Fresh Air

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Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program.

The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

Editor's note: This interview contains a racial slur.

Sam Esmail, the creator, lead writer and director of the TV series Mr. Robot, has always identified with computer programming and hacker culture — in part because of his experiences with social anxiety.

In college, he shied away from parties and instead took refuge in the computer lab. It felt safer to talk to people online than in person, Esmail says. But working in the computer lab sometimes created problems; at one point, he was put on academic probation for hacking.

Spy stories vary hugely in their respect for the real world. James Bond movies are timelessly cartoonish, with villains who make their headquarters inside disused volcanoes.

Ever since childhood, author Kevin Wilson has lived with disturbing images that flash through his mind without warning.

"I've always had this kind of agitation and looping thoughts and small tics," he says. "Falling off of tall buildings, getting stabbed, catching on fire — they were these just quick, kind of violent bursts in my head."

Not that Wilson would ever harm anyone else — the harm in these quick, intrusive thoughts was strictly internal. The images fed off of his own anxiety, and left him feeling terrified.

Dan Piepenbring was a 29-year-old editor of the literary magazine The Paris Review in 2016 when he met Prince for the first time — and agreed to help the musical icon pen a memoir. It was the assignment of a lifetime for a writer who had not yet published a book, but Prince wanted someone he could open up to — and Piepenbring fit the bill.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today's first guest is author Tom Perrotta, whose recent novel, "Mrs. Fletcher," is being dramatized this Sunday as a new HBO miniseries. Kathryn Hahn stars in the title role.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli in for Terry Gross. Our next guest is Booker T. Jones. In the 1960s and '70s, he led the band Booker T. and the M.G.'s, which had several hits, including the popular instrumental known as "Green Onions." He and his M.G.'s also were the house band for the Memphis-based soul label Stax Records, and they eventually received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.

When Kathryn Hahn first moved to LA to become an actor, she started auditioning — but quickly became disillusioned.

"When I started to see the roles that were available to me, what I was being seen for, I definitely thought ... 'This is just such a small part of me that's being seen. I wish somebody could see more of what I can offer,'" Hahn says.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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