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<p>Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch in a scene from &quot;John Carter.&quot;</p>

Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch in a scene from "John Carter."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Has ‘John Carter’ been a victim of the curse of the red planet?

With disappointing box office returns, a look at the resistance to films about Mars

If there were a film titled “The Curse of the Red Planet” that took place on Mars -- or had Martians as central figures -- recent endeavors indicate that it would be a financial disaster. Or at the very least, it would have little chance of success. Disney became so convinced of the power the word “Mars” had to repel ticket sales (though in part due to fear of alienating a female audience) that they did a mid-campaign 180 and switched the title “John Carter of Mars” to the equally problematic “John Carter” (which left many people wondering, “Should I know who that is?”)

Indeed, film pundits have (primarily sight unseen) been predicting grand scale disaster for “John Carter” for months now. In truth, the title had a disappointing opening weekend, coming in just behind Universal’s family film “The Lorax” with a $30.6 total. Though, as Gregory Ellwood points out in today’s box office report, “John Carter” earned $70 million internationally in addition to its domestic gross, a figure that may give the financiers at Disney some measure of hope that the $250 million film will not pick up where 2011’s disastrous “Mars Needs Moms” left off (In the red. Yep).

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<p>Ashley Judd emotes a lot in &quot;Missing.&quot;</p>

Ashley Judd emotes a lot in "Missing."

Credit: ABC

Review: Ashley Judd is a mother looking for her son in ABC's 'Missing'

New action drama is "Taken" tweaked for ABC's upscale female demo
It's been more than a year since FOX debuted "The Chicago Code," which was the most recent show in an unfortunate but amusing tradition of shows promoted relentlessly with the same shouted line in every promo. Before Jennifer Beals was asked, incredulously, "You think you can change how things get done IN CHICAGO?!?!," Ron Silver tried to warn his daughter in "Skin" that "His father is THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY!," while the first "House" promos had House complaining to Cuddy, "You're risking A PATIENT'S LIFE!" Many of these shows have been good, but it's just too easy to remember the one loud quote that the promo department drilled into our brains.
There weren't any fall shows with ad campaigns that were so quotable, so I'm glad that ABC is finally picking up the mantle with "Missing," the new action drama (debuting Thursday night at 8 p.m.) that's summed up in every commercial by Ashley Judd barking out the line, "I am not CIA! I am A MOTHER! LOOKING FOR HER SON!"
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<p>Megan Hilty as Ivy in &quot;Smash.&quot;</p>

Megan Hilty as Ivy in "Smash."

Credit: NBC

'Smash' - 'Chemistry': Roid rage

Ivy turns to performance enhancers, Karen plays a bar mitzvah and Michael pursues Julia

A review of last night's "Smash" coming up just as soon as bismuth is my favorite element...

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<p>Glenn Close in &quot;Albert Nobbs.&quot;</p>

Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Movieline takes on the Razzies with the Soily Awards

Nominees for 2011's worst range from Michael Bay to Glenn Close

I've complained before about the Razzie Awards, a goofy institution that long ago had the fun sapped out of it by its voters' narrowness of focus and constant recycling of the same targets. This year's awards, curiously shifted to April Fools' Day, are a case in point: how many times do we need to keep beating up on the "Twilight" franchise when there are more egregious (not to mention original) offenders out there? As if to illustrate how devoid of inspiration the Razzies have become, they nominated the same five films for Worst Picture, Director, Screenplay and Ensemble. Spread the love loathing a little, people.

Evidently, I'm not the only one to feel this way. The folks at Movieline have decided to beat the Razzies at their own game with the inaugural Soily Awards, a self-described "attempt to reconcile the year's highest-profile Hollywood misfires with their truly uninspired brethren." 20 critics and journalists were polled, including yours truly, and while the resulting nominations aren't quite as cutting as they could be, they at least make for more amusing reading than the Razzie list.

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<p>That's a whooooooole lot of charisma in just one room at the recent press day for 'The Hunger Games'</p>

That's a whooooooole lot of charisma in just one room at the recent press day for 'The Hunger Games'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: A 'Hunger Games' Free-for-all with Harrelson, Banks and Kravitz

A spirited conversation with some of the major supporting players from the film

It's a rule of on-camera interviews that you don't really want to sit down with more than two people at the same time.  Groups of three can be hard, even when all three people are ready and willing, because of the logistics of it.  You're talking about four to six minutes with four people in a conversation.  That's a sprint, no matter what, and it worries me walking into a room.

I feel like I've interviewed Elizabeth Banks many times now, and she's one of the most unassuming, easygoing people you can sit down with.  I get the sense she understands how fundamentally silly this process can be, and she always appears to be having fun with it.  I talked to her about "Hunger Games" when we met for "Man On The Ledge," and when I sat down with Woody Harrelson for "Rampart," I couldn't resist a little bit of talk about Haymitch, his character in this film.

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'The Bachelor' picks his gal in a 'controversial' finale

Ben makes his final decision

If the supermarket tabloids are any indication, I've gotten a pretty strong hint about who Ben picks, but hey, you never know with these reality shows. In any case, I'm not overly sure I care too much. Ben has been a uniquely dull bachelor, and I have to think that whoever gets the proposal at the end of the show will wake up the next day, shake her head and say, oh my Lord, I just got engaged to the Geico caveman as voiced by Kermit the Frog. 

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<p>Lady Gaga with Oprah</p>

Lady Gaga with Oprah

Credit: OWN

Watch: Lady Gaga and Oprah tease Sunday night's two-hour special

What can we possibly learn that we don't already know?

If Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable outlet doesn’t survive, it won’t be because its namesake isn’t doing her share.

After being largely hands off the first none-too-successful year of the channel’s life, Winfrey is doing everything she can to hoist the sales. Last night, she had the first interview with Whitney Houston’s family, following the superstar’s Feb. 11 death.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt co-star in the uneven but funny 'Nature Calls' at SXSW</p>

Johnny Knoxville and Patton Oswalt co-star in the uneven but funny 'Nature Calls' at SXSW

Credit: Big Beach Films

Review: Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville deliver sporadic laughs in uneven 'Nature Calls'

Todd Rohal's new movie suggests the director likes things shaggy

Todd Rohal had an unnaturally long period of time pass between the production of his first film, "The Guatemalan Handshake," and his second, "The Catechism Cataclysm."  Five years between movies can seem like a lifetime for a filmmaker, so it was nice to see that after "Catechism" played the festival circuit last year, just now arriving on home video, Rohal's already got a new film ready and it premiered here on Saturday afternoon.  He has definitely picked up the pace, and I'm glad he's managed to shake that awful inertia that can be really tough on a filmmaker, so I feel kind of bad when I say that my main criticism for Rohal right now would be "please slow down."

Both of these recent films, "Catechism" and "Nature," are built on strong simple ideas that easily could have been used in a big-budget mainstream comedy.  They're both driven by character-driven comedy and blatant absurdity, and there's definitely a consistent voice from film to film.  I like his sensibilities and there are many things in both of the films that made me laugh.  But both films also strike me as deeply undercooked in some essential way, like we're watching a rough assembly instead of a finished edit.  They are shaggy to the point of sloppy, and I feel like one more pass at each of the scripts might have teased the great ideas into an actual great execution.

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"The Voice"

 "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - 'The Battle Rounds Pt. 2'

It's another round of dueling singers competing for a shot at performing live

The battle rounds continue, and I can only hope there are some smarter decisions this week than last week. Not that all of the decisions were easy, mind you. I'm still wishing other judges could snap up whoever gets eliminated. Sort of like Go Fish, but with a much better payoff.

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Watch: John Legend and Ludacris promise a lot in clip for 'Tonight (Best You Ever Had)'
Credit: Epic Records

Watch: John Legend and Ludacris promise a lot in clip for 'Tonight (Best You Ever Had)'

Track from 'Think Like A Man' offers one hot night

Being engaged to a model apparently does wonders for your confidence. John Legend vows he’ll be the best you’ve ever had in his new song from “Think Like A Man.”

Opening with what sounds like a sample of Moby’s “Porcelain,”  “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” is one of Legend’s sexiest numbers. He vows he’s going to “kiss that” because he knows you’ve “missed that.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Ethan Hawke should probably know better in the appropriately-titled 'Sinister'</p>

Ethan Hawke should probably know better in the appropriately-titled 'Sinister'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: Ethan Hawke takes a horrifying ride in SXSW secret screening of 'Sinister'

Effective and simple horror film delivers on smart scares

I'm starting to get a little confused about which festival I'm attending, because while everything I see in Austin this week says "SXSW," it's got a distinctly "Fantastic Fest" vibe going on.

I have a feeling part of that's just been the choices I made about what to see and when.  I've been at most of the midnights, and so far, my days have been occupied largely with things other than movies, like yesterday's live-chat with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard or the panel I moderated for "Holliston," a crazy new sitcom for FEARnet starring Joe Lynch and Adam Green.

But it seems significant that "The Cabin In The Woods" was the opening night movie, and it seems right that the Secret Screening turned out to be Scott Derrickson's new film "Sinister," starring Ethan Hawke and not set for release until later this year.  The film has local ties in the form of co-screenwriter C. Robert Cargill who worked at Ain't It Cool with me as "Massawyrm," and it almost felt like a cast and crew screening when the film played at midnight on Saturday, even with technical delays that had the film starting a full hour late.

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Credit: ABC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 119

Dan and Alan talk 'Missing,' 'Community,' 'Justified' and 'Walking Dead'


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
Time for your weekly cure for The Mondays... Whiskey!
And while you're drinking your whiskey, here's another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast!
This week, Sepinwall and I catch up on "Justified" and "The Walking Dead," review ABC's "Missing," chatter about the return of "Community" and even, because we forgot to do so last week, talk about the season finale of "Parenthood."
So enjoy your whiskey and hopefully the podcast...
Here's the breakdown:
"Community" (00:02:03 - 00:11:25)
"Missing" (00:11:25 - 00:21:40)
"Parenthood" (00:21:40 - 00:37:25)
"Justified" (00:37:25 - 00:47:00
Listener Mail: Last week's "Awake" twist and stuff (00:47:20 - 00:51:25)
Listener Mail: Funny dramas (00:51:30 - 00:56:30)
Listener Mail: Coach on "New Girl" (00:56:30 - 00:59:15)
"Walking Dead" (00:59:50 - 01:11:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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