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<p>Guillermo Del Toro and Charlie Hunnam take questions from the audience during the 'Pacific Rim' panel at the San Diego Comic-Con</p>

Guillermo Del Toro and Charlie Hunnam take questions from the audience during the 'Pacific Rim' panel at the San Diego Comic-Con

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Guillermo Del Toro and his 'Pacific Rim' giant monsters conquer Hall H

Giant robots and giant monsters pretty much sell themselves

SAN DIEGO - The first sign attendees had that Warner Bros. had something special planned for their Comic-Con 2012 panel came at the start of the event when the curtains at the front of the room rolled back, wider than normal, revealing two extra screens that extended out from the front screen, creating a sort of Cinerama effect, with both side panels featuring graphics designed to evoke the world of "Pacific Rim."

Of course, that wouldn't have been the first thought for many people in the room, since "Pacific Rim" is still a year away and before Saturday's presentation, very little was known about the film.  Last year, Guillermo Del Toro came to tell fans that they could expect a movie about "giant f**king monsters against giant f**king robots," but since then, there's been almost nothing revealed in public.

I visited the set for the film, and at that point, I realized just what sort of scale Guillermo's trying for with the movie, and I was curious to see what sort of showing they'd make with 7000 people who walked in cold.

It's safe to say the response was enthusiastic.

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<p>Pulp's Jarvis Cocker</p>

Pulp's Jarvis Cocker

Ahoy: Coachella sets sail with cruises featuring Pulp, Girl Talk, James Murphy

Goldenvoice expands music festival reach with two December trips

Coachella turned heads last year when its organizers announced there would be two identical music festival weekends in Indio, Calif. Now Goldenvoice has expanded Coachella's reach, with two Coachella-branded cruises, also with the same lineups.

Pulp, Hot Chip, Girl Talk, Yeasayer, Sleigh Bells, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Simian Mobile Disco, Cloud Nothings, !!!, Warpaint, El-P, Killer Mike, Black Lips, Grimes, DJ Z-Trip, The Gaslamp Killer and more acts TBA are on the bill for late this year.

S.S. Coachella will be on the 2,800-cap Celebrity Silhouette, "a 1,000-foot, 122,000-ton ship," with the first trip leaving from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to the Bahamas Dec. 16 for three days. The second also leaves from Fort Lauderdale, and sailing to Jamaica for a four-day excursion on Dec. 19.  

“It even has a half-acre of grass,” Goldenvoice prez Paul Tollett told the New York Times. “It wouldn’t be Coachella without grass.”

Coachella can apparently be whatever it wants to be at this point, grass or not.

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<p>'Finding Nemo' remains one of the most popular movies that Pixar has ever released, and now Andrew Stanton is set to begin work on a sequel.</p>

'Finding Nemo' remains one of the most popular movies that Pixar has ever released, and now Andrew Stanton is set to begin work on a sequel.

Credit: Walt Disney/Pixar

Andrew Stanton returns to 'Finding Nemo 2' for Disney/Pixar

Is this really a retreat?

No matter how good the eventual film is, people are going to categorize the notion of Andrew Stanton returning to Pixar to direct a sequel to "Finding Nemo" as a retreat of sorts on the heels of the commercial drubbing of "John Carter."

It's a tough move for Stanton no matter what he does.  I have no doubt at all that the reports are correct in saying that Stanton brought Disney a pitch that they loved.  I think of about 870 million reasons Disney would be pre-disposed to loving any story idea they heard for a "Finding Nemo 2."  But beyond that, Stanton is indeed one of Pixar's strongest story guys, and if he's got something he's excited by, then I'm absolutely willing to see it.

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"Glee"'s Kevin McHale

"Glee"'s Kevin McHale

Credit: Fox

'Teen Choice' co-host Kevin McHale reveals his dream guest for 'Glee'

McHale has an idea about which star he'd like to play his sister


Kevin McHale, who plays wheelchair-bound Artie on "Glee," has a new project in the works. On Sunday, July 22 he'll be co-hosting the Teen Choice Awards (8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., Fox) with old friend Demi Lovato. "[The show] is always fun and super crazy, and I can't wait," McHale told journalists during a conference call. "It's kind of nerve wracking. Because it's live, you have to watch what you say and keep it together. Hopefully, I won't act like a fangirl in front of people I like."

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"Finding Nemo"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

'Finding Nemo 2' is apparently happening


A colleague was recently bemoaning Pixar's descent into the world of, as he put it, "Roman numerals, Roman numerals, Roman numerals."

Indeed, after turning "Toy Story" into an amazing franchise that got better with each installment, the company has added onto the "Cars" series with a sequel, has "Monsters University" (a follow-up to 2001's "Monsters, Inc.") on the way next year and, as broken today by Deadline, is priming "Finding Nemo" for another trip to the well.

This makes me really sad. Some are saying there's a whiff of director Andrew Stanton retreating to safe territory after the disaster of "John Carter," but he has always said he wouldn't be averse to a sequel if he found the right concept. Well, it appears he has, and what I consider to be Pixar's best film and one of the decade's best, too, will no longer go unsullied by franchising.

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<p>Ben Gibbard</p>

Ben Gibbard

Credit: AP Photo

Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard releasing debut solo album

'Former Lives' drops in October

It was process that nearly took a decade, but in October, Ben Gibbard's first solo effort will be "fully realized." According to a press release, the Death Cab for Cutie frontman's "Former Lives" will drop on Oct. 16 via indie Barsuk.

"The 12 tracks were written over the course of eight years," but the compositions apparently didn't hit their stride until Gibbard moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, which he did about halfway through 2008.

The release didn't describe precisely what inspiration the move made on the recordings, which were crafted at Earlimart's Aaron Espinoza's studio. However, Gibbard may have a lot of history to rehash on this set.

First, it's curious that the set will drop via Barsuk, the earliest home for DCFC's output. The rock band has been on Atlantic since 2004, and the major saw an increasing success with each release, particularly from Death Cab's last two albums "Narrow Stairs" (2008) and last year's "Codes and Keys." Gibbard's collaboration with DNTEL in The Postal Service was also a surprising hit, and that album "Give Up" was through Sub Pop.

Gibbard also had a very public romance and subsequent divorce from actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, who one could argue was the muse behind "Codes and Keys," their sunniest set yet.

The songwriter also teamed with Son Volt's Jay Farrar for the soundtrack to "One Fast Move or I'm Gone," a documentary that told the story of Jack Kerouac's "Big Sur." The 2009 project was a personal one for Gibbard, who penned the tracks with the energy he culled from the novel.

What this makes me think is that we can expect a low-key and personal affair out of "Former Lives," a title that has a major whiff of nostalgia and some melancholy. Do you hope this is Gibbard's break-up album? Does it signal a departure from the DCFC band format?

Gibbard will be touring behind the effort for a limited number of dates, TBA.

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<p>A classic image from &quot;Batman Begins,&quot; which was largely inspired by Frank Miller's &quot;Batman: Year One&quot;</p>

A classic image from "Batman Begins," which was largely inspired by Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

10 Batman arcs to prepare you for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Which stories have inspired Christopher Nolan's trilogy?

This Friday the giant zit that is "The Dark Knight Rises" hype will finally be popped and the anticipation for Christopher Nolan's superhero denouement will give way to discovery. But the great thing about Batman is that the character endures, even if Nolan's interpretation takes its leave.

"Definitive" will be a word thrown around a lot when considering these films, but -- and not to take anything away from Nolan -- when stacked against what? Nothing that came before understood the character well enough to be considered the mold. So I hope future filmmakers will not feel trepidation when saddling up to give their take. In this world of reboots, we all know it's coming. But I wouldn't let Nolan's trilogy cast too daunting a shadow. Again, the character endures. He was here long before Nolan.

And indeed, one of the reasons I'd argue this series has been so successful has been its reverence for that source material. Story arcs from Batman's 70-plus years were fruitful inspiration for the filmmakers, and with the closing installment right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to call back to those yarns from the pages of DC Comics.

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<p>Dave Matthews Bands' &quot;Away from the World&quot;</p>

Dave Matthews Bands' "Away from the World"

Credit: RCA

Listen: Dave Matthews Band's 'Mercy' will have you crying for it

Means well.

Dave Matthews Band's new single "Mercy" means well. With album "Away From the World" en route for September, the group is trying to set a tone, with a sentimental song on par with John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." Which was his version of "People Get Ready."

Neither compare to the latter, and DMB's furthermore lacks a real discernible melody.

Matthews is featured spouting off truisms in an awe-inspiring stream-of-conscious, like a beauty pageant competitor caught off-guard with the question, "How do we end war among the nations?" Lift up your heart, yeah. We could turn it around, baby. Stand up for where we need to be.

It's cool-headed and honest, but tamely unedited. Will there be any real rock on this record?

"Away from the World" is out on Sept. 11 and is now up for pre-sale on iTunes. Those who purchase will get "Mercy" for free, bless your heart. Jam to fade.

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<p>Gillian Flynn's new novel &quot;Gone Girl&quot;&nbsp;is terrific.</p>

Gillian Flynn's new novel "Gone Girl" is terrific.

What's Alan Reading?: Reviewing Gillian Flynn's dark, twisty 'Gone Girl'

An ex-TV critic authors a gripping novel about a marriage gone very, very sour

Note: I'm taking much of this week off in between Comic-Con and press tour. This is one of a few posts I wrote in advance that should publish this week. If you're wondering why I didn't cover a particular show or story this week, it's because I'm on vacation.

Back at the old blog, I would sometimes write about non-TV entertainment that I was consuming. Usually, it was movies, but occasionally it would be a book I had read that really wowed me.

In this case, the book in question — Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl" — has a TV connection of a sort, as it's written by a former TV critic. (Flynn used to write for Entertainment Weekly; I knew her well enough to say hello to at press tour, but no more than that.) But Flynn's old job is only interesting in the way that it informs the history of her two main characters, a married pair of ex-magazine writers forced by the bad economy and the decaying state of print journalism to leave New York and relocate to a small Missouri town.

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<p>Aris Servetalis in &quot;Alps.&quot;</p>

Aris Servetalis in "Alps."

Credit: Kino Lorber

'Alps' does the (limited) Stateside rounds

Catch Yorgos Lanthimos's 'Dogtooth' follow-up if you can

This is a total cop-out of an admission, but the best film I saw in my recent trip to the Karlovy Vary Film Festival was one I'd seen before. (Okay, including what I caught in the Jean-Pierre Melville retrospective, I should amend that to the best few films. But let us not split hairs.) The week hadn't wanted for worthwhile discoveries, but things swam into perspective when, in the last few hours before I had to leave for the airport, I impulsively ducked into a screening of Yorgos Lanthimos's "Alps." Coming out of it a second time, everything else I'd seen that week looked a shade smaller, a little more finite, by comparison.

Regular readers might remember I fell hard for Lanthimos's playful, existentially preoccupied follow-up to "Dogtooth" at Venice nearly a year ago: it was my favorite film of the festival, and wound up in my Top 5 of 2011. But it plays even better on a second go-round.

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<p>This image of Captain America and The Falcon just screams dark and gritty, doesn't it?</p>

This image of Captain America and The Falcon just screams dark and gritty, doesn't it?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Anthony Mackie will take wing as The Falcon in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

What does this mean for the sequel?

A little later, I'll have my thoughts on the "Marvel: Phase Two" panel from Comic-Con, which certainly indicated an organized approach to what they've got planned for the next few years, but it seems like they've already got more news than they announced on Saturday, and it suggests another interesting expansion for the potential roster they're looking at for "The Avengers 2."

Anthony Mackie has been showing up on fanboy wishlists for pretty much everything since "The Hurt Locker" was released, and when we ran a piece about a month ago about the possibility of a Black Panther film, Mackie seemed to be clear favorite for many of you.  He's done nice work in a number of films, but so far hasn't really found that role that pushes him over the top and establishes him as a bankable star.

That could change now that it's being reported he is in final negotiations with Marvel Studios to join the cast of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" as one of the most significant supporting characters in Captain America's ongoing comic history, The Falcon. 

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"The Real Housewives of New York City"

 "The Real Housewives of New York City"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of New York City' recap: 'Good Trip, Bad Fall'

Carole's sick of LuAnn, but the real fight is between Ramona and Heather

The "Real Housewives of New York City" sans Ramona and Aviva are still frolicking in London this week. But as we know, you can take the girl out of Noo Yawk but it's considerably harder to take the Noo Yawk out of the girl, so the first thing we see is Sonja sticking her face in a bidet. Admittedly, it's filled with ice and Sonja swears this is the easiest way to reduce the swelling in her face as the sink is too shallow, but all I can think is that next week we will be seeing Sonja tooling around New York with enormous, blistering sores all over her head. 

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