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Midday

Photo by Stan Barouh

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us with her weekly review of one of the region's many thespian offerings.  Today, it's Aubergine, the new play by Julia Cho that's on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre

Aubergine is a story about the complexity of family relationships and the emotional power of food.  The play centers on a Korean family that's struggling to bridge generational and cultural divides, and the foods and culinary traditions that help the family members find each other across those divides.

Produced in association with Olney Theatre Center and directed by Everyman's founding artistic director, Vincent Lancisi, Aubergine features Tony Nam (as Ray); Glenn Kubota (Ray's father); Song Kim (Ray's uncle); Jefferson Russell (Lucien); Eunice Bae (Cornelia); and Megan Anderson (Diane/hospital worker).

Aubergine continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, April 15th. 

Photo courtesy Mary Frances Berry

Today on the show, a conversation with Dr. Mary Frances Berry.  She is a scholar, an author and activist whose new book chronicles the history of American protest and resistance movements, from the Roosevelt administration through the Obama years.

From the Vietnam War, to the end of Apartheid in South Africa, to her long tenure on the US Civil Rights Commission that the spanned several administrations, Dr. Berry brings deep experience and erudition to this fascinating book.  It’s called History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.  

photo courtesy Hood College

A special Midday broadcast today, live from Hodson Auditorium on the campus of Hood College, in historic Frederick, Maryland.

Our topic today: Frederick at the Crossroads.

Founded in 1748, Frederick has seen its share of American history.  It was founded at the crossroads of a major north-south Native American trail and the east-west route from the Chesapeake Bay across the Appalachian Mountains to the Ohio River Valley.  Frederick County is home to Ft. Detrick and a branch of the National Cancer Institute. The Catoctin Mountain Park, and the presidential retreat, Camp David, are here.

It is quaint.  And beautiful, as anyone who has been in downtown Frederick can tell you. But while it may be old, it is anything but standing still.  In fact, the city and the county are among the fastest growing parts of Maryland. The population of Frederick City, with its 70,000 residents, has grown 32 percent since 2000 and a whopping 73% since 1990.  And with growth like that, Frederick finds itself at a crossroads once again. How does it honor its past, while being thrust into the future by incredibly rapid growth?  How does it remain charming, despite the pressures to become a bedroom community of Rockville and, by extension, Bethesda and Washington, DC?

Photo Courtesy Brian Frosh

We continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates, which includes those who already hold public office.   Maryland’s Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh joins us live in Studio A. He is unopposed in the primary in June.  He’ll be running against Republican Craig Wolf in November.  Mr. Frosh was elected to the AG’s office in 2014, after serving 10 years in the MD Senate.

He lives in Somerset with his wife Marcy.  They have two daughters. 

Today's conversation, like all our Conversations with the Candidates, was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.

This weekend, the epidemic of gun related violence, particularly mass shooting in schools, has once again focused our nation on the issue of gun control. 

Some 200,000 people converged on Washington DC for the “March for Our Lives.”  800-plus sibling marches took place in cities around the world, including here in Baltimore. 

Students of all ages and races took to the podium Saturday with impassioned appeals to elected officials to act on the issue of gun control, and for the wider citizenry to assert their power at the ballot box this November.  

Thirteen year-old Asiane Phillips joins Tom in Studio A this afternoon.  The 7th grader at Hampstead Hill Academy, a Baltimore public school, is a student activist who organized a recent walkout at her school in response to gun violence.  Asiane also created a list of demands for changes to legislation and school policy aimed at reducing gun violence and improving school safety, and she's been engaging in dialogues with school administrators and community leaders.   

benjealous.com

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26 primary ballot here in Maryland. Early voting begins June 14th.

Tom’s guest for the hour, live in Studio A, is Ben Jealous, a Democratic candidate for Governor. Last May, when he stood in front of his cousin’s flower shop in Baltimore’s Ashburton neighborhood and jumped into the race, he was only the second Democrat to announce his candidacy. Now, he has plenty of company: There will be nine Democrats on the ballot in June. The winner will go up against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the general election next November.  

Ben Jealous is perhaps best known as the former president and CEO of the NAACP. When he was appointed to that position in 2008, he was, at 35 years old, the youngest person ever to lead the NAACP. He was there for more than 5 years. When he left the NAACP in 2013, he joined Kapor Capital as a partner and investor. It’s a progressive investment firm based in Oakland, CA. He manages the firm’s Baltimore office. He is also a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is a former community organizer and, early in his career, he was a journalist. He is 45 years old and the father of two. He lives in Anne Arundel Co.

Today's conversation, like all our Conversations with the Candidates, was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Michael Schwartz

Paula Poundstone is one of America’s most celebrated comedians.  For four decades, she’s blazed a unique trail in the world of standup, from improv clubs in Boston in the late 1970s to award-winning HBO comedy specials, and her 1992 gig as the first woman to emcee the White House Correspondents Dinner.

She’s been a regular on late-night TV, and her standout performances at the Comic Relief concerts in the mid-90s helped raise millions for the homeless. She’s done voice-over roles in animated kids movies, including Disney's Oscar-winning Inside Out, and, of course, public radio fans know her from her regular appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  And the self-narrated audiobook version of her 2017 best-seller, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, was just nominated by the Audio Publishers Association as a 2018 Audie Awards finalist for both Humor and Audiobook of the Year.

Paula Poundstone is appearing at a concert Friday night at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium.  WYPR is a media partner for the sold-out event.  For additional event info, click here

Whether or not you got tickets to her show, Paula joins Tom today, on the line from NPR-West in Culver City, California, to talk politics, books, parenting, cats, comedy and whatever else they may stumble upon!

Photo copyright by Matthew Murphy

It's Thursday, and that means Midday's intrepid theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, is here with another of her weekly reviews of the region's thespian offerings. 

This week, Judy braved the elements to attend the opening of the new touring production of School of Rock, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical that's now raising the rafters at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Based on the hit 2003 film, the musical follows Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to make ends meet. When he discovers that his fifth-graders harbor some extraordinary musical talents, he encourages them to form a rock group and take a shot at winning the Battle of the Bands competition.

Andrew Lloyd Weber, who has done more than his share to bring rock and romance to Broadway, has composed 14 new songs for School of Rock, and kept all the original songs from the movie.  Directed by Laurence Connor and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter, the talented cast includes Rob Coletti as Dewey Finn, Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, and a band of young actor/musicians who help deliver the musical's youthful spirit and high-octane score. 

School of Rock continues at the Hippodrome until Sunday, March 25.

Photo Courtesy Johns Hopkins University Press

On today's show, environmental journalist Tom Pelton joins us live in Studio A. He’s been writing about the Chesapeake Bay and other environmental issues for more than two decades.  He is the Director of Communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, and the host of The Environment in Focus, which airs Wednesday mornings and evenings here on WYPR.  His new book is called The Chesapeake in Focus: Transforming the Natural World.

From Baltimore’s leaky sewer system to farms in Pennsylvania and even pollution from factories in the Midwest, the Bay and its ecosystem face serious challenges.  What will it take to meet them?

 

Cover art courtesy Viking Press

It’s coming up on 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was ratified by legislatures in the requisite three-fourths of US states.  The suffragist movement had begun 72 years earlier.  In the summer of 1920, in Nashville, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment, just in time for the 1920 elections, in which 10 million women helped to sweep Warren Harding into office in a landslide victory. 

This year, as historically large numbers of American women are launching campaigns for election at all levels of government, Baltimore-based author and journalist Elaine Weiss has written a timely and compelling account of the final push in the long and hard-fought battle for women’s suffrage. Her new book is called The Woman’s Hour:  The Great Fight to Win the VoteShe joins Tom in Studio A.

Elaine Weiss will be talking about her new book at the Enoch Pratt Central Library here in Baltimore, as part of the library's Writers Live series.  That event, originally scheduled for tonight, has been rescheduled due to the severe weather, and will take place on Tuesday, April 3, at 6:30pm.  Follow the link for updated event details.

Courtesy of The Standard

Negin Farsad is a New York-based writer, director and social justice comedian. She’s the host of the podcast, Fake the Nation, a comedy round-table about politics on the Earwolf network, and the author of the book, How to Make White People Laugh, which has been nominated for a Thurber Prize for Humor. She co-directed and starred in the movie The Muslims Are Coming! -- which also stars Jon Stewart and Lewis Black.

On Thursday night at 7 pm, several short films that are part of a series called “The Secret Lives of Muslims” will be screened at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance, in an event sponsored by the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies. Negin Farsad is featured in one of those films. She’ll be on a panel to discuss the films at the Creative Alliance, and she’ll also do a stand-up comedy set. She joins Tom on the line from the studios at NPR in New York.

Photo Courtesy: Office of Councilwoman Vicki Almond

Today, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in advance of the June 26th primary elections.

Tom's guest today is 2nd District Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond. Ms. Almond is one of four Democrats and two Republicans seeking their party’s nomination to run in the general election for Baltimore County Executive. 

Vicki Almond grew up in Catonsville and attended Catonsville High School.  She was elected to the County Council in 2010.

Early voting for the primaries begins on June 14th. 

Photo courtesy Al Redmer for Baltimore Co. Executive

Today, it’s another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates, in-depth interviews with contenders in key races leading up to the June 26th Maryland primary election.

Today, Tom's guest is Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr.  The Baltimore County native hopes to build on his two terms as the state’s chief insurance regulator and four terms as a Republican state delegate to win his party’s nomination in the June primary for Baltimore County Executive.  Redmer is one of two Republicans in that contest, which is spotlighting his moderate conservativism, his wide-ranging family business experience and his close ties with Governor Hogan.  Where does he stand on school construction, immigration and affordable housing? Can he be the first Republican since 1990 to win Baltimore County’s top job? Candidate Al Redmer takes Tom's questions, and yours.

Live in Studio A: Trio Galilei

Mar 16, 2018

Ginger Hildebrand, Sue Richards and Carolyn Surrick are three highly respected musicians who play what many call “early” music.  They each play in various solo capacities, and when they play together as Trio Galilei , they play Irish and Scottish dance music, and music that goes way back to medieval times.

Today, the trio joins Tom in the studio to perform a little early music and (in honor of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow) a traditional Irish tune. With Carolyn on viola de gamba, Sue on Celtic harp, and Ginger on guitar, we hear "Lindsay's Keys," Grainne's Grace," and "O'Carolan's Draught."    

See the video of  Trio Galilei's Live-Streamed performance on the WYPR FB page.

Trio Galilei will be performing selected works of music at Christ Church in Easton, Maryland on Sunday, March 18th.   For more information check out the link below. 

http://www.egmusic.com/calendar/

EPA/ YULIA SKRIPAL/FACEBOOK

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap: Tom speaks with Dayvon Love, Director of Public Policy at Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS), about the comprehensive crime bill recently passed by the State Senate, over strong opposition from the Baltimore delegation.  The bill would introduce higher mandatory minimums for gun crimes and stringent sentencing for repeat offenders. 

Then, Tom is joined by John Fritze, Washington Bureau Chief for the Baltimore Sun, for a closer look at the race for Maryland's 6th congressional district, where the rising human toll of the opioid crisis looms over both constituents and candidates. 

Later, Will Englund, Foreign Assignment Editor at the Washington Post, veteran Moscow correspondent and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, talks with Tom about the Trump administration's reactions to the alleged Russian nerve-agent attack in Britain on a former Russian spy and his daughter, and the new sanctions the White House has imposed on Russia for recent acts of political cyber-warfare.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins senior producer Rob Sivak with her review of a new production of Animal Farm, an adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian 1945 novella that's now running at Baltimore's Center Stage.

This popular adaptation of the novella, written in 1982 by Ian Wooldridge, is being co-produced in its new run at Center Stage with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  It re-imagines Orwell's anti-Stalinist allegory, in which the animals of Manor Farm rise up against their human masters and the tyranny of their forced labor, inspired by the revolutionary ideas that an old boar named Major shared with the animals before his death. They establish a new order based on Major's commandments of "Animalism," in which all humans are enemies, all animals are comrades, and all animals are equal.  But the revolutionary doctrines are soon twisted to empower a ruling clique led by a brutal, authoritarian boar named Napoleon. The citizens of Animal Farm begin to realize that some animals are more equal than others.

Directed at Center Stage by May Adrales, the eight-member "Animal Farm" cast includes Melvin Abston as Napoleon, Jonathan Gillard Daly as Benjamin, Tiffany Rachelle Stewart as Squealer, Brendan Titley as Snowball, and Stephanie Weeks as Major.  Playing multiple roles, the actors deploy unique animal-head armatures created by Costume Designer Izumi Inabi to portray the creatures of Manor Farm.

Animal Farm continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, April 1st.  

Flickr Creative Commons

We begin today with an update on the results of  Tuesday’s special election in the 18th Congressional District in Pennsylvania.

Tom is joined on the line by An-Li Herring, politics and law reporter for WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station. 

Now it's time for another edition of Smart Nutrition, our regular focus on healthy eating.    Here’s a question that has puzzled philosophers and poets for ages: Should a veggie burger go out of its way to taste like a beef burger, or should it embrace its veggie-ness? A new meat-free burger has taken imitation to a whole new level of flattery.

It’s called the Impossible Burger. It’s new. It’s only available in restaurants -- and not many restaurants, so far -- and it is so much like a beef hamburger that it actually bleeds when you bite into it. But it’s made from plants, not from cows. Midday’s Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel is here to help us size up the Impossible Burger, and to talk about other items of interest in the ever-changing landscape of healthy eating. Monica is a licensed nutritionist and the author of six books who blogs at nutritionovereasy.com. She is also the creator of the weekly Nutrition Diva podcast, which has become one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts since it debuted in 2008.

Bloomberg News

Tom's guests today are three innovators who are working at the frontiers of high technology -- a technology that could be moving us closer to the historic milestone futurists call the “Singularity,” when human cognition merges with machines. 

Whether it’s intelligent robotic systems for the battlefield, or biomechanical limbs that really touch and feel, or those Internet-based oracles -- think Siri, Echo and Alexa -- that are starting to run our smart homes, it’s easy to believe that the "future" is very nearly upon us.  But are we ready for it? Do we understand how these smart machines will change our lives? Do we know how to navigate safely through the complex -- and sometimes dangerous -- cyber landscape that suddenly surrounds us?

Tom's three guests will help us answer those questions.

Joining us in the studio is Tina Williams-Koroma. She’s a lawyer, entrepreneur, educator and the founder and president of TCecure, a Silver Spring, Maryland, company that provides cyber-security and network intelligence to public sector and commercial clients.

Also with us in the studio is Bob Armiger.  He is a robotics expert who leads the Biological Sciences and Engineering Group at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where his current projects include developing neuro-prosthetic limbs that can restore full sensory function to warfighter amputees.

And joining the conversation by phone is Harris Edge.  He’s the Acting Chief of the Autonomous Systems Division of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Maryland, and has been leading research on a variety of unmanned vehicles, drones and intelligent “limbed” machines designed to support military units, in and out of combat.

We continue our series of Conversations with Candidates, which include those who currently hold public office.  Congressman John Sarbanes joins us for the hour today.  He has represented the third congressional district since 2007. 

The Congressman was successful in his efforts to reinstate EPA funding for the Bay Journal, but Congressional Democrats have been frustrated by inaction on DACA.  Representative Sarbanes has also been working on addressing the crisis of opioid addiction, and he serves as the Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force.   The Baltimore native currently lives in Towson. 

We are streaming all of our Conversations with the Candidates on WYPR Facebook page.

Photo courtesy: Flickr

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap:  President Trump imposed stiff tariffs yesterday, raising levies on imported steel by 25 percent and 10 percent on Aluminum. The EU responded in kind, rolling out a plan to impose their own tariffs on American made goods.

Internationally acclaimed classical guitarist, Lily Afshar performs some of her works live in Studio A.  Lily will be performing a program of music at UMBC's Linehan Hall on Saturday at 8pm in association with the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society.  

Jack Garofolo/Paris Match via Getty Images

The 1960s and 70s were a time of protest and change in America, and while marches and rallies were bringing the messages of dissent and disaffection to a world stage, movement activists were also using the marketplace to share and promote their ideas. Their unique storefronts offered politically-conscious alternatives to conventional, profit-driven business models. Today we’re going to take a closer look at those radical shops -- why many failed, some succeeded, and what impact they had on their movements.

Joining guest host Rob Sivak in the studio is Joshua Clark Davis, an assistant professor of history at the University of Baltimore and the author of a fascinating new book, From Head Shops to Whole Foods: the Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs, which chronicles the struggles, successes and legacies of those pioneering storefronts.

Later in the hour, Darius Wilmore joins the conversation to share his unique perspective on activist enterprise. Wilmore is a Baltimore-based design artist who’s produced the award-inning barber-shop style social commentary show, Fades and Fellowship, as well as the monthly storytelling series, The Short Cutz Show, rooted in the African-American and civil rights experience.  As a self-described “social impact designer” who got his start with the legendary Def Jam rap music studio 20 years ago, he has been closely involved for the past decade in the creation and evolution of a successful Baltimore business called Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, a company that has used its products, and its profits, to support programs for young African American men in Baltimore.

Photo by Tessa Sollway

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J, Wynn Rousuck joins guest host Rob Sivak with her weekly review of local thespian offerings.  Today, she spotlights the new production of a two-woman play by Win Wells called Gertrude Stein and a Companion, at the Fells Point Corner Theater.

Directed by Anne Hammontree and starring Marianne Gazzola Angelella as Alice B. Toklas and Andrea Bush as Gertrude Stein, the play explores the complex relationship between Stein, the celebrated American avante-garde writer, and Toklas, her lifelong companion.

Gertrude Stein and a Companion continues at the Fells Point Corner Theater through Sunday, m,arch 25th.

Like the Grand Canyon/Flickr Creative Commons

WYPR producer Jamyla Krempel hosts today’s show.

There’s been lots of talk lately about changing the narrative in Baltimore. Last month, Mayor Catherine Pugh told an audience at the Parkway Theatre that Baltimore had a “perception problem.” She also said she wanted to “work on the media not depicting Baltimore always as this negative place to be.” The Mayor’s statements got many people, including Jamyla, thinking about how Baltimore is perceived.

For the first half of the show, Jamyla welcomes two journalists who’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the city. Lawrence Lanahan is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Al Jazeera, Columbia Journalism Review and other outlets. He was the creator of WYPR’s The Lines Between Us series. And he was senior producer of the WYPR show “Maryland Morning.” Lisa Snowden McCray is a longtime Baltimore journalist. She was a writer and associate editor for the Baltimore City Paper and then editor-in-chief of The Baltimore Beat, a weekly alternative paper which, sadly, ceased publication yesterday. 

Later in the show, Jamyla welcomes Al Hutchinson, the president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, and Annie Milli, the executive director of Live Baltimore to talk about Baltimore’s narrative going forward.

Photo Courtesy Marvel Studios

Black artists are enjoying more mainstream success behind the camera as well as on the screen, in roles crafted to speak to the entirety of the black experience throughout the African Diaspora.  

Perhaps no film embodies that truth more so than Black Panther.  The latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been smashing box office records around the world, and thus far, has grossed nearly $900 million world-wide.

On today’s edition of Midday Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks, we reflect on the history of race, representation and inclusivity in the world of comics, and how Black Panther has flipped the script on feminism in film.

From problematic caricatures steeped in racist stereotypes for the consumption of white audiences, to King T’Challa, the billion dollar box office powerhouse; it appears we are seeing an important evolution of Black comic book characters. 

Sheri Parks is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at the Univ of Maryland College Park. She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.

And from the studios of WBEZ in Chicago, Dr. Stanford Carpenter joins us.  He’s a cultural anthropologist, comic book creator, and scholar of comic books. He serves on the board of the annual Black Comic Arts Festival, and Pocket-con a convention that focuses on comics for young boys and girls of color.

Photo courtesy Jim Brochin for Baltimore County Executive

Today on Midday, another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates, ahead of the June 26th primary elections. 

Tom's guest today is State Senator Jim Brochin, who is one of three Democratic candidates in the primary race for Baltimore County Executive.  The current County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, has served the maximum two terms.  He is now running for Governor.  

Senator Brochin has represented the 42nd District in central and northern Baltimore County for four terms.  He was first elected to the Senate in 2003.  He heads the Baltimore County Delegation, and serves on the Judicial Proceedings Committee, the Special Committee on Substance Abuse, and the Executive Nominations Committee.  He’s an insurance broker.  He is 54 years old, a single father with a daughter named Catherine who is attending the University of Colorado.   Senator Brochin lives in Cockeysville.

Photo Courtesy The Afro-American Newspapers

On this edition of Midday's Afro Check-In:

Frustration continues for commuters who rely on the Baltimore Metro System, following the abrupt closure of the subway system for repairs two weeks ago.  Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh adds 20 positions within her office, including the recently created Office of African American Male Engagement.

And in Annapolis, House Bill 2, which encourages minority and women participation in the state's medical marijuana industry, is advancing slowly, in the General Assembly.  Will the MD Legislative Black Caucus achieve its goal of racial diversity in Maryland's Medical Marijuana industry?  

Kamau High, Managing Editor of The Afro and Sean Yoes, Baltimore Editor and the Host of the podcast, The Afro First Edition, join Tom in Studio A. 

Stephen Voss

Today on Midday, with high winds blowing outside our Baltimore studio, we explore whether the winds of change will blow through Annapolis come November, as we begin a series of Conversations with the Candidates who will be on the June 26th primary ballots here in Maryland. 

Between now and the election, Tom Hall will be talking with Democrats who are running in the gubernatorial primary, as well as the Democrats and Republicans who are running for Baltimore County Executive, and candidates in a few other races as well. 

Today, Tom's guest for the hour is Alec Ross.  Last April, Ross became the first person to announce his candidacy in the Democratic primary for Maryland governor. Since then, eight rivals have joined him on that ballot. Alec Ross is an innovation expert, and the author of the New York Times best-selling book, “The Industries of the Future,” about innovation and the changes that economies and societies can expect over the next decade. Ross served in the State Department as Senior Advisor on Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  He also worked in the Obama campaign and transition team in 2008. He’s a former Distinguished Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University.  He is 46 years old. He and his wife, who is a teacher in a Baltimore City School, live in Baltimore, where they are raising three children.

Today's conversation was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page, where you can view the video of this and all future Conversations with the Candidates.

Photo courtesy oscars.org

Welcome to another edition of Midday at the Movies
The 90th Annual Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday night, hosted once again by talk show host (and social activist) Jimmy Kimmel.  Excitement about this year's awards is running high because of a notably diverse and independent crop of films, filmmakers and performers. 

On today's Midday at the Movies, we preview a bit of that excitement by offering up some predictions of Oscar glory. Two of our favorite movie mavens join Tom in the studio:  

Jed Dietz is the founder and director of the Maryland Film Festival,which runs the newly restored  SNF Parkway Theater in Baltimore.

And Max Weiss is editor-in-chief and film critic for Baltimore magazine.

Before the conversation turns to the Oscars, however, Tom and his guests discuss the cinematic phenomenon that's swept not only U.S. theaters the past three weekends, but the international film market as well: Black Panther

An Africa-centered sci-fi action-hero film produced by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther has been attracting massive global audiences. As of Tuesday this week, the movie's worldwide box office had reached $748.1 million, and it continues to chase records for domestic weekend ticket sales. 

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