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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn


Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world."


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Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture. Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney's, which called it "the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world."




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Hua Hsu on his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Stay True

Hua Hsu is a writer. You might have seen his profiles and criticism in The New Yorker. But his most recent work isn't about Bjork or bell hooks. It's about Hua Hsu. Stay True is Hsu's coming-of-age memoir. It traces his life from adolescence to the end of his college years at UC Berkeley. The book works toward what it means to be Asian American. But fundamentally, it's a book about intimacy – not sex, but closeness. Hua Hsu's memoir Stay True has recently won a Pulitzer Prize. On Bullseye, we're revisiting Hsu's conversation with us last year. He spoke about the writing process behind Stay True. Plus, how writing his memoir reflected and refracted his relationship with his own American-ness.


Pianist and Cosmic Jazz Legend, Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith is a jazz legend. He's a pianist and keyboard player. He's worked with Pharoah Sanders, Miles Davis and Marvin Gaye. Smith is a master of the Fender Rhodes – the electric piano that helped define a movement in music that eventually became known as Cosmic Jazz. Smith joins us to talk about his first record in 25 years, and his humble beginnings. Plus, Smith's records have been sampled a lot in hip-hop and electronic music. He'll talk about the records that caught him most by surprise.


Mary Steenburgen

Not many actors can be nice, warm, and funny at the same time. Mary Steenburgen has basically made a career out of it. The Arkansas-born actress made her film debut in the late seventies on a film called Goin' South. For that performance, Steenburgen earned a Golden Globe nomination, and she's only gotten better since. She has some great performances under her belt. She played Will Ferrell's mom in Step Brothers. She played Will Ferrell's step-mom in Elf. Melvin and Howard. Back to the Future Part III. 30 Rock. Oh, and she's even played herself on the sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. So, it's safe to say that Mary Steenburgen is a legend. And in her latest movie, she's teaming up with three other legends: Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, and Diane Keaton. This week on Bullseye, Mary Steenburgen stops by to talk about her role in Book Club: The Next Chapter. She gets into her friendship with Jane Fonda. Plus, she reminisces on the first time she met her husband, Ted Danson.


Bridget Everett talks "Somebody Somewhere"

Bridget Everett is a comedian and singer. She grew up in Manhattan, Kansas —- the "Little Apple" of the Midwest. When the time for college came around, she moved to Arizona for school before landing in New York City. In the "Big Apple," she started singing in clubs before eventually forming a comedy cabaret. These days, Bridget stars on Somebody Somewhere. It's a semi-autobiographical comedy set in the same Manhattan, Kansas that Bridget grew up in. Interviewing Bridget Everett is correspondent Jordan Crucchiola. Jordan's a writer who's covered films for Vulture and Inverse. She's also the host of the terrific Maximum Fun podcast Feeling Seen where guests dive deep into the first time they saw themselves represented on screen. This week on Bullseye, Jordan chats with Bridget Everett about the second season of Somebody Somewhere, her journey to acting, and how she's found her footing on stage. Plus, the pair gets emotional about the platonic soulmates in their life.


Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci is handsome, assertive, a killer dresser and he can teach you how to make a Negroni in under three minutes. He's also, of course, an excellent actor. He's starred in movies like The Devil Wears Prada, The Terminal, Julie & Julia and so many more. He's also the host of the Emmy-winning travel and food show Searching for Italy. Most recently, he's been starring in the megabudget action TV series Citadel that's streaming now on Amazon Prime. Stanley Tucci joins Bullseye to talk about the fun he's had working on Citadel. He also talks about what it's been like to create work that's so closely tied to his Italian heritage. Plus, he shares what kinds of food were in his lunchbox when he was a kid.


Alan Ruck on playing Connor Roy in HBO's Succession

There are a lot of funny and strange characters on HBO's Succession. But there might not be any of them that are funnier and stranger than Connor Roy. He's the oldest of the Roy children on the show. Half brother to the three younger ones. Connor Roy is played by Alan Ruck, and he's so great at it. Alan is bizarre when the scene calls for it, but behind the bluster, there's a vulnerability and insecurity. It makes Connor, weirdly, one of the most relatable characters on Succession. Alan Ruck joins Bullseye to chat about Succession and what it's been like playing the character of Connor Roy on the show. He also talks about his years in musical theater, and opens up about the time he spent out of work as an actor and how it led to him eventually getting sober.


Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is one of the most accomplished TV writers and producers of our time. She's written shows like Scandal, Private Practice, How To Get Away With Murder, and Bridgerton. And of course, Grey's Anatomy, one of the longest-running prime time TV shows ever. Her newest project is Queen Charlotte - it's a spinoff of the Bridgerton series, which was produced by Rhimes and her company Shondaland. Like Bridgerton, Queen Charlotte is a period drama series set in the Regency Era. But instead of the Bridgerton family, the show focuses on the queen herself, and her rise to power. She discusses this and more with our correspondent, journalist Jarrett Hill.


Rapper G Perico

G Perico is a gangster rapper from Los Angeles. Listen to one of his tracks, and it's hard not to hear the echoes of thirty-some years of records about cruising, barbecuing and repping your set in the streets of LA. G Perico broke through in 2016 with his project S**t Don't Stop. That record established him as the vanguard of LA street rap. In the seven years since, he's recorded nearly a dozen albums. When we last spoke with G Perico, he'd just released his record Play 2 Win. He joined Bullseye and reflected on his upbringing, the music he listens to, and embracing his imperfections. Plus, he talked with Jesse about the people in his life that influenced his signature hair style.


John Cale

John Cale grew up a promising viola player in Wales. He moved to New York to study classical music. There, Cale met Lou Reed and formed one of the most influential acts in rock music: "The Velvet Underground." Their time together was short, but John Cale was only getting started. He became a producer and made some killer debut albums for artists like The Stooges and Patti Smith. It's the kind of resume that guarantees you a place in the rock and roll history book. But that's only one side of John Cale's work. He's also an accomplished, trailblazing solo musician with almost 20 albums on his own. When we spoke to John Cale on Bullseye in 2016, he reflected on his more than 50 years in music and his time in the Velvet Underground. Plus, what it was like to produce for artists like the Stooges and Patti Smith.


Dominique Fishback on 'Swarm'

For the last decade, Dominique Fishback has been building up her resume with some stellar performances. In 2018, she appeared in the David Simon show Show Me A Hero. She parlayed that into a regular role on The Deuce. Then she played Deborah Johnson in Judas and the Black Messiah – a drama based on the true story of Black Panther Fred Hampton. The role earned her a BAFTA nomination, among other accolades. These days, you can see her on Amazon Prime's Swarm. It's a TV series created by Donald Glover and writer Janine Nabers. Fishback has the ability to command a fierce, brilliant presence on screen. She can be disarming and vulnerable in one moment, terrifying the next. Dominique Fishback joins Bullseye to talk about Swarm and Judas and the Black Messiah, and her love of journaling – a hobby that has helped her learn more about herself and the characters she portrays.


Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood is, of course, the star of the Lord of the Rings movies. He's also known for his work as a former child actor who appeared in Back to the Future Part 2, The Ice Storm, Deep Impact and more. Lately, you can catch him on the thriller-drama series Yellowjackets, which is in its second season on Showtime. He plays Walter, an amateur sleuth who teams up with Christina Ricci's Misty to investigate a mystery. Elijah Wood joins Bullseye to chat about his role on the new season of Yellowjackets and more.


Dougie Poole on the song that changed his life

Dougie Poole is a Maine-based singer-songwriter. He makes country music, but it's not your standard country fare. His music is a little more experimental and a lot more psychedelic. When we asked Dougie Poole to pick the song that changed his life, it's no surprise that he chose a song off the beaten track. It wasn't a tune from Dolly Parton or Garth Brooks. The song was "Black Country" from the psychedelic noise rock duo Tonstartssbandht. And it inspired a college-aged Dougie Poole to start making music of his own.


Delroy Lindo

Delroy Lindo is a veteran actor and writer. Born in London to Jamaican parents, Delroy spent his childhood moving from place to place. As a teenager, he moved with his family to Toronto and then San Francisco, where he began studying acting at the American Conservatory Theater. He spent the next decade alternating between movie roles and Broadway stages. His versatility in Crooklyn, Get Shorty, The Cider House Rules, and more only increased his demand. Currently, Delroy is starring in the new Hulu series Unprisoned. It's about a father who reconnects with his adult daughter after serving a 17-year prison sentence. He plays Edwin, whose life changes when he moves in with his therapist daughter Paige, played by Kerry Washington. Delroy has been a public figure for a long time, and for most of that time, he didn't really talk about himself. Now? He's writing a memoir. On this episode of Bullseye, we asked him what changed.


Robin Thede Talks "A Black Lady Sketch Show"

Robin Thede works hard. She always has. One of her first gigs in showbiz was on Queen Latifah's daytime talk show as head writer. Fast forward to 2015, Robin was making history. She became the first ever Black woman to become head writer on a late night talk show: The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. But Robin isn't only an incredible writer. She's an amazing comedian and actor. As a Second City alum, her name is up there with some of the biggest names in comedy like Jordan Peele, Amy Poehler and Steve Carell. And Robin's done a lot with this extraordinary legacy. For the past few years, she's been making waves as showrunner of the HBO show A Black Lady Sketch Show. This week on Bullseye, we're revisiting our chat with Robin about A Black Lady Sketch Show. Plus, we'll get into her childhood. Robin grew up in a mostly white, suburban part of Iowa. She'll talk about the challenges that being biracial presented and why she identifies as Black today.


Sarah Snook on playing Shiv in HBO's "Succession"

Odds are, you know actor Sarah Snook from her role on HBO's Succession – one of the most acclaimed TV dramas in the last decade. Sarah plays Siobhan Roy. But to her friends and family, it's just "Shiv." Succession follows the Roy family. They own a giant conservative media conglomerate called Waystar Royco; the family's patriarch, Shiv's father Logan Roy, is aging and can't run the company forever. Who will he name to take over? And what will the players do to get what they want? Shiv's part in the drama earned Snook a bunch of critical praise and awards nominations. Linda Holmes, one of the terrific hosts of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, talked with Sarah in 2020 about what it's like to play one of the most fascinating, complex and confounding characters on television today.


Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka

Being able to make light of extremely heavy topics is what makes Atsuko Okatsuka a brilliant comedian. Her debut comedy special The Intruder aired on HBO last December. As the name of the title suggests, it's about the time someone tried breaking into her house. But, the show goes into a lot more than that. There are lots of stories about Atsuko's life and family. She talks about navigating her mother's mental illness and trying to impress teenagers. She also jokes about being undocumented for seven years and attending a Magic Mike Live show with her grandmother. Atsuko sat down with Bullseye to talk about how recording videos on social media with her family brought them closer together, what it was like bringing her grandma on her honeymoon and much more!


Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is one of the most accomplished people in American theater. She's an incredible actor, playwright and scholar. But, Anna's also a trailblazer. Plays like Fires in the Mirror and Let Me Down Easy have pushed the boundaries of traditional theater. But Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is perhaps the most exemplary of her work. Anna interviewed over 300 people about the Rodney King beating and its aftermath. And she turned their words into a play where she acted every part. 30 years ago, that show premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Now, the show is back at the Mark Taper Forum for a second run. It's been revised for a group of five people of different ages, genders and races. This week on Bullseye, Anna Deavere Smith joins us to talk about the revised production of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Plus, what it's like to revisit such an iconic piece after so many years.


Marc Summers on the Craziest Day of His Entire Career

The Craziest Day of My Entire Career is a segment that gives us the chance to talk with some of our favorite people about the weirdest workday they have experienced so far. This time around, we're joined by Marc Summers. He has built a remarkable career as a television host. Rarely will you find a person who has hosted as many TV shows as Marc Summers. When we asked Marc to tell us about the craziest day of his entire career he told us about the day he finally got the call to go on The Tonight Show. The other guest was Burt Reynolds. Things didn't go as planned. You can find his new show Marc Summers Unwraps wherever you get your podcasts.


Marc Maron

Marc Maron has been performing stand-up comedy for decades. He always figured that would be his legacy. Until he started the mother of all podcasts: WTF with Marc Maron. The podcast came out of a very uncertain time in Marc's life as a comedian: he'd work the road, get a TV gig now and then. But as he got closer to middle age, he realized that lifestyle wasn't sustainable. So, he started making WTF. The success came shortly after, but Maron didn't leave stand-up behind. Earlier this year, he released a new comedy special on HBO called From Bleak to Dark where he talks about the loss of his partner, Lynn Shelton. It's some of his best work yet. This week on Bullseye, Marc Maron reminisces on his life as a struggling comic and talks about his tremendous success as a podcast host. Plus, what it was like to get behind a mic after losing one of the most important people in his life.


Margaret Cho on the Craziest Day of Her Entire Career

The Craziest Day of My Entire Career is a segment where we invite guests from the entertainment industry to tell us about a single day where things went wildly off the rails. Sharing their story with us this week is Margaret Cho. She's an actress, an activist, and a musician. She's had multiple Grammy and Emmy nominations for her comedy and acting, and has been touring to sold-out crowds since 1999. Her one-woman show "I'm the One That I Want" was turned into a best-selling book and feature film. But back in the early stages of her career? She had to take whatever gigs she could get. When we asked Margaret about the craziest day of her career, she took us back to the start of her standup career. The time she did three shows, in three states, in one day.