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.More from Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen »

Most Recent Episodes

Hari Nef, Clive James, & Nadja Spiegelman

Revered British critic Clive James aims his razor wit at the golden age of cable drama — and he finds that even shows with dragons deserve some respect. Plus, Nadja Spiegelman grew up in a family that encourages artistic expression — her mother is the New Yorker's art editor and her father is the author of "Maus." But when she started writing a memoir about her mother's family, she discovered that not all truth-telling is welcome. And the trans actress Hari Nef lands the role of a lifetime, straight out of college.

Singing in the Chorus

Eric Whitacre has written extremely popular choral music — but his real breakthrough came when, over YouTube, he started inviting amateur singers from all over the world to join in. Also, how Aimee Mann tried to understand a friend's death by writing a song. And composer Julia Wolfe digs deep into the culture of coal country with her Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio "Anthracite Fields."

Danny McBride, Sian Heder, & Frankenstein

Danny McBride has built a comedy empire by playing foul-mouthed, egotistical jerks — but he wants you to know that he's not really like that. Also, the writer-director Sian Heder explains how a lousy job she took when she was just starting out inspired her new movie, "Tallulah." And we travel back in time 200 years, to the climate catastrophe that inspired Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."


It's been over 150 years since "On the Origin of Species" was published, but we're still fighting over Charles Darwin's big theory. One of Darwin's descendants, Ruth Padel, writes poems about her famous relative. Spencer Wells gathers DNA around the world to determine where we came from. An amateur paleontologist finds a way to believe in both God and the fossil record. Plus, a science fiction story by Lydia Millet imagines the downside of messing too much with our genes. (Originally aired November 20, 2009)

Viggo Mortensen, Diane Arbus, & Perfecting a British Accent

Actor Viggo Mortensen brings some of his own outdoorsy skills to his role as a dad raising his kids off the grid in "Captain Fantastic." Also, with a new exhibit of her early photographs, it's time to reconsider Diane Arbus' conflicted legacy. And Kurt gets a lesson on speaking like a proper Brit from an accent coach.

Can Laughing Make Us Healthier?

Is the old cliché true — is laughter the best medicine? Kurt Andersen and Mary Harris, host of the podcast Only Human, go to a laughter yoga class to find out. Also, we hear from a neuroscientist who studies laughter and moonlights as a standup comedian. Comic Chris Gethard explains why he resisted getting help for his depression out of fear of losing his humorous edge — and how getting treatment transformed his career. And we find out when medical humor is — and is not — just what the doctor ordered.

Coming of Age

We all grow up, eventually. Kurt Andersen talks with Lois Lowry, whose novel "The Giver" helped define dystopian young adult fiction. Also, writer Junot Diaz explains why he couldn't finish his Pulitzer-winning coming of age novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" until he turned 40. Plus, the story of how a Kiss album helped an immigrant kid feel a little less lonely.

The World According to "Star Wars" & Margaret Glaspy Plays Live

The legal scholar and former Obama administration advisor Cass Sunstein explains the hidden lessons "Star Wars" teaches about the law, politics, and philosophy. Plus, we find out about a theater company that's perfectly happy playing to an audience of one — in fact, it's designed that way. And the indie rocker Margaret Glaspy plays a live solo set.

Songs in the Key of Reinvention: Haim, Shamir, and Basia Bulat

This week, three live music performances by artists who have transformed themselves. First, the sisters of the pop group Haim got their start in their parents' classic rock cover band — and went on to play with Stevie Nicks. Then, how a bad breakup led Basia Bulat to a musical breakthrough. And Shamir Bailey proves that musical style can be as fluid as gender identity.

American Icons: The Disney Parks

This is America's vision of utopia. Generations of Americans have grown up with Walt Disney shaping our imaginations. In 1955, Disney mixed up some fairy tales, a few historical facts, and a dream of the future to create an alternate universe. Not just a place for fun, but a scale model of a perfect world. "Everything that you could imagine is there," says one young visitor. "It's like living in a fantasy book." And not just for kids: one-third of Walt Disney World's visitors are adults who go without children. Visiting the parks, according to actor Tom Hanks, is like a pilgrimage — the pursuit of happiness turned into a religion. Futurist Cory Doctorow explains the genius of Disney World, while novelist Carl Hiaasen even hates the water there. Kurt tours Disneyland with a second-generation "imagineer" whose dead mother haunts the Haunted Mansion. We'll meet a former Snow White and the man who married Prince Charming — Disney, he says, is "the gayest place on Earth. It's where happy lives." (Originally aired October 18, 2013) Special thanks to Julia Lowrie Henderson, Shannon Geis, Alex Gallafent, Nic Sammond, Steve Watts, Angela Bliss, Todd Heiden, Shannon Swanson, Katie Cooper, Nick White, Marie Fabian, Posey Gruener, Jason Margolis, Chris DeAngelis, Jenelle Pifer, Debi Ghose, Maneesh Agrawala, and Tony DeRose. Bonus Track: Cory Doctorow on the Disney theme parks Hear Kurt's full conversation with Doctorow about his life-long obsession with Disney in general, and the Haunted Mansion specifically. Video: Walt Disney's original plan for Epcot Inside the Magic Kingdom Annabel Fabian, 9, and her mom Genie Cesar-Fabian, and Tigger (Marie Fabian) Above the firehouse on Main Street USA sits Walt's private study where he would work and entertain guests at Disneyland (Andy Castro/Flickr) Izzy Kleiman has been an Annual Passholder to Disneyland since she was 5 (Katie Cooper) Disney incorporates tiny details into the park design, such as Sleeping Beauty's woodland friends perched outside her castle (Loren Javier/Flickr) Michael Clowers and Clay Chaffin (who played Prince Charming) at Walt Disney World in 1989; the couple has been together ever since (Clay Chaffin) Entrance to the Haunted Mansion, an attraction in New Orleans Square, where facades are copied from real buildings in New Orleans (Loren Javier/Flickr) Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion was modeled after the face of Leota Toombs Thomas, who worked in the model shop where Haunted Mansion was developed (Loren Javier/Flickr) Julie, Marita, and Jim, the Siegel family of Celebration, Florida, in front of their home with host Kurt Andersen (Jenny Lawton) Celebration is proud of its Disney lineage: some of its electric transmission towers are shaped like Mickey Mouse (Dough4872/Wikimedia Commons) To celebrate the winter holidays, downtown Celebration is covered in "snoap" — a soapy snow substitute that falls from the streetlamps (Andrew Simpson/Flickr)

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