Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

From PRI

The Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, from PRI and WNYC, is public radio's smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy – so let Studio 360 steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life. Plus, every week until the Academy Awards on February 28, 2016, we're bringing you extended, podcast-only versions of Kurt's conversations with all five of this year's Oscar-nominated directors.More from Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen »

Most Recent Episodes

Studio 360's Valentine's Day Special: with DJ Delilah and Basia Bulat

Where do you turn when you're heartbroken in the dead of night? Delilah, of course — her radio call-in show pairs romantic advice with the perfect song. Plus, we discover the surprisingly sweet couple behind one of history's naughtiest gag gifts: edible underwear. And Canadian songwriter Basia Bulat used a broken heart to propel her from subdued folk to floor-stomping pop.

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360 Directors' Cut: Oscar-Nominee George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"

Back when Jimmy Carter was president, an Australian director named George Miller made his first, super-low-budget movie. It starred a little-known Australian actor named Mel Gibson. "Mad Max" was a hit, and Miller's vision became the blueprint for post-apocalyptic cinema. Now, at 70, Miller has resurrected the franchise he invented. In "Mad Max: Fury Road," a warrior played by Charlize Theron runs from a tyrannical warlord. Like all the "Mad Max" films, it's high on epic action and low on dialogue. "Fury Road" is up for 10 Academy Awards – including Best Picture and Best Director. In this extended conversation with Kurt Andersen, Miller explains how he created some of this year's most thrilling action scenes with very little CGI – and why "Mad Max" would be better in black-and-white.

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George Miller, Empress Of, & HBO's "Vinyl"

George Miller launched his directing career with the first "Mad Max" movie — and 40 years later, "Mad Max: Fury Road" is his most acclaimed yet. Also, the singer Lorely Rodriguez has her mother to thank for becoming the pop sensation Empress Of. Plus, the writer Terence Winter on HBO's new series about 1970s rock 'n roll, "Vinyl."

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360 Directors' Cut: Oscar-Nominee Adam McKay, "The Big Short"

Adam McKay has made his mark on comedy many times over. But the director of "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" switched gears in his latest movie, "The Big Short," which is about the financial collapse of 2008. Sure, CDOs and synthetic CDOs might seem a little arcane, but McKay says it's not really that complicated. "You're really moving money and debt around and then they give it strange names and act like no one should understand," says the director. "The Big Short" is up for 5 Academy Awards – including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In this extended conversation with Kurt Andersen, McKay explains how great characters can make anything compelling to watch – and how he and Will Ferrell almost broke the internet with the help of his then two-year-old daughter.

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American Icons: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X"

This is an American revolution set down on the page. When Malcolm X was assassinated at 39, his life story nearly died with him. Today "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" — a favorite of President Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas alike — stands as a milestone in America's struggle with race. The autobiography is also a Horatio Alger tale, following a man's journey from poverty to crime to militancy to wisdom. Muslims look to Malcolm as a figure of tolerance; a tea party activist claims him for the political right; Public Enemy's Chuck D tells us, "This book is like food. It ain't McDonald's — it's sit down at the table and say grace." (Originally aired September 24, 2010) Passages from "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" were read by Dion Graham. Bonus Track: Painting an Icon Artist Charles Lilly's painting of Malcolm X adorns the cover of the Ballantine Books edition of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." In this bonus cut, he explains his famous work. Bonus Track: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remembers Malcolm X NBA Hall of Fame member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about hearing Malcolm X speak as a teenager in Harlem and the profound impact "The Autobiography" had on him in college. Video: A tour of Alex Haley's studio Alex Haley wrote "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" based on a series of interviews. Haley and Malcolm initially had very different views on the type of book they would create. (Courtesy of Bill Haley) Martin Luther King and Malcolm X waiting for a press conference. (Marion S. Trikosko, Courtesy of The Library of Congress) From R to L: The first edition cover of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," followed by two later covers (Melvin Reeves, Permission courtesy of Barney Rosset/Kyle Pellett, Permission courtesy of Barney Rosset/Courtesy of Ballantine Books) Alex Haley's Hamilton College ID card where he was a writer-in-residence (Courtesy of Bill Haley)

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360 Directors' Cut: Oscar-Nominee Alejandro Iñárritu, "The Revenant"

Filming "The Revenant" in the freezing cold of Alberta nearly did him in, but Alejandro González Iñárritu isn't complaining. "That's our job," says the director. His last film, "Birdman," won big at last year's Oscars, and "The Revenant" is up for 12 Academy Awards – more than any other film this year. Iñárritu downplays the controversy over the harsh shooting conditions, which prompted one crew member to call the film a "living hell." In this extended conversation with Kurt Andersen, Iñárritu explains why he's driven to extreme challenges – and why filming trees terrifies him.

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Samantha Hunt, Preservation Hall in Havana, & Walter Martin Plays Live

When Samantha Hunt needed a fictional cult for her new novel, "Mr. Splitfoot," she invented her own — she even wrote its scripture. Plus, the members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band make their first-ever trip to Havana, and discover the Cuban connection to New Orleans jazz. And singer-songwriter Walter Martin plays songs from his concept album on a very unlikely subject: art history.

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Alejandro Iñárritu, Steve Martin, & David Bowie

The director Alejandro González Iñárritu explains why filming "The Revenant" under punishing conditions made it the film that it is — a box office smash nominated for 12 Oscars. Also, we hear the story behind the stand-up album that made absurdist comedy mainstream: Steve Martin's "A Wild and Crazy Guy." And we say goodbye to the great David Bowie.

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Michael Ian Black, The Worst Film Ever Made, & "The Boys of the Lough"

Michael Ian Black is known for his deadpan, sarcastic comedy, but in his podcast and new memoir, he's surprisingly earnest. Also, we'll hear about what may be the worst film ever made, "The Day the Clown Cried," from 1972. Only a handful of people have seen it, but now that its director and star Jerry Lewis has donated it to the Library of Congress, more of us will one day watch it in all its glory. And we'll hear the 1920s recording that set the standard for traditional Irish music ever since.

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American Icons: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

This is the story of America's fight against authority. Ken Kesey had worked in a mental hospital, but his first novel was really a parable of what happens when you stand up to the Man — a counterculture fable that doesn't end well. Despite his far-reaching influence, Kesey was shut out by filmmakers who turned the story into an Oscar-sweeping phenomenon. Cuckoo's Nest changed how many people thought about mental illness and institutions. Sherman Alexie debunks the myth of the silent Indian; we visit Oregon State Hospital, where the director played himself on screen; a psychiatrist explains how the movie gave mental hospitals a bad name, with tragic consequences; and actress Louise Fletcher takes us into the mind of one of the most fearsome movie villains, the sweet-faced Nurse Ratched. "She doesn't see her behavior as it really is. Who does? Who sees that they're really evil?" (Originally aired September 20, 2013) Passages from the audiobook narrated by Ken Kesey were provided courtesy of HighBridge Audio. Bonus Track: Kurt Andersen's full interview with Louise Fletcher Hear Kurt's entire conversation with Fletcher, including why "no studio in town would touch this movie," and how she was cast in the role for which she won an Oscar. Behind-the-scenes of the film The novel is told through the eyes of Chief Bromden. When "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was adapted into a film, the Chief becomes a silent secondary character (portrayed here by Will Sampson). (© 1975 The Saul Zaentz Company, All Rights Reserved.) Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy, a new patient in the Oregon State Mental Hospital. (© 1975 The Saul Zaentz Company, All Rights Reserved.) Jack Nicholson and another actor play a scene while director Milos Forman watches. (© 1975 The Saul Zaentz Company, All Rights Reserved.) Louise Fletcher plays Nurse Ratched, a "perversion of feminity" according to scholar Leslie Horst who sees the character as a warning about "the danger of women who have power." Fletcher won an Oscar (© 1975 The Saul Zaentz Company, All Rights Reserved.) Louise Fletcher on the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with the cast and director Milos Forman (at right). (© 1975 The Saul Zaentz Company, All Rights Reserved.)

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