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Neda Ulaby

Sarah Ramey's first book was supposed to be a very big deal. Her publishers expected The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness to be a runaway best seller.

"We had a huge publicity slate," she says, a bit shyly. "You know, the Today show and CBS This Morning and, actually, NPR's Weekend Edition."

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 44th lifetime achievement award winners.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

One of cinema's biggest stars has died. In India, Dilip Kumar was often compared to Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier. He was 98 years old. NPR's Neda Ulaby has more.

The author of the bestselling Bridgerton novels, which served as the basis for a Netflix hit series that premiered last year, posted details Wednesday about a family tragedy on social media.

Italians are mourning the death of a beloved entertainer often referred to as "the lady" or "the queen" of Italian television.

Aw. Sesame Street got itself a little pandemic puppy!

The suits at HBO Max apparently gave in to Elmo's entreaties for a pet, after all these years. (Perhaps they concluded a pet doggie made more sense than Elmo's earlier request for a pet dinosaur. Or maybe they thought new puppy coverage would be irresistible for news organizations after a long holiday weekend? Ahem.)

"Lizzie Borden, the filmmaker, is not to be confused with the serial killer," declares museum curator Jasmine Wahi, barely suppressing a laugh.

To be clear: Lizzie Borden, the filmmaker, was born in the late 1950s, in Detroit. Her chosen forename (originally Linda), pays homage to the infamous ax murderess who took a whack at the patriarchy nearly a century earlier.

Ever lingered over purchases at The Gap, Pottery Barn, Origins, Patagonia or the Nature Company? Or dashed in for a coffee at Starbucks? Then you've most likely basked in the work of architect and designer Richard Altuna, who stealthily shaped the consumer landscape for upwardly mobile families for decades. Altuna died at the age of 70, according to a funeral announcement posted by Saddleback Chapel in Tustin, Calif. His sister told NPR he had contracted West Nile virus.

When the pandemic started, food writer Sandra Wu started making smoothies, with a vengeance.

"Like, ugh, let's press blend," she remembers. "Let's put in some liquid, like ugh, and get it in there."

NPR's first-ever Pulitzer occasioned a round of virtual Champagne corks popping and heartfelt cheers of congratulations across ... well, NPR's corner of cyberspace.

"Congrats to the Pulitzer winners. So deserved!!!!!" wrote Nina Totenberg, who does not dole out exclamation points to just anyone.

Beautiful bronze sculptures and castings from West Africa have long been exhibited in some of the world's most august institutions, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Wednesday it's returning three of these artworks to Nigeria. They include two 16th-century brass plaques created at the Court of Benin, and a brass head produced in Ife around the 14th century.

Despite great expectations, the British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamp got licked in a much anticipated auction this morning.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A tiny scrap of paper is expected to be auctioned tomorrow for a not-so-tiny sum - $15 million. NPR's Neda Ulaby tells us about the most expensive stamp in the world.

An unassuming roadside motel that's a spiritual home to the blues. A crumbling Navajo trading post standing right by Monument Valley, and an old filling station that offered refuge to Black travelers during Jim Crow. Campsites — for crusading civil rights demonstrators in the 1960s — and ones that housed Chinese railway workers a century before.

Billy Ocasio feels like one of the country's luckier museum directors. He runs the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, still standing strong in Chicago after the pandemic wiped out dozens of small museums across the country.

Artist Paul Rucker is fearless when it comes to taking on terrible moments in American history.

"The work that I do evolves mostly around the things I was never taught about," Rucker explains. Over Zoom, he's discussing his work in progress, Three Black Wall Streets, which evokes and honors the achievements of Black entrepreneurs and visionaries who created thriving spaces of possibility and sanctuary after the end of the Civil War.

Updated May 26, 2021 at 7:45 PM ET

Eric Carle's picture books were often about insects. Spiders, lady bugs, crickets and of course, that famous caterpillar, all as colorful and friendly as Carle himself. The Very Hungry Caterpillar — probably Carle's best-known work — came out in 1969 and became one of the bestselling children's books of all time.

To call an actor a Hollywood legend sounds like hyperbole, but Norman Lloyd really was.

He died Tuesday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, according to his manager, Marion Rosenberg, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Norman Lloyd, born in 1914, got his start performing with the Federal Theatre Project, part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. It employed hundreds of out of work actors. Lloyd, the son of a Jersey City store manager, soon started acting with Orson Welles at his acclaimed Mercury Theatre.

Our new cicada overlords have officially arrived.

You might be using Cicada Safari to track Brood X, which appears to be slowly emerging from the earth in the U.S. all the way from Florida to Michigan. But cicadas are global citizens. In China, the critters have long been symbolically significant.

Youn Yuh-jung has made Oscar history – and with such style! The glamorous staple of South Korea's film and TV scene is the first Korean and the second Asian to take home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. (The first, Japanese American actress and singer Miyoshi Umeki, won for Sayonara in 1958. Rinko Kikuchi was nominated for Babel in 2007, but the Japanese actress lost that year to Dreamgirls' Jennifer Hudson.)

The new book World Travel: An Irreverent Guide is credited to Anthony Bourdain. But it was not really written by the bestselling author, chef and TV personality who died in 2018.

The venerable doctor drama Grey's Anatomy is adding new characters, bringing back old ones and writing in COVID-19 subplots in its 17th season. When you look at a list of the longest-running scripted shows, Grey's Anatomy is among the very few still airing on primetime TV, along with The Simpsons (32 seasons), Law & Order: SVU (22 seasons), Family Guy (19 seasons) and NCIS (18 seasons.)

Economic fallout due to the pandemic has been "catastrophic" for the performing arts, according to new data from the industry consulting group TRG Arts.

One of the world's most massive museums has announced an encompassing digitization of its vast collection.

"The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known," said Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, in a statement on Friday. "For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage."

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