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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

Updated at 7:54 p.m. ET

Every Warner Bros. movie expected to come out in 2021 will now be streaming on HBO Max the same day it comes out in theaters. This includes In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad and Dune. The movies will be available on the streaming platform for one month, after which they'll be pulled from the service while the movies continue playing in theaters.

The arrangement is in response to the closures and reduced capacity of movie theaters as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

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Every second spent in prison is a "measurement of punishment," says Nicole R. Fleetwood. "You wake up, you're being punished, you're being punished, you make art, you're being punished."

Fleetwood is curator of "Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration," a new exhibition at New York City's MoMa PS1.

One night in the 1950s Diane di Prima was at a party at Allen Ginsberg's place in New York City. It was usual poet stuff — talking, reading, smoking, drinking — until 11:30 p.m. came around and di Prima said she was going home to relieve her babysitter. Jack Kerouac, also a guest, shouted, "Di Prima, unless you forget about your babysitter, you're never going to be a writer."

James Randi hated tricking people. Sure, as The Amazing Randi, he pulled off amazing escape acts and sleight of hand maneuvers faster than you could see — but it was all in service of proving that he wasn't magical in any sense of the word. He hated tricking people so much he made a career out of debunking so-called psychics, faith healers, and fortune tellers of all sorts.

Spencer Davis, the multi-instrumentalist and leader of the band that bore his name, has died at the age of 81. The Spencer Davis Group recorded such hits as "Gimme Some Lovin' " and "I'm a Man." Davis wasn't the lead singer on either song though, giving that job to a teenage Steve Winwood.

Davis died Monday while being treated for pneumonia, according to his tour manager and friend, Bob Birk, who worked with the musician for decades.

In a statement to NPR, Birk called him a "highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man."

Call it professionalism, but there are some things Cheryl Pilate just can't say. She's a criminal defense attorney in Kansas City, Mo., and toes a fine line between getting attention for her clients' stories and being bound by professional ethics.

"As a lawyer, frequently I feel — and I know many others feel — constrained in the language that we use, " she says. "We're mindful of our professional responsibilities and how we need to carry those out."

Conchata Ferrell, who played the gruff, straight-talking maid, Berta, on Two and a Half Men, has died. She died Monday in Sherman Oaks, CA following complications from a cardiac arrest. Her manager confirmed the news to NPR. She was 77 years old.

In what was originally planned to be a two-episode arc in the show's first season, Ferrell's Berta became an integral part of the show, seeing it through its entire 12-season run. She was nominated for two Emmys for Best Supporting Actress.

There will be no shows on Broadway until May 30 at least.

The news comes from the Broadway League, the trade association representing theater producers and owners. According to a press release, the specific dates for returning and new shows will be announced individually, depending on the production schedule for each show.

This is, of course, yet another economic blow from COVID-19.

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This is what guitar sounded like when played by Eddie Van Halen.

(SOUNDBITE OF VAN HALEN SONG, "JUMP")

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case alleging that the band Led Zeppelin plagiarized the opening of one of its signature songs, "Stairway to Heaven." This upholds a previous March ruling that landed in favor of Zeppelin, and possibly ends a legal battle that has gone on since 2014.

When big, important people die, it's easy to overuse the term "iconic," but the title fits Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Outside the halls of the Supreme Court, she had another life in pop culture as a symbol of both dissent and feminism. And maybe nothing has cemented her place there more than Saturday Night Live.

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