Mandalit del Barco

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Hollywood has been speaking out this week about the current political climate. There were teach-ins and rallies at talent agencies, and events and awards shows have been peppered with political opposition. NPR's arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco reports.

The oft-overlooked Oscar category of best documentary short has a dramatic theme this year: Three of the five films nominated are about Syrians, and each offers an intimate, eye-witness account of the devastation in that country.

One of the shorts, The White Helmets, follows a group of civilian volunteers in Aleppo who search for and rescue bombing victims. They're the only first responders left and they've saved tens of thousands of people, digging them out from the rubble. (The sound of bombs blasting can be heard throughout the film.)

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British singer Adele made Grammy history last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HELLO")

ADELE: (Singing) Hello. It's me. I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet, to go over...

This year, "music's biggest night" will be missing more than a few of its biggest stars. Despite multiple nominations, Kanye West, Drake and Justin Bieber are reportedly skipping tomorrow evening's Grammy Awards.

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It's a big day for movies and the people who work on them. Nominations for this year's Academy Awards will be announced early this morning in Beverly Hills. NPR arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco has a preview.

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"Reservoir Dogs," "Memento," "The Blair Witch Project" and the Coen brothers' debut film, "Blood Simple," all have one thing in common. They premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. My co-host Kelly McEvers has more.

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After years of planning, negotiations and speculation, filmmaker George Lucas has chosen Los Angeles to be the home for his museum honoring visual storytelling. It will display his personal collection of fine and popular art, including Norman Rockwell paintings, Mad Magazine covers, photography, children's art, as well as Hollywood props and visual effects from his famous movie franchise Star Wars.

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Now, when Hollywood stars gathered last night for the Golden Globe Awards, much of the attention focused on a certain recently promoted reality TV star. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

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This year, Disney premiered its first Latina princess: Elena Castillo Flores, better known as Elena of Avalor. She sings and plays guitar, she goes on adventures, rules her kingdom and has her own highly rated animated TV show.

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A new art exhibition is called "Picasso And Rivera: Conversations Across Time." It opened this week at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is where NPR's Mandalit del Barco found the grandsons of both masters.

As families gather for home-cooked food this Thanksgiving, there's one acclaimed Los Angeles chef who expresses her gratitude for local flavors by getting out in nature.

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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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Transcript

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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