Arts

Arts and culture

Normally, the bookers of the Super Bowl halftime performance don't have a lot of trouble finding talent for the big show. Superstars like Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Beyoncé have all performed. But for this year's upcoming game, nailing down a halftime act hasn't been so easy.

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Welcome to a brand-new season of New Music Friday! After a few quiet weeks, the flood gates are opening and we've got a whole bunch of essential albums dropping on Jan. 18 to tell you about. This includes the smart, sparkling pop of singer Maggie Rogers, swooning love songs from James Blake, deep introspection from Pedro The Lion's first new album in 15 years, pure joy from Toro y Moi and much more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson for this quick sprint through the essential releases for Jan. 18, the first busy drop date for the new year.

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Survivors of California's recent wildfires are bracing for the possibility that the utility Pacific Gas and Electric may go into bankruptcy protection by the end of this month. Investigators are looking into whether the company's equipment started the Camp Fire. For victims suing PG&E, a company bankruptcy could impact their compensation. From member station KQED in San Francisco, Lily Jamali has more.

LILY JAMALI, BYLINE: For the last several weeks, California's Butte County has been inundated with TV ads like these.

Framed through a narrow crack in an adjacent doorway, the opening scene of The Heiresses, a subtle and perceptive character study from Paraguay, plays out from the perspective of a middle-aged woman as strangers pick their way through her dining room. Many of the items are for sale, due to a financial crisis that's threatening her upper-class lifestyle, and the first-person camera seems to quake with anxiety.

Although it's about the Warsaw Ghetto, nearly all of whose inhabitants were murdered, Who Will Write Our History is a tale of survival. So it's fitting that the documentary begins with the 1946 return to Warsaw of Rachel Auerbach, who was among the one percent of Polish Jews the Nazis didn't manage to kill between 1939 and 1945.

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Fyre Festival - that is F-Y-R-E - was supposed to be the music festival of 2017.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: The actual experience exceeds all expectations into something that's hard to put in words.

Less than a week after hundreds of Christian protesters descended on the Haifa Museum of Art, clashing with police in a demonstration against a controversial sculpture, the Israeli city's mayor says the object of their outrage is getting withdrawn. Einat Kalisch-Rotem announced Wednesday that McJesus, a work of art depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald, "will be removed and returned as soon as possible."

It's impossible to talk about Great Britain these days without talking about Brexit, the United Kingdom's pending departure from the European Union. Of course, it's easier to say you're leaving a longtime partnership than to do it, and two and a half years after the referendum that decided the issue, what leaving means is still unknown.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross, who's off this week.

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