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Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

Scouring the various and often overlapping worlds of art, music, television, film, new media and literature, Ulaby's stories reflect political and economic realities, cultural issues, obsessions and transitions.

A twenty-year veteran of NPR, Ulaby started as a temporary production assistant on the cultural desk, opening mail, booking interviews and cutting tape with razor blades. Over the years, she's also worked as a producer and editor and won a Gracie award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for hosting a podcast of NPR's best arts stories.

Ulaby also hosted the Emmy-award winning public television series Arab American Stories in 2012 and earned a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. She's also been chosen for fellowships at the Getty Arts Journalism Program at USC Annenberg and the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism.

Before coming to NPR, Ulaby worked as managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times and co-hosted a local radio program, What's Coming Out at the Movies. A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby has contributed to academic journals and taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University and at high schools serving at-risk students.

Ulaby worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal after graduating from Bryn Mawr College. But her first appearance in print was when she was only four days old. She was pictured on the front page of the New York Times, as a refugee, when she and her parents were evacuated from Amman, Jordan, during the conflict known as Black September.

In an industry filled with boundary-breaking visionaries and spectacularly accomplished eccentrics, Lee "Scratch" Perry stood out. The legendary producer of reggae and dub music has died at the age of 85. No cause of death was given; Jamaican media reported that Perry died in a hospital in Lucea, in the northwestern part of the country. His passing today was confirmed in a series of tweets from from Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness.

After weeks of celebrity tryouts, leaks and heated speculation by game show fans, current executive producer Mike Richards and actor Mayim Bialik have been named permanent co-hosts of Jeopardy!, marking the first time two people will host one of television's most popular game shows.

Richards will host the daily syndicated program, while Bialik hosts the primetime series and new spinoffs. The announcement was first reported by The Daily Beast.

Harvey Weinstein has lost his attempt to have three charges of sexual assault thrown out at a hearing today at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, but his attorneys did get the judge to agree that one of the charges should be amended.

Plenty of mere mortals want to host Jeopardy!

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for example. And actor Mayim Bialik. And Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings. All intelligent, charismatic ... and in the running as the legendary trivia show tries out hopefuls before naming a new host.

But they're not LeVar Burton.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 44th lifetime achievement award winners.

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One of cinema's biggest stars has died. In India, Dilip Kumar was often compared to Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier. He was 98 years old. NPR's Neda Ulaby has more.

NPR's first-ever Pulitzer occasioned a round of virtual Champagne corks popping and heartfelt cheers of congratulations across ... well, NPR's corner of cyberspace.

"Congrats to the Pulitzer winners. So deserved!!!!!" wrote Nina Totenberg, who does not dole out exclamation points to just anyone.

Beautiful bronze sculptures and castings from West Africa have long been exhibited in some of the world's most august institutions, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Wednesday it's returning three of these artworks to Nigeria. They include two 16th-century brass plaques created at the Court of Benin, and a brass head produced in Ife around the 14th century.

Despite great expectations, the British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamp got licked in a much anticipated auction this morning.

An unassuming roadside motel that's a spiritual home to the blues. A crumbling Navajo trading post standing right by Monument Valley, and an old filling station that offered refuge to Black travelers during Jim Crow. Campsites — for crusading civil rights demonstrators in the 1960s — and ones that housed Chinese railway workers a century before.

Billy Ocasio feels like one of the country's luckier museum directors. He runs the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, still standing strong in Chicago after the pandemic wiped out dozens of small museums across the country.

Artist Paul Rucker is fearless when it comes to taking on terrible moments in American history.

"The work that I do evolves mostly around the things I was never taught about," Rucker explains. Over Zoom, he's discussing his work in progress, Three Black Wall Streets, which evokes and honors the achievements of Black entrepreneurs and visionaries who created thriving spaces of possibility and sanctuary after the end of the Civil War.

Updated May 26, 2021 at 7:45 PM ET

Eric Carle's picture books were often about insects. Spiders, lady bugs, crickets and of course, that famous caterpillar, all as colorful and friendly as Carle himself. The Very Hungry Caterpillar — probably Carle's best-known work — came out in 1969 and became one of the bestselling children's books of all time.

To call an actor a Hollywood legend sounds like hyperbole, but Norman Lloyd really was.

He died Tuesday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, according to his manager, Marion Rosenberg, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Norman Lloyd, born in 1914, got his start performing with the Federal Theatre Project, part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. It employed hundreds of out of work actors. Lloyd, the son of a Jersey City store manager, soon started acting with Orson Welles at his acclaimed Mercury Theatre.

Our new cicada overlords have officially arrived.

You might be using Cicada Safari to track Brood X, which appears to be slowly emerging from the earth in the U.S. all the way from Florida to Michigan. But cicadas are global citizens. In China, the critters have long been symbolically significant.

Economic fallout due to the pandemic has been "catastrophic" for the performing arts, according to new data from the industry consulting group TRG Arts.

One of the world's most massive museums has announced an encompassing digitization of its vast collection.

"The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known," said Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, in a statement on Friday. "For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage."

Could there be a more unloved, abject literary form than the press release? Inherently clammy and needy, press releases crowd the inboxes of busy reporters, who find it all too easy to ignore their entreaties. ("My client is soooo great!")

But every so often, a press release shows up like this one from Early Music New York. It arrived with the swagger of a carnival barker. It was flashy. It was fun.

It's highly unusual to start an obituary with a warning about sexual content ahead. But Larry Flynt would've approved.

Flynt was a hard core pornographer whose Supreme Court case in 1988 made him a free speech folk hero. Admire him, despise him — or both, Flynt left a singular mark on culture and politics. Flynt died on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. He was 78 years old.

Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET

Legendary music producer Phil Spector — who was convicted in 2009 of murdering actress Lana Clarkson — died Saturday at age 81. His death was announced Sunday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which said that he had died of natural causes. His official cause of death is yet to be determined.

The Library of Congress tries to raise awareness of film conservation every year by adding 25 movies to the National Film Registry to preserve for posterity.

You should be counting your Thanksgiving blessings if you have someone like Jasmine Surti in your immediate family or circle. She's a mother, a daughter, a friend to many in Lawrenceville, N.J. And she's the sort of super-planner who joyfully takes on the daunting task of organizing a pandemic Thanksgiving.

"Well, I guess I like to make spreadsheets and surveys and things," Surti acknowledges with sheepish pride. "Basically, problem solving, you could say."

One of America's most renowned Modernist painters, Jacob Lawrence, is best known for his powerfully empathic The Migration Series, which chronicled the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to industrial cities.

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The popular crowdsourcing site GoFundMe is a go-to place to appeal for help with rent, medicine, child care and favorite causes. Along with donations, supporters leave comments ranging from "Can't wait for you to have the glasses you need!" to "Best of everything big guy," to simply "Get well soon!"

Another hot summer, another heated controversy at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

For an exhibition entitled "Collective Actions: Artist Interventions In A Time of Change," the vaunted New York museum managed to alienate a group of artists it had hoped to celebrate. Several of them charged the museum with propagating systemic racism by not properly compensating BIPOC artists for their work, nor asking permission for the work to be displayed.

On Tuesday, President Trump officially pardoned leading suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who died in 1906. He noted she was arrested in 1872 for voting before it was legal for women to do so.

"She was never pardoned!" he exclaimed in a White House ceremony. "Did you know that she was never pardoned? What took so long?"

The timing feels terribly apt.

Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression turned 50 this year. A bestseller in 1970, the book was one of nearly two dozen written by the cheerfully empathetic historian and journalist Studs Terkel.

Museums seem like immortal places, with their august countenances and treasured holdings. Even in our TikTok era of diminishing attention spans, they draw more than 850 million visitors a year in the U.S., according to the American Alliance of Museums.

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