Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a Senior Producer 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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2:24am

Wed September 5, 2012
Around the Nation

The Strange Story Of The Man Behind 'Strange Fruit'

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 2:37 pm

Abel Meeropol watches as his sons, Robert and Michael, play with a train set.
Courtesy of Robert and Michael Meeropol

One of Billie Holiday's most iconic songs is "Strange Fruit," a haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism. Many people know that the man who wrote the song was inspired by a photograph of a lynching. But they might not realize that he's also tied to another watershed moment in America's history.

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2:29pm

Mon August 20, 2012
Remembrances

Comedy's Self-Deprecating Pioneer Phyllis Diller Dies

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 5:02 pm

Diller poses with a photo at her Los Angeles home in 2005.
Chris Pizzello AP

A queen of comedy has died. Phyllis Diller had audiences in stitches for more than five decades with her outlandish get-ups and rapid-fire one-liners. She died at her home, where she had been in hospice care after a fall. She was 95.

Diller was glamorously outrageous — or at least the character she created was glamorously outrageous, the one who wore wigs that made her look like she had her finger in an electrical outlet, who wore gaudy sequined outfits. She was known for her laugh and those nasty jokes about her dimwitted husband, "Fang."

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1:11pm

Tue August 7, 2012
The Record

Marvin Hamlisch, Movie And Broadway Composer, Has Died

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:22 pm

Marvin Hamlisch (left) with Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow in 1987.
Time & Life Pictures Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

3:44pm

Fri August 3, 2012
Arts & Life

Monroe's Legacy Is Making Fortune, But For Whom?

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 5:06 pm

Marilyn Monroe's will reveals a quieter, more complicated side to her legacy.
Evening Standard Getty Images

Marilyn Monroe, a global symbol of beauty, glamour and sex, died on Aug. 5, 1962. Fifty years later, she's still in style — and making more money than ever. Monroe's come-hither expression is emblazoned on posters, T-shirts and refrigerator magnets. She's become a multimillion-dollar brand, but that may never have happened if not for the will she left behind, a document that reveals a much quieter — and more complicated — side to her legacy.

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2:03am

Wed July 18, 2012
London 2012: The Summer Olympics

For Olympic Committee, Marketing Is No Game

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 4:57 pm

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps signed an endorsement deal with Subway in 2008, but because Subway is not an Olympic sponsor, Phelps isn't allowed to appear in a Subway ad from July 18 to Aug. 15 2012.
via SubwayEatFresh365/YouTube

1:57am

Tue July 17, 2012
Dead Stop

Looking For Lady Day's Resting Place? Detour Ahead

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 8:58 am

Queen Esther stands in front of Billie Holiday's gravesite in New York City.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

When Billie Holiday died in 1959, thousands of mourners attended her funeral at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in New York City. The overflow crowd lined the sidewalks. Honorary pallbearers included such jazz greats as Benny Goodman and Mary Lou Williams. Newspapers and magazines ran heartfelt tributes.

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2:50am

Thu June 21, 2012
American Dreams: Then And Now

Native American Comic Living The 'Indigenous Dream'

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 8:53 am

Comedian Charlie Hill says he's achieved the American dream, but that it's been out of reach for many fellow Native Americans.
Courtesy of Charlie Hill

9:47pm

Sun May 20, 2012
Music News

Bee Gee Robin Gibb Dies Of Cancer At 62

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 7:35 am

Robin Gibb performs at the Dubai International Jazz Festival in 2008.
Tracy Brand AP

Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees has died.

Gibb died Sunday after a long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery, according to a statement on his official website.

"The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time," the statement said.

Robin and his brothers Barry and Maurice Gibb racked up dozens of hit songs in their five decade career. Robin Gibb, who had cancer, was 62.

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8:48pm

Tue May 15, 2012
Remembrances

In Writing, Fuentes Shed Light On Poverty, Inequality

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 9:08 am

Mexican author Carlos Fuentes poses for a photo after a news conference in Mexico City on March 12. Fuentes died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City. He was 83.
Alexandre Meneghini AP

Carlos Fuentes was the son of a Mexican diplomat and spent years living abroad, including in the United States. But Mexico — the country, its people and politics — was central to his writing.

Fuentes, one of the most influential Latin American writers, died Tuesday at a hospital in Mexico City at the age of 83. He was instrumental in bringing Latin American literature to an international audience, and he used his fiction to address what he saw as real-world injustices.

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1:57am

Thu May 10, 2012
Movies

'Dark Shadows': The Birth Of The Modern TV Vampire

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 10:20 am

In the influential Dark Shadows, a 1960s ABC soap opera with a gothic and supernatural bent, Jonathan Frid played Barnabas Collins, a vampire who returned to claim his coastal Maine manor.
Dan Curtis Productions The Kobal Collection

When it comes to monsters on television, vampires have the market more or less cornered. Think about it: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries ...

Vampires' enduring popularity on TV may not be eternal, but they have been appearing on the small screen for decades. Mark Dawidziak, who's written books about vampires and teaches a class at Kent State University on their appearances in film and TV, says that part of the way vampires have remained a force in popular culture is through their evolution on TV.

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3:00pm

Mon April 16, 2012
The Record

Andrew Love Of The Memphis Horns Has Died

Andrew Love (left) and Wayne Jackson pose for a studio portrait in 1965.
Gilles Petard Redferns

Saxophonist Andrew Love of the Memphis Horns has died. Love, who had Alzheimer's disease, died on April 12 at his home in Memphis. He was 70 years old.

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3:00am

Fri March 30, 2012
Movies

Bullying Movie Is Released With No Rating

The Motion Picture Association of America was going to give Bully an R rating for language, but the movie's producer decided to send it out with no rating. The nation's second-largest cinema chain AMC will show it, but Cinemark, the third-largest chain will not.

5:03am

Sat March 24, 2012
Performing Arts

Basil Twist: A Genius, With Many A String Attached

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:56 am

Puppeteer Basil Twist poses with Ballerina, the marionette at the center of a tragic love triangle in his adaptation of Petrushka.
Doriane Raiman NPR

Basil Twist has been called a genius. The art he's a genius at? Puppetry — which he knows can be a hard sell.

"It's not of this time," he says. "It's not of the world we live in now."

But Twist, a highly trained practitioner, brings this art of the past to the present with innovative creations beyond the likes of the Muppets or their foul-mouthed cousins on Avenue Q.

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1:00pm

Tue March 6, 2012
The Record

Disney Songwriter Robert Sherman Has Died

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 1:33 pm

Composer/lyricist Robert Sherman (left) and his brother Richard stand next to the car used in the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The brothers wrote the songs for the movie, as well as a musical version that began running in 2002.
Ezio Petersen UPI/Landov

Robert Sherman — one half of the songwriting team behind Disney movies and major hit musicals — has died. He was 86. The Oscar-winning Sherman Brothers, Robert and Richard, wrote some of the most enduring Disney songs of all time. Their output was astounding: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Aristocats.

John Lasseter, of Pixar and Disney, once said, "You cannot forget a Sherman brothers song for your life."

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11:01pm

Thu January 26, 2012
Television

For 'Black Nerds Everywhere,' Two Comedy Heroes

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 11:28 am

Key & Peele, premiering Jan. 31 on Comedy Central." href="/post/black-nerds-everywhere-two-comedy-heroes" class="noexit lightbox">
Jordan Peele (left) plays President Obama and Keegan-Michael Key (right) plays his "anger translator" in a sketch from Key & Peele, premiering Jan. 31 on Comedy Central.
Comedy Central

Comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have known each other for years. They were both in the cast of MadTV. Now they're starting their own sketch-comedy series, due to launch on Comedy Central on Tuesday.

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