Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR and hosts its award-winning Culturetopia podcast. Her work includes profiling actors, authors, musicians, and those who inform the world through creative expression, and covering the complicated relationships between art, artists, and society.

Ulaby came to NPR in 2000 when she was recruited through NPR's Next Generation Radio, and landed a temporary position on the cultural desk as an editorial assistant. She soon started reporting regularly, augmenting her radio work with arts journalism for the Washington [D.C.] City Paper.

Most recently, Ulaby's stories have included a series on women record producers, an investigation into exhibitions of plastinated human bodies, and a look at the legacy of gay activist Harvey Milk. Her profiles have brought listeners into the worlds of such performers as Ellen Page, Timbaland, Mark Ruffalo, Courtney Love, and the RZA; writers Sarah Waters and Etgar Keret; and directors Hayao Miyazaki, Fatih Akin, and Eli Roth.

NPR’s Culturetopia, Ulaby’s weekly podcast of NPR's best arts stories, won a Gracie award for Outstanding Podcast from the American Women in Radio and Television. Ulaby has received the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship and a fellowship from the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism to study youth culture.

A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby was managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times, and co-host of the radio program, “What's Coming Out at the Movies.” Her film reviews appeared in alternative papers nationwide. She also edited fiction for The Chicago Review, and served on the editing staff of the leading academic journal Critical Inquiry. Ulaby’s articles on slapstick comedy have been published internationally. She taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and at high schools serving at-risk students.

Ulaby was born in Amman, Jordan, and grew up in the Midwest of the United States. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal. Ulaby lives in Washington, D.C., with her partner, Robin, and their three-legged dog.

 

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1:41am

Fri January 18, 2013
Arts & Life

In A Fragmented Cultureverse, Can Pop References Still Pop?

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:11 am

At Tyler Perry's live performances, his gospel-tinged references aren't meant for everyone in the audience.
Jason Merritt Getty Images

On a recent episode of Saturday Night Live when the comedian Louis C.K. played host, one skit parodied his eponymous show on F/X. It riffed on the theme song and the discursive style of his comedy.

But here's the thing: Fewer than 2 million people watch Louie. About 7 million watch Saturday Night Live. That means even optimistically, at least two-thirds of the audience is missing the joke.

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3:52pm

Thu January 10, 2013
Theater

'Adventure Hour' Is A New Take On Old-Time Radio

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 4:26 pm

Mark Gagliardi and Autumn Reeser, as aviator Amelia Earhart, perform in The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Actors dress up and read scripts onstage in front of a live nightclub audience.
Jonathan Reilly The Thrilling Adventure Hour

The creators of The Thrilling Adventure Hour proudly call it "fake radio." It's less an homage to old-time radio and more of a clever update. A live monthly performance at Largo, a 200-seat, scruffy-chic Hollywood nightclub is also available as a popular podcast through Nerdist.

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8:27am

Wed January 2, 2013
Television

Who's Gay On TV? Dads, Journalists, Investigators And Footmen

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 6:24 pm

Partners Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) decide to use a surrogate to expand their family in The New Normal.
Trae Patton AP

The pop culture gay flavor of the minute? White gay dads.

"We're having a baby, Bri!" croons one of the leads on NBC's The New Normal. "This is our family. You, me and that kid forever."

It's a mini-boomlet, says real-life white gay dad and sociology professor Joshua Gamson. Not too long ago, he says, pop culture mainly defined gay men as promiscuous and deviant, rather than monogamous and devoted to their families.

"It does seem like a strong counter-stereotype of how gay men have been portrayed over the past, whatever, 50 years," he says.

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1:29am

Thu December 27, 2012
Digital Life

In Rapid-Fire 2012, Memes' Half-Life Fell To A Quarter

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 2:34 am

A screengrab from the "Kony 2012" online video about the Central African warlord Joseph Kony, which skyrocketed in popularity after its release in March. It was criticized, then forgotten, just as quickly.
via YouTube

2:56pm

Tue December 18, 2012
Spirit Of The Season

At A Real-Life Santa's Workshop, Christmas Comes Early

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:16 pm

Lou Nasti runs a factory in Brooklyn that makes animatronic Christmas displays. He's been at it for almost 44 years.
Neda Ulaby NPR

"Everyone calls me Geppetto," announces Lou Nasti. "I mean, look at me: The glasses, the gray hair — and I play with dolls. Come on."

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