Monthly Archives: October 2004

A Century of Broadway

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For much of the 20th century, Broadway was the place for anyone who wanted to make it big. Stars like Paul Robeson, Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand all shot to fame under those bright lights.

A hundred years after musical theater first pitched its tent in what is now Times Square, a new PBS series casts a loving eye backstage, and argues that the musical has always had as much substance as spectacle. Shows like “Oklahoma!” and “West Side Story,” the series insists, hold up a mirror to the nation’s psyche, reflecting both its deepest fears and desires.


Michael Kantor, producer/director of the PBS series “Broadway: The American Musical”

Laurence Maslon, co-author of companion book, “Broadway: The American Musical”

Alfred Preisser, director, Classical Theater of Harlem

Human Rights Activist Harry Wu

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Harry Wu was sent to a Chinese labor camp in 1960 and left there for nearly two decades. After he was released, he came to the United States.

He soon returned to China to document the brutality of the prison camps. On his fifth trip, he was caught and jailed. Activists and politicians from around the world called for his freedom and Wu was eventually released.

Wu’s dream now is to raise awareness of the Chinese prison system so that it becomes as condemned for its abuses as the gulags of the USSR, or the concentration camps of the World War II.


Harry Wu, Executive Director of the Laogai Research Foundation, based in Washington, DC. He is the author of three books, including: “Laogai: The Chinese Gulag,” “Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag” and “Troublemaker: One Man’s Crusade Against China’s Cruelty.”

"What the #$!@ Do We Know!?"

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It’s kind of like the “Matrix,” only with a lot less leather and a lot more talking heads. “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” is a new indie film that is getting a lot of play and a lot of attention for the way it asks, and answers some pretty fundamental questions about reality, consciousness, and the nature of existence.

This low budget film makes connection between the hard science of quantum physics and the softer side of spirituality. And it comes to some conclusions that have some scientists arguing.


Mark Vicente, Director of “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”

Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, physicist, writer, and lecturer

Dr. Michael Shermer, Columnist for Scientific American and Publisher of Skeptic Magazine

The Final Debate

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George Bush and John Kerry won’t be spending any more time together in this campaign. From now on, it’s the ground war mentality of the final day’s push. But last night, the two candidates gave voters a lot to think about. Sparring over healthcare and jobs, education and tax cuts, they traded labels, barbs, misstatements and bullet points, each one trying to claim the higher ground on domestic issues that matter more to Americans.


Karen Tumulty, National Political Reporter for Time Magazine

Kieran Mahoney, Republican Strategist and advisor to Bob Dole’s presidential bid

Elaine Kamarck, lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Senior Advisor to Al Gore’s presidential campaign

Deconstructing Jacques Derrida

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Jacques Derrida, who died last week, was perhaps the most influential and controversial thinker of the late 20th century. His ideas became known as “deconstruction.” Detractors called it “nonsense” but it nonetheless swept through universities, reconfiguring America’s intellectual landscape.

Hear about the legacy and life of French philosopher Jacques Derrida.


Richard Rorty, Stanford University

Richard Wolin, City University of New York

Mitchell Stephens, New York University

Tom Keenan, Bard College

Pension Crisis

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In the good ole days of corporate America, people would retire knowing a pension check would arrive every month. Now, that company-funded nest egg has gone bad.

With two major airlines facing bankruptcy, and one seriously considering it, the health and retirement benefits for millions of Americans are in jeopardy. In the past, the federal agency that guarantees pensions would chip in enough to keep people going. Now, the bankruptcy wave is so high that it might swamp the federal system too.

Hear about putting money away, and then watching it disappear.


Douglas Elliot, President of the Center on Federal Financial Institutions

Janice Gregory, senior vice president of the ERISA Industry Committee

Teresa Ghilarducci, Professor of Economics and Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame

Orhan Pamuk

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Orhan Pamuk is perhaps Turkey’s greatest living storyteller — a man who, like his country, inhabits and embodies that place between East and West. In his works, he captures the pain and the poetry of two cultures that continually and dangerously misunderstand each other.

But in his new novel “Snow,” Pamuk takes on the extreme tensions of contemporary geopolitics. His protagonist is a “porridge-hearted liberal” with a taste for pornographic videos. His female hero is a passionate Islamist, who commits murder while defending the rights of young women to wear headscarves.

Hear a conversation with occidental novelist, Orhan Pamuk, about his latest novel.


Orhan Pamuk, author of “Snow”

Former Congressman Dick Armey

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Dick Armey, the former Republican House Majority Leader, is known as a conservative with a folksy flair. He grew up in a place called Can-do, North Dakota and was the first member of his family to attend college.

Early on as a Congressman, Armey slept on the House gymnasium floor to save money on rent. He spent his 18 years in office advocating for smaller government and lower taxes. In 1994, Armey was one of the primary authors of the “Contract with America,” the conservative manifesto that helped the GOP regain control of the House from the Democrats.

Now, in the midst of a heated presidential election, Dick Armey is calling for a third republican revolution, one that brings his party back to basics.


Former Congressman and Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey. He is currently Co-Chairman of Freedom Works — a conservative think tank based in Washington DC — and Senior Policy Advisor at Piper Rudnick law firm also based in Washington, DC.

Helpful Inventions

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Since living in Botswana, Amy Smith has dedicated her life to solving daily problems in the developing world. From machines that produce clean drinking water, vaccines and cheap charcoal, the MIT instructor’s inventions are made with local materials.

Beyond making life easier for the world’s poor, Smith also wants to change what it means to be an inventor. In a world obsessed with gizmos costing hundreds of dollars, Smith wants instead to focus minds and imaginations on simple solutions for big problems.


Amy Smith, Inventor and MacArthur Award winner

Senator Robert Byrd

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In his more than 50 years in Congress, Senator Robert Byrd, has served with 11 presidents. But he’s aiming his ire for that office’s current occupant. In his new book, “Losing America,” the senator says that President Bush has eroded the stature of that office beyond recognition.

Byrd is used to making broad pronouncements. For years the West Virginia Democrat has been making a name, his opponents would say a nuisance, of himself with his fondness for the filibuster and his habit of quoting scripture and Roman history in the Senate. At age 86, Senator Byrd may well be in the twilight of his career — but he is not going quietly.


Robert Byrd, United States Senator (D-WV)