Sundance has ordered a third season of "Rectify," one of the very best shows on television – and a series that likely couldn't survive anywhere but on Sundance.
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The last time Paramount Pictures tried a Jason Reitman film on the awards season, it was last year's "Labor Day." I thought it was an impressive bit of stretching from the director and was happy to see a certain sect of critics find value in it. Alas, that was a minority view, as most took aim on the film and fired either at Telluride or Toronto and a misguided December release date finished it off after that. But everyone is back up to the plate this year with the Chad Kultgen adaptation "Men, Women & Children," and the first teaser trailer for the film has arrived to set the tone.
The producers of MTV’s annual Video Music Awards show often try a little too hard to be edgy and try to act like the video channel still represents the cutting edge in some way. Not this year. Sunday’s 2014 VMAs, which will air live on MTV from Los Angeles’ Forum, look like a straight-ahead, mainstream, pop fare with performances from Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Charli XCX, Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Maroon 5, who, incredibly, are making their VMA performance debut.
Here are six things to expect from the Aug. 24 awards:
*Look for Taylor Swift to debut her new song, “Shake It Off.” She premiered the video for her latest tune —the first single from forthcoming album “1989”— via a Yahoo chat on Monday (18) Now we can see her perform it for the first time at the VMAs. The big question is how much of the video’s plot will she incorporate into her performance? Will it be ballerina Taylor or ‘80s rapping Taylor or tweaking Taylor that shows up on Aug. 24 or a combo of all three? I predict she’ll play totally off her album’s title, “1989.”
*Beyonce will deliver the water cooler performance of the evening. She steals the spotlight now just by showing up, but given that Beyonce is the leading nominee with eight VMA nods and the recipient of this year’s Video Vanguard Award AND she seems to be into making cryptic statements from stage, expect her performance — which we hear is a solo one— to give us all something to discuss Monday morning. Will it be a nod to the ever-swirling divorce rumors or a hint at what’s next? Only Beyonce knows for now.
*Girls Run The World: We’ll have our official predictions on Friday, but this feels like a very female-centric VMAs, between Bey and Iggy Azalea leading nominations with eight each, the heat behind Sia’s “Chandelier,” performances by Azalea, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj… Move over, boys, the ladies have got something to say.
*5 Seconds of Summer will bring the all the girls to the yard. 5SOS is taking a break from opening for 1D to perform at the VMAs and it is the act’s chance to really prove that when it comes to numerically-named boy bands, they are more One Direction than 98 Degrees.
*Nicki Minaj will throw some shade at Iggy Azalea: She almost can’t help herself at this point. The question is how will she do it? We think she should have a tall, skinny white dancer who moves clunkily on stage during her performance of “Anaconda.” That’s really the only chance she’ll get since Minaj is not up for any awards. As far as Azalea, she’ll probably be too busy collecting Moonmen to take any digs: she’s up for 8 awards. Looks like she’s already won the Minaj/Azalea VMA battle before the night even begins.
*This award show is for the girls: To expand on an earlier point, between all the female performers, 5SOS, and “Pretty Little Liars’” Lucy Hale hosting the pre-show (no host has been named for the main telecast), this year’s VMAs seem squarely aimed at girls 12-to-18. Yes, there’s something there for the guys, with acts like Eminem appearing (and surprises not yet announced), but the demo for this show is your little sister. You’ll be able to hear the squeals all over the house.
It is safe to say that I am very concerned about a Travis McGee film.
That's not to say I'm automatically negative about what's going to happen, but I think it's going to be tricky to get even one Travis McGee film right, much less an entire series of them. There's no way anyone gets a chance to make all 21 films in the series, nor do I think they should. Not every one of the books is perfect. I love them dearly, but there are certainly high points in the series, books I'd need to see brought to life, like "The Green Ripper." So if they're doing a film franchise, I'm curious how you even begin to make those choices.
“SNL” announcer Don Pardo dies at 96 after a 70-year NBC career
An NBC announcer since June 15, 1944, Pardo introduced nearly every “Saturday Night Live” episode -- he missed Season 7 and, when he was ill, Darrell Hammond filled in for him. Pardo also once got to hit on James Van Der Beek. He also was the first to announce on NBC that John F. Kennedy had been shot. PLUS: Lorne Michaels reacts: "I don't know what I'll do. It won't be the 1st time I've thought of it, and I've never had an answer." Also, "SNL"-ers past and present Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharoah, Aidy Bryant, John Mulaney and Paula Pell paid tribute on Twitter.
David Letterman: "I knew Robin Williams for 38 years"
Letterman, who once guest-starred on “Mork and Mindy,” paid an emotional and heartfelt tribute to Williams, who was his guest about 50 times.
“Lost’s” Sonya Walger joins “Scandal”
Her role is being kept top secret.
“Rectify” renewed for Season 3
The SundanceTV series returns in 2015.
Jimmy Kimmel takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge … down his crotch
“Oh, my God. This is terrible…My nuts are the size of raisinets right now.” PLUS: Allison Williams takes the Ice Bucket Challenge and Charlie Sheen inspires Jon Cryer.
Jon Hamm reacts to the unrest in Ferguson, where he spent part of his childhood
"There is no positive spin to this,” says the “Mad Men” star, who spent his childhood biking through the St. Louis suburb. "And no one is blameless."
“Masters of Sex” star: It’s “very surprising and shocking” this week's episode matched up with the events in Ferguson
The St. Louis-set show mirrored the Ferguson unrest with Episode 6.
This has been the summer of TV men with clenched jaws and downturned mouths
From “24’s” Jack Bauer to “Sharknado’s” Ian Ziering, this summer “male actors and even the occasional reality star have been putting on an unintentional clinic in how (and sometimes, how not) to look grim,” says Neil Genzlinger. "In one show after another, as an actor strains facial muscles to the breaking point, you can almost hear the director urging: 'Give me grim. No, grimmer. No, even grimmer.’"
One of “The View” finalists has no TV experience, and that’s freaking people out at ABC
A source says of October Gonzalez, wife of former NFL great Tony Gonzalez, “It’s freaking people out that she’s under serious consideration. We’re all for hot. We’re all for diversity. But we’re also for someone with a real shot at not flaming out after one season.”
Does “The Strain” choose to be boring?
The FX series is avoiding becoming “fun trash."
Matthew Weiner predicts “Mad Men” finale will be met with mixed reviews
"The road has been paved for a mixed review, no matter what,” he says.
Claim: Iggy Azalea is a “diva” on “House of Styles” set
"Iggy walked in with her entourage and wouldn't take her sunglasses off the whole time we were in the store shooting her," a source tells The Hollywood Reporter. "She had a complete scowl the whole time and never cracked a smile — unless the cameras were on. And the minute they stopped, it was back to scowling."
“The Hills” alum Stephanie Pratt joins “Celebrity Big Brother”
Other contestants include Angelique “Frenchy” Morgan from VH1’s “Rock of Love.” PLUS: Wedding reunites “Laguna Beach” stars.
All 20 “America’s Next Top Model” cycles, ranked
Tyra Banks is back tonight with Cycle 21.
Fox is working on a Franklin D. Roosevelt-WWII event series
The 10-hour limited series would be based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book “No Ordinary Time,” which chronicles FDR’s 3rd term as president.
See pics from “The Blacklist” Season 2
What are inside those envelopes?
Don’t blame Guy Fieri for the Food Network’s woes
The author of “Inside the Food Network” explains that the cable channel’s problems go beyond Fieri.
Arthur C. Clarke’s "Childhood’s End” to become a Syfy miniseries
The book by Clarke tells the story of a peaceful alien invasion that turns the planet into a near-utopia.
“SVU” books Teri Polo and Stacy Keach
They’ll play daughter and father.
Katharine McPhee spotted kissing her “Scorpion” co-star
Is the former “American Idol,” who’s in the midst of a divorce, in another kissing scandal?
An older “Dora the Explorer” goes “Into the City”
Nick catches up with Dora in tonight’s special.
“Revenge” casts Nestor Serrano as chief of police
He’ll be on Victoria’s side.
Watch the latest “Homeland” trailer
“It’s a job,” says Carrie.
"Once Upon a Time” is seeking Belle’s mother
“For the first time, we’ll delve into Belle’s past pre-the encounter with Rumple,” says exec producer Adam Horowitz.
Fox’s new late-night standup comedy show “Laughs” doesn’t pay its comics
The comedy showcase, which has aired in 11 markets since Aug. 2, has too small a budget to pay its performers.
“Episodes” adds Andrea Savage
The “Real Hotwives” star will play the new head of the network.
Why did “Arrow” change Felicity’s backstory episode title?
The title went from “Oracle” to “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.”
HBO’s Pamela Smart documentary blames the media
“Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart” tells the story of the woman who had three teenage boys kill her husband.
It is a fascinating moment to be a "Star Wars" fan.
Right now, there is arguably more energy being expended on all things "Star Wars" than ever before. I remember the feeling in the early days of development on what became "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace," when there were just rumbles of a possible new film or even *GASP!* a new trilogy of films. Hell, I remember when the Special Editions were just a rumor. I remember when a friend of mine called and said, "They're not a rumor. I have something to show you." He came by my house with a videotape, and on that videotape was the very first teaser trailer for "Star Wars: A New Hope - The Special Edition," the very first new "Star Wars" footage in what had been fourteen years at that point. It was mind-blowing. It made me reassess what I had started to accept as the simple fact that there would never be more "Star Wars."
There are people who hate hate hate hate hate Taylor Swift, and they will hate her more for this video and this song precisely because of the phrase "haters gonna hate." It is class-A trolling, trolling the trollers. It's colorful, featuring people of color, using styles and tropes we've grown to hyperbolically love or hate, on a white background of shake-shake-shake. It's its own meme.
It also borders on dangerously upbeat and ill-timed. This month we're glued to our media, watching the ongoing hostilities in Ferguson, Mo., and bombarded with a much-needed conversation about race relations. There are costs to ignoring the scourge of racism, some of which play out in 140-characters, relatives' poorly worded Facebook posts, half-formed editorials and half-informed talking heads...
"Shake It Off" isn't about Ferguson, it just fell on the calendar where the context renders it seemingly tone-deaf.
Now, hang tight.
Swift is featured as the "lead" dancer in a series of skill-specific dances -- hip-hop, ballet, cheerleading, modern, etc. The comedy here is -- as if you didn't already know it, gosh dernit -- Swift's skill set doesn't include the coordination to hold a candle to these athletes. She merely fumbles her way through choreography, but damn if she isn't having fun: here's Swift bunny hopping in a tutu. Here's Swift adorkably faking a break dance. Here she is, crawling under a bridge of twerking asses.
There are parts of pop star shelf life that require its participants -- particularly women -- to diverge into territory that isn't "them." Pantomime romances; dress for the job they want and not the one they have; smile when they're frowning inside. Stars like Britney Spears take flack for faking dance skills when they've long gone. Christina Aguilera eats sh*t for "forsaking" her 20-something, pre-baby body. Madonna has tried and often failed for her varied stylistic appropriations.
The point is, in "Shake It Off's" video, that Swift can approximate a thing she is not, but she will never succeed in being what she isn't. Just as Miley Cyrus was not that thing, smacking the butts of black backup dancers as they turn around and praise her dance. Just as Katy Perry is not this thing (Japanese) or this thing (Egyptian) or this thing (a Marine).
Swift is trying on the visages of other pop stars all at the same time, and similarly calling it: "it" isn't working. Do the ballerinas not remind you of Kanye's "Runaway" short film and performances? How about the futuristic goggles and platinum blonde, of Lady Gaga's "The Fame?" Or the cheerleader chant of the (admittedly poor and weak and awful) bridge from Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" and her own taunting "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?" Swift literally takes a line from Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" as she's Great Escaping the sexualized, bobbing butts of the dancers above.
So, yeah, in earnest, she's reinforcing her own precociousness, her ineptitude and yes, dammit, the joy she feels in performance. She comes into her own as a singer, leading a big band. She considers herself one of the Normies, just like the rest of us schlubs, when it comes to dancing, and specific adoptive styles. "Shake It Off" is cleansing, yet snarky, incurring haters' wrath and uncaring -- because dammit, you can't please everybody.
It just may not be what people want right at this second. Check out the elemental presentation of what is "hip-hop," with the oversized boombox and doofy color coordination, and of the bodies of the women of color during the twerk-off. Swift here isn't calling these "lesser" artforms, they're merely whittled down to a 2-D essence of Things I Can't Do And Things That I'm Not. Which doesn't add much to that race conversation above. African-American-founded art-forms (now co-own by the masses) and brown bodies (frequently co-opted by the masses) are deservedly under an analytical microscope now, and making caricature/commentary of them ought to do something earnest, or hopeful, or intellectual. In short, invulnerable, bulletproof. That's not the video she made. "Shake It Off" is a troll.
And one I happen to like, like, like, like, like. Like her video's characters, she's not gonna nail the landing, particularly in the current socio-political context. By it nature, this will be a tune impossible to avoid, just as it will be hard to avoid an analysis. Swift has made a certifiable hit that complicates and compliments her brand, her girl-next-door brand. I think it's a contagious melody, easy to listen to, fun, broad enough to apply to many but specific enough to reveal her as an artist. "Shake it off" is really credible advice and a decent message.
But was the video myopic in execution? Would the twerking or "this sick beat" or boom-box-on-a-shoulder read differently were it a black performer? Is that reading too sensitive -- or isn't it time we be more sensitive?
"Shake It Off" is the first single from Taylor Swift's newly announced album "1989," due Oct. 27. Check out the video and the album cover below.
It's been an interesting run of films for director Clint Eastwood in the 10 years since his "Million Dollar Baby" crashed the 2004 Oscar party and ran away with the gold. I say "interesting" because, at least in awards season terms, it's been a run particularly notable for lots of revving but nothing that ever materialized as a significant player.
One of the few remaining mysteries of the season has been where Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" would settle on the calendar. Would Paramount opt for a very late bow like last year's "Labor Day" after the director's traditional Toronto Film Festival premiere slot, or try for earlier in the fall? Turns out it's going to be the latter.
Fox passes on Tina Fey comedy “Cabot College”
The comedy about a women’s college that begins accepting men starring Margaret Cho is dead under Fox's new entertainment regime.
Craig Ferguson reacts to the events in Ferguson, Missouri
"Ferguson family motto is 'Dulcius ex Asperis' which means "Sweeter after Difficulties,’” tweeted "The Late Late Show" host. "I hope for the town of #Ferguson that this is true."
Bravo to re-air Robin Williams’ “Inside the Actor’s Studio” episode
The June 2001 interview will be shown on Thursday at 8 pm.
“The Odd Couple” nabs Leslie Bibb
She’ll recur as Lindsay Sloane’s sister.
TLC orders more Kate Gosselin specials
After a June special drew strong ratings, Gosselin will be back on TLC in December.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” promoting Season 2 with a mysterious billboard
What message is the ABC series sending?
The Mountain from “Game of Thrones” wins Europe’s Strongest Man Competition
Hafþór "Thor” Björnsson came in 1st in three events in Europe's Strongest Man 2014 competition.
Jaime Ray Newman is headed to Amazon’s “Bosch”
The “Eureka" and “Eastwick” alum will join Titus Welliver as an attorney on his police detective series.
Keanu Reeves is set to star in his 1st TV series
Reeves would produce and star in “Rain” for Slingshot Global Media, playing "a half-Japanese, half-American contract assassin who specializes in taking out his targets by making it look like death by natural causes.”
NBC is making a pilot based on the movie “The Devil’s Advocate”
Based on the 1997 film starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, the pilot would focus on a public defender who joins a law firm run by The Devil.
Parents TV Council warns MTV to avoid another explicit VMAs
The conservative watchdog doesn’t want to see anything like last year’s Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke twerking performance.
Nick and Drew Lachey to star in A&E reality show “Lachey’s Bar”
A&E is following up on “Wahlburgers” with another show about famous brothers opening an eatery, this time in Cincinnati.
“Big Brother” hits a season high
Despite NFL preseason competition, last night’s show attracted 6.9 million viewers.