Randy Newman

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Caroll Spinney and Dave LaMattina & Ian Edwards

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Dave LaMattina
Guests: 
Caroll Spinney
Guests: 
Ian Edwards
Guests: 
Karina Longworth

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L to R: Caroll Spinney on location with Kermit Love who built the original Big Bird puppet from a design created by Jim Henson.
Photo credit: Copper Pot Pictures

'I am Big Bird': Caroll Spinney and Dave LaMattina on Big Bird's Big Heart

Spend a few minutes watching Sesame Street, and you'll recognize some part of yourself in Big Bird. His kindness, curiosity and vulnerability resonate with everyone, young and old. But who brought Big Bird to life?

Caroll Spinney is the man inside the Big Bird suit, and he has been since 1969. (He's also Oscar the Grouch). Dave LaMattina is the co-director, along with Chad Walker, of a documentary about Spinney. It's called I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story.

Spinney made his television debut in 1955, working on the local Las Vegas show Rascal Rabbit, then moved on to the East Coast and performed on Bozo the Clown. But he was looking for greater purpose in his work, and he found it. He met Jim Henson and began work on the pioneering children's TV show, Sesame Street.

Spinney and LaMattina sit down to talk with us about Big Bird's physical and spiritual evolution, how the 80-year-old Spinney manages to maneuver in a full-body puppet suit, and how Big Bird has helped so many children and adults deal with loss, love and their own feelings.

I Am Big Bird has been touring the festival circuit this spring, and we caught it as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival. You can find more information about the film on their website.

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Karina Longworth on Old Hollywood Favorites: 'The Bad and the Beautiful' and 'Picnic'

Karina Longworth hosts the podcast You Must Remember This, which looks at some of the secrets of Old Hollywood. She joins us to talk about some of her favorite cinematic moments of the 1950s.

She suggests checking out 1955's Picnic. It's a movie about a handsome drifter who blows into a small town and wreaks havoc on the citizens' love lives.

Longworth also recommends The Bad and the Beautiful from 1952, a self-reflexive movie about a manipulative Hollywood producer and the studio system.

You can find Longworth's podcast on her website or in iTunes.

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Ian Edwards on his Jamaican heritage, Finding His Comedic Voice, and '100% Half-Assed'

Would you take career advice from a complete stranger? Ian Edwards did, and he's never looked back. He was working a fast food drive-through when a customer liked his banter and suggested he become a comic.

Edwards has written for Saturday Night Live and the reboot of In Living Color. He's also performed on Conan and on Def Comedy Jam on HBO.

He talks to us about moving (from England to Jamaica to New York City), finding his comedic voice, and the lessons he learned from the late Patrice O'Neal.

His new album 100% Half-Assed is the first record on the new Team Coco label.

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The Outshot: I Love LA

We return to the Newm: Jesse delves into why the Randy Newman song "I Love LA" is ironic, but also sort of... not ironic? You'll see.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Prodigy Of Mobb Deep

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Prodigy
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Prodigy: Member of Mobb Deep, Crusader From Queensbridge

Queensbridge, New York is an important place for hip-hop. Not since Motown, 25 years earlier, has such an astonishing number of artists with a distinctive, sought after sound, emerged from such a specific neighborhood. Nas, Marley Marl, Cormega--these are just a few of the huge names that sprang from America's largest housing projects, located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Queens. Since the early 1980s, Queensbridge has been a veritable hotbed for new directions in East Coast hip-hop.

And no rap-group has drawn inspiration from Queensbridge more vividly than Mobb Deep. Composed of rappers Havoc and Prodigy, Mobb Deep create music that makes you feel like you, too, grew up in Queensbridge. Listen to Shook Ones Pt. 2 enough times, and you'll feel like you could stab an unlucky sucker's brain with his nosebone.

Jesse sat down with Prodigy, aka Anthony Johnson, after the release of his autobiography, My Infamous Life in 2011. Prodigy had just recently been released from prison, where he spent three years on gun charges. He talks about growing up with sickle-cell anemia, being dragged along on his father's jewelry store robberies as a teen, and how he used his time in prison for some serious personal transformation.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends: Farewell, My Lovely and The Crying of Lot 49

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two of her all-time favorite books.

First, she recommends Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. This hardboiled Los Angeles noir features Chandler's iconic language--analogies stronger than the libations his protagonists down in LA's most dimly lit nightclubs.

Kellogg's next pick is Thomas Pynchon's novel The Crying Of Lot 49. At less than 200 pages, The Crying Of Lot 49 is an accessible, pun-filled entry into the dense world of Pynchon.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing online at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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The Outshot: Randy Newman's "Sail Away"

If "You've Got A Friend In Me," is the only thing you think of when you hear the name Randy Newman, we've got an Outshot for you.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rap Recommendations, Tim & Eric, Cartoonist Roz Chast, and God's Favorite Things

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tim Heidecker
Guests: 
Eric Wareheim
Guests: 
Roz Chast
Guests: 
Andrew Noz
Guests: 
Seth Morris
Guests: 
David Javerbaum

This week!
Rap Recommendations: Andrew Noz schools us on some rap you may have missed, with vampire imitator and Bay Area rapper Cousin Fik’s track I Am a Vampire” and tangential Odd Future member Pyramid Vritra’s Blu Diamonds. (Embed or share this segment)

Comedy Duo Tim & Eric: Masters of the surreal, uncomfortable and gross Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, talk to us about moving past the curated internet weirdness, working with both hugely unique but unknown performers -- like puppeteer David Liebe Hart -- and established actors like John C. Reilly. They also give us behind the scenes insight on the promotion of their newest project, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie and their unofficial support of another great cinema classic, Shrek 3. Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is available now On Demand, and will be released in theaters on March 2nd.

Click through to listen to the NSFPR (Not Safe for Public Radio) extended cut of the interview. (Embed or share this segment)

God’s Effusions (on His Favorite Things): Did you ever stop to consider God’s favorite things? Wonder no more. Emmy award winning comedy writer David Javerbaum is the unlikely co-writer of The Last Testament: A Memoir by God. Comedian Seth Morris acts as God’s loudspeaker to bring us this excerpt. (Embed or share this segment)

Cartoonist Roz Chast: If you’ve ever read the New Yorker, you’ve likely come across one of Roz Chast’s uniquely anxious cartoons. Now, she shares with us some of her anxieties and how she puts them down with a bullet-point in her book What I Hate: From A to Z. If you’ve ever felt imperiled by sitting on the ground or a balloon’s frustratingly imminent pop -- Roz can commiserate. (Embed or share this segment)

The Outshot: Jesse helps us see the genuine emotion and delicacy Randy Newman exhibits in his songwriting beyond the film soundtracks he’s known for, in the album Sail Away. (Embed or share this segment)

You can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the RSS feed -- stay tuned for next week's Bullseye!

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ALL HAIL THE NEWM! KING OF MUSIC!

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The Alumni Newsletter: December 17th, 2010

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