Bullseye with Jesse Thorn (NPR)
Bullseye from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America.)
Nicole Holofcener & Lodge 49 (9/2018)
This week, we're thrilled to welcome Nicole Holofcener back on the show - probably one of the most underrated filmmakers around. Her movies are quiet, sort of understated. The protagonists are complex, flawed people, usually women. She's worked with some great actors, too. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in "Enough Said." Frances McDormand in "Friends with Money." Catherine Keener in just about everything she's made. Her latest film was just released on Netflix. It's called "The Land of Steady Habits." And for the first time, her movie centers on a man. We'll talk about that, plus her childhood growing up among Hollywood filmmaking royalty. Then, have you heard of this show, Lodge 49? It's kind of a comedy / drama set in Long Beach, California. It's kind of hard to say what it's about, but some of the themes include: secret orders (like the Masons), quarter life crises and the stagnating aerospace economy in Long Beach, California. It's funny, weird and disarmingly honest, which is why it's been a hit here at MaxFun HQ. Jesse talks with Jim Gavin, the creator, and Peter Ocko, the showrunner.
Amy Sedaris & Paul Reiser (9/2018)
We're replaying two recent favorites this week: first up, Amy Sedaris! Amy's made a career playing characters - and we say this with absolutely *zero* shade intended - people who are kind of grotesque and weird. The weirder and grosser the better - take Jerri Blank on Strangers with Candy or Mimi Kanasis on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, too. But on her show, At Home with Amy Sedaris, Amy pretty much plays herself. She talks with Jesse about how that's a transition out of her normal comfort zone. Also discussed: rabbits, monkfish, and girl scout badges! Then, Paul Reiser - the legendary standup and actor. You've seen him on Mad About You, Red Oaks and Whiplash and more. He also created the Hulu show There's Johnny. It takes place in the early 70s, behind the scene of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Reiser knew Carson about as well as anybody could and dishes on what it was like appearing on his show almost a dozen times.
Boz Scaggs and Maeve Higgins (9/2018)
This week: Boz Scaggs. The one and only! The hitmaker behind "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown" and so much more talks with Jesse about his more than five decade career in music. Lately, like a lot of rockers his age, his work has steered more towards the basics: some blues, some covers here and there, lots of stripped down instrumentation. But behind all that has been a commitment to atmosphere and production - music with an aesthetic that's dark and unsettling in one moment, then in another tender and loving. You know, the kind of thing that makes Boz Scaggs... Boz Scaggs. It's all on his latest record - "Out of the Blues" - which is out now. Then, Maeve Higgins. She's a comic, a podcast host and a memoirist, very well known back home in Ireland. She moved to the New York City in her early 30s. And, yes, like a lot of comics, she worked her observations about America and New York into her set. But she probed deeper. She thought about what lead her to make the move. What it says about her. What it's like being in this strange, amazing city thousands of miles away from home.
Guy Branum & Emily Lordi (8/2018)
A favorite from the Bullseye archives this week. First up: Comedian, writer, and podcast host Guy Branum recently wrote a book called "My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir through (Un)Popular Culture." It's a collection of personal essays. Kind of a combination of memoir and manifesto that covers his childhood, college, his early days as comic. It's also got his opinions on football movies, politics, and which city has the hottest guys (It's Los Angeles, btw). We're revisiting our conversation with Guy from last year where he sat down with Jesse to discuss his truTV series Talk Show The Game Show. Then, academic and writer Emily Lordi, author of the 33 ⅓ book Donny Hathaway's Live tells us why she thinks the classic Hathaway live performance deserves to be added to the canon of all time great albums. Then, Jesse tells us about why he loves the Errol Morris ESPN documentaries: It's Not Crazy, It's Sports.
W Kamau Bell & Mike Pesca (8/2018)
This week, we've got another Emmy-nominated guest - W.Kamau Bell! He's known for his stand-up comedy. But he might be even more beloved for the television shows he's hosted. "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell," was kind of a hybrid between a political satire show and a talk show. But unlike, say, "The Daily Show" Kamau wasn't inclined to be the star. Rather, he let his guests do that. Kamau just asked questions - both funny and serious ones. That made the show really special. W. Kamau Bell's, "United Shades of America," airs on CNN and is up for three Emmys. He'll tell us why he's particularly proud about the series. Then, we'll talk to Mike Pesca about his newest book: "Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History". It's a collection of essays from over 30 different writers - people like Robert Siegel, Nate DiMeo, Jesse Eisenberg and more. They all ask hypothetical questions about the most pivotal moments in sports history... and what would have happened if things had gone differently. Pesca also talks about what it was like working for NPR as one of two sports reporters and about the time he was the guest host of "Wait Wait.. Don't Tell Me!" (including the outcry he received for having Kim Kardashian-West on that program). And finally, for this week's Outshot, Jesse breaks down "Aretha Live at the Fillmore West" and why the San Francisco-recorded live album might be the perfect showcase for the late Queen of Soul.
Megan Mullally & Tracee Ellis Ross (8/2018)
It's Emmy season! Bullseye brings you two talented, fascinating Emmy nominees this week. First up: Megan Mullally! One of the best in the game. Like, maybe you're a fan of Parks and Recreation. She played Tammy, the ex-wife of Ron Swanson. She's a kind of menacing, toxic seductress. Or maybe you saw her on Childrens Hospital, or 30 Rock, or heard her on Bob's Burgers (she plays Gayle). But, she's best known for her role as Karen Walker on the groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace. She was just nominated for what could end up being her *third* Emmy for her role on the show. Then, a special treat: Karen Tongson, professor and panelist on our sister show Pop Rocket, talks with the one and only Tracee Ellis Ross. Tracee is nominated in the best actress category for her role on ABC's Blackish - she plays Rainbow Johnson (aka Bow) on the show. She and Karen go deep into her work acting and directing Blackish. Plus, her relationship with her mom... Diana Ross. Diana Ross! Finally, Jesse tells you about one of the most charming people who ever lived. And she's got a book and documentary to prove it.
Jonathan Gold & Beth Ditto (8/2018)
This week, we'll remember Jonathan Gold by revisiting our conversation with him. Jonathan's work in food criticism was legendary. In 2007, his work earned him a Pulitzer. To this date, he's still the only food critic to ever earn that honor. When he joined us in 2011, he discussed the one food fear he just couldn't overcome, and how he discovered Los Angeles and the world – one meal at a time. Plus, he threw shade at the burritos from the Mission District in San Francisco. We'll also revisit our conversation with Beth Ditto from last year. Beth is singer of the band Gossip. Beth talks about the process of creating her solo album, and about her time fronting Gossip. She'll also open up about her queer identity and what it was like setting up punk shows in her small Arkansan town. You can catch her on the road this summer opening for Sam Smith. And finally, Jesse explains how Sly and the Family Stone made a perfect album, even as they slowly disintegrated as a group.
Randy Newman (7/2018)
"Who is your dream interview?" you might ask Jesse Thorn, or another public radio host. And for Bullseye, here is your answer: Randy Newman! Randy's career spans over half a century. He's written music for films (duh), but has also revealed himself to be an artist of the highest caliber on his solo records. His music is beautifully written, funny, dark and unmistakably American. Jesse dives deep into Randy's roots - how a family of musicians and jokesters gave him a love for classic American music and comedy. They'll also talk baseball, run-ins with the two Franks (Sinatra & Jr.), and why he has trouble coming to terms with some of his most critically acclaimed music. This is a real deal all-timer, folks. Finally, for the outshot: enough about rock music! Jesse talks about the terrifying, awesome wonder of Levitated Mass, a sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Debra Granik & Johan Miranda (7/2018)
This week, we want to introduce you to a new comic: Johan Miranda. He lives in Los Angeles, was raised in San Francisco. When he was three years old, he and his parents traveled to the US on a tourist visa - and they haven't left since. Johan is one of the approximately 700,000 people covered under the US Government's DACA policy (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). A DREAMer. And as immigration rhetoric has ramped up, Johan's status in this country has grown even more uncertain. He's got a new one man show to talk just about that - it's called "Why Johan Miranda Should Be Deported" and it's debuting in Los Angeles on July 27. Then, after that: a conversation with Debra Granik. In 2010 she wrote and directed "Winter's Bone," the acclaimed drama that launched Jennifer Lawrence's career and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Now, the long awaited follow-up is in theaters. It's called "Leave No Trace" and it's been met with similar acclaim. She and Jesse talk about the new film, about the pitfalls of calling an artist a "genius" and her first ever paid movie gig: shooting weddings! Finally: a tribute to Joe Pera. A comedian who will help you buy a tree. Or go to sleep. Or learn about iron.
Bo Burnham and Won't You Be My Neighbor's Morgan Neville (7/2018)
This week, we've got April Wolfe holding things down in the host chair. April is a film critic and panelist on the Maximum Fun podcast Who Shot Ya. She also hosts her own show here at MaxFun - it's called Switchblade Sisters. Every week on Switchblade Sisters, April talks with a female filmmaker about a different genre film - horror, cult, western, all kinds of stuff. What follows is a fascinating and refreshing discussion on theory and craft in filmmaking. This time on Bullseye, you'll hear April talk with Bo Burnham. Bo's one of the original Youtube celebrities - before Justin Bieber, before Rebecca Black, even before Leave Britney Alone! But he's turned that career from novelty into a diverse and really funny body of work - standup specials, albums, TV shows. Now he's gone behind the camera and created his first movie - it's called Eighth Grade. It's a funny and sincere coming of age story told from the POV of an Extremely Online 13 year old girl. You'll also hear a touching interview between Jesse and Morgan Neville. The Academy Award winning documentary director just made a new film that looks into the life of Fred Rogers — Mister Rogers. And finally: April will tell you about the filmmaker and actress who made a brilliant, extremely real movie... and then stopped.