Andrew Limbong | KGOU
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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.

Publishing company Simon & Schuster has been sold to its competitor Penguin Random House. The news was announced Wednesday by Simon & Schuster's parent company, ViacomCBS.

The $2.175 billion sale is expected to close in 2021, pending regulatory approvals.

Just a year ago, a sentence like "I was in self-quarantine so I had nothing to do but doomscroll and found an article about an anti-mask rally that looks like a superspreader event" would've gotten you pinged as a weirdo, but it's completely normal for 2020.

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Every second spent in prison is a "measurement of punishment," says Nicole R. Fleetwood. "You wake up, you're being punished, you're being punished, you make art, you're being punished."

Fleetwood is curator of "Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration," a new exhibition at New York City's MoMa PS1.

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.

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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.

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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.

When big, important people die, it's easy to overuse the term "iconic," but the title fits Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Outside the halls of the Supreme Court, she had another life in pop culture as a symbol of both dissent and feminism. And maybe nothing has cemented her place there more than Saturday Night Live.

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When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday, the nation lost a Supreme Court justice and a pop culture figure. Here's NPR's Andrew Limbong.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

Actor Diana Rigg, best known for starring in the 1960s British TV espionage thriller The Avengers, died on Thursday at the age of 82 in London. According to a statement from her daughter Rachael Stirling, she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

"My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep early this morning, at home, surrounded by family," Stirling wrote. "She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession."

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."

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