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<p>&quot;Malibu Country&quot;</p>

"Malibu Country"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'

If you like your comedy old-fashioned and unfunny, ABC's built a block for you

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Malibu Country" (ABC)
The Pitch:"It's important that ABC maintain its comedic position half in 2012 and half in 1992."
Quick Response: You know that the concept of cohesive network branding is dead when you look at ABC's comedy slate. On one hand, the network has some of the savviest, most current sitcoms on broadcast TV ("Modern Family," "Happy Endings," "The B---- in Apartment 23" and "Suburgatory" fit here). On the other hand, the network has a strange assortment of comedies that could have been produced a two or three decades ago, with the punchlines intact ("Last Man Standing," "The Neighbors" and the defunct "Work It" fit here). [Somewhere in the middle, fittingly, is "The Middle."] Anyway, that's how ABC ends up a lack of comedic flexibility, because some of the network's sitcoms simply CAN'T be paired with others. On the other hand, sometimes a pairing is just too perfect. "Suburgatory," for example, belonged with "Modern Family," even if it took ABC a year to realize it. And "Malibu Country" was almost literally developed, produced and ordered to go with "Last Man Standing." Tim Allen's family comedy feels consistently old-fashioned and when it comes to certain social niceties, it's sometimes well past outdated and and into retrograde. But the audience/laff-track roars enthusiastically and for some viewers, I have no doubt that's comforting. "Malibu Country" will function in the exact same way and I'm at a loss for what to say about it, because the target audience probably isn't reading me anyway and certainly wouldn't be swayed by any negativity. And, just as Tim Allen and Nancy Travis are old pros who know how to milk any plausible laughs from the thread-worn "Last Man" scripts, you know that whatever Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin are given, they'll get the most out of it, however faint that praise may be. In the case of the "Malibu Country" pilot, unfortunately, there's virtually no mirth at all. Every fish-out-of-water punchline is stale and some of the stuff involving Reba's family's gay neighbor is somewhere between "kinda" and "completely" offensive. And guess what? The audience likely to watch "Last Man Standing" and "Malibu Country" will no doubt be tickled by the jokes about homosexuality and crazy Los Angeles hippies and medicinal marijuana. Nobody else will be amused, but ABC doesn't care, because the cooler-than-thou audiences have plenty to chuckle at earlier in the week. As for the rest of the "Malibu Country" cast, Sara Rue is proudly showing off the results of her ongoing dieting, but when it comes to her pilot season choice between this and "Guys with Kids," it's pretty much a push. And Jai Rodriguez, as the sassy assistant to Reba's new agent, is irksome and seems destined to be around for the long-haul.
Desire To Watch Again: None. And yet, oddly, I watched nearly a full season of "Last Man Standing," hoping it might get better. With this one, anything more than a second episode for courtesy is unlikely.

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

 

 

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<p>Trey Songz' &quot;Chapter 5&quot;</p>

Trey Songz' "Chapter 5"

Trey Songz easily sings his way to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200

Could this be the last week in the top 10 for Adele's '21?'

With sales three times that of his closest competitor, Trey Songz will easily debut at No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200 with “Chapter 5.”

The title will also be the only album to surpass the 100,000 tally, as it is on track to sell up to 135,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

Former chart topper “Now 43” will remain at No. 2 with sales of around 50,000 copies. This week’s No. 1, 2 Chainz’ “Based On A T.R.U. Story” drops to No. 3.

In addition to Songz’ set, three other albums will crash into the Top 10: DJ Khaled’s “Kiss The Ring” will likely start at No. 4 with sales of 40,000-45,000; contemporary Christian band Tenth Avenue North at No. 8 with “The Struggle” with sales of up to 30,000; and Owl City with “The Midsummer Station” at No. 9 with sales of up to 28,000.

Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” will likely stay at No. 5 and Justin Bieber’s “Believe” at No. 6. Rick Ross’s “God Forgive, I Don’t” looks poised to fall from No. 3 to No. 7.

Adele’s “21” will likely drop two places to No. 8. Could this be its last week in the Top 10? The title has never dropped out of the top 10 since its February 2011 release.

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<p>Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha of &quot;The New Normal&quot;</p>

Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha of "The New Normal"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'

Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler's comedy suffers from a split personality

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"The New Normal" (NBC)
The Pitch: "Do you wanna be in the Ryan Murphy business?" "OK."
Quick Response: "The New Normal" comes from Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, who both have ample experience writing funny stuff, but have mostly done comedy in an hour-long format (Adler has a number of sitcom credits from Back in the Day, but Murphy does not). It probably isn't surprising, then, that the single-cam half-hour "The New Normal" doesn't exactly seem to know what it wants to be. The tone almost varies character-by-character, beat-by-beat. Tony Winner Nominee Andrew Rannells, for example, is really grating and verging on unwatchable at times when he's supposed to be playing beats for comedic purposes. His character has been written so that his only notable trait is self-absorption and, like Michael Urie's character in "Partners," you wonder how quickly they're going to have to soften the character in order to salvage the show around him. In semi-dramatic or emotional moments, though, Rannells' Bryan is far better, but you're left debating whether or not those moments have been earned by a character who's basically adopting a baby as an accessory. As Bryan's partner David, Justin Bartha isn't funny at all, but he has a believable and natural chemistry with Rannells. As possible future surrogate mom Goldie and her daughter Shania, Georgia King and Bebe Wood have a very pleasant rapport, though their dynamic -- flighty mom, seemingly preternaturally wise daughter -- is one of this season's most popular tropes and I preferred what FOX's "Ben & Kate" tried to do with the same relationship (less of a fan of the same relationship in ABC's "How To Live With Your Parents Etc"). And then you have the loud, shrill people who will be audience favorites in some demos and will have other viewers flipping off the TV in haste. Ellen Barkin plays the politically incorrect mother/grandmother-from-hell, a character so unguarded and generally noxious that she makes Sue Sylvester seem as lovable as Betty White. As that character's racist and homophobic ranting progressed, I became numb and when we get hints of relatability towards the end, it's hard to buy. The character is too much of a caricature for anybody to be offended by her and the excess mutes her audacity. As the antidote to Barkin's character, NeNe Leakes is dialed up to 11 at all times. I was surprised by how much I liked NeNe on "Glee" last season, but the lesson here is that you need NeNe as a precision tactical weapon and the more scenes she's allowed to dominate, the less effective she is. Perhaps proving it's more Murphy than Adler, the "New Normal" pilot packs an impressive amount of whiplash into 22 minutes and I was laughing and really annoyed in nearly equal measures. I think there are versions of "The New Normal" that I would really like, versions that would make me laugh, but would also have the ability to pack an emotional punch. There are also versions of "The New Normal" that could have me changing the channel in real frustration.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll watch to find out which one it's going to be. I'm not going to give "The New Normal" infinite time to find itself, to figure out the balance of tones and character, but this is yet another pilot that's a reminder of how tough it is to judge a comedy after one episode. If they tweak Rannells' character in the right way, if they figure out exactly the correct amount to use Barkin and Leakes, if they figure out the weekly structuring of the show, I'll stick around. In the pilot, those things aren't there yet.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez co-star in the silly but charming 'Premium Rush'</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez co-star in the silly but charming 'Premium Rush'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon sell slick and silly 'Premium Rush'

David Koepp's latest is just popcorn, but not in a bad way

"Premium Rush" is a very silly, very slight film that is invigorated by David Koepp's obvious  fascination with how to capture the visceral thrill of being a bike messenger in modern Manhattan.  It barely holds together as a narrative while you're watching, but there are some basic pleasures to be had.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has, fate willing, a long and exciting career ahead of him.  He's comfortable with comedy, drama, romance, action, dancing, singing, and who knows what else.  He seems unafraid of any subject matter, and his work with HitRECord, his art collective movement, reveals him as someone with a hunger for the pure thrill of invention.  So when he says in the press notes for the film that one of the things that helped him decide to do "Premium Rush" was the thought of riding bikes in New York in the summer, I buy it.  I can see how he'd want to mix it up, and there is a physical challenge inherent to a film like this that would be appealing to an actor who is as keenly aware of his body as Gordon-Levitt seems to be.  Koepp has staged some remarkable bike action in and around Manhattan, and I'm not sure how much is real, how much involves stunt performers, and how much had to be created in a computer or massaged in some way digitally.  I sort of don't want to know, either, because the trick of the film is that Koepp makes it all look like he just got a camera next to Gordon-Levitt or Dania Ramirez or Wole Parks when they were hauling ass through the terrifying daytime traffic of New York City.  It's a seamless trick, and that's a big part of what Koepp's job was in making the movie.

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Michael Strahan

 Michael Strahan

Credit: AP Photo

5 reasons why Michael Strahan is right for 'Live! with Kelly'

He isn't Regis, but that might be a good thing
So, the morning chat show rumor mill has been abuzz with speculation about who Kelly Ripa will choose as her permanent co-host on "Live! with Kelly." Of course, the speculation is pretty focused on just one person. Of the 59 personalities who were tried out the co-host chair, the most likely candidate to take Regis Philbin's old chair appears to be Michael Strahan. A former NFL defensive end and co-host of Fox's "NFL Sunday" show (a job he's expected to keep), Strahan is a big, brawny guy who's about as much like Regis Philbin as he is a box of cats or a sugarplum tomato. And that's not a bad thing.
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<p>Nicki MInaj in &quot;I Am Your Leader&quot;: Leaders bathe however they want</p>

Nicki MInaj in "I Am Your Leader": Leaders bathe however they want

2 new Nicki Minaj videos: 'I Am Your Leader' with Rick Ross, B.o.B.'s 'Out of My Mind'

You can tell she's in charge 'cause she's got a little hat

Nicki Minaj is making it Pink Friday today as she drops two different music videos with three other artists: "I Am Your Leader" with Rick Ross and Cam'Ron and B.o.B.'s "Out of My Mind."

"I Am Your Leader" is off of actual "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," Minaj's sophomore set and a rap from the Roman side of the coin. Dropping two verses, she talks nasty mean threats to "check bad b*tches" from her seat on rap's throne. And by throne, she means from a bathtub as she rocks thigh-high platforms; or from the middle of a pink and green funhouse floor, empty with exception to a zebra-print rug. As she's flanked by her two featured artists Cam'ron and Rick Ross, Minaj rocks what I'd describe as stipper-biker wear and she does a quick dance in a dictator's hat.

See, that's how you can tell she's you're leader: she's got a little hat.

If you get enough flesh from Nicki, there's plenty more skin to go around from Bawse's front, as he drops the jog suit and goes bare-chested in his golden dining room (styling courtesy of Party City?). Minaj's big refrain on this track is for hos and haters to "suck a big d*ck," and Ross generally runs with the theme after he's done dropping car names and the ilk. "So where the fuck is her manners, she gives brain while I Tweet," he boasts. How rude, right? "DM in the BM, you cm, you buckin', you love it / motherf*ckers on my d*ck, suck it."

Cam'ron also wants to talk about his watches, and then half the verse with an excruciating hit-em-quit-em toss off. It's a fine rhyme, but all eyes still on Nicki, who can steal the video show without even trying. And here: she's trying. The green hair and the blow-out certainly have a part in this stage play, but it's also a swing from the pop tracks she's been pimping all summer, starting with "Starships." Now she's back to the rap side of "Roman Reloaded" and simultaneously working her own sexuality as she asserts power over minions by suggesting they suck a big d*ck. There was no way this one wouldn't be eye-popping, if no other body part was already popping or sulking.

And if "I Am Your Leader" is too subtle for you, try on B.o.B.'s "Out of My Mind" -- a list of reasons why B.o.B. insists he's out of his mind, which doesn't sound like a person who is out of their mind at all. The clip is a good excuse to bust out the nuthouse porn, with leather face muzlzes, old-timey wheelchairs, straightjackets and sexy nurse outfits.

Let's be fair: all the women starring in this video, Minaj included, are playing out a sexy-time role. So perhaps B.o.B. is out of his mind because he's convinced he's getting laid and it just. never. happens.

Minaj turns on the booty pyrotechnics underneath her doctor's coat and does a lapdance for the mentally disturbed. I imagine Lady Gaga was just "watching" from the sidelines.

How do these Minaj offerings fare?

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<p>Enrique Iglesias</p>

Enrique Iglesias

Listen: Enrique Iglesias likes you, really, on new song 'Finally Found You'

You go girl... wait, what?

We’re not sure it’s much of a compliment when Enrique Iglesias tells his loved one, “You know I won’t drop you like everyone else does” on his new song "Finally Found You," but apparently it is since he later vows that there are only two choices to make “either you’re coming with me or I’m coming with you.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Grace Potter and the Nocturnals</p>

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals see 'Stars' in new video

Band heads north for Vermont festival with Avett Bros., Galactic

After going all “Where The Wild Things Are” on us for their dark fairy-tale like video for “Never Go Back,” Grace Potter & The Nocturnals take a much more low-key approach for the video for “Stars,” the new single from “The Lion The Beast The Beat.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Robert Redford in &quot;The Company&nbsp;You&nbsp;Keep&quot;</p>

Robert Redford in "The Company You Keep"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Classics picks up Redford's 'The Company You Keep'

The film is set for the Toronto and Venice film fests

Sony Pictures Classics has quite a few irons in the fire this season, as usual. There is the Cannes trio of Michael Haneke's "Amour," Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" and Pablo Larraín's "No." There is the recently acquired "At Any Price" from Ramin Bahrani. There are Sundance hits "Smashed," from James Ponsoldt, and "West of Memphis," from Amy Berg. And now, there is Robert Redford.

The movie star/director's latest, "The Company You Keep," is part of the slate of films announced for Toronto and Venice. It features a spectacular cast, including Redford, Shia LeBeouf, Julie Christie, Brendon Gleeson, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling. With Sony Classics' just-announced acquisition of the title, I wonder if we might see the film pop up at Telluride first? They always come to Colorado with plenty to show.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Lost Loves,&quot; Cambodia's submission for the foreign language Oscar.</p>

A scene from "Lost Loves," Cambodia's submission for the foreign language Oscar.

Credit: N.D. Palm Film

Cambodia joins the foreign Oscar race... but what of 'Amour?'

Meanwhile, Germany, Mexico and Israel announce shortlists

Before I get to the second official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, a word about the film that many have been casually assuming is the film to beat in the race: "Amour." Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or basked in critical adoration at Cannes and looks sure to stand as one of the year's most lavishly acclaimed films when 2012 wraps up. After the Academy broke with tradition last year by actually giving the prize to the critics' favorite -- Iran's "A Separation" -- you could be forgiven for liking Haneke's chances this time round, particularly given that his film should resonate with the Academy's older voters, who are legion.

First, however, it actually has to be entered into the race, and that's less of a sure thing than you might think. Though it's a wholly French-set, French-language production, three countries can lay claim to it: France, Germany and Haneke's home state of Austria.

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"Project Runway"
Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway' recap: Fix My Friend

One designer emerges as a royal jerk during a makeover challenge

 So, things are getting a little tense on "Project Runway." The girls want some of the "silk chiffonies" to go, and Dmitry is tired of losing. This week things are only going to get more miserable, but the good news is that almost all of the designers will be able to unite in their hatred of one jerk. Even better? Viewers will, too! And mind you -- I'm totally going back on my previously glowing assessment here. But let's just get to it, shall we?

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<p>Louis C.K. and Chloe Sevigny in &quot;Louie.&quot;</p>

Louis C.K. and Chloe Sevigny in "Louie."

Credit: FX

Review: 'Louie' - 'Looking for Liz/Lilly Changes'

Louie searches for a former date and his older daughter

A quick review of tonight's "Louie" coming up just as soon as I speak Slovenian...

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