Latest Blog Posts

<p>Oscars host Billy Crystal</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Oscars host Billy Crystal

Credit: ABC

HitFix Interview: Writer Carol Leifer discusses Billy Crystal's Oscars return

Seven-time Oscars writer explains the advantages of comfort food
The Return of Billy Crystal is one of the biggest stories of Sunday (Feb. 26) night's Academy Awards telecast, but behind the familiar face is a familiar returning voice.
 
Longtime stand-up favorite and "Seinfeld" and "Larry Sanders" veteran Carol Leifer, fresh off a WGA award as part of the "Modern Family" staff, is writing for the Oscars for the seventh time, her third time writing for and with Crystal as host.
 
Just days away from the Oscars, I chatted with Leifer about why viewers will treat Crystal like comfort food after last year's less-than-warmly-received telecast, whether the writers are concerned about the perception "The Artist" has the night's big awards in the bag and how she wants people to discuss the show on Monday morning.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
Read Full Post
<p>Kraftwerk</p>

Kraftwerk

Ticket company apologizes for Kraftwerk concert on-sale 'debacle'

Will buying tickets for intimate performances always suck? Probably

Kraftwerk's forthcoming retrospective eight-night residency at New York's Museum of Modern Art is a dream for fans -- partly because of the appeal of the group playing their last eight albums start to finish, and partly because of the venue. The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium is around a 700-capacity, extremely intimate considering Kraftwerk's worldwide appeal, rare tours and the promise of a one-of-a-kind 3-D visualization for each night.

It's also a dream because actually acquiring tickets for any of the April shows was nothing but a nightmare. A huge percentage of people who "queued up" at exactly noon yesterday (Feb. 22) were kept there eternally. And according to MoMA's ticket seller ShowClix, only about 1.2% of those who tried got tickets.

It comes with the territory. Pretend that 700 tickets were actually made available for each night, times eight is 5,600 tickets total. Imagine that fans were going after their favorite or most popular albums -- "Autobahn," "The Man-Machine" or "Computer World," maybe -- and that's some serious competition, especially with a two-ticket maximum per customer.

That would explain the hundreds of tiresome Kraftwerk puns that erupted on Twitter and Facebook yesterday.

What was infuriating fans in this instance was not just being unable to win a lottery that seemingly lasted a minute, but dealing with a ticket-buying system that buckled under the demand, and kept interested parties in a queue for sometimes longer than an hour. I didn't try to buy Kraftwerk tickets yesterday, but I do know the frustration of not getting tickets I want, and seeing them go instantly into the hands of a secondary ticket marketplace. Ticketmaster may screw you with fees and competitive concert ticket-buying experiences, but at least they let you know you're screwed pretty quick.

ShowClix has issued an apology to fans in an open letter today, and have vowed "to work hard to prevent such a debacle from happening again in the future." Not much solace for fans today, but not scoring the tickets you want is never any fun. With all the innovations in online buying, so-called "safeguards" from scalpers and the appeal of seeing an intimate show when artists so often prefer the cash of a large venue take-in, it's another lesson learned: ticket buying still, and probably always will, suck. ShowClix probably knew their demand -- such metrics are easily had -- and should've prepared. Here is the text from the post:


Dear Kraftwerk fans,

Sorry it took me a day to write this, but it was important for me to first understand all of the facts so they could be properly communicated. First and foremost, we are deeply sorry for the frustration and massive inconvenience that yesterday's on-sale for Kraftwerk caused for many of their great fans around the world. I recognize that so many of you spent hours in front of your computer watching a spinning wheel—or watching the page go blank. Please allow me to explain what happened and what we'll do to correct this for the future:

MoMA has been a really great partner of ShowClix for over a year now, and we've worked with them to move tens of thousands of tickets successfully. They leaned on us to help them with this on-sale, which was a special event for them, and we let them (and you) down. ShowClix has successfully executed many very large, high-demand on-sales over the past five years that we've been in business. Most of these on-sales have a high demand, with a great deal of inventory to sell. Kraftwerk's eight-night performance on-sale was a very unique situation. While we're not able to disclose the number of tickets that were available for these performances, what I will say is that of the tens and tens of thousands of die-hard Kraftwerk fans from around the world that logged on at exactly noon EST yesterday to get these tickets, the venue capacity restrictions would only ever allow approximately 1.20% of them to actually be reserved. As you might imagine, this is an extremely large technical hurdle, particularly because of the tiny fraction of supply versus the demand.

Still, this is no excuse. We should have never advised MoMA to allow the tickets to be sold in the fashion in which they were, because in the end—even if everything were to go smoothly—many people would have been very disappointed. ShowClix didn't set the proper expectations from the beginning, nor did we properly prepare our load balancing servers in order to prevent the queue from timing out. Ultimately, we failed many of you.

Since yesterday, we have discovered that a single setting within one of the lower levels of our queuing system's middleware bubbled-up under the heavy load and caused frequent timeouts. There were also some issues with the broadcast system which allows us to communicate with ticket buyers while they're waiting in the queue. We should have both of these problems resolved by the end of this week. However, even with these problems resolved, it is my belief moving forward that we should not perform an on-sale all at once for an event or venue that has such small capacity restrictions versus potential demand. Instead, we will advise our clients on various alternative methods to fairly sell tickets to an event that has such a small fraction of inventory available versus the potential demand.

There were certainly technical problems around this event. Contrary to some reports, however, our servers never crashed or went offline, and none of our other clients or their events experienced a problem during the Kraftwerk on-sale. We always keep high-demand on-sales separate from all of the other activity happening on our server. It's also important to note that there were online sales successfully processing the entire time, and all eight of the events sold-out in approximately 60 minutes.

In closing, regardless of what the technical problem was—or how we plan to solve it in the future—we haven't overlooked the incredible amount of frustration many people felt from the on-sale. We take full responsibility. This company was founded and continues to be run by a big team of live entertainment and technology addicts. We feel for you, the fans, and our partner, MoMA, and vow to work hard to prevent such a debacle from happening again in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Joshua Dziabiak
CEO
ShowClix, Inc.

Read Full Post
<p>Natalie Portman</p>

Natalie Portman

Credit: AP Photo

Natalie Portman and last year's acting winners to present at Oscars

Christian Bale, Colin Firth and Melissa Leo get to re-live Oscar glory

Last year's Oscar-winning performers -- Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale -- are returning to this year's Academy Awards as presenters.

In the lead categories, Firth took home the Oscar for Best Picture winner "The King's Speech," while Portman danced away with the Best Actress trophy for Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan." In the supporting sections, both Bale and Leo won for their work in David O. Russell's acclaimed "The Fighter."

The quartet join such previously announced presenters as Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Lopez, Tina Fey, Penelope Cruz, "The Muppets'" Kermit and Piggy, "Campaign" co-stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, and the cast of "Bridesmaids."

Portman and Bale will co-star in two upcoming films from "Tree of Life" director Terrence Malick. Before that, Bale will reprise his role as Batman in this summer's "The Dark Knight Rises."

Meanwhile, Leo will star alongside Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis' "Flight," and Firth will be seen opposite Cameron Diaz in the art heist comedy "Gambit," written by the Coen Brothers.

The 84th Academy Awards telecast airs live on ABC this Sunday, February 26 at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT.

Think you can predict the winners? Prove it here and win big.

Read Full Post
<p>Rooney Mara in &quot;The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.&quot;</p>

Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Actress

Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams square off

(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)

After last year's banner field of nominees, which included five peak-form performances from actresses in a range of risky, stimulating projects, this year's Best Actress category wasn't ever likely to live up to those standards. True enough, it hasn't, though the problem lies less with the ladies nominated than the vehicles surrounding them: "Good performance, shame about the movie," has been the recurring critical chorus around this race.

That's not to say it was a year short of challenging, substantial vehicles for women. But with many of them falling in the less illuminated corners of the arthouse, the Academy inevitably favored the softer, more middlebrow prestige vehicles, few of which had any worthwhile cinematic ambitions beyond showcasing their established stars for maximum vote-grabbiness. (It may or may not mean something to you that this is the category's first all-American lineup in 20 years.) The exception, a relatively untested ingenue in a hard-edged genre piece, is both the only first-time nominee in the field and the only one unapproved by the Screen Actors' Guild.

The nominees are...

Read Full Post
<p>Helen&nbsp;Hunt and Jack&nbsp;Nicholson at the 1998 Academy&nbsp;Awards</p>

Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson at the 1998 Academy Awards

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Women and Oscar

And other things rich white men like

Earlier this week the LA Times unveiled the fruit of 20 researchers’ labor: old, rich, white men dominate the AMPAS. I was as shocked as you are.

I kid. I do. There’s nothing wrong with the article as such, and the structural dynamics of the Academy do bear looking at.

One of the strange, self-devouring aspects of the internet is that it is now common practice for critics to reflect on, riff off, add to or otherwise deconstruct one another’s work. A positive element of the trend is that a conversation develops in our virtual realm. Of course, levels of discourse are, as ever, varied. We’ve not yet weighed in on the matter and I do so now with a grain of salt, and a bit more sass than I had originally intended. Is it earth shattering news? Clearly not. Does it seem to be indicative of an overindulgence of the paper’s resources? Ish.

Read Full Post
<p>Tyler Perry talks about his new film &quot;Good Deeds&quot; and working as just an actor on &quot;I, Alex Cross.&quot;</p>

Tyler Perry talks about his new film "Good Deeds" and working as just an actor on "I, Alex Cross."

Tyler Perry admits he didn't enjoy the long days on 'Alex Cross'

Prolific filmmaker reveals his inspiration for 'Good Deeds'

Tyler Perry is nothing if not prolific. The writer, director, producer and actor has put out 11 films since 2005 and collectively they have grossed over $600 million domestic.  And Friday his 12th film will hit theaters, "Good Deeds."  That will be followed by two more films in 2012: "The Marriage Counselor" (July 27) and "Madea's Witness Protection" (TBD). Whatever your opinion of his films themselves, you have to respect his passion.  With his Atlanta studios, popular touring stage plays and lucrative TBS sitcoms, Perry is incredibly well off and could slow down whenever he'd like. No, whether you like it or not, he's got a lot more to say.

Read Full Post
<p>'YOU&nbsp;CAN'T&nbsp;EMBARGO&nbsp;THE&nbsp;ROCK!' Dwayne Johnson uses Twitter like a blunt instrument and seems to be winning social media in general these days.</p>

'YOU CAN'T EMBARGO THE ROCK!' Dwayne Johnson uses Twitter like a blunt instrument and seems to be winning social media in general these days.

Credit: Dwayne Johnson/Twitter

Dwayne Johnson reportedly in talks to play 'Hercules' for MGM and Ratner

Could this finally be the franchise fit the actor's looking for?

I'm going to post that new "Wrath Of The Titans" trailer in a few, but it's interesting that this would show up on the same day that Variety breaks the news that Dwayne Johnson is going to star in "Big Duh: The Motion Picture."  Wait… sorry… it's "Hercules."  That's what he's starring in. That's what he was genetically created to do, truth be told, so it's good that MGM and Brett Ratner are figuring his deal out.

That's a great break for Ratner, and I think he's going to probably be a good collaborator for Johnson, whose "Team Bring It" attitude travels from set to set with him.  I've seen him work on what must be four or five films in a row now, and he sets a certain energy that everyone else keys in on.  Dwayne Johnson is a major asset to a franchise if the franchise has any juice at all.  He is a big part of what went right with "Fast Five," and he's absolutely at the heart of the "G.I. Joe" reboot. 

Even "Journey 2" gets what little mileage it gets out of him, because he's always working when he's in a scene, always trying to find something to make it work.  He's as dedicated to the little stuff as he is to the big stunt work.  He's an old-fashioned movie star who understands his own image, and he's been very canny so far about how he's played with his iconography.

Read Full Post
<p>The Shins</p>

The Shins

Credit: Annie Beedy

Watch: The Shins drop 'Simple Song' video, confirmed for 'Saturday Night Live'

Jonah Hill back for seconds on 'SNL,' too

What parent wouldn't want their parting sentiment to their children to be "You'll be sorry when I'm dead?"

James Mercer has that kind of vision for his once and future kin in "Simple Song," which sends his "children" -- played partly by his Shins bandmates -- on an adventure through their old house and memories for a little closure on Mercer's last will and testament. Entertainingly macabre.

The Shins are releasing their next album "Port of Morrow" on March 20, and in promoting it, they've been invited back to "Saturday Night Live" for a second time. They'll be joined by Jonah Hill -- for his second time on the show, too -- on March 10.

Read Full Post
<p>Johnny Depp and Vincent Price in "Edward Scissorhands"</p>

Johnny Depp and Vincent Price in "Edward Scissorhands"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Oscar's big miss: 'Edward Scissorhands'

A look at one of the Academy's most glaring snubs

Who doesn’t love watching a great fairy tale on screen? But how often do new ones arise that make us think “Wow, that’s something new,” while also being deep, funny, engaging and gorgeous to watch?

1990’s “Edward Scissorhands” manages to do all these things. While it landed only one Oscar nomination (for Best Makeup), it manages to show the very best of filmmaking in innumerable ways and ranks among my favorite films of all-time.

First, we have the story, already alluded to. Capturing the themes of loneliness, innocence, growing up, family, self-doubt, doomed romance and the ironies of life, Tim Burton’s story hits on multiple human themes to which we all relate. It also managed to do this within heavy genre. Fairy tales have never been Oscar’s cup of tea, but they make for a great narrative. Of course, they have also been done to death, so coming up with a story that is old-fashioned yet completely modern and remarkably original while true to the genre is a feat that deserves special recognition.

Read Full Post
<p>Kylie Minogue</p>

Kylie Minogue

Credit: AP Photo

Kylie Minogue promises 'something different' on new album

As she continues her 25th anniversary celebration, she looks to 2013

As Kylie Minogue continues to enjoy celebrating her 25th anniversary year (yes, it’s been a quarter of a century since the Aussie icon released “Locomotion), she’s already looking ahead to her next album. And she promises it will be “something different.”

{13300278166710} Poised to come out in 2013, the next album will be her first since 2010’s “Aphrodite.”  She plans to work with a number of producers, Minogue told Metro at a K25 party at London’s Abbey Road Studios. “I have started on the new music already,” she said. On recording at the vaunted studio, she said, “I thought, ‘How much difference can a studio make?’ but it is a beautiful studio. The sound is just gorgeous—you know you are on hallowed ground.”

So far she’s keeping the producers’ names under wraps.

Up next for Minogue?  She heads to Sydney to continue the celebrations with a concert.

 

Read Full Post
<p>The-Dream</p>

The-Dream

Watch: The-Dream surrounds himself with lovely ladies in 'Roc' video

Plus, he preps for a club tour and talks Rihanna/Chris Brown remix

It’s a credit to the The-Dream’s sweetly smooth vocals that he can deliver lines like “Good loving, the grinding, the bumping, oh yeah, make that bed shake, that next day body ache.... I’m going to get behind it and I’m gonna make that thing shake,” as if he’s the reading Shakespearean sonnets.

There’s lots of little, not-so-subtle clues that this is about sex, if we haven’t gotten the hint that “roc” is a substitute for another one-syllable word— like white icing being spread on a girl’s face;  another lovely lady carries around a tray of cherry tomatoes and pops some in her mouth.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Can &quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot;&nbsp;hold off &quot;Hugo&quot;&nbsp;in the one category it seemed promised at the start of the season?</p>

Can "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" hold off "Hugo" in the one category it seemed promised at the start of the season?

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Tech Support: Final predictions and analysis for 2011, from 'Hugo' to...'Hugo'

Will Martin Scorsese's film dominate the craft categories?

I’m scared. Why, you may ask? First, I’m wondering where on earth this year went. It seems like yesterday when Tech Support was beginning the 2011-2012 season. Next week’s wrap-up column will be the last of the season as the Oscars are given out Sunday night!

Second, however, I am scared because I am truly not confident in my predictions in the crafts categories this year. Only four – Art Direction, Makeup and the music categories – have me certain. Beyond that, things are quite open. I fear I may embarrass myself. That said, this does make things more exciting than is the case in the “major” categories!

So now, on to a final analysis!

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME