Elizabeth Blair

Director Richard Donner, a pioneer of action-adventure movies, has died. He was 91. His death was confirmed by a spokesperson with Warner Bros. No cause has been disclosed.

He is survived by his wife, producer Lauren Shuler Donner; they met during the making of the 1985 movie Ladyhawke. Together, they founded The Donners Company, whose credits include the X-Men and Free Willy franchises.

Bill Cosby called on Howard University to support former co-star Phylicia Rashad's freedom of speech after she expressed support for him when his sexual assault conviction was overturned.

In a statement, Cosby also lashed out at the media, comparing journalists to the rioters who stormed the Capitol in January.

"Howard University you must support ones Freedom of Speech (Ms. Rashad), which is taught or suppose to be taught everyday at that renowned law school, which resides on your campus," Cosby said in a statement provided to NPR by his spokesman Andrew Wyatt.

The news that Bill Cosby has been released from prison has enraged sexual assault victims' advocates and #MeToo activists.

From a uke-picker to a former politician, President Biden's planned nominees for the National Council on the Arts are wildly diverse in their experiences and artistic disciplines.

Today the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces new grants for arts and culture organizations under President Biden's American Rescue Plan. The pandemic relief fund set aside $135 million for both the arts and humanities endowments, nearly double the amount that was available to cultural groups in President Trump's CARES Act. Eligibility requirements for NEA grants have also been modified to allow for a broader pool of applicants.

Art and government make prickly bedfellows. When President Harry Truman wanted to add a balcony to the White House, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts advised against it. Truman built it anyway and let those commissioners' terms expire.

A key component of the annual Kennedy Center Honors is having the U.S. president welcome the honorees to the White House, a tradition that Donald Trump decided to skip during his time in office.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Kennedy Center honorees run the gamut. There's Debbie Allen, Dick Van Dyke, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, the violinist Midori. This Sunday, CBS will air a special featuring tributes and performances. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOE HILL")

JOAN BAEZ: (Singing) I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night.

Updated May 25, 2021 at 6:07 PM ET

President Biden announced his intention Tuesday afternoon to appoint four new members to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the body that oversees design and architecture of federal buildings in Washington, D.C. Their positions are appointed by the president and do not need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Drummer Roger Hawkins has died. As part of the Swampers, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, he backed Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, the Rolling Stones and others in the '60s and '70s. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.

Comedian and writer Paul Mooney has died. Often referred to as the "godfather of modern Black comedy," a title he embraced, Mooney died after suffering a heart attack at his home in Oakland, CA. He was 79. His death was reported on Twitter by his friend Roland Martin.

Demi Lovato, two-time Grammy nominee and former Disney star, has come out as nonbinary. In the first episode of their new podcast 4D, Lovato says, "Over the past year and a half, I've been doing some healing and self-reflective work. And through this work, I've had the revelation that I identify as nonbinary.

Bob Garfield, host of the public radio show and podcast On The Media, has been fired. According to a statement from New York Public Radio, an outside investigation found that Garfield violated the company's anti-bullying policy. Garfield was the subject of a similar investigation in 2020 that resulted in, "disciplinary action and a warning about consequences if the behavior continued."

Call it Harry Potter tries to make magic with the Food Network.

AT&T announced that it will spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery Inc. The $43 billion deal will create a new, as yet unnamed, company that will combine WarnerMedia's entertainment, sports and news with Discovery's nonfiction and entertainment shows.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is rebranding itself, a move that the museum's director says "really emphasizes the 'National' in our name."

Troll-hunter alert in Boothbay, Maine: This summer, five ginormous monsters are taking up residence at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, courtesy of artist Thomas Dambo. These gentle giants are the newest additions to his tribe of dozens of trolls now inhabiting mountains, forests and parks around the world, from China to Puerto Rico.

Jim Steinman, co-creator of power ballads and orchestral-style rock by such artists as Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler, has died. Steinman was a composer, lyricist and record producer whose work with Meat Loaf on the 1977 album Bat Out of Hell catapulted the motorcycle-loving singer to stardom. The Connecticut State Medical Examiner's office confirmed Steinman's death to NPR. He was 73. Steinman's brother told the Associated Press he died of kidney failure.

She's only 23 years old, but H.E.R. speaks like a music industry veteran – and, in many ways, truly is one. The accolades piling up around her attest: The day after the singer won her fourth Grammy Award for the song "I Can't Breathe" from her album of the same name, she and her co-writers were nominated for an Oscar for the song "Fight For You," from the movie Judas and the Black Messiah.

British actor and satirist Sacha Baron Cohen is having a very nice year, as his fictional character Borat might put it.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

When Tracy Newman was younger, she remembers walking past the door to her little sister's room: Laraine was "a little bit of a loner," Tracy recalls. Her "fantasy life was very active. ... I'd walk by her door and hear voices like she was talking to somebody, but it was always just her doing voices. ... It always made me laugh."

Arbiters of good taste often disagree. That is certainly true of architecture.

Late Wednesday, President Biden revoked a controversial executive order that then-President Donald Trump signed in December called "Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture." The announcement from the White House was included in an executive order that revokes a number of Trump's actions as president.

The parties involved in a sexual misconduct case against Oscar-nominated actor James Franco have reached a preliminary settlement agreement. The two actors who filed the suit have agreed to drop their claims.

Tom Sweitzer knows firsthand how social isolation and loneliness are real side effects of living through a pandemic — just as mental health professionals have warned.

The Lucas Bros are a standup comedy duo who get laughs with material that's both twisted and trenchant. There's stoner humor, biting satire, philosophy and jokes about Jell-O and Deion Sanders. Keith and Kenny Lucas are also identical twins which opens up additional space for them to play.

"Here's a rule of thumb. You should never do shrooms with a dude who looks like you," they joke in their 2017 Netflix special.

"I'm missing Jim Weatherly already. He was about life and love," tweeted Gladys Knight.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Renowned actress Cicely Tyson has died; she was 96 years old. Her death was announced by Larry Thompson, her longtime manager, who did not specify the cause.

In a career that spanned some 65 years, Tyson was an elegant, dignified presence on stage and screen. She commanded attention in such movies as Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. She won Emmys and, at age 88, a Tony Award. She also inspired generations of African American actors who grew up watching her.

How old should kids be when they start learning about the Holocaust? While many educators believe the appropriate age is 10, a new book by Caldecott honoree and MacArthur fellow Peter Sís is recommended for children ages 6 to 9.

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued tells the true story of the Englishman Nicholas "Nicky" Winton, who rescued 669 children from the Nazis, including Vera Gissing.

Pages