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<p>&quot;Madam Secretary&quot;</p>

"Madam Secretary"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Madam Secretary'

Tea Leoni has lots to work with, but the show needs more focus

[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. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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Paul Feig rumored to be taking the helms of a female-driven 'Ghostbusters' reboot
Credit: Sony Pictures

Paul Feig rumored to be taking the helms of a female-driven 'Ghostbusters' reboot

There are plenty of funny people ready to star if this happens

Paul Feig is a very funny man. First and foremost, before any further conversation about the merits of a possible female-driven "Ghostbusters," let's be very clear about that. You should read "Kick Me: Adventures In Adolescence" and "Superstud: Or How I Became A 24-Year-Old Virgin" immediately, especially if you're a fan of "Freaks & Geeks." You'll see how his writings evolved into that show, particularly in terms of the way he uses brutal truth to get his laughs.

When I visited him on the set of "Bridesmaids," he was confident about the film he was making, and he was over-the-moon in regards to his cast. His background is such that he really loves performers, and he knows how to create an amazing atmosphere for them to play together. I'm not a big fan of "The Heat," but the same skill set is on display, and it's obvious that he was able to build that space for Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

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Former 'American Idol' finalist Michael Johns dies at 35

Former "American Idol" finalist Michael Johns dies at 35
The Australian-born singer, who finished 8th in 2008 on "Idol's" 7th season, died Friday due to a blood clot in his ankle.

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Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Forever'

Immortal Sherlock Holmes drama is bland, but amiably bland

[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. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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Philadelphia's The Awesome Festival becomes Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival
Credit: Universal Pictures

Philadelphia's The Awesome Festival becomes Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival

A line-up of indie horror like this worth way more than $50

Philadelphia's Awesome Fest sounds… well… awesome.

To be clear, though, it appears this is an evolution of the already-existent event, which is now being called The Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival. As you would expect with a name like that, Bruce Campbell will indeed be there as part of the four-day event in Rosemont, IL, where they'll also be screening a slate of horror titles curated by Scott Weinberg, horror maven and the resident critic at the just-killed FEARnet. They'll also have panels, and they've got some great ones planned. Overall, it looks like a really cool chance to see a fistful of the best of what indie horror has going on right now with bonuses that simply make the weekend better.

From August 21 to August 24, you'll be able to check out some great films. How? Well, here's how they put it:

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<p>&quot;Red Band Society&quot;</p>

"Red Band Society"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Red Band Society'

Pediatric hospital dramedy is a lot like 'Glee.' Is that a good thing?

[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. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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<p>Clive Owen of &quot;The Knick&quot;</p>

Clive Owen of "The Knick"

Credit: Cinemax

Clive Owen explains his 'Knick' mustache and being 'The David Bowie of a Hospital in 1900'

Cinemax drama premieres on August 8

A couple weeks ago at the TCA press tour, I sat down with Clive Owen and Steven Soderbergh for a 45-minute discussion about their new Cinemax series "The Knick," a medical drama set around New York's Knickerbocker Hospital in 1900.

Soderbergh directed the totality of the first season, which focuses on Owen's Dr. John W. Thackery, a visionary surgeon who augments his forward-thinking approach to his profession with additions to cocaine and opium.

As you might expect, it's a wide-ranging interview covering the show's journey to Cinemax, the approach to the occasionally harrowing medical rituals of the period, the pressures of doing five two-hour movies consecutively and the decision to use a trippy score by Cliff Martinez.

It's a great interview and it'll go up sometime next week, ahead of the show's August 8 premiere on Cinemax.

While the full Q&A will be posted, I wanted to whet appetites with a couple details from Owen about some of the external aspects of his character, details that already have people chattering, either based on the posters and trailers or, in the case of my Twitter feed, based on early screeners.

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'Nashville' season premiere will feature 2 live performances

“Nashville” season premiere will feature 2 live performances
The East Coast broadcast will include live performances from the Bluebird Café set, one from Will Lexington and another from Deacon Claybourne.

“Sons of Anarchy” unveils its final season poster
It looks like the reaper is on Jax’s back.

Teen Choice Awards has found a new venue after UCLA flooding
This year’s TCAs, scheduled for UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, will now take place Aug. 10 from the Shrine Auditorium.

“Chappelle’s Show” co-creator: “Louie” is the kale of television
"I’m going to put 'Two And A Half Men' in ‘Lowbrow but Brilliant’ vs ‘Louie,’” says Neal Brennan. “Again, I love Louie’s stand-up; I love the stand-up sections of the show. I find the narrative to be non-existent and kind of sloppy and kind of lazy. So, I’m putting him in ‘Lowbrow and Despicable.’ I think ‘Louie' is like the kale of television. I think people like to say they watch it but I don’t think anyone is really…”

“Manhattan” really shines in Episode 2
“Having successfully eaten television's mandated opening appetizer of raw fennel,” says Matt Zoller Seitz, "it's ready to move on to dishes that please the palates of everyone involved. You can practically hear the entire series sighing with relief that they've gotten the hard part over with.” PLUS: TV needs more science shows like “Manhattan."

As he enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Michael Strahan is everywhere
"Few retired athletes have parlayed their success on the field and their time in the nation’s largest media market into a second career in television as well as Strahan,” as the NY Times points out. "Stars like Frank Gifford and Tim McCarver blazed trails in the broadcast booth calling games, but Strahan is one of a handful of former players to work simultaneously in sports and entertainment television.” PLUS: Strahan and fiancee Nicole Murphy split up.

Is anybody watching Food Network?
Food’s primetime lineup appears to have declined in recent years.

Chris Pratt on “Parks and Rec”: “I think people are ready for it to be done”
Pratt is returning to work in two weeks after his whirlwind “Guardians of the Galaxy” publicity tour. "They’ve done a tremendous job,” he says of the writers, "but eventually you just run out of stories to tell about these characters without it becoming hackneyed and becoming sort of jumping the shark and turning into something that wouldn’t honor the characters.” PLUS: Pratt’s evolution from “Everwood” and “The O.C."

“Friends” star David Schwimmer is now directing “Breaking Bad’s” Anna Gunn
Schwimmer’s two-person play, "Sex With Strangers,” opens Wednesday.

How Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks was born
"We briefly considered Stupid Baby Tricks,” says former Letterman head writer (and girlfriend) Merrill Markoe, "but we were concerned that the idea would inspire desperate attention-seeking people to commit borderline child abuse."

Bristol Palin’s attorney denies she earned $0 in 2012 and 2013
The documents in her legal filming came from her baby’s daddy, Levi Johnston, says the lawyer.

Why did it take so long for “True Blood” to get around to Hurricane Katrina?
New showrunner Brian Buckner is doing what Alan Ball never did — acknowledge the 2005 storm’s effects on Louisiana. PLUS: Check out a box of “True Blood” props.

Why you should stick with “The Leftovers”
Despite its bleakness, the HBO drama is doing something not done on any other show. PLUS: To watch or not to watch?

HBO gives “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways” a premiere date
The Dave Grohl-directed documentary series will air on Fridays at 11 pm, starting Oct. 17.

Chelsea Handler posts her bat-mitzvah photo
"Don't ever say I'm not a real Jew,” Handler wrote on Instagram.

Atheist TV debuts on the web
The president of American Atheists describes his new channel as “a place we can call our own, where we can speak the truth as frankly as we want.” It intends, he said, “to promote the idea that religion can and should be criticized.”

“Veep’s” Tony Hale unveils his children’s book
“Archibald’s Next Big Thing” is due out on Aug. 15.

What is Kirk from “Gilmore Girls” doing in “Guardians of the Galaxy”?
Turns out Sean Gunn, who played Kirk on all seven seasons of “Gilmore Girls,” is the brother of “Guardians” director James Gunn (and James Gunn is the ex-husband of “The Office’s” Jenna Fischer).

Fox buys an NYC crime drama from Richard Price
The noted crime writer and “Criminal Justice” creator’s project "centers on a twentysomething Wall Street portfolio manager who unwittingly becomes a pawn in the DA’s attempts to take down a criminal organization.”

Is “OITNB’s” Taylor Schilling the new Mary Tyler Moore?
Hayden Wright things so: "The very nature of Schilling's brilliance, like Mary Tyler Moore's, however, is her knack for knowing how and when to fade into the background. It's the subtlety of her upright posture, the openness of her expressions. She doesn't always get the punchline or the dramatic breakdown, but Schilling soldiers along as the unassuming lead of a dynamite ensemble we often find ourselves discussing instead. And she deserves an Emmy for it.” PLUS: Meet “OITNB’s” Miss Rosa.

Check out 10 awesome musical performances from “The Jon Stewart Show”
From Notorious B.I.G. to Van Halen.

Piers Morgan calls Larry King a “graceless, petty little man”
The former CNN host responded after King slammed him yet again.

Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It” takes on “Star Wars”
Here’s a preview of Monday’s “Star Wars”-themed episode.

A day in the life of a Times Square Elmo impersonator
Jorge, an immigrant from Mexico, is one of many Times Square Elmos. PLUS: A farmer uses Elmo as a scarecrow.

Watch "Weird Al” Yankovic take over MTV in 1984
“Weird Al” would occasionally host “AL-TV.”

“The Killing” ends on Netflix, a shadow of its former self
Not even the presence of Joan Allen in Season 4 can keep diehard viewers from wishing it would just conclude already. PLUS: “The Killing” never did achieve greatness, Season 4 is more a thriller than a somber grief melodrama, and “Killing” boss Veena Sud on the Netflix revival.

“The Knick” could be a game-changer for Cinemax
The 1900-set Steven Soderbergh drama starring Clive Owen, says Tim Goodman, "is a series that makes no rush to win support during its pilot, then audaciously walks the audience through another two hours of medical bleakness before arriving, in episode four, almost fully formed. That’s the HBO model to a scientific description, but in this case “almost” is an apt qualifier, because the series really arrives at its most important milestone by the sixth episode. By then, The Knick has fully enthralled with its merits.” PLUS: Soderbergh predicts half the viewers will look away from the gruesome scenes.

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'Ally McBeal’s' Peter MacNicol joins 'CSI:Cyber'

“Ally McBeal’s” Peter MacNicol joins “CSI:Cyber”
The “Numbers” alum is returning to CBS as a series regular on the “CSI” spinoff, playing Patricia Arquette’s supervisor.

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'Big Bang Theory' is aiming to get a deal done by Sunday

“Big Bang Theory” is aiming to get a deal done by Sunday
What’s dragging negotiations, according to Variety, is that each of the five actors is negotiating for the same salary but doing so with different reps.

“Game of Thrones” inspired Simon Cowell’s new “X Factor” UK promo
Watch the judges, including “America’s Got Talent’s” Mel B, go to war.

George R.R. Martin is re-releasing his 1980 children’s book set in Westeros
"The Ice Dragon” is being updated with artist Luis Royo, with a release set for Oct. 21.

“Breaking Bad’s” Betsy Brandt” is returning to “Parenthood”
She’ll reprise her role as Ray Romano’s estranged wife.

Here is every summer TV show from this summer, ranked
“America’s Got Talent” occupies the top two spots in the ratings, followed by “Under the Dome,” “Extant” and “24: Live Another Day."

How difficult was that University of Virginia 4-week “Game of Thrones” class?
“It was a lot of work,” Professor Lisa Woolfork says of her course. "It was a lot of debate, a lot of conversation, a lot of disagreement. This is the point of what we can do when we apply the skills of literary analysis to both a literary and televisual adaptation.”

“Grey’s Anatomy’s” Ellen Pompeo is producing “Debt” for ABC Family
Based on the Rachel Carey novel, “Debt” satirizes the 2008 financial meltdown.

Watch Amy Poehler as a spelling bee moderator
It’s her latest Old Navy ad.

Disney launches a Muppets web series
Check out “Disney Drive-On with The Muppets.”

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<p>&quot;Guardians of the Galaxy&quot;</p>

"Guardians of the Galaxy"

Credit: Marvel Studios

Tell us what you thought of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

James Gunn's cosmic Marvel showcase is finally ready for its close-up

This weekend, Marvel finally goes cosmic as "Guardians of the Galaxy" soars into theaters across the nation. Chris Pratt is now an action star and the geeks are rejoicing. Though I guess it's now just the geeks: with a healthy Rotten Tomatoes score, "Guardians" is one of Marvel Studios' best-reviewed films to date. Will it break August box office records? It very well might.

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Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy

Interview: Tyler Bates on the 'relief' of finishing the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' score

How touring with Marilyn Manson is good for his soul

It’s safe to say that “Guardians of the Galaxy” score composer Tyler Bates has never written a cue titled “What A Bunch Of A-holes” before. “That’s James Gunn,” Bates laughs, referring to the movie’s director. “That was in his dialog. It was fun.”

The fact that Gunn named a number of the music cues is a testament to the closeness that Bates and Gunn enjoy after working on a trio of Gunn-directed films together: “Slither,” “Super” and now “Guardians.” They met when Bates scored and Gunn wrote Zack Snyder’s  “Dawn of the Dead.”

The pair’s working relationship is such that Gunn brought in Bates as soon as the director got the “Guardians” job. “He started telling me his thoughts in terms of tone.  He wanted dramatic and thematic,” Bates says. “He asked if I’d be up to writing in advance.” Bates began writing material for the film in March 2013 with Gunn passing along pre-video sequences and often then filming to Bates’ music. The scoring process usually works the opposite way with the composer brought in in during post-production, but when Bates had worked with Gunn on “Super,”  and the director had wanted to film the end of the movie to music, so he similarly had Bates work in advance.

Bates’ early start didn’t give him much of a leg up when it came to the work; the film was constantly evolving as editing took place that would render Bates’ previous work obsolete. “You have a tendency to write and re-write and rewrite,” Bates says as the various bosses have their say. “It’s like trying to paint something on a bullet train. There’s the perception that we have endless resources to create, but they are often times limited as to how many players you can have or how much time.”

The sheer volume and layers of sound that Bates worked with are staggering: “At least half the cues in the movie have more than 500 tracks of audio,” he says because of orchestral passages that are doubled or tripled, choirs, overdubs and other instrumentation. “Everyone’s working with a sense of efficiency because there’s no margin  for error. We had to be calm and methodical.”

The “Galaxy” score, which is out now on Hollywood Records, cover a wide musical terrain from sweeping orchestral themes to crisp battle marches to celestial, dreamy soundscapes. “It was my most demanding score,” Bates says. “I love James dearly, it was paramount to me to make sure that the score was what he had dreamt it would be…like a space rock opera.”

With all the moving parts and the tight deadlines, Bates admits his overwhelming emotion once he finally finished the score was “relief…My team worked 100 hours per week for four months on end.”

Bates’ favorite cute remains an early piece, “Black Tears” — “Only because I wrote it and sent it to James. They were in pre-production. He called me and he was emotionally moved by it. Those are the moments you show up for,” he says. “This idea had just gown into something and it now has a life. It was establishing a piece of the musical language of what the film is about.”

Not content to have Bates score the movie, Gunn insisted that Bates, who has also scored such films as “300,” “Sucker Punch,” “Watchmen,” and “The Devil’s Rejects,” appear as an extra in the film. “Within three minutes” of getting to the British set, “someone from makeup grabs my hand and 40 minutes later I have dreadlocks and s scar,” he says. His scenes lasted for a day and a half. “It was cool for a minute, but after six hours of standing around,” he admits he was ready for his acting career to end.

While he doesn’t have many comedies on his resume, Bates has written scores for a diverse number of films. One that resonates the most to him personally was Emilio Estevez’s “The Way,” which chronicles a man’s journey as he walks Spain’s sacredEl Camino de Santiago. “People couldn’t believe I did that,” Bates says, “but that’s my natural headspace, that score, when I’m just thinking.”  Instead, he jokes, people think “I’m sitting around watching torture movies with Rob [Zombie] all the time.” When, in fact, he adds “I found the whole content of ‘Devil’s Reject’ to be abhorrent. I was thinking ‘Holy hell, this is fu**ed up.’ It was totally disturbing. It’s what Rob intended to do.”

Bates is a bit of a musical every-man and for his palate cleanser following “Guardians” release, he’s headed on the road as lead guitarist with Marilyn Manson to play the European festival circuit. He met Manson after the shock rocker appeared on season six of  “Californication,” a show Bates scored for all seven seasons. That meeting led to Bates writing and producing Manson’s current album.

“Films make me completely neurotic,” he says. Going out on tour and hitting the stage “gives me an energy that I can take to the next movie.”


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