Mandalit del Barco

Character actor Michael Parks has died after a career that lasted more than 50 years. He was 77.

Parks' agent, Jane Schulman, confirmed his death to news organizations but she did not specify the cause.

Parks, a California native, didn't begin acting until after years of fruit picking, truck driving and firefighting.

In the 1960s, he was on numerous TV shows, and was seen by some in Hollywood as the next James Dean. Most notably, he starred as the brooding ex-newspaperman riding a Harley — a sort of Easy Rider — on the TV series Then Came Bronson.

Some people call Jeremy Fox the "vegetable whisperer," the California chef who can coax remarkable flavors out of every part of his produce, even the flowers and leaves that most chefs throw away. One of his famous first-course dishes combines twice-shucked spring peas with macadamia nuts and white chocolate. He has reinvented cooking with vegetables, and in the process, reinvented himself, too.

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what's called a "super bloom." After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

"It just looks like a sea of flowers," says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

"You got purple, red, yellows and blues," adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

As families gather for home-cooked food this Thanksgiving, there's one acclaimed Los Angeles chef who expresses her gratitude for local flavors by getting out in nature.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Singer Sharon Jones helped revive soul singing with her powerful, energetic performances. The 60 year old died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this appreciation of her music and her life.

Amazon's new 10-part series Good Girls Revolt was inspired by a landmark 1970 case involving a group of women working at Newsweek magazine who sued their employers for gender discrimination. At the show's fictitious News of the Week magazine, women begin to rise up, too.

Donald Trump's star dimmed a bit on Wednesday. Actually, it was smashed. An early morning vandal dressed as a Los Angeles city construction worker used a pickax and sledgehammer to destroy Trump's sidewalk star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand. This week, Thai-Americans are celebrating the traditional three-day water festival called Songkran to mark the new year. And many of them regularly shop at LA's landmark Bangkok Market, the first Thai food store in the U.S.

Legendary rock musician David Bowie, who influenced generations of musicians and fans, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Before the new Star Wars movie had its splashy Hollywood premiere, producer Kathleen Kennedy joined the cast onstage. "It's a real privilege to make movies," she said. "Everyone involved on The Force Awakens knows how lucky we've been to carry on this incredible legacy that George began over 40 years ago."

Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, handpicked by George Lucas to take over his company and the franchise.

Like many fans, Kennedy remembers waiting to see the first Star Wars movie, back in 1977.

The late Vincent Price was a horror film icon. With perfect elocution, he delivered creepy invitations to haunted houses in such movies as House of Wax (1953) and House on Haunted Hill (1959). He was a regular on TV's Hollywood Squares and a villain on the 1960s TV series Batman. Price's deep voice narrated Michael Jackson's 1982 music video for "Thriller" and was an inspiration to director Tim Burton. But Price was also a foodie.

Miami already enjoys a vibrant street art scene, but now a new arts district is emerging. The industrial city of Hialeah is becoming an affordable alternative for local artists, who are changing the area's reputation.

Colorful street art brightens the otherwise drab warehouses, where Cuban and Haitian immigrants labor inside binding books, making furniture and sewing clothes. The murals depict flamingoes, a fruit vendor, a girl celebrating her quinceañera.

Los Angeles is getting a new contemporary art museum, courtesy of billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife Edythe. Their free museum opens Sunday.

Surrounded by the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad is already an architectural landmark, with its honeycomb-like exoskeleton.

"This shell of sorts, this light filter, this amazing sculptural structure ... enrobes the museum," says Joanne Heyler, the museum's director and chief curator.

In downtown Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, Nelson Armeto and his brothers run a seafood restaurant called Pisces. Like other businesses owners in Juarez, they met with trouble beginning in 2008, when the drug cartels began demanding a monthly extortion fee.

"We received calls telling us we had to pay a quota, otherwise we'd get the business burned down, or a car passing by would be shooting up the place," he says. "They even threatened kidnapping us and even sometimes killing the employees."

Beasts of No Nation is the story of a West African child who is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters. Actor Idris Elba portrays a brutal warlord who recruits the child soldier.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Born Ruby Ann Wallace in the early 1920s in Cleveland, actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee most identified with the part of New York City where she was raised.

"I don't know who I would be if I weren't this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It's in me so deep," Dee told NPR's Tell Me More in 2007.

She died Wednesday of natural causes at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y., surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was 91.

Actress Diane Keaton remains an icon, decades after her Oscar-winning performance in Annie Hall. At 68, she's a single mother of two, once romantically linked to some of Hollywood's biggest heartthrobs and still starring in films. And she still rocks her trademark look: a bowler hat, tinted glasses, oversized clothes, scarves, gloves, long sleeves and boots — "Clothing that actually hides the body," she says. "There's a lot to hide in my case. I'm the only remaining person on earth with this particular look."

Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982, died Thursday. He was 87. Garcia Marquez, the master of a style known as magic realism, was and remains Latin America's best-known writer.

His novels were filled with miraculous and enchanting events and characters; love and madness; wars, politics, dreams and death. And everything he had written, Garcia Marquez once said, he knew or heard before he was 8 years old.

A Writer Shaped By His Beginnings

For the first time, this year's best director Oscar could go to a Mexican (Alfonso Cuaron, for Gravity) or a black Brit (Steve McQueen, for 12 Years a Slave). That film's lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is also in the running for an award; so is his Kenyan co-star Lupita Nyong'o, who was born in Mexico. This year's nominees are diverse, but the people who vote for the Oscars are not.

This Sunday's Grammy Awards ceremony is the annual big-ticket item for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. More than 28 million people around the world tuned in to watch the concert show last year. And this year's telecast is once again being touted as the most complicated — and expensive — production on TV.

It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.

But then the live band starts up — performing songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis. And instead of a sermon, there's a lecture by experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Jessica Cail about the biology of gender identification and sexual orientation.