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Arts + Life

Arts + Life

Long before Monday's official unveiling of Barack and Michelle Obama's unconventional portraits, the artists who painted them began working on details like the dress Michelle would wear and Barack's background tableau.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy ran on the Bravo TV network from 2003 to 2007. The show focused on a group of five chatty, personable gay men, called the "Fab Five," as they gave a make over to a straight man who needed help getting his life back on track. Each member of the Fab Five specialized in one of the essential elements of style: design, personal grooming, fashion, food and pop culture.

The show was a surprise hit as it aired in a country that was still working on bringing LGBTQ culture and issues into the public's consciousness.

Candide is a show with a classy pedigree. Voltaire wrote the 1759 novella. It became an operetta in 1956 with a libretto by Lillian Hellman, contributions from Dorothy Parker and Richard Wilbur, the noted poet — and some gorgeous music by Leonard Bernstein. The original production lasted just two months on Broadway, but the score is still a popular favorite — and the show has been revived many times over the years, with Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler, John Mauceri, and Bernstein himself adding material.

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MICHELLE OBAMA: Let's just start by saying wow again.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At the National Portrait Gallery in Washington today, the subjects of two new paintings helped with their unveiling.

If any feminist walks the walk, it's author, actress and activist Eve Ensler, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues. In 2009, Ensler went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help victims of rape and torture create a sanctuary called City of Joy.

That's when her own life got upended.

Whether you're planning the ultimate romantic evening or a night alone in your sweats, this list of podcasting's best love stories are sure to put you in the Valentine's Day mood. Listen to individual episodes on NPR One or wherever you get podcasts.

Love Me, "At a Loss for Words" from CBC

Two travelers fall in love over Google Translate. But, some sentiments just don't easily translate from one language to another. This is all about how they find a common language (of love!).

She says she was born doing it. He says a schoolboy crush got him interested. Years later, their mutual love for their shared art form has brought them critical acclaim, awards, magazine covers — and each other.

HBO got Alan Ball at the right time.

Ball won an Oscar in 2000 for writing American Beauty. Shortly thereafter, in 2001, with HBO's drama brand still in its infancy (The Sopranos was a couple of seasons old), he created Six Feet Under for the network. Both it and later Ball's True Blood were fundamental to HBO's growth, and now, the network is ready to introduce his new show.

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that it will release a Forever Stamp featuring America's favorite neighbor, television icon Mister Rogers.

The title character of the half-hour children's educational television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Fred Rogers "was known as a beloved television neighbor to generations of children," a statement from USPS said. The stamp is scheduled to be unveiled March 23, 50 years after the original episode of the series aired in the U.S. in 1968.

Nestled among palm trees at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens near Pasadena, Calif., there's a mysterious, metallic structure that curls like a nautilus shell. It's called the Orbit Pavilion, and it was created by a team of artists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories, or JPL.

Step inside the 17-foot-tall structure and you'll hear otherworldly sounds triggered by the tracking signal of 19 orbiting satellites above Earth.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday night. You could be forgiven for not expecting it — it's never happened before. And on this historic occasion, Stephen Thompson and I sat down Monday morning to talk with some of our favorite panelists about the game and the surrounding entertainment. With us is Katie Presley, a New Orleans Saints fan without too much at stake in this game. But also with us is Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team. Gene is a longtime Eagles fan who had, in terms of fandom, a lot at stake in this game.

Actor John Mahoney, best-known for his portrayal of the grouchy and sharp-witted father of the title character in the TV show Frasier, died Sunday. He was 77.

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company confirmed his death, saying in a statement, "John Mahoney passed away due to complications from cancer while in hospice care on Sunday."

For 11 years, from 1993 to 2004, Mahoney played the blue-collar, retired-cop foil to Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, his dandy and effete sons on the NBC hit show.

If you've been following any of the news stories in recent years about famous men behaving horribly, then you've surely seen Gloria Allred. And while stories about sexual misconduct have been making headlines for many months now, Allred has been talking about those issues, filing lawsuits and holding press conferences for four decades.

Dan Reynolds is known to millions of fans around the world as the lead singer of the popular band, Imagine Dragons, because of hits like "Radioactive," "Thunder," and last year's chart topper, "Believer."

The spiritual questions at the core of "Believer" are unmistakable, but also deeply personal. Now, though, Reynolds has taken those questions to new, more public terrain — the treatment of LGBTQ members of the church of Reynold's upbringing, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church.

I fell in love this week. Happens more often than you might think.

But the fact that it's happened before, and will happen again, doesn't mean this latest infatuation is any less passionate, abiding, head-over-heels, birds-suddenly-appear, stars-fall-down-from-the-sky resolute.

My husband's cool with it. He always is; we have an understanding. Also the object of my love is a podcast. Probably should have mentioned that at the top.

Lan Cao was just 7 years old when military forces launched an attack in her city outside of Saigon, Vietnam, in 1968. But she still remembers the chaos: the sound of automatic gunfire, the fighting near her house, how the sky lit up at night from explosions.

German television is coming into its own. After the recent stateside success of shows like Dark and Deutschland 83, the latest subtitled offering is a crime series set in 1920s Berlin. Launching Tuesday on Netflix, Babylon Berlin (based on the crime novels of German writer Volker Kutscher) explores the Weimar era's raging nightlife, flourishing cabaret scene and brutal criminal underbelly.

A lot of very hard work is going on at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

A muscled guy in an undershirt tightens a big bolt with his wrench; a farm worker bends almost in half, filling his sack with cotton; Rosie the Riveter rolls up her sleeve to tackle her factory job. They're all part of an exhibition called "The Sweat Of Their Face: Portraying American Workers."

But not all the laborers are big and burly.

This week New Orleans hosts a peppery performance that was almost lost to the past.

Conductor Paul Mauffray discovered a program for the 1894 show Tabasco: A Burlesque Opera while rifling through historic music in his hometown, which celebrates its 300th anniversary this year.

Over the past few months, the Amazon drama-comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been the show everyone loves to talk about.

Sharon Brangman knew at a young age — around 10 years old — that she wanted to be a doctor one day.

So when a school guidance counselor put her in typing and home economics classes, her mother, Ruby Brangman, wouldn't have it. Ruby made a trip to her daughter's school to address the matter.

"Grandmother was like, 'Oh, no way,' " Sharon tells her daughter, Jenna Lester, in a StoryCorps interview in New York City. "I remember she went up to the school and said, 'I want my daughter transferred so she could go to college.' "

Hospital shows are a network TV staple. There are more than 625 episodes of just Grey's Anatomy and ER combined — and Grey's is still going. Just as last season, NBC found a hit in the fairly traditional family drama This Is Us, ABC has gotten lucky with the hospital show The Good Doctor.

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The day was going to be perfect.

Alex figured he would wake up at 6:30 a.m., help get his little brothers up and off to school and catch the bus by 7. After school, the 14-year-old would do something he had been looking forward to for weeks — play in his first football game.

Casey Affleck will not be presenting the trophy for best actress at the upcoming Academy Awards, his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press Thursday.

It is customary for the previous year's best actor to return to present the best-actress award. Affleck won the award for his performance in Manchester By the Sea.

"Not everything in Saudi Arabia is black and white," says photographer Dina Alhamrani, one of 11 Saudi artists whose work is featured in an exhibition this week at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, called "Women's Point of View," features the creations of students and recent graduates in visual communications from Jeddah's all-female Dar al-Hekma University.

It's a no-go from Oprah for 2020.

Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul and actress who spurred buzz of a White House bid with her stirring speech at the Golden Globes this month, told InStyle that she isn't interested in being president.

"I've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. ... I don't have the DNA for it," Winfrey told the magazine.

It's just before Thanksgiving, and artist Christopher Marley is packing up items for a big exhibition outside Miami. Marley transforms poisonous snakes, tropical fish and exotic insects into works of art — and he just realized he forgot to frame a foot-long isopod that's still in the freezer.

There was a time when saying you lived in Portland, Ore., would get a response like, "That's above California, right?" Now, people not only know where the city is but also inevitably ask, "Is it just like the show?"

TV Review: 'Waco'

Jan 25, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Television viewers have a chance to relive a notorious chapter in American history. It was a 1993 standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. A six-part drama called "Waco" begins tonight on the Paramount Network. Here's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

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