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Nicole, Big Brother 16

Recap: 'Big Brother' Wednesday - Ranking the 7 Remaining HGs

Who's the best houseguest in the game?

Your opinion about how good the current season of "Big Brother" is hinges on one question: Are you entertained or bored to tears by Derrick's flawless gaming? Because it is flawless, everyone. It is righteous, it is true, and it is proceeding without any conflict. 

As spotlit on Wednesday's episode, Derrick's game is going so according to plan that it's almost unnerving. Surely he'll be forced to get tyrannical in the coming weeks (or even tomorrow, considering it's a Double Eviction he'll have to steer), but his slyness and sureness is only becoming bolder. He's so great at this game that he can even convince lesser houseguests, time and again, that he's somehow a worse player than they are. Did you watch Derrick seamlessly goad Caleb, through flattery and wholly untrue prattle about Caleb's strengths in the game, into a Final Two deal? Because I did, and it was both shocking (You go, emperor Derrick!) and un-shocking (Of course Caleb thinks he's a great player; after all, he has... a nickname).

Despite a veto game with some titillating explosives, Wednesday's episode did little to convince us that anyone but Nicole can go home on Thursday. So without further ado, let's rank the seven remaining players and see just who has a chance of pulling off an upset.

7. Nicole

God bless this squeaky Babs Bunny clone for sobbing through her past week in the house. Though Derrick had designs to boot Christine, even he is following through on the general consensus and electing to kick out Nicole for the second time this week. And because he's such a good player, Nicole begged him for friendly hugs as her doom was sealed. 

6. Christine

I was pretty weirded out to see Christine monologuing to herself in ostracism-based anger like Wendy Pepper on the first season of "Project Runway." She got so heated that I swear I heard some "REDRUM"s thrown in there, along with the occasional "Kara Saun thinks she's SO PERFECT." I still think Christine has a Hail Mary left in her, a last-ditch swing at her shifty-eyed Detonator posse that could rock the game. But just because she's more naturally intelligent than other players here doesn't mean she won't fall in line with Amber, Donny, and other people who died in, like, the 1930s. 

5. Caleb

Still aligned with his bros like a dead-eyed member of the Hatfield clan, Caleb's stony stupidity is basically calcifying into unimportance. I think he has a keen eye for the kinds of players who will eventually turn on him, but he's so -- wait for it! -- delusional about his effectiveness and power in the game that I can't help rooting for his swift ejection. He's not fit to debate Derrick for $500,000 even though he promised to arrange that finale for us. Better to lose him now so we don't have to suffer through a final soliloquy filled with beast metaphors.

4. Frankie

I'm not saying Frankie's the most likable chap in the house (In fact, there are reasons to argue the opposite), but I think it's important to note that his game is definitely the most interesting in the BB house. I mean, is he good? He is certainly an ingratiating mastermind and occasionally a powerful player. If you're a member of the anti-floater gestapo, you won't be shaking your gestapo stick at Frankie any time soon. But his impetuousness and neurotic tizzies are getting worse, and it feels like Frankie is losing his grip on the game at the exact moment when key players are planting their footing. 

3. Victoria

The cynical "Big Brother" viewer laughs that Victoria will definitely make the final two. Since she entered Julie Chen's dollhouse back in June, Victoria has not uttered a single serious word about gameplay. In fact, I don't think she's uttered a single serious word, period. She's just an eyebrow pencil wrapped in a perma-scowl tucked into a Hello Kitty backpack. And while every other player is arguing and b*tching and gaming (for better or for worse), Victoria is smiling at nothing -- and sometimes on a couch! I think the Detonators are too tight to give Victoria a spot in the final two, but no one's actively stopping her lazy-eyed trek to $50,000 at the moment. So good for her?

2. Cody

The stealth candidate to win the whole thing, no? Face it: Getting through "Big Brother" as a physically strong guy is pretty tough. And somehow Cody has figured out a way never to be a target or a pawn, and that is in essence the key to playing "Big Brother."

1. Derrick

The master, the trickster, the calm orchestrator, and -- more importantly -- the ego-free player. Though Nicole compared him to Dan Gheesling, he is so not Dan in key ways. He is not theatrical in his self-regard. He's not angry. He's not cocky. He's just a guy who sees the game as a job, and he's pulling off a good day's work every day. It may not be the most telegenic way to win "Big Brother," but Derrick's method is reason enough to call him -- even without having won the season -- a "Big Brother" pro. 

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Album sales at an all-time low: 5 things that only maybe could save a dismal 2014
Credit: AP Photos

Album sales at an all-time low: 5 things that only maybe could save a dismal 2014

Adele, are you there? It's me, the consumer

As we previously reported, album sales are at a record all-time low in the U.S. Last week, album sales totaled 3.97 million for the week, marking the first time the tally has dropped below 4 million, unprecedented in the SoundScan era (which kicked off with tracking sales data in 1991).

Billboard -- who has a partnership with SoundScan -- is the first to report album and sales news, the good, the bad and the ugly. Today it was reported that sales are slightly up from that grim news last week, 5% only (to 4.2 million), due to Ariana Grande's fresh "My Everything." But still, that makes it trending low, which Ed Christman said is only to be expected.

"The weekly average number of album sales fell from 4.75 million units in the first quarter to 4.55 million units in the second quarter. In the first 8 weeks of the third quarter, the average has fallen further to 4.2 million. This decline is actually in line with historical trends."

Sales for the year are down 15% compared to totals from the same point last year so far.

Who is buying albums right now?

Let's do a spot cross-section: artists who all have earned No. 1 albums on The Billboard 200 sales chart in 2014.

It says a lot that Tom Petty earned his first No. 1 album ever just this summer. Now, I want you to try and name a Tom Petty song that's fewer that 15 years old. Bruce Springsteen nabbed one week, as did "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Young girls love "5 Seconds of Summer" and the "Frozen" soundtrack. Sweet God, do they ever love "Frozen."

Coldplay, Rick Ross, Beyonce, Eric Church, Jack White, Trey Songz and Ariana Grande had previously earned No. 1 on the chart  one or more times. They all have had hit radio singles, No. 1 for each of the genre categories.

"Now 49" and "Now 50" are bred from the same radio single compilation series, for those people who cannot be bothered to cherry-pick their favorite hits. "Guardians of the Galaxy" soundtrack is essentially, too, a hits compilation of late-1960s and '70s hits, aligning with one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer.

The newbies and anomalies are rappers Wiz Khalifa and Schoolboy Q, soft pop/rock songwriter Ed Sheeran, country artist Miranda Lambert, rockers The Black Keys and "Chandelier" singer Sia.

There, of course, are many other new and old albums that have sold and sold moderately well in 2014. But start thinking about that long tail -- those indie bands that have a lot of buzz, those 2013 albums that only got heir due (or radio single) later, the popular touring band that has no airplay. And critical acclaim doesn't guarantee that sale -- or even the full-album stream.

5 Ways To Maybe Save A Dismal Year Like This One

1. Adele: She's one of the few post-2000 artists to have passed the 10-million units mark with a single album, for "21," and the only artist to have done it post-2010. Her album spent 24 weeks in the penthouse of The Billboard 200, which also keeps it in the consciousness of the buying public. Likelihood of her sweeping in to save the day? It's September, folks; this month is the time labels start their 3-month album promotional cycle in time for holiday gift season. There has been no single farmed from her new album -- purportedly called "25." She's said over and over again that she'll take her sweet time producing her next, especially after vocal cord surgery and having a baby. Not really counting on her pulling a Beyonce and surprising us either. So, low chance but weirdly possible, with many limitations.

2. Taylor Swift: "Shake It Off" is definitely a song you'll hear for a year straight. She's got her next album "1989" set for October and the Swift brand is still on the rise: Swift is squarely out of the "country" category now and into the A-list celebrity and artistry world, here to stay for young buyers as well as those who "grew up" with her handful of hits from each album. Released in October 2012, her previous "Red" sold a brain-blowing 1.21 million copies in its first week, and while this new one may not fare nearly as well this fall, "1989" will be far-and-away one of the best-selling albums this year. But save the year? She'll have to sing at every ballgame, awards show, late-night TV show and morning show on top of making the purchase of her album more appealing (or the only option -- she didn't let Spotify stream "Shake It Off," users could only YouTube, buy or find their way around).

3. An Eminem album plus a Drake or a Kanye or Jay Z album: Best-seller Eminem's "Recovery" fared well two years ago, but not Adele-well. Sometimes, rap artists help amplify the sales of other rap artists, or come seemingly in a package (Young Money acts, Watch the Throne, etc.). While Kanye West and Nicki Minaj are guaranteed to sell well on their own, they couldn't do enough to dent this stinker of a sales run this year. Eminem is helping release the Shady Records "ShadyXV" compilation this fall, but not a new studio album. So no go on this front -- if Minaj wants to put an onsale date on her "Pinkprint," though, we're all for it. Just need to rock the Top 5 in airplay with "Anaconda" or otherwise first if she wants to make a big move on album sales. Notice I did not bring up Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter V." Because I dunno, man.

4. A gangbusters Christmas album: These new titles will hit starting in October, and tend to make up some sleeper sales late in the year, on top of albums purchased as stocking stuffers for family. But, I mean, it'd have to be a Michael Buble duets album with Mariah Carey and special guest Susan Boyle, or Bing Crosby returning from the dead to personally ring your doorbell and hand you a copy of whatever's there to shill. Or, hey, we hear "Frozen's" still popular, how 'bout Josh Gad singing "Silent Night."

5. Sale! Sale! Sale! And not just on Black Friday. Billboard requires a minimum $3.49 price tag in the first four weeks of release for an album to count toward their chart, and charting is important to many labels. Though, can you imagine, if CDs were $5, and all the digital sales of albums were $3.50 for a day, and it all was promoted across the board in a disgusting display of the reduced value of art (or "art")? Gnashing of teeth, counting of dollars, uptick in "sales." Also: never gonna happen.

What won't work to help this poor sales year?

That Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett standards album: Promotion on "Cheek to Cheek" is warm right now, and Bennett is catnip to older buyers, especially those who helped shoot "Duets II" up to the summit in 2012 (179,000 first week). Gaga's "Artpop" also made No. 1, with 258,000 first-week. But don't go thinking combining the two will make Taylor Swift numbers, maybe more like 300,000. The two could be doing more together than archival studio videos, and the ought to do that soon, since it's due in less than three weeks.

These best-sellers combined: Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Antebellum, Weezer and Foo Fighters all have confirmed albums due this fall. The latter actually stands a chance of taking a big bite into sales, due to a bump of exposure from the series of the same name (created by Dave Grohl) on HBO. Maroon 5 (out this week with "V") is going to do well. But not Adele well.

Rumored albums: Rihanna, U2 and One Direction have sent out whiffs of fall/holiday releases. Has the hype cooled on all them, however?

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" soundtrack: It's being curated by Lorde, so who the heck knows what all she'll slap on there. That movie, though? Will take all the money that's left over the holidays.

These potentially awesome albums: Run the Jewels, "RTJ2"; Charli XCX "Sucker"; Scott Walker + Sunn O))), "Soused"; Jessie Ware, "Tough Love"; Death From Above 1979, "The Physical World"; Aphex Twin, "SYRO." These won't move many copies. You should give them a spin anyway.

Oh, so there still might be good music out there. Why are sales still falling so badly?

This is a gimme. CD and digital album sales are both falling. There's been a decreasing number of brick-and-mortar stores (ones you actually, physically, walk into) because specialty shops closed and the big boxes like Best Buy and Wal-mart aren't gonna keep sinking money into stock they can't move (including smaller, harder-to-find releases).

There are some young people who will never buy a CD in their life. Some haven't ever even bought an album, whether on Amazon or iTunes, Best Buy or Amoeba or Barnes & Noble. Single sales in 2013, though, were also down...

But streaming is up. Before, it was just piracy and illegal downloading eating away at sales, starting in 2000. Now it's Spotify and Pandora on top of that.

How do you best support the music and musicians you love?

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Watch a clip from James Franco's Venice entry 'The Sound and the Fury'

Watch a clip from James Franco's Venice entry 'The Sound and the Fury'

The multi-hyphenate is set to be honored on the Lido this week

James Franco seems to be as busy as ever. The tireless actor, filmmaker, poet, samurai, infantryman, Blue Angels pilot, second string football kicker (OK, only a couple of those) is being honored by the Venice Film Festival this week, where he has a new film, "The Sound and the Fury," screening out of competition. It's the 36-year-old's second William Faulkner adaptation after 2013 Cannes premiere "As I Lay Dying," and it's just one of a slew of features and documentaries Franco has on the horizon.

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<p>Ted Levine in &quot;The Bridge.&quot;</p>

Ted Levine in "The Bridge."

Credit: FX

Review: 'The Bridge' - 'Rakshasa'

The Chopper takes Sonya to the desert, while things get rough at Red Ridge

A review of tonight's "The Bridge" coming up just as soon as I turn up the relaxing strings...

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Review: Rising Brit star George MacKay is the standout in Duane Hopkins' 'Bypass'

Review: Rising Brit star George MacKay is the standout in Duane Hopkins' 'Bypass'

Drugs are bad, MacKay

VENICE — Looking scrawny and sallow compared to his 2013 appearances in Kevin Macdonald’s underrated YA novel adaptation “How I Live Now” and Proclaimers musical “Sunshine on Leith,” George MacKay is the standout in Duane Hopkins’ UK Horizons entry “Bypass” here at Venice. “Bypass” sees Brit-on-the-rise MacKay in loosely similar territory to his other 2013 release, Paul Wright’s dour, artful “For Those In Peril,” in which he also played an almost completely friendless and increasingly desperate youth isolated from his family, though there the similarities between the two films end.

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'Utopia' star was booted for smuggling in a smartphone, and looking up the other contestants

'Utopia' star was booted for smuggling in a smartphone, and looking up the other contestants

“Utopia” star was booted for smuggling in a smartphone, and looking up the other contestants
“It was clearly crossing the boundary of what was in her contract and what we thought was creatively important for the show,” says Simon Andreae, chief of Fox’s alternative programming. “So, we sadly had to let her go and that's the sum of it.”


NBC’s “Weight for Love” will have couples lose weight together
The new reality show will be self-contained and different from "The Biggest Loser’s" couples editions.


Lifetime sued over “Happy Face Killer” movie
Daun Slagle, who survived the real-life killing spree, claims the movie wrongfully portrayed her as a prostitute. Her lawsuit contends that the film, which aired in March, left viewers "with the sense that (she) somewhat provoked and/or deserved the attack due to her low character, criminal behavior."


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Telluride Reviews: '99 Homes,' 'Madame Bovary,' ''71,' 'Wild Tales'

Telluride Reviews: '99 Homes,' 'Madame Bovary,' ''71,' 'Wild Tales'

Some thoughts on some of the fall's more intriguing titles

TELLURIDE — It's impossible to see every movie at a film festival, but you can certainly come close if you're able to catch a few of the main centerpieces beforehand. At Telluride, the benefit of having viewed "Foxcatcher," "Mr. Turner," "Mommy" and "The Homesman" at Cannes allowed this pundit to catch a few of the lower profile titles that are still worthy of your attention. Here are a few short capsule reviews for some films that will also screen at the Toronto and New York film festivals and that should most definitely be on your radar.

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Bruce Springsteen to make his acting debut on 'Lilyhammer,' which will also get a visit from 'The Sopranos’ alum Tony Sirico
Credit: Associated Press

Bruce Springsteen to make his acting debut on 'Lilyhammer,' which will also get a visit from 'The Sopranos’ alum Tony Sirico

Bruce Springsteen to make his acting debut on “Lilyhammer,” which will also get a visit from “The Sopranos" alum Tony Sirico
Steven Van Zandt will have two reunions on his Netflix series in Season 3. The E Street band member will play a priest who visits Springsteen, who’ll play a mortuary owner in what may be his acting debut. Van Zandt’s former “Sopranos” co-star Sirico, meanwhile, will recur throughout the season.

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'The View’s' new co-hosts: Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace

“The View’s” new co-hosts: Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace
Rosie Perez, who’s set to co-star with Larry David on Broadway, will join for George W. Bush and John McCain aide Nicolle Wallace when “The View” returns Sept. 15, according to Deadline. They’re replacing Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy.

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George Clooney to take on Rupert Murdoch in film about British phone-hacking scandal
Credit: AP Photo

George Clooney to take on Rupert Murdoch in film about British phone-hacking scandal

Actor will direct an adaptation of the Nick Davies book 'Hack Attack'

George Clooney has Rupert Murdoch in his sights. The "Descendants" star has signed on to helm an adaptation of "Hack Attack," a recent book by Nick Davies that dissects the British phone-hacking scandal which implicated Murdoch's News International subsidiary and led to the shuttering of long-running U.K. tabloid "News of the World," according to Deadline. Clooney will also produce the Sony project alongside his Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov.

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'Ask Drew' looks forward to 'Inherent Vice' as the fall's must-see movie
Credit: Warner Bros

'Ask Drew' looks forward to 'Inherent Vice' as the fall's must-see movie

What kind of monster pits Tarantino against Nolan?

Yep. Still no facial hair.

Some of the mail you guys sent about the new aesthetic choice I've made regarding my chin was charming, some of it was hilarious, and some of it was downright creepy. I treasure it all.

That last episode sort of winded me. Then we got caught up in a couple of very busy weeks. And now I'm leaving for Toronto, where I'm going to be working non-stop until September 11th, with something like 28 reviews and/or interviews scheduled for that time. We wanted to make sure that we got one more "Ask Drew" delivered to you before I hit that plane at 6:00 AM, and once again, you guys sent us a strong set of questions to pick from.

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'Game of Thrones’' Bran Stark and Hodor will take next season off
Credit: HBO

'Game of Thrones’' Bran Stark and Hodor will take next season off

“Game of Thrones’” Bran Stark and Hodor will take next season off
As Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor, explains: "We have a season off and we have a year's hiatus, solely because I imagine our storyline is up to the end of the books.”

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