Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman — whose credits include animated films like Finding Nemo and Wall-E to The Shawshank Redemption — kicks off our "Scoring the Screen" series with Robert Siegel.

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It's that time around Christmas, when all we can see are a handful of stories on our TV screens. Frosty, and Charlie, and Ralphie, and Kevin, but there's not too much brown in this mostly white canon.

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Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Robert Alter, a leading secular scholar of Scripture, says the film was fun to watch, but "it's not exactly Exodus; it's panorama and pageantry, which is what film does." And, he adds, why not?

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The comic strip Little Orphan Annie was launched during the Great Depression. A remake of the 1987 movie arrives when the income gap between rich and poor is the highest it's been since the 1930s.

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Feral Films, Inc.

A filmmaker invited white residents of Buffalo, N.Y., to speak candidly about race. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates finds that the results are thought-provoking, often surprising and sometimes disturbing.

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