When Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg were working on the film Lincoln, they had many conversations with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, is about Lincoln's relationship with his cabinet. Both her book and the film showcase Lincoln's remarkable political skills.
It seems that every time you turn around, you find another anniversary of some big cultural or historical event. I'm weary of the media's habit of playing all these things up, so I'm abashed to admit I'm about to do just that.
But you see, in the same three-day period I recently saw the new James Bond picture, Skyfall, and Crossfire Hurricane, a new HBO documentary about The Rolling Stones. And because the Bond movies and the Stones both turn 50 this year, I began thinking about how they might fit together.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 3:01 pm
After Superstorm Sandy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's sign language interpreter became a pop culture phenomenon. Lydia Callis' energy and facial expressions drew wide attention and even a spoof on "Saturday Night Live." Some members of the deaf community took offense to some reactions.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Violence in Syria continues to escalate. Every day thousands of refugee flee into Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, but for the first time in months, there's an opportunity to form a government in exile that could open room for diplomacy.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 5:12 pm
Two sources tell NPR that four more BP employees will be charged in relation to the BP oil spill, which dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The individuals facing manslaughter charges are former BP well managers Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza. Another high ranking official, David Rainey, the former head of Gulf of Mexico exploration, will be charged with downplaying the spill to lawmakers. One more lower ranking BP employee will face insider trading charges.
Wang Heying, 64, supports the new Communist leaders, even if she can barely name them. She says government policies have led street lamps, bigger houses and a TV in every home.
Credit Frank Langfitt / NPR
Villagers in Dongjiangai, in eastern China's Jiangsu province, watch the presentation of the Communist Party's new leadership on national TV Thursday. They say they support the new leaders because of the improvements government policies have brought to their village.
Credit Frank Langfitt / NPR
Dongjianggai, a farming village, lies about 200 miles northwest of Shanghai.
An elderly couple is winnowing rice in the front yard of their home in the tiny village of Dongjianggai, about 200 miles northwest of Shanghai. They've just watched China's incoming leaders — including Xi Jinping, the new general secretary of the Communist Party — appear for the first time on national TV.
"We don't know them," the husband, Wu Beiling, says. "Xi Jinping was just unveiled. I'm not very familiar with the rest of the members."
Tony Kushner based his screenplay for Lincoln in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of the president, Team of Rivals — but he read many other histories and biographies, in addition to Lincoln's own writings.
Credit Joan Marcus-Hires / DreamWorks Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox
Kushner is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America. He also co-wrote the 2005 film Munich.
Tony Kushner spent years writing the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln, but that wasn't the only heavy lifting he had to do. It also took some effort to overcome Daniel Day-Lewis' reluctance to play the title role.
"I wanted to write to him and say, 'Daniel, apart from the fact that you're like one of the greatest actors ever, look in the mirror. God is trying to tell you something — you look like Abraham Lincoln!" Kushner tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.