By Jeff Labrecque
Updated June 19, 2009 at 08:30 PM EDT

Don’t let the coy, gentle voice fool you. Terry Gross, who’s been interviewing folks on the radio since 1973, is a bulldog. Did you catch her interview with Woody Allen on Monday’s edition of NPR’s Fresh Air? The director was there to chat about his latest film, Whatever Works (which opens tonight). But Gross didn’t hesitate to probe the filmmaker’s personal life. She found at least three different ways to get Allen to discuss his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn. For example:

GROSS: And again, let’s be honest. A lot of your fans were really kind of upset when you married the woman who is the adoptive daughter of your long-time lover. So I wonder if you thought about that kind of thing when you were making the movie, that people would just be, like, looking for clues about the older-man, younger-woman relationship and how that applies to you.


Actually, not at all. Gross has this unique talent to wrap the bluntest of queries in a bouquet of sweetness. Allen cordially answered her questions and what followed was one of the most engaging and revealing conversations ever with the elusive director.

How does she do it? I imagine her guests’ fingers are wired to a polygraph machine. They’re probably drugged, too. Or she’s simply a Jedi master of mind control: “Those aren’t the droids you’re looking for…but do tell about that embarrassing incident at Studio 54.”

Can we agree that Terry Gross is a national treasure? Three hours with the Gitmo detainees, and I’m convinced she’d have bin Laden.