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Mandalit del Barco

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Hollywood film and TV productions could soon shut down if contract negotiations aren't resolved. Production staff in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, voted to authorize a strike Monday over disputes with studio producers about their schedules, pay and work conditions. The threat of an actual strike could be leverage during any future negotiations, which could happen this week as the two sides sit down again for talks.

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A judge suspended Jamie Spears' conservatorship of his daughter's estate yesterday. And outside of the LA courtroom, Britney's fans cheered. NPR's Mandalit del Barco was there.

(CHEERING)

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Updated September 29, 2021 at 9:06 PM ET

Pop star Britney Spears has been living under a legal conservatorship that has controlled every aspect of her life since 2008. For much of that time, all decisions about her personal, medical and financial affairs have been completely controlled by her father, Jamie Spears, who initiated the conservatorship 13 years ago — and whom the singer has accused of exploiting her.

For years, people of color have struggled to break into Hollywood. One reason? The film industry is built on relationships, and many of those relationships often begin in film school, where the right connections can open important doors. Now, the country's top film schools are trying to foster those connections for people of color by creating a pipeline to the industry for filmmakers whose work remains underrepresented.

Comedian Norm Macdonald, a beloved Saturday Night Live cast member in the 1990s, has died. His management company confirmed that the 61-year-old had battled cancer for nine years.

After 17 days of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, the United States finished with the most medals won overall and the most gold medals, with its 39 golds just barely beating out China, which won 38.

On the last day of the Games, the U.S. women's volleyball team secured the 39th gold medal, beating out Brazil to win the country's first gold in the sport.

TOKYO — They were called the "COVID Olympics." The "pandemic Olympics." The "anger Olympics." Many Japanese people were upset to host such a huge and risky event in the middle of the pandemic, and many outside observers were surprised it happened at all.

TOKYO — The ancient martial art of Karate made its debut at the Summer Olympics in Japan this week. The sport was added as a nod to the country where it developed 700 years ago.

There are two types of karate at these Olympics: kata, and kumite.

Kata is performed solo, with an imaginary rival. The hand and leg movements are slow and precise. But Kumite is sparring; kicking and punching at an opponent.

TOKYO — Outside the Tokyo 2020 media press center and Olympic venues, amateur photographers are snapping pictures. Not of the people, but the hundreds of buses shuttling foreign journalists, athletes and officials.

You can spot the bus spotters snapping shots of the vehicles labeled with funny names in English, like "Ina Bus," and "Hiya, Tokyo." Lots of them are labeled with the Japanese word "kanko," meaning sightseeing.

Yuki Sato spends hours on one street corner, taking pictures of all the buses that pass him. Why? I ask.

"Hobby, hobby," he says. It's his hobby.

TOKYO — Young athletes from Japan are dominating in the skateboarding competitions at the Tokyo Olympics. So far, they've won all three gold medals in the skateboarding competitions that debuted during these Games. The latest winner is Sakura Yosozumi, who claimed gold on Wednesday in the park skateboarding final.

The competitors skated around a course built for the Games, doing midair tricks and soaring through the valleys and grinding on and soaring over the lip of the curved concrete walls.

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TOKYO — In the year leading up to the delayed Summer Olympics, public opinion polls in Japan showed people overwhelmingly against holding the Games in the country. Some feared it would spread the coronavirus. Others complained about the high costs. There are still some small occasional protests. But now that Olympics are underway and Team Japan is doing well, people here seem excited.

TOKYO — The U.S. women's basketball team has still got it. The squad defeated Japan 86-69 in preliminary play at the Tokyo Olympics and it is the team's 51st straight win dating back to the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

On Friday, the U.S. tangled with host country Japan at Saitama Super Arena, outside Tokyo. The U.S. pulled away at the end but for a while, it was a bit of a nail biter.

Organizers at the Tokyo Summer Olympics have reported one of the highest daily increases of coronavirus cases since they started keeping records on July 1.

Since Wednesday, 24 people linked to the Games have tested positive — including three athletes. That brings the total of Olympic-related officials to catch the virus to 193 people, including 20 athletes.

Star gymnast Simone Biles cited her mental health concerns for withdrawing from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics. "It's been a long Olympic process, it's been a long year," she told reporters after she stopped competing in the team event. "And I think we're just a little bit too stressed out."

Biles' teammates applauded her decision to take care of her mental well-being. But she's not the only athlete who has talked about the pressures of performing at the Games.

U.S. surfer Carissa Moore is the first woman to ever win a gold medal in her sport at the Olympics.

Surfing made its Olympic debut during three days of competition at Tsurigasaki Beach, in Chiba province, 40 miles from Tokyo. Brazilian Italo Ferreira took gold in the men's event.

Surfing has deep roots, but for the first time, surfers are competing for medals at the Summer Olympics. At Tsurigasaki beach, 40 miles from Tokyo, they're also riding big waves ahead of a tropical storm.

"The incoming tide push over the afternoon does look to provide a lot of fun waves," reports Kurt Korte, the official surf forecaster for the Tokyo Olympics. He works for Surfline, a company based in Huntington Beach, Calif. He says while it might rain at Tsurigasaki beach, it should be a great day for the surfing finals at the Olympics.

TOKYO — In the neighborhood where he grew up skateboarding, 22-year-old Yuto Horigome won the first ever Olympic Gold medal for skateboarding.

In the street skate competition, Horigome expertly flipped his board in the air, sailed over staircases and glided on rails. On the fourth trick of the final he accomplished a most difficult one: a "nollie 270 noseslide." After taking off, he flipped his board, then slid it down the rail on its nose.

Skateboarding is ready for its time to shine at the Tokyo Olympics. Competitors will show off the skills they developed in the streets and skateparks around the world, and the hope is that they attract younger fans to watch the Games.

It's been an interesting ride for the sport that has rebel roots in southern California.

The skatepark on the beach in Venice, Calif., is a mecca for the sport. For decades, the area was known as "Dogtown," with skateboarders coming there to show off their skills, doing acrobatic flips and tricks.

TOKYO — The COVID-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics officially begins with a parade of athletes (more than 200 of them from Team USA), waving flags and marching inside a mostly-empty stadium. It's not clear yet what else will happen during the opening ceremony which is usually a chance to showcase the host country and inspire pride from countries throughout the world.

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Elizabeth Martinez was a leading social justice activist, a feminist writer and historian. She was 95 when she died this week in San Francisco. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

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Actor Clarence Williams III has died from colon cancer. That's according to his manager. He was 81 years old. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this remembrance.

(SOUNDBITE OF AL CAIOLA'S "THE MOD SQUAD THEME")

Nnenna and Phil Freelon were a power couple: He was the lead architect for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History & Culture, and she was a Grammy-nominated jazz singer, composer, actress and playwright. They enjoyed an exciting, full life of work, travel, friends and family.

Updated May 26, 2021 at 10:12 AM ET

Editor's note: Amazon is among NPR's financial supporters.

Amazon has made a deal to buy Hollywood studio MGM for almost $8.5 billion. It's the second-largest acquisition for the company after purchasing Whole Foods.

TV host Ellen DeGeneres is pulling the plug on her successful daytime TV variety/comedy/talk show at the end of this season. For more than 18 years, she has famously danced with her guests and the audience, played games and pranks with them and given away prizes. She has interviewed everyone from Hollywood A-listers to precocious children. But now, she and Warner Brothers Television have said The Ellen DeGeneres Show will end in 2022.

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Before Little Richard, there was Lloyd Price, a pioneer of rock 'n' roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERSONALITY")

LLOYD PRICE: (Singing) 'Cause you've got - walk - talk - smile...

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Singers Beyonce and Taylor Swift made history last night at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, which was, of course, socially distanced. Four of the top awards went to women. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

Mexican film directors have enjoyed success at the Academy Awards in recent years. Alfonso Cuarón won an Oscar for directing Gravity in 2014, and for Roma in 2019. Alejandro González Iñárritu won one in 2015 for directing Birdman and the following year for The Revenant. And Guillermo del Toro won his Oscar for directing The Shape of Water in 2018. Now, the "Tres Amigos," as they're known, may welcome uno más: up-and-coming filmmaker Fernando Frías de la Parra.

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