Latest Blog Posts

<p>Amy Adams talks about her new role in Paul Thomas Anderson's &quot;The Master.&quot;</p>

Amy Adams talks about her new role in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

'The Master's' Amy Adams says Paul Thomas Anderson was funnier than she expected

Three-time Oscar nominee reflects on one of the standout performances of her career

TORONTO - Sitting down with Amy Adams last week during the Toronto International Film Festival, there was only one thing on the agenda and it probably wasn't what you'd expect it be.  No, I didn't ask her about playing Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman reboot "Man of Steel."  And, no, there wasn't time to ask her what she thoughts were of her "Trouble with the Curve" co-star Clint Eastwood's now iconic speech to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention two weeks ago.  Instead, the topic of conversation had to be regarding her incredible performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

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<p>Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President of the United States in Steven Spielberg's &quot;Lincoln.&quot;</p>

Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President of the United States in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."

Credit: DreamWorks Studios

Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' trailer puts the focus on future generations

Daniel Day-Lewis pulls off a striking resemblance to the 16th U.S. president

With less than two months before it debuts in limited release, DreamWorks Pictures debuted the first full-length trailer for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" today. The preview teased the classic cinematic imagery and framing Spielberg has been known to embrace when tackling more serious, period fare and gave moviegoers their first extended look of Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President of the United States. And while Day-Lewis appears headed for another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Honest Abe, it was the subtle inclusion of Lincoln with his young son (we assume) that was the surprise.

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<p>Your four &quot;X Factor&quot; judges</p>

Your four "X Factor" judges

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Thursday Premiere - Auditions #2

Who will make Britney and Demi cry tonight?

I thought the first night of the revamped "X Factor," featuring a slack-jawed Britney Spears and Demi Lovato's One Glistening Tear, was pretty good.

America, however, decided it'd be better to watch a third consecutive night of "The Voice."

But on a "Voice"-free Thursday, perhaps "X Factor" will get a big audience bounce?

Or else I'll just keep live-blogging into a vacuum. 

Click through for all of the fun...

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<p>Amanda Palmer</p>

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer draws criticism for hugs-as-pay touring musician approach

'Volunteer Corps': Albini weights in... does David Byrne too?

This week, Amanda Palmer started her recruiting the "orchestra" members of her Grand Theft Orchestra Tour with an announcement: she'd be drafting "professional-ish" quality horn and string players locally at each gig. "We will feed you beer, hug/high-five you up and down (pick your poison), give you merch and thank you mightily for adding to the big noise we are planning to make."

Let's be clear about something: Amanda Palmer did not invent the notion of paying musicians in drink tickets and a good hang.

Palmer fell under fire for her pay structure regardless, and for a few reasons.

According to the New York Times, the Boston-based songwriter will be paying her three regular touring members, but still wants seven or eight unpaid performers for each night: a string quartet and three or four saxophone players.

The songwriter made headlines earlier this summer for raising a record-breaking $1.2 million through Kickstarter, to make and promote her next new record "Theatre Is Evil." That album bowed on Tuesday and Palmer claims those funds were used in promoting and marketing and creating the set.

She also said that paying seven or eight musicians for three dozen tour dates would amount to $35,000, which she does not have or has not delegated or does not want to delegate. Plus, she told the Times, "If you could see the enthusiasm of these people, the argument would become invalid. They’re all incredibly happy to be here," she said. “If my fans are happy and my audience is happy and the musicians on stage are happy, where’s the problem?”

Not all of her fans are happy, and some have thought the move was unfair to musicians. Musicians Unions are not happy, saying her recruiting method devalues working musicians' work.

But, indeed, many of her fans are fine with the move: the $1.2 million is evidence of their loyalty and acceptance of this other type of "crowdsourcing."

Palmer's path -- even when she was on Roadrunner -- has always been unique, and these days, firmly DIY. Her music isn't my cup of tea, but I admire her enterprising and intimate connection with her fans. In my interview with her in 2010, she admitted to the tendencies of her "hardcore" fans, and then the need to recapture new fans' attentions after an album drops.

It's more than just the hardcore fans that will make the Grand Theft Orchestra Tour successful. And have no doubt: it will be really, really successful.

And that's where I break with her decision. Her logic says that her rotating mini-orchestra should get paid $0 or $35,000, and suggested no number in between. But Palmer is going to kill this tour. Murder it dead. She's playing mid-sized ballrooms and theaters, and she will sell many of them out. And she will have $35,000 and then some to spare by the end of it.

If Palmer says it took $1.2 million to make this album, sure, fine, it's totally fine. Blow it on catering and payroll. The math may bother me, but spending it on what she wants doesn't bother me, and I don't think the many fans that paid to make her album "possible" would disagree. But it's misleading to say that at the end of this tour, she can't afford to pay her players, even if $35k is high.

In her Tumblr, she noted the "poetic placement" of an article about David Byrne was next to her Times article. David Byrne even name-checked Palmer in his article, "as an example of someone who creatively crowdsources things," she posted. Plus: "when david byrne guested with the grand theft orchestra a few months ago at the music hall of williamsburg, we paid him…in beer."

Halt. Stop right there. I think Amanda Palmer knows that David Byrne is compensated for his music, and deserves to be. David Byrne played Palmer's show for a drink token not just because he likes Amanda Palmer, but because of a little something called good will. Generosity. Good will and generosity helped to raise $1.2 million, and not solely just because people like her previous albums.

To answer Palmer's question "where's the problem?", I'd say the move, more than anything, is tacky. Palmer could have listed "Play with my band" as one of the "rewards" for donating to her album fund. She, instead, experienced the love and generosity of her hardcore fanbase's outpouring of good will and vibes, and then dipped into the pot again, in a very public and tactless way. Her fans' exceptionalism is no excuse.

There are musicians and Amanda Palmer fans who would love the exposure and the fun of playing with her. There are musicians and Amanda Palmer fans who would love to play with her, but believe they deserve to get paid. Those who will play for free will get the gig, whether or not they are better players than those who decline the opportunity (and, at that, the lottery). Palmer will value you as an "Orchestra" member if you play for free, so what does that say about how she values all performers and touring artists, beyond how happy they are?

Chronic crank and brilliant record engineer Steve Albini, in his discussion online at the Electrical Audio board, used the word "waste" toward what happened with Palmer's Kickstarter fun. Furthermore, I'd call this tactic a waste of good will. Of course some of her hardcore, professional-ish fans would play for free. That doesn't mean she should let them.

 

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<p>Don Mischer</p>

Don Mischer

Credit: AP Photo

Don Mischer to direct Oscars telecast

Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron choose telecast veteran

Don Mischer will direct the 85th Academy Awards telecast, it was announced today by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Mischer has directed the telecast several times before, including 2011's 83rd Oscars, which was largely critically reviled, due in part to James Franco's lethargic co-hosting job. Mischer was nominated for directing Emmys for the 2011 and 2012 shows.

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Watch: 'Glee' stars Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist introduce their new characters

Watch: 'Glee' stars Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist introduce their new characters

Who are Jake and Marley other than halves of a "Christmas Carol" character?
When last we left McKinley High School, it was Graduation Day and Ryan Murphy was sending a good chunk of his "Glee" cast packing, whether to "New York City" for regular ongoing adventures or off into the ether for periodic guest appearances.
 
But just because Finn and Puck and Quinn and Santana aren't necessarily going to be around full-time [nobody actually knows for sure] doesn't mean that "Glee" is going to become an intimidate chamber drama. No. Get ready to meet a slew of fresh characters, both in Lima and in the Rachel Berry-centric Big Apple scenes.
 
Earlier this week, I sat down with a few of the "Glee" new kids to talk about joining the musical-dramedy, which launches its fourth season on Thursday (September 13) night.
 
Up first? Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist
 
It's theoretically possible that you might know Artist from "How To Rock," "Melissa & Joey" or the recent "Blue Lagoon: The Awakening," but chances are good that "Glee" will be the first time you've seen him. He plays Jake Puckerman and it takes very little time to realize that the Puckerman apple doesn't fall far from the Puckerman tree.
 
Benoist also has a small roster of guest roles, including episodes of "Homeland" and "The Good Wife," but she'll be making her first big splash as Marley, a gal with a gorgeous voice and a funny hat.
 
I chatted with Artist and Benoist about their characters, about hazing on the "Glee" set and about the strongly insinuated possibility that Jake and Marley -- Ryan Murphy's been reading his Charles Dickens -- are heading for a romantic collision.
 
Check out the video... And stay tuned for my interviews with Becca Tobin and Dean Geyer next week after you've met Kitty and Brody.
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<p>Nicki Minaj at the MTV&nbsp;VMAs</p>

Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMAs

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Nicki Minaj drops snotty new single 'The Boys' with Cassie

Female, and punk as hell

Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" was the graceful, bangin' balance between the pop and rap sides of her coin, a track with perfect peace with current top 40. Now with "The Boys," the Young Money artist yet again achieves that yin and yang, for urban radio. On top of that, we get a -- gasp -- feminine view into Minaj's songcraft.

After so many songs adopting the common male hip-hop vernacular, Minaj puts Roman aside for the moment to talk about "The Boys," featuring rising R&B vocalist Cassie. These hip-hop guys are "always spending all their money on love," an assertion that's notable for a couple of reasons. First, the chorus arrives on the heels rumors flying about Cassie and notable money-and-love lover Diddy.

Second, it's the counter-argument to "the boys" going broke because of their girlfriends: it's not the girls asking for money, it's the boys blowing it themselves. Kanye, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, crew boss Lil Wayne and others all have verses insisting on outfitting their women in the very brand names they endorse... or worse, call out the bitches, hoes and other pet names for "taking" rappers' cash for money for purses, shoes, whatever.

Third, it removes the female from general equation, and simply points the cashflow toward "love," here as a service rendered, or a simple commodity. "They want to touch it, taste it, see it, pet it, bone it, own it," the auto-tuned voice sings, defining "love" as less than a woman and more of an object. You know: money, cash, hoes, money, cash, chicks, what.

That sentiment goes hand-in-hand with the big, soupy-sweet hook of the chorus, which could also be read a couple of ways. "You get high / Love a bunch of girls / And then cry / on top of the world" may read with the last line as a quote "And then cry, 'On top of the world'" or it could simply be the rapper whining or crying when he's at the top of his game. Either way, "loving" a bunch of girls is the prerequisite to the rapper's successful business model.

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Watch: Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid explain how 'X Factor' Season 2 is different

Watch: Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid explain how 'X Factor' Season 2 is different

What the heck is Demi Lovato's "secret weapon"?
If you watched Wednesday (September 12) night's premiere, you're already away of the new look for "The X Factor."
 
You've seen the hostless backstage audition footage and the montages celebrating the surprisingly critical Britney Spears.
 
But few would question that Demi Lovato was the star of Wednesday's two-hour episode, particularly her sensitive treatment of bullied teen Jillian Jensen, an extended moment that produced tears aplenty. 
 
On Monday, I sat down with Lovato and returning judge L.A. Reid to discuss second season changes and the fresh feel to "X Factor."
 
Check out the interview (as well as my chat with Simon Cowell) and remember that "X Factor" is back on Wednesday night.
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<p>Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck in "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Making the case for 'Argo' and the zeitgeist

Ben Affleck's film assumes the early frontrunner position

Some months back I pondered the idea of the dissolving of TomKat -- and therefore, a flood of fresh Scientology headlines -- adding a little extra leverage to the cause (if you will) for "The Master" this awards season.

The zeitgeist, you see, is a funny thing. It's malleable in some ways. The world is always torn in a million different directions, strife, discovery, politics and the economy all having their day in some fashion. And if any movie were to take the abstract approach, "The Master" is certainly it. Now that many have seen the film, of course, the Scientology angle has been softened. But the idea of putting one's faith and fate in the hands of another -- government, religion, whatever -- is still, and always, relevant.

But sometimes things line up specifically. Sometimes one doesn't have to connect a lot of dots to present that, say, "Moneyball" tells a story of the difficult, painful process of change for the good around the idea that the sum of all parts is greater than one single entity, and that that reflects where we are as a country (even if that's 100% true). Sometimes, like with Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis film "Argo," the reflections are much more defined.

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<p>Jake Gyllenhaal in &quot;End of Watch,&quot; one of 12 films contending for the top prize at next month's LFF.</p>

Jake Gyllenhaal in "End of Watch," one of 12 films contending for the top prize at next month's LFF.

Credit: Open Road Films

London Film Festival beefs up its awards shortlists

More films in the running for prizes at the October catch-up fest

With Telluride and Venice behind us, and Toronto winding down, the first, and biggest, wave of the fall festival season is just about over -- but Fantastic Fest, the New York Film Festival and the London equivalent are all still lying in wait. With no major world premiere this year in the vein of previous coups like "Frost/Nixon" and "Fantastic Mr Fox," London won't be competing with the Big Apple (which boasts "Life of Pi" and "Flight") for media attention, but it remains one of the most useful greatest-hits festivals on the circuit.

I was too tangled up in Venice business last week to report on the unveiling of the London lineup, but it's a healthy blend of established festival hits, less celebrated discoveries and archive gems. 200-odd features are in the mix, around 40 of which I've already seen -- affording me plenty of room to explore the farther corners of the programme when my coverage begins next month.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye West and R. Kelly on 'To The World' from 'Cruel Summer'

Full album comes out Sept. 18

G.O.O.D. Music’s compilation, “Cruel Summer,” which drops as the season ends on Sept. 18, features label head Kanye West with a number of top artists including R. Kelly, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, 2 Chainz and The-Dream.

Snippets of the full album are on iTunes, but today we get a full version of opening track  “To The World,” performed by West and Kelly. The song is basically a big “F You,” albeit an often clever one,” to you and yours.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Florence + The Machine on &quot;Jimmy Fallon&quot;</p>

Florence + The Machine on "Jimmy Fallon"

Watch: Florence + The Machine perform a stately 'Spectrum' on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Group continues U.S. tour before heading into a year-long hiatus

Florence Welch, the namesake of Florence + The Machine, is known for her dramatic, over-the-top performances, but for her debut on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” last night, she and the band delivered a breathtakingly spare version of “Spectrum.”

[More after the jump...]

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