Andrew Limbong

Andrew Limbong is a reporter and producer for NPR's Arts Desk, where he reports, produces, and mixes arts and culture pieces of all kinds. Previously, he was a producer and director for Tell Me More. He originally started at NPR in 2011 as an intern for All Things Considered.

Ed Ward, an incisive former critic and editor for Rolling Stone and longtime contributor to WHYY's Fresh Air, died this week in his home in Austin, Texas. He was 72 years old.

Owners of live-music venues, theaters, museums and other businesses covered under the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, or SVOG, can expect to see money by the end of May. This is according to an update from the Small Business Administration, which has been handling the SVOG program's bumpy rollout.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Los Angeles' Union Station provided the new backdrop as actor Regina King opened the ceremonies for the 93rd Academy Awards. King assured the audience that everyone had been "tested and re-tested," and that while masks may be off on-camera, they were on off-camera.

King alluded to the recent Derek Chauvin conviction, saying that if things had gone differently, "I might've traded in my heels for marching boots."

Liz Tallent was by her computer, ready. She's the marketing and special events director at The Orange Peel in Asheville, N.C., a 1,050-cap venue that has hosted everyone from songwriter Nick Lowe, to Sublime cover band Badfish, to rapper Danny Brown. Like every other music venue, The Orange Peel was hit hard by the pandemic shut downs. Distanced indoor events would barely break even, and because of how the space is set up, there hasn't been a real way to do outdoor events, either.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Small Business Administration yesterday launched with great fanfare a long awaited portal that would allow arts venues closed down by pandemic to apply for grant money to cover rent, utilities, insurance and other accumulated expenses. The site went live at noon, but was wracked with so many technical issues that the SBA decided to shut the portal down indefinitely.

Updated April 9, 2021 at 1:47 PM ET

Earl Simmons, better known as the rapper DMX, died Friday at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, N.Y., according to a statement from his family. He had been on life support for the past few days following a heart attack. He was 50.

The long-awaited lifeline for live venues impacted by the coronavirus shut downs is finally here. Owners of small music venues, independent movie theaters and some museums can now apply for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant — a $16 billion grant program set up and run by the Small Business Administration.

Music festival season seems ready to go on in 2021. The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival has posted its lineup, scheduled to run September 2-5. This year's event marks the 20th year of the Manchester, Tenn. festival, which, like everyone else, cancelled last year because of the pandemic.

James Donald Estopinal — also known as Disco Donnie — has been putting on electronic-music shows for nearly 30 years, and knows that they take a long time to put together. "You can't start a month out," Estopinal says. "You really have to be going full bore is going to happen in the end." Earlier this year, when he saw how vaccinations and hospitalizations were trending, he decided that April would be the time to put on Ubbi Dubbi.

Jessica Walter, who played the hilariously incisive matriarch Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, died in her sleep Wednesday in New York City. She was 80 years old.

Her daughter, Brooke Bowman, a senior vice president at Fox Entertainment, said in a statement, "It is with a heavy heart that I confirm the passing of my beloved mom Jessica. A working actor for over six decades, her greatest pleasure was bringing joy to others through her storytelling both on screen and off."

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

Most people in the live music industry were ecstatic when Congress passed the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act in December. It created a $15 billion grant program, run by the Small Business Administration, that would help rescue an industry badly wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic.

But then there were skeptics like Matt Garrison, co-founder of Shapeshifter Lab, a small music and arts club in Brooklyn, N.Y.

A large dog with an alarm clock for a body (a "watchdog," if you will). A giant bee who can apparently spell any word. A figure with twelve faces, one for each emotion. These are just some of the fantastic characters author Norton Juster created in his beloved 1961 children's book The Phantom Tollbooth. Juster died yesterday, in his home in Northampton MA. He was 91 years old. The cause was complications from a recent stroke, according to a statement from his daughter, Emily Juster.

The new movie Cherry stars Tom Holland — you might know him as Spider-Man from the Marvel movies. It's directed by Joe and Anthony Russo — their first since directing Avengers: Endgame. Not that any of this meant much to Nico Walker, who wrote the book the movie Cherry is based on. Walker was in prison as the movie was being sold and hadn't seen any of the Russo brothers' Marvel movies. People explained to him the Russos had just directed the highest grossing movie of all time, and that this was a big deal. "I just had to take people's word for it," he says.

As the current chairman of the Black Panther Party Cubs, Fred Hampton, Jr. was guarded when he heard a studio wanted to make a movie about his late father, Fred Hampton. With good reason, too. The elder Hampton was the fiery and charismatic chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party. The FBI had its eye on him through a program called COINTELPRO, where they would infiltrate groups like the Black Panthers and use information to launch disinformation smear campaigns.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

Rising country star Morgan Wallen has been suspended by his record label, Big Loud. The label posted the news on its social media platforms Wednesday afternoon, saying, "In the wake of recent events, Big Loud Records has made the decision to suspend Morgan Wallen's recording contract indefinitely."

This decision comes after TMZ posted a video Tuesday night of Wallen using the N-word with a group of his friends.

Dustin Diamond, the actor known for his role as Screech in the hit sitcom Saved by the Bell, died Monday from cancer. According to a statement from his manager, Roger Paul, "he was diagnosed with this brutal, relentless form of malignant cancer only three weeks ago. In that time, it managed to spread rapidly throughout his system; the only mercy it exhibited was its sharp and swift execution." Diamond was 44 years old.

Actress Evan Rachel Wood has identified Brian Warner, better known as the industrial-rock musician Marilyn Manson, as the abuser she had refrained from naming in previous testimony. In a statement posted to Instagram, the Westworld actor alleged that Warner, with whom she was in a relationship between 2007 and 2010, "started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission. I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail."

Siegfried Fischbacher, one-half of the famous magician duo Siegfried & Roy, died Wednesday night at his home in Las Vegas from pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Fischbacher's death comes just months after his performance partner, Roy Horn, died from complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 75.

A statement from Siegfried & Roy's press office said Fischbacher had a unique ability to "perform complicated magic at lightning speed." This made him a perfect foil for Horn, a "perpetual dreamer."

A little boy decked out in a pink rhinestone cowboy outfit travels around a farm and points out things that bring him joy. "A is for adventure. Every day is a brand new start. B is for boots — whether they're big or small, short or tall. C is for country," the story goes.

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

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The enigmatic rapper MF Doom has died. He emerged mysteriously onto the New York scene in the late 1990s and became a cult figure in the underground rap world. NPR's Andrew Limbong confirmed his death with his former business partner. He has this remembrance.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Bloomsbury Publishing

In a normal year, it's possible that you would've spent this weekend visiting family.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Sony has pulled the highly anticipated game Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store, and is offering a full refund for anyone who bought the game online. Microsoft quickly followed suit, expanding its refund policy to allow its online customers to get their money back too, though the game still appears to be purchasable through the Xbox site.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Publishing company Simon & Schuster has been sold to its competitor Penguin Random House. The news was announced Wednesday by Simon & Schuster's parent company, ViacomCBS.

The $2.175 billion sale is expected to close in 2021, pending regulatory approvals.

Just a year ago, a sentence like "I was in self-quarantine so I had nothing to do but doomscroll and found an article about an anti-mask rally that looks like a superspreader event" would've gotten you pinged as a weirdo, but it's completely normal for 2020.

Pages