What's In a Title?

Oct 5, 2015
Eon Productions, MGM

The opening credits of your favorite movies and television shows set the mood, tone, and characters for what's to come, and allow you to relax and get ready for the show. Some fast-forward through the opening credits to avoid distraction from the main performance. Others say title sequences are supposed to be more like a score: felt, but not noticed. 

The film industry first fell in love with titles in the 1950s, when iconic opening sequences from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" were etched deep in our memories. The opening notes are still recognizable half a century later. The same can be said for the well-known HBO series "Game of Thrones." 

DonkeyHotey flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey / Creative Commons

This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Courtesy Atla DeChamplain

Atla and Matt DeChamplain, former high school sweethearts who have become one of Connecticut’s premier jazz power couples, debut their first album done together at a festive CD release concert on Friday, October 2, with shows at 7:00 and 9:00 pm at the Palace Theater Poli Club at 100 East Main Street in Waterbury.

So far, the Southern New England arts season has been a place for serious theater. Trinity Rep opened with Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar.” And now, Pawtucket's Gamm Theatre has presented Tennessee Williams' deep and driving “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Michael Crommett / Courtesy of Amir ElSaffar

Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “an exquisite alchemist” for his magical blend of traditional Middle Eastern motifs with free-wheeling jazz elements, the Iraqi-American, Chicago-born trumpeter/composer Amir ElSaffar has made a breakthrough discovery with his latest album, Crisis (Pi Recordings).

Rhode Island’s Viola Davis made history last night, as the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a TV drama. In a rousing speech, Davis quoted 19th century abolitionist Harriet Tubman, then spoke to the barriers women of color continue to face today.

“And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” said Davis.

It's official - 2015's song of the summer is "Cheerleader" by OMI. So now that horse race is over, what about an anthem for Autumn? And how do you even make that choice?

If a summer song needs to be fun, upbeat, and sound good blasting from car windows at Hampton Beach, what qualities define a memorable fall tune?  Pumpkin-related lyrics?  Wistful melodies, and acoustic guitars?  We asked three music industry insiders to tell us what they think 2015's (Unofficial) Song of the Fall should be and why -  and here's what they had to say.

A Bold Experiment: How Pop Music Might Sound In 2065

Sep 16, 2015


“Society 50 years from now needs its own drug.”

“The problem seems to be to find the joy,” Shawn LaCount, Company One Theatre’s co-founder and artistic director, says with a reassuring smile to a young actor. “Once you find it, the rest is great.” The actor smiles back a little nervously.

dtstuff9 flickr.com/photos/dtstuff9 / Creative Commons

Ben Vereen was plucked from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to go to the prestigious Performing Arts High School because somebody thought he had talent. Influenced by song and dance men like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., Ben Vereen garnered accolades for groundbreaking roles in "Pippin," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Roots," in which he challenged us to think about race, religion and who can make art.

John Abercrombie

Perhaps best known for his long, amazingly fruitful relationship with Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records, guitarist John Abercrombie has enjoyed such a diverse, distinguished career that you can’t lock up his restless, lyrical artistry into any one air-tight, neatly convenient category, not even with the venerable ECM label.


It was a rocky start to Stephen Colbert's Late Show debut. He admitted he went way over time, and barely got it on the air. But days later, his emotional interview with Vice President Joe Biden reminded us why we just love him so. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Caroline Jacobs is a grown woman with children of her own. But by all accounts, she's a wimp. She would prefer to suffer in silence than stand up for herself or anyone else -- until she couldn't stand it anymore.  

One night, while at a public meeting and in a crowded room, she stood up, pointed her finger at the one she loathed, and shouted "F%$# You" to her nemesis. With that one phrase, she was ready to face her past. 

If there was a moment that best summed up the inspired, surprising and sometimes uneven nature of Stephen Colbert's debut as host of CBS' Late Show last night, it came toward the program's end.

That's when Colbert, known for his willingness to croon a tune or two, jumped on stage to belt out a version of Sly and the Family Stone's Everyday People with an all-star band that included bluesman Buddy Guy, gospel legend Mavis Staples and Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard.

エルエルLL flickr.com/photos/107244436@N07 / Creative Commons

WNPR has a radio project and we want to get you involved. The idea is simple: we provide a theme; you call our hotline with your story.

The theme: Tell us one thing you remember from last week and why it was memorable to you. It doesn't have to be a long story - between 5-20 words is plenty, unless you want to add a little more. The point is that we can all tell a story and it doesn't have to be a chore. 

  Tony and Emmy Award winning star Kristin Chenoweth will perform with The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in The Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood.

Chenoweth most recently wowed audiences in Roundabout Theatre Company's production of On the Twentieth Century. During that run she co-hosted the Tony Awards. Other Broadway credits include You're A Good Man Charlie Brown and Wicked. On television she's popped up often, notably on Glee, The Good Wife, and Pushing Daisies.

This Labor Day weekend, the small city of Ticonderoga, New York, will host its first ‘Star Trek’ convention. Conventions dedicated to the 1960s TV series that spawned a pop culture movement have been held around the world for decades, but what makes this event unique is that it’s being held within a complete reproduction of the original series’ set.

  B-52s founding member Kate Pierson has been having a very busy 2015. Earlier this year, she released her very first solo album, Guitars and Microphones. Produced by Tim Anderson, the record features writing from “Chandelier” singer, Sia — who also served as its executive producer — and guitar-work from the Strokes’ Nick Valensi.

If that wasn’t enough excitement - earlier this month, Kate married her long-time partner Monica Coleman in Hawaii. They co-own Kate's Lazy Meadow in Mount Tremper, NY. 

She has also been touring with the new album and will be doing a benefit for the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild Ceramics Expansion Project next Friday night.

WWE Lures Former Fans Back To Pro Wrestling

Aug 24, 2015

This story is part of Only A Game’sTime Show” which examines how the passage of time influences sports.

David Shoemaker has been writing about professional wrestling since 2010, at which point his stories weren’t reaching a broad audience.

Will Grover's promotion to HBO be good for kids?

Elmo, Snuffy, Grover and Big Bird could soon hit the HBO after-parties alongside Tyrion Lannister and the ethically challenged cops from True Detective.

Promising a win-win for kids and quality children's programming, HBO, the nonprofit Sesame Workshop and PBS have announced that new Sesame Street episodes will move to HBO and its streaming service HBO GO this fall.

Connecticut Craft Beer: A New Industry is Brewing

Aug 7, 2015
Chion Wolf

To say Connecticut is known for its world class craft beers is not accurate-- at least not yet. But a bold band of merry (and quite innovative) beer brewers from cities all around are on a mission to change that, one small batch at a time. With nearly 40 in-state breweries currently in operation-- a ten fold increase from the number we had only six years ago -- the Connecticut craft beer industry is booming.

After 16 years of honing a unique brand of political satire that has been much copied, but rarely equaled, Jon Stewart signed off for his final episode of The Daily Show with a list of guests who either helped create the jokes or were on the receiving end of them over the years.

"Guess what?" Stewart opened. "I've got big news. This is it."

The 52-year-old comic announced last winter that he would be stepping down from the Comedy Central powerhouse, with Trevor Noah set to take over the hosting duties.

Talk to the Hand: The Puppet Show

Aug 5, 2015
Artisphere/Creative Commons

Who doesn't love puppets?

From the Muppets to Edgar Bergen to the Thunderbirds, they defined our childhoods. Today they're taking over the theater with "Hand to God," "Avenue Q" and "The Lion King." Many people don't know it, but Connecticut has long been a center of puppetry in the United States.

Peter Harrison / Creative Commons

This past week, a Minnesota dentist and father of two shocked us out of our complacency. Desensitized by the weekly shootings this summer of African Americans by white policemen, moviegoers in theaters and African American churchgoers by a young white racist,  his ambush of Cecil the lion was a visceral blow to our collective gut.  Yes, we're still horrified by the way human beings treat each other. Our outrage over Cecil doesn't change that horror, but animals are somehow out-of-bounds of our cruelty to one another. In some ways, they're like civilians in a war - innocent victims in a world outnumbered by humans with the power to destroy all that is natural in this world.

Dominick D / Creative Commons

Two funny men. Two funny books. 

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend follows the life of Martin Short, a funny man who spent his childhood staging elaborate one-man variety shows  in his attic bedroom before bringing us enduring and endearing characters like Ed Grimley, Irving Cohen and Jimmy Glick.  

ConnectiCon 2015: The Art of Dressing Up

Jul 15, 2015
Katie McAuliffe / WNPR

It’s not often that you run into Batman and Princess Leia in the same day.

This past weekend the comic, sci-fi and anime stars aligned as the Connecticut Convention Center hosted the 12th annual ConnectiCon. Thousands crowded into three venues throughout Hartford for a four day series of panels, workshops, and geek-studded events.

Innovation in the Arts: The Search Continues

Jul 2, 2015
Adam Lyon / Flickr Creative Commons

It's hard to imagine: the idea that the arts, the grand bastion of our creative genius, may soon be bankrupt. But are new ideas really an unlimited commodity, or wont we one day exhaust them all? Some say we already have; that the bulk of what's being churned out by today's filmmakers, musicians and writers, are simply re-imaginings of the ideas of their predecessors.

Jeaneeem / Creative Commons

The Eagles first album touched a cultural nerve in 1971, with songs like "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Witchy Woman," a prelude to the hits to come. And, the music never stopped. Despite mounting criticism from critics and fans alike, within five years they rolled those hits into one of the biggest selling Greatest Hits albums of all time. 

Farewell to a Musical Hero, Gunther Schuller

Jun 25, 2015
NPR Fresh Air

When historians a couple of hundred years from now rummage around in the life of Gunther Schuller, they may conclude that he was actually several people.