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11 Segments




Wanda Sykes Loves Stand-Up: 'That's Where I Can Be Free,' She Says

Before Wanda Sykes became a comic, she worked as a procurement officer for the National Security Agency and had top security clearance. But she always loved telling jokes, and when a local radio station sponsored a talent show that included a comedy category, she decided to audition.

Comedian Wanda Sykes speaks into a mic against a colorful backdrop

The Worldwide 'Thirst' For Clean Drinking Water.

Investigative reporter Charles Fishman says the past 100 years have been the golden age of water in the developed world — but now that's about to change. He profiles communities grappling with water shortages and details the efforts to conserve water in The Big Thirst.


Growing Up in the Vegas Mob

Journalist, novelist, and playwright Susan Berman. Her childhood is rooted in the infamous, fast-paced, Vegas lifestyle of a mafia family. Her latest book, "Lady Las Vegas" tells the story of her experience as the daughter of Davie Berman, mafia partner to Bugsy Siegel. She is also the author of four other books, including her acclaimed memoir "Easy Street."


Nicholas Pileggi Discusses His Book "Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas."

Nicholas Pileggi discusses his book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. (Simon & Schuster Oct. 1995) It is based on the true story of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and his account of how the mob controlled several casinos in Las Vegas in the 1970s and early 80s. Pileggi also wrote the screenplay for a movie based on "Casino." A film directed by Martin Scorsese starring Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. Pileggi's best-selling book Wiseguy was used as the basis for the film "Goodfellas." Pileggi lives in New York City.


The Real Stories Behind "Bugsy."

Biographer Robert Lacey. Lacey's new book, "Little Man" is an examination of the life of gangster Meyer Lansky. (It's published by Little, Brown). Lacey and Terry Gross will discuss how the movie's portrayal of gangsters differs from reality.


A Comedy Writer's Career Goals

Harry Shearer got his start in show business at the age of seven. He now writes comedy for television and radio. Shearer joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to discuss his experiences onstage, finding an outlet for his political humor, and his love of bad TV.


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