Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR and hosts its award-winning Culturetopia podcast. Her work includes profiling actors, authors, musicians, and those who inform the world through creative expression, and covering the complicated relationships between art, artists, and society.

Ulaby came to NPR in 2000 when she was recruited through NPR's Next Generation Radio, and landed a temporary position on the cultural desk as an editorial assistant. She soon started reporting regularly, augmenting her radio work with arts journalism for the Washington [D.C.] City Paper.

Most recently, Ulaby's stories have included a series on women record producers, an investigation into exhibitions of plastinated human bodies, and a look at the legacy of gay activist Harvey Milk. Her profiles have brought listeners into the worlds of such performers as Ellen Page, Timbaland, Mark Ruffalo, Courtney Love, and the RZA; writers Sarah Waters and Etgar Keret; and directors Hayao Miyazaki, Fatih Akin, and Eli Roth.

NPR’s Culturetopia, Ulaby’s weekly podcast of NPR's best arts stories, won a Gracie award for Outstanding Podcast from the American Women in Radio and Television. Ulaby has received the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship and a fellowship from the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism to study youth culture.

A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby was managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times, and co-host of the radio program, “What's Coming Out at the Movies.” Her film reviews appeared in alternative papers nationwide. She also edited fiction for The Chicago Review, and served on the editing staff of the leading academic journal Critical Inquiry. Ulaby’s articles on slapstick comedy have been published internationally. She taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and at high schools serving at-risk students.

Ulaby was born in Amman, Jordan, and grew up in the Midwest of the United States. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal. Ulaby lives in Washington, D.C., with her partner, Robin, and their three-legged dog.

 

Franco Zeffirelli once said that when the curtain comes up "you have to give the audience a big thing to look at."

The Italian filmmaker and opera director gave audiences plenty to look at — in his lavishly styled operas and his biblical and Shakespearean film adaptations.

Zeffirelli died Saturday in Rome after a long illness. His death was announced on the Foundation of Franco Zeffirelli website. He was 96.

On average, every 30 seconds someone in the world buys a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Maybe it's for a grandchild, an expectant parent or a dear friend's new baby. Nearly 50 million copies have been sold since the classic picture book was first published in 1969, and it has been translated into over 62 languages.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


One of the best-known anthems of second-wave American feminism might not have become a No. 1 hit without an obnoxious display of macho behavior.

Leave it to California to combine high-end cuisine with the kind of ingredients that might actually get you high. It's an increasingly lucrative niche for chefs in San Francisco and Los Angeles — cities already well known for trendy food culture.

Chefs and entrepreneurs making cannabis-infused foie gras and "stoner souffles" have been featured on not one but two series devoted to gourmet ganja: the Netflix competition program, Cooking On High, and the Viceland show Bong Appetit.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


Editor's note: The following story may not be appropriate for all ages.

What if, one night a year, all crime, including murder, was legal? That's the premise of an incredibly successful horror movie franchise set in the not-so-distant dystopian future. The idea of The Purge is: Let people blow off steam, and crime rates will go down. The fourth Purge installment — The First Purge — opens July 4.

The Purge films have, on average, made almost 2,000 percent of their budget at the worldwide box office. What is it about these stories of society-run-amok that keeps audiences coming back?

When Henrietta Lacks was dying of cancer in 1951, her cells were harvested without her knowledge. They became crucial to scientific research and her story became a best-seller. Since then, Lacks has become one of the most powerful symbols for informed consent in the history of science.

On Monday, when the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., honored Lacks by installing a painting of her just inside one of its main entrances, three of Lacks' grandchildren were there.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know springtime is a traditional wedding season. But when it comes to the dresses worn by today's blushing brides, we're seeing a much less traditional trend. In fact, other people may be blushing.

When it comes to the bridal bustline, the question these days is ... how low can you go?

"How can I say this kind of politely?" Monte Durham teases. "We have dresses cut to your navel."

When Trenton Doyle Hancock was 10 years old, he made up a superhero: Torpedo Boy. The character has become the center of a complicated cosmos Hancock has developed obsessively for more than 30 years. There are drawings, paintings, sculptures — and now, a plush stuffed doll.

"Well, he looks like me," Hancock says. "He's a black guy. His face is basically my face."

From Roseanne to Will & Grace to Star Trek: Discovery – television is utterly awash in reboots. It's good business to bring back shows with loyal fan bases. Parents or grandparents are eager to revisit favorite programs, and share them with a burgeoning new generation of potential fans.

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