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Andrew Limbong

Andrew Limbong is a reporter and producer for NPR's Arts Desk, where he reports, produces, and mixes arts and culture pieces of all kinds. Previously, he was a producer and director for Tell Me More. He originally started at NPR in 2011 as an intern for All Things Considered.

One night in the 1950s Diane di Prima was at a party at Allen Ginsberg's place in New York City. It was usual poet stuff — talking, reading, smoking, drinking — until 11:30 p.m. came around and di Prima said she was going home to relieve her babysitter. Jack Kerouac, also a guest, shouted, "Di Prima, unless you forget about your babysitter, you're never going to be a writer."

James Randi hated tricking people. Sure, as The Amazing Randi, he pulled off amazing escape acts and sleight of hand maneuvers faster than you could see — but it was all in service of proving that he wasn't magical in any sense of the word. He hated tricking people so much he made a career out of debunking so-called psychics, faith healers, and fortune tellers of all sorts.

Spencer Davis, the multi-instrumentalist and leader of the band that bore his name, has died at the age of 81. The Spencer Davis Group recorded such hits as "Gimme Some Lovin' " and "I'm a Man." Davis wasn't the lead singer on either song though, giving that job to a teenage Steve Winwood.

Davis died Monday while being treated for pneumonia, according to his tour manager and friend, Bob Birk, who worked with the musician for decades.

In a statement to NPR, Birk called him a "highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man."

Call it professionalism, but there are some things Cheryl Pilate just can't say. She's a criminal defense attorney in Kansas City, Mo., and toes a fine line between getting attention for her clients' stories and being bound by professional ethics.

"As a lawyer, frequently I feel — and I know many others feel — constrained in the language that we use, " she says. "We're mindful of our professional responsibilities and how we need to carry those out."

Conchata Ferrell, who played the gruff, straight-talking maid, Berta, on Two and a Half Men, has died. She died Monday in Sherman Oaks, CA following complications from a cardiac arrest. Her manager confirmed the news to NPR. She was 77 years old.

In what was originally planned to be a two-episode arc in the show's first season, Ferrell's Berta became an integral part of the show, seeing it through its entire 12-season run. She was nominated for two Emmys for Best Supporting Actress.

There will be no shows on Broadway until May 30 at least.

The news comes from the Broadway League, the trade association representing theater producers and owners. According to a press release, the specific dates for returning and new shows will be announced individually, depending on the production schedule for each show.

This is, of course, yet another economic blow from COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

This is what guitar sounded like when played by Eddie Van Halen.

(SOUNDBITE OF VAN HALEN SONG, "JUMP")

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case alleging that the band Led Zeppelin plagiarized the opening of one of its signature songs, "Stairway to Heaven." This upholds a previous March ruling that landed in favor of Zeppelin, and possibly ends a legal battle that has gone on since 2014.

You've probably seen him by now — the thin, red lips. The big, expressive eyes. The deep green skin. Sometimes he looks innocent and sweet, like a friend crashing on your couch. Other times he looks like a smugly grinning jerk. The thing about Pepe the Frog is that he can be whatever you want him to be — a stoner icon, a symbol of hatred and bigotry, a beacon of democracy.

Months of practice fiddling with Zoom's virtual background feature primed the Internet for this moment.

When first lady Melania Trump appeared at the last night of the RNC Thursday, she wore a Valentino dress in a lime green shade — a green screen green, of sorts. And as she walked down the steps of the White House, everyone who spent the past four nights hate-watching the proceedings saw their time to shine.

Federal prosecutors announced charges Monday against two men accused of killing Jason Mizell, better known as Jam Master Jay — the DJ for the seminal rap group Run-DMC. Mizell was shot inside a recording studio in New York City in 2002.

At a press conference, Seth DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington had been charged with murder in Mizell's death. DuCharme didn't go into details about what led to the charges but said "today we begin to answer that question, who killed Jason Mizell and why."

Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West posted, then deleted, a series of tweets Monday night claiming that his wife Kim Kardashian was trying to get him hospitalized.

"Kim tried to bring a doctor to lock me up with a doctor," he tweeted.

This was among a stretch of wide-ranging tweets where he claimed that the movie Get Out was based on him, said that actor Shia LaBeouf was supposed to do a shoot for his Gap clothing line but never showed up, and asked his mother-in-law Kris Jenner to call him.

Packing into a small, dimly lit room while you and a few hundred strangers dance and listen to your favorite artists is one of the many small joys we've been missing for months. For many of those spaces and their fans, that experience could be gone forever if a new piece of legislation called the Restart Act doesn't pass Congress before it goes on recess in August.

The city of Oakland has settled a lawsuit with the victims of the 2016 "Ghost Ship" fire that killed 36 people. The total settlement is for $32.7 million — $23.5 million will go to families of people who died, and $9.2 million will go to Sam Maxwell, who survived the fire with lifelong injuries.

Nick Cannon — the actor, TV show host and musician — has been fired from his long-running comedy improv show Wild 'N Out. It comes after he made anti-Semitic comments on his podcast and YouTube show, Cannon's Class.

Wild 'N Out's parent company, ViacomCBS, released a statement saying, "We are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him."

Actress Kelly Preston has died after a two-year battle with breast cancer, according to an Instagram post from her husband, John Travolta. She was 57 years old.

"She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many," the actor wrote. "My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side."

Dungeons and Dragons is reconsidering what it means to be evil.

The classic role playing game's publisher, Wizards of the Coast, recently announced some changes it was making to the game in response to the ongoing protests over racism and police violence. While this includes editing some past racist descriptions, as well as adding more diverse writers, the game's designers are also making a fundamental change to the way certain playable characters are portrayed.

Director Joel Schumacher died Monday morning in New York City from cancer. Schumacher directed the 80s hit movies St. Elmo's Fire and The Lost Boys, as well as two movies in the Batman movie franchise — Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. He was 80 years old.

Schumacher started out working in the fashion industry. But, as he started gaining success there, he became addicted to drugs. He told WHYY's Fresh Air that by 1970, he needed a change.

Updated Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. ET

Streaming service HBO Max has temporarily removed the 1939 classic film Gone with the Wind from its library.

"Gone with the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society," an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement.

Updated Thursday at 3:40 p.m. ET

The Arkansas Department of Health has issued a cease-and-desist letter for what could have been the first indoor concert with an audience of more than 200 of the coronavirus era. The show was set to take place in Fort Smith, Ark., on Friday — three days before the state is set to allow businesses to open in a limited capacity.

Updated at 4:21 p.m. ET.

The coronavirus pandemic has completely shut down the business of concerts and other live events. Some people, including Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, are even predicting that live events won't resume until next year.

Brian Dennehy could go from viciously intimidating on film to weak and weary on stage. The actor died yesterday of cardiac arrest. His family says his death was not related to COVID-19. He was 81 years old.

Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the Marsalis family, has died at the age of 85. His death was announced in tweets from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Jazz at Lincoln Center, where his son Wynton is managing and artistic director.

He reportedly went into the hospital over the weekend with symptoms of pneumonia. The New York Times reports that his son Branford says the cause of death was complications from COVID-19.

Mobile carrier T-Mobile announced today that it's officially completed a merger with Sprint. The deal, which was announced in 2018, means that the previously third and fourth largest wireless companies in the United States have now become the third — rivaling AT&T and Verizon. The new company, just called T-Mobile, is hoping to use its new pool of resources to expand its 5G capabilities, aiming to provide faster internet speeds to 99% of the population within the next six years.

The spiritual leader and author Ram Dass has died at the age of 88. He was an icon of the psychedelic drug movement of the '60s and '70s, as well as a champion of a mindful philosophy.

According to his official Instagram account, he died Sunday at his home in Maui.

Robert Evans – the once vice president of production at Paramount who was responsible for critically acclaimed films such as The Godfather parts 1 and 2, Chinatown, and Serpico – died Saturday at the age of 89.

While Evans was known for his string of '70s cinema hits, he was also convicted of cocaine possession in 1980. He detailed his own rise and fall in the industry in his 1994 memoir The Kid Stays in the Picture.

By my count, Brittany Kaiser mentions the TV show Mad Men four times in her new memoir Targeted. But her story tracks closer to that of another big TV show — Breaking Bad.

Ever get mad online? Think about publicly dunking on someone's take on politics or race or some ongoing cultural conversation?

Turns out that while it may not be personally productive in the end, it could potentially lead to much bigger problems: a gap in democracy, say, thanks to hackers who might be watching, recording and taking notes — making it their mission to build millions of personality profiles.

Enter, Christopher Wylie.

Influential photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank has died at the age of 94. He died of natural causes on Monday night in Nova Scotia, Canada. His death was confirmed by his longtime friend and gallerist Peter MacGill.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

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