Weekend Edition Sunday

Conceived as a cross between a Sunday newspaper and CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles KuraltWeekend Edition Sunday features interviews with newsmakers, artists, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, theologians and historians. The program has covered news events from Nelson Mandela's 1990 release from a South African prison to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Weekend Edition Sunday debuted on January 18, 1987, with host Susan Stamberg. Two years later, Liane Hansen took over the host chair, a position she held for 22 years. In that time, Hansen interviewed movers and shakers in politics, science, business and the arts. Her reporting travels took her from the slums of Cairo to the iron mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula; from the oyster beds on the bayou in Houma, La., to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park; and from the kitchens of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the fall of 2011, NPR National Desk Reporter Audie Cornish began hosting the show.

Every week listeners tune in to hear a unique blend of news, features and the regularly scheduled puzzle segment with Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor of The New York Times.

Weekend Edition Sunday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States and around the globe via NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

Producer David O. Selznick purchased film rights for Gone with the Wind in 1...
As the film turns 75, a new exhibit looks back at the controversy over Scarlett being played by a British actress and how the African-American press influenced the script.

Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler are one of the most enduring couples in American cinema, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of their film debut in Gone with the Wind, a tale of war, love gone wrong and tragic endings. Adjusted for inflation, the epic melodrama has grossed more money than any other American film.

On Tuesday, an exhibition titled "The Making of Gone With The Wind" opened at the University of Texas at Austin. It explores everything from the film's casting to the controversies that began even before the first take.

Steve Wilson, curator of the exhibit, tells NPR's Lynn Neary about the contentious casting of British actress Vivien Leigh in the role of Scarlett and how the African-American press influenced the film's script.


Interview Highlights

On casting the role of Scarlett from more than 1,400 screen tests and thousands of letters, and the reaction to Leigh getting the part

[Producer David O.] Selznick put out the word everywhere, through newspapers and gossip columns, inviting just anybody to write in, and people did. ...

[Leigh's casting] was a huge problem for them at first. The fact that it was anyone other than a Southern-born woman playing the part really bothered especially the United Daughters of the Confederacy, [who] issued a proclamation about it.

On the NAACP's attempt to influence the film, and how the African-American press got the n-word taken out of the script

Selznick, actually, got into a long correspondence with Walter White, who was the head of the NAACP. White wanted Selznick to hire an African-American advisor to be on the set to advise on historical matters. ...

Just as they started shooting the film, there started, in the African-American press, in particular The Pittsburgh Courier — a writer named Earl Morris, who was the motion picture editor for that paper, started writing a series of blistering editorials about the film and what they thought would be in the film. And Earl Morris focused on what he called "the hate word," and how terrible it would be to include that in the film. ... In large part because of these editorials by Earl Morris, Selznick ultimately decided to take that word out of the script. ... And I think it's really important that Selznick took that word out, because if it had stayed, I think we would be so embarrassed and offended by it that we would not be watching that movie now. We wouldn't be here talking about it today.

On why the film is so ingrained in American popular culture

I think it all comes down to Scarlett O'Hara, this incredible character. Some of my favorite material in the exhibition are these letters from women writing in asking for a chance to play the part. Most of them knew that they had no chance in the world of getting the part, but they were moved to write to him because they identified so closely with this character. Most of them would write in saying that they understood Scarlett because they lived the same life that Scarlett did. One writes in saying that she knew what it was like to divide a stick of butter to last the rest of the month; another one writes in to say that she worked on a tobacco farm and pushed a plow; and another one writes in that her house had been foreclosed on by the bank so they understood what Scarlett was going through. ...

I've been saying that the story of the making of Gone with the Wind is really the story of the Great Depression much more than the Civil War. ... So these issues that were so important to Scarlett were also important to the people of the time, and I think that it resonated so much that it became an integral part of our culture that is still with us today.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Marquis Govan of St. Louis got interested in politics by going along with hi...
The sixth-grader loves politics, admires some lawmakers and speaks without notes before the county council. "The people of Ferguson," he told them, "don't need tear gas ... I believe they need jobs."

The St. Louis County Council convened for a regular meeting on Aug. 19. It was only a day after a particularly turbulent night in Ferguson, one filled with protests, tear gas and many arrests over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer.

Only a couple dozen people showed up to the council meeting. Three spoke during the public comment section. One was Marquis Govan.

He lowered the microphone to match his 11-year-old height before speaking.

"The people of Ferguson, I believe, don't need tear gas thrown at them," Marquis said. "I believe they need jobs. I believe the people of Ferguson, they don't need to be hit with batons. What they need is people to be investing in their businesses."

Wearing freshly-pressed slacks, a white shirt and a tie, Marquis implored the council, and the public, to look at the underlying issues — economics and the racial makeup of the police force.

"You're paying attention to the looting and things like that, when the real issues aren't being solved," he told the council. "There's a reason why those people are out there."

He spoke with no notes.

"I couldn't believe it, because I've seen adults come before us to speak, and they might have their prepared statement, and they stumble through it because they're nervous," says Councilwoman Hazel Erby. "Marquis was just perfect."

Erby has been on the county council for more than 10 years. She knows Marquis' family, and has watched the boy's interest in politics blossom over the years. She recalls him at a town hall meeting last year.

"One of the questions he asked just blew everybody away. I think he said, 'How are you going to create businesses? We have businesses now. But how are you going to create businesses and then retain them in St. Louis County?' " she says. "Whatever he said, it was so intellectual that I couldn't even go back and repeat it."

When he's not at county council meetings, Marquis is a student at Loyola Academy in St. Louis. Between classes, the sixth-grade political junkie opines on national politics, deriding certain senators as "politicrats."

"I will call Mary Landrieu a politicrat," he says. "I will call Mark Pryor a politicrat. They will do anything to stay in Washington."

"I told my colleagues, the teachers, that they better be ready for Marquis when they're giving instruction in class," says Eric Clark, president of Loyola, a rigorous Jesuit school that attracts low-income students who take an admissions test and pay on a sliding scale.

"This is my sixth year here, and I cannot recall a young man that's been so interested in politics," Clark says.

Many Loyola students come from tough backgrounds, as did Marquis.

"My parents, they were not in the conditions — let's say that — to take care of me. They didn't have what they needed to take care of me," he says.

As a baby, Marquis spent time in foster care. When he was 2, his great-grandmother, Jennie Bracy, took custody of him. She gave him his first taste of politics by taking him along with her when she went to vote.

"Getting him up early in the morning to go to the polls with me, he became very interested," Bracy says. "He knew that he needed to know these candidates so I would select the right person."

Marquis says he first starting thinking about politics during the 2008 presidential election. He was 5.

"Yeah, I really did start at a very young age," he says. "My grandmother always had the news on. We always watched funny shows. And I mean, everybody was talking about it. At points, I would stop by political shows, like, 'What in the world are they talking about?' And I started getting it."

Marquis does has other interests. He's a soccer fan and played for a while. But his main activity is politics. For now, he wants get his classmates interested in the political process — one day, he may need their votes. He describes himself as a Democrat, though more conservative than one of the politicians he hopes to emulate.

"I want to be one of those leaders like Nancy Pelosi," he says. "But sometimes I don't necessarily agree with her politically. I want to be a leader like her, except I want to be this new wing. I want to lead all the conservative Democrats and moderates who are sometimes left out of their party, saying they're party-switchers. They're not party-switchers. They're compromisers."

The 11-year-old, who reads Barack Obama's memoir between classes, has another dream, says his great-grandmother.

"He says I'm getting to be an old lady, and he's going to have to ask God to let me live a little bit longer so that I can see him become the president of the United States," she says.

An ambitious goal to be sure, but If Marquis ever takes the oath of office near a city hall or the nation's capital, his political start may be traced back to a tumultuous August evening when he decided to speak up.

Copyright 2014 KWMU-FM. To see more, visit http://www.stlpublicradio.org.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was expected to cruise to victory in next Tuesday's Democratic primary. But he faces a surprisingly vigorous challenge from the left.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was supposed to cruise past next Tuesday's primary election in New York on his way to a second term.

But the powerful Democratic incumbent may have more trouble than many expected. For one thing, his main opponent, a little-known law professor named Zephyr Teachout, is mounting a respectable challenge from the left. For another, Cuomo could potentially wind up with a running mate he doesn't want.

This week, the local cable news channel NY1 tried to host a debate between Cuomo and Teachout. Teachout was the only one to show up.

A veteran of Howard Dean's presidential campaign, Cuomo's challenger is also a distinguished legal scholar with a recent book, Corruption in America.

Corruption has been Teachout's top issue. For months, she's been hammering Cuomo for allegedly interfering with the work of his own anti-corruption commission earlier this year.

"Voters will forgive a lot of things," she said. "But they won't forgive a politician who's self-serving or serving their donors. And increasingly, that's what Democratic primary voters are thinking, is that Cuomo is out for himself."

Cuomo denies interfering with the commission. The Justice Department is investigating, but no charges have been filed.

While Teachout has campaigned vigorously, Cuomo has all but disappeared. He's made few public appearances in recent weeks.

"I've been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy," he said, explaining his decision not to take part in the event at NY1. "So anyone who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn't watched all the debates that I've been in."

It's a classic front-runner strategy — especially when the opponent has a bit of a name-recognition problem.

Teachout's name recognition, however, may be higher with the kind of people who vote in Democratic primaries. Jeanne Zaino, political science professor at Iona College, says she doesn't think Cuomo is going to lose, but if Teachout does well, Zaino says, it could hurt Cuomo's standing as a possible presidential candidate down the road.

"It is something that I think could potentially weaken him," she says. "It's probably not going to throw him out of the primary, certainly, or the general election. But it could certainly make him look less attractive to Democrats, and that's something that's going to matter to the governor."

Another way Tuesday's outcome could matter to Cuomo: Under a quirk in New York law, the governor and lieutenant governor run on separate ballot lines, and Cuomo's running-mate may be vulnerable. Former U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul comes from western New York, the only part of the state where Cuomo under-performed in his first campaign four years ago. But Hochul's relatively conservative record on issues like guns, the environment and immigration suddenly looks like a liability.

Hochul tried to shore up her liberal credentials this week as she picked up the endorsement of Mayor Bill de Blasio and other New York politicians.

"I'm so proud to be standing here with New York City's prominent, progressive leaders," she said. "You call me anti-immigrant at your own peril. That is not true. I have a history of being in this arena and fighting for people all my life."

Hochul is locked in a surprising primary battle with political newcomer Tim Wu. A Columbia University law professor, Wu was best known for coining the phrase "net neutrality," until Teachout tapped him as her running mate.

Wu has picked up the endorsement of The New York Times, and he's been a quick study in the art of politics.

"Kathy Hochul's positions are really far out of line with the Democrats who vote in a Democratic primary," Wu says. "She's in a really difficult position."

Wu says he wants to reinvent the role of the lieutenant governor as an independent voice inside the administration. That would be a big change for a job that critics describe as little more than a cheerleader for the governor's agenda — and possibly the last thing Cuomo had in mind when he imagined his second term.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.