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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ishmael Butler, Allison Janney & Michel Gondry

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ishmael Butler
Guests: 
Allison Janney
Guests: 
Michel Gondry
Guests: 
Todd Martens

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Ishmael Butler on the Short Life of Digable Planets and the Cosmic Hip Hop of Shabazz Palaces

In the early 1990s, the hip hop group Digable Planets broke through with their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". The single was jazzy and laid-back, and became a crossover hit. The trio were pegged by some as a counterpoint to gangsta rap, but they didn't love the efforts to categorize their sound. They went further on their next boundary-pushing release, the classic record Blowout Comb. The album was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, and the group drifted apart shortly afterward.

Founding member Ishmael Butler was only in his mid 20s when Digable Planets broke up. And so he tried other things, like filmmaking. He still made music, but the releases were few and far between. About five years ago, he teamed up with Tendai Maraire to form a new group called Shabazz Palaces.

Shabazz Palaces' new release is called Lese Majesty, and it expands on their interstellar sound.

Butler spoke to us about his days as a indie label gopher, the awkward audition Digable Planets had to endure for a record company executive, and the the transformative sounds of Shabazz Palaces.

Todd Martens Recommends Pop-Punk and Garage Rock: the Muffs and Twin Peaks

Is there still good pop-punk out there? What's the musical equivalent of a drunk text? Music critic Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times stops by to answer both of those questions!

He recommends a listen to two new albums: the Muffs' first release in ten years, Whoop Dee Doo, and a new record from Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks called Wild Onion.

You can find Todd's writing in the LA Times and on their blog, Pop and Hiss.


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"The Song That Changed my Life": Director Michel Gondry Gets Nostalgic for "Le Sud" by Nico Ferrer

There's a certain kind of feeling to the director Michel Gondry's films. A little bit of happiness mixed with sadness. Nostalgia for something that you experienced, or maybe something you wish you had experienced. You may have felt it watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, or his new film Mood Indigo.

For "The Song That Changed My Life", Gondry describes the feeling of saudade and how he felt watching Nico Ferrer perform the song "Le Sud" on a Saturday night.

Gondry's new film Mood Indigo is a fantastical story of love and loss, starring Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. You can find it in theaters now.

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Allison Janney, from Loose Cannon Sitcom 'Mom' to Intimate Drama in 'Masters of Sex'

If you've seen Allison Janney on television lately, it's been in one of two very different roles. On the Showtime series Masters of Sex, Janney guest stars as a somewhat naive, vulnerable 1950s housewife who experiences a breakthrough after many years in a sexless (but not loveless) marriage. Her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the CBS sitcom Mom, she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who's outrageous, biting, and very funny. Bonnie's been down, but she's making peace with her estranged daughter and getting her life back together. Janney's characterizations are versatile; they allow her to be warm, steely, confident, and thin-skinned by turns. Janney is currently nominated for Emmys for both roles; 'Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama' for Masters of Sex, and 'Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy' for Mom.

She spoke to us about her early acting days (including auditioning for an intimidatingly handsome Paul Newman), getting comfortable with the inevitable nude scenes for Masters of Sex, and the ways that her mom's background and brother's struggle with addiction gave her insight and empathy for her current roles.

The Outshot: Orson Welles and 'Touch of Evil'

Jesse explains why the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles directed, Touch of Evil, tells us so much about Welles as an artist.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Hari Kondabolu & Jake Kasdan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Jake Kasdan
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.

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

Hari Kondabolu: 'Waiting for 2042' and Stand Up Comedy with Required Reading

Hari Kondabolu is a stand up comedian. You might have seen him on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. He's also performed stand up on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Hari didn't think he would be a comedian. He thought that he was going to law school. Then somewhere between taking an Americorps Job organizing immigrants in Seattle and taking the LSAT, things changed direction. He transitioned into stand-up comedy.

Hari talks to us about the unique profile of his fans, how he fits into the "alternative" comedy scene, and how he actually got into a discussion about the racism of Apu from The Simpsons with Hank Azaria -- the real voice of Apu.

His debut album, Waiting for 2042, is available now through BandCamp and iTunes.

Carolyn Kellogg Talks Westerns

Every week we like to check in with one of our favorite culture critics to get some recommendations of things that are worth your time. This week, Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about some of her all-time favorite westerns, starting with one that broke the mold.

Her first recommendation is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses.

Kellogg also recommends Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers.

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Jake Kasdan on Directing Jason Segel, Strategic Nudity, and His Unintentional Return to Television

Jake Kasdan grew up in the movie business. His father is Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote two Star Wars films, an Indiana Jones movie, and both wrote and directed The Big Chill. And Jake's been no slouch, either. He directed his first film, Zero Effect, when he was only 24. He's gone on to work on a slew of other projects, from critically acclaimed cult shows like Freaks and Geeks, to the beloved sitcom New Girl, to the hugely commercially successful film Bad Teacher.

His new movie is Sex Tape, which sees Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz re-teamed as a married couple who accidentally release an intimate home video to the internet.

Kasdan talks about his years working with Jason Segel, the strategy involved in shooting a movie that has both feelings and (comedic) nudity, and how he unintentionally returned to working in television on New Girl.

Sex Tape is in theaters now.

The Outshot: The Everyday Wonder of 'American Splendor'

Jesse explains why Harvey Pekar makes putting one foot in front of the other feel like something special.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Carl Wilson, Max Greenfield, Moby

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Carl Wilson
Guests: 
Max Greenfield
Guests: 
Moby
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.

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

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How We Decide What's Good... and What's Bad: Carl Wilson on Celine Dion and the Nature of Taste

Carl Wilson is a music critic. His job is to tell people why certain music is good, and why other music isn't. You could call him a tastemaker. But he started to wonder. How does taste even work? To find out, he immersed himself in the music, life and fandom of Celine Dion.

Wilson is the author of Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste, a reissued and expanded version of the book he published in 2007. It's about Celine and her bestselling album from 1997, but more importantly it's an exploration of why we like some music and hate other music. Wilson's journey made him question how we place value on art, and has affected the way he approaches his work in music criticism.

He talks about Dion's Quebecois background (and why it matters), how she and her music relate to "coolness," and why experiencing a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas helped open him up to her true appeal.

Looking for Rich Juzwiak's "Celine Dion is Amazing" compilation video mentioned in the interview? We'll save you a Google search.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

Carolyn Kellogg Recommends Summer Reads

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 thriller called The Fever by Megan Abbott. The novel explores what happens when teenagers in a small Northeast town get hit with a mysterious illness, which tests teenage friendships and the strength of a family.

Kellogg also recommends a memoir about a girl and her father. It's not your typical father-daughter-bonding tale. Maria Venegas writes about reconnecting with her estranged father in Bulletproof Vest: Ballad of an Outlaw and his Daughter.

You can find Kellogg's writing in the Los Angeles Times or on their blog, Jacket Copy.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

Moby on "My Way" by Sid Vicious: The Song That Changed My Life

Moby is one of the most successful electronic musicians in the world. But he didn't start fiddling with synthesizers and drum machines as a kid -- he was studying classical guitar. Then, his world changed with just one song.

Moby tells us about the song that changed his life, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" as performed by Sid Vicious.

Moby's newest album is called Innocents.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

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Max Greenfield Explains: What Makes New Girl's Schmidt Tick

Max Greenfield stars as Schmidt on FOX's series New Girl. His character is so sweet and enthusiastic in his bro-y-ness, you can't help but love him. Schmidt is frequently shirtless, occasionally naked, and never less than transparent in his striving.

Schmidt was a breakout role for Greenfield, and before he got it, he would read audition lines with his wife, who happens to be a casting director. He talks about how she can be his toughest critic, how he and Schmidt are most alike, and how mispronouncing words like "chutney" came to be part of Schmidt's essence.

New Girl just ended its third season on Fox. Both the show and Greenfield's role have been submitted for Emmy consideration.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

The Outshot: East Side Story

You probably know what a low rider is. But what do you know about low rider oldies? Jesse talks about the perfect music for driving low and slow.

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Emmy Nominations 2013!

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We're not surprised to see some of our favorite past Bullseye guests got Emmy nods this year! Take a listen to some of our past conversations with these Emmy contenders.

Julia Louis Dreyfus: nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series for her performance as Vice President Selina Meyer in Veep.

She talked to Jesse about crafting the character of Vice President Meyer, similarities between showbiz and politics, and, yes, the Elaine dance from Seinfeld.

Tony Hale: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his performance as Gary Walsh, aide to the Vice President, in Veep.

He talked to us about behind-the-scenes humor in Veep, selling Volkswagens to the tune of "Mr. Roboto," and returning to the role of Buster in the newest season of Arrested Development.

Hugh Bonneville: nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for his performance as Robert, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey.

He joined Jesse along with Downton co-stars Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt to talk about what makes their show's romances so compelling, and how they keep old customs fresh and exciting.

Benedict Cumberbatch: nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie for his performance as the brilliant aristocrat, Christopher Tietjens, in Parade's End.

We talked about playing the title character in PBS's Sherlock Holmes adaptation Sherlock, and how his traumatic kidnapping in South Africa transformed his outlook on life.

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein: nominated for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series for their hipster-sketch show Portlandia.

Armisen and Brownstein joined us to talk about their respective music careers before comedy, Armisen's "other job" on Saturday Night Live, and why Portland is such a rich subject for relentless satire.

Bob Newhart: nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series for his appearance as the children's science show host Arthur Jeffries a.k.a. Professor Proton on Big Bang Theory.

Newhart reflected on a comedy career spanning more than 50 years, and shares some of his own tricks for continuing the funny.

Mel Brooks, whose HBO special Mel Brooks Strikes Back! was nominated for Outstanding Variety Special.

Brooks talked to us about making Germans laugh when he fought in World War II, being dangled out of Chicago hotel window by Sid Caesar, and much, much more.

Jane Lynch: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series for her role as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Glee.

Jane and Jesse talked about Jane's cult sitcom Party Down, the first big break in her acting career, and (not) coming out Ellen Degeneres-style.

Bill Hader: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his assorted roles on Saturday Night Live.

Hader talked to Jesse about his first stab at impressions for the SNL audition, "breaking" during sketches, and the wonderful bizarreness of actually working with Tom Cruise.

Pendleton Ward: creator of Adventure Time, which was nominated for Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program.

Literally drawing Jesse while they talked, Pen told Jesse about finding inspiration in Dungeons and Dragons, writing the perfect fart joke, and his creative process for the show Adventure Time.

Louis C.K.: nominated for (wait for it) Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Variety Special, Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special, Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Special, Outstanding Picture Editing For Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials, and Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series. These are for his original series Louie, his HBO special Louis C.K.: Oh My God, and his hosting stint on Saturday Night live, respectively.

Louis and Jesse have talked a couple times and their interviews get just as philosophical, inward-looking, and hilarious as you would expect. Listen and share here and here.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lisa Kudrow, Eric Andre, and Danielle Colby

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Show: 
Bullseye


Summer TV with The AV Club

What’s worth watching on TV this summer? Our TV critics Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey of the AV Club have a few suggestions (yes, other than Breaking Bad). Adams suggests Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls, which airs on Fridays. Zulkey recommends The Franchise, which airs on Showtime on Wednesdays at 10pm.

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Actress Lisa Kudrow on Web Therapy

Lisa Kudrow broke out to TV stardom on the hugely popular sitcom Friends, portraying the clueless but street-wise Phoebe Buffay. The cast members of Friends were practically America's Sweethearts, but Kudrow has pursued roles as less easily lovable characters in movies like Easy A and the short-lived but critically acclaimed cable series The Comeback.

Most recently, Kudrow has co-created and stars in the improv-comedy series Web Therapy, about a self-centered therapist who has an unusual "modality" approach -- she insists on cutting the usual 50-minute dreams and feelings session to a three-minute web chat. Web Therapy was adapted for TV by Showtime last year, and just began its second season on the network.

Kudrow talks to us about her early career in science research, how the fickleness of middle-schoolers set her on the path to acting, and being mentored by none other than Jon Lovitz.

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Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for History/AP Images

American Picking with Danielle Colby

Maximum Fun Headquarters recently relocated to a beautiful, but barren, new office -- and it needed a touch of character. There's probably no better place to find it than at the huge Rose Bowl flea market in Los Angeles, but we needed a seasoned antiquer to help us out. Enter Danielle Colby, star of the History Channel's series American Pickers, who helped us pick a doozy.

Check out our AMAZING flea market bounty for yourself.

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Comedian Eric Andre

Eric Andre isn't a comedian with a household name, but that didn't stop him from getting his own talk show. And it didn't stop him from breaking every rule in the book when it comes to doing monologues or interviewing guests, either. The Eric Andre Show is hard to describe, but if you know that Andre isn't averse to pouring ketchup down his own pants or borderline abusing his guests, you might start to get the idea. His extremely low-key straight man Hannibal Burress provides a counterpoint to the madness.

Andre talks to us about literally deconstructing the talk show, setting up unexpected situations for guests, and more.

The Eric Andre Show airs Sundays at 12:30am on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

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The Outshot: The Fania All-Stars

This week, Jesse recommends that we all overcome any reluctance to let salsa music into our lives, and to begin with the Fania All-Stars.

Do you have a new music love? Tell us about it in your own outshot.

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Brent Weinbach on Conan

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BOOMTIME!

One of our favorite standups in the world hit the stage on Conan last night... and destroyed. As you'd expect. The man's a genius.

Paul Scheer, Comedian, Actor and Creator of Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV::: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Paul Scheer, center, as NTSF's Trent Hauser
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Paul Scheer

Our guest host this week is MaxFun's very own Jordan Morris! He's a host and producer on FuelTV's The Daily Habit and of course, co-hosts our own podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! You can also see him performing comedy at numerous venues throughout Los Angeles.

He'll talk to Paul Scheer, who last was on our show with the members of his MTV sketch comedy series, Human Giant. Paul is the creator and star of a new Adult Swim series, NTSF:SD:SUV::, a send up of police procedural shows like CSI. Paul explains that the show does not exist merely in parody, but comes from a place of love. He'll also talk about why having a giant budget can be a death knell for a project, fashion choices from his character Andre on FX's The League, and more.

You can see NTSF:SD:SUV:: Thursdays at 12:15am on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, catch Paul on The League on Thursdays at 10:30pm on FX.

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JORDAN MORRIS: This is The Sound of Young America, my name is Jordan Morris. Our guest today is the actor and writer Paul Scheer. He's been seen on TV in shows like 30 Rock, The League, and the cult classic sketch show Human Giant. He's been seen in movies like Piranha 3-D and its forthcoming sequel Piranha 3-DD. He's the star and creator of the new Adult Swim series NTSF:SD:SUV::, which airs on that network Thursdays at 12:15am. Paul, welcome to the program.

PAUL SCHEER: Thank you so much for having me.

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Al Madrigal on The Daily Show

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Our long-time friend (really - he booked me and Jordan a Prank the Dean gig once!) Al Madrigal has joined the Daily Show as Senior Latino Correspondent. This was his (very funny) first segment on the show.

Bravo to one of comedy's top guys!

Phil Rosenthal, Creator of Everybody Loves Raymond: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Phil Rosenthal

Fifteen years ago, Phil Rosenthal created the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, a show based on the absurdities and drama of normal people's real-life experiences (including those of the star, Ray Romano). The show became a huge hit and ran for nine seasons.

Now, he's the subject of a new documentary called Exporting Raymond, about the process of adapting his hit show for a Russian audience. He discusses culture shock and the challenges of translating Everybody Loves Raymond -- including tailoring it to viewers for whom the traditional sitcom is relatively unfamiliar, without losing the heart of the show itself.

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