Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jay Leno

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Bullseye
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Jay Leno

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Jay Leno on the late night wars, and spending decades on The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno's Garage

We're joined by one of the biggest TV hosts in the history of TV hosts: Jay Leno! He'll chat about his career that spans almost 45 years.

He's been spending his time in what could be his retirement working on his TV show for CNBC called Jay Leno's Garage. The show is in its fifth season. It's a lot of fun, especially if you're really into weird , old-school cars. He's still a disarming interview, still charming and still quick on his feet.

By his own admission, Jay says he never got much love from critics. He got cast, more or less, as the villain in the late night battles with Letterman and Conan. He'll open up about those late night wars in this in-depth interview.

Jay also reflects on his childhood and how that's influenced his comedy. From sleeping in alleys on the streets of New York, to hosting The Tonight Show for decades. It's truly a remarkable story, and we hope you'll join us.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian

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Bullseye
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Stuart Murdoch

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Photo: Julio Enriquez for Flickr Creative Commons

Belle and Sebastian founder Stuart Murdoch on making 'Indie Pop'

As founder of the indie-pop band Belle and Sebastian, Murdoch has an affinity for popular music of the past. The Brit-pop movement of the 1980s or the sunshiny American pop of the 1960s are some of his favorite genres. The 1980s were a great time for the musician. He had little interest in creating music as a kid outside of a few piano lessons and recitals. Then there was the occasional DJ set during his formative college years. Still, being a spectator of music was very much a part of his life.

Around the beginning of the 1990s, though, that changed. Murdoch started to feel exhausted and sore pretty much all the time. He couldn't concentrate. Sleep would come, but it wouldn't help. He'd come down with chronic fatigue fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME. Murdoch dropped out of school, stopped running track, stopped DJing. At home, he started writing songs on the piano. And on the advice of his doctor, he took a class for unemployed musicians.

There he met Stuart David, and the music they made together eventually became Belle & Sebastian.

Since their debut, Belle and Sebastian records have made it on literally hundreds of top ten lists. Their second album, 1996's If You're Feeling Sinister, is routinely called one of the best albums of the 90s.

These days Murdoch still fronts the band and still writes music, he's got a wife and kids and through all that, he still deals with chronic fatigue.

The band is back with a new album. It's the original soundtrack to Days of Bagnold Summer. It features a breathtaking new track, Sister Buddha.

Murdoch joins Bullseye to talk about retro pop music, how meditation changed his music and songwriting. Plus, Jesse and Stuart talk about the great game of baseball. If you didn't know, Stuart's a Mets fan.

If you're traveling in Europe this fall, click here for Belle and Sebastian's upcoming tour dates.

For the rest of us, you can purchase their latest album on vinyl here.

This interview originally aired in February of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: David Oyelowo

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Bullseye
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David Oyelowo

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Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

David Oyelowo on doing chase scenes with Tom Cruise and working in Hollywood

Classically-trained actor David Oyelowo has done such an amazing job perfecting his "American" accent in his roles that we sometimes forget he's from Oxford, England!

He's an incredibly versatile actor. David got his start at the Royal Shakespeare company in London. From there, he took smaller parts on British TV and in movies like The Help and Jack Reacher. You may be familiar with his work as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay's 2014 film Selma. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the late civil rights activist.

David's latest movie is Don’t Let Go which was just released. It's a supernatural thriller that melds elements of murder-mystery with that of a police procedural. The film premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. In it, David plays Detective Jack Radcliff. He's a man in a rush against time to save his family. David stars opposite fellow DuVernay alum Storm Reid.

He's quite good in it. But, then again, David's good in everything. When Bullseye talked to the actor in 2018 David had just starred in a movie that could not have been more different than an academy award nominated biopic like Selma. Starring in an action comedy called Gringo, David played Harold Soyinka. He's kind of a middle manager at a big pharmaceutical company in Chicago. The company's decided to get in on the medical marijuana business in a big way - by manufacturing a weed pill. So they send Harold to Mexico to deliver the formula.

We hope this isn't a spoiler, but things don't go as planned for Harold.

Before long he's swept into Mexico's criminal underground. He gets kidnapped. He gets shot at. He gets in a car chase with a cartel hit man. Oyelowo's character, for his part, is barely aware of what's going and spends pretty much everything freaking out. It's goofy, it's kind of dumb, and it's really funny.

Gringo is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Don’t Let Go is in theaters now.

This interview originally aired in March of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Julio Torres on 'My Favorite Shapes,' 'SNL,' and 'Los Espookys'

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Bullseye
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Julio Torres

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Photo: Zach Dilgard / HBO

Julio Torres on his stand-up special 'My Favorite Shapes', 'Los Espookys' and working on SNL

Julio Torres has created some of our favorite sketches for Saturday Night Live in recent memory.

His sketches on the show are a little different than standard SNL fare. It's not the in your face humor about politics or the need for cowbell. But a little dreamy and magical.

There was the time Lin-Manuel Miranda portrayed a man named Diego who calls his mother from a phone booth in the middle of a corn field. In 2017, Ryan Gosling hosted, and Julio wrote a sketch about a man who's haunted by the Papyrus font used by the film Avatar. There's tons of great stuff. Of course, he also co-wrote one of our all time favorites – Wells for Boys.

Julio grew up in El Salvador, and spent his entire childhood there. He thought he'd end up as an architect, just like his mom. But even in El Salvador, he grew up on TV shows from the US. He was raised on the classic stuff – The Simpsons, I Dream of Jeanie, and Ally McBeal. He always kind of knew comedy was in his future.

Julio recently released his first comedy special on HBO. It's a little sideways from what you’d expect from a comedy special. Julio talks about ... his favorite shapes.

It's a bit surreal to watch. He shares his favorite shapes with the audience. The shapes are on display on a custom conveyor belt. There's a lot of glitter. That might understatement, everything is covered in the stuff. The shapes have lived lives you'd never quite expect. But really, the shapes help us learn more about Julio.

Julio is also one of the creators of the new HBO show, Los Espookys. In the show, a group of friends who turn their love of horror films into a business. They provide events for people who want to be scared. Think the gig economy for spooky events.

We're big fans of Julio Torres, and we're thrilled to share this conversation with you. He'll chat about his journey from El Salvador to working at SNL. Plus, a behind the scenes look at My Favorite Shapes and Los Espookys.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Justin Simien

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Bullseye
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Justin Simien

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Justin Simien on his hit show "Dear White People"

Director Justin Simien is the creator of the controversially-titled film Dear White People. It was later developed into a Netflix television program, now in its third season. The film, as well as the series, follows the lives of a group of black college students attending a predominantly white and fictionalized Ivy League institution named Winchester University.

Both the movie and series tackle issues of racial tensions, identity, gender, sexuality and class in the modern era. Justin leaned heavily on his own experiences attending the predominantly white institution, Chapman University, to help shape his story. Dear White People puts a talented cast and diverse group of students in the spotlight. Students who share a similar experience in the black diaspora while remaining vividly individual characters with oft-sidelined points of view. It's a story Justin knows well.

Justin grew up in Houston, Texas where he attended a performing arts program in high school. The love for film became a part of his life early on. From there, Justin attended college, a part of the first generation of "Facebook adults." There he grew even more passionate about his craft and steadfast in his vision of centering the voices of black and brown young people of color. That vision began to materialize in the late-aughts with a concept trailer he bankrolled with his own tax return. Momentum and interest grew from there and in 2014 Dear White People was released independently but not before taking home the Sundance U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. Not bad for a feature film debut!

Jesse talks with Justin Simien about the intersections of the black experience, having a majority black-femme writers room and the value in meeting people where they are. Plus, Jesse and Justin discuss the impact French new wave had on the film Do The Right Thing, giving a voice to queer black experiences, late 90s cinema and why calling white people "White People" makes folks uncomfortable.

Dear White People is streaming now on Netflix.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' and 'Gilmore Girls'

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Bullseye
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Amy Sherman-Palladino

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Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Amy Sherman-Palladino on the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amy Sherman-Palladino has worked on some of the most unique programs to be ever greenlit for the TV screen. You've seen her work on Gilmore Girls. For three seasons, she was a writer on Roseanne, and wrote some really iconic episodes.

Her latest work can be seen on Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It's been nominated for a bunch of Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Best Directing. Amy took home a few wins last year, for the show. She was the first woman to win an Emmy for best comedy writing and directing.

The show circles around Midge Maisel and her dysfunctional family. Midge is a housewife who lives in ‘50s New York. She finds out her husband is having an affair. And decides to channel her pain into a blossoming stand-up career.

Most of Amy's shows follow a common thread. They're all about women, but … maybe not the kind of women you expect to see on TV. They all follow families that were kind of nuts. Families dealing with the ups and downs that life throws at them.

Amy Sherman-Palladino talks about what she learned working on Roseanne in her early 20's, and how that experience helped her create Gilmore Girls. Plus, did you know the Gilmore Girls pitch kind of happened by chance? Of course, we'll take some time to talk about Mrs. Maisel, too!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Egyptian Lover

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Bullseye
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The Egyptian Lover

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

The Egyptian Lover on the early days of LA hip hop and electro

Greg Broussard better known as Egyptian Lover got his start as a DJ for Uncle Jamm's Army, a hip-hop crew based in Los Angeles.

In 1984, Uncle Jamm's Army released a 12 inch single via Freak Beat Records. On Side A of that single was: Dial A Freak and Side B was : Yes Yes Yes. Both tracks were produced by Egyptian Lover. The tracks received a lot of local play at huge parties thrown by Uncle Jamm's Army. At one point the venues they were filling up included the Hollywood Palladium and the Los Angeles Sports Arena. As a solo artist Egyptian Lover has released 10 albums, mixing Kraftwerk, Prince, a little bit of G-Funk every now and then, too.

In 2015, he released 1984 on his label Egyptian Empire Records. The official music video for the track Killin' It is insane. Egyptian Lover transports us to his version of the '80s – a total throwback to the aesthetic of the decade, with glossy computer graphics, rectangular prisms, polished sports cars and all! It reminds us of that Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror episode where Homer gets sucked into the 3rd dimension.

Jesse talks with the Egyptian Lover about the most iconic instrument in hip-hop: the Roland TR 808, and the early days of LA hip hop and electro. Plus what a 10,000 person dance party looks like, and how he bonded with his future wife over a Kraftwerk record. The ultimate meet cute!

Egyptian Lover has embarked on a huge summer tour. For tour dates click here. His latest album 1985 is available now.

Click here to listen to Egyptian Lover's interview on YouTube!

This interview originally aired in January of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Eugene Levy

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Bullseye
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Eugene Levy

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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Eugene Levy on improv comedy and "Schitt's Creek."

Eugene Levy is hands down one of the funniest people in history.

The Canadian-born actor and funnyman has been a part of so many of our favorite moments from television and film. You know him from SCTV where he usually played the incredulous straight man who somehow still made you giggle with glee to some of the cast's sillier characters. The Canadian-born Levy got his start in the world of comedy when he joined The Second City. There, he perfected his craft in improvisation, opting to work within an ensemble than alone on stage as a stand-up.

His film credits include such classics as Splash, A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman. He's collaborated numerous times with fellow improv mockumentarian Christopher Guest. Most notably in the hilarious comedy Best in Show And who could forget his work in 1999's American Pie?

Levy joins us to talk about his amazing life in television and film. We'll hear about the very funny SCTV sketch that inspired Saturday Night Live's Norm McDonald and he'll talk about working on all eight of the American Pie movies. You read that right. Eight! Plus, he'll talk to us about what it's like working with his son Dan on their hit show Schitt's Creek, now in its fifth season.

He was recently nominated for an Emmy for lead comedy actor. This is his first Emmy nomination in 36 years! We'e sure his son couldn't be prouder.

This interview originally aired in April of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Psychedelic bedroom pop musician Cuco

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Bullseye
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Cuco

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Photo: Cameron Postforoosh

The Song That Changed My Life: Cuco on Tame Impala's Feels Like We Only Go Backwards

The Song That Changed My Life is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite artists about the music that made them who they are today.

This time around, we're joined by the musician Cuco. He got his start making music in his bedroom. He combines dreamy synths, catchy hooks and a bit of jazz trumpet to create a sleepy psychedelia vibe.

It's common for a lot of our guests to pick a song they first heard when they were in their teenage years. Cuco might be the youngest person who's joined us for this segment. He's a 21 year old from Hawthorne, California. He got a little modern on us with his song pick – a song that came out back in 2012.

So where did he get his psychedelic bedroom pop sound?

Cuco explains how Tame Impala's Feels Like We Only Go Backwards helped him visualize his career in music, and how the song helped him navigate life in high school.

Cuco will be on tour in a city near you very soon. His new album Para Mi is out now. Check out his website for more information.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jeff Goldblum

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Bullseye
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Jeff Goldblum

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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Jeff Goldblum on his new film The Mountain, acting and fatherhood.

No matter what your age, chances are you grew up with Jeff Goldblum somewhere in your life. Jeff has been turning in classic film and TV performances for over four decades. There was that time he and his alien buddies set course for planet Earth, based solely on the hunch that there might be babes there. Then, there was the time he teamed up with the Fresh Prince to help the Earth defend itself from a swarm of aggressive aliens who destroyed the White House. And who could forget about that time he accidentally turned himself into the BrundleFly? Truly iconic! It's hard for us to pick our favorite Jeff performance. He's been consistently good for so long we kind of take it for granted.

Jeff made his film debut in the 1974 revenge fantasy Death Wish where he played "Freak #1." Since then, his name has become synonymous with charismatic performances and a unique line delivery that is second to none.

Jeff joins us to talk about his new film The Mountain. It's a haunting look back at the mental health field during the 1950s. He plays Wallace Fiennes, a doctor touring the US touting the benefits of the transorbital lobotomy. Despite evidence to the contrary and more effective treatment options becoming available, his character continues to perform the dangerous and controversial procedure. Although the film deals with some dark themes, Jeff's Dr. Fiennes is electric on screen.

He'll also talk to us about his work on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, how using the Meisner technique helped improve both his acting as well as his interpersonal relationships and his latest role as a father of two boys. Plus, he'll tell us how aggravating an infamously grumpy director prompted some of the greatest acting advice he's ever received.

When he's not working on screen Jeff can be heard making wonderful jazz music with his backing band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. If you live in Los Angeles, you can seen them play live at The Rockwell in the Loz Feliz neighborhood. If you're not in LA, you can check out their latest album here.

The Mountain is now playing in selected theaters nationwide.

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