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<p>Dean Deblois is the primary architect of the &#39;How To Train Your Dragon&#39; series</p>

Dean Deblois is the primary architect of the 'How To Train Your Dragon' series

Credit: HitFix

'Train Your Dragon 2' director Deblois on crafting the middle film in a trilogy

The filmmaker talks about his larger plans for the series

When the first "How To Train Your Dragon" came out, I was excited because Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois were both involved, and "Lilo And Stitch" was one of the most charming animated films in recent memory. Sanders has moved on, but Deblois is now the primary architect of the "Dragon" series moving forward.

It's safe to say that the series is in good hands. "How To Train Your Dragon 2" isn't just one of the best of the Dreamworks sequels, it's one of the best sequels to anything that I've seen in a while. It is a confident, smart story, told with an eye on both the epic scale of the world and the action as well as the intimate emotional material that makes this something more than just an excuse to sell a new toy line to the fans who loved the first movie.

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<p>&quot;The Mysteries of Laura&quot;</p>

"The Mysteries of Laura"

Credit: NBC

DVR Gridlock 2014-15: Wednesday Nights

Does everybody feel liberated by the absence of 'X Factor'?

[As is my recent tradition, over the next six days, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. It also assumes that you/I only have a dual tuner DVR (plus occasional access to a Slingbox on ET. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments and the DVR Gridlock segments for 2012.]


8:00 p.m.
ABC: "The Middle," "The Goldbergs"
CBS: "Survivor"
The CW: "Arrow"
FOX: "Hell's Kitchen"
NBC: "The Mysteries of Laura"

9:00 p.m. 
ABC: "Modern Family," "Black-ish"
CBS: "Criminal Minds"
The CW: "The 100"
FOX: "Red Band Society"
NBC: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"

10 p.m. 
ABC: "Nashville"
CBS: "Stalker"
NBC: "Chicago PD"

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Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre are now a lot richer
Credit: AP

5 changes we'd like to see from the Apple/Beats deal

Will this lead to Garth Brooks finally coming onto iTunes?

Now that Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics has officially been announced— and Dr. Dre is hip-hop’s first billionaire (I know we can all breathe a sigh of relief that he’s good financially now), Apple will now not only acquire Beats Headphones and Beats Music, it is also getting Dr. Dre and Interscope head Jimmy Iovine in the mix (Interscope COO/president John Janick will ascend to chairman/CEO when Iovine departs in September).

Here are five results we'd like to see come about from the deal:

1. Beats Music forces all streaming services to be more artist and songwriter friendly. We’ve all seen the horror stories about how little Spotify pays artists and the ongoing Pandora suits. Beats and Apple have an opportunity to do the right thing here and make sure artists gets their fair share. The other services would hopefully fall in line and both the lawsuits and the proposed changes to legislation could end.

2. iTunes become more artist friendly. The main reason for the acquisition of Beats Music (in addition to Beats headphones) is that Apple needs a streaming service, especially as downloading purchases start to slow. As Apple’s world gets even bigger, there’s no reason to not give a little back to the artists creatively and  let them decide how they want their music to be sold: let it be their decision if they want an album to be available only as a full album instead of picked apart with consumers allowed to buy individual tracks. Most artists don’t care, but several would like to have the option of singles being sold individually, but the rest of the album remaining in tact. Artists should also have more say in the pricing options. Maybe they want a full album to sell for $7.99 instead of $9.99.  The last great holdout on iTunes is Garth Brooks. Wouldn’t it be nice if for his next studio album, iTunes let him sell it as album only since that’s the only way he’ll come aboard?

3. Apple creates a label that takes on the majors. Apple is in the business of selling hardware and it distributes music (and other content) as a means to sell more hardware, so starting a label is probably not in its best interest. However, if you’re going to bring on Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to run your music division, they are going to want to continue to keep their hand in music discovery.

4. Find a role for Trent Reznor. Oddly, in all the talk about the Beats acquisition, I haven’t seen the Nine Inch Nails’  founder mentioned, even though he’s Beats Music’s chief creative officer. Is he still part of the team? If so, he’s someone who has been very willing to experiment with different distribution models and is fearless when it comes to letting go of the old guard and trying new ideas.

5. Figure out how to synergize iTunes, Beats, and iTunes Radio. iTunes Radio launched last fall—and to its credit— pays a decent performance rate and gives labels a revenue share. Having said that, I don’t know anyone who listens to iTunesRadio— Clear Channel's  iHeartRadio seems to have all the momentum. Here’s a chance to have all three distribution models—free streaming with iTunesRadio, subscription streaming through Beats, and song purchase through iTunes Store— leverage their services from premiering tracks on iTunesRadio and Beats to offering exclusives on full album purchases, as iTunes did for the first week with Beyonce's latest.

A few other random thoughts:

I largely left out any ideas about integrating Beats headphones because that seems ridiculously easy: how long before we see iTunes gift cards bundled with Beats headphones? Beats Music subscriptions bundled with headphones, etc? For that matter, how long before Beats Music is rebranded iBeats?

I know this is crazy, but when rumors of the deal first leaked a few weeks ago, I wondered if this had been the Beats game plan all along. Iovine worked very closely with Apple and Steve Jobs on the development of iTunes, which ultimately helped kill the album market and hurt labels in some ways more than it helped. Though this is pure speculation on my part, I wonder if the thought was all along to develop a streaming operation while Apple continued to falter in its development of one and then Iovine, Dre, et al would sell to Apple and everybody wins. Iovine gets the ultimate thank you from Apple for helping iTunes become such a monster… We’ll never know if my theory is true, although in a statement about the merger, Iovine said, “I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belongs with Apple.”

How do you think the merger will change how you consume music?

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Hours later, LeVar Burton’s 'Reading Rainbow' Kickstarter campaign is closing in on its $1M goal

Hours later, LeVar Burton’s “Reading Rainbow” Kickstarter campaign is closing in on its $1M goal
Burton launched the Kickstarter this morning, with a deadline of July 2 to raise the $1 million.

Watch Mindy Kaling speak at Harvard Class Day
“The Mindy Project” star told graduates: "A lot of you will become the quiet heroes of our country – however, those of you who go on to work for Big Pharma or Philip Morris, you will be the loud antiheroes, and someone is certain to make an AMC series glamorizing you, so congratulations."

Showtime orders "L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin"
“The L Word” creator Ilene Chaiken and her “Real L Word” crew will document the struggles of lesbians in the South.

“Modern Family’s” co-creator is locked in a contract dispute
Will Christopher Lloyd be part of Season 6?

Barbara Walters comes out of retirement to celebrate Diane Sawyer’s historic achievement
Sawyer became the first solo female anchor to win a sweeps month in the key 25-54 news demo.

Nick at Nite adding “HIMYM,” “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”
“How I Met Your Mother” reruns and “Fresh Prince” will debut in the fall, while “Raymond” repeats will air early next year.

Check out “Pretty Little Liars’” mask-themed poster
Here’s the poster for Season 5. PLUS: Lucy Hale didn’t like being photoshopped to be skinnier for GQ.

“Shameless” adds a Tony winner
“Once’s” Steve Kazee will play a rock musician who gets involved with Fiona.

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Sharlto Copley discusses giving his 'Maleficent' villain human shadings

Sharlto Copley discusses giving his 'Maleficent' villain human shadings

Also, reuniting with Neill Blomkamp on 'Chappie'

Sharlto Copley intrigues me.

Here's a guy who was producing and directing little things, who suddenly captured Hollywood's imagination in Neill Blomkamp's surprise smash "District 9." Even though his "District 9" character, Wikus van der Merwe, was hardly a clean-cut, matinee idol showcase, Hollywood decided out of nowhere that Copley, who improvised much of his dialogue in "District 9," was a leading man, or at least a candidate to be a featured villain.

Subsequently, Copley has taken roles in features like "The A-Team," "Oldboy" and, reuniting with Blomkamp, "Elysium." Each role could have positioned Copley for his next step up the A-list actor. Instead, the South African star has approached each of them with the dogged quirkiness of a character actor.

The same is true in "Maleficent," where Copley's Stefan is a love interest and then an adversary for Angelina Jolie's title character. Working with a scraggly beard, a paranoid mien and an accent that gravitates towards the Scottish Highlands, Copley is, as usual, basically unrecognizable.

As I sat down to talk with Copley at the "Maleficient" junket, it struck me that I actually had no idea what Shartlo Copley actually looked or sounded like out-of-character. I assume he'd take that as a compliment. 

In our conversation, Copley candidly discusses his process of character actor-izing leading man roles, how he chose Stefan's particular eccentricities and the role of the director in helping steer his path. And, if you didn't see that excerpt earlier, he discusses his latest collaboration with Blomkamp in the upcoming robot film "Chappie."

Also check out my interview with "Maleficent's" Sleeping Beauty, Elle Fanning.

"Maleficent" opens on Friday, May 30.

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It’s official: E!’s 'Chelsea Lately' is ending in August

It’s official: E!’s “Chelsea Lately” is ending in August
Chelsea Handler will end her seven-year-old talk show on Aug. 26, preceded by a month-long celebration.

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Billy Joel

A Tale of Two Billy Joel Reviews and a Happy Ending

Joel takes the Hollywood Bowl by storm

Five years ago, about six weeks after HitFix launched, I reviewed a Billy Joel concert at the opening of a new venue at Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs.

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Danny McBride is returning to HBO to star in 'Vice Principals'

Danny McBride is returning to HBO to star in “Vice Principals”
McBride and his “Eastbound & Down” co-creator Jody Hill are re-teaming for a comedy about a high school "and the people who almost run it, the vice principals." HBO has picked up the series for 18 episodes.

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Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's 'Undateable' starts off clumsy, but gets better

New comedy from Bill Lawrence and friends improves as it shifts away from its premise

Bill Lawrence is among the smartest producers in TV comedy today, but even smart people make mistakes — sometimes, the same mistakes.

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A look back at Maya Angelou’s TV past

A look back at Maya Angelou’s TV past
The esteemed author and poet appeared on everything from “Roots” to “Sesame Street,” where she played patty cake with Elmo. She also chatted with Arsenio Hall on the phone earlier this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. PLUS: How Maya Angelou influenced Oprah.

Watch a man casually climb out of a shark's mouth for Shark Week
Here’s the first promo for this year’s Shark Week.

Watch the 1st full trailer for FX’s “The Strain”
The Guillermo del Toro series looks “creeptastic.”

Adam Sandler on why he won’t host “SNL”: “I just don’t know how good I’d be doing it”
“I don’t know how good it would be,” he says in an interview with Norm Macdonald. "I’m slow now.”

“Mad Men’s” Kevin Rahm talks about filming a lot of phone scenes this season
"My favorite was when they talk about Don pitching Burger Chef instead of Peggy, and I'm on the phone but you don't know it until the very end,” he says. "So I sat just off-camera, in my flip-flops, while they shot that whole scene.”

Fox News officially hires “Clueless” star Stacey Dash
She’ll work as a paid contributor to the conservative-leaning news network.

Bravo’s “The People’s Couch” expanding to 1 hour
The TV-watching show will debut its hourlong format on Tuesday.

How “Nashville” should handle Hayden Panettiere’s reported pregnancy
A pregnant Juliette Barnes could spark a paternity guessing game.

“The Wil Wheaton Project’s" focus on “nerd culture” is odd considering so much of it is mainstream
Wheaton tackled such mainstream hits as the new “X-Men” movie, “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones.” PLUS: Watch Wil Wheaton’s debut episode.

“Little Women: LA” stars discussed whether they were being exploited -- while in a hot tub wearing bikinis
The latest little person reality show debuted on Lifetime.

Adult Swim’s “Team Unicorn Saturday Action Fun Hour!” enlists Jane Lynch and Alan Tudyk
The cartoon by the Robot Chicken guys is based on the Team Unicorn cartoons.

“Making the Band’s” O-Town releases its first single in 10 years
The original MTV band members reunited last month, without Ashley Parker Angel.

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<p>Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman in &quot;This is Where I Leave You&quot;</p>

Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda and Jason Bateman in "This is Where I Leave You"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Adam Driver in the trailer for 'This is Where I Leave You'

Shawn Levy's 'Internship' follow-up hits theaters in September

Jason Bateman has been making some pretty interesting moves out of the comic relief periphery of comedies and into his own as a leading man as of late, and he has a pretty stellar 2014 on the way. There's the sequel to "Horrible Bosses" in November and heading up the Peter Glanz dramedy "The Longest Week" as well. Then there's Shawn Levy's "This is Where I Leave You," which debuted a new trailer today.

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<p>&quot;The Night Shift&quot;</p>

"The Night Shift"

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'America's Got Talent,' 'Night Shift' premieres help NBC rule Tuesday

'Supernatural' repeat ties 'I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" among young viewers

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, May 27, 2014.

"America's Got Talent" returned nearly flat with last year -- Down 3 percent if you want to quibble -- and combined with a respectable premiere for "The Night Shift" to help NBC score commanding Tuesday wins in all measure.

NBC wants you to know that "The Night Shift" had the biggest NBC summer drama series debut since... "The Philanthropist" in 2009.

Among other notables, "Extreme Weight Loss" premiered well enough to put ABC in second for Tuesday in the key demo, while CBS' procedural repeats buoyed an easy second place finish overall. 

Meanwhile, FOX's "I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" and "Riot" hit embarrassingly low levels, though "Riot" did it while rising from its previous episode. "Harry," stripped of its "Idol" lead-in, tied with a "Supernatural" repeat on The CW among young viewers. Ouch.

On to the numbers...

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