Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of TheTonight Show. During his 30 years as host, he reached a nightly audience of 15 million people and became one of the most trusted and famous men in America.
But Carson was intensely private off-screen, and very few people — including members of his own family--really knew him. Documentary filmmaker Peter Jones wanted to try and change that. Once a year, for 15 years, Jones sent Carson a letter, begging him for permission to make a documentary on his life.
Fifty years ago, Johnny Carson became the host of NBC's The Tonight Show. During his 30 years as host, he reached a nightly audience of 15 million people and became one of the most trusted and famous men in America. But Carson was intensely private off-screen, and very few people — including members of his own family — really knew him. Documentary filmmaker Peter Jones wanted to try and change that. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks to director Peter Jones about his new documentary, Johnny Carson: King of Late Night which airs on PBS Monday, May 14.
One week ago today, an enormous chalkboard popped up on a busy street here in Washington, D.C. And at the very top corner painted in huge letters, just three words: Before I Die. The board was like a magnet to passersby to write their greatest wishes, their wildest dreams, the things they want to accomplish before they die. Think of it as a crowd-sourced bucket list.
In 2002, Rafe Sagarin was working in Washington, D.C., as a science adviser. It wasn't long after the Sept. 11 attacks, and Sagarin started paying attention to the security measures on Capitol Hill.
"I'd watch these other Capitol Hill staffers and I noticed that they'd just put their hand over the keys in their pockets so they didn't have to waste 30 seconds putting it on the conveyer belt though the security screening — and that didn't set off the alarm when they did that," Sagarin tells host of weekend All Things Considered Guy Raz.
Weekends on All Things Considered continues its "Why Music Matters" series with stories of music fans, told in their own words. Today's story is about Amy O'Neal, a choreographer who took on the challenge of dancing in complete silence.
Football is a violent game, but a century ago it used to be a lethal pastime. NPR's Tom Goldman explains how President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in and forced the establishment of new rules that made the game safer.
In 1919, Chicago was called the "youngest great city in the world." World War I had just come to a close, troops were coming home, industry was booming and crime was down. Chicago's mayor at the time, William Hale Thompson — known as Big Bill — had just been re-elected and was spearheading an ambitious urban improvement program.
But in mid-July of 1919, just about everything that could go wrong in Chicago did. Among the headlines were a deadly dirigible crash, a bizarre kidnapping, race riots and a major public transit strike.
Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval first met Dizzy Gillespie in Havana in 1977, when the American jazzman came to Cuba to play a concert. Sandoval showed him around the city, where the two men listened to the sounds of rumba music echoing through Havana's black neighborhoods. That night, Sandoval managed to play his trumpet for Gillespie — and blew him away.
A story about Mitt Romney's behavior in high school has his campaign in the defensive. The Washington Post has published a long story that details incidents of bullying by Romney when he was a senior at the Tony Cranbrook boys prep school in Michigan. Five former classmates spoke about an incident when Romney led a posse that targeted a student with long bleached-blond hair, tackled him, pinned him to the ground and hacked off his hair as he cried and screamed for help.
The British got an intriguing glimpse today into the secret world of the powerful. They heard from Rebekah Brooks, a close advisor to Rupert Murdoch and a former tabloid editor. She was caught up in the phone hacking scandal that's engulfed Murdoch's British operations.
Today, Brooks testified to a media ethics inquiry. It's investigating the close relationship between Britain's press and its politicians. NPR's Philip Reeves has the story.
Muslim and Christian women team up to try everything imaginable to distract their men from war in the Lebanese film Where Do We Go Now? Director and actress Nadine Labaki plays the lead role of Amale.
Credit Rudy Bou Chebel / Sony Pictures Classics
"Laughter and humor is important to start the healing process," says Nadine Labaki, "because it's really when you laugh about your flaws that you start understanding that maybe you should change something about it."
Where Do We Go Now? is the brainchild of bloodshed. The film, which has been a megahit in the Middle East, is a bittersweet comedy about a group of women determined to stop their hotheaded men from starting a religious war. It's the second feature film from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki.
When violence erupted on the streets of Beirut in 2008, Labaki saw neighbors, friends, people who were practically brothers turn against each another. As the world around her spiraled out of control, Labaki discovered she was having a baby.
For reaction now, we turn to writer and political blogger Andrew Sullivan. He is gay and married, and for years has been a leading advocate of same-sex marriage. He's the editor of the blog "The Dish" at The Daily Beast website. And, Andrew, I take it from what I've seen on your blog this afternoon you have mixed feelings about this development.
There's not much news out of presidential primaries these days, but there was one surprise yesterday in West Virginia's Democratic primary. A convicted felon serving time in a Texas prison won 41 percent of the vote to President Obama's 59 percent.
For more on this unusual candidate and what his strong second-place showing says about Democratic voters in West Virginia, I'm joined from Charleston by Associated Press reporter Lawrence Messina.
Chicha is a corn-derived liquor native to the South American Andes since ancient times. It's also a quirky style of pop music that developed in the Peruvian Amazon in the 1960s and '70s. All of that provides inspiration for the Brooklyn band Chicha Libre, which has just released its second album, Canibalismo.
Founder Olivier Conan developed a passion for chicha music while crate-digging through old vinyl in Peru. He says all pop-music innovators are really sonic predators.
When author and illustrator Maurice Sendak entered the world of children's books, it was a very safe place. Stories were sweet and simple and set in a world without disorder. But Sendak, who died Tuesday at age 83, broke with that tradition. In Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak explored the darker side of childhood. Upstairs in young Max's bedroom, a jungle grows, and he sails off to a land of monsters.
U.S. authorities say they have foiled a terrorist plot to target an airliner. A suicide bomber was planning to bring down a plane headed to the United States. The Associated Press first reported the story. Al-Qaida's affiliate group in Yemen is believed to be behind the plot, which national security officials say had not advanced far enough, that the suspect bought plane tickets or tried to board a plane.
NPR's Carrie Johnson has been reporting on this story. She joins me now. And, Carrie, what else have you found out?
Forty years ago Sunday, history was made at Carnegie Hall.
On May 6, 1972, comedian Groucho Marx made his debut at the famed New York venue to a packed house. Tickets sold out as soon as it was announced.
Marx was 81 at the time and had been out of the spotlight for many years. His one-man show only toured a handful of venues, and his Carnegie Hall show was later released as an album called An Evening with Groucho.