"I am amazed that this show is on the air — constantly amazed — because on paper this show shouldn't work," Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan tells Kurt Andersen. It’s the story of Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston), an underachieving high school chemistry teacher and suburban dad in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He begins cooking crystal meth in desperation, worried about his medical bills and the future of his pregnant wife and handicapped son. But it gets worse: as the series progresses, Walter spirals downward from a good person making bad choices into a remorseless drug kingpin. "We're taking our good guy and we're making him bad," Gilligan says.
Next, and you thought Schindler’s List was long? At 3 hours, 15 minutes, it’s a trailer compared to a film called The Clock, which clocks in at 24 hours. Directed by Christian Marclay, The Clock is a mash-up of more than a thousand movie clips — even Marclay doesn’t know how many. Each shows characters discussing the time, or a clock in the frame, so that the film itself functions as a timekeeping device. Sounds more like an endurance test than a work of art, but it’s a surprisingly popular one: last summer, four thousand people showed up for a screening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Among them, one man stayed the duration without a wink or — he claims — even a bathroom break. KCRW’s Matt Holzman found out what makes The Clock so watchable.
Then, Porgy and Bess was groundbreaking: an opera about poor African-Americans in South Carolina, starring a cripple, a tramp, and a drug dealer. There’s a new production on Broadway now entitled The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, but it’s not the one George and Ira presented in 1935. Audiences get new dialogue, back stories, and orchestrations courtesy of playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, director Diane Paulus, and musical director Deirdre Murray.
And finally, twenty years ago, just as indie rock started to be called indie rock, John Darnielle formed one of its great bands: The Mountain Goats. The New Yorker called Darnielle "America's best non-hip hop lyricist”; his songs are moody, literary, maybe a bit navel-gazey. But Darnielle's biggest influence isn't Leonard Cohen or Nick Drake. He was, and is, a metalhead. [Broadcast Date: July 21, 2012]
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