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<p>Joss Whedon on the set of &quot;The Avengers&quot;</p>
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Joss Whedon on the set of "The Avengers"

Credit: Disney/Marvel

Celebrating Joss Whedon's birthday on the set of 'The Avengers'

'Buffy,' 'Firefly' auteur shares his vision for his new Marvel epic
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Professional decorum dictates that there's almost never an appropriate time to sing to an interview subject.
 
[I would even accept the elimination of the "almost" from the previous sentence.]
 
But sometimes, Joss Whedon walks into a trailer of reporters and looks at the standard sea of digital and tape recorders and observes, "All of these for me? That's weird that you all got me the same thing for my birthday."
 
At that point, a collective serenade of "Happy Birthday" -- without advance warning, nobody paid the licensing fee -- becomes a muscle reflex as much as anything. 
 
The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly" auteur reaches us toward the end of a two-day June visit to the set of "The Avengers" in Albuquerque, arriving after the stars of the film, one and all, have spoken nothing but praise for his work on the Marvel project, particularly its script.
 
Tom Hiddleston, reprising his "Thor" role as the power-hungry Loki calls Whedon "a brilliant writer and a brilliant storyteller."
 
Chris Hemsworth -- Thor himself -- previously worked with Whedon on "Cabin in the Woods" and, like Hiddleston, he opts to repeat his superlatives, raving, "He's great, he's got a great sense of humor."
 
Jeremy Renner adds, "There's no bigger fan than Joss of this world and he's a really good writer and he had a massive task to write this movie and direct it, massive. I don't know anybody who could really write this and really put in all the stuff that he really wanted to put in, cause he honors all these characters so much."
 
Even Robert Downey Jr., who takes pride in his tendency toward on-set script revisions revisions, admits that "It wasn't broke, so it's not like we had to fix things," calling it a relief and adding, "It's nice when the car kinda drives all by itself."
 
We begin the interview by mentioning all of the praise for his work.
 
"And now it's my turn," the birthday boy says.
 
I don't need to tell Whedon fans that that quote is mock-bluster and that you'd be hard pressed to more self-deprecating storyteller, especially not one who has been handed the keys to the expensive luxury car that is "The Avengers," the crown jewel of Marvel's burgeoning movie empire. 
 
Whedon won't hesitate to admit the learning curve that a film of this scale has required. For example, he isn't shy about the reasons "The Avengers" was shot in 2D and will be post-converted to 3D. 
 
"We were going to shoot in 3D and everybody said, 'No, the new rigs move fast and they are small. It's all going to be great' and I shot the tag for 'Thor' in 3D with that setup and after we lost three and a half hours to lens changes and unknowable camera weirdness we decided to not do that," he admits.
 
But he's still glad to hear compliments from his stars.
 
"No, everybody seems to be on board," Whedon agrees. "I'm still working on it. I hope to finish it sometime before the DVD release. It's been very fluid, but it always is with a movie anyway and especially a movie where the perspective changes nine times every scene. I swore I would never make 'Serenity' again and here I am."
 
And at that "Serenity" reference, it's probably best to go to a somewhat trimmed version of the Q&A between Whedon and reporters on the "Avengers" set. 
 
Click through...
 
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<p>Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo on the set of &quot;The Avengers&quot;</p>
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Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo on the set of "The Avengers"

Credit: Disney/Marvel

Mark Ruffalo joins the Marvel family on the set of 'The Avengers'

The newest Hulk talks about his CGI makeover and getting Ed Norton's blessing
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - In April of 2012, fans will have had their appetites whetted for The Hulk and his appearance in Joss Whedon's "Avengers."
 
We'll have heard him roar. We'll have watched him slide down a New York City skyscraper, Iron Man clutched under his mammoth green arm. We'll have seen him stand in the middle of a ruined urban street surrounded by his fellow superheroes, assembled, as the Marvel parlance goes.
 
But it isn't April 2012. 
 
It's June of 2011 and Mark Ruffalo and his emerald alter ego are among the biggest mysteries for a small cadre of journalists who have been prowling the "Avengers" -- or "Group Hug" as all of the signs and badges read -- set for the better part of two days. 
 
We've seen hints of The Hulk. 
 
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Kim and Kroy

Spin-off here we come! Kim and Kroy set the scene for 'Don't Be Tardy For the Wedding'

Credit: Wilford Harewood/Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' - 'All Pomp But No Circumstance'

It's all business (and bling) before the season finale

The season's penultimate episode isn't very eventful, but nearly all the ladies are working it. Phaedra's getting closer to her dreams of big time funeral business. Cynthia's almost ready to launch her modeling school. Kandi's still prepping her sex toy line. Nene contemplates moving to LA and looking for someone crazy enough to cast her alongside professional actors. (Hello, Ryan Murphy!) And Kim gets engaged (and a spin-off!)...

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<p>January Jones as Betty in &quot;Mad Men.&quot;</p>

January Jones as Betty in "Mad Men."

Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' - 'Tea Leaves': Harry and Draper go to White Castle

Betty, Roger and Peggy all deal with the threat of being replaced

A review of tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I have a resume up my sleeve...

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<p>Mark Wahlberg and a very dirty teddy bear co-star in Seth Macfarlane's summer comedy 'Ted'</p>

Mark Wahlberg and a very dirty teddy bear co-star in Seth Macfarlane's summer comedy 'Ted'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Watch: How dirty can one teddy bear talk in the trailer for Seth Macfarlane's 'Ted'?

Mark Wahlberg looks like he's turned it up to full weirdo for this one

I would not call myself Seth Macfarlane's biggest fan.

I'm not going to waste time beating up on "Family Guy," because at this point, either you like its scattershot approach to pop culture comedy, or you don't, and there's not really much of a chance someone's going to convince you to laugh or convince you not to laugh.  I think the show has settled into its own weird, icky groove, and I think it's a little funnier now than it was in the early days.  Part of that is that Seth Macfarlane has become more and more comfortable with the voice of the show, and at this point, it's carved out its own weird corner of the comedy world.

My favorite moment of his so far is his work in "Hellboy: The Golden Army," where I think he gives a genuinely great vocal performance.  His choices there make me laugh out loud, and I think he also finds some great strange notes to play in the film that are unexpected and wonderful.  That was the moment that convinced me not to underestimate Macfarlane, and over time, I think he's proven himself to be a very sharp wit when he's appearing as himself.

Also, he could buy and sell me a zillion times over.  So he's got that going for him.

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<p>Colin Farrell braces for some serious mind games in the remake of 'Total Recall'</p>

Colin Farrell braces for some serious mind games in the remake of 'Total Recall'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Watch: 'Total Recall' trailer plays close to original with smart new twists

Could this be a case of a remake that's actually worth remaking?

I am often surprised at the loyalty people display towards the 1990 "Total Recall."

It is a film with some great ideas embedded in it, many of which were either lifted from the Philip K. Dick short story, and some of which were created by Gary Goldman and Paul Verhoeven during the film's lengthy development process.

It is also a film that is bogged down by the baggage of its star, and there is no one on Earth who is ever going to convince me that Arnold Schwarzenegger was the right guy to play that part.  And as much as I adore the Verhoeven of "Robocop," I sort of hate the Verhoeven of "Recall."  I think it is one of the flat-out ugliest blockbusters of the '90s, fake and garish and dated the second it was released.

Looking at the trailer for the new "Total Recall," it's obvious that they started with the movie when building this remake.  This is not a new adaptation of the same story, no matter what they say, because so many of the elements that we see here were created for the film.  That's fine.  Even the title is a nod to the fact that they are directly remaking the film.

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<p>Joel Kinnaman of &quot;The Killing&quot;</p>
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Joel Kinnaman of "The Killing"

Credit: AMC

HitFix Interview: Joel Kinnaman talks 'The Killing' Season 2

Future 'RoboCop' discusses the premiere's Holder-related revelations
[Don't read this interview until after watching Sunday's (April 1) season premiere of "The Killing."]
 
When last we left Joel Kinnaman's Holder, at the end of the first season of AMC's "The Killing," it appeared that he had done some very bad things.
 
And fans weren't happy.
 
There was a lot about that "Killing" finale that made certain viewers miserable, but the seeming decision to expose compellingly twitchy, amusingly acerbic, ultimately endearing Holder as a backstabbing fink got people particularly riled up.
 
After watching Sunday's two-hour premiere, we can all say...
 
[Click through...]
 
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<p>Brent Sexton as Stan Larsen in &quot;The Killing.&quot;</p>

Brent Sexton as Stan Larsen in "The Killing."

Credit: AMC

'The Killing' - 'Reflections/My Lucky Day': Everything's going to be different now?

What did everybody think of the AMC mystery series' season premiere?

I posted my review of "The Killing" season 2 earlier this week. Like I said, while I thought there were some improvements, notably in the way they dealt with some of the character work (the Jamie/Gwen scenes in particular), it's still not a show I enjoy enough to be writing about every week. I imagine I'll watch the season on an irregular schedule and then come back to discuss how well (or not) the show handled the close of the Larsen case.

But for tonight, it's your turn. For those of you who came back, what did you think of the two-part premiere? If you were happy with the first season, did the quality continue? If you were among the angered, did you see any signs of hope in these two hours, or more of the same? Is there anyone who tuned in for this one to give the show a last chance and is now done with it? How did people feel about what we learned about Holder and the photograph? Did you like the new character played by Mark Moses from "Desperate Housewives" and "Mad Men"? Were fans of the Danish original happy to see Sofie Gråbøl (as Linden's friend in the prosecutor's office) playing scenes opposite Mireille Enos? Did you want more rain? Less rain? Chubby rain?

Have at it.

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<p>Justin Chatwin and Emmy Rossum in &quot;Shameless.&quot;</p>

Justin Chatwin and Emmy Rossum in "Shameless."

Credit: Showtime

Season finale review: 'Shameless' - 'Fiona Interrupted'

The Gallaghers are there for each other in the touching close to season 2

A review of the "Shameless" season finale coming up just as soon as I put the baby in the clothes dryer...

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<p>Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Season premiere review: 'Game of Thrones' - 'The North Remembers'

Tyrion, Jon Snow and more get or give lessons of power in the fantasy series' triumphant return

"Game of Thrones" is back for a second season. I posted my advance review on Thursday, and I have specific thoughts on the season premiere coming up just as soon as we trade gossip like a couple of  fishwives...

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>
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Taylor Swift

Credit: AP

Live blogging the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards

Does Kenny Chesney sweep? What about Taylor Swift and Lady A?

Hello from Las Vegas, where we're blogging the Academy of Country Music Awards. We're backstage, so we'll be writing about portions of the show that we catch on the monitors or well as filling you in immediately with what the artists who come backstage reveal.

8:00: Carrie Underwood and her awesome legs open the show with her current single, “Good Girl,” from her forthcoming album, out May 1. She’s wearing so short a skirt that she can go from good girl to bad girl with one wrong camera angle.  It’s a belter and she's country music's strongest belter right now.

8:04: Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton, in their second year of co-hosting, trade fairly funny quips, including Shelton busting McEntire on how old she is--and panning over to KISS, in full make up.  Hey, Garth Brooks' covered "Hard Luck Woman," so that makes them country by association. The scary thing is it looks like they aren't even the ones in the room with the most make-up.  Shelton and McEntire have an easy chemistry that serves them both well. Between the Shelton/McEntire duo hosting the ACMs and Brad Paisley/Carrie Underwood hosting the CMAs, we've got combos that can go for years.

8:05:
Chris Young, up for male vocalist of the year,  sings "Save Water, Drink Beer."   It’s a typical country rebel rousing, drinking sound that  focuses more on the party than showing off Young’s strong voice. Young has had a run of consecutive five No. 1 singles so we imagine there’s been a lot of beer drinking for him lately.

8:15:  Zac Brown Band checks in from Mandalay Bay with "Keep It in Mind." It's  a good performance, but the band doesn't have time to really show off their musicality and how well they work together live. If you haven't seen them live, you should.

8:18: Then there's the Band Perry. So we're less than 20 minutes in and we've had four performances like bullet trains pulling into the station and pulling out as quickly. "Postcard from Paris" will be the last single from The Band Perry's current album. As impassioned performers as they are, Kimberly sounds scratchy, and, again, the camera men are  patrol to make sure they don't shoot too high since she's in a very short skirt. I have all kinds of terms that I'm calling this in my head that involve certain furry animals, but I won't print them here in case there are children reading... or people easily offended.

8:26: LL Cool J, who is just as country as KISS,  just said, "Let's hear it for our country." What? Now we're getting a big standing O for the military. This segues into Keith Urban performing "For You," which he wrote for "Act of Valor." Country music has always embraced the military when it wasn't always in fashion, and expect a few other salutes to the military tonight. There's no doubt the song is heartfelt, but Urban's voice is ragged and the song is one of his least dynamic... however, there's no way he's not getting a standing O... that would be downright unpatriotic and everyone in that audience is a patriot, right? 

8:32: Beth Behrs from "2 Broke Girls,"  and her annoyingly nasal voice are presenting the first award of the night for Song of the Year." Our money is on Eli Young Band's "Crazy Girl."  And the winner is "Crazy Girl," so we're 1 for 1 on our predictions. We'll see how quickly that changes.  Each member of the band gets a word in, including songwriters Lee Brice and Liz Rose (best known for co-writing with Taylor Swift before she decided to write solo). The song was an absolute gamechanger for The Eli Young Band.

8:36: "Crazy Girl" was the first televised award presented, but three were given out before the show started: Thompson Square won vocal duo of the year, ending Sugarland's long reign. Sugarland, as you'll recall, ended Brooks & Dunn's long reign. Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson won vocal event of the year for "Don't You Wanna Stay,"  and Toby Keith won video of the year for "Red Solo Cup," which he'll perform later on tonight with some surprises guests.

8:42 Shelton performs current hit, "Drink On It," which is one of those sloping easy going songs that plays on the theme of "Sleep on it," and it's a pretty sleepy performance.

8:45: We're up to album of the year and Miranda Lambert wins for the third year in a row with "Four The Record." I can't keep up with my predictions so I'll quit while I'm 1 for 1. The albums are my babies. They're what makes me wake up in the morning," she says from the podium.  Truthfully, the press room was pulling for Eric Church and "Chief," though we're all Miranda fans...

8:47: Zac Brown and his knit cap introduce Hunter Hayes, whom Brown notes plays on his own records. He looks so young he could be an embryo... he's 20, but I feel like I could carry him around in my pocket. By the way, I'll give someone $50 for a photo of Zac Brown without his cap on. What's going on underneath there?  Anyway, Hayes, who performs a short version of "Storm Warning.," before introducing his new song that he wrote as the theme for the ACMs' end hunger campaign.  He tosses to Little Big Town, country music's greatest harmonizers, to perform the song, "Here's Hope," with blends with "Imagine," by John Lennon, or John Legend, as Hayes first stumbled. LBT is performing with an adorable children's choir. I feel like I have a heart of stone that this is not moving me in the least. I'm most obsessed with LBT Kimberly Schlapman's  hair, which is so big and frizzy that Hunter Hayes may be hiding in it.

8:58: Jason Aldean, already a winner tonight, is playing "Fly Over States," the last single off of his mega-selling "My Kinda Party." Aldean remains country's best kept secret in that, even despite the duet with Clarkson and selling more than 2 million copies of "Party,"  he hasn't gotten that much of a following outside of country music yet. We've had too many slow or mid-tempo songs in a row. We need an up-tempo sh** kicker, although, given how big Aldean is, we get why he's opening the second hour no matter what he wanted to sing.

9:01: There's always a ringer at the awards-- one year it was Cher, this year it's Kiss. My friend saw Paul Stanley taking his kids to see the Easter Bunny at The Grove in Los Angeles last week. He did not have on his make-up.  Kiss is presenting band of the year, which goes to Lady Antebellum. Hillary Scott looks a little scared. Weirdest photo op ever.

9:05: Brantley Gilbert who is up for best new artist is singing hit "Country Must Be Country Wide," in which he name checks Chris LeDoux. If I'm not wrong, the last person to name check LeDoux in his first single was Garth Brooks with "Much Too Young." Turned out okay for him, didn't it  (Plus, Gilbert's already well on his way as co-writer of Jason Aldean's monster hit,  "Dirt Road Anthem." 

9:07: From Chris LeDoux to Springsteen, Eric Church is performing "Springsteen." Coincidentally, my best friend is in Washington, D.C.  watching Springsteen perform right now. He's singing "Does The Bus Stop at 82nd Street," by the way. He is not singing a song called "Church." 

9:10: Frank Liddell, who produced Lambert's "Four The Record" is backstage. He's talking about how surprised he is they won and that they have always concentrated on making albums, not just singles. He was presented the award by Eli Young Band, whom he used to produce and whom he still executive produces:  I still work with them as their executive producer," he says, "which means I'm the guy who cuts up the cocaine." He's going to regret saying that the minute he walks out of the room, even though he said, "I'm kidding" a split second later. Liddell is working on a new album with his wife, Lee Ann Womack right now.

9:16: Back to watching the show. Single of the year, presented by Jake Owen and LeAnn Rimes, goes to Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson for "Don't You Wanna Stay." Aldean says Clarkson's name was the first name "he threw out," when he decided the song needed a female voice on it.

9:19: Lady Antebellum seems to have recovered enough from their moment with Kiss to perform "Dancin' Away With My Heart." It's a lovely wistful performance, but I'm falling asleep.

9:29 "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery, who is 18 going on 48, sings a bit of new single "Water Tower Town," before intro'ing Brad Paisley, with whom he's touring. Paisley, dressed all in camouflage is performing "Camouflage." It's a bit of a novelty song , but Paisley's guitar playing is, as always, exemplary. Even if you don't think you're a country fan, do yourself a favor and go see Paisley when he comes to town, simply for the guitar playing, if nothing else. Same with Keith Urban. And remember, there's nothing that doesn't go with camouflage. Not crazy about the song, but so happy to hear something uptempo.

9:35: Scotty McCreery beats Brantley Gilbert and Hunter Hayes for best new artist. It's a fan voted award. It really is hard to believe that he is in high school. Eli Young Band just walked in backstage. Bassist Jon Jones jokes that the award is too heavy to wear around his neck.  Mike Eli talks about how the band, together for 10 years now, always felt there was something good around the corner, even if it was so incremental no one else would notice, but they never thought it would reach this level. And for those unfamiliar, there is no one names Eli Young in the band. The name comes from Mike Eli and James Young.

9:44: Steve Martin is performing with Rascal Flatts on "Banjo." We didn't hear the intro so we don't know if there was a word or two said about Martin's hero, Earl Scruggs, who died earlier this week. The pairing seems weird to us, but it's still a joy to watch Martin play.

9:46: Toby Keith is singing "Red Solo Cup," surrounded by fans holding, of course, red solo cups. It's the stupidest songs in ages, but Keith smartly created a video that made the song a viral sensation. It's Vegas, baby... he's just been joined by Carrot Top. Now he's worked his way down to the celeb section and Eric Church is drinking double. The song will never be anything other than a novelty, but it was a fun, spirited performance.

9:50: Sara Evans is singing "My Heart Can't Tell You No," originally a hit for Rod Stewart.  Surprised no one has thought of doing a country remake before now.  Lady Antebellum to the press room. It's Lady A's Hillary Scott's birthday, so it's not a bad way to celebrate. They admit being mesmerized by Kiss and their 12-inch heels. But the band is looking forward to a date with another rocker: They are playing Hard Rock Calling in the U.K. this summer, immediately before Bruce Springsteen on the bill.  "That's on my bucket list," Lady A's Charles Kelley says. I'm seen him several times, every time he comes to Nashville. He's one of my biggest influences. We've covered 'I'm on Fire' on tour. I don't think we'll be pulling out that cover that night."  We missed Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw's performance, but we can catch them together out on tour this summer.

10:06: Miranda Lambert just won female vocalist of the year, presented by a cowboy-hat clad Ashton Kutcher. No idea what he said because Scotty McCreery was backstage. He is obviously the only high school kid in America who is going to school Monday through Wednesday and then out on tour with Brad Paisley over the weekend. He said the first week after the tour he came to school in t-shirt, shorts and flip flops because he didn't want his friends to think he was putting on airs. Remarkably grounded kid. He's touring the world, and yet, he just said he decided to go to school close to home at NSCU because he's not ready to move away from home yet.

10:12: Blake Shelton just introduced his wife, "Miranda Lambert Shelton" and her pink microphone. She's about to get cut off for Toby Keith, who, of course, is holding a red Solo cup, which has his own premium brand of Mezcal in it. Keith says he thought the song was "so stupid, it's brilliant," when he first heard it. Co-writers The Warren Brothers thought they were faking shooting the video until the second day of production. "They thought they were being punk'd," Keith says.

10:49: We just had a little computer glitch, so we'll try to catch up... Artists are coming in fast and furious to the press room now as the evening draws to a close, so we're missing most of the performances. We really wish we'd missed Martina McBride and Train's Pat Monahan performing "Marry Me," as a couple traded real vows and the song kept being interrupted for the minister's remarks. They have a sad, yet lovely, story of meeting each other in a grief group after both being widowed, but this is way too sappy.

10:50: Blake Shelton just won male country vocalist, and in a major dis to Taylor Swift, who presented to him, says, "This is a real shock face... "

10:56: Thompson Square is backstage so the sound is down on the monitors, but it looks like Taylor Swift won Entertainer of the year. Can't hear what she's saying... Shawna Thompson just teared up bringing up her dad, who recently died... Keifer Thompson admits a lot of folks were looking at them as the underdogs for top duo since Brooks and Dunn and Sugarland are the only duos who have won the award over the last 20 years.

10:58: Lionel Richie and Blake Shelton close the song singing "You Are," they look totally uncomfortable singing the "you need to know, I love you so" line to each other, those two big old alphamales.

 We missed a lot of the actual show after folks started coming backstage, but it seemed to run relatively smoothly if completely unexceptionally.  There were no huge upsets, although we think Chesney, who was up for nine wins went home completely emptyhanded, so he's probably upset...

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading.

What did you think of the ACMs? 

 


 

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<p>One Direction performed at Saturday's Kids Choice Awards</p>
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One Direction performed at Saturday's Kids Choice Awards

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Music Power Rankings: Of Madonna and Mad Men

Justin Bieber, One Direction and 98 Degrees make the list too

1) Madonna: MDNA” sells faster than ecstasy at a rave. Even her songwriting “friend,” Molly bought some.

2) Justin Bieber:
If iTunes is any indication, this “Boyfriend’ gained about 400,000 new girlfriends this week.

3) One Direction:
The boy band will publish their biography. I already know their favorite foods, colors, and seasons. What else is there to say?

4) Lionel Richie:
Richie worked “Tuskegee,” his new album featuring him with top country stars, with the unbridled enthusiasm of a newcomer and the shine and poise of a veteran to claim his highest debut in 24 years. Still, we’re waiting for Vol. 2 and his duet with Taylor Swift on “Brickhouse.”

5) Goldenvoice:
Coachella’s concert promoter bought 280 acres surrounding the 90-acre concert site. They could have just rented a RV or camping space like everyone else...

6) Spotify:
The streaming service extends its free, ad-supported streaming indefinitely and goes looking for $3.5 billion in funding. Spotify owns no content, so what exactly would I be investing in again?

7) “Mad Men”:
Taking a page from “Glee” and “Smash,” “Mad Men” instantly put Jessica Pare’s sultry version of “Zou Bisou Bisou” on iTunes after Sunday’s Season Five premiere. We hope this isn’t a trend. Doesn’t Matt Weiner know iTunes wasn’t born until 2003?  

8) 98 Degrees:
With a boy band resurgence in full swing, Nick Lachey, his brother and the two other dudes decide to make another go-round with a reported 15-city tour this summer, their first in 10 years. Hey,  Lachey’s about to become a daddy...not a bad idea to tuck away a little extra coin.

9) Aretha Franklin:
After some drastic health issues a few years ago, the Queen of Soul shows she’s nowhere near done. At 70, she has signed a new record deal with her long-time buddy Clive Davis. Long may she reign.

10) Electronic Dance Music:
Has it officially jumped the shark if EMI has created its own global major division to pump the beat worldwide?


 

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