Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jason Schwartzman & Russell Simmons

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jason Schwartzman
Guests: 
Russell Simmons
Guests: 
Michael Pena
Guests: 
Todd VanDerWerff

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


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Jason Schwartzman: Advice from Bill Murray, Dealing with Loss, and His Love for "Bored to Death"

As Jason Schwartzman tells it, he got into acting by accident. He was a teenager, and a drummer in a band. He had no particular cinematic aspirations when he was asked to audition for the role of prep student Max Fischer in Wes Anderson's second feature film, Rushmore. But he went in to read for the role, and you can guess what happened next.

Schwartzman has popped up in almost every film directed by Anderson since then, and they co-wrote The Darjeeling Limited with Schwartzman's cousin Roman Coppola. He's also starred in the wonderful and weird HBO series Bored to Death, about a decidedly amateur private detective, and been in movies like I Heart Huckabees and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Most recently, he appears in Wes Anderson's newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. He also co-created the web series Mozart in the Jungle, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal.

Schwartzman sits down with us to talk about his acting lessons from Bill Murray and Wes Anderson on the set of Rushmore, dealing with death and loss on- and off-screen, and working on Bored to Death, the project that made him excited to get up every morning (even when it'd been a very late night).

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Spring TV Recommendations: Silicon Valley and The Americans

It's spring premiere season, and there's a lot of great TV to choose from. You probably already have your DVRs set for Mad Men and Game of Thrones, but there's a couple of other shows you shouldn't miss.

The AV Club’s TV editor Todd VanDerWerff joins us to share his favorite shows airing right now -- Mike Judge's new HBO comedy Silicon Valley, and the consistently excellent series about Soviets, The Americans.

Silicon Valley airs Sunday nights at 10pm on HBO.
The Americans airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FX.

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The Part: Michael Peña on the role that changed everything

It's time for a new series on Bullseye. Becoming an actor isn't easy. Getting cast in your first role is a huge challenge. But even then, it’s sometimes YEARS before actors land a role that get them noticed. It's The Part.

Michael Peña stars in a new biopic about the labor organizer Cesar Chavez. It portrays Chavez as a civil rights activist and organizer who's balancing those jobs with the responsibilities he has at home, and it's a weighty role.

Peña has been acting in movies for two decades now. For a long time, even if the casting directors liked his performances, he was only offered small roles. Gang member #1. Cop #3. They were characters with no backstory, narrow emotional range, and usually just a couple of lines.

That changed when he was cast in Crash, which went on to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Peña shares a few of the emotionally-charged scenes from the role that changed everything.

Peña's new movie Cesar Chavez is in theaters now.

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Slowing Down "Rush": Russell Simmons on Building Hip Hop, Authenticity, and Finding Stillness

Russell Simmons is one of the few people that can honestly say he helped build hip hop. He was an entrepreneur early on, promoting parties and hustling fake cocaine when he was still a college student in the late 1970s. He was there one night at the Charles Gallery, when the headliner DJ Easy G brought on a local rapper, and Simmons felt Eddie Cheeba work the crowd into a frenzy.

It was his first real introduction to hip hop, and he could see that it would be more than just a passing fad. He went on to co-found the music label Def Jam Recordings with Rick Rubin and build a roster of hugely successful hip hop artists, starting with a teenage LL Cool J and the punk rock-turned-hip hop group The Beastie Boys. Simmons worked hard to build sustainable brands for his artists, and took pride in their authenticity. And he wasn't content to focus on music -- his ambition led him to create an empire, expanding into fashion, television, film, journalism, finance, and philanthropy.

Simmons' abundance of energy helped earn him the nickname "Rush", but he says he owes much of his success to inner tranquility and stillness. He's practiced yoga and meditation for over fifteen years, and in his new book, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple, Simmons seeks to "demystify" meditation for the average person, and explain its link to personal and professional growth.

He joins us to talk about the pivotal moment that he heard Eddie Cheeba and found himself sold on hip hop, building Def Jam, leaving drugs behind for yoga and meditation and finding inner stillness.

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The Outshot: Louis Jordan and the Origins of Rock and Roll

Everyone knows that rock music came from the blues, right? Well, that's definitely part of the story. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Jesse shares his love for Louis Jordan, the "Grandfather of Rock 'n' Roll".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RuPaul and Terry Crews

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
RuPaul
Guests: 
Terry Crews
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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RuPaul on the Many Shades of Drag

Before he was the world's most famous drag queen, RuPaul was just a kid growing up in San Diego, California. But he knew something was different about him. He noticed things that other people didn't. He found joy in the irreverence of characters like Bugs Bunny, and TV shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus. When he was still in his teens, he packed his bags and followed his sister to Atlanta. He attended performing arts high school, and a brief stint as a car salesman, he started performing with a couple of underground bands. They were searching for a way to be subversive, and decided to perform in drag. RuPaul found that something clicked -- both for himself, and for the audience.

He spent years performing and appearing on public access TV, but he became an international star with his 1992 hit single, "Supermodel".

One of his most recent projects is RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality competition series, featuring RuPaul as host and mentor to the contestants as they participate challenges in search for America's next drag superstar. Drag Race is now in its sixth season on LOGO TV.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends New Books: Cryonics and Gangsters

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two new books that recently hit the shelves.

Her first recommendation is a memoir about a TV repairman's obsession with immortality that leads to his professional pursuit of cryonics -- the art of freezing people. It's called Freezing People Is (Not) Easy: My Adventures in Cryonics by Bob Nelson, Kenneth Bly and Sally Magana.

Her second recommendation is a twining novel about the legendary gangster Meyer Lansky and a murder investigation in Israel, called Jacket Copy.

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My Brother My Brother and Me Solve Your Cultural Quandaries

The hosts of the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me won't hesitate to give their advice, though they don't always suggest you follow it.

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of our listeners' cultural quandaries. Here are their takes on dealing with your parents' (terrible) TV recommendations, what it means to hog a game at a barcade, and how comedians should respond to hecklers in the crowd.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews on Art, Athletics, and Comedy

Terry Crews has taken a pretty unconventional path. He played football in college, but he didn't go on scholarship, and joined the team as a walk on. He played in the NFL for years as a linebacker with the Rams and the Chargers, but when he was done, he didn't become a sports commentator.

Instead, Crews went back to one of his first loves -- the arts. And while he continues his devotion to his workout regimen, he now uses his physicality in his work as an actor. He's worked steadily in a string of movies like The Longest Yard and The Expendables, and adds a tough-but-caring element to his characters in TV shows like Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

You can see him now as an essential part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's ensemble as the police detective and family man, Sergeant Terry Jeffords. The show's finale airs tonight, Tuesday March 25th on FOX.

Crews is also the author of a new memoir out in May, called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man - or Just Live with One.

This week, Crews tells us about growing up in Flint, Michigan, discovering his love of both art and physical fitness, the difficulty of ending an NFL career, and the joys of working on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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The Outshot: Nas' Illmatic

Jesse shares the greatest hip-hop album ever recorded, Nas' Illmatic. A bold claim? Yes. A true claim? Also yes.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John C. Reilly and Kristen Bell

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Bullseye
Guests: 
John C. Reilly
Guests: 
Kristen Bell
Guests: 
Cameron Esposito
Guests: 
Rhea Butcher
Guests: 
Evelyn McDonnell

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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John C. Reilly: "Freedom and Anarchy" On Set, and Honesty in Acting

John C. Reilly is an actor with tremendous range. More than almost anyone. For the past few years, he's produced and starred in a bizarre show called Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule. So why does a movie star have a faux cable-access show that runs in the middle of the night on adult swim?

Reilly's comic chops are well-documented in movies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. He's also played a number of dramatic roles in movies like Magnolia and Gangs of New York, and was nominated for an Oscar for playing the cuckolded husband in the movie version of Chicago.

This week, John C. Reilly will talk about why he chose to take on the goofy, open-hearted and blustery Dr. Steve Brule with comedy duo Tim and Eric, his summer of fun working on the set of Boogie Nights, and what he thinks his duties are as an actor.

Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Thursday nights at 12:30 am.

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Canonball: The Runaways' "Live in Japan"

Over the course of four short years, the teenage members of glam rock band The Runaways released four albums for a major label, toured the world, and unleashed their classic single, "Cherry Bomb". While the group was huge overseas, they never gained the same level of popularity in the US.

Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Joan Jett went on to acclaim with her band Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, but as Evelyn McDonnell tells it, The Runaways have never really gotten their due.

McDonnell wrote the book on the band. She's the author of Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways, based on interviews conducted with the influential "queens of noise". McDonnell found that the band's manager Kim Fowley had a tight grip on the group's sound, and that their studio albums didn't fully capture their unique sound and chemistry.

Join us as Evelyn takes us on a journey to the other side of the Pacific Ocean to hear where the band sounded their best: on a Japanese tour and a their album, Live In Japan.

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Wham Bam Pow Recommends: Desperado and End of Watch

Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher of the movie podcast Wham Bam Pow excel at finding the hidden gems amongst the thousands of action and sci-fi films out there, and this week they join us to recommend two you can watch at home.

Cameron recommends something for your Antonio Banderas fix: Desperado starring Selma Hayek and - you guessed it - a gloriously coiffed Antonio Banderas.

Rhea recommends a cop drama with ample amounts of "bro love": End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.

Both films are available on Netflix Instant or on DVD. For more recommendations from Cameron and Rhea subscribe to their podcast and never watch a boring movie again!

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Kristen Bell: From Chris Rock's Pootie Tang to her career-making role as Veronica Mars

You might know the actor Kristen Bell best from her years on the teenage detective series Veronica Mars, but that doesn't bother her. The way she tells it, she's got just as much love in her heart for Veronica as any fan of the show.

Veronica Mars, a jaded and sardonic high schooler, is following in her father's footsteps as a private investigator. While attending high school in the fictional beach town of Neptune, Veronica solved mysteries and grappled with the murder of her best friend, the absence of her mother, and boyfriends, all at once.

The show aired for three seasons on UPN and the CW, gathering a cult following and critical acclaim. Fans of the show clamored for more after its cancellation, and Bell and the show's creator, Rob Thomas, were determined to bring the series back to life. They were able to bring Warner Brothers on board with a Kickstarter campaign and the Veronica Mars movie came to fruition. It's now in theaters nationwide and available on VOD.

Since Veronica Mars' TV run has ended, Bell has kept busy with a number of movies, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Frozen, and TV shows like Party Down and House of Lies.

Bell talks to us about the unique qualities of Veronica Mars, her first movie role in the cult classic Pootie Tang, and transitioning from playing a knowing teenager to a full-fledged grown-up.

BONUS: Kristen talks about her voice acting role in the Disney animated feature Frozen, and the evolution of the Disney heroine.

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The Outshot: The Limey

Jesse recommends Steven Soderbergh's The Limey, a revenge movie that’s really about the way we all fight with our own past.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: P-Funk's George Clinton and Tagging with Christian Acker

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Bullseye
Guests: 
George Clinton
Guests: 
Christian Acker

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P-Funk's George Clinton: From Doo Wop to Funk, and Saving His Musical Career

The musician, producer and 72 year-old mastermind of Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton, has never been shy of the limelight. He started his career singing doo wop, later found himself writing songs for Motown, and finally wound up creating a wholly unique sound and visual experience with Parliament-Funkadelic. They made hits like One Nation Under A Groove and Flashlight and their performances were as funky as their tunes.

In recent years, Clinton has found himself entangled in a series of legal battles over the copyrights of his songs. While fighting in the courts, George found himself fighting for his health as well. The doctor of the Funk gave himself his own prognosis: if he was going to continue a musical career and regain agency in his business affairs, he had to clean up his act, and he has.

The pioneer of funk joins us this week to talk about the evolution of his musical career, getting wild onstage, and putting forward momentum back into his musical career -- and even gives us an update on Sly Stone.

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are still touring and recording. George has a reality show and a memoir in the works as well. You can track him down on his official website.

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Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: Vince Staples (feat. James Fauntleroy) and Nicki Minaj

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, we talk about Vince Staples' intimate, raw track about his father, "Nate" featuring James Fauntleroy. Andrew also suggests a listen to Nicki Minaj's new track, "Lookin Ass", a battle rap that shows Nicki still spits.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game and blogs at Cocaine Blunts. You can also find him on Tumblr.

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Comedy: Chris Fairbanks Wonders About Owls

The comedian Chris Fairbanks joined us a few years ago at our annual convocation in the woods, MaxFunCon. And he wondered -- what's up with all these owls?

He’s going to join us for another big event this year: the second annual Atlantic Ocean Comedy & Music Festival July 25-28, 2014. You can find details at boat party dot biz. To learn more about Chris and his upcoming shows at hisofficial site.

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Why Tagging is Beautiful: Christian Acker and "Flip the Script"

You know those tags you see on walls, park benches and trash cans everywhere? You might not think it's something beautiful, but Christian Acker does. His book Flip the Script is a look at graffiti typography, and celebrates the art of tagging -- one of the last strongholds of highly refined penmanship.

Acker collected writing and spoke to graffiti artists all over the country, to chronicle and analyze hand styles from Oakland to Queens. In a world where people too rarely place ink to paper, we'll look at a typographical expression that reflects your individuality, roots, and even how long you've been practicing.

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The Outshot: Baba O'Riley

There's at least a couple of good parts of teenagerdom. This week, Jesse shares some of them with The Who's Baba O'Riley.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Andy Daly and Willie Colon

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Andy Daly
Guests: 
Willie Colon
Guests: 
Erik Adams

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Andy Daly and "Review": Rating Life Experiences, from Addiction to Pancakes to the Prom

Comedian, actor and writer Andy Daly recognized early in his career that his audience was responding to him as a "nice, little boy". Who could blame them? He's a nice-looking guy, with an all-American charm about him. So he used his Howdy Doody look to his advantage, and began creating characters. The kind of characters that start off as unthreatening nice guys, and slowly escalate into extreme sociopaths.

Andy continues to use this element of surprise in his new Comedy Central show, Review. Andy plays Forrest MacNeil, who is a reviewer. But he doesn't review books, or movies, or consumer products. He reviews life experiences, rating them on a scale of one to five stars. In the first few episodes, he answers viewers' questions from "What would it feel like to steal?" to "Will prom really be the best night of my life?" to "What is it like to get a divorce?"

No life experience is too insignificant or too life-altering for Forrest MacNeil, who takes his job very seriously.

Andy joins us to talk about his first acting job (working with a rollerblading mime), developing his own style of comedy, and how he identifies with Forrest, who's devoted so much of his life and energy to his work.

Review with Forrest MacNeil premieres March 6th on Comedy Central. Andy is touring The Andy Daly Show, with a sneak peek of Review, this month. Check out his website for tourdates.

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The AV Club Recommends: McConaughey's McConologues and Gorgeous Aesthetics from "True Detective" and "Hannibal"

Crime dramas are having a bit of a moment, and The AV Club's Erik Adams stops by to recommend two shows worth tuning in to: HBO's True Detective and NBC's Hannibal.

True Detective is partway through its first season and airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.

Hannibal's second season premieres February 28, 2014 and will air Fridays at 10 pm on NBC.

Erik is Associate Editor at the AV Club. You can check out more of his writing every week on their site.

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Karen Kilgariff - "Passwords"

Karen Kilgariff’s been a comedian and a comedy writer for a long time. She was on Mr. Show, performed stand up, and these days she's the Head Writer for the Pete Holmes show on TBS. But when she straps on a guitar, she makes comedy music that’s just this side of melancholy. Here’s the funny, touching breakup song "Passwords" from her new album, Live at the Bootleg.

That record is out now on ASpecialThing Records. You can find it on iTunes.


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Willie Colón: From Jam Sessions in the Bronx to International Salsa Superstar

When Willie Colón was a kid in the South Bronx, he and some his friends from the neighborhood would take their instruments and jam outside in the summers. His neighbors weren't too pleased, but they probably didn't know they had a budding talent in their midst. Willie went on to secure a record deal in his teens and then become a hugely influential musician and bandleader. His music is salsa: a blend of the Caribbean, Africa, South America and his native New York City.

His discography has now sold over thirty million records, and he's collaborated with legendary figures like Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz and Ruben Blades.

Willie joins us this week to talk about his early success, how he envisions salsa, and his beginnings with the singer Hector Lavoe. He'll even throw in an explanation of the clave, for those of us not already in the know.

Willie's forthcoming album is called Blanco Luna. He tours frequently; catch up with him on Twitter to find out where he'll be next.

BONUS AUDIO: Check out a part of our conversation that didn't make the final cut for time. Willie talks about working with the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz.

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The Outshot: Cal Smith's "The Lord Knows I'm Drinking"

What makes a great country record? This week, Jesse shares what it is that gives Cal Smith's The Lord Knows I'm Drinking that special something.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Pointer Sisters

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Bullseye

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

The Pointer Sisters Get Excited (About Music, Clothes, and More)

The Pointer Sisters have always been musical chameleons. They had huge dance-pop hits in the 1980s, like "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)", but at that point they had already found success in genres from jazz to R&B to disco, and even won a Grammy for their country hit, "Fairytale". The sisters grew up in Oakland, California and were taught by their reverend father that rock and roll was 'the devil's work'. However, when their parents weren't around, they snuck in listening sessions to Elvis, The Supremes, and James Brown.

Sisters Bonnie and June Pointer formed the earliest incarnation of the group in 1969, joined within several years by Ruth and Anita. They recorded their debut self-titled album in 1973, and the single "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They went on to record more hits over the next few decades, including "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)", a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire", and "He's So Shy".

Ruth and Anita Pointer join us for a wild and entertaining interview about their signature vintage style, forging their own musical path, and mixing family with business.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks About Letters to Boys and Anthropomorphic Ants

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite new books.

What if instead of pretending your teenage love letters never existed... you published them, and let the world take a look? Linda recommends the new memoir Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, by Pamela Ribon. Ribon spent much of her free time in high school penning over-the-top notes to her crushes, and provides original drafts, with asides from her adult self.

Glen recommends the new graphic novel Ant Colony by Michael DeForge -- a debut novel that's psychedelic, surreal, darkly funny, and definitely not for kids.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Bobby Lopez on The Song That Changed My Life: "Pure Imagination"

Think of a song you know by heart. A song that's been in your life for such a long time, you don't even remember when you first heard it. Maybe it was in your favorite movie as a kid.

Bobby Lopez writes those kind of songs. He's a composer for musicals and movies, and co-created the hit Broadway shows The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. Most recently, he's teamed up with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez to write for Disney's Frozen. The pair's songs have inspired movie singalongs and a score of YouTube covers, and their breakout hit Let It Go, is nominated for an Oscar.

This week, Bobby shares the song that changed his life: the inspiring and magical Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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The Outshot: The Muppet Movie

Why do folks get into showbiz? If you think it's all to get attention, fame, or money, let The Muppet Movie show you why you're wrong.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Creators of Trophy Wife and Chris Onstad

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Emily Halpern
Guests: 
Sarah Haskins
Guests: 
Chris Onstad
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

The Co-Creators of "Trophy Wife" Explain: It's Not What You Expect

It would be reasonable to assume that the ABC sitcom Trophy Wife is about a rich older man and his ditzy, beautiful young wife. It might be kind of insulting, or it might be drawn in shades of reality TV. But though the show does feature Bradley Whitford as an older man (twice divorced, with three kids) and a younger wife played by Malin Akerman, the title is pretty tongue in cheek. Trophy Wife isn't about jealous ex-wives, a vacuous new wife, and a slimy older dude. It's about a complex family situation and the people within it.

The show's creators, Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, envisioned the show from the trophy wife's point of view. What is it like to join to a family that existed well before you came along? If you're one of several authority figures and parents, what's your role?

Halpen and Haskins had special insight into that situation. As Haskins says, "I started dating and eventually married my next door neighbor...who is a gentleman 20 years my senior who has been married actually 3 times, but we didn’t think America could handle that."

The show features a great ensemble cast. The spouses are played by Whitford, Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, and the family's children are played by Albert Tsai, Warren Lee and Bailee Madison.

We'll talk to creators and showrunners Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern about the blended family that inspired the show, writing real characters for children and their ensemble comedy predecessors.

Trophy Wife airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 on ABC.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Fun with Circuits

BoingBoing’s Mark Frauenfelder stops by to give a glimpse of the future.

He suggests checking out a new novel out this month called The Martian by Andy Weir. It's a tale about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, and his struggle to stay alive with few supplies, his wits, and ingenuity.

And if you've ever thought about circuit building at the grocery store, he suggests learning a new skill with a game for iOS called Mho's Resistance.

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Comedy: Morgan Murphy Explains What to Do Before a Facelift

Even if you're scared to death of plastic surgery, maybe you've considered, even for a split second, getting a little work done. It could just be your little secret! No one would have to know!

But you really should tell someone if you're going to go under the knife. Morgan Murphy will explain. She joined us last year at MaxFunCon 2013 for our comedy showcase in the woods of Lake Arrowhead.

Morgan Murphy's new special is Irish Goodbye. You can find it on Netflix, iTunes or Amazon. She'll be joining us at this year's Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival. Stay tuned for more details.

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Chris Onstad and "Achewood", a World of Anthropomorphic Stuffed Animals

Chris Onstad is behind one of the most popular and critically acclaimed online comic strips. It's called Achewood, and it's set in a fictional town populated by anthropomorphic stuffed animals and pets. The strip is surreal and funny, and it involves many different characters with detailed backstories but the two most prominent are "Ray Smuckles", a very successful and fortunate cat, and his childhood best friend "Roast Beef". Chris Onstad stopped making the strip for awhile in 2011. But the hiatus is over now and he’s back making new comics. We're revisiting our conversation with Onstad from 2009.

Onstad tells us about how he collected the many moments that would become Achewood strips, struggling to write something funny every day, and discovering the joys of self-publishing online.

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The Outshot: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Jesse tells us about a TV show in its first season that's already running at full-speed: Fox's ensemble comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jean Grae and Kevin Biegel & Mike Royce of "Enlisted"

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jean Grae
Guests: 
Kevin Biegel
Guests: 
Mike Royce
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Jean Grae on an Accidental Hip Hop Career

Rapper Jean Grae, formerly known as What? What?, has been a stalwart member of New York City's underground hip hop community for decades. She was born into a musical family, though she didn't exactly follow in her parents' footsteps. Her father, Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollar Brand), helped to found South African Jazz and her mother, Sathima Bea Benjamin, was a gifted singer and composer. Grae was born in South Africa and her parents made sure she knew her roots -- but she was also a New Yorker, through and through.

She joins us this week to tell us about growing up with talented musicians as parents, her accidental hip hop career, and why she doesn't shy away from outrageous, cartoonish violence in her lyrics.

Jean Grae has had a very busy year. Her latest projects include a new full length, Gotham Down, a new EP called Jeannie, a an audiobook entitled The State of Eh, and a webseries in which she writes, directs and stars, Life with Jeannie.

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Carolyn Kellogg on New Books: Utopic and Dystopic New York

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two books with very different views of New York City.

Her first recommendation is the apocalyptic noir novel Shovel Ready, by Adam Sternbergh.

Her second recommendation is a look at the utopic vision of a New York institution. Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel, by Sherill Tippins is about the famous Chelsea Hotel and its artists and philosophers in residence.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me Proffer Advice: Reading Classic Lit, Gaming with Your Boss, and Solo Concert-Going

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to solve our cultural quandaries. Listen to their advice on reading classic literature like "Super Fudge", playing video games with your boss and grooving solo at a James Taylor concert.

If you still have questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

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Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce of "Enlisted": Taking on Military Comedy

It's been awhile since television or film successfully took on military comedy. While the 1970s and 1980s had several military-based hits -- M*A*S*H, Hogan's Heroes, Stripes, Private Benjamin -- there hasn't been much to see as of late.

The executive producers of Enlisted, a new comedy from Fox, aim to change that. Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce have combined forces from the worlds of workplace and family sitcoms. Their resumes include writing and producing credits for Scrubs, Cougar Town, Everybody Loves Raymond and Men of a Certain Age.

Enlisted is about the military-as-workplace, but it's also about family. The show features a trio of brothers in the US Army. Oldest brother Pete had a promising start to his career serving in combat in Afghanistan, but one mistake gets him reassigned to a platoon of misfits on a support base in Florida. It also means he has to supervise his siblings -- a sarcastic middle child and an overenthusiastic baby brother.

Biegel and Royce talk to us about their goal of creating a grounded comedy that doesn't deal in outlandishness, learning about real pranks and antics happening on-base, and how a "bunch of softies" make a show about soldiers.

Enlisted airs Friday nights at 9pm on Fox.

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The Outshot: Paul Anka on Showmanship

Paul Anka, a consummate entertainer with few peers, has very high standards. This week, Jesse shares what he dubs as one of the greatest after-show recordings of all time and reminds us to live and move with conviction.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jessica Walter, "Collision Low Crossers" and Annie Hart

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jessica Walter
Guests: 
Nicholas Dawidoff
Guests: 
Annie Hart
Guests: 
Cameron Esposito
Guests: 
Ricky Carmona

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


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Jessica Walter Talks about Vulgar Lines on "Archer", Love for Lucille Bluth and Showbiz Secrets

If you only know the actress Jessica Walter from her recent work, you probably know her from her role as the singularly-focused, boozy, terrifically manipulative matriarch Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development or her voice acting on the animated spy spoof, Archer. But her career stretches back fifty years, with hundreds of TV appearances, from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Love Boat, and Trapper John, M.D. to a starring role in Clint Eastwood's directorial debut Play Misty for Me.

Jessica sits down with us this week to talk about getting line reads for (the often quite vulgar and racy) scenes on FX's Archer, her love of Lucille Bluth and working with Clint Eastwood. She even divulges a few trade secrets from her role on Flipper.

The fifth season of Archer is airing now on FX on Monday nights.

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Wham Bam Pow Gets Pumped about "Heat" and "Terminator 2"

Sometimes you're in the mood for a foreign film. Or maybe you've got a hankering to binge-watch sitcoms. If you're in the mood for blow-'em-ups and futuristic sci-fi adventures, the folks at the action and sci-fi movie podcast Wham Bam Pow have just the ticket.

Ricky Carmona recommends Michael Mann's Heat, which teamed up Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro for a film about one last heist.

Cameron Esposito recommends Linda Hamilton's approach to taking care of business in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Don't worry if you didn't see the first one -- it's fine to jump right in.

For more high-energy recommendations from the hosts of Wham Bam Pow, subscribe to their podcast and find out what you're missing.

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Annie Hart, L, with Au Revoir Simone members Heather D'Angelo and Erika Forster

"The Song That Changed My Life" with Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone

Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. As the story goes for a lot of teenagers, she didn't quite fit in. The kids at her school wanted to spend time at the mall. They weren't interested in making stuff, shooting videos and writing zines.

Annie found a whole new world, and a whole new group of friends, through music. The song that changed her life is "Knew Song", by the Long Island hardcore band Silent Majority.

Au Revoir Simone's most recent album is Move In Spectrums. They'll be on tour with Broken Bells this spring. You can find their tourdates on their website.

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The Secret Inner Life of Football: Nicholas Dawidoff on a Year with the New York Jets

For all of the analysis on sports networks and the countless hours that Americans spend watching it every week, the sport of football is, in a way, inaccessible. It's composed of complicated plays, and there's a distance between the spectator and the quarterback in his helmet on the field. It's enjoyable and exciting to watch, but it's hard to unpack. "While you can see what's been planned, it's all grounded in a plan that's secret and private," says writer Nicholas Dawidoff.

Dawidoff sought to go inside the world of football, to get a glimpse of the working lives of the coaches and players who spend their weeks planning and strategizing, all for a few brief hours of play on the field. He spent a year embedded with the controversial coach Rex Ryan and the players of the New York Jets, and the result is his new book, Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football.

Dawidoff talks to us about why football -- not baseball -- is the real thinking man's sport, the intense and short professional careers of players, and what he thinks the sport will look like over the coming decades.

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The Outshot: Candlestick Park

This week, Jesse says goodbye to an old friend.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Pharoahe Monch and Huey Lewis

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch
Guests: 
Huey Lewis
Guests: 
Oliver Wang

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Pharoahe Monch: Your Favorite Rapper's Favorite Rapper

Pharoahe Monch has been a voice in the hip hop world for over twenty-five years. In that time, he’s worked on six studio albums -- three as half of Organized Konfusion with his partner Prince Poetry (better known as Prince Po) and three as a solo artist. His seventh album, P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is due out early this year, continuing where the MC left off with 2011’s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades).

Nowadays, it’s understood that Monch is a rapper with intelligent, intricate lyrics that give a unique perspective on issues such as gun violence. Early in his career, however, he and Prince Poetry were rap novices under the name Simply II Positive MCs. They caught the attention of the influential record producer Paul C and became Organized Konfusion. Although Monch and Prince Poetry never achieved big commercial success together, Organized Konfusion became one of the most respected underground rap groups of the ‘90s. The group separated in 1997, but Monch went on to become a fruitful solo artist, scoring a career-defining hit with his biggest single, Simon Says.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s 2009 interview with Monch. They’ll talk about the controversy surrounding the an infamous Godzilla sampling, Monch’s fond memory of Paul C, and the MC’s struggle with asthma in a profession that’s all about controlled breathing.

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Oliver Wang Talks About a Life-Defining Record and a Dip into Northern Soul

This week, music writer Oliver Wang stops by to recommend a hip hop album and a soulful single.

His first recommendation is De La Soul’s debut album, 3 Feet High & Rising. The trio proved that three guys from Long Island with a clever, twisted sense of humor could make an impression on the hip hop scene.

He also suggests a listen to The De Vons’ single “Someone to Treat Me (The Way You Used To)". The song is a classic example of Northern Soul (and has an interesting producer credit to boot).

Oliver Wang is the proprietor of the soul music blog, Soul Sides. He’s also the professor of sociology at Cal State, Long Beach and co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.

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Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters

In the early 1960s, two well-dressed young men roamed the streets of San Francisco with a tape recorder and a sense of whimsy in their stride. James Coyle and Mal Sharpe would conduct man-on-the-street interviews and bamboozle unsuspecting bystanders with their hilarious and bizarre setups and put-ons.

SF Sketchest will hold a "Salute to Coyle & Sharpe", recognizing their influence in comedy, on February 9th. For tickets or more information, visit our event page.

Want more Coyle & Sharpe? Subscribe to the podcast here.

Huey Lewis: From Busking in Morocco to Multi-Platinum Success

It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and the News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.

Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s interview with Huey Lewis. They’ll talk about his pub rock beginnings, his multi-platinum success with Sports, and the time he finagled his way onto an airplane bound for London.

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The Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.

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