Last week was pretty harrowing, but the good news is that the chefs will be getting a good night's sleep, thank God. But they'll need it, because they're hitting the road for Dallas in the morning. Psyche! Poor chefs. I will say this has been the most good-natured bunch of competitors I've seen on the show in ages. They still share stuff, for crying out loud. Well, it's still early. The claws can start coming out at any time.
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I posted my review of FOX's "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" yesterday. Now it's your turn. I couldn't stand it, but you may have felt more kindly about it, had more built-up affection for Jaime Pressly and/or Katie Finneran (or Chad L. Coleman from his "Wire" days), or genuinely found it funny.
What did everybody else think? Will you be tuning in next week?
Also, if anyone watches "The Exes" on TV Land tonight, feel free to discuss it here if you want.
Welcome to the 2011 Grammy Nominations Concert Live! from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. LL Cool J is hosting the hour-long event, with big names like Lady Gaga and Rihanna performing. Below, I will be live-blogging thoughts and a recap of the evening -- the good, the bad, the ugly and the uglier.
Broadcast begins at 10 p.m. EST. Who will be the big names at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012?
10:01 p.m. EST: Only an hour for this thing folks. And Lady Gaga is ready to "Marry the Night," which LL Cool J takes no time to introduce.
10:03: After the melodramatic announcement that Laurieann Gibson was departing as Lady Gaga's Creative Director, this performance is a U.S. "coming out" for Gaga's next choreographer Richard Jackson. And It's looking very slick, if a little monogamous. I mean, monotonous. The skeletal get-up has been done for "Born This Way," but I'm glad this has gone the direction of "fun, active" living-dead, not "scary."
10:05: Record of the Year... Nicki Minaj announcing. "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele. Duh. "Holocene" by Bon Iver, pronounced by Nicki "Bon Ive-er." "Grenade," Bruno mars, "The Cave," Mumford and Sons, Katy Perry, "Firework."
10:06: "Firework's" only there because "Teenage Dream" didn't qualify anymore. Sad.
10:07: Rihanna's performance of "We Found Love" is double-tracked, obviously so. But she showers in a rain of applause and confetti, and she is looking fine fine fine. Ri's dancing entourage is feeling it. Looking forward to that Record of the Year nod... next year.
10:13: The Band Perry is literally sparkling, with sequins on sister Kimberly and a simple twee setup between the trio of mandolin, guitar and electric bass for newest country push "Independence." The backers are keeping it subtle with a fiddle and drums. What, no skeletons?
10:16: If The Band Perry got a nod tonight, will this track get people excited for them? No. But you know what gets people AMPED? Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." To me, "Free Fallin'" and "Let's Get It On" are in the same boat: if you cover it in your concert, it's easy, cheap applause (even and especially if it's too low for your voice).
10:18: Song of the Year: "All of the Lights" Kanye West. "The Cave," Mumford. "Holocene," Bon Iver (well said). "Rolling in the Deep" Adele. "Grenade" Bruno Mars.
10:21: So those are almost identical. It's like a Bomb Pop. Tastes the same, without Katy Perry's boobs shooting pyrotechnics out of one.
10:23: Jason Aldean's guitarist is lunging like he's playing something really hard.
10:25: You know what I needed at 10:30 at night? Some country rap on a midtempo rocker. And then some real rap on a midtempo rocker. I also look forward to in-ear monitor complaints.
10:28: Aldean looks uncomfortable with his body language, gripping that waist band like it's Thanksgiving. But damn if this song isn't still catchy. Ludacris shows up for the last "ride"; it looks more like he rolled into the wrong bar drunk and is owning it. He even picks at a Les Paul. Oh, bless you.
10:29: Did you know Luda's last Grammy nom was in 2006?
10:30: Bruno Mars looks like he could fit in my pocket. Dude is tiny. We could go on little adventures together, y'know, on a "Lazy" day.
10:32: OK, so this guarantees another Mumford & Sons appearance at the 54th Grammys. Two major nods. They were the warm-up to Bob Dylan's frog opus last year, will they get a two-song segment at the ceremony in February? If so, that's two new songs, suckers, no more of this squeeze from a two-year-old album.
10:33: Best New Artist: The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj (whose name is misspelled. BAD INTERN), Skrillex.
10:34: I predict 2,000 think-pieces on Bon Iver's multiple nominations. I predict 3,000 "Who the F is Skrillex? A guide for your mom" pieces.
10:35: Hi Common. Hi Common. Hi Common.You're pretty.
10:37: LL Cool J put on his performing hat, which is more obvious than his hosting hat. Grandmaster Flash is there with his legendary "Message," with Scorpio, Melle Mel, Common, Lupe Fiasco and LL. They're all celebrating 20 years of "The Message," and its relevant to a new music celebration... how? Don't get me wrong, I love a tribute, but aren't we supposed to be thinking about our think pieces? This is an hour-long nominations special: nominate something.
10:38: Also, QUIT YELLING AT ME. I get it: you're all close to the edge. Flash: Your skin is magnificent. Teach me.
10:43: In Memoriam, three months early. Usher never not wears sunglasses.
10:45: Ashford & Simpson getting a full break down. Leiber & Stoller getting theirs. "You're All I Need to Get Bad" getting me a little choked, not because Usher is wincing, but because Valerie Simpson is stone solid. I'd lose it.
10:47: Even with a tepid crowd which hasn't been properly warmed-up, "Stand By Me" is still so striking. As show producer Ken Ehrlich said before, "We lost two of the greatest songwriters of the formative rock and R&B era." August was a sad time, losing Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford.
10:50: In the words of Chris Berman, Katy Perry is fumblin' mumblin' stumblin' through this thing. Her hair and dress matching combo is, however, admirable.
10:51: Album of the year: Adele, "21." Foo Fighters, "Wasting Light." Lady Gaga, "Born This Way" (oh just shut up just stop it right now). Bruno Mars, "Doo Wops & Hooligans." Rihanna, "Loud."
10:52: Three singles artists for album of the year. This is the sound of haters hating. Bruno Mars' label handlers are each getting a Maybach for Christmas: those suckers are only going up in value, now.
10:53: Lady Gaga and Sugarland, performing together! A match made... in a lab. Lady Gaga has moved that beauty mark around (did she see "The Artist?"). Jennifer Nettles is singing "You and I" like she can't unpurse her lips.
10:55: Did I say pursed lips? I meant duck lips. In this oversinging competition, who's winning? Are we all losing? Lady Gaga over-saturation quota achieved.
10:58: When I die, I'd like to come back as that one-shoulder number on Gaga. But when I wake up tomorrow morning, I'd like to be wearing Jennifer Nettles' track pants.
11:00: Four major nomination categories announced, 78 total are up now.
We're down to the Top 7 on "The X Factor" and this season has taken a very predictable shape.
Paula Abdul's three Groups are all gone.
Nicole Scherzinger's Over-30s have been trimmed down to only Burrito Josh.
Both Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid have their full complement of Girls and Boys remaining, so expect the frenemies to continue their not-so-passive-aggressive bickering from across the Pepsi-laden judges' table.
On the bright side, "The X Factor" won't attempt to stretch the seven contestants out across two hours.
On the dark side, that newly freely 30 minutes will be used for the premiere of the dismal sitcom "I Hate My Teenage Daughter." My recommendation? Enjoy "X Factor" and then head over to ABC for a "Happy Endings" repeat that features a really hilarious Penny storyline.
Click through for the full recap of Michael Jackson Night...
To call Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret" my most anticipated film of the year wouldn't be stating the case with total accuracy. Rather, it's been my most anticipated film of the last few years running, repeatedly raising hopes of a sighting since 2006 before dropping from view amid ever more legal paperwork, like some form of film industry mirage.
We've touched on the film's tortured route to the screen several times over the years, but happily, we don't have to rehash that now. Through whatever process of grace or compromise, "Margaret" made it through the tunnel: the film is finished, released and here to be appreciated. Well, sort of. As if embarrassed by its complex backstory, distributor Fox Searchlight has seemingly attempted to fulfil its obligation to the film while sweeping it quietly under the rug: its September release was limited to say the least, with a number of major US cities left out of the loop altogether before it vanished from release. (Meanwhile, its UK release on Friday is a single-screen engagement in London.)
Rihanna’s “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris has found a stable home at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as the song logs its 5th week in the penthouse.
That means she keeps LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” locked out of the top spot, with “Sexy” hanging at No. 2 for the fourth straight week. This is despite the song seeing a 24% leap in digital sales and increased airplay following the duo’s show-closing performance of the track (with a little help from The Hoff) at the American Music Awards.
Even as we begin to wrap up 2011, we begin the adventure for 2012 with today's announcements of the first wave of titles for next year's Sundance Film Festival. I'm in the middle of running down my last few films for this year, and I'm focused on just making it to December 9th, when my year is sort of officially over. The reward for all of this work?
A blank slate, and as of today, I get to start figuring out what my January looks like.
This afternoon, the Sundance Institute released the line-ups for several of the sections of this year's festival, including the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions. Our team has already published the full line-up as announced, section by section, and you can see those here and here and here. HitFix will be in Park CIty to cover the festival of course, starting with the kickoff of January 19th, and I'm already overwhelmed just based on this early list of things.
Sundance says they've chosen 110 feature-length films from 31 countries, with 46 first-time directors in the mix. We'll get a look at some of the more adventurous sections of the festival, like NEXT, New Frontier, and of course Park City At Midnight tomorrow, and I'm sure many of my immediate must-sees will come from those lists. For now, though, let's look at the sections they have announced:
I hate this song. I love this song. It's Mike Posner's "Looks Like Sex."
The urban/R&B/pop-dance singer is back with a slamming beat and a half-baked chorus that capitalizes on the word "sex." Sometimes, no other vocabulary can supply you with the, erm, drive you need. It's a one-liner at best, though -- like nudge your buddy and a nod, and be like, "(S)he looks like sex," and be done with it. It should have been reserved for a verse line, or at least, um, fleshed out in full during the refrain.
A lot of people this way want to express the Christmas in their heart this week, just in different ways.
Just in! Justin! Justin Bieber will be unveiling his video with Mariah Carey in the revamp of her "All I Want For Christmas Is You" during the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center tonight, to be broadcast on NBC.
Based on the preview, Bieber is more freaking Christmasy than you'll ever be.
The Killers are on the loose, again, to bring another holiday single for charity. This time, they've donned their boots and hats for "Cowboys' Christmas Ball," a quick-stepping country tune for you good little girls and boys. The song goes up on iTunes tomorrow (Dec. 1), which is World AIDS Day. It's sales will benefit (RED), as their songs in years past have.
I hate hating at Christmas, so it pains me to say, country doesn't suit these fine-feathered men well. Lasso another dance mega-hit, and color me happy.
It's heartening to note as of late that a bit a fire has been lit under the campaign for Corey Stoll's performance as Ernest Hemingway in Woody's Allen's "Midnight in Paris."
The actor was on hand at the Gothams Sunday night as part of the tribute for David Cronenberg (a shrewd move on Sony Classics' part to get him in front of the audience -- the company is distributing both "Midnight in Paris" and Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method"). The actor nailed down an Independent Spirit Award nomination yesterday for Best Supporting Male (one of many Sony Classics citations honcho Michael Barker was beaming over when I spoke to him on the phone last night). And now, it's been announced that Stoll will participate in a unique event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Sunday, December 11.
Lucky for us, Tech Support columnist Gerard Kennedy happens to live in Boston and will be on hand to cover the evening, which will feature a discussion of "The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume I, 1907 - 1922" with the book's editor, Sandra Spanier, and novelist Ward Just. Stoll will be reading selections from the volume.
In one of the few laugh-out-loud lines in TV Land's new sitcom "The Exes" (tonight at 10:30), we meet Eden, the pint-sized, sexpot assistant to divorce lawyer Holly. Eden is played by Kelly Stables, whom the Internet Movie Database very generously lists at 5' tall, and one of Holly's clients suggests that Eden "looks like someone threw a hot chick in the dryer."
Unlike my esteemed colleague, I must admit I was pretty thrilled with the outcome of yesterday's New York Film Critics' Circle Awards -- within the bracket of likely Oscar contenders, they picked the most formally adventurous and openly lovable option for their top prize, recognizing that it's principally its director's achievement to boot. Awards for supporting performances, foreign language film and cinematography were all as well-deserved as they were predictable, and if Brad Pitt's Best Actor prize came as a surprise, it's good see a major star rewarded for raising his game in worthy projects.
The one major award I was less than pleased with, you probably won't be surprised to hear, was Meryl Streep's Best Actress prize for "The Iron Lady" -- her fifth win with the Gotham crowd. The performance, I suppose, is accomplished enough (though far from the most inspired or affecting work in the category this year), but it's surrounded by a film so muddled and misguided as to steer even its expert star into the wrong tonal territory on occasion.