Bullseye

Academy Award nominated director Debra Granik

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Debra Granik


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Debra Granik on her new film 'Leave No Trace'

Debra Granik, wrote and directed the acclaimed 2010 film "Winter's Bone." The film was sort of a modern film noir, except instead of LA or New York, it was set in the Ozarks. It followed a 17-year-old girl as she pieced together the story behind her father's disappearance. Ree Dolly walked through burned out meth labs, negotiated with crime families, bail bondsmen and cops. And, of course: Ree Dolly was played by Jennifer Lawrence. It was her first ever starring role.

After 8 years, Granik just released her follow up - it's called "Leave No Trace," which is available to stream on Amazon now. Like "Winter's Bone," her new film "Leave No Trace" puts a compelling but compassionate focus on marginalized groups - one of the main threads is a combat veteran's struggle with trauma and homelessness.

It tells the story of a father and daughter who live entirely off the grid in a nature reserve not far from Portland, Oregon. The film details regular life for Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie). They forage and cook mushrooms. Will teaches Tom to play chess. They build fires for warmth. The way they live is peaceful, but not exactly legal. They are discovered in the woods by the police and social workers get involved, offering housing, work, school. But as you might imagine, it's a tough transition – especially for Will.

Debra Granik talks about the process of making her new film at length. Debra is also working on a film based on the book "Nickeled and Dimed," which is a thoroughly investigated, brilliant work of nonfiction about the impact of the 1996 welfare reform act on the working poor in the US. She'll tell us how she plans to turn that into a narrative film. Plus, she explain what she learned about film making from being wedding videographer long before she was a film director.

This interview originally aired in July of 2018

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: John David Washington

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John David Washington

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Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

John David Washington on his role in Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman'

Before John David Washington was an actor, he was lacing up the pads every week for a career in professional football. He spanned the globe from Sacramento to Dusseldorf, Germany trying to make it work. It seems fitting that when he decided to pick up a career in acting that his breakthrough role was the portrayal of an NFL player on HBO's "Ballers." He definitely had the experience. In fact, he was injured from his hard work on the field when he auditioned for the role. He's been part of the main cast of "Ballers" for four seasons, and it's safe to say you'll be seeing a lot more of him soon.

This week, he chats about his portrayal of Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman." It's a fantastic performance – his role in the film earned him a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year. It's a compelling and complex look at the life of the first African-American police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. The film is based on Stallworth's 2014 memoir, which details his experience investigating the local chapter of the KKK with the help of a white undercover officer.

John David Washington tells us about the insane amount of times he had to audition for his role on "Ballers," and what it was like to chase a career in the NFL when your dad is superstar Denzel Washington. Plus, the challenges of portraying Ron Stallworth, and what it was like to getting stunning offer to play Stallworth via a text message from Spike Lee.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tony Shalhoub

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Tony Shalhoub

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tony Shalhoub on the legacy of 'Monk' and the latest season of 'Mrs. Maisel'

Tony Shalhoub is a veteran of both the big and small screens. He's had unforgettable parts in movies like "Barton Fink," "Men in Black" and "Quick Change." He's starred in movies like "Big Night," and TV shows like "Wings."

Tony is probably best known for his work on the hit detective series "Monk." For eight seasons, he played Adrian Monk. In the show, his character had an extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a bunch of phobias, including rodeos, snakes, crowds, heights, glaciers and milk. Despite the challenges he often faced, it only made him better a better detective consultant for the San Francisco Police Department.

These days he's a regular on the Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." In the series, Tony plays Abe Weissman, a mathematics professor at Columbia, and Midge Maisel's father. He's the kind of guy that's not very stern, but kinda serious. He's also kind of a traditional guy, and he likes sticking to routines.

Tony joins us to talk about the latest season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Plus, we take a deep dive into his time on "Monk," and he'll tell us about the film that inspired him to pursue a career in acting.

Check out this interview on Youtube

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

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Karyn Kusama on directing genre films and her new film 'Destroyer'

Karyn Kusama is a director. Her debut was the critically acclaimed drama "Girlfight," a movie about a female boxer that Kusama based on her own time in the ring. Since then, she's established herself as autere of genre films: in 2005 she directed the science fiction film "Aeon Flux," and has worked on horror movies like "Jennifer's Body" and "The Invitation."

She just directed the new film "Destroyer." It's a dark and complex crime drama, told in mostly flashbacks. It stars Nicole Kidman, who plays Erin Bell, an LAPD detective. As a young cop, Bell was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert. Things didn't end well, and the case she was on was never put to rest. When the leader of that gang re-emerges over a decade later, Bell goes rogue reopens the case on her own terms. Kidman's character is haunted by her memory of the past. And it's put a strain on her relationship with her daughter, Shelby.

Karyn discusses why it's important to portray complex female characters in film and media. She'll tell us about the look book she drew inspiration from when she directed 2009's "Jennifer's Body," and why she thinks the film struggled to find an audience when it was first released. Plus, how she finds pleasure in horror movies. And , sure, a lot of people find pleasure in horror films, but Karyn's response will truly surprise you.

If you'd like to hear even more from Karyn Kusama, she did a great interview on the Max Fun podcast Switchblade Sisters with the film critic April Wolfe. You can listen to that interview here.

Listen to this Bullseye interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chris and Bridey Elliott on the new horror comedy 'Clara's Ghost'

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Chris Elliott
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Bridey Elliott

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Chris and Bridey Elliott on 'Clara's Ghost'

Chris Elliott got his start in showbiz as a production assistant on "Late Night with David Letterman," before becoming an iconic writer and performer on that show. One of our favorite bits from him on Letterman included a parody of Marlon Brando – in the skit he'd dump bananas out of a sack and slowly dance around them to the tune "The Alley Cat."

After his stint with Letterman, he went on to star in the cult sitcom "Get A Life" and the equally bizarre film "Cabin Boy." Both works have cemented him as an absurdist comedy legend. While those projects are not for everyone; they're a real treat if you can sit though some really cringe worthy moments.

You've definitely seen him in "There's Something About Mary," "Groundhog Day," and "Scary Movie" and in many TV shows, including "The King of Queens," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Everybody Loves Raymond." Most recently, he can be seen as Roland Schitt, the mayor of the small town on Pop Tv's "Schitt's Creek."

Bridey Elliott, his daughter, wrote and directed a new movie called "Clara's Ghost." It's a family collaboration: Bridey also stars in the movie, along with Chris, her sister Abby, and her mother Paula.

The movie takes place over one night. It tells the story of the Reynolds family, who live in a secluded mansion in New England. Chris' character Ted is the patriarch, a comedian past his prime. His daughters work in showbiz, too, but like their dad, haven't gotten a callback in a long time. Then there's Clara, played by Paula Elliott. Clara's discovered a ghost that only she can see.

We'll chat with Chris Elliott about his time on Letterman, and what it was like to work on the strange film "Cabin Boy." Plus, he'll tell us why he doesn't use social media. Bridey will explain how she tried to make horror film that had significant elements of comedy, and how "Cabin Boy" was kind of a horror film when she saw it as a kid. Plus, what it's like when people find out who her dad is, which often garners one of two very different reactions.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: End of Year 2018 Comedy Special

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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.

It's that time of year again! The Bullseye team listened to hours of comedy from the past year and picked the absolute best for you to enjoy in one convenient episode. There was a lot of great stuff this year. This was no easy task -- please let us know who else should have made the cut @Bullseye or on Facebook!

Like what you hear? Click through to learn more information on these comedians. For your convenience links to buy their albums have also been provided below:

Gina Yashere - Ticking Boxes
Laura House - Mouth Punch
Adam Cayton-Holland - Adam Cayton-Holland Performs His Signature Bits
Sara Hennessey - They Know Too Much
Louie Anderson - Big Underwear
Kimberly Clark - Live at Max Fun Con 2018
Emily Heller - Pasta
Nore Davis - Too Woke
Jo Firestone - The Hits
Dino Archie - Live at Max Fun Con 2018
Jen Kirkman - Just Keep Livin'?
Nato Green - The Whiteness Album

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jason Mitchell and Karina Longworth

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Jason Mitchell
Guests: 
Karina Longworth

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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Jason Mitchell on his new film 'Tyrel' and portraying Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton

First up: Jason Mitchell! We can't wait to share this conversation with you – he's an up and coming actor with a lot of great stories to tell. He's magnetic, and as you'll hear in our interview he's extremely charming.

Recently, he's been in a lot of acclaimed movies and television shows. In Netflix's "Mudbound" he played a World War II veteran who returns to rural Mississippi. Or perhaps you've seen him on Lena Waithe's Showtime series "The Chi," he starred as Brandon. He's probably best known for his breakthrough role: 2015's "Straight Outta Compton." He sort of stole every scene he was in as Eazy-E.

His latest film "Tyrel," is out now. In it, Jason stars as Tyler: a young guy who lives with his girlfriend in New York. Deciding he wants to get out of the city for the while, he takes a trip with a handful of guys his age. He rides out to Catskills for a long weekend in a cabin.

The plot really thickens when you learn that the guys in the cabin are all friends of friends. He doesn't really know any of them. And the other thing: Tyler's black, while everyone else on the trip is white. It's an awkward and weirdly plausible look at race and masculinity and how people react when they have to deal with those topics head on.

Jason will talk about how this film helped create a friendship with co-star Michael Cera. He'll also discuss his road to stardom: he didn't get his first role until he was 24. And it wasn't an easy road – he was raised in a tough part of New Orleans, his home was devastated by Katrina, and he had run-ins with the law when he was younger. Plus, as a former professional oyster shucker he'll give us some tips for preparing the culinary delicacy.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Karina Longworth on her new book: 'Seduction
Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood'

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a fascinating time – this was the era of James Dean, Orson Welles and "Gone With The Wind." Look up the topic and you'll find hundreds of books, movies, TV shows, and even bus tours. Sometimes those depictions will get swept up in the glitz and glamor. Other times it's quite the opposite: dark, morose, and gritty.

Karina Longworth is writer and host of the hit podcast "You Must Remember This," which looks at some of the secrets of Old Hollywood. She's an expert on the history of Hollywood's Golden Age and she's written five books on the topic to prove it. Her latest book: "Seduction
Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood
," explores Hughes' time as a producer and director.

It's as sordid and cutthroat as you might imagine. The book talks about Hughes' role in Hollywood back then. The dozens of movies he financed, the few he wrote and directed. The weird, abusive system he created to recruit and develop young actresses – and the way he manipulated them. Longworth's book is beautifully written, and meticulously researched. She talks about the impact and damage done by Hughes and the people whose lives he affected forever.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Namco

The Outshot: Katamari Damacy

Finally for The Outshot, Jesse describes the whimsical world of Katamari Damacy – a video game that will fill you with wonder. A remastered version of the game has just been released. It's the perfect time to reflect on the simple joys of this funky little game.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Billy Eichner and Ali Wong

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Billy Eichner
Guests: 
Ali Wong

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Billy Eichner and the Pop Culture Maniac That is Billy on the Street

[R] This week, we'll revisit our conversation with comedian Billy Eichner. He's probably best known for roaming the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, "Billy on the Street." While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.

The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.

Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)

New episodes of "Billy on the Street" are available online on Funny or Die. You can also see him on "American Horror Story," "Difficult People," and so much more.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Ali Wong talks marriage and money and what it’s like performing through her pregnancy

There are many comedians who use their family life as inspiration for their comedy, but Ali Wong took it a step further when she recorded the 2016 comedy special "Baby Cobra" while seven and a half months pregnant.

Wong’s comedy is rooted in her willingness to be incredibly frank and honest about her personal life including her relationships, her Asian heritage and the challenges of pregnancy while working as a writer on the hit television show, "Fresh Off the Boat."

When Ali Wong joined Jesse a couple years ago she talked about being a breadwinner, performing while pregnant and how it feels to talk about painful and personal things like miscarriage in front of a comedy audience.

Ali Wong has another new comedy special: "Hard Knock Wife." She did the entire special pregnant, again. It's available to stream now on Netflix.

The Outshot: João Gilberto

On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Maura Tierney and Michael Kupperman

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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: Steven Yeun and Sawbones' Justin and Dr. Sydnee McElroy

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Steven Yeun
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Dr. Sydnee McElroy

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: Jesse Thorn

Steven Yeun on his new film 'Burning'

First up: Actor Steven Yeun joins us to talk about what he's been up to since his breakthrough performance in the "The Walking Dead" the series.

For seven seasons, Steven played Glenn Rhee on "The Walking Dead." In this post-apocalyptic world where zombies roam the world Glenn's character was always quick to think strategically on his feet. Despite being kind of a loner in the series Glenn was an excellent leader in times of stress. He became one of the series' most beloved characters, and if we're being frank – he was quite a badass. He'll discuss what it was like when he first got that gig and what it was like to deal with people immersed in "Walking Dead" fandom.

Steven's work can also be seen in critically acclaimed films like "Sorry To Bother You" and "Okja." His new movie, "Burning," is the first Korean language film he's performed in. It's South Korea's submission for the Academy Awards. He'll explain why it was so intimidating performing in Korean.

As a kid Steven was pretty active at his local Korean American church. He was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He says he wasn't the coolest kid on the block but that didn't stop him from trying to assimilate. Something he says he's kind of embarrassed about now. He reflects on his childhood, and explains why trying to fit in was one of the most difficult acting gigs of his life.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Weldon Owen

The couple behind the podcast Sawbones on their new book about misguided medicine

There's something kind of fascinating and morbid about medical history, something unique to that genre. If you look into the history of medicine, one thing will become very clear, very quickly: for the longest time, we had no idea how our own bodies work. Sawbones is a podcast that airs on right here Maximum Fun. It's a show about all the gruesome, gross and sometimes very funny stuff we did to our bodies in the name of health and medicine.

It's hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy, a physician and medical history buff, and her husband Justin McElroy. And now: Sawbones is a book, too! It's called "The Sawbones Book: The Hilarious, Horrifying Road to Modern Medicine." It's beautifully illustrated by Teylor Smirl. It's available for purchase now.

Heads up: this is a conversation about medical history, so we'll be talking about blood, guts, injuries and other potentially squeamish stuff. If you're sensitive to that, we thought we'd let you know.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Photo: Syracuse University

The Outshot: Remembering Hank Greenwald

Jesse explains why Hank Greenwald, a play-by-play radio announcer for the San Francisco Giants, is his broadcasting hero.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

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