Elizabeth Blair

Elizabeth Blair is a 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.

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Pop Culture
5:30 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 6:28 pm

"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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Games & Humor
3:23 am
Wed December 31, 2014

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

NBC Ben Cohen/NBC

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

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Television
4:20 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

In 'The Honorable Woman,' There's No One You Can Trust

Maggie Gyllenhaal says she had some reservations about taking on the role of Nessa Stein in the SundanceTV original series The Honorable Woman. Middle East conflicts are so sensitive, she says, "It's really complicated and it goes back so far."
Des Willie SundanceTV

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 8:39 pm

This is part of NPR's annual series "The Ones That Got Away," in which we look at some of the best entertainment we didn't report on this year.


"Who do you trust?" are the first words the audience hears in the political-psychological thriller The Honorable Woman. And as it turns out, the answer should be: No one.

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Television
4:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Despite The Dope, 'High Maintenance' Is About More Than Potheads

"The guy" (Ben Sinclair, left) delivers pot to two clients played by Tanisha Long and William Jackson Harper.
Courtesy of Janky Clown Productions

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 11:40 am

A guy on a bike making home deliveries in New York City. That might not sound like the most riveting storyline for a show, but this guy is a pot dealer in Brooklyn, and each episode of High Maintenance follows a different transaction, and then some. The show is Vimeo's first foray into original Web TV, and it's been getting raves.

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Around the Nation
4:32 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

'Grand Bargain' Will Help Save Detroit — And Its Art

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 8:11 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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The Two-Way
11:11 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Elizabeth Peña Remembered As An Actress With Range

Actress Elizabeth Peña arrives at the Hollywood premiere of Nothing Like the Holidays in 2008.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images for Overture Films

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 6:35 pm

Cuban-American actress Elizabeth Peña has died at age 55. She played dramatic roles in movies such as La Bamba and Lone Star and appeared in sitcoms including Modern Family.

Peña died Tuesday after a brief illness at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to her agent.

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Fine Art
5:46 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

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

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

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

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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Television
3:39 am
Tue August 5, 2014

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

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

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

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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Book Your Trip
4:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

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

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

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

"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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Television
4:22 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

The Return of 'Rectify,' A Critical Darling Sprung From Death Row

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:08 pm

Rectify is a dark, contemplative TV drama about a man released from prison after two decades on death row. It was also a critical favorite in its first season. For a glimpse into its creation, NPR's Elizabeth Blair talks to show creator Ray McKinnon and actors Aden Young and Abigail Spencer.

War On Poverty, 50 Years Later
5:22 am
Sat May 31, 2014

In Confronting Poverty, 'Harvest Of Shame' Reaped Praise And Criticism

Workers crowd into the backs of trucks in the opening scene of 1960's Harvest of Shame.
CBS News YouTube

Originally published on Sat May 31, 2014 6:31 pm

Fifty years ago this year, President Lyndon Johnson launched his war on poverty; But just a few years before that, CBS gave millions of Americans a close look at what it means to live in poverty.

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Business
1:36 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Pfizer Drops $119 Billion Bid For AstraZeneca

William Vazquez AP

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

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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Remembrances
5:17 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

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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Business
5:06 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Edgy Video Promotes Christie's Contemporary Art Sale

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 5:24 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a new way of marketing high-end art.

Spring auction season has kicked off in New York City. Yesterday, paintings by Picasso and Monet helped the auction house, Christie's, cello most $300 million worth of paintings.

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, this year, Christie's is promoting its auctions in a new way, with something that looks a lot like a music video.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It's pretty slick.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Monkey See
4:26 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Maintaining The IMAX Experience, From Museum To Multiplex

IMAX

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 11:17 am

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens this weekend, and some moviegoers will pay up to $6 more to see it in IMAX, where the screens are bigger and the action should be more intense. "So real you can feel it in your bones," is how IMAX puts it. But is the IMAX at the multiplex the same as the IMAX you can see at the museum?

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Television
4:08 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

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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Fine Art
6:35 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Breaking Up Corcoran Gallery Takes More Time Than Expected

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 10:56 am

The Corcoran Gallery of Art and its college in Washington, D.C., will be taken over by a university and another gallery. The Corcoran is cherished by many but has had years of financial trouble.

Television
4:44 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

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

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

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

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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The Two-Way
2:06 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Smithsonian Institution Gets A New Director

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

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

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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Pop Culture
10:20 am
Sat February 8, 2014

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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Remembrances
7:06 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

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

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

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

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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Business
4:56 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

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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Arts & Life
3:20 am
Wed December 25, 2013

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

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

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

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

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Television
5:29 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Fans Boo 'Family Guy' Dog Death, But Will It Bring Bryan Back?

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 5:56 pm

Fans of the animated comedy Family Guy got a shock Monday. Some wailed about it on Twitter and Facebook. Spoiler alert: The episode was about the death of Brian, the family dog. One fan started a petition to insist that Fox bring back Brian. It reached 30,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. But the internet has made petitions so easy, they may have lost their power.

Movies
3:23 am
Fri October 18, 2013

'Carrie' Had The Power, But Mom Had The Scary Going On

In Stephen King's novel and the film adaptations, Carrie (played by Sissy Spacek, left, in the 1976 version) is the one with the supernatural powers, but for NPR's Elizabeth Blair, Carrie's mother Margaret (Piper Laurie) was the truly scary character.
United Artists/The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:23 pm

Just in time for Halloween comes a new movie version of Stephen King's horror novel Carrie. While the teenaged Carrie White is clearly at the center of the story, I think her mother is the more fascinating character.

Carrie — about a shy misfit whose coming of age collides with her mother's fearful religious fundamentalism and her schoolmates' pack-animal cruelty, with combustible results — scared the bejesus out of me when I was a teenager. Carrie turned out to be dangerous, sure. But it was her mother, Margaret White, who made my heart stop.

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Arts & Life
5:21 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Congressional Impasse Leaves Museums Empty, Monuments Shut

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

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

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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Movies
6:12 am
Mon September 23, 2013

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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Business
6:42 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Latino Buying Power Gets Movie Studios' Attention

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

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

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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Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries
5:41 am
Sun September 1, 2013

With Modern Makeovers, America's Libraries Are Branching Out

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., has opened a Digital Commons that features rows of desktop computers, portable electronic devices and even a 3D printer.
DC Public Library/The Freelon Group

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 3:58 pm

It's not exactly a building boom, but several public libraries around the country are getting makeovers. The Central Library in Austin, Texas just broke ground on a new building that promises such new features as outdoor reading porches and a cafe. In Madison, Wis., they're about to open a newly remodeled library that has, among other improvements, more natural light and a new auditorium. Historic libraries in Boston and New York City are looking at significant renovations.

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Arts & Life
4:24 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Emmy Nods for Netflix, The New Kid On The Block

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 10:15 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Emmy nominations were announced in Los Angeles today. The big winners were the FX miniseries "American Horror Story," with 17 nominations, and HBO's "Game of Thrones" with 16. And then there's Netflix. The company that began as a DVD mail service is now producing its own shows and today, three of them picked up Emmy nods, including nine for "House of Cards," as we hear from NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

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