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'Blockbusters': Go Big Or Go Home, Says Harvard Professor

Anita Elberse's new book, Blockbusters, examines the strategy behind making and marketing megahits. She tells NPR's Renee Montagne that content companies — publishers, movie studios and the like — can create blockbusters by dedicating most of their budgets to a select few likely winners.
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Actress Alfre Woodard On The Music That Moves Her

Veteran actress Alfre Woodard shares the music that keeps the rhythm in her life, as part of Tell Me More's "In Your Ear" series.
NPR

Henry Louis Gates Jr. On Untangling African-American History

The history of African-Americans is a long and complicated one. Scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is trying to tell that story in a new PBS documentary, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. He speaks to host Michel Martin about tracing the African-American experience from the second inauguration of President Obama to the first African explorer.
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'Captain Phillips': A First-Time Actor, Opposite Tom Hanks

Actor Barkhad Abdi plays the ruthless leader of Somali pirates in the film Captain Phillips. To train for the role, Abdi learned how to swim, handle weapons, drive a skiff — and act.
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'12 Years' Is The Story Of A Slave Whose End Is A Mystery

Solomon Northup, an African-American musician from New York, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. He was eventually freed and wrote about his experience in Twelve Years a Slave, a memoir that has inspired a new film adaptation. But by the end of the Civil War, he dropped off the public record.
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Why We Can't Look Away From Hard-To-Watch Films

Many film critics have called 12 Years A Slave hard to watch because of its graphic and emotional content. Host Scott Simon talks with Slate's movie expert, Dana Stevens, about why we sit through difficult movies.
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Fan-Girls Get Their Way As 'Fifty Shades' Leading Man Quits

A couple years ago, the book Fifty Shades of Grey took the world by storm, making it an obvious adaptation choice for Hollywood. But just a few weeks from production, leading man Charlie Hunnam quit the project, citing scheduling conflicts. But there's been wide speculation that opinionated fans who thought Hunnam was the wrong choice to play the titular Vincent Grey may have pushed him to walk away. Audie Cornish speaks with Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter about the dustup, and which actors are being talked about as possible replacements.
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For A Free Spirit, A Grim '12 Years' In Chains

A brutal corrective to gauzy portrayals of the antebellum South, this true story of a man kidnapped into slavery took home the top audience prize at the Toronto Film Festival. NPR's Bob Mondello says it emphatically deserved the honor. (Recommended)
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At Home At Sea: Robert Redford, At His Best Alone

The actor is a cast of one in All Is Lost, about a man adrift alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Fresh Air critic David Edelstein says Redford and director J.C. Chandor have pulled off the ultimate fusion of actor and character. (Recommended)
NPR

'Fifth Estate' An 'Ambitious Film' About Julian Assange

The new movie The Fifth Estate wants to create a viable portrait of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It dramatize the complex moral questions his work raises, and blend those themes with the personal dramas that are Hollywood's bread and butter.

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