Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Senior Producer/Reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

On a daily basis, she produces, edits and reports arts and cultural segments that air on NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her recent stories explored the rise of public humiliation in popular culture, consumers' changing media habits and the intersection of the arts and education.

In this position that she has held since 2003, Blair's varied work has included profiles of actor Neil Patrick Harris, rapper K'Naan, and the band Pearl Jam. She has written and produced long-form documentaries on such cultural icons as Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday. Blair oversaw the production of some of NPR's most popular special projects including "50 Great Voices," the NPR series on awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time in, and the "In Character" series which explored famous American fictional characters.

Over the years, Blair has received several honors for her work including two Peabody Awards and a Gracie.

For three and a half years, Blair lived in Paris, France, where she co-produced Le Jazz Club From Paris with Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the monthly magazine Postcard From Paris.

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The Two-Way
2:02 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

Ron Moody, Who Delighted Audiences As Fagin In 'Oliver!' Dies

Ron Moody, as Fagin, is seen in a 1968 publicity portrait for the film Oliver!
Columbia/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 2:10 pm

With a scruffy beard and devilish twinkle in his eye, Ron Moody's Fagin is one of the most memorable, musical theater villains of all time. Moody died Thursday at a hospital in London. He was 91.

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Arts + Life
7:17 am
Mon May 25, 2015

It's Not Rude: These Portraits Of Wounded Vets Are Meant To Be Stared At

Army Spc. Jerral Hancock sits for a portrait with his son Julius. It is believed that Hancock was trapped under the wreckage of his Army tank in Iraq for half an hour before he was rescued.
Courtesy of David Jay/Unknown Soldier

Originally published on Tue May 26, 2015 12:50 pm

It's impolite to stare. But when it comes to severely injured soldiers, maybe we don't look enough; or maybe we'd rather not see wounded veterans at all.

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The Two-Way
12:48 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Looted By The Nazis, Matisse's 'Seated Woman' Finally Finds Her Way Home

Henri Matisse's Seated Woman was found in an apartment in Munich.
Wolf Heider-Sawall Courtesy of Art Recovery Group

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 1:19 pm

Missing for nearly 75 years, a painting by Henri Matisse is being returned to the family of its rightful owner Friday. Seated Woman belonged to renowned art dealer Paul Rosenberg, who fled the Nazis in 1940.

The story of the painting's recovery reads like a historical crime novel.

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Art & Design
3:23 am
Fri April 24, 2015

Slow Fashion Shows Consumers What It's Made Of

The Zady clothing line sources cotton from the Texas Organic Cotton Cooperative in Lubbock, Texas.
Zady

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 1:15 pm

If you're into "slow food" — the ethical response to "fast food" — you probably want to know how the animals were treated or whether pesticides were used on your vegetables. Now, the "slow fashion" movement is in the same spirit.

"It's about understanding the process or the origins of how things are made," says Soraya Darabi, co-founder of the clothing line Zady. "Where our products come from, how they're constructed and by whom. Slow fashion is really indicative of a movement of people who want to literally slow down."

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NPR Ed
5:47 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Teaching Students To Hear The Music In The Built World

Architecture professor Diana Agrest evaluates her students' work during a class critique at Cooper Union in New York.
LA Johnson NPR

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 9:31 am

What makes a great teacher great? That's the question at the heart of 50 Great Teachers, from the NPR Ed Team.

Diana Agrest believes architecture is so much more than a marriage of form and function. For more than four decades, she's been trying to get her students to believe that too.

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Arts + Life
8:51 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Who Gets To Dance In 'Swan Lake'? The Answer Is Changing

Misty Copeland (left) and Brooklyn Mack play Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried in this year's Washington Ballet production of Swan Lake. It is the first time that two black dancers star in Swan Lake in a major American production.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 11:47 am

Something rare is happening in the world of ballet: At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., two African-American dancers will be the leads in The Washington Ballet's production of Swan Lake. Misty Copeland, soloist with American Ballet Theatre, will dance the dual role of Odette and Odile, while Brooklyn Mack of The Washington Ballet will dance Prince Siegfried.

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Food
7:26 am
Sun March 29, 2015

Cheez Whiz Helped Spread Processed Foods. Will It Be Squeezed Out?

A Cheez Whiz ad from 1952.
Courtesy of Kraft Foods

Originally published on Sun March 29, 2015 10:33 am

Will Cheez Whiz survive the merger?

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The Two-Way
3:10 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Acclaimed Documentary Filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky Dies At 58

Co-director Bruce Sinofsky attends the Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory press day at HBO Studios on Jan. 6, 2012, in New York City.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 5:14 pm

Peabody and Emmy Award winning filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky has died at age 58.

Sinofsky and his longtime co-director, Joe Berlinger, made such acclaimed documentaries as Some Kind of Monster, about the heavy metal band Metallica and Brother's Keeper, about four brothers in rural upstate New York. They are perhaps best known for Paradise Lost, a trilogy of films about three teenagers convicted of killing three little boys in West Memphis, Ark.

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Arts + Life
9:09 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Miniseries Explores The Ugly Fallout Of A Disciplinary 'Slap'

Rosie (Melissa George) and barbecue hostess Aisha (Thandie Newton) comfort Rosie's 5-year-old son (Dylan Schombing) after another parent hit him.
Virginia Sherwood NBC

For a lot of parents, spanking your kids isn't an option. But not too long ago, many a child's bottom met the occasional switch. And while attitudes about corporal punishment have changed, it's still a provocative issue — one NBC is taking on in The Slap, a new miniseries that premiers Thursday.

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Arts + Life
2:02 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

A Rare Bird: After 120 Years, Audiences Still Flock To 'Swan Lake'

Swan Lake is 120 years old and still popular. The Mariinsky Theatre's current tour of the ballet at BAM in New York City is nearly sold-out.
Valentin Baranovsky BAM

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 8:39 am

The version of Swan Lake most often performed today premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, 120 years ago this month. The ballet had been staged before, but it wasn't a hit until choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov revised it.

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Pop Culture
5:40 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

And The Moral Of The Story Is ... Kids Don't Always Understand The Moral

In the "Winter's Gift" episode of Sofia the First, Disney Princess Tiana (left) from The Princess and the Frog makes a special appearance to help Princess Sofia learn that a true gift comes from the heart.
Disney Junior

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 8:28 pm

"Slow and steady wins the race."

"What's right for one may be wrong for another."

"Treat others the way you'd like to be treated."

Morals have long been the conclusion of fables and fairy tales aimed at kids. And today's TV shows and movies are no different — they often weave lessons for the younger generation into their narratives. But do children actually absorb these messages, or do these endings just help parents feel better about the media their kids consume?

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Analysis
3:45 am
Thu January 8, 2015

'Charlie Hebdo' Laughed In The Face Of Violence; Will Future Satirists?

Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 6:36 pm

Despite a 2011 firebombing at the Charlie Hebdo offices, and continuing threats and heightened security around the building, according to its editor-in-chief, the staff of the weekly never slowed down.

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Games & Humor
3:23 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Banish 2014's Woes With Our Stand-Up Comedy Picks

NBC Ben Cohen/NBC

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 11:49 am

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Science + Technology
3:02 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Whether Green With Envy Or Tickled Pink, We Live In A Color-Coded World

An employee at a frozen foods company in eastern Germany checks carrots for quality.
Michael Urban AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 11:00 am

Red means stop; green means go. You live in a red or a blue state. You feel green with envy, or you're tickled pink. Colors alert, provoke, attract, divide and unite us.

Thinkers from Plato to Einstein to a new cottage industry of color psychologists have studied the importance of color in our daily lives. But, as Joann and Arielle Eckstut write in their book The Secret Language of Color: "Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar."

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Arts + Life
12:50 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

At 83, Dancer Carmen De Lavallade Looks Back At A Life Spent Onstage

Christopher Duggan

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Arts + Life
4:58 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

As Museums Try To Make Ends Meet, 'Deaccession' Is The Art World's Dirty Word

Deaccessioning — the permanent removal of an object from a museum's collection — has been a big issue in Detroit. When the city declared bankruptcy, it had to put all of its assets on the table. Turns out, the most valuable asset was the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 5:57 pm

Sometimes museums get in trouble. Deep trouble. Not because they damage art, or let it get stolen ... but because they sell it. The Delaware Art Museum is the latest target of the art world's ire — for selling one painting from its collection to try and tackle a debt, and for revelations in the past few days that two more paintings are up for sale.

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Arts + Life
3:39 am
Tue August 5, 2014

From 'Good Times' To 'Honey Boo Boo': Who Is Poor On TV?

The Evans family from Good Times. Bern Nadette Stanis is second from left.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 10:47 am

Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?

In life and on TV, "poor" is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo's family, it's microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire's Baltimore ghetto, it's a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.

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Arts + Life
10:15 am
Mon July 21, 2014

With Humor, 'Dead And Breathing' Dives Into End-Of-Life Struggles

Lizan Mitchell (left) as the wealthy and crotchety Carolyn and N.L. Graham as Veronika, her nurse, in the play Dead and Breathing.
Seth Freeman

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 8:40 pm

The play Dead and Breathing begins boldly. Sixty-eight-year-old Carolyn takes off her towel and steps into a bathtub completely naked. She's bathed by her chatty nurse, Veronika.

The wealthy, cantankerous woman is dying of cancer. Carolyn, played by Lizan Mitchell, wants to die sooner rather than later, and tries to convince the nurse (N.L. Graham) to help her do that.

It's one of the most talked-about new plays at this year's Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va., which runs through Aug. 3.

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Arts + Life
9:00 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Actress Elaine Stritch, 'Her Own Greatest Character,' Dies At 89

Stritch first appeared on Broadway in 1944 — and was still performing occasionally even at age 89. She is pictured above in 1955.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 3:19 pm

Elaine Stritch — one of Broadway's boldest and brassiest performers — has died. With that gravelly voice — and those long legs — and that utter command of the stage, Stritch was a bona fide Broadway star. Not as a classic leading lady, necessarily, but as the hardened-yet-vulnerable performer audiences couldn't forget. Stritch died of natural causes Thursday morning at her home in Birmingham, Mich. She was 89.

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Book Your Trip
4:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

In 'Little Engine That Could,' Some See An Early Feminist Hero

Was "I think I can" the great-grandmother of "lean in?" Some readers see the plucky locomotive as a parable about working women, but some versions of the story feature a male protagonist instead.
Platt & Munk, Penguin Young Readers Group

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 8:23 pm

"Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong."

The beloved tale of the little blue engine — who helps bring a broken-down train of toys to the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain — has been chugging along for a very long time. But despite the locomotive's optimistic refrain — I think I can, I think I can, I think I can — the story has a somewhat checkered past: In its tracks, The Little Engine has left both a legal battle and a debate over whether the little blue engine is male or female.

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