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Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

Scouring the various and often overlapping worlds of art, music, television, film, new media and literature, Ulaby's stories reflect political and economic realities, cultural issues, obsessions and transitions.

A twenty-year veteran of NPR, Ulaby started as a temporary production assistant on the cultural desk, opening mail, booking interviews and cutting tape with razor blades. Over the years, she's also worked as a producer and editor and won a Gracie award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for hosting a podcast of NPR's best arts stories.

Ulaby also hosted the Emmy-award winning public television series Arab American Stories in 2012 and earned a 2019 Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. She's also been chosen for fellowships at the Getty Arts Journalism Program at USC Annenberg and the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism.

Before coming to NPR, Ulaby worked as managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times and co-hosted a local radio program, What's Coming Out at the Movies. A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby has contributed to academic journals and taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University and at high schools serving at-risk students.

Ulaby worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal after graduating from Bryn Mawr College. But her first appearance in print was when she was only four days old. She was pictured on the front page of the New York Times, as a refugee, when she and her parents were evacuated from Amman, Jordan, during the conflict known as Black September.

Landscape architecture has never quite gotten the adulation of capital-A architecture, but perhaps a new prize can help change that — especially since it's being given to an innovative designer who's been respectfully referred to as "the toxic beauty queen of brownfield remediation."

Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital has hosted many luminaries of the arts and letters over the years ... as patients in its famous psychiatric ward, and in its morgue. Norman Mailer, Edie Sedgewick, Eugene O'Neil, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie — all spent time at Bellevue, says Dr. Danielle Ofri, who co-founded the Bellevue Literary Review 20 years ago this fall.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The winner of the most prestigious prize in world literature was announced this morning in Sweden.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated September 22, 2021 at 7:33 PM ET

Influential director Melvin Van Peebles died on Tuesday night at home in Manhattan. The 89-year-old director was best known for his independent films Watermelon Man (1970) and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971).

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now news of needed sunshine in the form of Swedish power pop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATERLOO")

ABBA: (Singing) Waterloo - couldn't escape if I wanted to.

In an industry filled with boundary-breaking visionaries and spectacularly accomplished eccentrics, Lee "Scratch" Perry stood out. The legendary producer of reggae and dub music has died at the age of 85. No cause of death was given; Jamaican media reported that Perry died in a hospital in Lucea, in the northwestern part of the country. His passing today was confirmed in a series of tweets from from Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness.

The first words greeting visitors to the digital Museum of Black Joy are simple and affirmative:

"I see you. You are beautiful."

After weeks of celebrity tryouts, leaks and heated speculation by game show fans, current executive producer Mike Richards and actor Mayim Bialik have been named permanent co-hosts of Jeopardy!, marking the first time two people will host one of television's most popular game shows.

Richards will host the daily syndicated program, while Bialik hosts the primetime series and new spinoffs. The announcement was first reported by The Daily Beast.

Harvey Weinstein has lost his attempt to have three charges of sexual assault thrown out at a hearing today at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, but his attorneys did get the judge to agree that one of the charges should be amended.

Plenty of mere mortals want to host Jeopardy!

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for example. And actor Mayim Bialik. And Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings. All intelligent, charismatic ... and in the running as the legendary trivia show tries out hopefuls before naming a new host.

But they're not LeVar Burton.

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.

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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.

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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.

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