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A few years ago, Paul Feig was enjoying a relatively successful career as a TV director. His ode to adolescence, Freaks and Geeks, had a short run but was critically acclaimed. He went on to direct pivotal episodes of The Office, take a turn on Mad Men, and make the rounds on 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Arrested Development, too.
But Feig's work in film was a little rockier. His first two studio films struggled to find audiences, and he was serving time in "movie jail", the unofficial lockdown for directors who helm flops. But he got a third chance, directing a talented cast of women in Bridesmaids. And that time, it hit.
His new film, The Heat, pairs Melissa McCarthy with Sandra Bullock in the traditional buddy cop genre.
Feig talks to us about how his childhood magic hobby led to a career in comedy, why he prefers directing women to men, and the undue box office pressure on films starring women.
The Heat is in theaters nationwide on June 28.
The New Yorker’s television critic, Emily Nussbaum, joins us to talk about TV you should be watching. She recommends the upcoming Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black, from Jenji Kohan, creator of the hit Showtime dramedy Weeds. Kohan's new show follows the life of a middle-class woman sent to prison when her drug smuggling past catches up to her. Nussbaum also recommends the Comedy Central sketch show Inside Amy Schumer, hosted by Schumer and filled with exaggerated takes on some of her favorite topics: sex, porn, relationships, and how to take a compliment.
Orange Is The New Black's 13 episode season premieres on Netflix on July 11.
Inside Amy Schumer airs Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central. The show was just picked up for a second season.
Want to suggest these TV picks to a friend? Click here to listen, embed and share these recommendations from Emily Nussbaum.
Comedian Ophira Eisenberg is happily married and she's got a pretty steady day job, for a comic (she's the host of NPR’s quiz show Ask Me Another). But her life wasn't always so settled. Eisenberg’s new memoir, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, tells us how she got there -- by accident. She made a choice early on that dating was supposed to be fun, not a desperate and frenzied search to find "the one".
She describes the best way to make the transition to living in New York City (just don't tell anyone back home!), what to say when your date asks you if you want to see "something special", and her newly optimistic philosophy on marriage.
Screw Everyone is available now.
Do you need to be a chef to be able to cook for yourself? The answer is no, and the proof is in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.
What a lovely video the folks at Radiolab have made to accompany their latest episode, Words. Semiotics + science + film + Radiolab = A+
The brilliant comedian Louis CK has been a guest on our program on a number of occasions over the years. As I recall, the first time he appeared was nearly ten years ago, promoting the DVD release of "Pootie Tang." More recently, he's become a repeat guest on one of our favorite public radio shows, Fresh Air. In fact, we liked his last interview so much that we embedded it on this here blog.
Unfortunately, it seems that the folks at Mississippi Public Broadcasting didn't like the interview as much as we did. In fact, they disliked it so much that they pulled Fresh Air from their stations. This was reportedly prompted by the fact that the station plays as the "hold music" on the University telephone system, and a caller to the University who was put on hold happened to jump into the Louis CK conversation just as Gross was asking if he always kept his shirt on during sex. This one person was SCANDALIZED, and it led directly to an appropriate and proportional reaction on the part of MPR: dropping one of the best radio shows in the world.
This was the statement that MPB Executive Director Judy Lewis released to explain the decision:
Mississippi Public Broadcasting strives to deliver educational, informative, and meaningful content to its listeners. After careful consideration and review we have determined that Fresh Air does not meet this goal over time. Too often Fresh Air’s interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues.
Of course, this thesis is absurd on its face. Fresh Air won a Peabody - the most prestigious award in broadcast news - because it's very, very, very "educational, informative and meaningful." Gross also won an Edward R. Murrow award, the most prestigious award in all of public broadcasting, in 2003. If you still need convincing that Gross and Fresh Air meet the goal of "educational, informative and meaningful content," check out this video of another of our heroes, Ira Glass, giving Gross a National Book Award.
This incident is of particular concern to us here at The Sound of Young America not just because we create a show with a format similar to Fresh Air's, or because Terry Gross is a personal hero of mine, but also because much of our show is focused on humor, and that seems to be the real target of the ban. Louis CK is, in my professional opinion, the single most insightful, "meaningful" comic working today, and he is no less insightful and "meaningful" in an interview context. Ms. Lewis' statement, to our eyes, seems to imply the age-old falsehood that the work of a comedian, because it's funny, doesn't "contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse." That's directly contrary to the values upon which we've built this show. I've often said that one of our goals on The Sound of Young America is to demonstrate that you needn't be "serious" to be "serious-minded." In my mind, one of Fresh Air's most redeeming attributes is Gross' warmth and openness to the insights that can come from humor, though she herself is not a humorist. That's certainly one of the attributes I have most tried to emulate.
For these reasons, we'd like to stand with Fresh Air and our colleagues and heroes Louis CK and Terry Gross, and we've come up with a plan.
For as long as Mississippi Public Radio continues to unjustly bar one of broadcasting's best programs from its air, The Sound of Young America is hereby banning itself from Mississippi Public Radio. Mississippi Public Radio doesn't carry The Sound of Young America, and they probably weren't considering carrying it, but that won't stop us from snipping any potential consideration of carriage that might occur in the bud, should it happen to unexpectedly appear. WE'RE JUST THAT PRINCIPLED.
That's right: you mess with Louie and Terry, YOU MESS WITH US. Whether you KNOW WHO WE ARE or whether you are COMPLETELY UNFAMILIAR AND UNINTERESTED IN US AND OUR PROGRAM.
Consequences be damned.
A nice Morning Edition piece from our pal Jay Smooth and Maura Johnston on the rapper Nicki Minaj. The frame is exactly what one would expect ("a female rapper in sexist hip-hop?!"), but Jay and Johnston are both too smart to fall into cliche. Just as I was thinking, "I wish they would mention that she can spit," Jay said "she can spit."
The comments may be the best part. Specifically the guy who basically admits he was only familiar with Minaj because of a picture in his computer's "beautiful women folder." And then he says "we all know what that's for (can I say that?)". YES. You can say that, and you are the greatest NPR commenter ever. I mean, I love Bahamadia as much as the next guy, but her two albums came out what? Ten years ago? And I get it: Jean Grae is also a woman and she's not famous and hip-hop vs. rap and SNNNOOOOOOOOOOOZE.
Seriously: some sharp stuff from Jay Smooth and Maura Johnston.