Keith Phipps

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Henry Bushkin on Johnny Carson

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Troubled, Brilliant and Intensely Private: A Look Back at American Icon Johnny Carson with "Bombastic Bushkin"

The late night show is still a staple of pop culture. Leno, Letterman, Conan, Fallon all hold their own interviewing celebrities and delivering monologues -- but there's no single late night show that is appointment viewing for all people, no host as essential as Johnny Carson, the thirty-year Tonight Show host and television icon.

He was publicly known by many, Johnny Carson didn't have a lot of close personal friends. Though he was fun and friendly on-screen -- cavorting with celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra -- off-screen, he was very private and hid his emotions well.

It says a lot that Carson once described Henry Bushkin, his lawyer and business associate, as his "best friend". Bushkin came on to Carson's team as a fixer, someone to take care of his problems both professional and personal.

This week, Mike Pesca fills in for Jesse and talks to Bushkin, who served as Carson’s lawyer and closest confidante for nearly two decades. Dubbed ‘The Bombastic Bushkin,’ his relationship with Carson was a mix of professional and personal and he witnessed some of the icon’s darkest moments. Their friendship and business relationship eventually soured, but not before Bushkin collected a wide variety of experiences. This week, Bushkin dives into those privileged moments, from the good to the bad.

Bushkin’s new book, which recounts his time with Carson, is called, simply, Johnny Carson.

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The Dissolve on New Releases: Folk Stories in Inside Llewyn Davis and Fascinating Footage from Narco Cultura

Editorial Director Keith Phipps and Editor Scott Tobias from film site The Dissolve stop by to recommend the best films this winter has to offer. They recommend you check out the new movie from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis and a film that examines both sides of drug cartel culture, Narco Cultura.

You can find both films in select theaters nationwide this week.

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Canonball: Wire’s Pink Flag with Jim DeRogatis

Sometimes we like to take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look. This week, Jim DeRogatis of WBEZ's Sound Opinions guides us through the art-punk band Wire’s debut album, Pink Flag. He'll tell us why you don't necessarily have to have mega-musical talent to make a great song -- just some brilliant ideas.

You can hear Jim DeRogatis weekly on his nationally-distributed public radio show, Sound Opinions, or find his writing at WBEZ.org.

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Lisa Kudrow Talks Friends, Brain Science and Playing the Eternal Optimist

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, Lisa Kudrow was part of an elite, six-member group. America tuned in to NBC every week as this tight-knit collective went through the ordinary struggles of twenty and thirty-somethings living in New York City. The show was called Friends and, in its decade-long run, it was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time.

Kudrow won an Emmy for her role as Phoebe Buffay, the ditzy member of the ensemble who is sometimes optimistic to a fault. Whether she’s singing about her odorous feline or recounting cringe-inducing tales from her colorful past, Phoebe retained a sense of playfulness that brightened even the darkest aspects of her character.

Since Friends, she's played some characters with darker sides -- people defined by their narcissistic tendencies. On Web Therapy, she plays Fiona Wallice, a therapist who limits her patients to three minutes a session, since the rest is usually boring filler. The series shows Fiona's professional and personal life through sessions with patients that usually have their fair share of quirks.

Jesse Thorn spoke with Lisa Kudrow in 2012. Web Therapy is now in its fourth season online.

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The Outshot: Keith Olbermann’s Return to Sports

This week, Mike Pesca cheers sports journalist turned political pundit Keith Olbermann's return to the world of sports, with his ESPN2 show, Olbermann.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elizabeth Gilbert, Gillian Jacobs, Fred Armisen

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Elizabeth Gilbert
Guests: 
Gillian Jacobs
Guests: 
Fred Armisen
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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Elizabeth Gilbert on Curiosity, Writing "The Signature of All Things" & Life After "Eat, Pray, Love"

If you know of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, it's probably from her 2006 memoir, Eat Pray Love. Gilbert's book -- about travel and love and re-gaining confidence and a sense of self -- spent years atop the bestseller list, inspired a movie starring Julia Roberts, and saddled Gilbert with a certain kind of fame.

Gilbert was already an accomplished novelist, biographer and journalist when that happened. But the massive success of Eat, Pray, Love necessarily transformed Gilbert's creative life.

Gilbert has returned to fiction with her first novel in thirteen years, entitled The Signature of All Things: A Novel. She spent several years researching for the book, which adventures of Alma Whittaker, a 19th century botanist who studies moss. The book shines with Alma's curiosity for life and science and the struggle of self-discovery.

Join us for an extended conversation with Gilbert, including talk of "dirty words" from the 19th century which didn't make the radio edit.

She'll talk about why she chose to write a "great moss novel", how she chose to write her heroine Alma (homely, brilliant, and moneyed), and how she dealt with the fame that her memoir bestowed on her.

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The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some favorite films. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps of film site The Dissolve join us to talk about some of their all-time favorite films.

Nathan recommends Albert Brooks' 1979 satire Real Life, a prescient look at documenting "real life" in pre-reality television times.

Keith recommends the 1942 Ernst Lubitch classic To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

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"I Wish I'd Made That": Talking about Kraftwerk's "Computer World" with Fred Armisen

We often talk to artists about their influences -- the movies, music, and art that inspired them creatively. Some of that stuff is so good and so perfect that they sometimes wish they’d made it themselves.

So we're introducing a new segment that's just about those things. We're calling it "I Wish I'd Made That."

This week, we're talking to eleven-season cast member of Saturday Night Live and the co-creator of Portlandia, Fred Armisen.

We caught up with him just a few weeks ago at Tenacious D's Festival Supreme. He had just performed as his British punk alter-ego Ian Rubbish (alongside Bow Wow Wow's Leigh Gorman on bass, Blondie's Clem Burke on drums and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar).

Armisen talked to us about Computer World, the 1981 release from the German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.

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Gillian Jacobs on Surviving Juilliard and the Unique Challenges and Joys of Working on NBC's "Community"

Gillian Jacobs may never know what it’s like to play the ingenue. As an actress, she has an energy that’s hard to pin down, but it’s anything but naive. After a tough stint at Juilliard's acting school, Jacobs pursued a career in film and television, often being cast in dark, gritty roles. However, in 2009 her career took a sudden lurch in the opposite direction when she was cast in a very different role.

You probably know her as Britta Perry, the confident and outspoken student opposite Joel McHale’s self-involved lawyer-turned-study group leader Jeff Winger on Community. Britta is exceptionally eager, mostly to the vexation of her peers who often voice their displeasure at her stances on social issues. Her friends often describe her as "the worst", but she's ever-confident in her own identity.

When Jacobs signed up for the role in Community, all she knew was that Joel McHale had been cast in it, but she soon realized that it would be a very unique and ambitious show.

In this extended conversation with Jacobs, we'll talk about why she didn't fit in at Juilliard, her big break on Community, and get a peek behind the scenes on a beloved but aggrieved network show.

Jacobs co-stars with Ken Marino in the new movie Bad Milo!, available now on VOD, and plays Britta on NBC’s Community. The show's fifth season premieres in January.

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The Outshot: Grand Theft Auto V

Jesse tells us why a perfect balance between the real and unreal makes Grand Theft Auto V so enticing.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Comedy Group Kasper Hauser, David Rakoff Retrospective

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Rob Baedeker
Guests: 
James Reichmuth
Guests: 
David Rakoff
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

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Kasper Hauser: How To Write A Book About Business Without Really Helping

The San Francisco sketch comedy troupe Kasper Hauser is not your average comedy team. They count a lawyer, a writer, a psychiatrist and a Stanford theater professor in their ranks. They get together to write satirical books (like Skymaul and Weddings of the Times), perform the occasional live show, and produce digital content (like their Kasper Hauser podcast and this fake Craigslist page) -- all while working the aforementioned day jobs. Their new collaboration is their own special spin on how to succeed in business, all in a tome you can leave in the bathroom. It's called Earn Your MBA on the Toilet: Unleash Unlimited Power and Wealth from Your Bathroom.

We sat down with half of Kasper Hauser, members Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth, to talk about being inspired by the "For Dummies" series, their democratic joke-writing process, and the worst fight they've ever had--about a comedy sketch.

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The Dissolve Recommends Summer Films: "Blue Jasmine" and "The Act Of Killing"

Indie-music site Pitchfork expanded into film-criticism this month with its new off-shoot site, The Dissolve. We're joined by The Dissolve's founder and editorial director, Keith Phipps, and editor Scott Tobias, who introduce the new site and recommend their top picks for summer movies.

Keith recommends Woody Allen's new comic drama Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, and featuring Louis CK. As Keith explains, the movie offers a terrific character study of a New York City socialite (Blanchett) who is forced to start over without her money or her husband (Baldwin).

And Scott endorses The Act Of Killing, from two of the most revered names in documentary filmmaking, producers Errol Morris and Werner Herzog. The documentary tests the very boundaries of the medium, following a real-life Indonesian deathsquad as they reenact some of their most infamous murders and confront the atrociousness of their deeds.

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David Rakoff: A Retrospective

The author David Rakoff died of cancer nearly a year ago, but his writing continues to provide insight on living a creative life in contemporary America. Best known for his autobiographical essays and his contributions to This American Life, Rakoff always made for a delightful interviewee: open, passionate, and amusing even in his darkest times. In honor of the posthumous release of his last book Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, a novel written entirely in rhyme, we're sharing some highlights from our past conversations with Rakoff.

In these two interviews from 2005 and 2011, Rakoff touches on topics ranging from the virtues of pessimism, writing about Playboy models as a gay man, and the daily grind necessary for a truly creative life.

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The Outshot: "The Long Goodbye"

Elliott Gould may not seem like the hard-boiled noir type, but in 1973, under the direction of Robert Altman, he had that perfect combination of intellect and self-satisfied cool. With Gould playing Raymond Chandler's most famous character, Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye explores the powerful narcissism that governed the streets of 1970s Los Angeles.

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Bullseye: Kurt Andersen, Ari Graynor, Chris Fairbanks

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kurt Andersen
Guests: 
Ari Graynor
Guests: 
Chris Fairbanks
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Marah Eakin

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris. Jesse Thorn will return next week. Check out more from Jordan on the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! or on his blog.


Music and a Movie with Keith Phipps and Marah Eakin

AV Club editor Keith Phipps recommends Quadrophenia, a film based on the rock opera of the same name by The Who. Music Editor Marah Eakin recommends the single I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons.

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Kurt Andersen’s True Believers

Kurt Andersen is the host of Studio 360, co-founder of the satirical Spy Magazine and a novelist. He brought his love of research and cultural criticism to bear when he penned the new novel True Believers, the story of a high profile lawyer who steps away from a nomination to the Supreme Court. True Believers follows her on a quest to piece together a mysterious episode in her childhood during the Cold War and the age of the spy novel.

Andersen fondly recalls his own childhood interests in espionage, and he discusses the leap of faith required for a trained journalist to stop doing research and begin trusting the imagination. The end result is a novel which weaves together generational politics, 1960s counter-culture, and a children's game that becomes all too real.

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MaxFunCon 2012, photo by liezelwashere

Comedian Chris Fairbanks on Being Mugged

Ever had a neighborly mugging experience? Comedian and artist Chris Fairbanks knows what it’s like. He told us this story at the fourth annual Max Fun Con.

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For a Good Time, Call... Ari Graynor

Ari Graynor plays a lot of outrageous, messy roles -- she was a self-destructive college student on The Sopranos, and she played a drunken best friend in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist -- but her characters have heart and a kind of innocence.

The same is true of her most recent role of Katie Steele, the brash-yet-vulnerable young Manhattanite who runs a phone sex line in the new movie For a Good Time, Call. The film is in select theaters nationwide this week.

Ari talks to us about the 80s films that inspired her, the story's depiction of female friendship, and the strange intimacy and appeal of phone sex.

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The Outshot: No Use for a Name

Jordan shares his passion for the music of the late Tony Sly, of punk band No Use for a Name.

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Got a favorite band you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Scott Aukerman, Mark Duplass, and David Rees

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Bullseye
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Scott Aukerman
Guests: 
Mark Duplass
Guests: 
David Rees
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson
Guests: 
Keith Phipps

AV Club Culture Recommendations

This week's pop culture picks come to us from The AV Club's Keith Phipps and Tasha Robinson, who share a few of their all-time favorites. Tasha talks up Richard Adams' fantasy novel Watership Down -- a book which, if you weren't already forced to read it in high school, is well worth a look. Keith meanwhile shines a light on perhaps the least renowned of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, Duck, You Sucker! (also known as A Fistful of Dynamite or Once Upon A Time... The Revolution!), in which the Italian master of the gunslinger casts his gaze on the tale of Zapata.

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Scott Aukerman, Host of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Scott Aukerman is a writer and the host of Comedy Bang! Bang!, formerly known as Comedy Death-Ray. The show began in 2002 as a comedy pub night in Los Angeles, and is now one of the landmark shows at L.A.'s UCB Theater. In 2009, Scott took many of the show's best regular characters and comics with him into a radio environment, launching Comedy Death-Ray Radio on Indie 103.1, and setting the template for what would become one of the internet's premiere comedy podcasts. Comedy Bang! Bang! is now the flagship show on Aukerman's Earwolf podcast network. This month the show made the leap into another medium entirely: as a darkly satirical late night television talk show.

Scott sat down with us to discuss the move to TV, his early years in Hollywood as a sketch writer on HBO's Mr. Show with Bob & David, and the strange business of getting paid to do work that's never produced. Comedy Bang! Bang! airs Friday nights at 10PM on IFC.

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Artisanal Pencil Sharpening, with David Rees

Pencil sharpener David Rees was long trapped in an awful job as a satirical cartoonist until he just couldn't take it anymore. In 2010, Rees decided to get back in touch with on old-school writing instrument and took up artisanal pencil sharpening as a profession. His new book, How To Sharpen Pencils, was released earlier this year, and he's now demonstrated his old-fashioned technique in bookstores across the country. David joins us this week to discuss the lost art of pencil sharpening, and treats us to a chapter reading from his book.

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Actor & Filmmaker Mark Duplass

Mark Duplass is an actor, writer, director, musician, and a man who can be described as having many irons in the fire. He's the star of two films currently in theaters, Your Sister's Sister and Safety Not Guaranteed, with a third film, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, that he wrote and directed alongside his creative partner (and brother) Jay, due later this summer. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon will be the second Duplass Brothers film to hit screens this year, following the brothers' biggest film to date: Jeff, Who Lives At Home, with Jason Segel and Ed Helms. And as if all that weren't enough, you might know Mark best from his starring role as Pete on the FX comedy series The League, which will be back for a fourth season in the fall.

Mark joins us to discuss the way his musical past has influenced his tendencies as a filmmaker, and why he's not worried about taking his projects to total perfection.
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The Outshot: Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb

For The Outshot this week, Jesse highlights the relaxed, harmonious hip hop sound of Digable Planets' revolutionary but commercially disastrous 1994 record Blowout Comb.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Set the record straight by picking your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The AV Club, Director David Wain, Jordan Ranks America

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Bullseye
Guests: 
David Wain
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Jordan Morris


The AV Club Recommendations

Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club recommend their all time favorite classics - Rodney Dangerfield’s 1981 comedy special No Respect and ‘50s Japanese film The Burmese Harp directed by Kon Ichikawa.
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Director David Wain

Writer, director, comedian, and actor David Wain has worked on many projects, from cult classics to commercial successes. From his early days on MTV’s sketch comedy show The State he moved on to write and direct the cultishly popular film Wet Hot American Summer. David returns to our show to trace his career path, discuss what made The State such a special comedy troupe, and of course talk about his new Judd Apatow-produced comedy, Wanderlust. The film opens in theaters nationwide on February 24th. It stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston.
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Jordan Ranks America

Jordan Morris gives the good old U.S. of A. a run down of the top 5 most important things happening within its borders this month. Old friends, Blu-ray movies, how will he break it all down?
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The Outshot: DJ Quik, Pitch In OnA Party

If you bring the potato salad, we’ll bring the chili as Jesse pines after potlucks with this week’s Outshot, DJ Quik’s Pitch In OnA Party.
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The AV Clubs Picks for April 2011: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Paul Dano in Meek's Cutoff
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

We're joined by Keith Phipps, the AV Club's editor and Scott Tobias, the AV Club's film editor to discuss picks in music and movies for April 2011. They discuss the film Meek's Cutoff, which follows a group on the Oregon Trail, and Certified Copy, a drama starring Juliette Binoche, both currently in theaters. On Blu-Ray, we have Dario Argento's horror film Inferno. Finally, Keith talks a little about the musician Kurt Vile's release, Smoke Ring for My Halo.

JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. Once a month or so we check in with our friends at the AV Club to help us separate the wheat from the chaff of the world of popular culture. This month we're joined by Keith Phipps, the AV Club's editor, and Scott Tobias, the film editor of the AV Club. Gentlemen, welcome back to The Sound of Young America.

SCOTT TOBIAS: Well hello.

KEITH PHIPPS: Thanks for having us.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

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The AV Club on The Sound of Young America: November 2010

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club stop by to sift through pop culture and present their picks, which include the Apple Records Box Set, a new cut of the classic film Metropolis, A Book of Jean's Own! from The Onion columnist Jean Teasdale, a DVD set of The Six Million Dollar Man and the documentary Best Worst Movie.

JESSE THORN: It’s the Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. From time to time we check in with our pals at the AV Club to help us find the diamonds among the quartz in the world of pop culture. Joining us this time around Nathan Rabin and Keith Phipps. Gentlemen, welcome back to The Sound of Young America, always a pleasure to have you on the show.
KEITH PHIPPS: Thank you for having us.
NATHAN RABIN: Thanks for having us.

Click Here For a Full Transcript of Our Interview.

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