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<p>Michael Kenneth Williams in a more traditional Omar kind of pose.</p>

Michael Kenneth Williams in a more traditional Omar kind of pose.

Credit: HBO

Even David Simon loves 'The Wire: The Musical'

Bubbs sings! Omar dances! And Snoop as you've never seen her before!

I don't usually do posts that are just excuses to embed funny videos, but I'm making an exception for Funny Or Die's "The Wire: The Musical" for three reasons: 1)It is among the more hilarious viral videos I've seen in a while, particularly in the way that it uses actual "Wire" castmembers like Michael Kenneth Williams, Andre Royo, Sonja Sohn and Snoop Pearson, 2)It's a very slow news day, and if not for this, I likely wouldn't be posting anything today, and 3)Even David Simon gave it his stamp of approval.

If you haven't already seen it by now — possibly many, many times — enjoy. (Also, to answer the inevitable spoiler questions, don't watch if you haven't seen the whole series.) 

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<p>&nbsp;Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra</p>

 Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmer raises $1 million for new music on Kickstarter

Listen to new song 'I Want It Back'

Long gone are the days where artists had to sign their lives away to a big, evil record conglomerate in order to get money to make music. 

On her quest to raise dough for a new project, Amanda Palmer, formerly of The Dresden Dolls, instead went straight to the source -- her fans. 

Using Kickstarter, the post-modern burlesque singer was able to raise over $1 million from her cult-like followers, who in return will get everything from a deluxe copy of the CD (per $25 pledge) to dinner with the singer (two fans pledged a whopping $10,000 each). 

Somewhat surprisingly, it's the largest music-related money-raising effort in Kickstarter history and, outside of Radiohead, it's extremely rare for an artist to enjoy that much creative independence based solely on fan loyalty. 

Palmer's already recorded the album, "Theater of Evil," but will spend the money on the stuff that record labels usually pay for: Album packaging, videos, touring production values, and an art book to compliment the record. 

Earlier this week, fans got to hear a little bit of what they're helping to fund, as Palmer released a track online. 

Listen to "Want It Back" below.

"Evil" is Palmer's first album in four years (and her first since leaving Roadrunner Records). Her new band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, features Michael McQuilken, Chad Raines and Jherek Bischoff. "Evil" was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse) and is due out in September.

Palmer has high hopes for the set. On her Kickstarter page, she noted, "i expect great, big, giant things to happen when this record comes out in september. the band & i will be touring it across the globe ALL YEAR."

What do you think of the new song? How much did you donate?

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Watch: Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce discuss Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'

Watch: Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce discuss Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'

Stars tease the art of playing mysterious characters
LONDON - It's tempting to just write, "Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce both play roles in Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'" and move on directly into the interview clip.
Ambiguity permeates every frame of Scott's sorta-kinda-semi-demi-"Alien" prequel and no two characters are more difficult to talk about than the roles played by Theron and Pearce.
Theron plays Meredith Vickers, a tightly wound authority figure (of some sort) on a mission to possibly trace the origins of human life in a deep, far-flung recess of the universe. Meredith has secrets.
Pearce plays Peter Weyland, whose name means something if you're a devotee of the "Alien" franchise and who featured in the viral marketing campaign for "Prometheus," but you may have noticed the the "Memento" star is nowhere to be seen in actual trailers for the feature. He has secrets.
Yeah. It's hard to have a conversation with Pearce and Theron about their "Prometheus" presence and you'll probably be pleased that when I sat down with the two actors in London last week, just hours after the film's gala Leicester Square premiere, we kept things general: In this interview, the stars discuss Ridley Scott's gifts as an actors' director, the scope of the film and, in oblique terms, the challenges of playing characters this murky. 
Stay tuned the rest of this week for a bunch more "Prometheus" video interviews, including conversations with Noomi Rapace & Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green and writer Damon Lindelof. I also had a good chat with Ridley Scott, but that interview contains a few spoilers, so I may hold it til early next week. 
"Prometheus" opens on Friday, June 8. 
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<p>Justin Bieber's &quot;All Around the World&quot;</p>

Justin Bieber's "All Around the World"

Listen: Justin Bieber hits the club with 'All Around The World'

And he's taking Ludacris with him

Today, Justin Bieber released “All Around The World,” a new track from “Believe,” his new album out June 19. It’s the third song we’ve gotten, following “Boyfriend” and “Die in Your Arms.”

While all three have been about love, they have all been strikingly different musically. “All Around The World,” which is, conveniently the title of Bieb’s upcoming NBC special, is a flat-out electro-pop dance track. “Boyfriend” started with its whisper intro before paying homage to Justin Timberlake, whereas “Die In Your Arms” recalled Michael Jackson and other soul icons.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Beach Boys' &quot;That's Why God Made the Radio&quot;</p>

Beach Boys' "That's Why God Made the Radio"

Album Review: The Beach Boys' 'That's Why God Made The Radio'

Brian Wilson reunites with his band for a harmonious effort

The Beach Boys are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, but in some ways, the designation is misleading. While the initial quintet originally formed in 1961, there have been long periods—decades, actually—when the group’s brain trust Brian Wilson has not been an active member of the group.

In fact, his surprising reuniting with his bandmates for “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” out today (June 5), is the entire reason to buy the set. It’s his first full album with the group in decades. He’s joined by fellow founding members Mike Love and Al Jardine and nearly-founding members David Marks and Bruce Johnston.

For the casual fan, those who know such hits as “Good Vibrations” or “Kokomo” or “I Get Around,” there’s plenty here for you, such as “Shelter,” whose beautiful chorus makes up for the weak verses, or “Beaches In Mind.” Years later,  the surf’s still up and the summer is endless.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Holy cow, the Klingons appear to be really out of focus in the still-untitled sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' reboot</p>

Holy cow, the Klingons appear to be really out of focus in the still-untitled sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' reboot

Credit: MTV/Viacom

Confirmed: JJ Abrams sneaks a Klingon into MTV Movie Awards

Hollywood's favorite secret-keeper hides a new villain in plain sight

In the last few days, I've been talking with a number of friends about "Prometheus," written in part by Damon Lindelof, and the careful campaign of secrecy that Fox and the filmmakers mounted while it was in production.

Obviously, Lindelof has some experience with working on something that he wants to keep secret, what with his time on "Lost" and his experiences working with JJ Abrams.  Right now, I'm enjoying the build-up to the still-untitled sequel to "Star Trek," if for no other reason than it seems to be driving the Internet crazy.

Abrams, of course, is the king of playing games with the Internet while he's in production on something, and so far, he's played things very close to the vest on "Star Trek 2."  Close enough that people still are arguing about whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan in the film, and close enough that there's still rampant speculation about whether or not he's going to include Klingons in the film.

Thanks to Abrams himself, though, that no longer appears to be a question.

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<p>Mary J.&nbsp;Blige in &quot;Rock of Ages.&quot;</p>

Mary J. Blige in "Rock of Ages."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Interview: Is Mary J. Blige headed to Broadway?

How she prepared for her 'Rock of Ages' strip club owner role

If Mary J. Blige has her way, she’ll be bringing her volatile, inspiring life story to Broadway.  The multiple Grammy winner revealed her plans during an interview with Hitfix on June 3 about her role as  strip club owner Justice Charlier in “Rock Of Ages.” The movie opens June 15; the soundtrack is out June 5.

“I’m thinking more of my own life,” she replied when asked what role she’d like to play on the Great White Way.  “That’s what I’m thinking. I’m not thinking of anything else right now for Broadway. My life is a musical.”

Wearing awesome red glasses to match her red belt, Blige told Hitfix that she’s “in talks” about the idea, “so it’s definitely something we’re going to do. You’ll see it. We’re going to do it.”

Blige also revealed how visiting strip clubs helped her prepare for her character and the back story she created for Justice. 

Below is our Q&A with Blige. It includes primarily questions we asked, but also a few asked by a reporter from another outlet as the two of us sat down together with Blige.

HITFIX:  A lot of people don’t know that have covered rock tunes like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love” and U2’s “One.”  How did your love affair with rock start?

MJB: I grew up listening to it as well as R&B and hip hop. I got exposed to the heavy metal through MTV. MTV was the only video station we had so we got exposed to Van Halen and Led Zeppelin and Journey, you know what I’m saying?  And then I grew up on soft rock because there was no Hot 97 or  WBLS or 98.7 when I was five years old, so I know a lot of songs from WABC and WNBC [Editor’s note: These are all New York radio stations], That’s the radio station we were listening to and just growing up, listening to music period, you just love it. Great music is great music.

In “Rock Of Ages,” you play a strip club owner named Justice, who takes Julianne Hough’s character, Sherrie, under her wing. Did real life imitate art here? Did you share any of your experience with her?

Julianne is pretty smart and pretty wise to be so young, but the character called for me to be that person and I had to find that person in her that I was when I was a kid and someone had to help me. There were women that helped me get on my feet and helped me to remember that I’m smart and beautiful and strong regardless of whatever people say or think about me. There’s a lot of truth to the character: I had to be strong in those bad environments and believe in myself and not my circumstances, and teach her and all the girls all the same thing. That’s who Mary is a lot of, but that’s who Justice is too.

What attracted you to the script?

It was the fact that she had depth and that she saw herself in Sherrie and she wanted to help her. If she was just a strip club owner, I would have been like “I’m not doing that.” If she was a dingy, ditzy owner, it would... it had to have something that related to me in order for me to play it, be drawn to the role. She was loose and fun and it was another side of her, just like there’s another side of me that people don’t see, they always see this strong, marching through side. they don’t ever see the fun loose person. 

Justice is a woman who’s made it in a man’s world, like you.

She lost something when she was a child and she lost it to men and she kept losing it to men and so she wanted to gain back the ground and power over them in that area by keeping her identity and running the joint, like “I have power here, this is my place.” And that’s [like] being a strong woman in the music business. I have my identity. I fought for who Mary J. Blige is. I have power over a lot of the men in the industry.

That’s a complete back story that we don’t know about her. Did you create that or did director Adam Shankman give you that?

No. That’s how I see her...Why would she be there? Why would she be in a strip club? She’s supposed to be looked at as a beautiful. strong. powerful business woman. Why is she there? She’s there to get back the power that some man took from her all her life and she’s gotten that back. That’s fair enough to say. She tells them how much money to spend, she brings the girls out and she’s running the club so she has the power over men in the club.

You’re the most experienced and best singer of the cast, which includes many actors not known for their singing. Did you coach any of them?

No. they didn’t need my help (laughs)

Which was your favorite song to sing?

The “Shadows of the Night/Harden My Heart” mash-up because those songs mean so much to me.  I loved “Harden My Heart.” I loved “Shadows of the Night.”  I love, love those songs.

Julianne said she prepared by going to strip clubs. How did you prepare?

I went to strip clubs.  That was fun! It was actually fun because the women there were so sweet and nice and, you know, they just want to talk to you. They knew exactly who I was so I got bombarded and stampeded and I had to sit and talk to them all night. They didn’t want to dance, they just wanted to talk. I got the chance to talk to Maiden, the “Justice” of the club and she’s young too and she’s sweet. But they’re happy where they are. They’re confident and they’re beautiful, so I learned how to carry myself from watching them.

Were you bummed you had no scenes with Tom Cruise?

I mean I was not bummed. I did one. They might show it briefly when they do the behind-the-scenes. If you blinked, you’d probably miss it.

When you’re recording for a soundtrack and are in the booth, are you recording as Mary J. Blige or as your character?

The character. You’re Justice. You’re singing from whomever you made Justice out to be. Mary’s delivering the vocal stuff, but the pain and the depth is coming from Justice’s experience.

What’s your next movie role?

It’s “Parallel Lives.” It’s a Lifetime movie and we start shooting in September and October. It’s about [civil rights advocate] Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King. It’s about the lives of the women behind the men. [I play] Betty.

How do you prepare for that?

Gotta get an acting coach. I already started going online and looking up her interviews, so I’m already looking.

That’s such a responsibility when you’re playing a real person.

It is a responsibility. So you’ve got to do your homework to really nail... you don’t want to mess it up.

Is Broadway in your future?

Of course, there’s Broadway.

What role would you like to do?

Well, I’m thinking more of my own life, you know what I’m saying? That’s what I’m thinking. I’m not thinking of anything else right now for Broadway. My life is a musical.

Have you talked to anyone about that? Is that in formative stages?

Yeah. What’s crazy is... yeah. We’re in talks about there’s different things happening.  People are staying the same thing. The same thing you’re asking, people are saying the same thing, so it’s definitely something we’re going to do. You’ll see it. We’re going to do it.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 132

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 132

Dan and Alan talk 'Game of Thrones,' 'Mad Men' and 'Push Girls'


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
Firewall & Iceberg listeners (or fans) are in luck, because this is going to be a double podcast week!
In our regular Monday installment, we talk a little bit about Sundance's "Push Girls" and then a ton about "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men." So it's only three things we talk about and it's a full 90-minute episode.
And we didn't even get to this week's episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
"Buffy" will be folded into a Wednesday or Thursday podcast that will also include reviews of HBO's "True Blood," IFC's "Comedy Bang Bang!" and "Bunk," NBC's "Saving Hope" and possibly a couple other things.
Hopefully y'all won't mind the double-podcast week!
Here's Monday's breakdown:
"Push Girls" (00:03:05 - 00:10:05)
"Game of Thrones" (00:10:10 - 00:55:45)
"Mad Men" (00:55:50 - 01:31:00)

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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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 132: 'Game of Thrones' & 'Mad Men'

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 132: 'Game of Thrones' & 'Mad Men'

In the first of a two-podcast week, Dan and Alan also review 'Push Girls'


Given Dan's travels last week, and the amount of stuff he would have to catch up on his DVR upon returning, we weren't sure if we'd be able to record a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast today, or if we'd have to wait until later in the week. But late last night, we figured out a compromise: a two-podcast week!

So today we kept it simple — but very long — by talking briefly about Sundance's "Push Girls" before doing extended segments on the end of "Game of Thrones" season 2 and last night's "Mad Men," and we'll be back later in the week to talk about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "True Blood" and more.

The line-up: 

"Push Girls" (00:03:05 - 00:10:05)
"Game of Thrones" (00:10:10 - 00:55:45)
"Mad Men" (00:55:50 - 01:31:00)
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, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Jason Schwartzman seemed more than happy to discuss his work in Wes Anderson's new film 'Moonrise Kingdom' when we caught up with the actor at the Cannes Film Festival</p>

Jason Schwartzman seemed more than happy to discuss his work in Wes Anderson's new film 'Moonrise Kingdom' when we caught up with the actor at the Cannes Film Festival

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jason Schwartzman joins the kids to talk about 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Gilman and Hayward seem remarkably poised for teenagers

The second full day of the Cannes Film Festival was also the first day of the rain that marred much of the event this year.  I was unprepared for it, and so when I hurried from the 8:30 AM screening of "Reality" to the beachfront location where I was set to conduct my "Moonrise Kingdom" interviews, I was just barely ahead of an ominous cloud front and the first few strangled bursts of precipitation.

Because of the weather, everyone found themselves inside, waiting for the interviews, doing their best to stay dry.  I sat down at a table with James Rocchi, both of us working to write up "Reality" as we prepared for our time with the cast and with Anderson.  While we were sitting there working, Jason Schwartzman walked in.  They told him he'd have a half-hour until they needed him, so he dropped into a chair at the same table as Rocchi and me and just started chatting movies.

One of the things I've noticed about Schwartzman over the years is that he is ridiculously approachable, and he has a genuine curiosity about what other people think of things.  He wanted to hear about movies Rocchi and I had been seeing, and about what we were looking forward to, and then he and James moved on to a conversation about the Canadian band Sloan.  By the time they called him away to start his interviews, it had been almost the full half-hour, and it flew by.

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<p>A scene from &quot;The Rabbi's Cat,&quot;&nbsp;newly aquired by GKIDS</p>

A scene from "The Rabbi's Cat," newly aquired by GKIDS

Credit: GKIDS

From Disney to GKIDS, this year's animated feature race is already looking stacked (UPDATED)

Both the toon titan and the indie distrib have full plates this season

UPDATE (6/6): Well, GKIDS just announced another acquisition, this one with an expressly intended Oscar qualification release noted: "From Up on Poppy Hill." Add that one to the fire.

EARLIER: I'm asked daily at this point so I guess I'll just say, yes, predictions are coming. By the end of the month.

One of the things I start doing around this time of year, in preparation for that package, is suss out the animated feature category as best I can. Things change often with this field as we're always focused on the magic number of qualifying contenders necessary for five nominees (16), and even that can offer surprises as this film or that fails to submit paperwork, or this or that pops up as a sudden fringe possibility.

Last year there were three such possibilities, all of them from scrappy indie GKIDS. The distributor landed its first (surprise) nomination in the field back in 2009 for "The Secret of Kells" and muscled in with two showings last year for "A Cat in Paris" and "Chico & Rita." This year, once again, GKIDS has a few options.

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<p>Fiona Apple</p>

Fiona Apple

Listen: Fiona Apple's new 'Werewolf' is lonesome, sad and funny

Another track from 'The Idler Wheel...' arrives

Sometimes we need to listen to songs that make us happy when we are breaking up. Sometimes we need to hear tunes that are about breakups during our breakups. Fiona Apple's new track "Werewolf" is a song you should put on in the instances of the latter.

The track is fairly minimal -- with Apple' s voice and a big, breathy grand piano -- but it's a little found-sound sample that gives this heart-wringer more life. The sound of children playing rattles over the melody as Apple admits that the best way she and her ex-lover can help each other is to "avoid each other." She has a sense of humor about the whole thing, even with the drooping submission of her manic voice. It's an odd track, stirring in how plain-spoken a bust-up can be.

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