Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award winning, 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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: It's tough to have an event in Washington, D.C., without delving into politics in some way, even an arts event like the Kennedy Center Honors. Stephen Colbert was the emcee, and he greeted members of establishment Washington as, quote, "endangered swamp dwellers," rather. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, the mood was festive, but a little bittersweet. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: This was the last annual Kennedy...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Now, the artist Jeff Koons is honoring the victims of the attacks in France last year with a giant outdoor sculpture for the city of Paris. Construction is already underway for a bronze, stainless steel and aluminum sculpture called Bouquet of Tulips. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, Koons is donating the work, but it does have a price. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The idea started with the American ambassador to...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: President-elect Trump lets it be known when he'd like something and when he doesn't. And he does not like the way Alec Baldwin plays him on "Saturday Night Live." (SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE") ALEC BALDWIN: (As Donald Trump) Siri... (LAUGHTER) BALDWIN: (As Donald Trump) ...How do I kill ISIS? (LAUGHTER) MCEVERS: That's from last Saturday's episode. The next morning, Trump tweeted that he had...

It didn't get a lot of attention – and maybe that was intentional - but a new website from President-elect Donald Trump's transition team went live last week. It's too soon to judge the Trump administration's aesthetic sensibilities, but the new site provides some clues. "It could've been stolen from the Reagan campaign of 1984, how 'It's Morning in America again,'" said H.W. Brands, an American history professor at the University of Texas-Austin and the author of Reagan: The Life . Brands...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: "Arrival" has arrived. In the sci-fi mystery film, Amy Adams plays a linguist hired by the government to try and decipher the language of aliens whose spaceships have touched down around the globe. The soundtrack was written by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. NPR's Elizabeth Blair talked to him about writing a score that is both otherworldly and intimate. ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: "Arrival" is a global...

Troll dolls, those novelty toys with fluorescent Don King hair, are now the stars of their own movie. It's a balance between feel-good fun and the kind of offbeat humor that aims to keep adults in their seats. Tending to these relentlessly charming creatures is veteran animator Mike Mitchell. He's worked with many different, er, species (a sponge, chipmunks, ogres) in his career. Mitchell claims Shrek is the most difficult of all of them. Trolls, he says, are by far the easiest. That's...

Desmond Doss is credited with saving 75 soldiers during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II in the Pacific — and he did it without ever carrying a weapon. The battle at Hacksaw Ridge, on the island of Okinawa, was a close combat fight with heavy weaponry. Thousands of American and Japanese soldiers were killed, and the fact that Doss survived the battle and saved so many lives has confounded and awed those who know his story. Now, he's the subject of a new film directed by Mel Gibson...

Rod Temperton has been called pop music's "Invisible Man" because few knew his name. But his songs were megahits in the 1970s and 80s. Along with big hair, wide lapels and bell bottoms, his music helped define the disco era. Temperton died of cancer last week in London, according to a statement from his publisher. He was 66. Temperton wrote such hits as "Thriller," "Rock with You," and "Boogie Nights." But even disco had songs that were layered with great harmonies and robust horn parts....

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Curious George famously managed all sorts of escapes — from policemen, firemen, zookeepers and plenty other humans who didn't like his mischief. But many readers don't know that the husband-wife team who created the inquisitive little monkey — who is celebrating his 75th birthday this year — had the most harrowing escape of all. In 1939, artists Hans Augusto and Margret Rey were living in Paris, where they had written a book with a side character named Fifi. The Reys thought this young,...

Please, have a seat; it's time to talk about chairs. Thomas Jefferson collected chairs. Pee Wee Herman named his ' Chairy .' Archie Bunker's beloved wingback is now at The National Museum of American History. And when the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey sat on a swivel chair for the first time, she was in for a surprise . In the new book Now I Sit Me Down architect Witold Rybczynski traces the history of chairs. Take a close look at what you're sitting on, he says, and you'll learn about...

If fashion is art, Sonia Rykiel is considered a master. Women's Wear Daily dubbed her the "queen of knitwear" — though she was the first to admit she didn't know how to knit — and her designs have been shown in museums . Rykiel, who had Parkinson's disease, died Thursday morning at her home in Paris. She was 86. Artistic, independent, rebellious, Rykiel embodied the intellectual chic and feminism of Paris in the late 1960s. She wanted women to look both powerful and sexy. Above all, she...

There's no denying it: The architecture on the National Mall commands a kind of weighty reverence. From the neoclassical columns of the Capitol dome to the immense, white marble of the Lincoln Memorial, charm does not seem to have been the design goal for the nation's front lawn. Save for one standout: the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building, which, until this summer, had been chained shut for years. With its colorful facade, arched windows, spires and rotunda, the A&I (as it's often...

Pity the person who tries to adapt Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince . The classic tale has been translated into more than 200 languages and has sold hundreds of millions of copies around the world. The story — about a pilot who meets a child from another planet — is almost sacred to its fans. Now, there's a new movie version (in theaters and on Netflix) by a director whose credits include Kung Fu Panda and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Those aren't exactly literary classics,...

If you ask Mike Birbiglia, the principles of improv apply everywhere: "It changed the way I thought about everything," says the writer, director and actor. "[It] helps in parenting and being a good husband and being a good friend ... any collaborative job." Best known for his stand-up comedy and roles in GIRLS and Orange Is the New Black, Birbiglia's latest project is Don't Think Twice , a movie that chronicles the ups and downs of a fictional, New York improv group called The Commune. Right...

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Imagine William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice set in post-Civil War Washington, D.C.; and now make half of the characters former slaves. Suddenly, it's a completely new play; but it still looks at some of the same themes, including how your actions reflect your beliefs. That new play is Aaron Posner's District Merchants , currently on stage at Washington's Folger Theatre. (This fall, it will also be produced by South Coast Repertory outside of Los Angeles.) The process of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWk4YtK-iHY Taika Waititi is an actor and director whose offbeat sense of humor is well-known in his native New Zealand. And while he doesn't enjoy the same recognition in the U.S., he does have something of a cult following here. One of Waititi's best-known films is a mockumentary called What We Do in the Shadows — think of it as Spinal Tap with vampires. Waititi co-directed the film, and he also plays Viago, a neat freak vampire who shares a house with three...

Artist Linn Meyers ' studio sits tucked in the backyard of an old house in Washington, D.C. "I've been here since 2002," she says. "It used to be a carriage house." The artist is a little embarrassed by the overgrown ivy that covers the studio ("I know it's bad for the brick."), but she hasn't had much time for yardwork: For the past 11 weeks, she's been working on a major, site-specific installation at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum. Meyers says having her work in the Hirshhorn's iconic...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

"Everybody's gotta have a little place for their stuff. That's all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff." — George Carlin It's one of his most famous routines and, like all great comedy, contains more than a grain of truth. Since he died eight years ago, the keeper of George Carlin's "stuff" has been his daughter, writer and performer Kelly Carlin. She says he kept everything: Scrapbooks. Arrest records. The pink slip to his first car, a Dodge Dart. VHS tapes. From ...

You may have seen the crazy amounts of money spent at high end art auctions: $81 million for a Mark Rothko, $179 million for a Picasso. Now, a new memoir called The Auctioneer dishes about the tycoons, rock stars and royalty who play in this high-priced game. Simon de Pury is an art world insider who has been called the "Mick Jagger" of auctions — he once even tried to compete with the two power houses, Christie's and Sotheby's. On a recent evening in New York, an army of waiters dressed in...

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One of the most iconic songs of the civil rights movement is now the subject of a lawsuit. The same law firm that recently succeeded in releasing "Happy Birthday" from copyright rules is now hoping to do the same for "We Shall Overcome." Filed Tuesday in New York federal court, the suit claims the song belongs in the public domain, and seeks a return of "unlawful licensing fees" from the publishers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the We Shall Overcome Foundation , a non-profit lead by...

The so-called Panama Papers have shined a light on the hundreds of thousands of shell companies used to circulate assets around the world. One of those assets is fine art, and the leaked papers show how collectors and companies have secretly bought and sold famous works by artists like Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso, among others. One event the papers illuminate is a famous 1997 Christie's auction featuring paintings from the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz. Some of the world's most...

Casting and skin color are at the heart of a controversy surrounding a new movie about the legendary singer Nina Simone. The movie hasn't been released yet, but the casting of Afro-Latina actor Zoe Saldana in the lead has caused an uproar from some Simone fans and family members. Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Casting and skin color are at the heart of the controversy surrounding a new movie about a legendary singer. (SOUNDBITE OF...

The Sony Corporation has announced it will pay Michael Jackson's estate $750 million for Jackson's 50 percent share of the Sony/ATV music publishing company. The backstory here has more twists and shouts than a long and winding road (Couldn't resist, but note that the rights to both "Twist and Shout" and "The Long and Winding Road" belong to Sony/ATV). Sony's purchase marks the culmination of one of the most remarkable stories in the history of the music business. It all started when Paul...

Beatles fans around the world are paying tribute to the group's longtime producer, Sir George Martin, who died Tuesday at age 90. Paul McCartney said in a statement, "The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music." George Martin also left a lasting mark on the art of record production. Whether horns or harpsichord, so many of the embellishments you hear on the Beatles' songs came from Martin. He wasn't just a good producer, says...

First, it's not really black. It's not even a color or a pigment. "Vantablack" is a "material," according to Surrey NanoSystems, the British company that created it. But this growling, rebellious material is causing quite a fuss now that renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor — who designed Chicago's Cloud Gate and the Orbit tower for the 2012 London Olympics — has bought the exclusive rights to use it in art. If you want the official explanation of what Vantablack is, check out the company's FAQ ....

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