Latest Blog Posts

<p>Dev Patel in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Dev Patel in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'Amen'

Mackenzie can't do math, Neal finds a kindred spirit and many people get injured

A few quick thoughts on last night's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as I keep walking into a glass door...

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<p>It's amazing how one image can evoke both wonder and terror, but this one from 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind' has always managed the trick.</p>

It's amazing how one image can evoke both wonder and terror, but this one from 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind' has always managed the trick.

Credit: SPHE

Film Nerd 2.0: 'Close Encounters' marks the boys deeply in unexpected ways

A classic makes a huge impression on first viewing and not necessarily a good one


There is no bigger question for kids as they watch a film, particularly one that exposes them to an adult world they have no personal experience of so far.  And once they start asking "Why?", it opens up a potential snowstorm of follow-ups.  One of the most important things in any screening I have for the kids is the conversations that show me what they've taken from what they've just watched.

My oldest son, Toshiro, just recently turned seven.  I know that when I think back to childhood, everything before seven is fuzzy, select images or impressions, but starting at the age of seven, I have a distinct recollection of things.  I can tell you details about things that happened to me that year, places where I saw certain films, events that happened to me or to my friends.  It feels in hindsight like seven was the age where everything clicked and turned on and I became a "real" person.

And in the summer of 1977, I was all about "Star Wars."

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Rutina Wesley in 'True Blood'

Tara's working hard for the money this season on "True Blood"

Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

'True Blood' recap: Roman's fate revealed 'In the Beginning'

Tara hits the pole and the blood of Lilith has unexpected side effects

At this point I'm not sure I could tell the difference between watching "True Blood" and banging my head against a wall. This season is drowning in a storm of terrible storylines and the repetitiveness of so much of it (especially what's happening with Terry, Lafayette, Sam and Alcide) is downright numbing. Isn't "True Blood" supposed to be a fun, sexy, spooky soap? Because right now it's none of those things.

But we did make some seemingly significant progress in two areas this week -- the Vampire Authority reached a whole new level of crazy, and the hate crime gang was (unfortunately) unmasked for their close-up -- so the episode wasn't running in place for the full hour. Just most of it.

Let's break it down:

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<p>Walt and Jesse make their pitch to Mike on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Walt and Jesse make their pitch to Mike on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Madrigal'

Hank's investigation has ripple effects on Mike and the rest of Gus's organization

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I guard the special sauce...

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Willie on "Big Brother"

Willie on "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: Violence breaks out and one hamster goes home

One contestant melts down and pays the price

Let's see. What's happened lately in the Big Brother house? Um, Willie betrayed Frank, Britney went all kinds of paranoid, Kara went home, Frank’s became the new HOH, the Coaches' Competition promises all kinds of crazy -- oh my goodness, I am just breathless. Those hamsters seem to just be flopped on couches all day, but really, a lot is going on. Once it's been edited down, of course. This week promises even more drama, and we get the first violent outburst of the season. Whoot?

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<p>Brendan Coyle</p>

Brendan Coyle

Credit: PBS

Interview: Brendan Coyle talks 'Downton Abbey' Season 3

What's next for the imprisoned Bates and more
BEVERLY HILLS - "You have excellent taste," Brendan Coyle tells me as we conclude our interview overlooking the pool at the Beverly Hilton. 
The words sound familiar, coming from an actor who has become best known Stateside for playing emotionally tortured, physically hobbled, pathologically noble and expertly obsequious Mr. Bates on PBS' "Downton Abbey." 
Of course, in this case, Coyle's words come with a wink, because I've just realized that he was one of the stars of the West End production of "The Weir," which I saw and loved in London shortly after its 1997 premiere. At the time, I didn't know Coyle or his co-star Michelle Fairley, now of HBO's "Game of Thrones." Now, 14-plus years later, I've taken the opportunity for a retroactive compliment for what happens to be a favorite project for Coyle as well.
Actually, other than his consummate politeness, Coyle seems very little like Mr. Bates. He dresses nattily, walks without a limp and -- and this will seem almost unfathomable for "Downton Abbey" fans -- he frequently smiles.
I got very few spoilers out of Coyle in our brief chat. 
I know that Mr. Bates will spend some/much of Season Three in prison. But I don't know how much, exactly. 
I also know that he knows what happened with Vera, the horrible late Mrs. Bates, but I don't know what he knows.
Click through for the full conversation...
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<p>One Direction</p>

One Direction

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Music Power Rankings: One Direction tops Pink, No Doubt and Frank Ocean

Bruce Springsteen and The Who also make the list

1. One Direction: “Up All Night” surpasses Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” to become the top-selling album released in 2012. We finally have proof:  “Up All Night” trumps “All Night Long.”

2) Pink: Not only does her new single, “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” blast into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, Cher cuts two of her tracks. Pink is the new black.

3) Frank Ocean: One month ago, very few people knew who he was. This week he has the No. 2 album in the land and he has spoken his truth about his former same-sex relationship with little backlash. The truth shall set you free--and help you sell records.

4 )The Who:
Remaining members reunite for a North American tour to recreate “Quadrophenia.” Anyone under 25 asks, “Who are you? Ooh hoo, ooh hoo.”

5) Bruce Springsteen:
Has anyone ever gotten more mileage of getting the plug pulled on one of their shows? Or handled it with such good humor?

6) Universal Music Group: Opposition to its purchase of EMI continues to erode in the U.K. and will only have to jump through a few more hoops in the U.S.  Once that deal is done, the questions will start on how long before Sony or Universal makes a play for Warner Bros...

7) Richard Branson: Everyone’s favorite entrepreneur makes moves to buy back Virgin Music, the label he started 40 years ago, from EMI. Fun factoid: the label’s first release was Mike Oldfield’s massive success, “Tubular Bells.”

8) The Grammy Awards: It looks like the “A Death In the Family” short film works.  On the surface, the short doc was about putting on a show 24 hours after Whitney Houston’s death, but it also doubled as a pitch for Emmy voters, who took the bait. This year’s telecast received six Emmy nominations, the most the show has received and garnered the coveted Outstanding Special Class Programs nod they so badly wanted.

9) Coachella: The alternative music festival launches its own sea cruise. From landlocked to seaworthy. Hipsters declare they are already over the cruise before it even pulls away from dock.

10) No Doubt: Orange County’s finest returns after 10 years with a ska-influenced pop slice that will no doubt have its fans wanting to jump up with joy instead of “Settle Down.”

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<p>The Season 2 cast of &quot;Downton Abbey&quot;</p>

The Season 2 cast of "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour 2012 Live-Blog: PBS' 'Downton Abbey'

Julian Fellowes and stars tease Season 3 for the Emmy favorite

"Downton Abbey" was already a moderate-sized phenomenon last July when we got our Season 2-previewing Television Critics Association press tour panel last summer. That was a big deal, but it's nothing compared to the build-up for Saturday's (July 21) TCA panel, which is the centerpiece of PBS' weekend, with a panel, an associated buffet dinner and a subsequent reception. 

I already had a 10-minute sit-down with Brendan "Mr. Bates!" Coyle earlier this afternoon and I'll post that soon.

But here's the live-blog from the panel, which features creator Julian Fellowes, as well as many of the show's stars.

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<p>You'll believe a man can... fish?</p>

You'll believe a man can... fish?

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

'Man Of Steel' kicks off its campaign with an oddly muted first teaser trailer

You'll believe a very, very tiny man can fly

I'll say this much for the initial teaser trailer for Zack Snyder's upcoming "Man Of Steel"… they made a big choice, and they went with it.  I'm just not sure that choice was the right one in terms of reintroducing this iconic character to mainstream audiences.

One thing this campaign appears to be selling is reverence, and while I certainly appreciate that Zack Snyder is careful to play into the classic notions of what a character looks like and does when he adapts something, I think reverence is exactly what did not work about "Superman Returns."  That movie was so busy tiptoeing around the fondness people have for Richard Donner's original film that it felt like it had no pulse at all.  If this movie's going to work, it's going to have to have a life of its own.

It's also a dangerous first trailer because it is distinctly possible audiences won't know what they're looking at.  The distinctive "S" logo shows up at the end of the trailer, sure, but to tease your giant-budget reboot of the single most important superhero character you own with a trailer that spends most of its time showing a bearded dude working on a fishing boat and a little boy running around the yard of his house seems a little odd.

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Credit: John Shearer/AP

Nas raps his way to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200

What happens to Zac Brown Band and Frank Ocean?

Rapper Nas will handily come in at No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200 with the aptly titled “Life Is Good” slated to sell close to 135,000 copies.

The title will easily trump this week’s charttopper, Zac Brown Band’s “Uncaged,” which will drop to No 2 with still robust sales of 80,000.

“Life is Good” is one of three new albums debuting in the Top 10, according to Hits Daily Double. It will be joined by the latest edition of “Kidz Bop Kids,” which will likely bow at No. 3, and the score to “The Dark Knight Rises” at No. 9.

Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” moves from a digital-only release to  a digital and physical title. It will likely only drop two places to No. 4 with sales of 45,000.

Teen dreams One Direction will be No. 5 (with “Up All Night”), while Justin Bieber keeps “Believe” in the Top 10 at No 6. “Up All Night” surpassed Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” last week to become the top-selling album released in 2012.

Adele’s “21” logs its 3 millionth week in the top 10, as “21”  will likely be at No. 7 (although it and Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” are too close to call for the No. 7 and No. 8 spots. Chris Brown’s former No. 1, “Fortune,” hangs in at No. 10.


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"So You Think You Can Dance"

Eliminated "So You Think You Can Dance" dancers Daniel Baker and Alexa Anderson

Credit: Fox

'So You Think You Can Dance' ex-contestants weigh in on show's new format

Janae French, Nick Bloxsom-Carter and David Searle talk pros and cons

While fans have mixed feelings about the new one-night format of "So You Think You Can Dance," in which performances are married with eliminations at the end of the show, they're not alone. The dancers on the show also see pros and cons to the revised program -- and they don't list "fewer dumb commercials to sit through" as one of the benefits. Though squishing the show down to just one night a week was a move by Fox intended to save a long-running show that's showing its age in the ratings, the down side is that viewers (who vote on the outcome) spend less time getting to know the top 20 performers. In a conference call with reporters, the first three dancers dumped from the top 20 -- Janae French, Nick Bloxsom-Carter and David Searle (Alexa Anderson, who was also eliminated, did not participate)-- talked about what does and doesn't work for them.

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<p>Misty water-colored Lana</p>

Misty water-colored Lana

Watch: Lana Del Rey's cruel summer in new video 'Summertime Sadness'

There's no cure for her summertime blues

Lana Del Rey’s videos tend to be as ethereal as she is. The latest, “Summertime Sadness,” relies on the same film technique as some of her past efforts. There’s no linear storyline, instead there’s flickering, grainy footage that looks like it’s out of ‘60s home movies  and is cut to create a feeling more than a narrative.

[More after the jump...]

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