Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Patton Oswalt, 'Fresh Off the Boat' & Jemaine Clement

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Patton Oswalt
Guests: 
Randall Park
Guests: 
Nahnatchka Khan
Guests: 
Jemaine Clement

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Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Patton Oswalt on Immersion in Art (and Life)

There was a period of time in the mid to late 1990s when Patton Oswalt spent most of his waking hours indoors. He'd be in a TV writers' room all day, make his way to the movie theater for a film or two, and then hit the stand up stage before going to sleep. Then he'd get up and do it all over again.

His movie obsession was supposed to teach him how to be a filmmaker and create better art, but he found he was missing out on life, and art was no substitute.

Oswalt's new book is called Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From an Addiction to Film.

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Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Jemaine Clement on Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life"

You likely know Jemaine Clement best as half of the New Zealand comedy-music duo The Flight of the Conchords. Their show ran for several seasons on HBO.

More recently, Clement co-wrote, -directed and -stars in the new movie What We Do in the Shadows, about modern day vampire housemates.

What song changed his life? Stevie Wonder's recording of "For Once in My Life".

What We Do in the Shadows is in theaters now.

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Photo: ABC/Bob D'Amico

The Asian-American Sitcom in 2015: Randall Park and Nahnatchka Khan on 'Fresh Off the Boat'

Fresh Off the Boat is the first network sitcom about Asian-Americans in a long time, and that's a big deal. The creative team behind the show, including memoirist Eddie Huang, showrunner Nahnatchka Khan and star Randall Park have publicly grappled with that blessing and burden. How do you retain the specificity of the Tawainese-American experience and provide that to a group of Americans who are hungry for mass-market representation, and also make a show that's big-tent enough to welcome hundreds of millions of Americans who don't know what bao are?

We're joined by Nahnatchka Khan and Randall Park to talk about trying to achieve those goals, how they see their own American experiences, and how to write a sitcom dad who's not dumb.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

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The Outshot: The Perfect Sly & the Family Stone Album

Jesse explains how Sly and the Family Stone made a perfect album, even as they slowly disintegrated as a group.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RuPaul & Terry Crews

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RuPaul on the Many Shades of Drag

Before he was the world's most famous drag queen, RuPaul was just a kid growing up in San Diego, California. But he knew something was different about him. He noticed things that other people didn't. He found joy in the irreverence of characters like Bugs Bunny, and TV shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus. When he was still in his teens, he packed his bags and followed his sister to Atlanta. He attended performing arts high school, and a brief stint as a car salesman, he started performing with a couple of underground bands. They were searching for a way to be subversive, and decided to perform in drag. RuPaul found that something clicked -- both for himself, and for the audience.

He spent years performing and appearing on public access TV, but he became an international star with his 1992 hit single, "Supermodel".

Recently, he's hosted RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality competition series featuring RuPaul as host and mentor to the contestants as they battle to become America's next drag superstar. Drag Race is now in its seventh season on LOGO TV.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends: Cryonics and Gangsters

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg to talk about books!

Her first recommendation is a memoir about a TV repairman's obsession with immortality that leads to his professional pursuit of cryonics -- the art of freezing people. It's called Freezing People Is (Not) Easy: My Adventures in Cryonics by Bob Nelson, Kenneth Bly and Sally Magana.

Her second recommendation is a twining novel about the legendary gangster Meyer Lansky and a murder investigation in Israel, called Jacket Copy.

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My Brother My Brother and Me Solve Your Cultural Quandaries

The hosts of the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me won't hesitate to give their advice, though they don't always suggest you follow it.

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of our listeners' cultural quandaries. Here are their takes on dealing with your parents' (terrible) TV recommendations, what it means to hog a game at a barcade, and how comedians should respond to hecklers in the crowd.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews on Art, Athletics, and Comedy

Terry Crews has taken a pretty unconventional path. He played football in college, but he didn't go on scholarship, and joined the team as a walk on. He played in the NFL for years as a linebacker with the Rams and the Chargers, but when he was done, he didn't become a sports commentator.

Instead, Crews went back to one of his first loves -- the arts. And while he continues his devotion to his workout regimen, he now uses his physicality in his work as an actor. He's worked steadily in a string of movies like The Longest Yard and The Expendables, and adds a tough-but-caring element to his characters in TV shows like Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

You can see him now as an essential part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's ensemble as the police detective and family man, Sergeant Terry Jeffords.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sunday nights on FOX.

Crews is also the author of a memoir, called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man - or Just Live with One.

This week, Crews tells us about growing up in Flint, Michigan, discovering his love of both art and physical fitness, the difficulty of ending an NFL career, and the joys of working on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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The Outshot: Nas' Illmatic

Jesse shares the greatest hip-hop album ever recorded, Nas' Illmatic. A bold claim? Yes. A true claim? Also yes.

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This episode originally aired March 25, 2014.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Hornby & Luis Guzmán

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Hornby
Guests: 
Luis Guzmán

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Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Nick Hornby on 'Funny Girl', Creativity and Ambition

Nick Hornby became famous as a literary writer for men. His first three books were about guys, fans specifically, Fever Pitch was a memoir about Hornby’s love of soccer; High Fidelity was about a record store owner, struggling with love. About A Boy was about a sort of boyish man tending to a mannish boy.

Hornby has since written several other books and screenplays, including Oscar nominee An Education.

His new novel, Funny Girl, is about a working class young woman in the 1960s who leaves her small town in search of a career on television, and her success on a BBC sitcom.

He sat down with Jesse to talk about why he set his novel in the mid-60s (and why its protagonist is a woman), personal ambition and creativity, and what it's like to be a Hollywood dinner guest.

Funny Girl is available now.

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Luis Guzmán of Ana Maria in Novela Land on 'The Part'

Luis Guzmán is a veteran character actor. But back in the early 1990s, he was still working as a social worker on the Lower East Side, and acting was more of a side gig. Then he got a role that put him on the map -- the thuggish sidekick Pachanga in the 1993 movie Carlito's Way.

As Guzmán tells it, everything crystallized with that role.

You can see Luis Guzmán playing evil lawyer Licenciado Schmidt in the new movie Ana Maria in Novela Land, in theaters now.

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The Outshot: Devil in a Blue Dress

Jesse explains why Easy Rawlins, of Devil in A Blue Dress, is a different breed of private detective.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Pointer Sisters

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Download this week's episode here.

The Pointer Sisters Get Excited (About Music, Clothes, and More)

The Pointer Sisters have always been musical chameleons. They had huge dance-pop hits in the 1980s, like "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)", but at that point they had already found success in genres from jazz to R&B to disco, and even won a Grammy for their country hit, "Fairytale". The sisters grew up in Oakland, California and were taught by their reverend father that rock and roll was 'the devil's work'. However, when their parents weren't around, they snuck in listening sessions to Elvis, The Supremes, and James Brown.

Sisters Bonnie and June Pointer formed the earliest incarnation of the group in 1969, joined within several years by Ruth and Anita. They recorded their debut self-titled album in 1973, and the single "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They went on to record more hits over the next few decades, including "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)", a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire", and "He's So Shy".

Ruth and Anita Pointer join us for a wild and entertaining interview about their signature vintage style, forging their own musical path, and mixing family with business.

This interview originally aired February 18, 2014.

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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.

This segment originally aired July 22, 2014.

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Bobby Lopez on The Song That Changed My Life: "Pure Imagination"

Think of a song you know by heart. A song that's been in your life for such a long time, you don't even remember when you first heard it. Maybe it was in your favorite movie as a kid.

Bobby Lopez writes those kind of songs. He's a composer for musicals and movies, and co-created the hit Broadway shows The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. He and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez are behind the enormously successful songs for Disney's Frozen, including Let It Go.

This week, Bobby shares the song that changed his life: the inspiring and magical Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

This segment originally aired February 18, 2014.

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The Outshot: The Muppet Movie

Why do folks get into showbiz? If you think it's all to get attention, fame, or money, let The Muppet Movie show you why you're wrong.

This segment originally aired February 18, 2014.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Spike Lee & The Creators of 'High Maintenance'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Spike Lee
Guests: 
Katja Blichfeld
Guests: 
Ben Sinclair

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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Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Spike Lee on 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus', the Knicks, and Gentrification

Jesse sits down with acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee. Spike tells us about how addiction is made explicit in his new movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, how he really feels about Larry Bird and about his own very serious addiction.... to Air Jordans.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is in theaters now and available on VOD.

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Photo courtesy Matt Doyle

High Maintenance: Co-Creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair Talk About Marijuana, Their Webseries, and Asking for Money

Jesse sits down with Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair. Katja Blichfeld is a casting director who previously won an Emmy for her work on 30 Rock; Ben Sinclair is an actor. The two are a married couple, and created the series High Maintenance, a “not on television” show that follows a New York City marijuana delivery guy as he visits his various clients.

The series has evolved over two seasons and several years of production. Sinclair and Blichfeld released the second half of season 2 on Vimeo earlier this month.

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The Outshot: Wonder Showzen

MTV2's Wonder Showzen looked like a kids' show. But it wasn't. It really, really, wasn't. Jesse tells us why Wonder Showzen is his favorite TV satire of the past decade.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rene Russo & Dan Gilroy of 'Nightcrawler'

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rene Russo
Guests: 
Dan Gilroy
Guests: 
Alexandre Desplat

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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Dan Gilroy and Rene Russo of 'Nightcrawler' on Seediness in TV News, Writing a Desperate But Strong Female Character, and the Constraints of Independent Film

Dan Gilroy is the writer and director of the movie Nightcrawler, which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a video stringer for a local TV news program, and Dan's wife Rene Russo as an overnight news producer, Nina.

Lou is an anti-hero, bordering on a psychopath. His attempts to build a career and establish relationships with others are charmingly off-kilter. But also more than a little creepy. Russo’s character, Nina, ends up on the receiving end of both the charm and the creepiness.

Jesse spoke with Gilroy and Russo in front of a live audience at a benefit for the film nonprofit Vidiots.

Nightcrawler is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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Song Exploder: Alexandre Desplat on Creating The Imitation Game's Theme

Alexandre Desplat is an Academy-Award-nominated French film composer. He's written the score for lots of Hollywood movies: Zero Dark Thirty, Harry Potter, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and several Harry Potter films among others.

Desplat talked to Hrishi Hirway for an episode of his podcast, Song Exploder. On Song Exploder, Hrishi asks musicians to deconstruct their songs, track by track. This year, Alexandre has been nominated again for an Oscar twice in the same category, for his work on both "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Imitation Game".

The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the English mathematician Alan Turing. Turing helped crack the Enigma code during World War II, but his achievements didn't keep him from being persecuted for his sexuality.

Desplate broke down the orchestration in the main theme from the film.

You can listen to other episodes of Song Exploder on our website, in iTunes or wherever you download podcasts.


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The Outshot: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Jesse talks about beauty, perfectionism and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Oliver & Larry Wilmore

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS PODCAST

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John Oliver on 'Last Week Tonight', American Positivity and a Love Story That Began at the RNC

Though John Oliver is English, he's probably best known now for being part of an American cultural institution -- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He served as the show's "Senior British Correspondent" for seven years before he was tapped to guest host in 2013. Stewart went off to shoot a documentary, and Oliver filled in as host for eight weeks, to great critical acclaim.

It was an audition of sorts, and Oliver got the part. He was offered his own weekly show on HBO, which began airing just a few weeks ago. Last Week Tonight provides Oliver his own platform to talk and joke about everything from the death penalty to climate change to the Indian general election.

He joins us to talk about his love for American positivity, his tone and approach for Last Week Tonight, the unique challenges of doing news satire and the signature field pieces of The Daily Show, and the romantic story of how he met his wife at the Republican National Convention.

Oliver's show Last Week Tonight airs on HBO Sunday nights at 11pm. He also co-hosts The Bugle podcast with Andy Zaltzman.

This interview originally aired May 20, 2014.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me Proffer Advice: Reading Classic Lit, Gaming with Your Boss, and Solo Concert-Going

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to solve our cultural quandaries. Listen to their advice on reading classic literature like "Super Fudge", playing video games with your boss and grooving solo at a James Taylor concert.

If you still have questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

This segment originally aired January 28, 2014.

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Larry Wilmore on His Early Comedy Writing and Training at The Daily Show

Last year, as Stephen Colbert stepped away from The Colbert Report, Comedy Central cast their net for a new nightly host. They settled on someone close to home -- the Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore. Wilmore has just launched the new program. It's called The Nightly Show.

Before his time with Jon Stewart, Wilmore wrote for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and In Living Color. He also created The Bernie Mac Show, and co-created The PJs with Eddie Murphy.

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore airs weeknights at 11:30 on Comedy Central.

This interview originally aired February 3, 2009.

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The Outshot: Why "I Want You Back" Is The Greatest Pop Song Ever

There's really only one way to prove "I Want You Back" is the greatest pop song ever: listen.

This segment originally aired September 23, 2013.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kaitlin Olson & Jeff Chang

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Show: 
Bullseye
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Kaitlin Olson
Guests: 
Jeff Chang


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Kaitlin Olson on "Sweet Dee" and the Morally Bankruptcy in It's Always Sunny on Philadelphia

Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee is the only female member of "The Gang", a bunch of depraved, self-centered pals who run a bar. The Gang is constantly looking for ways to get rich quick, humiliate their enemies, get out of work, and prove once and for all the talent, charisma and brilliance they hold to be self-evident. In an unusual move for a solo female character, Dee doesn't serve to counterbalance the guys' bad behavior -- she absolutely matches their pace.

Olson talks to us about creating a more fully-fleshed character for Dee, how she came to comedy, and how she ended up dating (and marrying) her showrunner.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is currently in its tenth season. It airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FXX.

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Photo credit: Jeremy Keith Villaluz

Jeff Chang on Art, Race, and How Diversity Now Means "Them"

About ten years ago, Jeff Chang published his book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. His new book is a sort of follow-up -- it chronicles some of the cultural and racial shifts we've experienced as a nation. It's called Who We Be: The Colorization of America.

Chang talks to us about what "diversity" means to us today, the struggle for artists to defy racial categorization, and how and why corporations embraced multiculturalism.

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The Outshot: What It Means to Be Superhuman

Jesse tells us about the life and legend of Andre the Giant.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ricky Jay

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Bullseye
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Ricky Jay
Guests: 
Vijay Iyer

Magician & Sleight of Hand Artist Ricky Jay on the Nature of Deception

Is there such a thing as honest deception? Ricky Jay thinks so. Jay is one of the finest practioners of magic and sleight of hand in the world, and began performing as a child in Brooklyn. He learned the elements of performance from his grandfather, who was also a magician, and from his mentors like Dai Vernon and Charlier Miller.

He talks to us about magic as the family business, the times his work has made people angry, and why deception isn't always evil.

Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice will kick off the new season of American Masters on Friday, January 23, 9-10pm on PBS (check local listings).

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Vijay Iyer on "The Song That Changed My Life"

Pianist, arranger and composer Vijay Iyer describes the pop song that lodged itself into his consciousness and changed his life.

The Vijay Iyer Trio has a new album, Break Stuff, out on February 10. They'll be out on tour supporting the album this winter and spring.

For more from Vijay, check out our interview from 2012.

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The Outshot: Jay Mitchell's Bahamian Funk

An awesome album cover leads Jesse on a journey to the little-known Bahamian musician Jay Mitchell.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: 'Boyhood' & The Life of Richard Pryor

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Richard Linklater
Guests: 
Ellar Coltrane
Guests: 
David Henry
Guests: 
Joe Henry
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

Boyhood's Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane on Childhood and the Filter of Memory

Thirteen years ago, the director Richard Linklater set out to make a very ambitious film. He wanted to make a movie about childhood and growing up, and he wanted it to actually capture the passing of time in the actors' lives. He cast Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as parents, and an as-yet-unknown seven year old actor named Ellar Coltrane as their son.

Linklater shot the movie bit by bit, over the course of twelve years, and it was released last year in theaters with the title Boyhood. The movie shows a series of moments in a boy's life (and by extension, his parents' lives). He eats dinner with his family, goes bowling with his dad, meets a new stepdad, gets a girlfriend, learns photography, moves away to college.

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane join us to talk about how the movie was conceived, how Coltrane's life and personality was slowly integrated into his character, and which things stayed the same over twelve years of filming.

Boyhood just picked up several awards at this year's Golden Globes, including Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama. It's now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Takes Us Through 'The Towering Inferno' and 'Parents'

Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast join us to talk about some of their favorite underrated films.

Glen recommends checking out Bob Balaban's dark horror comedy Parents, starring Mary Beth Hurt and Randy Quaid. It's available on Amazon Instant.

Linda suggests going back to watch the 1974 blockbuster The Towering Inferno, which is jam-packed with movie stars and epic disaster scenes. It's available on DVD and VOD.

You can hear Glen and Linda every week on Pop Culture Happy Hour, and check out Linda's writing about TV, books, movies and more on her blog at NPR.org, Monkey See.

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Furious Cool and the Genius of Richard Pryor

When David and Joe Henry set out to write about Richard Pryor, they weren't looking to write a straight-ahead biography. Instead, they produced a poetic and impressionistic portrait of Pryor as a product of the time and place where he lived.

Their book, Furious Cool, explores the cultural landscape of Pryor's life, in addition to the events of his childhood and professional career.

David and Joe Henry join us to talk about Pryor's ascent in the comedy world, some of his most transformative moments, and why he remained so well-loved, even when he behaved atrociously.

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him is now available in paperback.

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The Outshot: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Why does Jesse love The Gang from Always Sunny so much? It's definitely not because they're good people. He'll explain.

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