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Peter Jackson promises the biggest of big finishes in 'Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies' teaser
Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

Peter Jackson promises the biggest of big finishes in 'Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies' teaser

Could Peter Jackson stick the biggest landing of his life?

"Will you follow me one last time?"

It was interesting how different my reaction to Saturday's panel for "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" was to the reaction Greg Ellwood had. I agree with him that Cate Blanchett was positively radiant and that Stephen Colbert couldn't have been funnier in his unbridled nerd enthusiasm for all things Tolkien. I think everyone on the panel was great. I love these people, no doubt about it. And as I've written, I think the "Hobbit" films so far are good at what they're doing and getting better, while still not as great as the work he did on "Lord Of The Rings."

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<p>Richard Linklater at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival</p>

Richard Linklater at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival

Credit: Getty Images

Why 'Boyhood' is a different story on the Oscar front for IFC Films

'We're going to be David to Goliath...and we know that.'

Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" added more screens this weekend and currently finds itself in 107 theaters nationwide. With a per-screen average of around $16,000, the weekend gross was north of $1.7 million, bringing the overall tally to over $4.1 million to date. As it continues to find its audience, the film is obviously a long play for IFC Films, and the prospect of awards recognition lurks, as ever, just over the horizon.

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Jay Leno returns to NBC as a 'Last Comic Standing' mentor

Jay Leno returns to NBC as a “Last Comic Standing” mentor
The former “Tonight Show” host shows up on this week’s episode.

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Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes is ready to commit in new video, 'Tattoo'

He's ready to take the ultimate step

After taking on bullying on “Invisible,” Hunter Hayes returns to affairs of the heart in the video for his new uptempo track, “Tattoo.”

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CBS moves 'Extant' to a later timeslot after weeks of ratings declines

CBS moves “Extant” to a later timeslot after weeks of ratings declines
Starting this week, the Halle Berry drama will be shown at 10 pm Wednesdays after “Criminal Minds” repeats. PLUS: Michelle Obama confirmed to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti that Malia secretly worked on “Extant."

Freddie Prinze Jr. hated working on “24” with Kiefer Sutherland
"I did '24,' it was terrible,” he tells ABC News. "I hated every moment of it. Kiefer was the most unprofessional dude in the world. That's not me talking trash, I'd say it to his face, I think everyone that's worked with him has said that… "I just wanted to quit the business after that. So, I just sort of stopped."

“Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany was also moved to tears at Comic-Con
A fan credited Maslany with helping her come out, which made the actress emotional.

Guillermo del Toro explains last night’s “The Strain” “WTF?” moment
“It’s the thing that tells you these are not sexy vampires,” he says. “Don’t expect any ‘action.’”

Rob Lowe is the "king" of Shark Week
Watch Lowe’s bonkers “So Sharkey” promo.

A Homer Simpson Hologram appeared at Comic-Con
Watch a virtual Homer walk on stage. PLUS: British TV apologizes over Krusty the Clown saying “bastard."

The Situation ordered to anger management in plea deal over assault on his brother
The former “Jersey Shore” star will have to complete 12 weeks of anger management.

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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Album Review: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' 'Hypnotic Eye' sees all

Petty still won't back down

Earlier this year, Tom Petty started telling interviewers, including HitFix, that “Hypnotic Eye,” out Tuesday (29), would be a rock record that harkened back to the early days of the Heartbreakers. He stayed true to his word.

There’s a rawness to “Eye’s” 11 tracks that captures rock and roll’s primal nature. It’s a blast to listen to and it sure sounds like it was fun to make.

The Heartbreakers, bolstered by guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench, are one of the finest, tightest bands in the history of rock. Not only is the musicianship and camaraderie almost unmatched, the Heartbreakers have never remotely felt the need to chase fads or trends. They are straight up, unapologetic rock and roll and on their 13th album as a well-oiled unit, they sound reliably cohesive.

Not only does the album herald back to old Heartbreakers, it recalls the ‘60s and ‘70s rock that has so informed Petty’s music: the jangly guitars and harmonies of “Red River” are redolent of The Byrds, while rollicking “Fault Lines” begins with a Doors/“Break On Through” urgency and first single, “U Get Me High, starts with a Rolling Stones woozy swagger.

Opening track, driving “American Dream Plan B,” sets the tone for the album. Petty, singing in a pinched monotone (even more so than normal), vows to fight for his dream until he gets it right, even if in 2014 that dream is woefully out of reach. Blending acoustic and electric guitars, the song is a strong salvo that sets up the disillusionment that runs through many of the other tunes. That flip side of “American Dream Plan B” is the Allman Bros.-like “Forgotten Man,” where the protagonist knows he’s in a losing battle. That alienation grows en masse on album closer, "Shadow People."

At 63, Petty has lost none of his edginess.  If anything, he’s got more to rail against—he just picks his battles a little more judiciously.

While the songs are all primarily mid-to-uptempo rock tunes, Petty sprinkles other touches throughout:  he adds a slight samba feel to “Sins of My Youth” that helps take the sting out of such lyrics as “You said you loved me, wish you’d like me more.” Bluesy horns and Tench’s juke-joint piano playing give “Burnt Out Town” a swampy feel.  To be sure, we’ve never heard anything musically from Petty like the lighthearted, soft-shoe feel of “Full Grown Boy”on a Heartbreakers’ record (though the love tune wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Traveling Wilburys set.)

There’s a loose aggressiveness  to the album that never veers into sloppiness, instead it’s the feel of a well-oiled machine: all the parts know how to work together, especially when they stretch out on the pleasing Campbell-led jam on “All You Can Carry”— a song literally about Petty grabbing what he could as his house burned down and figuratively about the baggage we need to leave behind.

“Hypnotic Eye,” recorded in Petty’s Malibu home studio, is solid and sturdy if hardly groundbreaking. As enjoyable as it is— and and it is very enjoyable— there’s nothing on here that sounds like it could become a new classic, along such staples as “I Won’t Back Down,” “American Girl” or  “Don’t Do Me Like That.” However, it’s also clear that Petty is far from coasting, especially when his “Hypnotic Eye” sees all and has so much to say.


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'Glee’s' Lea Michele: I’m headed to 'Sons of Anarchy'

“Glee’s” Lea Michele: I’m headed to “Sons of Anarchy”
"I'll be appearing on an episode of my favorite show @SonsofAnarchy!,” Michele tweeted this morning. She didn't reveal what she will be playing. UPDATE: Kurt Sutter responds: "I'm working on the dance number right now!" UPDATE 2: Michele will play a truck stop waitress who connects with Gemma.

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USA picks up Carlton Cuse’s 'Colony' alien drama pilot

USA picks up Carlton Cuse’s “Colony” alien drama pilot
The pilot from Cuse and Ryan Condal revolves a family trying to survive after an alien invasion wiped everybody else out.

Sarah Palin launches the “Sarah Palin Channel” on the web
The $10/month subscription channel "is a news channel that really is a lot more than news,” the former vice presidential candidate promises.

Have we reached retro TV overload?
So many classic TV shows are available these days, as The NY Times notes: "All this retro TV is too much of a good thing, or, more correctly, too much of a thing that wasn’t really as good as memory makes it seem. It’s fine to pay respect to the shows of yore, to acknowledge and admire them for delineating and expanding the form and so on. But to actually watch 50-year-old shows all day? I’d rather rip out my eyeballs."

“Orange is the New Black” adds a “Fringe” alum
Blair Brown is joining the Season 3 cast in a role that’s being kept under wraps.

“Sons of Anarchy” creator teared up at Comic-Con
Watch Kurt Sutter get emotional after exec producer Paris Barclay expressed his and the cast’s appreciation for him.

“The Good Wife” is bringing back Mike Colter
He’ll reprise his role as troublemaker Lemond Bishop next season.

ABC refused to air a “Sin City” trailer where Eva Green “appears to be naked”
The racy trailer shows Green in a sheer, white nightgown.

President Obama’s former press secretary to visit Letterman
Jay Carney, who stepped down as White House press secretary last month, will be Dave’s guest on Wednesday.

David Duchovny is starring in a Russian beer ad
In the ad for Russian-made beer Siberian Crown, Duchovny contemplates his life if he had been born in Russia.

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TV Ratings: 'Big Brother' leads CBS Sunday, while 'Rising Star' drops again
Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Big Brother' leads CBS Sunday, while 'Rising Star' drops again

'Unforgettable' and 'Reckless' also win overall

Fast National ratings for Sunday, July 27, 2014.

"Big Brother," "Unforgettable" and "Reckless" were all steady for CBS, leading the network to Sunday victories in all key measures.

Animation repeats put FOX in second overall (and first in the 18-34 demo), while ABC was second overall, as "Rising Star" continued to lose steam after a couple seemingly encouraging weeks.

On to the numbers...

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Karen O

Karen O falls under love's spell in 'Rapt' video: Watch

Track is first single from new solo album, 'Crush Songs'

Karen O’s video for her new single “Rapt,” features the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s singer submerged in water, floating under the surface in a sequined red dress.

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Housekeeping note: Alan's week off

Housekeeping note: Alan's week off

Time to recharge the batteries after press tour and Comic-Con

Just a quick housekeeping note: After two-plus weeks at press tour and Comic-Con, I'm taking this week off to recuperate and remind my family what I look like. Other than the "Halt and Catch Fire" review that was published this morning, plus a couple of video interviews I did with team "Hannibal" at Comic-Con (and which will be published over the next couple of days), don't expect anything from me until Monday. I'm most likely skipping over reviewing the next episodes of "The Bridge," "The Leftovers" and "Masters of Sex" and will jump back in next week with a bunch of things.

Have fun without me, folks.

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<p>Mackenzie Davis in &quot;Halt and Catch Fire.&quot;</p>

Mackenzie Davis in "Halt and Catch Fire."

Credit: AMC

Review: AMC's 'Halt and Catch Fire' nears end of season 1

A drama reverse-engineered from past hits starts finding its own identity

Late in last night's episode of AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire," the show's hero, computer salesman Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace), tries to dismiss a competitor who's never experienced the joy of creating something(*). Joe's rival points out that they're both in the computer compatible business, just trying to copy IBM, and therefore neither can brag much about their flair for originality.

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