Episode #445

Domes, Deavere, Song

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Saturday, November 08, 2003

Kurt Andersen and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explore where art and democracy collide. The political playwright and West Wing star Anna Deavere Smith channels President Clinton. Poet Billy Collins talks about Walt Whitman and the challenge of writing poetry about democracy. An architecture critic travels to Charlottesville Virginia to look at Thomas Jefferson's big, beautiful vision for democratic space. Plus, we visit the auditions for the next American Idol series.

This program is part of public radio’s special coverage, “Whose Democracy Is It?”


Madeleine Albright

Commentary: Mr. Smithocracy

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is THE iconic movie about American politics because its story is one that Americans have always wanted to believe about their democracy: that no matter how venal and corrupt politics can be, a virtuous, innocent man like Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith — a small-town nobody ...


Special Guest: Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright is a foreign policy expert appointed by President Clinton as American Ambassador to the United Nations, and then as Secretary of State. Born in Czechoslovakia, she and her family came as refugees from the Communist government, and she grew up in Denver. Her new memoir, Madame Secretary, recounts ...


Channeling President Clinton

Anna Deavere Smith is a playwright and professor. She also plays the national security advisor on the NBC's The West Wing. In 1996 she interviewed Bill Clinton, George Bush the elder, and others who were shaping the election; and then she performed selections of those interviews verbatim, exactly as she ...


Jefferson's Dome

We all know Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence. But he was also the architect of some of our country’s best political buildings. Architecture critic Karrie Jacobs explores how Jefferson’s love of the dome changed how Americans think of political space. With production assistance from Sean ...


Mumbo Jumbo

What happens when people in power attempt to suppress an outburst of cultural energy? That's the conflict at the center of Ishmael Reed's comic novel Mumbo Jumbo. Reed and the Jazz scholar Robert O'Meally talk about how Jazz terrified politicians who saw the music as a virus sweeping the nation, ...


Let the People Decide

With Arnold Schwarzennegger's election, we may be increasingly comfortable choosing our leaders from the ranks of pop culture and entertainment. At the same time museum curators and television producers are letting us vote to guide things they used to do on their own. Jake Warga looks at the merging ...


Billy Collins/Walt Whitman

Billy Collins just completed his term as Poet Laureate of the United States. Collins reads from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself and talks about the challenge of writing poetry about big things like democracy. Produced by David Krasnow.


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