail, she finds in her belongings the same kind of pin that sent Frank on the ride of his life. Every time she touches it, she's in what I'm tempted to call a field of dreams.

It's obvious why both Casey and Frank got that pin: They have imaginations that can't be dampened. Casey's dad poses a riddle that becomes the cornerstone of her worldview, which is, in fact, the film's worldview: You have two wolves, one representing darkness and despair, the other light and hope. Which one lives? Casey knows the answer: "The one you feed."

After Casey joins forces with the middle-aged Frank, much of Tomorrowland is time-and-space jumping plus blast-'em-up battles with human-looking robots. But the most vivid thing is the message: a critique of films, books and TV shows in which floods, plagues, robots, or nukes wipe out civilization. It's not that Bird is disparaging climate change or other dangers. He's saying our society has become so comfortable with the vision of apocalypse that we're not dreaming up solutions.

Maybe Bird's right and we are too comfortable — even turned on — by plague/flood/road-warrior/kids-killing-kids movies. But Tomorrowland has a weird side, too. Bird has acknowledged the influence of Ayn Rand's militant individualism, and so the enemies he identifies aren't, say, the people causing climate change. They're the doomsaying collective, like the science teacher who drones on about temperature rise and looks dumbly at Casey when she interrupts to ask, "Can we fix it?" Nihilistic groupthink rules our culture, says Bird, and Casey's positivity makes her a pariah.

Apart from that — a big "apart" — I loved the movie. I had to dry my tears and let the buzz wear off before I could argue with it. The creator of The Incredibles, Ratatouille and the last Mission: Impossible film, Ghost Protocol, Bird straddles two worlds, his animation grounded by love of classic cinema, his live-action films liberated by an animator's sense of possibilities.

The cast is fun, too. Though Clooney mugs as much as acts, his comic timing remains superb and his young female co-stars are marvelous. Britt Robertson's jumpy Casey pairs beautifully with Raffey Cassidy's crisp underplaying as the enigmatic Athena. I hope neither actress follows Tomorrowland with a plague or Mad Max film — though we all know that in Hollywood, movies with no future are the future.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.