Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

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2:26am

Tue November 20, 2012
Movies

Controversial Casting For A Nina Simone Biopic

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 10:35 am

Nina Simone (left) and actress Zoe Saldana are seen in this composite image. Saldana has been cast to play the late singer in a film biopic.
John Minihan/Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

The rumors that had been around for a couple of years have finally been confirmed: At long last, there's a film in the works about the turbulent life of Nina Simone, otherwise known as the "High Priestess of Soul."

Simone was famous from the 1950s through the '70s for her music and her civil rights activism. And although she died in 2003, her voice remains popular on TV, movie soundtracks and commercials.

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3:33pm

Wed October 31, 2012
Digital Life

A Mohawk Hero In The Not-So-Diverse Gaming World

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 4:49 pm

For the latest installment of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series, set in Colonial America, the hooded main character is part Mohawk. The company brought in a Mohawk consultant and hired a Native actor to play the role.
Courtesy of Ubisoft

The Assassin's Creed video game series has become a megahit for gaming enthusiasts. The story line follows a bloody war between Assassins and the Knights Templar, first during the Crusades and then in Renaissance Italy.

The newly released Assassins Creed III crosses the ocean and a couple of centuries so the action could take place during the Revolutionary War and would be wildly anticipated on its own.

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2:26am

Mon August 20, 2012
Crime In The City

Robert Crais: LA Is A 'Natural Canvas' For Nightmare

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 12:50 pm

The canals in LA's Venice neighborhood serve as the scene of a murder in Robert Crais' 2011 novel, The Sentry.
David McNew Getty Images

It's been a few decades, and many published books, but Robert Crais can tell you exactly when mystery writing first caught his attention: He was a bright 15-year-old living in Baton Rouge, La., when he read Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, which depicted the shady side of sunny Los Angeles through the eyes of private investigator Philip Marlowe.

Since then, Crais has found huge success with his own crime novels, also set in LA. The city is the perfect canvas for a modern mystery, and Crais' eyes still grow wide when he talks about what Chandler painted on it.

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3:10am

Thu July 26, 2012
Television

At Bravo, A Pop-Culture Kingpin Works Day And Night

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 9:35 am

Andy Cohen on the set of his nightly Bravo talk show, Watch What Happens: Live. Cohen is also Bravo's executive vice president of development and talent, and has helped make Bravo a pop-culture heavyweight.
Heidi Gutman Bravo

Andy Cohen has been yakking for most of his 44 years. He has a book titled Most Talkative — a title he earned in high school.

"My mouth has been my greatest asset and also my biggest Achilles' heel," he says.

Most days, it's an asset.

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2:54pm

Fri June 22, 2012
Art & Design

A Trailblazing Black Architect Who Helped Shape L.A.

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 7:37 pm

The Degnan residence was built as a weekend retreat in La Canada Flintridge — a Los Angeles suburb reachable by freeway in 40 minutes (in light traffic) today, but that took a couple of hours' drive in 1927, before major freeway construction began in Southern California. This Spanish Colonial Revival home was Williams' first commission as an independent practitioner.
Copyright Benny Chan

Paul Revere Williams began designing homes and commercial buildings in the early 1920s. By the time he died in 1980, he had created some 2,500 buildings, most of them in and around Los Angeles, but also around the globe. And he did it as a pioneer: Paul Williams was African-American. He was the first black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923, and in 1957 he was inducted as the AIA's first black fellow.

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4:51pm

Thu June 14, 2012
American Dreams: Then And Now

Nailing The American Dream, With Polish

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 7:25 pm

A model shows off an ABC student's work. Most of the students are studying manicuring.
Courtesy of Advance Beauty College

If you've had a manicure in California, odds are the person at the other end of the emery board was of Vietnamese heritage.

Vietnamese immigrants now dominate California's nail-care industry — and make up a significant percentage of all manicurists nationwide.

The story began with a hurried immigration after the fall of Saigon almost four decades ago.

Sparked by the interest of a group of refugees and the help of a Hollywood star, the demand for affordable manicures quickly became the foundation of the American dream for many Vietnamese newcomers.

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4:29am

Tue June 5, 2012
Politics

Obama To Fundraise In Economically Strapped Calif.

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 8:03 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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7:18am

Sun April 29, 2012
Reporter's Notebook

The L.A. Riots, As A Neighbor Remembers It

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 11:31 am

Smoke covers Los Angeles Thursday, April 30, 1992, as fires from the riots burn out of control.
Paul Sakuma AP

Twenty years ago Sunday, Los Angeles erupted into destructive riots after the verdict in the Rodney King trial. The violence lasted six days and left more than 50 dead and over $1 billion in damage. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates remembers; she lived in the one of the neighborhoods that went up in flames.

Several years ago, I interviewed Karl Fleming for the 40th anniversary of the Watts riots. He was a veteran journalist who'd covered the civil rights movement in the in the 1960s for Newsweek.

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2:23am

Mon April 23, 2012
Author Interviews

Rodney King Comes To Grips With 'The Riot Within'

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 10:30 am

After suffering from injuries from the beating and struggling publicly with alcoholism, today Rodney King is contented, sober and engaged — to Cynthia Kelley, who served on the jury of King's civil trial against the city.
Morgan St. John

With a helicopter buzzing overhead, the videotape of Rodney King's encounter with police is so famous, you could say he was beaten into American history: The image of him writhing in pain as several Los Angeles police officers repeatedly beat, kicked and tasered him is, by now, world-famous — and synonymous with abuse of power.

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5:02pm

Wed April 4, 2012
Race

Data Reveals Complex Picture Of Hispanic Americans

A Hispanic woman walks down a street in Union City, N.J. In a new study, the Pew Hispanic Center asked Hispanic-Americans how they identify themselves.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just over half of Americans of Spanish-speaking origin have no preference between the terms "Hispanic" and "Latino," according to new data from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Of those with a preference, 33 percent preferred "Hispanic," versus the 14 percent who said "Latino" better describes them.

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2:00pm

Wed March 28, 2012
NPR Story

Sold: Dodgers Get New Owners

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 1:14 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's the day Dodger fans have been waiting for. The Los Angeles team has new owners, provided a bankruptcy judge approves. Current owner Frank McCourt has agreed to sell for a record $2 billion. As NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports, Los Angeles couldn't be happier with the new management team and one man in particular.

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7:09am

Sun February 12, 2012
Music

Whitney Houston, A 'Perfect Instrument,' Dies

Originally published on Sun February 12, 2012 4:52 pm

Pop diva Whitney Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards.
Getty Images

On the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, the conversation was all about Whitney Houston. The 48-year-old pop diva was discovered dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Saturday afternoon. The cause of her death was under investigation.

Houston died alone in the same hotel that was the venue for a party she had often entered in triumph: the annual pre-Grammy Awards bash given by her mentor, recording impresario Clive Davis.

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11:01pm

Wed January 11, 2012
Author Interviews

Connie Rice: Conscience Of The City

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 12:42 pm

For years, civil rights attorney Constance Rice says, she would wake up every morning trying to figure out new ways to sue the Los Angeles Police Department into policing minority communities more fairly.

In her memoir, Power Concedes Nothing, Rice details how she went from the LAPD's antagonist to reformer, convincing police that they needed to court the backing and support of the city's African-American and Latino populations.

Relations between the attorney and the police force have warmed over the years: The LAPD even hosted Rice's book release party.

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5:46pm

Tue December 13, 2011
Living Large: Obesity In America

For Teens, Weight Loss Sculpts New Lives

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 5:42 pm

Located in the North Carolina mountains, Wellspring Academy is a boarding school for overweight teenagers. In addition to their regular classes, students learn to control their weight through a healthful diet, physical activity and counseling.
Travis Dove For NPR

Second of two stories, which are part of an ongoing series on obesity in America. The first part begins in August as students start their weight-loss journey at Wellspring Academy, a boarding school in Brevard, N.C. The second checks in with students in late October.

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3:00am

Wed November 30, 2011
Law

Dr. Conrad Murray Sentenced In King Of Pop's Death

Michael Jackson's personal physician has been sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the pop icon's death in 2009. Because of overcrowding in California's state prisons, Murray will serve his sentence in a downtown jail.

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