Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
Bullseye from NPR is your curated guide to culture. Jesse Thorn hosts in-depth interviews with brilliant creators, culture picks from our favorite critics and irreverent original comedy. 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." (Formerly known as The Sound of Young America.)

Bullseye is a show about the creative process. And how artists' lives affect the work they make: their loved ones, friends and family, too. But what about when two artists - two genuine creative geniuses - are married to each other?

Corin Tucker, the singer and guitarist of Sleater-Kinney has been with her husband Lance Bangs for over two decades. Earlier this month, they joined Jesse to talk about how they mix music, movies and love... and how they spent this past Valentine's Day. They couldn't even get a table at the Cheesecake Factory!

This interview was recorded on stage at Revolution Hall in Portland Oregon as part of the first annual Listen Up Festival.

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Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, one of our favorites, is up for an Academy-Award nomination. It's for the adapted screenplay. and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film "Can You Ever Forgive Me?." We'll revisit our conversation with Nicole – when she stopped by we talked about another one of her recent projects, "The Land of Steady Habits." She'll also discuss her childhood growing up among Hollywood royalty.

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Happy Tuesday! This time, we're listening back to our 2018 conversation with filmmaker Debra Granik. In 2010, she wrote and directed "Winter's Bone," the acclaimed drama that launched Jennifer Lawrence's career and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Now, the long awaited follow-up is available to stream on Amazon. It's called "Leave No Trace" and it's been met with similar acclaim. She and Jesse talk about the new film, about the pitfalls of calling an artist a "genius" and her first ever paid movie gig: shooting weddings!

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Dream interview alert! Today: Jesse talks with Barbara Kruger. 

Kruger is a fascinating and profoundly influential artist. She works in big, bold text usually in white font over ribbons of red. The text is usually superimposed over black and white photos, usually of people. The messages say stuff like "YOUR BODY IS A BATTLEGROUND," "WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER HERO," or "DON'T BE A JERK."

If all that doesn't ring a bell yet, you can find thousands of samples of her work on the internet. Maybe the fonts and colors remind of you something: the Supreme logo? That Instagram Stories filter? It all started with Barbara Kruger.

Jesse talks with Kruger about why she dropped out of art school, how she found footing in the contemporary art world, and what she's trying to communicate these days in her work.

 

 

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Every now and then we like bring you a segment we call to the Song That Changed My Life. It's a chance to find out what makes some of our favorite musicians the person they are today. Stepping up this time: Ludwig Göransson.

Maybe you don't know him by name. But you've heard almost certainly heard his work. He was in Sweden and moved to the States in 2007. And before long, he started working in TV shows and movies as a composer. One of his first was Community. It was actually on the set of Community where he met Donald Glover. The two became friends, then, when he found out Glover could sing and rap, collaborators. Göransson's been the principal producer on all of Glover's Childish Gambino records. He actually just scored several Grammy awards for the song "This is America" by Glover.

He's scored some pretty big films, too: Fruitvale Station, Creed, Venom… and Black Panther. The music he wrote for Black Panther is up for the Academy Award for Best Original Score at this year's Oscars.  

So we asked Ludwig, this brilliant composer and hip-hop producer, to tell us about the song that changed his life. His pick? Enter Sandman by Metallica.

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Adam McKay has had a pretty eclectic career. He started in sketch comedy first as a founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, then as a writer on Saturday Night Live. He studied at Second City, too, so throw that in there.

Then, movies: He collaborated with Will Ferrell to make some stone cold comedy classics: AnchormanStep BrothersTalladega Nights. Lately, though, his work has been more serious. Topical. Political.

A few years back, he wrote and directed The Big Short, which deconstructed and explained the 2008 financial crisis. He helped create the HBO show Succession - a drama about a family that owns a colossal American media empire.

Now there's Vice, his latest movie, which is the story of former Vice President Dick Cheney. It's playing in theaters now and is up for eight Academy Awards.

The common thread with McKay's work is that it's never boring, never forced. He'll take an extremely dumb joke and frame it in a way that's so clever and compelling that you just lose it. He'll find a way to explain credit default swaps that are so entertaining and engrossing that you forget you're learning about... credit default swaps.

In this conversation, Adam tells Jesse how he manages to keep his films fresh, funny and weird, and also shares some of the more reckless tales in improv comedy from his time in Chicago.

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Ladies and germs... Killer Mike! It's been more than a decade since Killer Mike joined us on Bullseye. These days, he's busier than ever. Along with El-P, he's one-half of Grammy nominated duo Run the Jewels. Together they've put out three great albums – with a fourth on the way later this year.

Now, he's got his very own Netflix series, "Trigger Warning with Killer Mike." Killer Mike joins us to talk about the new show. Plus, how he ended up becoming friends with legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory, and what it was like hitting the road campaigning with Bernie Sanders.

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Jesse talks with John David Washington, star of the critically acclaimed film BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee.

Before John David Washington was an actor, he was lacing up the pads every week for a career in professional football. He traveled the globe from Sacramento to Dusseldorf, Germany trying to make it work. It seems fitting, then, that when he took up acting, his breakthrough role was the portrayal of an NFL player on HBO's "Ballers." He joins us to chat about his role in BlacKkKlansman: a compelling and complex look at the life of the first black police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, and his undercover journey to expose David Duke and the KKK.

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Jesse talks with Tituss Burgess, actor from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," "30 Rock" and more. On UKS, Tituss plays a struggling, needy and desperate Broadway actor. He’s transparently conniving and manipulative, but he’s also sweet, charming and super lovable. He shows his tough past, his lonely circumstances and he’s a real friend to Kimmy.

That warmth comes from Tituss Burgess. Burgess was himself a struggling Broadway actor many moons ago, living in a basement apartment in Harlem, just like his character on TV.

The last episodes of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" are now available on Netflix. 

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