Latest Blog Posts

<p>Caitlynn of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>
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Caitlynn of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Eliminations and Gaga

Two dancers go home and Lady Gaga performs

Well, it’s another Thursday and another two contestants sadly must be sent home. Thankfully, “So You Think You Can Dance” has some of the more entertaining elimination episodes on reality television so at least we have a few things to look forward to before we must face the sadness. Also, this week there’s no awkward product placement, which is always a plus.

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<p>Adam of 'Big Brother'</p>
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Adam of 'Big Brother'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Thursday - The Third Eviction

Will Dominic or Adam be chatting with Julie this week?

Rumors are flying that someone will return to the “Big Brother” house tonight. May that person have a that elusive quality known as a “personality” and save us from these recent doldrums. However, the “Lost” fan in me is hoping that Tricia Tanaka shows up and attracts a fireball from the sky to come crashing down on the whole endeavor. Who will be voted off? How instantly will the game change once it’s down to single elimination? Will the live audience continue to have that glazed, “I’ll be good, just don’t hurt my family” look that they always seem to have? Only one way to find out! Unfortunately, that one way is to actually watch the episode.

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<p>Dominic Cooper plays both Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia in the new film 'The Devil's Double'</p>

Dominic Cooper plays both Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia in the new film 'The Devil's Double'

Credit: Lionsgate

Review: Dominic Cooper gives amazing dual-performance in perfunctory 'Devil's Double'

A mediocre film is elevated by two great performances from the same actor

There is no denying that the dual performances at the heart of "The Devil's Double" are impressive, and Dominic Cooper will, I'm sure, be duly rewarded with more work and acclaim, and he deserves it.

But aside from those performances, I'm not really sure what the point of "The Devil's Double" is.  It's based on the true story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi soldier who went to boarding school with Uday Hussein, where the tremendous similarity between the two of them was noticed by everyone.  Years passed, and Uday finally sent for Latif, ordering him to undergo plastic surgery and dental work to make the appearance even more similar so that Latif could appear in public as his fiday, his double.  Latif tried to resist, but when his family was threatened, he finally agreed and spent several years in the role, horrified by Uday's cruel and brutal excesses.  He finally escaped in 1992, and became an author, eventually writing about his experiences.

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Christina Ricci (L) guest judges "Project Runway"

Christina Ricci (L) guest judges "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

Recap: 'Project Runway' returns with a celebrity judge

Tim Gunn is back, and don't we all feel a bit better now?

Can you believe it’s been SO long since we’ve had “Project Runway”? I’ve almost forgotten what Heidi Klum looks like! Governments have crumbled, natural disasters have struck and inflexible workaholic stylist Rachel Zoe has reproduced! It’s an upside down world we live in. Tim Gunn, carry me away! But because I am SO excited about “PR” being back on the air (and I do hope you will join my “PR” HitFix Fantasy League at hitfix.com/projectrunway), I’m starting early (yes, I’m watching that filler casting episode) and I’m live blogging. I simply cannot wait to get my “PR” fix. I’m jonesing!

Tim Gunn will be narrating this time filler episode, which makes it quite alright with me. We get to see the initial judging process. Some people bring crap to auditions. And this is unlike any other reality show? Um, not it's not. Seth Aaron Hnderson and Zanna Roberts-Rossi of Marie Claire will also offer input.

We meet Cecilia. She thinks fashion is war. She will fight with her spear toll the last drop of blood. So violent! She licks butts when she has to. I am scared of Cecilia. So is Zanna. My first candidate for a workroom catfight!

Amanda is chirpy. That's all we get, really.

Julie skateboards. She sings karaoke. Everything she designs looks like a blanket. But Seth is super duper impressed. Personally, if I wanted someone to cut up crap from REI I'd just do it myself. She doesn't like pretty. But if pretty is defined by Laura, I don't either.

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<p>Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of 'True Blood'</p>
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Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of 'True Blood'

Credit: HBO

Press Tour Live-Blog: HBO's 'True Blood'

Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alan Ball meet the press

Gosh-golly! It feels like just yesterday I live-blogged a panel for HBO's "True Blood." It was actually just last Friday at Comic-Con, which means my gap between "True Blood" live-blogging was longer than Sepinwall's gap between "Doctor Who" live-blogs. This is bound to be a different experience, since the Comic-Con panel featured most of the cast and was 50 percent dedicated to questions about male toplessness. 

Let's see if any different material comes out of the TCA panel...

5:18 p.m. Instead of the whole cast, today we just have Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alan Ball, which means nobody can ask Nelsan Ellis to call them "hooker."

5:18 p.m. Is Alan leaving at the end of this season? "No." "Well, everything ends. There will be an end for me on this show at some point. I just closed a deal to do another season and I don't have any desire to leave, because I'm having more fun than I've had in my life," Ball continues.

5:19 p.m. "I think stubborn people get themselves in a lot of trouble, but they also get things done," Anna Paquin says of Sookie's stubbornness. Paquin thinks Sookie has decided to stand on her own this season and that that has made Sookie more interesting.

5:20 p.m. "I'm having the best time of my life. And I'm not just a little thing, thank you very much. I can hold my own. I dare him to say something I'd say no to," Paquin says when a reporter asks if she resents all of the awful things Ball keeps having happen to Sookie. "I am working from source material," Ball maintains.

5:22 p.m. "If there were to be a good reason that were totally grounded in the reality of this show for her to undergo some massive transformation, I would welcome that," Paquin says when asked if she'd want Sookie to transform as radically as Bill and Eric have changed this season.

5:23 p.m. Question about The Creepy Baby. "They're so adorable and they're so socialized and welcoming and they seem to enjoy people and they're not fazed by production," Ball says, taking pleasure in the angelic baby and the creepy behavior.

5:24 p.m. What's the biggest challenge on the show? "The biggest challenge is telling all of the stories in the time we have to tell them," Ball says. I'm thinking fans might have a suggestion there. What's the key to getting everything done on time? They scale back. They drop scenes. "The key do it is that everybody just loves working on the show," Ball says.

5:27 p.m. How does Ball decide which pieces from the book he stays faithful to and which he wants to change? The answer goes back to his Comic-Con answer about how the books are Sookie's story, so he has more freedom with the other stories. "It's an organic process. I work with five really good, smart writers," Ball claims, calling it "a democratic process."

5:28 p.m. Have the actors gained more input over the years? "What's amazing about the show is that they write for us now, so they go 'Wouldn't it be interesting to see Steve, Alex, Nelsan do this?" Moyer says. "I certainly feel like they write for our strengths, or maybe that's just a giant coincidence," adds Paquin, saying that she pitched something in Episode 9 this season that may or may not have been intended as a joke and that may or may not have been used. 

5:31 p.m. "Those things don't occur to me," Ball says when asked about casting Harry Potter's witch-hating aunt as a witch this season. He says that unlike other people on the show, he doesn't care about outside credits. "I just feel like 'Let's get the best actor for this role that we can get' and what else they've done doesn't cross my mind," Ball explains. 

5:32 p.m. The creepy doll and the creepy baby are in creepy cahoots.

5:33 p.m. Critic asks if they'd ever been to Comic-Con before. "Fourth time," Paquin says. Moyer compares their reception down at Comic-Con -- to an audience "that eats this stuff up, if you'll excuse the pun" -- to in this room of critics. Moyer pantomimes us clapping without enthusiasm. That's a lie. We didn't clap at all. "What I love about it is how passionate people are about the show and how much they love the show," Ball says.

 

5:38 p.m. "What I like about the show is that it can be very serious, it can be life and death serious, but it doesn't take itself too seriously," Ball says of the ability to drop humor in with disturbing moments. Paquin agrees, "I like my messed-up mixed with my humor as much as the next girl." Moyer loved that he finally got to have a one-liner (about Pam's beekeeper outfit) in last week's episode. Moyer teases that Kristin Bauer Van Straten has an all-time great line coming up soon.

5:40 p.m. Who do they want more scenes with? Well, Paquin works with everybody. Moyer wants to have more scenes with Carrie Preston and Todd Lowe. He adds, "I very rarely get to go to Merlottes."

5:41 p.m. Moyer has enjoyed Bill's arc leading up to becoming Vampire King this season. "It's been a really interesting dynamic for me to play and in a way, Bill gets to become perhaps somebody she can respect again."

 

5:44 p.m. Have Paquin and Moyer enjoyed playing not-in-love this season? "Our love in real life is fine, so I'm totally happy for our characters to be as sad and distraught and messed up and hating each other as they like," Paquin says. "I actually pitched to Alan that I was getting a bit bored with our life and could he add somebody else to the mix," Moyer jokes. More seriously says, "It's also about Sookie growing up as well." We just had Gloria Steinem on another panel. Maybe Moyer was listening?

And that's all, folks!

 

 

 

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Watch: Ryan Gosling plays both sides in George Clooney's 'The Ides of March' trailer
Credit: Sony Pictures

Watch: Ryan Gosling plays both sides in George Clooney's 'The Ides of March' trailer

Presidential campaign thriller looks intense

If there is one city Hollywood adores more than New York to mine for dramatic intrigue, it's Washington, D.C. So, with the 2012 Presidential election just around the corner, it isn't surprising a political thriller with allegories to today's political climate in heading to theaters.   Case in point? George Clooney's return to the director's chair, the politically charged adaptation of Beau Willimon's play "Farragut North," "The Ides of March."

"March" will open the Venice Film Festival at the end of the month and will also screen at Toronto in September. It's already a prime contender for awards season consideration not just because of Clooney's involvement, but an ensemble that includes Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright.  On paper, it's a total Oscar bait film except Clooney doesn't really make Oscar bait films (they just end up thrown into that pool).  In fact, Clooney has a potential awards season player with his performance in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" this December.  Unless it's an "Ocean's Eleven" film, it's hard for the former winner to escape the Academy's love or attention.

As the new trailer  for "Ides" reveals, Gosling plays a campaign manager for a Presidential candidate of the Barack Obama mold (although in actuality Willimon was inspired by the 2004 campaign of Howard Dean).  Gosling's character is a rising star who finds himself played by a rival and has to decide how far he's willing to go to get back in the game.  Will he destroy the campaign of his now former boss (Clooney) just to keep his access to power? Where Clooney and longtime screenwriting and producing collaborator Grant Heslove have decided to take Willimon's play is unclear and the preview thankfully doesn't give that answer away. 

To get your first glimpse of "Ides," check out the trailer embedded below.  And no matter what your political persuasion, it's intriguing stuff.

"The Ides of March" debuts on Oct. 7 nationwide.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.

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<p>Richard Pepler. He's unhappy about something.</p>
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Richard Pepler. He's unhappy about something.

Credit: HBO

Press Tour '11 Live-Blog: HBO Executive Session

Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo meet with the press

I'm not sure what big questions the Television Critics Association is going to have for HBO Co-President Richard Plepler and for HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo, but click through for any updates on "Game of Thrones," "Luck" or whatever else gets discussed...

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Jay-Z and Kanye West's condemned for iTunes and Best Buy exclusives

Retailers stop short of threatening a boycott of 'Watch The Throne'

We wondered how long that would take. Retailers are expressing their severe dismay that “Watch The Throne,” the August album from Jay-Z and Kanye West (as The Throne), will be offered first through iTunes and that Best Buy will have an exclusivity on a deluxe version.


More than 100 independent retailers have signed an open letter to the two, asking the pair to reconsider. The retailers, in a letter that appeared in Billboard,  call the exclusivity decision “a short-sighted strategy...Your decisions will be doing great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores--stores that have supported you and your music for years.” The album will be available at iTunes starting Aug. 8, and at physical retail on Aug. 12. Best Buy's exclusive on the deluxe version would last until Aug. 23. Billboard estimates that a deluxe version can amount to 70% of sales for the first weeks of a superstar release.

The news comes as Live Nation announced this morning that The Throne tour will add more dates, due to "overwhelming demand" (we're not sure how that can happen before tickets even go on sale). The new tour schedule will be released Aug. 1 and the presale has been move to Aug. 2. The public on-sale date remains Aug. 8.


Below is the letter from retailers to the two rap superstars. We've reached out to Island Def Jam to see if they have any response to the retailers' letter. 


Dear Jay-Z and Kanye West,



Independent record stores serve our communities. Our passion is music, and we convey this to the millions of customers who come to our stores. That's what we do.



Four years ago independent music stores across the country banded together to create Record Store Day. Our goal was to counter the negative media coverage about the supposed demise of record stores brought on by the closing of the Tower stores and to respond to the music business practices that fans deemed to be manipulative and onerous.



We reached out to the artist community to see if they would join us, and the response was overwhelming, with words of support coming in from Paul McCartney, Erykah Badu, Tom Waits, Chuck D, the Foo Fighters and countless others. Working with their label partners, many of these musicians created limited edition works of art, including vinyl and CDs made especially for music-specialty retail. Hundreds of these artists took the opportunity to perform, DJ, and interact with their fans in our record stores. Here in the U.S., Record Store Day lifted the entire music business by 8% and contributed to the growth in music sales. Record Store Day is now one of the biggest music events in history, with millions of people participating worldwide. We also continue to work throughout the year with labels, artists and managers and run regular promotions via physical independent retail and recordstoreday.com.



We are responding to the bad news that your new album will not be available to independent record stores until after iTunes gets a window of exclusivity. We also learned that the deluxe version (which is what the true music fans who shop our stores will want, by an overwhelming majority) will only be available at Best Buy exclusively for a period of time. We believe this is a short-sighted strategy, and that your decisions will be doing great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores -- stores that have supported you and your music for years.



We know that you are busy, and that you put most of your energies into creating great music, but we are writing to you in the hope that you will hear us and take the time to rectify this matter. As representatives of the independent record store music community, we are asking you to allow record stores and music fans equal access to your new album.



With the utmost respect,


Dedry Jones, The Music Experience
Mike Dreese, Newbury Comics
Judy Negley, Independent Records
Rachelle Friedman, J&R Music World
Mike Batt, Silver Platters
John Kunz, Waterloo Records
Tobago Benito, DBS Sounds
Brian Faber, Zia Records
Karen Pearson, Amoeba Music
Bryan Burkert, The Sound Garden
Paul Epstein, Twist and Shout
Mike Wise, Monster
Rob Roth, Vintage Vinyl
Karl Groeger, Looney Tunes
Joe Nardone, Jr., Gallery of Sound
Jonathan Fernandez, Rasputin Music
Mike Fratt, Homers
Dilyn Radakovitz, Dimple Records
Lisa Teger-Zhen, Uncle Sam's Music
Dustin Hansen, Graywhale Entertainment
Bill Kennedy, BK Music
Jim Bland and Bob Schick, Plan Nine
Steve Wilson, Kiefs
Tom King, Central Square Records
Alayna Hill Alderman, Richard Storms, Record Archive
Nancy Salzer, Salzer's Records
Rick Ziegler, Indy CD
Laura, Finders Records
Deon Borchard, Nic Fritze, The Long Ear
Chuck Oken, Rhino /Mad Platter
Allan Miller, John Bevis, Disc Exchange
Charlotte Kubat, Magnolia Thunderpussy
Chris Avino, Rainbow Records
Rich Koch, Off the Record
Skip Hermans, Skip's Record and CD World
Jason Patton, Oz Music
Quinn Bishop, Cactus Records
John Timmons, ear X tacy
Lou Russell, Lou's Records
Roger Weiss, Streetlight Records
Terry Currier, Music Millenium
Andrew Chinnici, Lakeshore Record Exchange
Michael Bunnell, The Record Exchange
Mike White, Boo Boo Records
Steve Baron, CD Central
Eric Levin, Criminal Records
Pat O'connor, Culture Clash
Dan Plunkett, End Of An Ear
Paula Kret, Exile On Main St
Chris Penn, Good Records
Doyle Davis, Grimey's
Travis Searle, Guestroom Records
Jim Mcguinn, Hot Poop
Isaac Slusarenko, Jackpot Records
Jason Nickey & Heath Byers, Landlocked Music
Todd Robinson, Luna Music
Darren & Jim Blase, Shake It
Anna & Chris Brozek, Slowtrain
Kimber Lanning, Stinkweeds
Tom "Papa" Ray, Vintage Vinyl
Jack Dennis and Christopher Ashely, Earshot
Lisa Tiger-Zhen, Uncle Sams
Dave Zero, Mad City Music Exchange
Sarah Hefte, Everyday Music
Mike Madrigale, Mr. Suit Records
Lance Price, CD Source
Bruce Carlock, Cats Music
Thomas "Toonz" Predovich, Vinyl Solution Records
Neal Becton, Som Records
Marc Lasky, Music Box
Ryan Shoemaker, Galaxy CDs
John Thominet, Rainbow Records
Rick Linie, Creative Leisure
Chris, Young Ones
Morrison Agen, Neat Neat Neat Records and Music
Peter Gianakopoulos, The Old School Records
Reid Robinson, Co-Op Records, Moline
Carol Copfer, Movie Trading Company, Vintage Stock
John Anderson, Reverberation Vinyl
Rob Kimple, Ramalama Records
Randy Wagner, Radio KAOS Records
Sam Lock, CD.Game Exchange
Rob Bourqu, Music Matters
Steve Hyland, Down In the Valley
Melanie Cade, Mojo Books and Music
Tony Cicalese, We Got The Beats
Andy Schneidkraut, Albums on the Hill
Robert Stapleton, Southwest Sound
Sharon & Shirley Bechor, Rock and Soul Records
Rich and Sue Graves, Budget Tapes & Records
Todd Fundaro, Flipside Records
Adam Hirzel, Saki Records
Kelly, Patrick and Robby, Back Door Records
Stacey Pepper, Vertigo Music
Josh Castleberry, Toxic Beauty Records
 

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<p>Carrie MacLemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Greta Gerwig, Analiegh Tipton and Adam Brody in Whit Stillman's &quot;Damsels in Distress.&quot;</p>

Carrie MacLemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Greta Gerwig, Analiegh Tipton and Adam Brody in Whit Stillman's "Damsels in Distress."

Credit: Sony Classics

Whit Stillman returns with 'Damsels in Distress' to close the 2011 Venice Film Festival

Not many surprises in official Biennale di Venezia lineup

La Biennale di Venezia 2011 (aka the 2011 Venice Film Festival) announced its 68th round of selections today and a long absent American filmmaker is making his long awaited return.

Whit Stillman, who is known for the indie classic "Metropolitan," "Barcelona" and "the Last Days of Disco," will debut his first film in 13 years, "Damsels in Distress." The comedy stars Gerta Gerwig and Adam Brody and will play out of competition as the festival's closing night film on Sept. 10.

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Watch: Beyonce shimmers and shines on 'The View'

Lady Gaga is next on Aug. 1

Beyonce hung with the ladies on “The View” today to talk about how normal she is between wowing us with stripped-down performances of “Best Thing I Never Had” and “1+1.” The latter was performed “Fabulous Baker Boys” style with Bey on top of a black baby grand.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansar)&nbsp;and Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz)&nbsp;on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansar) and Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' presents 'The Best of Jean-Ralphio'

Bask in the splendor of Tom's smarmy sidekick

I'll have another "Fringe" Comic-Con video interview up a little later today, but let's change course with a treat from one of this blog's favorite shows, "Parks and Recreation." 

The fourth season doesn't debut until September 22, and they're only in the process of filming the premiere right now. But if you want to get back into a Pawnee frame of mind, what better way than to enjoy the five minutes of awesome otherwise known as "The Best of Jean-Ralphio," featuring Ben Schwartz douchin' it up as Tom Haverford's best/worst friend?

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<p>Neil Patrick Harris plays Rock Band with The Smurfs in a scene from my own personal nightmares.</p>

Neil Patrick Harris plays Rock Band with The Smurfs in a scene from my own personal nightmares.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Review: 'The Smurfs' offers harmless, self-aware family laughs

Latest example of a relatively new genre is review-proof

Yep.  There is a movie called "The Smurfs" and it exists.

Is there really nostalgia out there for these characters?  If you grew up in the '80s watching the cartoon on Saturday mornings, are you really hoping to see a new film with the little blue creatures?  Somehow, I doubt it.  This has struck me as one of the strangest miscalculations of this era of nothing but pre-existing properties since it was first announced, and now, finally, the film will be in theaters this Friday and we'll see what kind of appetite people actually have for the Smurfs.

One thing is clear, though, having taken both of my children to see the movie last night:  this is not a movie that is aimed at grown-ups.  It was written young, it plays young, and for a six year old and a three year old, it seemed to play just fine.  I'll give it credit for making the two of them belly laugh every time Hank Azaria, chewing scenery with aplomb as Gargamel, evil wizard foe to the Smurfs, got hurt in some dramatic fashion.  Listening to them laugh like that is exactly why I took them, and it worked well enough on that level.

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