Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
This American Life
This American Life (TAL) is a weekly hour-long radio program produced by WBEZ in Chicago and distributed by Public Radio International. Ira Glass created the show, and has served as the producer and host since it debuted on November 17, 1995.
TAL is primarily a journalistic non-fiction program, although it has also featured essays, memoirs, field recordings, short fiction, and found footage. Each segment is produced by a different contributor, some editors of the show and some freelancers. The mood of the show can range from gloomy to ironic to thought-provoking.
Each week's show centers around a particular theme. Examples include "The Cruelty of Children" , "Hoaxing Yourself" , "Accidental Documentaries"  and "Fiasco!" . Each show features several acts exploring that theme. A show usually consists of two to five acts, but some have consisted of just one. One show ("20 Acts in 60 Minutes" ) went the other direction and fit 20 acts into the hour.
Some of the show's episodes are accompanied by multimedia downloads available on This American Life's website. One notable mention is a remake of the Elton John song "Rocket Man" that was produced for the "Classifieds" episode  and released as an MP3. The song was performed by a "one day band" composed of musicians looking for work in the classifieds. The band, consisting of various performers (one played a theremin), only met and practiced for one day before recording the song.
Two 2-disc CD sets collecting some of the producers' favorite acts have been released: Lies, Sissies, and Fiascoes was released on May 4, 1999, and Crimebusters & Crossed Wires was released on November 11, 2003.
A 32-page comic book, Radio: an Illustrated Guide (ISBN 0967967104), documents how an episode of TAL is put together. It was drawn by cartoonist Jessica Abel, written by Abel and Glass, and first published in 1999.
In 2002 the show signed a six-figure deal with Warner Brothers giving the studio two years of "first-look" rights to its hundreds of past and future stories. In the first year of the deal, at least four scripts are being developed. The scripts are inspired by the following stories:
- Niagara (from episode 101 , first broadcast May 1, 1998), which explored the town of Niagara Falls, New York, after those who sought to exploit the tourism and hydroelectrical opportunities of the area left;
- In The Event of An Emergency, Put Your Sister in an Upright Position (from episode 175 , first broadcast January 6, 2001), about several companies involved in the babysitting business for snowbound children at O'Hare International Airport;
- Wonder Woman (a segment from episode 178 , first broadcast February 23, 2001), the story of an adolescent who took steps to become the superhero she dreamed of being, well into adulthood;
- Act V (from episode 218 , first broadcast August 9, 2002), about the last act of Hamlet as staged by inmates from a maximum security prison .
It is unknown whether any of these will actually make it to the silver screen.
Current contributing editors
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