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Josh Groban

Josh Groban on 'Rising Star' and lessons learned from Kelly Ripa

What makes the singer feel like 'half a person?'


Josh Groban is, of course, known for his warm baritone, but he also has proven quite an affable host, as his guest stints on “Live With Kelly” showed.  The long-running morning show used his as a frequent fill in and the rumor was that he was considered a possible replacement for Regis Philbin before ultimately selecting Michael Strahan.

So it makes sense that Groban will serve as host for “Rising Star,” ABC’s new summer talent competition. He tells Hitfix that he’s certainly seen the work of fellow singing show hosts “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest and “The Voice’s” Carson Daly, but he plans to set his own path.

“I think the reason they got me is I’m me,” he says. “I don’t want it to be anything other than what I have to offer. Maybe they’ll like it maybe they won’t.”

He adds that he learned a lot about live TV from his co-hosting duties with Kelly Ripa: “When you have someone as brilliant as Kelly to riff off of and have dialogue with, she makes it look easy,” he says. “When you can make it look easy and put the audience at ease, that’s when it’s the best. That’s what I learned from that experience.”

Though he’s a host, he’ll also serve as an expert, “to give [the contestants] advice before they go out there, to talk to them about their song choices, to talk to them about bringing out that uniqueness that they may not know they have.”  The official experts are Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris. Check out our interview with Kesha here.

Groban goes back on tour in August, while “Rising Star” is still in its 10-week run. It will be a bit of a juggling act, he admits: “I’m going to do a little flying. I’m going to have some great outdoor orchestra concerts this summer, mostly on the east coast this summer.”

“Rising Star,” which debuts June 22,  will rely on the experts and Groban, to mentor the contestants, who then perform in front of a wall. As viewers at home vote on whether the contestant should go on to the next level, the wall will either rise —if they get enough votes to pass on to the next round— or stay down. While the experts will get to vote (their total vote share is 7%), the fate of the contestants is in the hands of the at-home viewers and the results will be immediately known. To be able to vote, viewers can download the “Rising Star” app here.

Groban also explains in the video how the show works for viewers on the west coast, given that “Rising Star” airs live and the results are announced in real time. The short answer is yes,  Pacific time zone votes will count too.

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A 'True Blood' musical is in the works

A “True Blood” musical is in the works
The HBO drama’s composer, Nathan Barr, has pitched a “True Blood: The Musical” that would focus on Sookie Stackhouse. "I think we're really going to try to return to the roots of the show,” says Barr, who got some help from Stephen Moyer in his presentation to HBO.

“Fargo” creator: We’re not like Rust Cohle — "This is a more optimistic view of the world”
Noah Hawley says he wanted to create a show that wasn’t like the “True Detectives” of the world. "One of the things that I take pride in is that ‘Fargo' is a very different story than the sort of haunted-demon-hunter-cop stories that have become the norm for us,” he says. "This idea that in order to protect the innocent, these men who fight evil have to become these tortured figures. That may be true, but certainly in the assignment I was given, there was a basic decency to Molly and Gus and Lou and Bill. Nobody is saying, we are good with a capital G, they’re saying we’re decent with a small d.” PLUS: Hawley says it would be disingenuous to bring back Season 1 characters for a 2nd season, how Lorne Malvo won, Hawley calls the ending a “big deal” because it’s a hero moment and morally questionable, Hawley says 10 episodes ended up being the perfect amount, this “Fargo” had a lot in common with “Friday Night Lights,” the ending was so satisfying, but having Molly and Malvo cross paths only once felt a bit unsatisfying, Hawley explains the missing characters, and what the heck happened to Molly?

Stuntwoman sues after getting burned on “Face Off”
Tamiko Brownlee claims a fireball burned her during filming of the Syfy reality show.

Joan Rivers’ new book lashes out at Lena Dunham
In “Diary of a Mad Diva,” Rivers writes if she has to see Dunham’s “a—, boobs or tattoos” again, she wants HBO charged with crimes against humanity.

“Royal Pains” twist, explained
"We've always had, from the beginning, family as the major theme of our show,” says exec producer Michael Rauch.

Jimmy Fallon makes Kevin Hart conquer his fear of roller coasters
Watch Hart go crazy at the Universal Orlando Resort.

Zendaya responds to the backlash over her Lifetime biopic role as Aaliyah
Some have said the 17-year-old Disney star looks nothing like the late singer.

Ozzy Osbourne will play a “rock and roll fish” on Nickelodeon
He’s set to guest-star on “Bubble Guppies” as Sid Fishy, a "rock and roll fish who loves being rotten."

VH1’s “I Love The 2000s” comes 6 years after VH1’s “I Love The New Millennium”
“I Love The New Millennium” only covered the events up until 2007. This one goes all the way to the end of the last decade, 2009. PLUS: Here’s everything mentioned from 2000 and 2001.

British Prime Minister David Cameron gives signed “Downton Abbey” script to China’s premier
Turns out “Downton” is big in China.

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Credit: FX

'Fargo' creator Noah Hawley talks season 1

'I'm going to think about' the idea of another Coen brothers-inspired story

"Fargo" concluded its first (and possibly only) season last night. I reviewed the finale here, and I spoke with the show's creator, Noah Hawley, about some of the big developments in the finale, and the possibility of future "Fargo" adventures, coming up just as soon as I go into space despite being afraid of spiders...

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2014 Emmy Nomination Contenders - Lead Actress in a Drama Series

2014 Emmy Nomination Contenders - Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Threepeat for Claire Danes? Can Tatiana Maslany make the cut? Who drops out?

Reminder: For our annual Emmy contenders coverage, Sepinwall does his personal preferences, while I handicap mostly in terms of likelihood of landing nominations. As usual, the first six slides in each gallery are my nomination predictions. The next eight or nine slides are the actors and shows most likely to sneak in, based on precedent, quality or something nebulous. And then at the end of each gallery, I tend to throw in a couple oddballs who have no chance at all of being nominated, but who I think deserve to be a part of the conversation, or might accidentally become part of the conversation, just because.

Our next category:


There are some great performances in the Lead Actor in a Drama field, but when it comes to  viable top-tier nomination contenders, no category can top Lead Actress in a Drama for depth. I only did 15 slides for this gallery, but at least 10 or 11 of them are legitimate contenders whose nominations wouldn't be even slightly surprising and then at least another two are former nominees who are still kicking around giving interesting performances.

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<p>Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black</p>

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black

Credit: BBC America

If I Had An Emmy Ballot 2014: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Will this be the year voters finally become aware that Tatiana Maslany exists?

The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences released this year's Emmy ballots last week. Now that the ballots are out, it's time for our annual two-pronged experiment, in which Dan tries to predict the likeliest nominees in each major category, while I pretend that I'm an actually TV Academy member and pick the six nominees that would make me the happiest.

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Credit: FX

Season finale review: 'Fargo' - 'Morton's Fork'

Malvo wreaks havoc, Lester tries to escape, and the story concludes

A review of the "Fargo" finale coming up just as soon as I get my air rifle...

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NBC to counter ABC’s 'Rising Star's" debut with a special 'America’s Got Talent' and Guinness world record stunts

NBC to counter ABC’s “Rising Star's" debut with a special “America’s Got Talent” and Guinness world record stunts
“AGT” will get a special airing on Sunday in an attempt to thwart the ABC singing competition — and “AGT” will include Howie Mandel-hosted interstitials featuring Guinness World Record attempts in fire diving and jumping over moving cars.

“Rizzoli & Isles” boss: Writing out Lee Thompson Young was "very daunting"
The first two episodes of Season 5 pay tribute to the late actor’s character, Det. Barry Frost.

PBS to add a 30-minute version of “Sesame Street”
The shortened “Sesame” aims to capture the short attention span of kids these days.

TV Land taps “Smallville’s” Michael Rosenbaum to play a man pretending to be a gay pastor
On “Impastor,” Rosenbaum will play a lowlife who hides away in a small town by convincing residents that he’s the new gay pastor.

Lena Headey was shocked by reaction to “Game of Thrones” “rape” scene
"I was kind of shocked by the reaction, actually, because the show is full of crimes against humanity,” she says, adding: "She wanted him. She’s saying ‘no' for many reasons. She’s saying ‘no' because of the f*cking pain of her loss—she can’t bear what she’s feeling. She was saying, 'No, no… not here,' but a lot of stuff was about how, right in that moment, she couldn’t bear to feel what she was feeling and wanted him to take some of that away.” PLUS: Headey wore an “I’m Not Sorry” shirt on Monday, Jaime raping Cersei was one of Season 4’s many problems, and Sarah McLachlan meets that dragon scene from the finale.

Donald Trump: “Awkward” Seth Meyers “shouldn’t be doing television”
Trump apparently is still not over being roasted by Meyers at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner.

Howard Stern show contest winner auditions for the shock again on “America’s Got Talent”
Comedian Rachel Butera already has a link to one of the judges, having won $5,000 on Stern’s Staff Impression Contest in 2010. UPDATE: Stern wasn't allowed to vote because of his connection to Butera.

“Mystery Girls” will feature a 3rd “Beverly Hills 90210” cast member
Peach Pit owner Joe E. Tata will reunite with Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth on their ABC Family series.

“NCIS: New Orleans” star: My husband filed for divorce to get a piece of my new salary
Zoe McClellan has been hit with divorce papers, and she claims her husband filed for divorce to get some of her $45,000-an-episode salary via child support payments, according to TMZ. McClellan is also battling her husband to move her son with her to New Orleans.

“Gunslingers” docudrama will feature commentary from Kurt Russell and “Deadwood” creator David Milch
American Heroes Channel’s six-part series will highlight a different figure from the past, from Jesse James to Wyatt Earp to Billy the Kid.

When did “miniseries” become a bad word?
Why are new terms like “event series” and “limited series” bandied about these days?

See more of “Mad Men's" Don Draper from one of his final scenes
Jon Hamm again is not wearing a suit. PLUS: Christina Hendricks pens “A Letter to Men."

Michelle Dockery: I’m not leaving “Downton Abbey”
"I’m here till the end, whenever that may be,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Where would J.Lo’s career be without “American Idol”?
Jennifer Lopez released her 8th studio album today, and she has reality TV to thank for her recent success.

“Fargo” burning finale questions
Tonight’s finale has so much to answer for, including: What happened to all the missing characters, from Stavros Milos to Wrench? PLUS: Rounding up the Easter eggs, and more Easter Eggs.

Here’s the 1st look at “Bachelor in Paradise”
How different is it from “Bachelor Pad”?

Count down the 50 best TV scenes from the last year
From “The Simpsons’” Lego episode to “Louie’s” plus-sized woman rant.

Give “Louie” credit for continuing to avoid being an ordinary sitcom
"I loved a lot of this season,” says James Poniewozik, "and I admired its effort not to be too cool, to risk taking itself too seriously, to take off its shirt and risk being laughed at and not with. I don’t want ‘Louie' to become ordinary–an artsier, looser version of a kind of dramedy that other shows are already doing–and I hope Louis CK doesn’t want that either.” PLUS: Louis CK cares too much about what we think.

Watch the  opening credits to IFC’s “Garfunkel and Oates”
Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci's musical comedy act comes to TV on Aug. 7.

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'Jersey Boys' stars marvel at Clint Eastwood's advice and their chance at big screen stardom

'Jersey Boys' stars marvel at Clint Eastwood's advice and their chance at big screen stardom

Rare opportunity for the stage veterans

NEW YORK - It goes without saying that Broadway actors are rarely able to reprise their roles in the movie versions of stage musicals they've starred in.  For every Anthony Rapp in "Rent," Rita Moreno in "West Side Story" or Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in "The Producers" there are countless other films that didn't even consider actors who played the same role on the stage.  Usually it's just too risky for Hollywood execs to fund a musical without some old fashioned movie starpower on board (it's still considered a risky proposition).   Don't tell that to Clint Eastwood, however.

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Sam Smith

Album Review: Sam Smith's 'In The Lonely Hour' is this year's most promising debut

He backs up the hype with true talent

Sam Smith has already been declared the next big thing in his native U.K., where he has proved to be a superstar in the making. Will he similarly be able to conquer America with his debut full-length album, “In The Lonely Hour?” In a word, yes.

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Kesha on her 'Rising Star' expertise and on her 'really fun' new album

What she will bring to ABC's new singing reality show

Each of the “experts” — Kesha, Brad Paisley, and Ludacris — brings a different proficiency to their role on “Rising Star,” ABC’s new talent competition, which bows June 22.

Kesha has already decided where she fits in. She will represent “girls that like to have a good time and the gay boys,” she told HitFix on Monday at a “Rising Star” open house. “I think I’m going to bring the people who don’t give a f**k.”

“Rising Star” will rely on the experts, and host/expert Josh Groban, to mentor the contestants, who then perform in front of a wall. As viewers at home vote on whether the contestant should go on to the next level, the wall will either rise —if they get enough votes— or stay down. While the experts will get to vote, the fate of the contestants is in the hands of the at-home viewers and the results will be immediately known. To be able to vote, viewers can download the free “Rising Star” app here.

Kesha will continue to work on her third album over the duration of the 10-week summer series and she’s not concerned that her mentoring duties will affect that process.  “I work on music in my sleep, I worked on it from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed, I don’t think it will be hard,” she says.

As far as how that third album will sound, Kesha was playing it pretty close to the vest, but that she’s done everything from cover Bob Dylan to record with The Flaming Lips (in an album that seems to have been shelved at least for the moment, according to the Lips’ Wayne Coyne), it’s safe to say that she could surprise us all. And she’s counting on that.

The new album is “really fun and I love it,”she said. Declaring that the direction is “top secret,” she would allow that stylistically, fans shouldn’t be “too surprised if I come out with something kinda weird.”

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Review: 'Ultraviolence' by Lana Del Rey
Credit: Interscope

Review: 'Ultraviolence' by Lana Del Rey

You are an ashtray

Lana Del Rey has come a long way from her debut “Born to Die.” New “Ultraviolence” is legions more cohesive, conceptually stronger and packaged better than her scarlet starlets of 2011.

The improvements are still in want. Del Rey is wearing, again, the troubled, beautiful and bored persona for this experiential album, which upfront demands a certain suspension of reality. From psyche-lilting opener “Cruel World” to dead-eyed cover “The Other Woman,” “Ultraviolence” doesn’t so much get exhausted as it exhausts you on this lethargic fantasy. She and producer Auerbach need for you to go there, even as you side-eye the payoff.

Del Rey battles some of the tiresome tropes of fame (“Money Power Glory”) or the bitter backbiting (“Fucked My Way To The Top”) that have nipped at her heels during the last couple of years, during her rise to pop prominence, co-writing every song. But she does it in the most world-weary ways at times, with slurs and sighs and cartoonishishly lethargic composure. Her “Ultraviolence” characters are disillusioned and addicted to other misanthropes, as if she has no agency to fall out of love with the worst of them. (This is fine, by the way, until the self-mockery of “The Other Woman” breaks the will to breathe). The woozy anthems like “Sad Girl” are so pitiable, “Brooklyn Baby” so sarcastic, it makes it almost seems like she has skin in the game.

She has Auerbach making some lush choices to echo this culty purview, particularly with some guitar lines that hover over the mess like Del Rey’s reverb-dripping hum.  Pretending she can’t sing for the sake of “Pretty When You Cry” is helped by an equally janky arrangement; a Wah-wah pedal cries out over the angelic “Shades of Cool” like a maternity ward. Sharp co-writers and –producers like Daniel Heath and Greg Kurstin, snap onto the lyrical and sonic template with eerie accuracy. All the skeletons are out of the closets and arranged and organized so impeccably on the lawn. If only it hit a different note.

In the track-by-track review below, I try to highlight the finite differences.


“Cruel World”: Nearly 7 minutes baby babble with a Black Angels jam. Bibles and guns, women and fun (and heroin), Del Rey says that she’s “so happy now that you’re gone,” but can you believe the protagonist is capable of happiness? That may be exactly the point.

“Ultraviolence”: It’s too bad the best lyrics here – which summarize the story – are borrowed (“He hit me and it felt like a kiss”). This one is a grower, a dirge on the moon. Why ruin it with a spoken word bridge?

“Shades of Cool”: Lana Del Rey is the spinning ballerina in your musical box, the one where you keep all your cocaine. I love the blue mood of the coherent and interesting chorus, which helpfully puts her voice in a key that plays up her talents.

“Brooklyn Baby”: What is more annoying than hipsters? Complaining about hipsters.  

“West Coast”: This actually has a nice clip to it, and it wouldn’t be out of the imagination if Auerbach had Danger Mouse behind the wheel of this Laurel Canyon night ride.

“Sad Girl”: Her voice reporting like a slinky trumpet, Del Rey just went into the other room to slip into something a little more cloying. She’s a sad girl and a bad girl, and 92% OKCupid compatible with the dude from “Video Games.”

“Pretty When You Cry”: Slow down an Eagles song, and combine it with a wounded vocal take that doubles as a skin irritant.

“Money Power Glory”: This would be an utter triumph had Pink or Christina (or, OK, Leonard Cohen) growled through it. This is all Kurstin, who tries to amplify the visceral sadness and only has a deflated vocal performance to work with. I wanted something nasty and daring. It’s a paper crane when it could be an eagle.

“Fucked My Way Up To The Top”: Spoiler alert: this song is extra needy. “Lay me down / in linen and pearls / lay me down tonight / I’m your favorite girl.” She’s making a joke, and I’m looking for the bar.

“Old Money”: This song makes me think of people who watch “Wolf of Wall Street” and fail to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s character as the miserable sh*tpile he is. This is some excellent, heart-filled work, all-deserving of the mist and a grand piano.

“The Other Woman”: I am an ashtray, and the last cigarette’s just been stamped out.

"Ultraviolence" is out today (June 17).

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Bryan Cranston has tentatively titled his memoir 'Say My Name'

Bryan Cranston has tentatively titled his memoir “Say My Name”
It looks like Cranston will use a “Breaking Bad” reference for his memoir title.

The Situation arrested at his tanning salon
Cops were called on the “Jersey Star” after he got into a fight at his Boca Tanning Salon in Middletown, New Jersey.

George R.R. Martin made a cameo on Funny or Die’s “Gay of Thrones”
Watch him play a grandfather reading his son the book of "Gay of Thrones."

For every celebrity guest, Jimmy Kimmel's staff searches for “Mean Tweets”
Kimmel’s co-head writer/wife Molly McNearney explains the “Mean Tweet” process, noting that each celebrity guest reads three to five mean tweets and that they are always cleared through their PR rep or the celebrity themselves in advance.

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