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Weekend: Michael Stipe Is Back; A "Star Wars" Unicorn and more...




Michael Stipe of REM performs in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Michael Stipe of REM performs in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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MICHAEL STIPE IS BACK

Michael Stipe was lead singer of REM for more than three decades. After they disbanded he walked away from music. Now he's back at it. He's recently released two solo singles with videos – one of which he directed. He tells John Horn why he’s back and what his job is as an artist in society.

ALTERNATIVE OSCAR BALLOT

The Oscar nominations were widely criticized for not including any women directors and not more actors  of color– but that didn’t have to be the case. Franklin Leonard, founder of The Blacklist published his alternative Oscar ballot in the Washington Post and talks with John Horn about why the Academy is slow to embrace change.

A "STAR WARS" UNICORN

It took the "Star Wars" movie franchise roughly 40 years to to put a woman or a person of color behind the camera. That dubious streak was broken by Victoria Mahoney, who was J.J. Abrams' second unit director for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Mahoney was responsible for action sequences and many of the dramatic moments as well. She talks with John Horn about breaking through the white male-dominated directing industry.

MARY STEENBURGEN'S MUSICAL MIND

Actress Mary Steenburgen incurred a mysterious neurological event following a routine surgery on her arm that makes her now hear music wherever she goes. Tim Greiving has the story of how she took what was initially an unnerving experience into her own hands, learning the accordion and going to Nashville to write and record music– even co-writing a song in the 2019 movie "Wild Rose." 

MAKING "MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL"

Justin Levine is a musical theater composer, lyricist and arranger. He served as music supervisor for the current Broadway production, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” which earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. The show is an adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s iconic 2001 film. Levine talks with John Horn about the challenge of bringing the film to the stage, and reimagining its most cherished song, “Elephant Love Medley.”

AMERICAN FACTORY GETS AN OSCAR NOM

Among the Oscar nominees for Best Feature Documentary is “American Factory." After a debut at Sundance 2019, the Obamas picked it up for their Netflix deal. The film tells the story of  what happens when a Chinese auto glass company named Fuyua opens a factory in a former auto assembly plant in Ohio. The film was directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2009 they’d made the Oscar nominated short film “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” which, in some ways, is a prequel to “American Factory.”

AN ARTIST TAKES ON CLIMATE CHANGE FROM THE STAGE

Miwa Matreyek uses digital animation, live music and theater to explore how humans are changing the planet--and not for the better-- in her new stage show called “Infinitely Yours" on stage now at REDCAT.