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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Maura Tierney and Michael Kupperman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Maura Tierney
Guests: 
Michael Kupperman

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Photo: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Maura Tierney on her career and her starring role in the new film 'Beautiful Boy'

Maura Tierney is probably best known for her time on the hit drama "ER." She played Abby Lockhart. Her character was introverted, sarcastic and a bit self-destructive, but when it came to her patients she always showed warmth and compassion. Her role was complex and nuanced, which is uncommon for a soap opera. She's currently on the Showtime series "The Affair."

She also starred on "Newsradio" as Lisa, the ambitious reporter and producer. Lisa was the kind of person who kept a tight schedule and always had her eyes on her life-plan. She was also the kind of person who could perform complex mathematical calculations in her head. Her character was incredibly intelligent, kind of an overachiever and at times very funny.

She's currently starring in an acclaimed drama: "Beautiful Boy," which just hit theaters. It's a story about the difficult and frustrating nature of addiction. It stars Timothée Chalamet as Nic, a college age kid struggling with a drug habit. Maura plays Karen, Nic's step mom. "Beautiful Boy" is as unique as it is realistic: addiction is a complicated thing. It brings some people closer together, drives others away, it has ups and downs.

This week, we'll chat about these roles and look at the rest of her career, which spans several decades. Plus, she'll explain why she starred alongside Jerry Orbach in the 1991 film "Dead Women in Lingerie." We'll play a clip from the movie, and you can bet she shrieked in horror that we were able to dig that up.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Simon and Schuster

Michael Kupperman on his new graphic memoir 'All The Answers'

Michael Kupperman is a cartoonist, writer, and he's one of our favorites at Bullseye. His comics have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Believer Magazine. A lot of his stuff is surreal, and a little silly. For his latest book he gets serious and very personal. In "All The Answers" he explores his father's time as a world famous TV Quiz Kid.

Back in the 40s and 50s, when people were still figuring out how television worked, there were "quiz shows." TV programs where hosts would ask contestants trivia questions, and if they kept answering right, they'd stay on the show. Michael's dad; Joel Kupperman, managed to stay on for almost a decade. And it all happened when he was a kid.

When he grew up, Joel pretty much left TV. And he didn't talk about it much, not even with his family. And when he did, it wasn't usually positive. Michael got the sense that this was a pretty dark chapter in his Dad's life. So Michael did some of his own research. He went through old tapes, talked to family members. It's a fascinating portrait of his father, and a really moving read.

His father never talked much about his childhood. So Michael learned a lot of surprising things about his father later on in life on his own. He'll describe what it was like to discover that his father had once performed with the Marx Brothers. Plus, he'll explain why he had an easy time drawing his father in the book, but struggled to draw himself.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


The Outshot: Sly and the Family Stone 1973's 'Fresh'

Finally, Jesse explains why "Fresh" was the last great album by Sly and the Family Stone ever recorded.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: James Burrows & Future Islands

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
James Burrows
Guests: 
Samuel Herring

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Photo by Jesse Thorn

Sitcom Guru James Burrows on Andy Kaufman, Teaching Ted Danson to Tend Bar, and Why He's Still Directing

Forty-one years ago, James Burrows stepped on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show to direct an episode. It was his very first gig as a TV director. Since then, he co-created Cheers and became known as the go-to guy to direct your sitcom pilot. He's directed more than fifty pilot episodes, including those for Taxi, Frasier, Will & Grace, Friends, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, and he adds more to his resume every season.

Burrows is the son of the famous playwright Abe Burrows, who wrote the book for Broadway musicals like Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

James Burrows will talk about creating his own career path on television, working with Andy Kaufman (and Andy's alter-ego Tony Clifton), brainstorming the elements that would become Cheers, and why he continues to direct.

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Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Samuel Herring of Future Islands Explains Why Joy Division's "Digital" Changed His Life

Samuel Herring, the frontman for the synth-pop band Future Islands, grew up loving hip hop (as he still does).

But there's a rock song that helped him put him on the path to forming the band Future Islands with bandmate William Cashion. And that song is Joy Division's "Digital". It's the song that changed his life.

Future Islands just released two brand-new singles, and they're out on tour this summer and fall to promote their newest album, titled Singles.

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The Outshot: The Revolutionary Afrobeat of Fela Kuti

Jesse pays tribute to the feeling of Fela.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bill Withers

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Withers
Guests: 
Ian Cohen
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Brad Tolinski

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.

Soul Legend Bill Withers Talks about Dignity, The Music Industry, and Striving to Be a "Complete Human Being"

The singer/songwriter and soul music legend Bill Withers may have written some of the most memorable songs of the past half century, but his person doesn't loom large in the public eye. He wasn't eaten up by fame, and he didn't disappear and try to claw his way back. He just walked away from the music industry, for the most part, making the decision to live life on his own terms.

With no formal songwriting training (he enlisted in the Navy at 17, and then worked as an aircraft engineer), Withers rose to fame with his first album Just As I Am, recorded in his thirties. The album, produced by Booker T. Jones, showed an already fully-formed talent with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands.” Since then, more of Withers' hits, like “Lovely Day,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Lean on Me” have endured the test of time.

Jesse sat down with the music legend in 2009 to talk about his life and career, around the time that the documentary Soul Power was released. Withers discusses his roots in a coal mining town, enlisting in the Navy, and why he was able to start a music career later in life.

Withers also opens up about his decision to stop performing, his gratitude for the fame when it came to him, and why he continues striving to be “a complete human being.”

Related interviews:
Booker T. Jones

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Pitchfork's Ian Cohen on his Favorite Heavy Rock

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some of his all-time favorite heavy rock releases.

He tells us about an album which (in a move unusual for its genre) has an entirely pink cover. Deafheaven’s newest album, Sunbather, has been well-received and is on its way to becoming “an absolute landmark.”

In addition, Ian recommends the most recent Swans album,The Seer. In a bold creative move, the band creates a title track well over thirty minutes long.

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Davy Rothbart’s Lost and “Found”

Davy Rothbart, editor and publisher of FOUND Magazine, shares some of his favorite "finds".

FOUND collects notes, photos, to-do lists, love letters, and other ephemera (basically society’s flotsam and jetsam). The magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

Rothbart's new documentary Medora, about a small-town Indiana basketball team, opens in New York City and Los Angeles on November 8.

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Canonball: Remembering When Rock Got Weird, with Led Zeppelin's "III"

With Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music to find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we’re joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He tells us why we should take another listen at Led Zeppelin III, the band’s third album, which took a strange turn on its unforgettable first track (“Immigrant Song”) and tapped into the zeitgeist of its time with the bold tracks that followed.

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The Outshot: The Cane

Ideally, the cold open on a sitcom (the segment right before the opening credits) should be a self-contained nugget of comedy perfection. This week, Jesse recommends one of his favorites with NewsRadio’s “The Cane,” featuring the comedic talents of the bombastic Phil Hartman and the ultimate straight man, Dave Foley.

After all, it’s just like that old saying: “Everybody loves a cane.”

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Aisha Tyler, Bilal Oliver, God on Sports

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Aisha Tyler
Guests: 
Bilal Oliver
Guests: 
Seth Morris
Guests: 
Marah Eakin
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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The AV Club's All-Time Favorites: Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" and Warren Zevon's "Stand in the Fire"

The AV Club's Music Editor Marah Eakin and Head Writer Nathan Rabin discuss a few of their all-time favorite albums. Marah is a fan of the layered, sampled feel of Fleetwood Mac's post-Rumors album, Tusk. Nathan Rabin suggests a listen to Warren Zevon's intimate but ferocious live album Stand in the Fire.

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Aisha Tyler: Actress, Comedian, and Former Third-Grade Maypole

Like a lot of funny people, Aisha Tyler often found herself on the outside looking in as a kid. She was the only black girl in her school and thought of herself as kind of a geek... Standing six-feet tall by third grade didn't help things, either. Ultimately, feeling out of place gave her the feeling that she could survive anything -- and the confidence to pursue performance. She's since performed stand up, hosted E!'s Talk Soup, appeared on CSI, 24, Friends...and even competed on an episode of Jeopardy.

She also has a starring role on the FX animated series Archer, where she voices Lana Kane, a beautiful and brilliant secret agent who plays the straight man to her idiot co-workers.

Aisha joins us to talk about her choice to do comedy in her own voice, the challenges of voice acting, and about living a real-life version of Fame in high school.

Archer airs on Thursdays at 10/9c on FX. The show is in its fourth season; it was just renewed for a fifth. Aisha will host The CW’s reboot of Whose Line Is It Anyway? this summer. You can also catch Aisha at a performance of Archer Live!.

This interview originally aired in January 2012.

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Comedy: An Excerpt from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God

You'd think that God would be pretty focused on the choice of a new Pope right about now. But might some of that attention be diverted to.... spring training? Has the Almighty ever swayed athletic outcomes? Does He care for sports at all? Get the straight truth from The Man Himself (as relayed to David Javerbaum). The answer may surprise you.

This excerpt is from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, with David Javerbaum.
David Javerbaum is an Emmy-winning comedy writer and former executive producer of The Daily Show. You can see more of his work with God on Twitter @TheTweetofGod.

Our voice of God is provided by comedian Seth Morris, who is also on Twitter at @SethISMorris.

This segment originally aired in April 2012.

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Bilal and His Unique Blend of Soul, Hip-Hop, and Jazz

Here's one way a musical artist can succeed: artist records album, sends it off to the label, label rejects album, album is leaked online, fans and critics love album, artist goes independent.

That's exactly what happened to jazz and soul singer Bilal, who wanted to follow up his debut album, 1st Born Second, with something a little more experimental. That album (titled Love For Sale) was never officially released, which left a nine-year gap between his debut record and his second album, Airtight's Revenge. That album earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

The wait between Bilal albums this time around is a little more manageable: his new album, A Love Surreal, was just released last week. It's a beautiful, headspinning collision between 1960s soul and modern hip-hop, sounding like neither the past or the present.

We spoke with Bilal back in 2010 right around when Airtight's Revenge was released. Bilal talked to us about his high school identity, growing up with jazz music, and his choice to go wild on Jay Leno.

Bilal's new album, A Love Surreal, is available now.

This interview originally aired in September 2010.

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The Outshot: The Cold Open

Looking for the perfect cold open? Jesse's found it. Newsradio. Season 2, Episode 9.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Aisha Tyler, David Hornsby, The AV Club and Jordan Ranks America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Aisha Tyler
Guests: 
David Hornsby
Guests: 
Scott Tobias
Guests: 
Genevieve Koski
Guests: 
Jordan Morris

This week! The AV Club: Scott Tobias and Genevieve Koski of The AV Club bring us their recommendations – the thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin starring Tilda Swinton, in wide release in February, and the award-winning comic fantasy series Locke & Key. (Embed or share)

Comedian and Actress Aisha Tyler: Aisha Tyler stars as Lana Kane, one of the super-spies of FX's animated series Archer. She talks about living the real-life version of Fame in high school, funneling her experiences as an outsider into performance and comedy, and the challenges of getting the tone just right when voice acting. You can catch her on CBS's The Talk, her podcast Girl on Guy, or on Archer, which airs new episodes beginning this Thursday. If you want more on Archer, check out our interview with Adam Reed. (Embed or share)

Jordan Ranks America: Comedian Jordan Morris spends his time ranking what's hot in America right now, so perhaps you can spend your time a little more productively? (Embed or share)

Writer, Producer and Actor David Hornsby: If you're a fan of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, then you probably know some of David Hornsby's work, as he's written and produced a number of episodes over the show's seven seasons. Or – you might recognize him from some of his scenes as “Rickety Cricket,” the defrocked priest who is often the butt of the gang's jokes and kicked around as a result of their constant scheming. He's created a new animated comedy series Unsupervised, about some surprisingly optimistic teens managing to make their way through life largely, well, unsupervised by any adult figures. Unsupervised premieres this Thursday on FX. For more on It's Always Sunny, check out our interview with Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney here. (Embed or share)


Joel (David Hornsby) and Gary (Justin Long) of Unsupervised

And The Outshot: Jesse describes a perfect moment - one of the best cold opens of one of his favorite sitcoms. (Embed or share)

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