I never got to listen to the Dissolve podcast before the website folded, so I figure I'd better appreciate the media-related podcasts that I'm still able to listen to now. Along with my regular favorites, Filmspotting, /Filmcast, and Firewall & Iceberg, there have been some new additions to my playlist that I wanted to spotlight here:
The Projection Booth - My current addiction. What I love about the podcast format is that there are much looser time constraints, so movie reviews and discussions can get pretty in-depth and run as long as they need to. Most film podcasts still tend to have self-imposed limits, though, especially if they tackle more than one title at a time. That's why I love The Projection Booth. Each episode is devoted to a single film or series of films, and between wonderfully well-researched group discussions and interviews they often run two or three hours apiece. The selection is very eclectic, so one week the hosts will be analyzing the layers of symbolism in Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," and the next they'll be exploring the behind-the-scenes drama that plagued "Alien 3." The hosts are a blast, the level of the discussion is consistently high, and I love how much information they manage to pack into every installment. I'm saving their mammoth six-hour "Star Wars" episode for a rainy day.
How Did This Get Made - Comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas make fun of some of the worst and most bizarre movies ever made. There are plenty of podcasts devoted to taking down awful cinema, but these folks are professionals, with a good rotation of celebrity guest, lots of industry experience, and killer joke delivery at their disposal. As their theme song proudly declares, they want to "wallow in the mediocrity of subpar art" and have a good time doing it. All the usual suspects like "Battlefield Earth" and "The Room" have been held up for mockery, but they'll also devote occasional episodes to "crazy" movies that they actually adore, like the "Crank" series. I find that some familiarity with the movies being discussed is necessary, but otherwise this is one of the more accessible film podcasts out there. Only film nerds will likely be interested in Filmspotting or The Projection Booth, but listening to the HDTGM hosts skewer "Junior" should be hilarious to anybody.
Talkin' Toons - You may not know the name Rob Paulsen, but you know his work. Paulsen is the voice-actor behind popular characters from "Animaniacs," "Pinky and the Brain," Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and many other cartoons. And having worked in voice acting for over four decades, he's friends with just about every other voice actor and actress out there. And that's how he got all of them to be on his podcast. A couple of caveats for this one. Paulsen is a wonderful, energetic presence who - bless his heart - occasionally gets completely carried away with the schmoozing and lets conversations get too impenetrable to outsiders. Also, there have been some significant technical issues with various episodes, particularly the ones done in front of live audiences. But if you're a cartoon fan, this podcast is such a joy and brings back so many good memories. I recommend starting with any of the talks with Billy West and Maurice LaMarche.
The Nerdist Writers Panel - Ben Blacker hosts informal chats with film and television writers. Lately it's mostly been television writers and creators, from shows as diverse as "Sesame Street" and "The Colbert Report." Contrary to the title, the show isn't always done in a panel format, and will feature individual interviews like the recent ones with James L. Brooks and Chris Carter. I'm constantly astounded by the guests that they've managed to bring on the show. The discussions often emphasize people's experiences in the industry, so this is a good podcast not only for burgeoning writers, but for anybody with an interest in how their favorite media is made and what goes on behind the scenes. One of my favorite discussions involved charting what happened to an ambitious "Wizard of Oz" TV project that had the plug pulled before it made it to air.