Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Senior Producer in the Arts Information Unit 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 late night TV wars.

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. Blair is especially proud of her interview with Cookie Monster and her reporting on the 10th anniversary of SpongeBob.

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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2:02pm

Thu June 11, 2015
The Two-Way

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

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

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

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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7:17am

Mon May 25, 2015
Photography

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

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

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

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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12:48pm

Fri May 15, 2015
The Two-Way

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

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

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

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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3:23am

Fri April 24, 2015
Art & Design

Slow Fashion Shows Consumers What It's Made Of

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

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

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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5:47pm

Tue April 21, 2015
NPR Ed

Teaching Students To Hear The Music In The Built World

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

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

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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8:51pm

Thu April 9, 2015
Code Switch

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

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

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

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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7:26am

Sun March 29, 2015
The Salt

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

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

A Cheez Whiz ad from 1952.
Courtesy of Kraft Foods

Will Cheez Whiz survive the merger?

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3:10pm

Wed February 25, 2015
The Two-Way

Acclaimed Documentary Filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky Dies At 58

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

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

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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5:40pm

Thu January 8, 2015
Pop Culture

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

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

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

"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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3:45am

Thu January 8, 2015
Analysis

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

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

Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

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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3:23am

Wed December 31, 2014
Games & Humor

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

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

NBC Ben Cohen/NBC

3:02am

Mon November 10, 2014
Color Decoded: Stories That Span The Spectrum

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

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

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

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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5:00pm

Mon August 11, 2014
Fine Art

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

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

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

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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3:39am

Tue August 5, 2014
Television

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

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

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

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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4:13pm

Tue July 8, 2014
Book Your Trip

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

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

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

"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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1:36am

Tue May 27, 2014
Business

Pfizer Drops $119 Billion Bid For AstraZeneca

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 7:57 am

William Vazquez AP

It would have been the biggest deal the pharmaceutical industry has seen in more than a decade. But for now, it's off the table.

Pfizer has withdrawn its offer to buy British drug company AstraZeneca for about $119 billion.

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which makes Lipitor and Viagra, has been circling its smaller rival AstraZeneca for months.

AstraZeneca, which makes Nexium and Crestor, has rejected every offer saying Pfizer undervalues the company, and that it wants to remain independent.

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5:17pm

Mon May 26, 2014
Remembrances

Remembering The 'Father' Of G.I. Joe

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 5:43 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Now we're going to remember the man who was known as the father of G.I. Joe. Donald Levine was a toy industry executive in the early 1960s, when the iconic action figure stormed playrooms across the country. Levine died of cancer late last week. He was 86. NPR's Elizabeth Blair does this appreciation.

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4:08pm

Thu April 10, 2014
Television

Colbert Plans To Take Up The Late Night Mic For CBS

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 8:12 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The coveted spot held by David Letterman for 21 years will go to Stephen Colbert. CBS made the announcement today. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, diehard fans of the Emmy Award-winning "Colbert Report" are mourning this news and others are excited to see what the real Colbert has in store.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: First, Stephen Colbert has said he will not be doing "The Late Show" in character, meaning the over-the-top, right-wing narcissistic character he created for Comedy Central.

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5:54pm

Mon March 24, 2014
Television

Fans Of 'The Good Wife' Rocked By [Spoiler Alert]

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 6:46 pm

Matthew Goode (left) as Finn Polmar and Josh Charles (right) as Will Gardner in Sunday night's episode of CBS's The Good Wife.
CBS

The CBS legal drama The Good Wife centers on smart, attractive Chicago lawyer Alicia Florrick. She's "the good wife" because she stood by her politician husband when he cheated on her.

But the show's most compelling story line has always been between Alicia and another lawyer, Will Gardner. And if you don't want to know what happened in that storyline last night, stop reading NOW.

No, Really: Major Spoiler Ahead

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2:06pm

Mon March 10, 2014
The Two-Way

Smithsonian Institution Gets A New Director

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 3:36 pm

Cornell University President David Skorton speaks during a news conference Monday in Washington, D.C.
Carolyn Kaster AP

The new head of the Smithsonian Institution was announced Monday. David Skorton will leave his job as president of Cornell University to become the institution's 13th secretary since its founding in 1846.

Skorton becomes the first physician to lead the Smithsonian. He's a board-certified cardiologist and amateur jazz musician. Most importantly for the Smithsonian, he's a skilled fundraiser. Skorton led a team that raised $5 billion during his eight years at Cornell.

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10:20am

Sat February 8, 2014
Pop Culture

For Top-Flight Animators, The Gag Is An Art All Its Own

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 12:05 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Lego Movie opened last night in theaters across the country. It's latest example of the magic of animation, filmmakers who bring plastic to life, make animals talk and send toys singing and dancing across a big screen. But animators also love to hurl our most beloved characters over cliffs. They blow them up with dynamite, flatten them with speeding trains. Seconds later, they pop back up and dust themselves off.

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7:06pm

Sun February 2, 2014
Remembrances

Philip Seymour Hoffman: An 'Uncanny' Actor Of Stage And Screen

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 2:53 pm

Hoffman (left) and Eddie Marsan, in a scene from the film God's Pocket, released in January.
Lance Acord AP

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on Sunday in his Manhattan apartment. He was 46.

Hoffman was steeped in his profession — in film, on stage, in the spotlight and behind the scenes.

In 2005, he won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Truman Capote. The movie focuses on Capote's interviews with two murderers on death row for his nonfiction novel In Cold Blood.

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5:06pm

Fri January 24, 2014
Business

In The Super Bowl Ad Game, One Small Business Will Win Big

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 8:55 pm

Super Bowl suspense is building — for the game and the commercials. With an audience of over 100 million people, advertisers covet this space, but at a reported $4 million a spot, only the mightiest corporations can afford Super Bowl exposure. This year, though, there's an exception. One lucky little business will get one of those primo slots — free.

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3:20am

Wed December 25, 2013
Arts & Life

Detroit Needs Money. Can A 'Grand Bargain' Save The City's Art?

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:04 pm

Gladioli, Claude Monet, ca. 1876, oil on canvas.
Detroit Institute of Arts

Can wealthy art lovers help save Detroit's pension funds — and one of its museums?

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5:08pm

Mon November 25, 2013
Code Switch

What Do We Mean When We Talk About 'Latino Art'?

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 6:42 pm

Radiante, Olga Albizu
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

When the Whitney Museum of American Art announced the artists for its 2014 biennial, people took to the Internet to chime in about who's been included and who's been left out; the last biennial had been blasted for ignoring Latino artists. But when a new show opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum featuring only Latino artists — "Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art" — it was blasted for other reasons.

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5:21pm

Tue October 1, 2013
Arts & Life

Congressional Impasse Leaves Museums Empty, Monuments Shut

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 6:38 pm

Shutdown signs have been posted at the National Museum of American History and other Smithsonian Institution museums, which will remain closed as long as the government is.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Federal bureaucracies aren't the only ones scaling back operations during the government shutdown. It's also meant that kids couldn't take field trips to the Smithsonian.

In fact most of the popular Washington attractions funded by the government are closed. That includes the Smithsonian's 19 museums and the National Zoo, plus Ford's Theatre and the National Gallery of Art.

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6:12am

Mon September 23, 2013
Movies

Disney Experiments With 2-Screen Experience Involves iPads

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 5:35 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I don't know about you, but I'm a little troubled when I hear about people who watch multiple screens. You know what I'm talking about. Maybe you're watching a movie at home while live tweeting, or while keeping track at a ballgame. At least movie theaters are a sacred space, immune to these changes.

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6:51am

Wed September 4, 2013
Business

Latino Buying Power Gets Movie Studios' Attention

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 11:12 am

Instructions Not Included, a film starring and directed by Eugenio Derbez, was made specifically for a Mexican and U.S. Latino audience.
Pantelion Films

One of the surprise movie hits this past weekend was almost entirely in Spanish. Instructions Not Included made an enormous amount of money per screen, more than $22,000, playing in fewer than 350 theaters. The boys in One Direction had the number one film, but they pulled in less than $6000 per screen. That's a huge victory for star Eugenio Derbez, a household name in Mexico, and for Pantelion films, which has been trying to find a Spanish-language hit in the U.S. film market for a few years now.

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3:20am

Thu July 18, 2013
Code Switch

Comedian Hari Kondabolu On Diversity, Race And Burger King

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 3:20 pm

Hari Kondabolu is a brainy comedian who cuts through the polite talk around race and gender. He's made a lot of key people laugh with his incisive anecdotes, including Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien and John Oliver.

A full-time writer on the FX show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, he recently did a comedy bit on the National Spelling Bee, or "as I like to call it," he joked, "the Indian Super Bowl."

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5:55pm

Thu July 11, 2013
The Record

Toshi Seeger, Wife Of Folk Singer Pete Seeger, Dies At 91

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 6:30 pm

Toshi Seeger with her husband, folk singer Pete Seeger, in 2009.
Bennett Raglin Getty Images

Anyone who worked closely with Pete Seeger knew the legendary folk singer's wife. For seven decades, Toshi Seeger organized his festivals and handled his travel and correspondence. The social activist died Tuesday. She was 91.

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