Winnie Holzman and Paul Dooley are an amazing show-business couple. She created the TV series My So-Called Life and wrote the book for the Broadway musical Wicked, just for starters. He’s acted in every medium known to mankind, was a favorite of director Robert Altman, created The Electric Company and is currently playing James Brolin’s “father from Hell” on the TV series Life in Pieces—in his 90th year. They’re wonderful to watch (and listen to) because they love and support each other so beautifully. Leonard and Jessie have been fans for years and are eager to share their infectious good spirits with all of you.
Marc Maron has nothing to prove as a stand-up comic or as a podcaster, but he’s still stretching his wings as an actor. He’s terrific in director Lynn Shelton’s entertaining new movie Sword of Trust, which just debuted at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. That’s where Leonard and Jessie talked to them both before an enthusiastic audience at Esther’s Follies. Lynn explains how she combines scripted material and improvisation. Marc is in top form and that’s about as good as it gets!
Fair warning: you’ll hear more f-bombs than usual in this episode.
Harvey Guillen is about to make waves! He’s one of the stars of What We do in the Shadows, the new FX series based on the hilarious Kiwi movie that debuts this weekend at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Jessie has known Harvey since they were teenagers. She and Leonard have watched with awe as he has built a solid career by a combination of talent and hard work. Hearing his story of starting from scratch as a kid and earning his success is positively inspiring.
You probably know him best as the star of TV’s Psych, or you’re watching him on the new series A Million Little Things. But James Roday has a solid background in theater and has earned his wings as a writer and director. His newest project is called Treehouse, a segment of Hulu’s horror anthology Into the Dark that debuts tonight. Leonard and Jessie were charmed by this quietly funny guy who is as thoughtful as he is talented.
This fast-paced episode might be titled “The Young Brad Bird Chronicles,” as the director of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Oscar nominee forThe Incredibles II tells us about his first visit to the Disney studio—at the age of 11. He returned three years later with a home-made animated cartoon, and eventually he was mentored there by legendary animator Milt Kahl. He wound up pitching ideas to Steven Spielberg and helping create the look of The Simpsons before moving to Pixar and beyond. Brad’s energy is infectious, and Leonard and Jessie can’t wait to share their conversation.
She is an actor, artist, writer and animator. He is an actor, comedian and writer. You may recognize Jonah Ray and Deanna Rooney from the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 revival. Los Angeles residents may know Jonah best as the longtime host (with Kumail Nanjiani) of The Meltdown, a weekly showcase that was home to every top stand up comedian in the country (and eventually became a tv show that aired on Comedy Central.) Together they make a fun and fascinating couple.
Dale Dickey is another of those valuable character actresses who makes every film and TV show better—like Leave No Trace, which reunited her with director Debra Granik, who cast her so memorably in Winter’s Bone opposite Jennifer Lawrence. You’ve seen her in Hell or High Water, Breaking Bad, True Blood, I Am the Night—any film or TV show that needs someone unquestionably real. Leonard and Jessie are fans and enjoyed getting to know Dale, who left Tennessee to make her way in show business. Her memory of meeting Jack Nicholson for the first time on the set of The Pledge is just one highlight.
Mitzi Gaynor was just a teenager when she came to Hollywood. She wound up starring with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, dancing with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and headlining The Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles. Her movies include There’s No Business Like Show Business, Les Girls and South Pacific—and that’s just a fraction of her career. How many people can say they worked with Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein? Leonard and Jessie had great fun with this playful, ever-youthful woman who caught the tail end of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
He’s one of those actors you know and value even if you don’t know his name. Shea Whigham is an asset to every film and TV show he’s in, from Boardwalk Empire to True Detective, American Hustle to The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s not accustomed to talking about himself, but Leonard and Jessie are longtime fans and he obliged us with perceptive stories about breaking into show business and working with master filmmakers like Martin Scorsese. Once you get to know him you’ll want to watch how much he brings to such current films as The First Man and Vice.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the hottest team in Hollywood with Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse earning awards, box-office bucks and rave reviews. There’s even Oscar buzz surrounding their ground-breaking animated feature. But these longtime best friends have never rested on their laurels, from the moment they made their first short subjects in college through their baptism of fire as sitcom writers. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs established them in the animation world and The Lego Movie cemented their reputation as innovators who think WAY outside the box. Leonard and Jessie had a great time talking to this awesome duo.
Willem Dafoe is that rare actor who can appear in a blockbuster like Aquaman at the same time he’s starring in a cerebral biopic about Vincent Van Gogh, At Eternity’s Edge. He’s open to all kinds of experiences, contributing voices to Finding Nemo and The Fantastic Mr. Fox and working with a cast of first-time actors in last year’s knockout The Florida Project, which earned him his third Oscar nomination. Leonard and Jessie wondered what drew him to acting in the first place, and learned why he loves taking on challenges in his work. Listen along to one of the most compelling and versatile actors on the planet.
Creating, executive producing, and writing The Big Bang Theory would be enough for most people’s résumés, but Bill Prady is not a one-hit wonder. He spent many years working with the Muppets, and wrote their unforgettable Disney theme park attractions Muppet*Vision 3D and Honey I Shrunk the Audience. He also spent years writing and producing such shows as Caroline in the City, Dharma & Greg and Gilmore Girls. Beyond his credits, Bill is a pop culture guru and a delightful conversationalist, as Leonard and Jessie quickly discovered. No 3-D glasses are required to enjoy this episode.