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<p>Emily Blunt was typically charming and forthcoming during our recent conversation about her new film 'Looper'</p>

Emily Blunt was typically charming and forthcoming during our recent conversation about her new film 'Looper'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: 'Looper' star Emily Blunt talks about playing mother and chopping logs

Her key role in the film pushed her in some interesting new ways

Pierce Gagnon is not a name most people know at this point, but after they see "Looper," it is a name they'll want to learn.  Gagnon positively steals the film out from under the already-outstanding adult cast that includes Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Garret Dillahunt, and Emily Blunt, who plays Sara, mother to Gagnon's character, Cid.

Gagnon was five years old when they shot his part in the film, and it's an amazing performance for an actor of any age.  I think Rian Johnson and his cast did something very special in capturing his work, and that was one of the things I really wanted to discuss with her when we sat down during Toronto.

It feels like I interview Blunt about four times a year now, which is a perfectly lovely arrangement as far as I'm concerned.  She's a smart performer, and she's been making great choices for the last few years, starring in a number of films that I've enjoyed, racking up one strong performance after another.

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<p>I pretty much wrote this story up just to have an excuse to run a picture of Rachel Weisz in 'The Mummy.' Kate Beckinsale, I assume you'll be the lead this time.</p>

I pretty much wrote this story up just to have an excuse to run a picture of Rachel Weisz in 'The Mummy.' Kate Beckinsale, I assume you'll be the lead this time.

Credit: Universal Home Video

Len Wiseman reportedly signing to reboot 'The Mummy' for Universal

Do his 'Die Hard' and 'Total Recall' efforts qualify him for the gig?

Universal is, in many ways, the house that horror built, so it is little wonder they view their various famous monster properties as some of the key assets for them as a studio.  I am not remotely shocked to learn that they are interested in rebooting "The Mummy."  After all, the most recent incarnation has already spawned two sequels and at least two spinoff films, and at this point, it would be preposterously expensive for them to try to get Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz back to play their characters again.

Instead, it looks like they're headed in a very different direction with the film, and if they want to freak out film fans, they've certainly made the right choice.  Len Wiseman is reportedly the choice the studio has made, and while I understand the reasoning on the level of "he's made films of a certain budget in the past and is capable of managing a big-budget movie," I would be hard-pressed to believe that  there are any hardcore Wiseman fans.  The "Underworld" series is profitable enough to support however many movies they've made so far, but I don't get the feeling they're particularly well-liked.  A quick survey of audiences after the release of "Total Recall" this summer probably wouldn't yield many people able to mount more than a passing defense, and while I was kinder than most, I would also say that Wiseman has yet to really prove that he can develop a script to the point where it really lives and breathes.  His movies feel like the description of a movie I should like, but there's something missing.  He makes Real Doll movies.  They're synthetic, and while they look like movies, they don't satisfy in the way a real film does.  I'd love for him to prove me wrong, too.

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<p>Alexis Marceaux of &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

Alexis Marceaux of "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Blind Auditions, Part 6

Yup. More Blind Auditions with Christina, CeeLo, Adam and Blake
Here we are in the third week of blind auditions for “The Voice”. If you can currently pick half of the already-selected team members out of a crowd…well, you’re a better person than I. Having 64 participants may yield a vast and varied talent pool, but will also render more than half barely identifiable when the Battle Rounds start. Toss in the fact that each audition since the premiere has thrown in a montage of accepted contestants, and “The Voice” runs the risk of muddying up the waters before it even leaves the audition phase of the competition. Leaving the audience unable to bond with finalists seems like an unwise move.
So let’s see if anyone stands out tonight. Blake Shelton could use the most help, as he only has seven members on his team to date. Christina Aguilera has ten, and Adam Levine and CeeLo Green each have eleven. As always, I’ll be keeping a running diary of the auditions. As always, all times are EST. As always, if a contestant’s sob story doesn’t pass muster, I reserve the right to assign them a role in one of the 300 television programs premiering this week. Let’s press some buttons, people.
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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars' kicks off with tough judging

The second time around, no one's waltzing to perfect scores right away

We're back with an all-star season of "Dancing with the Stars"! So, it's double-starry, since they were stars to begin with (by the definition of this show and, in some cases, only this show) and now they are all-star stars. I think everyone should get a little star sticker for their forehead, don't you? There isn't a lot of time to dwell on the starriness of the proceedings, though, because thirteen performances must be shoehorned into two hours. Still, that doesn't stop co-host Tom Bergeron. He blithers about how fabulous our dancers are. They’re the best of the best! Creme de la creme! The people you most want to see dancing! Okay, okay, if we're already watching, Tom, there's no further need to sell us. All-stars, got it. 

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<p>&quot;Push and Shove&quot;</p>

"Push and Shove"

Credit: Interscope Records

Album Review: No Doubt returns in fine form on 'Push And Shove'

SoCal band finds inspiration in looking back

The earth may have orbited the sun 11 times since the last No Doubt album, but it’s hard to tell any time has passed in the Southern California band’s world on its new album, “Push And Shove," out Sept. 25.

No Doubt’s last studio album,  “Rock Steady,” came out in 2001—before the world had heard from Kanye West, Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga.  There have been seismic changes in the way that rap and rock and pop have intersected since then, not to mention how music is delivered. And yet, the four members of No Doubt seem to have been largely hermetically sealed in a time capsule for the last decade.  If anything, on “Push And Shove,” the band looks back at the synth-drenched ‘80s for inspiration, rather than to any of today’s hitmakers.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. By the time “Rock Steady” came out, No Doubt had done a wonderful (and tremendously) successful job of blending rock, pop and ska, while lead singer Gwen Stefani had perfected the alternately wounded bird/rising Phoenix trope that made her so appealing.

Marriage and motherhood have not quelled many of  Stefani’s doubts, even if she can confidently boast in the horn-laden, rollicking “Looking Hot,” we are free to stare at her “ragamuffin...and take a picture please.”

The passage of time has given the band added musical confidence. No Doubt has always had a muscularity— bolstered primarily by Tony Kanal’s funky bass playing and Adrian Young’s robust drumming— that anchors its otherwise fairly lightweight melodies and lyrics. It is now accompanied by a pleasing certitude that replaces an earlier brashness.

Throughout the Mark "Spike" Stent-produced “Push And Shove,” the band skips through different beats and tempos with a firm hand that less assured acts could not pull off and that, at times, threaten to give the listener whiplash.  First single, reggae-tinged “Settle Down” time shifts throughout, but it has nothing on the title track, which breaks down into a dub step section—in one of the few concessions to current musical trends. The song, a collaboration with Major Lazer, then transforms to running in slow-motion, as if dragging through tar. It then speeds up for a rapid-fire rap from Jamaican rapper Busy Signal (He's this album's Bounty Hunter."). “Push  & Shove” is a bit busy and overly ambitious, but No Doubt somehow pulls it off.

Underneath it all, Stefani is a throwback to girl group singers of yore —even if her vulnerability often comes with an armor veneer— and No Doubt is a pure pop band. A three-song arc midway through the album focuses solely on those aspects.

On the poppy “Gravity,” a love song presumably to husband Gavin Rossdale, Stefani ruminates on how lucky they are that their relationship has gravity that tethers the two of them together.  “We’re in orbit/so we’re safe. Don’t let go/don’t ever let me float away,” she sings as laser effects torpedo through the song. It’s totally possible to imagine Belinda Carlisle singing this song 25 years ago, especially given the lighthearted, synth bridge.

For the peppy, sweet “Undercover,” those doubts creep back in. “I want to look down deep inside you and I want to come in but I can’t do it/I’m so scared of what I might find there.”

Things go from bad to worse on acoustic ballad “Undone,” the album’s most striking track.
The protagonist has fallen apart. “Just when it was getting good/why does it have to end/I don’t understand,” she sings as she pleads for her lover not to leave her behind.

The good times have returned by the boppy “Heaven” and the wistful “Dreaming the Same Dream,” both of which sound like outtakes from a Madonna album circa 1985. 

“Push And Shove” is a solid, consistent album that isn’t afraid to embrace the multitude of styles that No Doubt has built its 20-year  career upon. It’s the sound of a band that is very comfortable in its own skin, but still wants to challenge itself. At the same time, "Push & Shove" has nothing that seems as forward thinking or as career defining as “Just A Girl,” “Spiderwebs” or “Hey Baby," though with a little wind beneath its wings, "Undone" could be this decade's equivalent of "Don't Speak."

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<p>Josh Radnor and Thomas Lennon in the &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Josh Radnor and Thomas Lennon in the "How I Met Your Mother" season premiere.

Credit: FOX

Season premiere review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Farhampton'

It's the long-running sitcom's final season — or is it?

A review of the "How I Met Your Mother" season premiere coming up just as soon as I replace you with a tiger...

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<p>Hugh Jackman would love for you to make a joke about him singing and dancing at the Tonys. &nbsp;Go ahead. He's waiting.</p>

Hugh Jackman would love for you to make a joke about him singing and dancing at the Tonys.  Go ahead. He's waiting.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Hugh Jackman looks lean and mean in first official photo from 'The Wolverine'

Not much of a surprise, but a nice indicator that Jackman's ready to go

At this point, Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine longer than any motion picture actor has continuously played any superhero character.  So far, at least as far as the big screen is concerned, Jackman is Wolverine.  Period.

He's currently hard at work shooting "The Wolverine," the sixth film in which he'll play the character, and Fox finally released an official still of him on-set in the movie, which James Mangold is directing.  I'm at Fantastic Fest in Austin this week, so of course in a setting where I'm surrounded by film geeks of all stripes, I asked around to see what people thought of the image.

Even now, this many years after he first played the character, I'm amazed how some people still get worked up about how different Jackman is from the typical renderings of the character in the comics.  He's taller, he's leaner, and honestly, he doesn't really look like him.  But Jackman's made the character his with the choices he's made, and he's absolutely willing to transform himself each time he returns to play the part, getting crazy ripped each time.

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Watch: Zach Gilford discusses 'The Mob Doctor' and his own medical skills

Watch: Zach Gilford discusses 'The Mob Doctor' and his own medical skills

'Friday Night Lights' vet discusses the challenges of looking at pilot scripts
I did not call Zach Gilford "Matt Saracen" or "QB-1" when we sat down two weeks ago to chat about the actor's new FOX series "Mob Doctor."
I did, however, work "Friday Night Lights" into my very first question with Gilford, who plays Brett Robinson on the Monday drama, which airs its second episode tonight.
In the conversation, Gilford discusses the uncertainty of choosing pilot scripts, his hope that his "Mob Doctor" character won't just be The Nice Guy Boyfriend and whether his own Chicago roots drew him to this project.
I also learned what skills Gilford has acquired from his recent run of TV doctor roles. You may be surprised to discover his not-so-hidden medical talent.
Check out the conversation.
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"The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

 "The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' finale is one fine mess

Whether or not Melissa's a stripper, Teresa's the one who's exposed

So, the finale of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" kind of called to mind a drunken argument outside a college bar, which would be more amusing if any of these people ever a) went to college or b) were in their early 20s, when such abject stupidity seems to come with the territory.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 150

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 150

Dan and Alan talk Emmys, 'Vegas,' 'Neighbors,' 'Mindy Project' and 'Ben and Kate'


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
It's time for the first of two installments of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast this week.
Today, we spend a long time debriefing from Sunday's Emmy Awards telecast, with its mixture of surprising and predictable awards. And then we review the premieres of "Ben and Kate," "The Mindy Project," "Vegas" and "Neighbors."
That takes us through Wednesday's new show premieres. We'll pick back up again on Thursday with reviews of a handful more new shows, plus thoughts on new seasons of "Dexter" and Emmy-winning "Homeland."
But here's today's breakdown:
Emmys (00:01:10 - 00:38:20)
"Ben and Kate" (00:38:45 - 00:45:20)
"The Mindy Project" (00:45:30 - 00:52:30)
"Vegas" (00:52:30 - 01:02:00)
"The Neighbors" (01:02:05 - 01:14:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 150: Emmys, 'Vegas,' 'The Mindy Project' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 150: Emmys, 'Vegas,' 'The Mindy Project' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'Ben and Kate' and 'The Neighbors'


The TV season is here! The TV season is here! Of course, new shows have been debuting for a couple of weeks now, but there's still plenty to talk about in the first of this week's two Firewall & Iceberg Podcast episodes, starting with all the Emmy results and then moving onto new show reviews. We should be back on Thursday to talk "Last Resort" and the rest of the week.

The line-up: 

Emmys (00:01:10 - 00:38:20)
"Ben and Kate" (00:38:45 - 00:45:20)
"The Mindy Project" (00:45:30 - 00:52:30)
"Vegas" (00:52:30 - 01:02:00)
"The Neighbors" (01:02:05 - 01:14:00)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year for &quot;A Separation.&quot;</p>

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year for "A Separation."

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Iran under pressure to boycott this year's foreign Oscar race

One year after winning for 'A Separation,' the country may not compete this time

The win for "A Separation" in the Best Foreign Language Film category at last February's Academy Awards marked a major breakthrough -- and not just because it marked the first time in donkey's years that the critics' favorite actually took home the prize. More significantly, Asghar Farhadi's searing marital drama made Iran the first Middle Eastern country the win this mostly Eurocentric award. 

Not that all of Farhadi's compatriots appreciated the gesture. The Iranian government has been famously suppressive of its more outspoken artists -- notably in the case of filmmaker Jafar Panahi, placed under house arrest and banned from producing films for 20 years for "making propaganda against the system" -- and "A Separation" had its own share own hurdles to overcome. Initially banned while still in production due to Farhadi's past criticisms of the administration, the film was used by certain factions as a political pawn after its success: Javad Shamaghdari, head of the government's cinema agency, labelled the film's Oscar win an anti-Zionist victory, much to the dismay of its makers.

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