Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Joel Hodgson & Dr. Robert Hicks

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Joel Hodgson
Guests: 
Robert Hicks
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Spraynard

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.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our show recorded in front of a live audience at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia.


Ohoto credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Joel Hodgson on the Rebirth of Mystery Science Theater 3000

Joel Hodgson is a writer, comedian and actor, best known for being the creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). On the show he played the role of Joel Robinson, a janitor who was forced by two mad scientists to serve on a spacecraft called the Satellite of Love. Hodgson and his three robot friends, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and Gypsy humorously riffed on a countless series of terrible B-movies that they were forced to watch. The show maintained a loyal following even after ending its original run in 1999, and was recognized by Time magazine as one of the top 100 television shows of all time in 2007.

Joel joined Jesse to talk about rebooting of MST3K after a successful crowdfunding campaign, garnering over six million dollars and securing funding for a complete new season of the show. The revived show will feature new cast members Jonah Ray, Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt.

Find out more about MST3K by visiting its Kickstarter page.

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Photo credit: Mütter Museum & the Historical Medical Library

Dr. Robert Hicks of the Mütter Museum Talks about Medicine's Evolution, Death and Antique Medical Devices

Dr. Robert Hicks is the Director of the Mütter Museum & the Historical Medical Library in Philadelphia. The museum is recognized as one of the finest and most fascinating museums in the world. Its collection of anatomical specimens, models, antique medical equipment and medical oddities draws over 130,000 visitors every year.

Dr. Hicks shared the stage with Jesse to not only talk about the museum’s work, but also conduct a few experiments on Bullseye's host.

Find out more about the Mutter Museum by visiting its website, or checking out the collection in person.

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Hari Kondabolu on Name Mispronunciation, Rachel Dolezal, and More

Hari Kondabolu is a socio-political stand-up comic who has performed on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show with David Letterman. His debut album, Waiting for 2042 is available now.

To find more about his scheduled tour dates, visit Hari's website.

The music of Pennysylvania punk-band, Spraynard

Spraynard is an American punk band from West Chester, Pennsylvania. They have released several split EPs and three albums. Their latest release is called Mable.

Spraynard's music can be found at spraynardband.bandcamp.com.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kaitlin Olson & Jeff Chang

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Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

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 just began its eleventh season. It airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FXX.

This interview originally aired in January 2015.

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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. It's now available in paperback.

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.

This interview originally aired in January 2015.

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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: Neko Case & Herb Alpert

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Neko Case
Guests: 
Herb Alpert

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.


Photo credit: Katie Stratton/Getty Images

Neko Case on Self Determination, Loss, and Life on the Farm

Neko Case has been producing exceptional music as a solo artist as well as a collaborator with the indie-rock band, The New Pornographers. Her work has not only revolved around rock, but also the genre of country music.

Case recently released a retrospective vinyl box set, Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule which collects her music from throughout her career, including some out-of-print and hard to find titles.

Neko Case sat down with Jesse, and told us why she cringed when listening to one of her early songs, how the loss of her parents shaped her personally and creatively, and how living on a farm in Vermont improves her life as artist.

Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule is available now.


Photo credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Herb Alpert on Discovering, Losing and Redisovering His Musical Voice

Herb Alpert is most famous for the music he created with his band, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The title song of his first album, The Lonely Bull was not only a hit, but was the first album released by A&M Records, which he co-founded with his partner Jerry Moss.

His musical career has spanned over 5 decades and his roles have included him serving not only as a musician, but also a producer. His work with artists have included collaborations with The Carpenters, Liza Minnelli and Janet Jackson. He has also earned numerous awards including 9 Grammys, a Tony and an 2012 National Medal of Arts award.

Herb Alpert joined Bullseye to talk about his brief career as a film actor, how difficult emotional times helped him to become a better musician and how insecurity can persist even when an artist knows he or she is creating something special.

Herb Alpert's most recent album Come Fly With Me is available now.


photo credit: Slavin Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment

The Outshot: Danny Hoch’s Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop

Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop began as a one-man-show which explored the multi-cultural and multi-lingual world of New York during the rise of hip-hop culture. A version of his play was released as a film in 2000.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Best of Comedy of 2015 Special

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Bullseye

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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We gave our staff the awesome responsibility of choosing the best comedy albums of 2015. They listened to hours and hours of material, and we're now prepared to showcase some of the best comedy released in the past year.

Like what you hear? Click through to find their albums!

Kyle Kinane - I Liked His Old Stuff Better
Emily Heller - Good for Her
Ron Funches - The Funches of Us
Sara Schaefer - Chrysalis
Hampton Yount - Bearable
Drennon Davis & Karen Kilgariff - I Don’t Care, I Like It
Mike O'Brien - Tasty Radio
Eddie Pepitone - In Ruins
Sheng Wang - Cornucopias Are Actually Horrible Containers
Guy Branum - Effable
Aziz Ansari - Buried Alive
Eugene Mirman - I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome)
Eliza Skinner - Recorded Live at MaxFunCon 2014 - Angry Little Goats Podcast
Matt Braunger - Big Dumb Animal
Wayne Federman - Chronicles of Federman
Beth Stelling - Simply the Beth

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Barney Frank & Mission of Burma

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Bullseye

Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our show recorded in front of a live audience in Boston at Oberon Theater at ART.

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.


Photo credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Barney Frank on Being In (and Out) of the Closet and What He Misses About Congress

The Honorable Barney Frank served as a House Representative for the state of Massachusetts for thirty-two years, from 1981 to 2013. He was the first congressman to come out as gay, and marry his same-sex partner while in office.

His legislative accomplishments included the Dodd-Frank Act, which brought about Wall Street reform and increased consumer protections. He was also influential in the passing of legislation regarding the environment, political reform and civil rights.

His memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, is available now.

Barney Frank joined Jesse to talk about his early career in politics and why he felt his career in public service was incompatible with his private life; what he liked most about being a congressman; and why he believes that people who love campaigning are either liars -- or psychopaths.

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Comedian Lamont Price on the Emotional Trauma of Breakfast Cereal

Lamont Price is one of Boston's top comics -- he's the winner of the New York Underground Comedy Festival and has been named as one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch”.

He took the stage at our live show to to talk about coconuts, movies, and... breakfast cereal?

You can follow Lamont on Twitter @LPizzle.

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Photo credit: Fire Records

Mission of Burma on Being Loud, Noise and Post-Punk, and Middle Age

Though the post-punk band Mission of Burma’s initial iteration was short-lived and resulted in only one full-length album, an EP and a few singles, their music influenced generations of musicians outside their home of Boston. Their appeal was still strong when they reformed in 2002 with band members Roger Miller, Peter Prescott and Clint Conley, adding new member Bob Weston.

Since then the band has continued to perform live and has released 4 albums including their most recent, entitled Unsound.

The band performed a live set for us, and sat down with Jesse to talk about reforming the band after almost two decades apart, why they don’t make an effort to be rock stars and the subtle difference between being "legendarily loud" and being "hard to take".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn Holiday Special: Rob Halford & Ronnie Spector

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Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Rob Halford of Judas Priest rings in Christmas in his own unique style

Rob Halford is the legendary Metal God, and frontman of seminal heavy metal group Judas Priest. The band's hits include Breaking the Law, You've Got Another Thing Coming and Hell Bent For Leather. One of his solo albums is a heavy metal holiday celebration called Halford III: Winter Songs.

Halford sat down to talk with us about why he included the most spiritual songs on his Christmas record, the early days of Judas Priest, and what it was like to be both a metal god and a closeted gay man.

This interview originally aired in December 2009.

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Girl Group legend Ronnie Spector on Christmas, the Beatles and the perfect coiffure

Ronnie Spector, the very bubbly and Christmas-spirit filled lead singer of legendary 60s girl group The Ronettes, performed what became Christmas classics on A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector, and she's recorded some more recent songs to add to the list with Ronnie Spector's Best Christmas Ever.

This interview originally aired in December 2010.

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The Outshot: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Jesse doesn't have many holiday traditions. But he'll tell you about the one thing that he makes time for every year: The Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: David Cross, Tavi Gevinson & Pharoahe Monch

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
David Cross
Guests: 
Tavi Gevinson
Guests: 
Aparna Nancherla
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch

Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our show recorded in front of a live audience in Brooklyn, New York at the Bell House.

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.


Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

David Cross on His New Sketch Comedy in 'W/Bob & David', Stand Up Comedy, and Living in NYC

David Cross co-created Mr. Show, one of the most beloved and influential sketch comedy shows, with his comedy partner and collaborator Bob Odenkirk.

Twenty years after the premiere of that program, Cross and Odenkirk recently released a new sketch show on Netflix, W/Bob & David.

Cross joins us to talk about the evolution of his stand up, the decision to create a new show with Odenkirk, and a certain club tour.

W/Bob & David is available now for streaming on Netflix. Cross also created and stars in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, which returns for a third season on IFC January 7th.

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Photo credit: Robyn Von Swank

Comedy: Aparna Nancherla

NYC-based comic and writer Aparna Nancherla has appeared on Conan, @midnight and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She currently performs stand up and also writes for Late Night with Seth Meyers.

You can find out more about Aparna (including where to see/hear her!) at www.aparnacomedy.com.

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Photo credit: Petra Collins

Tavi Gevinson on Acting, Dealing with Negativity Online, and Editing 'Rookie'

Tavi Gevinson found an audience online when she was still a pre-teen blogging about fashion. Now 19, she's gone to found an online magazine for teenage girls called Rookie, and to act on Broadway, in films and on TV.

A new collection of writings from Rookie is collected in Rookie: Yearbook 4. It's available in bookstores and online now.

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Music: Pharoahe Monch and DJ Boogie Blind with 'Time2', 'Broken Again' and a Special Performance of 'Simon Says'

We were joined for an amazing live set from legendary rapper Pharoahe Monch and DJ Boogie Blind.

Pharoahe Monch's latest full-length is called PTSD. To buy his albums or see where he's performing next, find him at www.pharoahe.com. You can check out DJ Boogie Blind on Twitter @BoogieBlind.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John Cleese & Dee Dee Penny

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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.


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John Cleese on His Early Life and the Road to Comedy

John Cleese is one of the most influential figures of comedy. He's best known as one the creative forces behind the legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. But before that, he was almost a lawyer.

Cleese went to Cambridge, studied law, and was about to accept a job with a big firm when another opportunity came up. This one was perhaps slightly less distinguished, but infinitely more appealing to Cleese. The BBC was impressed by his work with his college comedy revue, The Footlights, and offered him a job writing and producing comedy.

In his memoir So, Anyway… Cleese discusses his journey, from his childhood in prep school, to his early days of sketch comedy at Cambridge, to the co-founding of the Pythons.
Cleese will talk about being one of the "scientific" minds of the Pythons, writing and re-writing with his comedy partner Graham Chapman, and how he felt about the recent Monty Python reunion.

Cleese's memoir, So, Anyway is available now in paperback.

This interview originally aired December 9, 2014.

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Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls Talks about Early Days on MySpace, Creating a Persona, and Overcoming Anxiety and Stage Fright

Kristin Gundred, AKA Dee Dee Penny, is the creative force behind the band Dum Dum Girls. But she wasn't always front and center. She's played in bands for almost fifteen years now, playing drums and singing in other people's groups. Eventually she realized the only way to create the music she wanted was to do it herself. So Dee Dee created a MySpace page and started working on her music.

Now Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls have three studio albums under their belt, including their most recent, Too True.

Dee Dee talks to Jesse about making music in her bedroom, constructing the persona of Dee Dee Dum Dum, and overcoming anxiety and stage fright to be a rock musician.

This interview originally aired August 19, 2014.

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The The Outshot: Is 'What's Up Fatlip' the Least Braggy Rap Song Ever Written?

Don't call it a comeback. Jesse tells us about the LEAST braggy rap song ever written, "What's Up Fatlip?"

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: William H. Macy, Matt Walsh & Brian Huskey

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Bullseye
Guests: 
William H. Macy
Guests: 
Matt Walsh
Guests: 
Brian Huskey
Guests: 
Baron Vaughn
Guests: 
Chicano Batman

Thanks to everyone who came out to our World Tour of Several American Cities! Here's our taping in Los Angeles, at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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.


Photos by Ibarionex Perello

Matt Walsh and Brian Huskey on Creating 'A Better You' and Their Best Improv Moments

Matt Walsh and Brian Huskey co-wrote, Walsh directed and Huskey stars in the new improv film A Better You. Walsh and Huskey met through improv comedy, and recently worked together more closely on HBO's Veep before deciding to make a film together

They talked to us about constructing an improv film, their favorite moments over years of performance, and elephants.

A Better You is available now on VOD.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

Comedy: Baron Vaughn on Talking to Bugs

LA stand up comic and actor Baron Vaughn talks about bugs, dairy allergies, and more.

You can see Baron in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, or on tour with his standup at BaronVaughn.com.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

William H. Macy on 'Shameless' and Characters Who Strive

William H. Macy talks with us about the evolution of his character Frank Gallagher on Showtime's Shameless, and what happened when he had to go from playing a drunk to a slightly less drunk.

Plus, he'll talk about an actor's responsibility to the writing and working with David Mamet.

Shameless returns in January for its sixth season on Showtime. Macy has also directed the upcoming film The Layover.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

Chicano Batman with "Cycles of Existential Rhyme" and "Please Don't Leave Me"

Los Angeles band Chicano Batman were our musical guest for the evening - listen in as they perform two songs from their live set.

The band's most recent LP is Cycles of Existential Rhyme. You can find more about them and their tourdates at ChicanoBatman.com.

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Photo by Ibarionex Perello

The Outshot: Drumline (and The Good Stuff)

Jesse explains why he thought the movie Drumline was worth a watch -- even if it doesn't throw any curveballs.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Allison Janney & Ishmael Butler

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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.


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Ishmael Butler on the Short Life of Digable Planets and the Cosmic Hip Hop of Shabazz Palaces

In the early 1990s, the hip hop group Digable Planets broke through with their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". The single was jazzy and laid-back, and became a crossover hit. The trio were pegged by some as a counterpoint to gangsta rap, but they didn't love the efforts to categorize their sound. They went further on their next boundary-pushing release, the classic record Blowout Comb. The album was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, and the group drifted apart shortly afterward.

Founding member Ishmael Butler was only in his mid-20s when Digable Planets broke up. And so he tried other things, like filmmaking. He still made music, but the releases were few and far between. About six years ago, he teamed up with Tendai Maraire to form a new group, called Shabazz Palaces.

Shabazz Palaces' latest release is called Lese Majesty, and it expands on their interstellar sound.

Butler spoke to us about his days as a indie label gopher, the awkward audition Digable Planets had to endure for a record company executive, and the the transformative sounds of Shabazz Palaces.

Digable Planets will be teaming up for a reunion show in Seattle this December.

Todd Martens on Young Love and Defying Expectations

Beyond interesting conversations with people in culture, we like to tell you about interesting cultural stuff. There's so much stuff out there, you don't have time to listen to everything. That's why we've brought in Todd Martens, who writes about music for the LA Times, to tell you about two albums you can dive into without hesitation.

Martens recommends Material Issue's 1991 album, International Pop Overthrow, a combination of cynicism and idealism.

He also recommends Summerteeth by Wilco, an album which explores a different side of Wilco.

You can find Todd's writing in the LA Times and on their blog, Pop and Hiss.


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"The Song That Changed my Life": Director Michel Gondry Gets Nostalgic for "Le Sud" by Nico Ferrer

There's a certain kind of feeling to the director Michel Gondry's films. A little bit of happiness mixed with sadness. Nostalgia for something that you experienced, or maybe something you wish you had experienced. You may have felt it watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, or his new film Mood Indigo.

For "The Song That Changed My Life", Gondry describes the feeling of saudade and how he felt watching Nico Ferrer perform the song "Le Sud" on a Saturday night.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Allison Janney, from Loose Cannon Sitcom 'Mom' to Intimate Drama in 'Masters of Sex'

If you've seen Allison Janney on television lately, it's been in one of two very different roles. On the Showtime series Masters of Sex, Janney guest stars as a somewhat naive, vulnerable 1950s housewife who experiences a breakthrough after many years in a sexless (but not loveless) marriage. Her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the CBS sitcom Mom, she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who's outrageous, biting, and very funny. Bonnie's been down, but she's making peace with her estranged daughter and getting her life back together. Janney's characterizations are versatile; they allow her to be warm, steely, confident, and thin-skinned by turns. Janney has won Emmys for both roles.

She spoke to us about her early acting days (including auditioning for an intimidatingly handsome Paul Newman), getting comfortable with the inevitable nude scenes for Masters of Sex, and the ways that her mom's background and brother's struggle with addiction gave her insight and empathy for her current roles.

Mom is in its third season on CBS. You can see it Thursdays at 9/8c.

The Outshot: Orson Welles and 'Touch of Evil'

Jesse explains why the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles directed, Touch of Evil, tells us so much about Welles as an artist.

This episode originally aired in August 2014.