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Susan Stamberg

There's a running joke in Los Angeles that everybody — from your dog walker to your dry cleaner — is writing a screenplay. Curt Neill is one of those aspiring screenwriters — a sketch comedian who has tried to write screenplays, but never finished one. "I've never even gotten close," he admits in Caffe Vita, an LA coffee shop where he writes.

There's an 85-year-old building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles that has been a venue for the Dalai Lama, the LA Philharmonic and even scenes in Entourage and The West Wing. But extracurricular activities aside, the Wilshire Boulevard Temple is a house of worship. Recently refurbished, and given a preservation award by the Los Angeles Conservancy, the temple has a special place in the history of Hollywood.

Growing up in Philadelphia in the 1940s, Albert Paley played with blocks and Legos. And he loved wandering the streets, scavenging bottle caps, matchbook covers, cigar bands and "picking up pebbles that I thought were interesting," he recalls.

Now 70, the American sculptor has moved from pebbles to monumental gates. His iron and steel works adorn Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Rochester, N.Y. His gates, archways and free-standing sculptures are eye-catching landmarks.

In her novel I Always Loved You, author Robin Oliveira imagines a passionate scene between Edgar Degas — a French artist known for his paintings of dancers — and Mary Cassatt — an American painter known for her scenes of family life. The kiss in the novel is pure fiction, but then again, "nobody knows what goes on in their neighbor's house, let alone what happened between two artists 130 years ago," Oliveira says.

Comedian Sid Caesar, one of early network TV's biggest stars, died Wednesday morning at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 91.

Caesar didn't do smut, putdowns or smarmy remarks. Instead, he did skits: grown-up, gentle comedy for the whole family.

In one skit, Caesar was the smarter-than-anyone German "professor." Carl Reiner played a movie executive with money problems. The professor's solution? Make a musical — and get the greatest composer in the world. He is shocked to discover that his top choice won't be available.

The comic actor Sid Caesar died on Wednesday at the age of 91. He starred in the popular 1950s program, Your Show of Shows, television's first live comedy show, featuring skits and musical numbers.

Before World War II, many Americans got exaggerated ideas about Africa from movies like Tarzan the Ape Man — movies that were filmed on Hollywood sound stages.

It took time to change that view. But after the war, Life magazine photographer Eliot Elisofon sought to shed a new light on the vast and variegated continent.

It's that time of year again. Time for Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish. Every year since 1972, around Thanksgiving, I've shared my mother-in-law's famous cranberry relish recipe on the radio. It's appallingly pink, like Pepto Bismol — but it tastes terrific.

This year, I bring my relish recipe to Thanksgivukkah. Next week, Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah fall on the same day. It's a rare convergence.

Marcel Duchamp's Cubist-inspired Nude Descending a Staircase was famously described by one critic as "an explosion in a shingle factory."
Philadelphia Muse

Fans of the reclusive J.D. Salinger are in their element these days.

An afternoon dress in pale blue organdie, embroidered with pink and blue forget-me-nots, was part of Dior's spring-summer 1953 haute couture collection, Tulipe line.

Asheville, a mountain town in North Carolina, is known for at least two important native sons: writers Thomas Wolfe, whose 1929 novel Look Homeward, Angel eviscerated some locals, and Charles Frazier, whose 1997 civil war novel Cold Mountain is set in the nearby hills. But there is also a little-known story of another writer — F. Scott Fitzgerald — who, along with his wife Zelda, had devastating connections to the town.

D-Day soldiers landing on Omaha Beach. A naked Vietnamese girl running from napalm. A Spanish loyalist, collapsing to the ground in death. These images of war, and some 300 others, are on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in an exhibition called WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath. Pictures from the mid-19th century to today, taken by commercial photographers, military photographers, amateurs and artists capture 165 years of conflict.

Andrew Carnegie was once the richest man in the world. Coming as a dirt poor kid from Scotland to the U.S., by the 1880s he'd built an empire in steel — and then gave it all away: $60 million to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country.

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ORSON WELLES: Of course, there are all sorts of fountains. Some are beautiful, some are purely mythological. Some are silly fountains. Of course, the silliest of all, is the fountain of youth. Old Ponce de Leon thought that one was somewhere down in Florida.

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

American artist Ellsworth Kelly turned 90 in May, and there's been much celebration. On Wednesday, President Obama presented Kelly with the National Medal of Arts. Meanwhile, museums around the country are showing his work: Kelly sculptures, prints and paintings are on view in New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. In Washington, D.C., the Phillips Collection is featuring his flat geometric canvases, layered to create wall sculptures.

To say that Nashvillean Spencer Hays is crazy for French art is an understatement. "French art just quickens our step, fires our spirit and touches our heart," he says.

Hays' passion began when he was in his 30s. By then he was already a millionaire; Forbes estimated his worth at $400 million in 1997, money earned from book-selling and clothing businesses. Hays had humble beginnings.

As a kid in Chicago, director William Friedkin liked to frighten little girls with scary stories. When he grew up, he scared the rest of us with a little girl — Regan MacNeil, who is possessed by the devil in his horror classic The Exorcist.

And in The French Connection, he put knots in our stomachs with one of the great movie chases in American cinema.

Starting Saturday, Weekend Edition is broadcasting under the fourth roof that's sheltered National Public Radio. NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg has worked in all of the locations since NPR went on the air in 1971, and once again she shepherds us to our new home.

The French painter Renoir, one of the creators of impressionism, is the subject of a French film that's in release across the U.S. It imagines the last years of the painter's life — surrounded by glorious rolling hills, doting housemaids and a new young model who becomes his muse. It's at least the second film to capture the master in motion.

The first, made in 1915, shows the real Pierre-Auguste Renoir, sitting at his easel, just working away.

There are certain creations that have defined beauty for generations: Renoir's pudgy, pink nude; Rothko's brilliant blocks of color that seem to vibrate; Michelangelo's naked young man in marble, with a slingshot on his shoulder.

Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln has earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director. Another Spielberg film — the multi-Oscar winning Schindler's List — will be celebrating 20 years since its release. These films have at least two important things in common: Spielberg and publicist Marvin Levy.

The set decorating crew of an upcoming film starring Johnny Depp includes lead man Anthony Carlino (from left), assistant set decorator Florence Fellman and set decorator Lau

When the Oscars are handed out later this month, the ceremony will most likely be punctuated by music that has pretty much come to stand for movies and Movieland. Ironically, the composer grew up in Detroit, and the lyricist came from Savannah, Ga. — yet together they wrote the quintessential Tinseltown anthem.

"Hooray for Hollywood" was written for the Warner Brothers film Hollywood Hotel. It was a corny little "let's-go-to-Hollywood-and become-stars" movie from 1937, with some cute dialogue.

Over the past six months, the headlines from Aleppo, Syria, have been horrifying. As the conflict between rebel forces and the government continues, the city has been overrun by tanks and artillery, and assaulted by shots, explosions and fires.

But Aleppo's present belies a much richer past. It's Syria's largest city, and one of the world's oldest continually inhabited urban areas. Over the centuries, it has served as a major crossroads for trade and commerce.

American service members have long spent holidays in dangerous places, far from family. These days, home is a video chat or Skype call away. But during World War II, packages, letters and radio programs bridged the lonely gaps. For 15 minutes every week, "Canteen Girl" Phyllis Jeanne Creore spoke and sang to the troops and their loved ones on NBC radio.

Earlier this summer, I looked for Edward Hopper's Morning Sun at its home in the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. In the painting, a woman sits on a bed with her knees up, gazing out a window. She's bare, but for a short pink slip. The iconic Hopper is a must-see, but on the day I visited, it was on loan to an exhibition in Madrid.

In the 1950s, the moviegoing world fell in love with a young French ballerina and actress named Leslie Caron. She brightened the silver screen in musical films like 1958's Gigi, where she played a young courtesan-in-training who befriends a rich, handsome suitor in 1900s Paris.

The print newspaper industry may be struggling, but newsprint is alive and well on the walls of a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The show is called "Shock of the News" — and it examines a century's worth of interaction between artists and the journals of their day.

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