Latest Blog Posts

"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: Is a lesbian affair afoot?

Brandi and Carlton seem to be getting closer

It was bound to happen sooner or later on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." After all, these society matrons couldn't possibly be working so hard at self-maintenance strictly for the amusement of their husbands. It was about time a few of the gals found a romantic spark with someone who could truly appreciate their designer clothes, handbags, and face-freezing Botox. C'mon, guys don't get Hermes! Short of making out with a mirror, the next best thing? Another Housewife, of course! 

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<p>Oprah Winfrey in her &quot;Making a Scene&quot; short.</p>

Oprah Winfrey in her "Making a Scene" short.

Credit: New York Times

Roundup: NYT's short film project, starring Oprah, Cate Blanchett and more

Also: Animal abuse in Hollywood, and a whole lotta Emma Thompson in conversation

By far the coolest thing on the internet was the New York Times' Making a Scene project, in which 11 of the year's most celebrated actors -- ranging from Cate Blanchett to Oprah Winfrey, Adele Exarchopoulos to Robert Redford -- perform in individual short films directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer (and Steven Spielberg's right-hand man) Janusz Kaminski. "Short" is the operative word: advertisement-like in length and style, they're not exactly deep, but they're a lot of fun, whether it's Oprah channelling her inner torch diva or Bradley Cooper doing some rain ballet, all to stray strands of dialogue from the likes of Seth Rogen and Spike Jonze. Have fun. [New York Times]

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<p>&quot;Breaking Bad&quot;</p>

"Breaking Bad"

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' team shares regrets, final season love and a documentary

What does Vince Gilligan wish he could change?
There are many takeaways from Stuart Richardson's more-than-feature-length documentary "No Half Measures: Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad," which is featured in the "Breaking Bad" complete series DVD set. But perhaps the dominant takeaway is that after roughly 135 minutes of exhaustively chronicled behind-the-scenes footage from the last eight episodes of "Breaking Bad," you know exactly how Vince Gilligan hugs.
 
And Vince Gilligan is a patter. 
 
As the emotional season progresses in the documentary, one person after another has their final on-set wrap and one person after another gets patted on the back like they're infants and Vince Gilligan is a parent hoping for a satisfying belch.  
 
That's why the documentary's most glorious moment [for me, anyway] comes half-way through production on "Felina," the series finale, when the hilarious Betsy Brandt -- it's mighty logical that she transitioned from this to a sitcom -- shoots Marie's last scene, gets her hug, pulls back and demands a real hug, sans patting, from Gilligan. 
 
I kid. Actually, "No Half Measures" is full of great moments. With a running time that is, let's be frank, just a wee bit taxing on the ol' tailbone, "No Half Measures" manages to be simultaneously over-long, but basically indispensable for passionate "Breaking Bad" fans. 
 
Sony Pictures TV screened the documentary for a packed and passionate theater of radio contest winners on Monday (November 25) night, ahead of the series DVD release and I was glad to see it as both a fan of the show and as a fan of the show who's still probably planning on doing an All "Breaking Bad" podcast later this week. Knock wood.
 
The screening was followed by a brief Q&A with Gilligan, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk and Lavell "Huell" Crawford.
 
Click through for a few more thoughts on the documentary and a couple highlights from the Q&A, including Gilligan's three "Breaking Bad" regrets, Odenkirk's nebulous excitement about "Better Call Saul" and Cranston's salute to fans and Crawford's tribute to Cranston's humility.
 
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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

'Dancing with the Stars' recap: It's the finals, part 1!

One couple nails the samba relay

Oh no. The show is starting with a Very Inspiring slow motion intro that looks sort of like our final four are headed to war. I know you have to goose the drama, "Dancing with the Stars," but this is a bit much. Still, it's the finals, so let's get excited! 

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Tom Mison, Erin Cahill and Nicole Beharie in 'Sleepy Hollow'

Here's something you don't see every Thanksgiving

Credit: FOX

'Sleepy Hollow' recap: Giving thanks in 'Sanctuary'

Family ties, haunted houses and tree monsters: It's Thanksgiving, 'Sleepy Hollow'-style

It's Thanksgiving on "Sleepy Hollow," and that means an episode rich in family, traditions and ... tree monsters?

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<p>At least know we know why Magneto's not popular with the Dallas police department.</p>

At least know we know why Magneto's not popular with the Dallas police department.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

50 years later, the truth is out: Magneto was the man behind the magic bullet

Or was he? New 'Days Of Future Past' hints arrive online

One of the things that is always interesting when a film changes directors or writers or any key member of a creative team is seeing how much of the original plan for the film stays intact. Back when Matthew Vaughn was set to make the sequel to his own "X-Men: First Class," he seemed more than happy to reveal certain details and ideas about how he'd approach the film.

In particular, he talked about opening the movie with the assassination of JFK, then revealing how Magneto would be revealed to be the killer, driven by a fury that Kennedy took credit for the Cuban Missile Crisis solution, pretending mutants had no part in it at all. Our interview about his plans was pretty widely quoted at the time, and when he left the film, I assumed they pretty much scuttled Vaughn's plans completely.

After all, he wasn't planning to do "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" at the time. That idea came after he departed the film, and we've heard now that the new film is set in 1973, which would seem to leave the JFK thing out completely.

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<p>CBS didn't have any episode-specific art for tonight's &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother,&quot;&nbsp;which means it's time once again for the gang in suits. </p>

CBS didn't have any episode-specific art for tonight's "How I Met Your Mother," which means it's time once again for the gang in suits.

Credit: CBS

Talkback: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Bedtime Stories'

Marshall tells a trio of stories in verse; did the gimmick make the episode better or worse?

Tonight, "How I Met Your Mother" told a trio of stories all in rhyme, with Marshall trying to get Marvin to sleep on the bus to Farhampton. On the one hand, I thought the rhymes themselves were fairly clever, particularly anytime we were back on the bus with Marshall and the other passengers — particularly Tony-winning guest star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who of course was asked to do a rap about the difficulty of rhyming "Canada." On the other hand, I thought the stories the rhymes were built around were dumb to varying degrees, and represented various latter-day "HIMYM" flaws regarding broad characterization, portrayals of women being stupid, Barney being a superhero, etc.

But these posts are designed to hear what you all have to say, so let's hear it about "Bedtime Stories." Did the rhymes make you smile or grit your teeth? Did you enjoy watching NPH play so many roles? Ted's LeBron grudge? The thought that, as hinted at by the Future Ted narration, it may still be many episodes before Marshall gets to the Inn? 

What did everybody else think?

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'Doctor Who's' 50th anniversary special sets a BBC America ratings record

 

About 2.4 million watched the afternoon/morning airing, and another 3.6 million tuned in for the primetime repeat.

Ron Burgundy will guest-anchor "SportsCenter"
Will Ferrell's "Anchorman" character will take over the ESPN news show on Dec. 5.
 

Ohio State researchers found that even background television does damage, giving young kids a poorer understanding of people's mental states.

She'll play mom to Marie de Guise.

Jessica Grout, 23, speaks no Arabic, yet she's become a finalist by singing in Arabic.

What a ridiculous storyline! PLUS: Is having no one to root for a problem this season?

The former "Today" co-hosts will appear together on Tuesday's "Katie."

Both will be back on Jan. 15.

"Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time" will air on Epix in January and on Comedy Central in April.

Jay Leggett, who appeared in Season 5 of the Fox sketch comedy show, died Saturday after a day of hunting. He was 50.
 
***Note: My internet is still down, so updates will be sporadic this week.***
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<p>Margo Martindale during a dramatic moment in the first season of FX's &quot;The Americans.&quot;</p>

Margo Martindale during a dramatic moment in the first season of FX's "The Americans."

Credit: FX

Margo Martindale is the latest victim of my obsession with 'The Americans'

Could she be back for more than one episode?

Poor Margo Martindale.  On a brisk Sunday morning in New York, the Emmy Award winner was paired with Oscar winner Chris Cooper to discuss  their impressive performances in John Wells' big screen adaptation of Tracy Letts' acclaimed stage play "August: Osage County."  Both actors have outside chances at best supporting Oscar nominations and, of course, what do I want to talk about?  All I want to do is ask Martindale questions about a television show she isn't "officially" a regular guest star on anymore, "The Americans."  

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"Doctor Who"

 "Doctor Who"

Credit: BBC America

'Doctor Who' breaks ratings records with 'Day of the Doctor'

'Atlantis' didn't do too badly, either

Did you watch the "Doctor Who" special "Day of the Doctor"? So did lots of other people! "Doctor Who" and new series "Atlantis" broke records on Saturday. "Doctor Who"’s 50th Anniversary special, "Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor," delivered 3.6 million viewers for the daytime simulcast and primetime encore. 

These are solid numbers for "Doctor Who," but not landmarks for basic cable in the United States ("Duck Dynasty," for example, raked in 8.4 million viewers for its season finale). But the show did do gonzo business on social media. On Saturday, BBC America was the #1 cable network on Twitter, "Doctor Who" was #1 on Twitter in all of television and the series set a record on Tumblr with the highest level of activity of any televised event ever, surpassing the Super Bowl and MTV’s Video Music Awards.

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<p>This is pretty much exactly how I feel every time I remember there's an 'Anchorman 2' coming out in less than a month.</p>

This is pretty much exactly how I feel every time I remember there's an 'Anchorman 2' coming out in less than a month.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Adam McKay and over a million feet of film in the editing room for 'Anchorman 2'

The director talks about building the highly-anticipated sequel

Much has been written about the way Adam McKay and Will Ferrell work together, and I recently put up a piece about spending time on the Sea World set where they shot an early sequence for the film. In that article, I described the way that they build scenes, the way their ad-libs flow on a set, the way McKay and Ferrell seem to share two halves of one brain.

The one down side, if you can call it that, to the way their process works is that they end up with miles of film to choose from when building each and every scene in the movie. That's no exaggeration, either. While the process is digital now, they shot the equivalent of 1.25 million feet of film, and when they did the first assembly cut of the movie, where they put in every scene just to see it all together, the film came in at four and a half hours.

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<p>One Direction, &quot;Midnight Memories&quot;</p>

One Direction, "Midnight Memories"

Credit: Columbia/Syco

One Direction suffers growing pains on spotty 'Midnight Memories': Album review

They sound great, but the material remains inconsistent

One Direction has been tremendously prolific during its short shelf life as dominant boy band of the 2010s. Out today, “Midnight Memories,” their third full studio album released in 20 months in the U.S., tries to extend the British quintet’s 15 minutes of fame by pushing them into a rockier direction with mixed results. Gone, for the most part, are some of the dance/pop elements that guided the past two efforts.

On the plus side, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson deliver their most self-assured strongest vocals yet, which is no surprise as they’ve grown more comfortable with each other since being packaged by Simon Cowell for “The X Factor.”  On many of the tracks, they’ve embraced an Americana/folk vibe popularized by Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers, and it works well for them. On the negative side, too many of the edgier songs here sound forced as if the addition of a jagged guitar will suddenly make them a rock band. That’s not going to happen, though as songs like “Midnight Memories” show, they are capable of pushing themselves a little. Additionally, too many of the songs are generic. Their material doesn’t rise to the level of what their voices can do.

By their very nature, acts like One Direction flame out so no one came blame 1D for trying to stoke the fire as much as they can. But the way to do that isn’t to keep flooding the market with albums that have as many weak songs as strong ones. The key is to take a little more time and come back with an album that is undeniably consistently good throughout. There are some very worthwhile tracks here, but the group needs to focus more on upping the overall level of the material. 

“Best Song Ever”: Parents got drawn in by the “Baba O’Riley”-like intro, while their daughters were captivated by the high energy song that brought both a pop sheen and a live verve to the otherwise bubblegum track. The album’s first single peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  GRADE: B+

“Story of My Life”: One Direction meets Mumford & Sons and Lumineers and Ed Sheeran on this elegant, spare, largely acoustic mid-tempo, chugging track about the pasts that we all carry around with us. Peaked at No. 6 in the U.S., but should have been bigger. It will become one of the band’s defining songs. GRADE: A

“Diana”: The band bounces back to the ‘80s with a drum beat straight out of the Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” on this track about a missing girl the protagonist wants to save, but it turns out she’d really be saving him. The words and the Robin Sparkle vibe don’t really mix. Peppy track gets dragged down by clumsy lyrics. GRADE: C

“Midnight Memories”:
Well, here’s something we haven’t heard from 1D before: a rock and roll tune that delightfully recalls ‘80s rock, complete with the hand clapping and guitar that wants to rock harder than the song warrants. The execution isn’t quite what it should be and they’re punching above their weight here, but it’s such a fun change of pace for them and its anthemic feel will make it a live stand out. Just “sing it, sing it, sing it.”  GRADE: B

“You and I”: It should be “between you and me,” boys, not “you and I,” but who are we to let grammar get between us and an elegant ballad that will have the long time fans waving their cell phones in the air as the boys sing, “You and I, we don’t want to be like them. We can make it to the end. Nothing can come between you and I. Not even the gods above can separate the two of us.” This is the kind of song that 15-year old girls put on repeat as they clutch their pillows. Having been a 15-year old girl once, trust me, that is a big compliment. Could be massive. GRADE: B+

“Don’t Forget Where You Belong”:
This mid-tempo track could serve as a letter to themselves about remembering where they came from and a reminder that, just like at a  Motel 6, there will always be a light on to guide you home. Pedestrian and generic, but still catchy. GRADE: B-

“Strong”: His weakness is his greatest strength in this mid-tempo tune about being a better man when his girl is by his side.  GRADE: C

“Happily”: Back to the Lumineers-like guitar/banjo acoustic stomp on this track about chasing a girl who belongs to another. There’s even a “hey!” in the background. One of the catchiest tracks on the set, it’s a pop hootenanny that feels like it should be paired with Taylor Swift’s “Mean.” The “We’re on fire” now refrain into the chorus is pretty irresistible. GRADE: B+

“Right Now”: Echo-y atmospherics and strong vocals take precedence over a catchy melody in this moody, big-drummed mid-tempo tale of longing co-written by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (and, boy, is his handiwork all over it). When they sing, “Let’s go crazy together” it conjures up images of staying out 30 minutes past curfew than truly letting loose. Even GRADE: C

“Little Black Dress”: The tune ultimately doesn’t work, but One Direction is trying so hard to break out of the pop mold that you have to give them props for this song that takes a swaggering guitar rock part and molds it around a line about “I want to see the way you move for me baby.”   A loose-limbed delivery helps, but ultimately they can’t sell the promise of the song, though it sure is fun to see them try. GRADE: B-

“Through The Dark”: An acoustic guitar-based strumming mid-tempo track that, like “Story of My Life,” recalls Mumford & Sons in both tone and message:  “When the night is coming down on you, we will find a way through the dark.” This is 1D’s sweet spot. It’s effortless  and doesn’t feel forced. Should be a definite single. GRADE: A

“Something Great”: Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody is one of the co-writers here, along with 1D’s Harry Styles and Snow Patrol producer Jacknife Lee, which explains the overall sweep and grandeur of the song. It’s hard to hear the ringing refrain and not imagine Lightbody singing it. The opening choral sounds are already being used in commercials so expect this one to grow on you as you hear it more and more.  GRADE: B

“Little White Lies”: Some vixen has captured the guys’ hearts in this driving pop track that shifts gears into a dub-step feel. Their vocals are fine, but the mid-tempo song never gets out of first. GRADE: C

“Better Than Words”: Wave your hand in the air like you just don’t care on this mid-tempo tune about trying to describe the indescribable joy your love brings. One of the more disposable tracks on the set.  GRADE: C

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