Mandalit del Barco

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A new version of a classic Disney animated movie, The Jungle Book, opens Friday. It features a live-action Mowgli and digitally created animals. The new movie is a feat of animation and technical magic — the new smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. Combining multiple animating techniques into a seamless, life-like experience in the jungle, director Jon Favreau called on some of the industry's biggest talents to bring Rudyard Kipling's animals to life.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand. This week, Thai-Americans are celebrating the traditional three-day water festival called Songkran to mark the new year. And many of them regularly shop at LA's landmark Bangkok Market, the first Thai food store in the U.S.

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Fans of the caped crusader and the man of steel will finally have a chance this weekend to see their heroes fight each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE")

Artist Robert Mapplethorpe was as controversial as he was celebrated. In 1989, his photographs depicting nude men and sexual fetishes helped ignite the culture wars. Now, an upcoming HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, examines the artist's life and work. He's also the subject of a major retrospective spanning two L.A. museums — the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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British costumer Sandy Powell already has three Oscars, and now she's been nominated for two more. This year she's up twice for best costume design: one for Cinderella -- with its sweeping ball gowns — and another for her work in Carol -- featuring impeccable 1950s dresses.

Carol is a love story starring Cate Blanchett as a wealthy woman whose marriage is falling apart. Powell says Carol can afford the latest 1952 clothes — including a blonde mink coat.

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Tonight, Showtime presents a new documentary on the late pop star Michael Jackson, called Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. Director Spike Lee explores his journey from child prodigy to recording his best-selling 1979 album. It's the second in what Lee hopes will be a trilogy of films dedicated to Jackson's musical legacy.

Off the Wall was Michael Jackson's first solo album as an adult.

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Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein may be best-known for producing movies like Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. But the indie film mogul has also been busy producing TV. His latest project is a version of War and Peace, a co-production with the BBC and Lifetime.

The miniseries — which airs simultaneously on A+E, Lifetime and History — is an updated retelling of Leo Tolstoy's classic Russian novel. And it's a passion project for Weinstein.

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The Sundance Film Festival begins tonight in Park City, Utah. NPR's Mandalit del Barco is there with a preview of what's to come over the next 10 ten days. Hey, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

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Legendary rock musician David Bowie, who influenced generations of musicians and fans, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Last year filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu won the best picture, best director and best screenplay Oscars for Birdman. His new film, set to open Christmas Day, is already getting Oscar buzz. The Revenant is a Western, set in the American frontier in 1823. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as legendary explorer Hugh Glass. In the harsh, icy American wilderness, he gets mauled by a grizzly bear. A fellow fur trapper murders Glass' son and then buries Glass alive, leaving him to die. The movie chronicles the hero's struggle to survive, bent on revenge.

Before the new Star Wars movie had its splashy Hollywood premiere, producer Kathleen Kennedy joined the cast onstage. "It's a real privilege to make movies," she said. "Everyone involved on The Force Awakens knows how lucky we've been to carry on this incredible legacy that George began over 40 years ago."

Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, handpicked by George Lucas to take over his company and the franchise.

Like many fans, Kennedy remembers waiting to see the first Star Wars movie, back in 1977.

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The late Vincent Price was a horror film icon. With perfect elocution, he delivered creepy invitations to haunted houses in such movies as House of Wax (1953) and House on Haunted Hill (1959). He was a regular on TV's Hollywood Squares and a villain on the 1960s TV series Batman. Price's deep voice narrated Michael Jackson's 1982 music video for "Thriller" and was an inspiration to director Tim Burton. But Price was also a foodie.

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For more than 60 years, Heath Ceramics has been making handcrafted pottery and tiles, in muted neutral colors with names like "light grey whale" and "sand." The company's products are a favorite with fans of midcentury design — and Thursday night, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is honoring the company with a National Design Award.

Miami already enjoys a vibrant street art scene, but now a new arts district is emerging. The industrial city of Hialeah is becoming an affordable alternative for local artists, who are changing the area's reputation.

Colorful street art brightens the otherwise drab warehouses, where Cuban and Haitian immigrants labor inside binding books, making furniture and sewing clothes. The murals depict flamingoes, a fruit vendor, a girl celebrating her quinceañera.

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Let's shift gears now and hear about a bilingual Latina coming to TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "NINA'S WORLD")

ISABELLA FARRIER: (As Nina) I'm 6 now, Lucy. That's a hand plus a finger.

Los Angeles is getting a new contemporary art museum, courtesy of billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife Edythe. Their free museum opens Sunday.

Surrounded by the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad is already an architectural landmark, with its honeycomb-like exoskeleton.

"This shell of sorts, this light filter, this amazing sculptural structure ... enrobes the museum," says Joanne Heyler, the museum's director and chief curator.

Richard Cabral's neck, chest and arms are covered with tattoos. They depict Mexican gang culture, his friends, uncles, even his daughter Bella. Cabral's intense look and his powerful acting have landed him a lot of TV roles, but his path to Hollywood wasn't easy. Not long ago, Cabral was a gang member in prison, facing a possible 35-year sentence; this Sunday, he's up for an Emmy.

Former Saturday Night Live cast members Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader are making TV together again. Tonight their new show, Documentary Now!, which features fake documentaries satirizing some of the most famous nonfiction films, premiers on IFC.

To sell the faux-class and seriousness of what's about to unfold, it's presented as a golden anniversary show of the best documentary films hosted by none other than Oscar-winner Helen Mirren.

In the late 1980s, Los Angeles hip-hop group N.W.A created a sensation and controversy with their music, which was labeled gangsta rap. Like the group's story, the making of their much-anticipated biopic, Straight Outta Compton, is filled with drama.

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The Turkish television industry is booming.

During Ramadan, which ended this week, many Muslims — around the world — tuned in to watch Turkish TV in massive numbers.

But Turkey isn't just presenting religious programming. The country is second only to the U.S. in producing and exporting secular TV dramas — and they're becoming global hits

A 'Captive Audience' During Ramadan

Many families watch as they gather as they wait to break their Ramadan fast after sundown, says Pinar Tremblay, a columnist for the online newspaper Al-Monitor.com.

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