Fresh Air for Friday, December 6, 2013

HBO's new TV special is part biography, part music-appreciation lesson and part performance piece. Critic David Bianculli says it's a superbly compiled work, overseen by two of the people most intimately familiar with the composer himself.

'On Sondheim': The Musical-Theater Legend At 80

The New York Times calls Stephen Sondheim the "greatest and perhaps best-known artist in American musical theater." Sondheim composed the music and lyrics for, among others, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company. In 2010 he joined Fresh Air to discuss his career in musical theater.
Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen continue to mine American pop culture in their latest film. It's 1961 in Greenwich Village, and a homeless folk singer is trying desperately to break out. Critic David Edelstein says the overarching tone of the film is snotty, condescending and cruel.
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