Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Justin Simien

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Bullseye
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Justin Simien

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Justin Simien on his hit show "Dear White People"

Director Justin Simien is the creator of the controversially-titled film Dear White People. It was later developed into a Netflix television program, now in its third season. The film, as well as the series, follows the lives of a group of black college students attending a predominantly white and fictionalized Ivy League institution named Winchester University.

Both the movie and series tackle issues of racial tensions, identity, gender, sexuality and class in the modern era. Justin leaned heavily on his own experiences attending the predominantly white institution, Chapman University, to help shape his story. Dear White People puts a talented cast and diverse group of students in the spotlight. Students who share a similar experience in the black diaspora while remaining vividly individual characters with oft-sidelined points of view. It's a story Justin knows well.

Justin grew up in Houston, Texas where he attended a performing arts program in high school. The love for film became a part of his life early on. From there, Justin attended college, a part of the first generation of "Facebook adults." There he grew even more passionate about his craft and steadfast in his vision of centering the voices of black and brown young people of color. That vision began to materialize in the late-aughts with a concept trailer he bankrolled with his own tax return. Momentum and interest grew from there and in 2014 Dear White People was released independently but not before taking home the Sundance U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. Not bad for a feature film debut!

Jesse talks with Justin Simien about the intersections of the black experience, having a majority black-femme writers room and the value in meeting people where they are. Plus, Jesse and Justin discuss the impact French new wave had on the film Do The Right Thing, giving a voice to queer black experiences, late 90s cinema and why calling white people "White People" makes folks uncomfortable.

Dear White People is streaming now on Netflix.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' and 'Gilmore Girls'

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Bullseye
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Amy Sherman-Palladino

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Amy Sherman-Palladino on the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amy Sherman-Palladino has worked on some of the most unique programs to be ever greenlit for the TV screen. You've seen her work on Gilmore Girls. For three seasons, she was a writer on Roseanne, and wrote some really iconic episodes.

Her latest work can be seen on Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It's been nominated for a bunch of Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Best Directing. Amy took home a few wins last year, for the show. She was the first woman to win an Emmy for best comedy writing and directing.

The show circles around Midge Maisel and her dysfunctional family. Midge is a housewife who lives in ‘50s New York. She finds out her husband is having an affair. And decides to channel her pain into a blossoming stand-up career.

Most of Amy's shows follow a common thread. They're all about women, but … maybe not the kind of women you expect to see on TV. They all follow families that were kind of nuts. Families dealing with the ups and downs that life throws at them.

Amy Sherman-Palladino talks about what she learned working on Roseanne in her early 20's, and how that experience helped her create Gilmore Girls. Plus, did you know the Gilmore Girls pitch kind of happened by chance? Of course, we'll take some time to talk about Mrs. Maisel, too!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Egyptian Lover

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Bullseye
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The Egyptian Lover

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

The Egyptian Lover on the early days of LA hip hop and electro

Greg Broussard better known as Egyptian Lover got his start as a DJ for Uncle Jamm's Army, a hip-hop crew based in Los Angeles.

In 1984, Uncle Jamm's Army released a 12 inch single via Freak Beat Records. On Side A of that single was: Dial A Freak and Side B was : Yes Yes Yes. Both tracks were produced by Egyptian Lover. The tracks received a lot of local play at huge parties thrown by Uncle Jamm's Army. At one point the venues they were filling up included the Hollywood Palladium and the Los Angeles Sports Arena. As a solo artist Egyptian Lover has released 10 albums, mixing Kraftwerk, Prince, a little bit of G-Funk every now and then, too.

In 2015, he released 1984 on his label Egyptian Empire Records. The official music video for the track Killin' It is insane. Egyptian Lover transports us to his version of the '80s – a total throwback to the aesthetic of the decade, with glossy computer graphics, rectangular prisms, polished sports cars and all! It reminds us of that Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror episode where Homer gets sucked into the 3rd dimension.

Jesse talks with the Egyptian Lover about the most iconic instrument in hip-hop: the Roland TR 808, and the early days of LA hip hop and electro. Plus what a 10,000 person dance party looks like, and how he bonded with his future wife over a Kraftwerk record. The ultimate meet cute!

Egyptian Lover has embarked on a huge summer tour. For tour dates click here. His latest album 1985 is available now.

Click here to listen to Egyptian Lover's interview on YouTube!

This interview originally aired in January of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Eugene Levy

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Bullseye
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Eugene Levy

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Eugene Levy on improv comedy and "Schitt's Creek."

Eugene Levy is hands down one of the funniest people in history.

The Canadian-born actor and funnyman has been a part of so many of our favorite moments from television and film. You know him from SCTV where he usually played the incredulous straight man who somehow still made you giggle with glee to some of the cast's sillier characters. The Canadian-born Levy got his start in the world of comedy when he joined The Second City. There, he perfected his craft in improvisation, opting to work within an ensemble than alone on stage as a stand-up.

His film credits include such classics as Splash, A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman. He's collaborated numerous times with fellow improv mockumentarian Christopher Guest. Most notably in the hilarious comedy Best in Show And who could forget his work in 1999's American Pie?

Levy joins us to talk about his amazing life in television and film. We'll hear about the very funny SCTV sketch that inspired Saturday Night Live's Norm McDonald and he'll talk about working on all eight of the American Pie movies. You read that right. Eight! Plus, he'll talk to us about what it's like working with his son Dan on their hit show Schitt's Creek, now in its fifth season.

He was recently nominated for an Emmy for lead comedy actor. This is his first Emmy nomination in 36 years! We'e sure his son couldn't be prouder.

This interview originally aired in April of 2018.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jeff Goldblum

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Bullseye
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Jeff Goldblum

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Jeff Goldblum on his new film The Mountain, acting and fatherhood.

No matter what your age, chances are you grew up with Jeff Goldblum somewhere in your life. Jeff has been turning in classic film and TV performances for over four decades. There was that time he and his alien buddies set course for planet Earth, based solely on the hunch that there might be babes there. Then, there was the time he teamed up with the Fresh Prince to help the Earth defend itself from a swarm of aggressive aliens who destroyed the White House. And who could forget about that time he accidentally turned himself into the BrundleFly? Truly iconic! It's hard for us to pick our favorite Jeff performance. He's been consistently good for so long we kind of take it for granted.

Jeff made his film debut in the 1974 revenge fantasy Death Wish where he played "Freak #1." Since then, his name has become synonymous with charismatic performances and a unique line delivery that is second to none.

Jeff joins us to talk about his new film The Mountain. It's a haunting look back at the mental health field during the 1950s. He plays Wallace Fiennes, a doctor touring the US touting the benefits of the transorbital lobotomy. Despite evidence to the contrary and more effective treatment options becoming available, his character continues to perform the dangerous and controversial procedure. Although the film deals with some dark themes, Jeff's Dr. Fiennes is electric on screen.

He'll also talk to us about his work on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, how using the Meisner technique helped improve both his acting as well as his interpersonal relationships and his latest role as a father of two boys. Plus, he'll tell us how aggravating an infamously grumpy director prompted some of the greatest acting advice he's ever received.

When he's not working on screen Jeff can be heard making wonderful jazz music with his backing band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. If you live in Los Angeles, you can seen them play live at The Rockwell in the Loz Feliz neighborhood. If you're not in LA, you can check out their latest album here.

The Mountain is now playing in selected theaters nationwide.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lesley Manville from 'Mum,' 'Another Year,' and more

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Lesley Manville

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Lesley Manville on working with Mike Leigh, the latest season of Mum and more

British actor Lesley Manville is truly a master of her craft. You might know her work with the brilliant director Mike Leigh. She starred in some of his best movies like Secrets & Lies, All or Nothing and Another Year.

She got her start acting on TV back in the '70s. Back then she was a teenager living in England. Then came her career in theater. She's been in plenty of plays with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.

She's had a long and successful career overseas – and she's finally breaking through in the states. Later this year, she'll be in the follow up to Disney's Maleficent.

In 2017, she portrayed Cyril in Phantom Thread. The film is set in the '50s post-war London where Cyril and her brother Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) are renowned dressmakers. The Woodcocks are at the center of British fashion. They dress movie stars, socialites and royalty with a distinct style. The stunning performance earned her an Oscar nomination.

Her latest starring role is on the BBC show Mum. In it, she plays Cathy, a widow in her 50's living out in the suburbs with her adult son Jason. We see her grow and learn a lot about herself over the course of the series. The show circles around a budding relationship with her long-time best friend Michael. Mum is very grounded, a bit serious – but also really funny.

Lesley joins us to talk about starring in the BBC sitcom Mum, and how she almost had a career as an opera singer. Plus, what it's like working with director Mike Leigh, and how she gets in character employing his unique improvisational style.

It's an incredible challenge to deliver an emotionally honest portraits of ordinary people, but she nails it every time.

The third and final series of episodes of Mum are out now on the BBC streaming service BritBox.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: E-40, Bay Area rap legend

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E-40

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E-40 on his new record Practice Makes Paper and growing up in the Bay area

When it comes to Bay Area hip-hop, this week's guest is quite possibly the greatest of all time. He goes by many names: Forty Fonzarelli, Charlie Hustle, 40-Water or maybe you know him as the Ambassador of the Bay Area. We couldn't be more excited to share this conversation with the one and only E-40.

He was born and raised in the small town of Vallejo, and he has brought the culture of the Bay Area to the world. His distinctive style is overflowing with language — bars stuffed to the gills with words both real and imagined. He's hip-hop's king of slang and a stylist without peer.

He’s spent his career at the forefront of independent music, building a rap empire that changed the way music was recorded and sold, in hip-hop and beyond. He is both an artist and a movement.

His distinctiveness has kept him relevant for three decades now, from mob music in the 1990's to hyphy slaps in the aughts to new music today.

The themes are simple: hustling, street life, a bit of wisdom and a lot of money making. But even now, in his early 50's he tries to stay humble about his success.

E-40 joins us to talk about his new record. We'll pull up some deep cuts from R&B singer Saint Charles, who 40 knows as his Uncle Chuckie. Chuckie was a huge inspiration for E-40. E will also take us to the root of his passion for music. Plus, he'll talk about his college days at Grambling State University. Did he win the school's talent show? Only one way to find out. Listen up!

E-40's latest record "Practice Makes Paper" is out now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Filmmaker Aviva Kempner

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Bullseye
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Aviva Kempner

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Filmmaker Aviva Kempner on her new film "The Spy Behind Home Plate"

Baseball week at Bullseye continues with filmmaker Aviva Kempner. Dubbed "The Jewish Spike Lee," Kempner is a prolific documentarian who has dedicated her career to spotlighting underappreciated Jewish-American heroes. Her father was a Hollocaust survivor and Jewish immigrant who faced the challenges of assimilating into American culture in the 20th century as did many other immigrants. He was a big fan of baseball and went to games regularly which was a huge influence on her. Kempner's most well-known film to-date is The Life and Times of Hank Greengerg which profiled the great Detroit Tigers first baseman. Greenberg famously sat out a 1934 pennant race in order to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. It was a pretty important game.

Her latest film is The Spy Behind Home Plate. The documentary follows the life of Moe Berg. Moe played baseball back in the 1920's and 30's back in the era of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.Even though he's not a household name like those guys, he's maybe a million times more interesting.


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Known as 'the brainiest man in baseball.' He studied Sanskrit at the Sorbonne in Paris. Learned to speak Japanese in two weeks. And once he left baseball, he became a spy during World War II. Kempner talks to Bullseye about Moe's life and the limits and challenges he faced both within and outside of the league.

The Spy Behind Home Plate is out now across the country in limited release.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The MVP Machine authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik

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Bullseye
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Ben Lindbergh
Guests: 
Travis Sawchik

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Ben Linbergh and Travis Sawchik on their new book "The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players"

It's "Baseball Week" at Bullseye and bestselling authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik have stepped up to the plate. Their new book is titled The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players. It takes a look at the tide-shift happening in the game of baseball. Even if you're not a huge fan of the game, there's a lot to take away from the lessons in the book.

Chances are you're aware of the change in baseball strategy due to a little film called Moneyball. The film, and the book before it, recounts how general managers and recruiters turned to statistical data and probability to arm their teams with the best players in the league. But with the Yankees and the Dodgers and just about every other team in the league all using the same strategy, the efficacy of this method began to wane. That's where The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players comes in.

The book gets into how a lot of conventional coaching in the big leagues is totally wrong. Throwing your fastball a lot? Wrong. Having a nice even swing? Wrong. Striking out a lot? Who cares! Furthermore, the book examines the dramatic changes happening in the league and how data technology and innovations in coaching are disrupting the front offices as well as lineups. It's a fascinating look at the history of baseball and the potential future that lies ahead.

The MVP Machine is available now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Comic and actor J.B. Smoove

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Bullseye
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J.B. Smoove

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J.B. Smoove on Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing on Saturday Night Live and more

J.B. Smoove is without a doubt one of the funniest people we've ever had on Bullseye.

He got his start in television as one of the stars of Def Comedy Jam in the mid-90's. In the early aughts he became a writer on Saturday Night Live. J.B. wrote sketches like a commercial for "Tylenol Extreme," and a hypothetical remake of Norman Lear's "Good Times." He's probably best known for his role as Leon on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Currently, you can check him out in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In the film, J.B. plays Peter Parker's teacher, Julius Dell. He has some really funny moments as Parker's chaperone.

J.B. joins us to talk about his time on SNL. He'll explain how an audition to be a featured cast member actually landed him a job as a writer instead. We'll hear about a few of his favorite sketches that never made it to air.

He'll also talk about his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and why he always goes to an audition in character. Plus, he'll tell us about the time he told Howard Stern, and we quote: "You can't eat spaghetti on an open patio." Join us to learn exactly what he means!

When he's not working on screen he keeps busy on the road. He tries to test out as much new material as possible. You can see him on tour all over the country this summer and fall. Check out his website for latest dates.

A heads up to listeners, this episode contains many censored expletives throughout the interview.

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