Mandalit del Barco

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Singer Sharon Jones helped revive soul singing with her powerful, energetic performances. The 60 year old died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this appreciation of her music and her life.

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There's one name uttered on red carpets perhaps just as much as Oscar.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Tom Ford, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All right, Tom Ford.

Amazon's new 10-part series Good Girls Revolt was inspired by a landmark 1970 case involving a group of women working at Newsweek magazine who sued their employers for gender discrimination. At the show's fictitious News of the Week magazine, women begin to rise up, too.

The new movie Moonlight is set in Miami in the 1980's, at the height of the War on Drugs. It's an authentic, intimate portrait of a young, gay black man whose mother is a crack addict. We first meet Chiron as a ten-year-old boy, getting chased by bullies through the streets of the city's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood. Chiron ends up cowering inside a boarded-up crack house.

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The movie "Morris From America" opens in theaters this weekend. It's about an African-American teenager who moves to Germany with his father. Mired in culture shock, the two bond over hip-hop.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MORRIS FROM AMERICA")

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It's good to be Regina King.

For decades, she's worked in front of the camera as an actress. Now, she's building a career in the director's chair.

On the Warner Bros.' backlot in Burbank recently, King commanded the cast and crew of Animal Kingdom, TNT's new dramatic series about a family of outlaws in Southern California. It's based on an Australian movie; this version features Ellen Barkin as the matriarch, living with her four bad boy sons in a ranch-style house full of skateboards and surfboards, complete with a real, working swimming pool.

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We all know about the lumbering, old American cars on the roads in Cuba. But right now, it's very fast cars and motorcycles getting the attention. The latest installment of the enormously successful Fast and Furious franchise is shooting in Havana.

A new version of a classic Disney animated movie, The Jungle Book, opens Friday. It features a live-action Mowgli and digitally created animals. The new movie is a feat of animation and technical magic — the new smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. Combining multiple animating techniques into a seamless, life-like experience in the jungle, director Jon Favreau called on some of the industry's biggest talents to bring Rudyard Kipling's animals to life.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand. This week, Thai-Americans are celebrating the traditional three-day water festival called Songkran to mark the new year. And many of them regularly shop at LA's landmark Bangkok Market, the first Thai food store in the U.S.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Fans of the caped crusader and the man of steel will finally have a chance this weekend to see their heroes fight each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE")

Artist Robert Mapplethorpe was as controversial as he was celebrated. In 1989, his photographs depicting nude men and sexual fetishes helped ignite the culture wars. Now, an upcoming HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, examines the artist's life and work. He's also the subject of a major retrospective spanning two L.A. museums — the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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British costumer Sandy Powell already has three Oscars, and now she's been nominated for two more. This year she's up twice for best costume design: one for Cinderella -- with its sweeping ball gowns — and another for her work in Carol -- featuring impeccable 1950s dresses.

Carol is a love story starring Cate Blanchett as a wealthy woman whose marriage is falling apart. Powell says Carol can afford the latest 1952 clothes — including a blonde mink coat.

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Tonight, Showtime presents a new documentary on the late pop star Michael Jackson, called Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. Director Spike Lee explores his journey from child prodigy to recording his best-selling 1979 album. It's the second in what Lee hopes will be a trilogy of films dedicated to Jackson's musical legacy.

Off the Wall was Michael Jackson's first solo album as an adult.

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Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein may be best-known for producing movies like Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. But the indie film mogul has also been busy producing TV. His latest project is a version of War and Peace, a co-production with the BBC and Lifetime.

The miniseries — which airs simultaneously on A+E, Lifetime and History — is an updated retelling of Leo Tolstoy's classic Russian novel. And it's a passion project for Weinstein.

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The Sundance Film Festival begins tonight in Park City, Utah. NPR's Mandalit del Barco is there with a preview of what's to come over the next 10 ten days. Hey, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

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Legendary rock musician David Bowie, who influenced generations of musicians and fans, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Last year filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu won the best picture, best director and best screenplay Oscars for Birdman. His new film, set to open Christmas Day, is already getting Oscar buzz. The Revenant is a Western, set in the American frontier in 1823. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as legendary explorer Hugh Glass. In the harsh, icy American wilderness, he gets mauled by a grizzly bear. A fellow fur trapper murders Glass' son and then buries Glass alive, leaving him to die. The movie chronicles the hero's struggle to survive, bent on revenge.

Before the new Star Wars movie had its splashy Hollywood premiere, producer Kathleen Kennedy joined the cast onstage. "It's a real privilege to make movies," she said. "Everyone involved on The Force Awakens knows how lucky we've been to carry on this incredible legacy that George began over 40 years ago."

Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, handpicked by George Lucas to take over his company and the franchise.

Like many fans, Kennedy remembers waiting to see the first Star Wars movie, back in 1977.

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The late Vincent Price was a horror film icon. With perfect elocution, he delivered creepy invitations to haunted houses in such movies as House of Wax (1953) and House on Haunted Hill (1959). He was a regular on TV's Hollywood Squares and a villain on the 1960s TV series Batman. Price's deep voice narrated Michael Jackson's 1982 music video for "Thriller" and was an inspiration to director Tim Burton. But Price was also a foodie.

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For more than 60 years, Heath Ceramics has been making handcrafted pottery and tiles, in muted neutral colors with names like "light grey whale" and "sand." The company's products are a favorite with fans of midcentury design — and Thursday night, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is honoring the company with a National Design Award.

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