Latest Blog Posts

Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Julianne Moore set for Best Actress race as 'Still Alice,' 'Maps' secure qualifying run

The actress tackles early onset Alzheimer’s in the film

Update: The 2015 Oscar race may be a twofer for Julianne Moore, with word that "Maps to the Stars" may sneak in a short release to qualify for the race. More details below.

One of the major surprises out of this year's Toronto International Film Festival was Julianne Moore's heartbreaking, subdued work in "Still Alice." A film that could easily have shriveled up into a ball of schmaltz, Moore, along with directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, explore the debilitating effects of early onset Alzheimer's with confidence and familial tenderness. "Still Alice" doesn't twist its knife to illicit a sob-fest — the tears come naturally.

Read Full Post
'Simpsons' boss explains the major death: 'We’re not the kind of show that does these really horrific things to its characters'
Credit: Fox

'Simpsons' boss explains the major death: 'We’re not the kind of show that does these really horrific things to its characters'

'The Simpsons'/'Family Guy' crossover: One of the most 'fascinatingly weird' things to happen to TV

“The Simpsons” boss explains the major death: “We’re not the kind of show that does these really horrific things to its characters"
"It was something that would be a good exploration of the characters," says exec producer Al Jean. "I thought it’d be good to say, 'This is what people think of heaven but it’s not exactly what you’re going to get—it’s more what you do on Earth that matters.'…. If you look back at the clues we gave, everything adds up, so I would find that satisfying. I wouldn’t feel like I was misled.” He adds: "We didn’t want a crazy death, or anything shocking, just true human emotion.” PLUS: Some fans were disappointed, Krusty the Clown isn’t a strong enough character to warrant an entire episode, and in defense of the major death.

“The Simpsons”/“Family Guy” crossover: One of the most “fascinatingly weird” things to happen to TV
"Was 'The Simpsons Guy' just a craven marketing thing?” wonders Darren Franich. "One of the weirdest things about the episode was how all the rampant self-deprecation felt unnecessary. Make no mistake, this was 'Family Guy' worshipping The Simpsons: a feast of fan service, even if it was mostly fan service for people whose major Simpsons touchstones happened almost 20 years ago.” PLUS: Here's everything that the crossover mocked, including crossovers.

“The Amazing Race” tumbles in its new Friday timeslot
The CBS reality competition was down 45% in the demo with its 25th season premiere.

Click Read Full Post For More

Read Full Post
<p>John Noble of &quot;Sleepy Hollow&quot;</p>

John Noble of "Sleepy Hollow"

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'Sleepy Hollow' star John Noble on Season 2 and what drives War, Henry and Jeremy

The 'Fringe' veteran discusses playing another character with many sides and incarnations

WILMINGTON, NC. There was a point a few years back when I seemed to talk with John Noble every few weeks about the universe-bending twists and turns of FOX's "Fringe."

We talked on the drama's Vancouver set. We talked at FOX summer press days on multiple occasions. We talked via satellite. We talked at Comic-Con. Because of the constantly evolving nature of "Fringe" and Walter Bishop and Walternate and various permutations on each character, Noble never repeated himself in our conversations and always impressed with a passion for the subject matter that extended to his hosting duties on Science's "Dark Matters: Twisted But True."

Noble probably wasn't worried about the year or two that he spent not being interviewed by HitFix. He did some Australian TV. He guested on CBS' "The Good Wife" a couple times. And he began work on another FOX drama "Sleepy Hollow," in which he got to play yet another character who turned out to have two or three very different layers.

Introduced as Sin Eater Henry Parrish, we were later told that Henry was actually Jeremy Crane, son of Ichabod and Katrina. And as if that dead-cheating secret wasn't enough, we also discovered that Henry/Jeremy was actually War, the Second of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It sounds confusing, but in context it all makes sense in that way that nearly everything in "Sleepy Hollow" sounds confusing, but all kinda makes sense in context. And don't worry, it's a challenge for John Noble to understand as well.

Last month, I sat down with my former scene partner in a makeshift press holding area above a "Sleepy Hollow" location in Wilmington, North Carolina. After years of the "Fringe" grind, Noble seemed enthusiastic and energized with his responsibilities on "Sleepy Hollow." Just two days from his 66th birthday, Noble was all smiles, talking his relative surplus of downtime, which gives him the chance for music and painting, among other pursuits. 

It's also giving him time for research. Just as "Fringe" let Noble delve into a passion for physics, "Sleepy Hollow" is letting him research magic and witchcraft and he sounds every bit as invested in this character as he was in the role he spent five years playing previously. In this interview, he talks about his approach to the Henry/Jeremy/War trinity and the challenges of playing a character so frequently shrouded in mystery and conflicted motivations.

"Sleepy Hollow" will air its second episode on Monday (September 29) night.

Click through for the full John Noble Q&A.

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex</p>

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex

Credit: Showtime

Season finale review: 'Masters of Sex' - 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'

Familiar faces return and truths come to light in the second season finale

"Masters of Sex" has wrapped up another season. I spoke with showrunner Michelle Ashford about various decisions that went into this year's stories, and I have a review of the finale coming up just as soon as I have all the gravitas of a toothpaste commercial...

Read Full Post
<p>Caitlin FitzGerald and Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex</p>

Caitlin FitzGerald and Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex

Credit: Showtime

'Masters of Sex' creator Michelle Ashford talks season 2

When is it okay to rewrite history? And why so much Cal-o-Metric?

“Masters of Sex” wrapped up an alternately excellent and frustrating second season tonight. I reviewed the finale here , and I had a long talk with “Masters” creator Michelle Ashford about the various big decisions of season 2, including the time jump, fictionalizing more aspects of the Masters and Johnson story and… Cal-o-Metric? All that coming up just as soon as I’m a doctor who also went to medical school…

Read Full Post
<p>Peter Griffin meets Homer Simpson</p>

Peter Griffin meets Homer Simpson

Credit: FOX

Season premiere talkback: 'The Simpsons' & 'Family Guy'

What did everybody think of Homer and Peter finally meeting in the crossover?

On Friday, I wrote about the season premiere of "The Simpsons," and the "Family Guy" premiere in which Peter and his family wind up in Springfield hanging out with Homer and company. For those who tuned in to either or both tonight, what did you think? Did the love-fest of FXX's Every "Simpsons" Ever marathon inspire any long-absent "Simpsons" fans to check out "Clown in the Dumps"? Did either storyline in that episode — the death in the A-story, or Lisa's fear for Homer's mortality in the B-story — amuse and/or touch you? Will you miss the deceased character, or are they too minor to mourn? And how did you feel the couch gag — directed by Don Hertzfeldt, whose "Rejected" short is on YouTube — worked as a commentary on the notion that the series is just going to keep running forever, to diminishing returns?

And I'm curious how both "Simpsons" and "Family Guy" fans felt about "The Simpsons Guy." A good meeting of two different sensibilities, or like trying to mix comedic oil and water? Better or worse than that time Jay Sherman came to Springfield? Did the chicken fight go on for too long, or does an hour-long crossover with "The Simpsons" all but demand an epic battle like that? And if you had to choose between "Simpsons" James Woods and "Family Guy" James Woods, who would win?

Have at it.

Read Full Post
<p>Kelly Macdonald in Boardwalk Empire</p>

Kelly Macdonald in Boardwalk Empire

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Cuanto'

Nucky and Margaret reunite, while Luciano visits Capone

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as my wheat farm goes belly up...

Read Full Post
<p>Joe Lo Truglio and Andy Samberg in &quot;Brooklyn Nine-Nine.&quot;</p>

Joe Lo Truglio and Andy Samberg in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

Credit: FOX

Season premiere review: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - 'Undercover'

Jake wraps up its undercover assignment, and Holt tests the squad

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is back with a new season, and on a new night. I have a review of the season premiere coming up just as soon as I arrest a perp named Joe Uterus...

Read Full Post


Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Shocker: 'Leviathan' will represent Russia in the foreign film Oscar race

Few expected the film, critical of local politics, to get the call

I think few who were paying attention to this year's foreign Oscar race expected Russia to choose "Leviathan" to represent the country. The film is essentially the Book of Job told against the backdrop of corrupt Russian politics, a movie director Andrey Zvyagintsev has even said he probably couldn't even get funded through the Russian Ministry of Culture today as he did two years ago. That's how much things have shifted as of late. And yet, today the selection was made. "Leviathan" will represent Russia in the race.

Read Full Post
<p>Tuesday&#39;s &quot;Marvel&#39;s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.&quot; premiere</p>

Tuesday's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." premiere

Credit: ABC

'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' premiere, 'New Girl' get Tuesday Live+3 Bumps

'Person of Interest' numbers look at bit less ugly now

The early Live+3 DVR numbers for Tuesday, September 23 are largely about ameliorating the Live+SD numbers for a couple shows that looked like minor disappointments and being reminded that when it comes to DVR numbers, the rich often get richer.

When it comes to the rich getting richer, the premiere of "NCIS" added nearly 3.3 million viewers and went from 18.23 million in Live+Same Day to 21.52 million in Live+3 Day, also picking up a full ratings point among adults 18-49 to end up with a 3.9 rating in the key demographic.

Also growing from an already high position was the series launch of "NCIS: New Orleans," which added 2.82 million viewers to reach 20.05 million in Live+3. The 18-49 DVR growth for "NCIS: New Orleans" was an unremarkable 28 percent, but that just meant it ended up with a 3.2 rating in the key demo, as well as a 4.7 rating in CBS' coveted 25-54 demo.

But we already knew "NCIS" and "NCIS: New Orleans" were hits as of Tuesday's Live+SDs. Which Tuesday underperformers got Live+3 bumps? Click through for the details...

Read Full Post
Doctor Who - The Caretaker
Credit: BBC

Recap: 'Doctor Who' - 'The Caretaker' shouldn't quit his day job

Should saving the world mean purposefully endangering this many children?

Last week, Twelve and Clara went on an old-school high stakes bank robbery with a cybernetic human and a mutant human. As you do. The big takeaways were the Doctor hates himself — still — and he is actively competing with Danny for Clara’s affections. Not in a “the Doctor wants to shag Clara” way but in a “the Doctor needs to be the most important person, always and forever” kind of way.

This week’s episode is called “The Caretaker” and seems more character driven. Off we go!


Read Full Post
Chris Pratt and Kate McKinnon

Chris Pratt and Kate McKinnon

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Chris Pratt and Ariana Grande

The "Guardians Of The Galaxy" star kicks off the show's fortieth season

Welcome back to another season of “Saturday Night Live,” everyone. It will be a momentous year for the show, as it seeks to shake off the hangover of last season’s uneven, sometimes turmoil-filled year. But in this, its fortieth season, there’s a lot about which to be optimistic. The cast is smaller, but its core cast is essentially intact, and those that “SNL” have added suggest a willingness on the show’s part to explore new comedic voices within its venerable institution.

Kicking things off will be recent box-office hero Chris Pratt, with the sister of “Big Brother 16” Frankie Grande serving as musical guest. (I just typed that in case Frankie has a Google search on his name. Sorry, Ariana.) I’m actually writing this from the road rather than my home, so I won’t have the usual luxury of pausing mid-show when needed. So things will be a bit faster and looser than normal.

For those that have followed along with my coverage for the past four seasons, nothing will really change this year. I’ll grade sketches one by one. These grades will threaten the very fabric of reality for some of you. The only big variation: I won’t be giving grades to the musical acts. It’s not my expertise, and talking about those segments of the show really doesn’t give a feel for how the episode’s comedy plays out on a weekly basis. I’ll discuss the music in the ending notes, but will omit as part of the ongoing liveblog.

We good? Good. On with the liveblog starting at 11:30 pm EST!

State Of The Union: Right off the bat, “SNL” takes on the NFL. Chris Pratt gets the plum role of Roger Goodell, a role that probably should have gone to a regular cast member. Seems like that will be a real-life person that will appear on a repeated basis, no? Ray Lewis (Kenan Thompson) and Shannon Sharpe (Jay Pharaoh) appear on “State Of The Union” to discuss the issue, only to further confuse the issue at hand due to their past actions and current verbal fumbles. (Pun intended.) The message is clear: It’s hard for many on-air personalities to discuss the current plights of players when they themselves have committed similarly illegal/suspect activities in the past. It’s more biting than the usual cold open, which is appreciated. Not a lot of real laughs, but some real meat on the bones. [Grade: B]

Monologue: First monologue of the year, and first song during the monologue of the year! Pratt is demonstrably nervous, but it’s endearing all the same. Pratt’s real-life wife Anna Farris is there to help support him, his nervous tics, and his verbal flubs. Oh boy. This premiere either be a shabby-but-happy party in which attitude rules comedic precision, or be an absolute mess. Time will tell. Hard to see much good here, but there was little truly bad, either. It mostly felt like it needed three more rehearsals. [Grade: C]

Cialis Turnt: It’s funny when white people dance to DJ Snake and Lil Jon, right? Wrong. [Grade: C-]

Alive Toys: Kyle Mooney is a child who wishes that his toys would come to life on his birthday. And lo, Pratt and Taran Killam turn into real-life versions of He-Man And Lion-O. Unfortunately, the two action figures don’t know anything about this world, so things like “cake” and “sister” confuse them. Sooner than you can say “hormones,” the pair are masturbating in the kitchen. Like ya do. This is a fine premise for the sketch, but Pratt’s timing is so off that the sketch more than occasionally dies. Not even Ariana Grande’s appearance as She-Ra saves the proceedings. The mess in the kitchen by the end of the sketch feels like a visual metaphor for the last twenty minutes. What works really works, but I can’t help but wonder what another two days would have done for this whole episode.  [Grade: B-]

Animal Hospital: Whoa, did NOT expect to see this one again. It’s a fairly cruel concept for a sketch, one that I thought would have revealed itself during its initial appearance last season. Unlike the last few segments, everything is crisply performed, but the idea of incompetent veterinarians gives me the heebies and jeebies. It just does, so this will never work for me. If it works for you, awesome. [Grade: D]

Marvel Can’t Fail: After “Guardians,” Marvel is super cocky. That’s why we are soon getting “Creatures Of The Cosmos,” “Bus People,” and “Pam,” all of which feature strange casts strolling through hallways to the sounds of “Hooked On A Feeling.” Maybe they have a point: I’d watch the hell out of “Pam 2: The Winter Pam.” What a silly, stupid concept for a sketch, but the sheer repetition here won me over. [Grade: B+]

Weekend Update: As a consolation prize for losing her anchor position, Cecily Strong returns as That Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party. She’s here to talk ebola, which she calls an “Obamanation” among other malapropisms. The last joke about her dad hating the selfie she took of them worked, but little else made Che stand out. Would "Update" neuter his personality and perspective? Luckily, almost immediately after that interview, Che lands solid joke after solid joke that sound like his stand-up/”Daily Show” brought to “Update.” Whew. Leslie Jones makes her second appearance on “Update” to discuss her singledom, which involves “Ghost Whisperer” reruns on ION. Whereas her last appearance was marked by audience confusion, but tonight she’s absolutely on fire, and the crowd is totally onboard. Finally, newbie Pete Davidson appears to discuss the monetary exchange needed for him to give a man oral sex. “I’m not gay. I’m a business man!” He keeps almost breaking, which immediately makes the audience love him. It helps that he’s immediately confident and has a perspective that feels fresh on the show. Some of his turns of phrase are just incredible. (“Once in the summer…so you have a GREAT summer!”) As for Jost: He was fine, but essentially forgettable. Amazingly, that’s an improvement over last year. And he and Che did team up for a "Cheer Up, President Obama" segment, suggesting ways in which the two can be a team instead of just two anchors occupying the same space. So good things all around! [Grade: A-]

Legends: Aidy Bryant’s character strikes up a flirtation with Pratt’s nerd, which is a meet-cute until it turns into a hip-hop verbal grindfest between the two. The pair have absolutely dynamite chemistry, and it’s never not funny hearing Bryant sing “Anaconda”. The sketch is high-concept, but simple in execution. There’s not a lot of there there, but it’s amusing all the same. [Grade: B]

Roommates: A similar Digital Short was cut last year during the Andrew Garfield episode, so God bless Mooney and Beck Bennett for trying again and succeeding this time. An incredible take on late-80’s/early-90’s TGIF-esque sitcoms, it takes the best of the Mooney/Bennett sensibility and marries it to some stellar editing and odd-as-hell touches. (That cut to the mystical castle made me laugh harder than anything else tonight.) As with all Digital Shorts by these two, this is an acquired taste. But damn did I love this. [Grade: A-]

NFL on CBS: A variation on the “Key & Peele” “East/West” sketch, this is all about the various crimes committed by the Ravens/Panthers players listed out one by one. A late appearance by Leslie Jones is funny, but the rest is “nice idea, mediocre execution.” I know Bismo Funyuns. I respect Bismo Funyuns. You, sketch, are no Bismo Funyuns. [Grade: C]

Video Game Testers: Vanessa Bayer (underused tonight) and Pratt are in-game characters that celebrate the completion of each level with excessive, amorous interactions. I could have watched about ten more minutes of those two melodramatically playing out their relationship, but apparently there’s not enough time. Oh well. I liked what was presented, but there wasn’t enough to take it to the next level that seemed incredibly within reach. [Grade: B]

Best Segment: “Weekend Update”. I have a special place in my heart for this part of the show, and it’s encouraging to see some life breathed into it. You could argue (and I wouldn’t disagree) that Strong should not have been the one to leave. But the Jost/Che combo is what we have, and it’s good to see “SNL” might be able to use this duo for more than simply sparing Jost’s feelings and not abandoning the show’s investment in him over the past few years.

Worst Segment: “Animal Hospital”. Just ugh.

How Was Ariana Grande? Great voice, but ultimately forgettable songs. I’m very curious where the current crop of female pop stars are eighteen months from now. Grande, Iggy Azalia, Charli XCX, and others are certainly having a moment now. But there’s (other than Grande’s headgear) to make them truly stand out at this point.

Overall Assessment: A sloppy start for most turned into a well-oiled machine by the end. Even if certain sketches didn’t work late in the episode, at least the show didn’t feel riddled with nerves and miscues. There were not many sketches involving lots of characters, which means we still don’t have a truly ensemble feel yet. But that might come soon enough. Plenty of time. I'm optimistic!

What did everyone else think of the premiere? Sound off below!

Read Full Post