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<p>Cover art for 'The Throne'</p>
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Cover art for 'The Throne'

Credit: Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam Recordings / Roc Nation

Do Jay-Z and Kanye West stay kings of the Billboard 200 for another week?

Or does Adele's '21' overtake 'Watch The Throne?'

Jay-Z and Kanye West are set to spend another week as kings of the Billboard 200 as “Watch The ThroneR21; is poised to sell up to 180,000 next week. The collaboration between the two rap titans sold 463,000 copies in its opening week: a princely, but hardly, staggering sum given the expectations.

Adele’s “21” will likely bob back up to No. 2 after dipping to No. 4 this week. “Now 39” hangs out at No. 3 for the second week in a row, while country boys with hats Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean snag spots No. 4 and No. 5, Bryan with “Tailgates and Tanlines,” which started at No. 2 this week, and Aldean with “My Kinda Party.”   “My Kinda Party” is turning into this summer’s “Sigh No More” from Mumford & Sons: it just stays strapped into the Top 10 week after week no matter what else happens around it.

That means that we probably won’t see a debut until way down at No. 6 with Eli Young Band, whose “Life At Best” set may sell around 35,000 copies in its first week, according to Hits Daily Double. Hanging out at No. 7, and selling around that same number, is Eric Church’s “Chief,” which topped the chart last week. Please note that country artists, who, for the most part other than for artists like Taylor Swift, still tend not to cross over into any other genre, are commandeering four of the 10 spots.

In addition to Eli Young Band, the only act likely to debut in the top 10 is rock band Blue October’s “Any Man In America” at No. 10. “Kidz Bop 20” rises two places to No. 8, while Beyonce’s “4” stays in the Top 10 at No. 9.

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<p>Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn of 'Free Agents'</p>
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Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn of 'Free Agents'

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Free Agents'

Talented writer. Talented director. Talented cast. Awful pilot.

[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.]

Show: "Free Agents" (NBC)
The Pitch: I honestly don't know.
Quick Response: I haven't seen the original British "Free Agents," so I don't know the source material, but somewhere something went horrible wrong with "Free Agents." It's not just that it's a single camera comedy without any laughs and in which the squandered punchlines -- 98 percent of them puerile sexual banter -- lead to 22 minutes of cringing without even a single smile. No. What's crushing about "Free Agents" is that it was written by Jon Enbom ("Party Down") and directed by Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle"), two men of such prodigious talent that I'm not sure how, even by accident, they could botch a half-hour comedy's tone and pacing this badly. And then you move to the cast. Hank Azaria's a funny guy, though he's never really been funny as a leading man, has he? He's always been an extraordinarily valuable character actor, working in both comedic and dramatic contexts. Maybe that's also always been the case with Kathryn Hahn, who I'm certain I've found hilarious in the past, but maybe only in supporting roles. Anthony Head's got his "Buffy" bona fides and he's playing a character he originated on the British series, but he's stuck as an outrageous boss who, isn't outrageously funny. You're supposed to be shocked by the things Head's character is saying -- think Philip Baker Hall in "The Loop" as one fine example -- but instead of being shocked, I though "OK, so this guy's a tool." I know she's an acquired taste, but Natasha Leggero's made me laugh in the past, as has Joe LoTruglio. And Leggero and LoTruglio were definitely the two least painful parts of the pilot. But overall? Serious discomfort and unpleasantness. I'd say "Free Agents" ranked above only "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" and "Work It" in this year's comedy pack. Worst of all, it's not like "Free Agents" fails in the process of trying to be different or innovative or to push the boundaries of the genre. It fails in taking any recognizably human traits from any of the main characters and making them grotesque, then wedging them into a generic workplace sitcom. Seriously, look at the gallery picture accompanying this post. How uncomfortable to Azaria and Hahn look? That's how uncomfortable the pilot feels.
Desire To Watch Again: If I had an iota less good faith in reserve for the people involved, I would gladly never watch "Free Agents" again. But Enbom and Holland have given me a lot of good laughs. And I like Azaria and Hahn, or I've liked them in the past. And Anthony Head is freakin' Giles, which will always be a mark in his favor. Remember how I said that I'd save that one scene from "Whitney" before scrapping the rest of that pilot? There's no one scene I'd save from "Free Agents." So Episode 2 is guaranteed to be better. Look at me being all optimistic. Go, "Free Agents"!

Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Ringer'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Terra Nova'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Whitney'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Pan Am'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Alcatraz'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Person of Interest'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Two Broke Girls'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

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<p>Cheryl Hines and Jane Levy of 'Suburgatory'</p>
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Cheryl Hines and Jane Levy of 'Suburgatory'

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'

Jane Levy stars in a familiar, but still clever suburban comedy

[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.]

Show: "Suburbatory" (ABC)
The Pitch: "The suburbs are wacky." "Got anything else?" "Well, they're a bit superficial." "OK... and?" "Oh, just go with it and we'll try to make it funny."
Quick Response: "Suburgatory" does NOT blaze any particularly fresh intellectual terrain. Emily Kapnek's script uses a pair of transplanted New Yorkers (Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy as a good-natured father and his uber-sardonic daughter) to reveal that The Suburbs are synthetic and that they force everybody to act and look and talk alike, that they encourage conformity and superficiality. Are you saying you've seen this kinda thing before? Well of course you have. And you've probably seen it done a bit better, whether you happen to have been a fan of the Agrestic seasons of "Weeds" or "American Beauty" or "The 'burbs" or "The Stepford Wives" any of the dozens of similarly askew views of suburban culture. But you don't have to be fresh to be sharp and Kapnek's script shoots through a diverse assortment of pop culture references and hits many of its targets. Levy was a terrific discovery on "Shameless" last season as Mandy Milkovich and it's no surprise that she's got a tart tongue and perfect comic timing with good rhythms and a consistent voice. You could put Levy's Tessa alongside the characters played by Ashley Rickards in "Awkward," Caroline Dhavernas in "Wonderfalls" and animation in "Daria" as part of a recent pantheon of wry teenage observers, or at least it's my belief/hope that the character could develop to earn a place in that pantheon. Levy's definitely good enough to take the character there. Sisto gets good mileage out of his rumpled charm and out of the strangeness of Jeremy Sisto playing the father of a teenage girl, establishing a quick and quality rapport with Levy. The actors representing the suburbanites have been directed to go a wee bit broad and while Alan Tudyk and Cheryl Hines get pilot laughs because, you know, they're good at this, I'm not sure if the types they're playing are sustainable on a network show. After they get softened into real people, we'll see if they're as amusing as they were as caricatures. "Suburgatory" doesn't nail all of its targets and the familiarity -- especially with the recent success of "Awkward" -- is sometimes a drawback, but the pilot shows a lot of potential to mix ironic bite with earnest heart and, if it progresses, I see no reason why it shouldn't fit in nicely between "The Middle" and "Modern Family."
Desire To Watch Again: ABC's got its new comedies about Masculinity in Crisis and then ABC has its new comedies that I like. "Suburgatory" I like. Even if I don't grow to love it, I can definitely see this being a comedy I'll happily check out here and there and appreciate having around in repeat cycles.

Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Ringer'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Terra Nova'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Whitney'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Pan Am'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Alcatraz'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Person of Interest'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Two Broke Girls'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

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<p>Katy Perry</p>
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Katy Perry

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Music Power Rankings: Is Katy Perry the new Queen of Pop?

See why Jay Z and Jennifer Lopez make the list

1) Katy Perry: As “Last Friday Night” rises to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, she ties Michael Jackson’s record for most chart toppers from one album.  Does that make her the Queen of Pop?

2) Kanye West and Jay-Z: Though their album, “Watch the Throne,” handily debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, Imma gonna say the whole is not equal to the sum of the individual parts.

3) Sugarland:
In the wake of last Saturday’s horrifying stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair just minutes before the country duo was to take the stage, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush have handled themselves in the most gracious and appropriate way possible. They’ve commented via Twitter and their website about their plans to hold a memorial, but have always kept the focus squarely on the victims, including the families of the six who died.

4) Lady Gaga:
Momma Monster debuts a new video for “You & I,” gets the opening slot for MTV’s Video Music Awards, and announces she’s in partnership with Barney’s to recreate Santa’s Workshop at the New York flagship store. Good grief, even God rested on the seventh day.

5) Edgar Bronfman:
Warner Music Group CEO gets kicked up to the title of chairman and will focus on strategic development. Is that code for “negotiating purchase of EMI Music” or for “next stop: leaving the company?”

6) The Game: The rapper got more attention for his idiotic (and potentially dangerous) prank this week than he has for his music in years when he tweeted the emergency number of the Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Dept. as the number to call to intern for him. I guess 9-1-1 isn’t the only joke.

7) Superstar artists:
An report this week from IFPI (that’s the international equivalent of the Recording Industry Assn. of America) tallied that it costs a label $4.6 million to bankroll a superstar release including $2 million in marketing and promotion.  And that’s AFTER payola has supposedly (ha, ha) been banned.

8)Jennifer Lopez:
After weeks of speculation, she officially signs to return as a judge on “American Idol” for her second season. Life is good for Lopez. She really is The Gay Divorcee.

9)Blackberry:
Will parent company RIM jump into the waters with the others and launch a music service that would run via BlackBerry Messenger? Only U2 knows for sure. CNET reports that a test version could appear within the next few weeks.

10) Hanson:
Even if you haven’t listened to them since “MMMBop” (and if so, shame on you), you have to give a tip of the hat to eldest brother Isaac who took fellow brother/family act Kings of Leon to task this week for being a tad to precious. "I have a hard time with musicians who act like pricks because it just makes me mad," Isaac told WENN this week, before citing KoL as an example. Lots of people, me included, think there’s more than just a little too much attitude behind KoL’s tour cancellation, but did you really ever think you’d here the “P” word come out of a member of Hanson’s mouth?

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<p>John Barrowman as Captain Jack on &quot;Torchwood.&quot;</p>

John Barrowman as Captain Jack on "Torchwood."

Credit: Starz/BBC

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Immortal Sins': Ever-lasting love

The series takes a trip back in time for a Captain Jack-centric episode

"Torchwood: Miracle Day" has, for the most part, been a very big disappointment, but "Immortal Sins" felt much more like some of the show's better moments from the earlier seasons - mainly because most of it put the miracle storyline on hold to tell a tale from Jack's long life as an immortal time traveler. It still doesn't fill me with faith for how the rest of this season will go in the present-day, but for one night, John Barrowman and writer Jane Espenson gave me something that didn't make me feel like I was just watching out of loyalty or stubborn insistence on making it to the end.

What did everybody else think?

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<p>Owen Wilson and Alison Pill in Woody Allen's &quot;Midnight in Paris.&quot;</p>

Owen Wilson and Alison Pill in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

Credit: Sony Classics

Box Office: 'Midnight in Paris' hits the $50 million mark

Is a best picture nod next?

Continuing to surprise, the summer indie hit "Midnight in Paris" crossed the $50 million mark in domestic box office today.  With $50,062,843, "Paris" is already writer and director Woody Allen's biggest hit ever. But, it also is a significant grosser for many members of its ensemble cast.

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<p>Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley are free men today, but their story remains irresistible, with Atom Egoyan set to make a film about the 'West Memphis Three' early next year</p>

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley are free men today, but their story remains irresistible, with Atom Egoyan set to make a film about the 'West Memphis Three' early next year

Credit: West Memphis Journal

Atom Egoyan set to make West Memphis Three film in the spring

No word yet on casting, but it sounds like a strong take on the story

It's been a long time coming, but this week feels like a sort of a miracle to anyone who's been following the story of the West Memphis Three.  Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. are free men today, albeit with some rather large caveats attached.  Still, considering Echols woke up on Death Row, I'd say it's been a massive improvement for all of them, and they had some big help to get there.

The full story of the involvement of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will, I'm sure, be published at some point, but it's not because they want a film out of it.  They've been doing this quietly behind-the-scenes for a while now, and they've been a big part of today's decision.  I love that Berlinger and Sinofksy were there for it, and I can't wait to see "Paradise Lost 3" at Toronto next month.

I'm not sure any one film can tell the whole infuriating, insane story of what these guys have been through, or what the families of the victims are still going through, but if anyone's going to take a shot at pulling it off, I must admit Atom Egoyan is a better than average choice.

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Kirsten Vangsness
Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Kirsten Vangsness talks resurrecting the dead on "Criminal Minds"

A "Desperate Housewives" star will be making a guest appearance

"Criminal Minds" is in many ways a typical stiff upper lip procedural (season 7 debuts Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. on CBS), but that label doesn't apply to colorful team tech guru Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). As the CBS TCA party wound down, I grabbed a few minutes with Vangsness to talk about the new season, why her character will never get it on with Shemar Moore's sexy investigator and why she's really blonde (kind of) again. 

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Colin Farrell does his best "Home Alone" for Craig Gillespie
Colin Farrell does his best "Home Alone" for Craig Gillespie

Watch: Colin Farrell and director Craig Gillespie talk 'Fright Night'

Vampires were always a box that the actor "wanted to tick"

Director Craig Gillespie and star Colin Farrell were kind enough to sit down with me and discuss their new film "Fright Night." It was a treat for me, as doing these interviews is a lot more fun when you've enjoyed the film you have to talk about.

Colin Farrell chews up the scenery in his darker, more aggressive version of Jerry the Vampire. The original incarnation, played by Chris Sarandon, played the piano and had a penchant for sweaters. Farrell's version is a more dangerous and brooding type more befitting of a predator. The new Jerry trades in the sweaters for a dirty wife-beater tank top and keeps a super creepy secret rooms in his house to jail his victims and drink their blood over time, like a walk in fridge.

It is apparent that the actor is a vampire fan. When I asked him about his influences he rattled off a string of movies including "Near Dark" and Coppola's "Dracula." He had definitely been looking to play a bloodsucker at some point in his career, saying "I'm just a big kid, it was definitely one of those boxes I wanted to tick."

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<p>Nicolas Cage will saddle up again for 'Ghost Rider:&nbsp;Spirit Of&nbsp;Vengeance,' which rides into theaters in February of 2012</p>

Nicolas Cage will saddle up again for 'Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance,' which rides into theaters in February of 2012

Credit: Sony Pictures

Watch: Nic Cage is back for another ride in 'Ghost Rider' reboot teaser

You will believe a supernatural demon biker with a flaming skull can pee fire

One of the things I'm interested in seeing in "Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance" is how the shooting style of Neveldine/Taylor, the directors of the film, adapts to something involving a character that is largely CGI-assisted.

After all, these are the guys who famously shoot their action sequences on roller skates, whose films have actually been diagnosed with ADD by a physician, and who love to throw as much random nasty nonsense as possible at the audience.  When you've got a character that depends on a visual effect as much as Ghost Rider does, you need to shoot a certain way… or do you?  You add 3D into the mix, and it sounds to me like a recipe for a class action lawsuit concerning motion sickness.

I'll say this about the film.  It looks like they're serious about taking this in a very different direction than the first one, and knowing that Cage actually got to play the freaky flaming skeleton head version of the character this time is important.  He really is Ghost Rider now, and not just Johnny Cage.  In the first film, the Ghost Rider didn't really have a strong sense of character.  He felt like an effect.  But in this one, Cage is the character the whole time.  That helps.

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<p>Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in a scene from Roman Polanski's &quot;Carnage.&quot;</p>

Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in a scene from Roman Polanski's "Carnage."

Credit: Sony Classics

Watch: Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet steal the show in new 'Carnage' international trailer

New Roman Polanski dramedy an expected actor's shocase

Adapting a stage play to the big screen is never an easy task, especially when it's a self-contained story in limited locations and over a short time frame.  The past few years have seen hyped cinematic incarnations of acclaimed plays such as "The History Boys" and "Doubt," but now matter what the screenwriters and directors on each project tried to free the subject matter of its theatrical origins, each suffered the always feared critique that they still seemed more like filmed plays than movies. When it was announced Roman Polanski intended to tackle a movie version of Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage" (re-titled "Carnage") that concern was raised by this pundit, especially after Polanski's disappointing and claustrophobic turn with "Death and the Maiden" in 1994.  Now, the first preview of "Carnage" has it the interwebs and, well, all is as was expected.

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Listen: Amy Winehouse's last recording with Tony Bennett
Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Amy Winehouse's last recording with Tony Bennett

The two tackle 'Body & Soul' for 'Duets ll' set

It may be the last recording we hear of Amy Winehouse: a 45-second snippet of Amy Winehouse’s duet with Tony Bennett on “Body & Soul” from his Sept. 20 set “Duets II.” The project commemorates the legendary singer’s 85th birthday. The set also includes Carrie Underwood, k.d. lang, and Michael Buble.

Winehouse sounds clear and strong here. We’ve heard the entire track and she sounds like she’s channeling some of her influences, including Billie Holiday. If it's the last thing we ever hear from her (although I doubt that), it will be a fitting send off.

[More after the jump...]

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