The Wire

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Wire Special with Andre Royo, Wendell Pierce, and Jonathan Abrams

Andre Royo
Wendell Pierce
Jonathan Abrams

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Let's celebrate one of the best shows ever: The Wire!

This week, we're doing something a little different on Bullseye. It's been 10 years since HBO's brilliant crime drama "The Wire" ended its run. We're dedicating the entire episode to the groundbreaking show. "The Wire" wasn't just another cop show -- it was an investigation of contemporary America that uses the drug trade as a lens to get at even larger issues. "The Wire" is just kind of setup like a novel -- its got its own idiom, its own pacing. And even ten years later the show is still incredibly relevant and riveting to watch.

We'll revisit an interview from 2008, which features two greats from the ensemble cast of "The Wire." Wendell Pierce (Detective Bunk Moreland) and Andre Royo (Bubbles) talked with Jesse about their time as actors on "The Wire." They discuss what it was like to authentically portray life in poor Baltimore neighborhoods, and how the show helped them launch their careers in an industry where the roles they often auditioned for were so polarizing.

Plus, we'll hear from author Jonathan Abrams. Jonathan is an award-winning writer for The Bleacher Report and he's written for Grantland, The LA Times, The New York Times and more. He became obsessed with HBO's "The Wire" when a friend kept bugging him to watch it. He finally gave it a shot during the show's 4th season that aired in 2006.

He just wrote "All the Piece Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire." It's an oral history of the show as told by the actors, writers, directors, and other people involved in its creation. He'll tell us about the painstaking efforts the show creator, David Simon; took to make sure the show got Baltimore right.

You can check out and share Wendell Pierce and Andre Royo's interview from the archives on YouTube here. And listen to Jonathan Abrams segment here!

This episode of Bullseye will include some light spoilers about "The Wire." If you haven't seen it by now… what are you waiting for! You've been warned.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Ryan & The Ringer's Shea Serrano

Amy Ryan
Shea Serrano

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Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Amy Ryan on her leading role in Abundant Acreage Available and being a character actress

First up is actress Amy Ryan. You've seen her as Beadie Russel on The Wire, as Holly on The Office, in movie like Gone Baby Gone, and a bunch more stuff. She's now starring in the new movie Abundant Acreage Available. She sits down with Jesse to talk about all those roles, and growing up as an aspiring actress in Queens, New York -- including the time she convinced her family it was cool to skip college and give acting a real go.

Watch a trailer for Abundant Acreage Available, out now.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Amy Ryan!

Photo by StockX

The Ringer's Shea Serrano on hip-hop, basketball, and following his writing dreams

Next up is the writer Shea Serrano. He's covered basketball, music and more for ESPN, Vice, The Ringer, and more.

Born and raised in Texas, Shea was originally a middle school teacher who'd write in his spare time. Though he only started writing full time a little over two years ago, he now has a huge legion of followers on social media, a New York Times bestseller in The Rap Yearbook, and an AMC television show in development that's based on the same book.

His new, beautifully illustrated book is called Basketball and Other Things, and it's out now.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Shea Serrano!

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Outshot: Losing in Baseball

In this week's Outshot, Jesse argues that losing in baseball isn't so bad. It's actually kind of comforting.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on losing in baseball!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ani DiFranco and Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen

Ani DiFranco
Aidan Gillen

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Ani DiFranco on her new album Binary, meeting Prince, and more

This week Jesse hosts singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco. Ani moved out of her mom's house at 15 years old, just after she started writing her first songs. At the start of her career as a solo artist, she played house shows, dingy venues, and slept on couches. She eventually started a record label, Righteous Babe, which she releases her music through as well as artists like Andrew Bird, Arto Lindsay and Sara Lee.

Ani has a huge following of incredibly passionate fans. She's sold millions of records and has won awards and acclaim from critics. Perhaps more than any other singer, Ani DiFranco is defined by her independence.

On her latest record, Binary, she kind of sets that label aside. The record features collaborations with people like Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, Maceo Parker, Gail Ann Dorsey, and much more. At its heart, it's an album about relationships, and she says it's changed her approach to writing.

Click Here to listen to Jesse's interview with Ani DiFranco!

Photo: HBO

Aidan Gillen on playing Littlefinger in Game of Thrones

Also on the show this week is actor Aidan Gillen. You might have seen him on HBO's The Wire as Mayor Tommy Carcetti. He also starred on the original British version of Queer as Folk.

If you're one of the millions of people watching Game of Thrones right now, you'll know him as Lord Petyr Baelish, or Littlefinger. Even on a show like Game of Thrones, with its dozens of complex, messy and fascinating characters, Littlefinger stands out. Since the show's debut, Gillen's character has allied himself with maybe half the cast, only to betray almost all of them. And after seven seasons on TV's most violent show, nobody's killed him yet. When Aidan plays Littlefinger, it's really fun to watch. He's cunning, opaque and devious, but he's sincere when it counts.

Aidan talks to Jesse about his various roles, and what it was like to work with the playwright David Mamet.

Click Here to listen to Jesse's interview with Aidan Gillen!

Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Image

The Outshot: Randy Newman's "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear"

Jesse tells us about an old song of Randy Newman's that reveals a jaundiced view of fame and popularity.

Click here to watch Randy Newman's performance of the song.

Click Here to listen to Jesse's outshot on Randy Newman!

The Alumni Newsletter: December 7th, 2010


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