Fresh Air on WCAI

Weekdays at 1:00pm
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

This month, Jimmy Kimmel's late-night ABC talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, joins the 11:35 p.m. nightly lineup — which puts him in direct competition with two reining comedy kings: Jay Leno and Kimmel's idol, David Letterman.

Kimmel, who paid tribute to Letterman at the Kennedy Center Honors in December, didn't break the news to Letterman himself.

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. But in some states, access to facilities that perform abortions remains limited.

In part, that stems from another Supreme Court ruling from 20 years ago that let states impose regulations that don't cause an "undue burden" on a woman's abortion rights.

While the number of abortion providers has been decreasing, the number of pregnancy centers has been increasing. According to The New York Times, there are now approximately 1,800 abortion providers around the country, compared with 2,500 pregnancy centers. These centers, largely run by Christian groups, discourage women from getting abortions and offer help during their unplanned pregnancies.

In the new Fox TV series The Following, Kevin Bacon plays a former FBI agent asked to help apprehend an escaped serial killer he once put behind bars. The show is from Kevin Williamson, who also created the Scream horror-movie franchise.

In his new book, The Double V: How Wars, Protest and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military, author Rawn James Jr. argues that if one wants to understand the story of race in the United States, one must understand the history of African-Americans in the country's military. Since the country was founded, he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, the military "has continually been forced to confront what it means to segregate individuals according to race."

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:

I was weaned on horror movies and love them inordinately, but the genre has gone to the dogs — and to the muscle-bound werewolves, hormonal vampires, flesh-eating zombies, machete-wielding psychos, etc. It's also depressing how most modern horror pictures have unhappy nihilist endings in which everyone dies and the demons pop back up, unvanquished — partly because studios think happy endings are too soft, but mostly because they need their monsters for so-called franchises.

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 23, 2012.

The individuals who participated in the first Inquisition 800 years ago kept detailed records of their activities. Vast archival collections at the Vatican, in France and in Spain contain accounts of torture victims' cries, descriptions of funeral pyres and even meticulous financial records about the price of torture equipment.

In a December article for The New Republic, "The Grayest Generation: How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society," the magazine's science editor Judith Shulevitz points out how the growing trend toward later parenthood since 1970 coincides with a rise in neurocognitive and developmental disorders among children.

This week, the National Book Critics Circle announced that two feminist literary scholars, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, would be the recipients of its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

In December, the actor Dustin Hoffman sat in a box seat at the Kennedy Center as his old friend, Robert De Niro, saluted him at a celebration marking one of the highest accolades for an artist in the United States: a Kennedy Center Honor.

I was baffled by the cover of The New York Times Magazine two Sundays ago. You may remember that the headline of the cover story was: "George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You'll Read This Year." I was baffled because the only George Saunders I could think of was that old movie star who was always playing cads in films like Rebecca and All About Eve.

At Sunday's Golden Globes, Ben Affleck looked genuinely surprised and delighted twice toward the end of the evening: first when he won best director for Argo, and then again when the film won for best motion picture/drama.

The film, which Affleck produced and in which he also stars, is the mostly true story of the CIA operative who helmed the rescue of six U.S. diplomats who managed to escape at the outset of the 1979 Iran crisis that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days after militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran.

For many years, it didn't occur to Bishop Gene Robinson — the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church — that he might retire before age 72, the mandatory retirement age for Episcopal bishops. But then, in 2010, Mary Glasspool, who is also openly gay, was elected bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles and, for the first time, Robinson reconsidered his retirement plans.

Where does the phrase "the whole nine yards" come from? In 1982, William Safire called that "one of the great etymological mysteries of our time."

He thought the phrase originally referred to the capacity of a cement truck in cubic yards. But there are plenty of other theories.

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