Latest Blog Posts

<p>Oscar Isaac,&nbsp;Justin&nbsp;Timberlake and Adam&nbsp;Driver sing &quot;Please&nbsp;Mr.&nbsp;Kennedy&quot;&nbsp;in a scene from &quot;Inside Llewyn&nbsp;Davis&quot;</p>

Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver sing "Please Mr. Kennedy" in a scene from "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Credit: CBS Films

How 'Please Mr. Kennedy' was born and why it's not eligible for Oscar consideration

T Bone Burnett talks the novelty song and his thoughts on the branch's strict rules

LOS ANGELES — With nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Broadcast Film Critics Association in the span of a week, not to mention being a stand-out track on the year's prestige "musical," produced by recent Academy Award winner T Bone Burnett with pop superstar Justin Timberlake on the mic, you would think "Please Mr. Kennedy" from the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" was on a collision course with Oscar. But due to stricter AMPAS rules, the tune will not be on the list of songs eligible to compete in the Best Original Song category at this year's Academy Awards.

That's no skin off Burnett's back.

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'New Girl' casts Linda Cardellini as Jess' sister

"New Girl" casts Linda Cardellini as Jess' sister
The "Freaks and Geeks" and "Mad Men" alum will recur as Abby, Jess' wild-child older sister.

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<p>Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' producer Alex Gansa talks season 3

Getting into some unanswered questions from the Showtime drama's finale

"Homeland" concluded its third season last night with what turned out to be the show's highest-rated episode ever. I reviewed the finale last night, and I spoke briefly with the show's co-creator Alex Gansa about some of the decisions made by both the "Homeland" creative team and the characters that shaped the third season, coming up just as soon as I get out my Sharpie...

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<p>Beyonce is 'Drunk in Love'</p>

Beyonce is 'Drunk in Love'

Credit: Columbia Records

Beyonce sets iTunes sales record in record time

Just try to keep your eyes off her 'fanny' in 'Drunk in Love' video

Beyonce has broken iTunes’  U.S. record for the most sale in one week –and it only took her three days to do it.

Queen Bey’s new album, “Beyonce,”  sold 617,000 copies from its release on midnight Friday through Sunday night, according to Billboard. The sales week runs Monday through Sunday for tracking purposes.

The $15.98 set, which includes 14 songs and 18 videos, must be bought in full, which means there are no a la carte song sales to potentially cannibalize album sales.  On Dec. 20, individual tracks will be for sale.

Beyonce broke the record held by Taylor Swift’s “Red,” which moved 465,000 copies in its first seven days after being released Oct. 28, 2012. The album was also available exclusively through iTunes digitally, but tunes could be purchased a la carte and the physical CD was also sold through traditional retail.

“Beyonce,” which will bump Garth Brooks’ “Blame It All On My Roots” out of the top spot on the Billboard 200, will be the singer’s fifth straight No. 1: all of her solo albums have started at the top.

The surprise element of Beyonce’s release is surely helping prime the pump as the album dominated the news cycle on Friday after she dropped it at midnight with no advance warning. Through a few tracks had been released informally over the past year, there was no single at radio prior to the release.  Top 40 is now working the Pharrell-produced “Blow,” while “Drunk In Love,” featuring Jay Z goes to R&B/Hip Hop. Another track, “XO,” will likely go to Top 40 in early 2014.

Below is the video for “Drunk in Love," a sexy black and white clip that features Beyonce writhing around talking about "swerving" on Jay Z's "surfboard." No kidding. Not really sure why Jay Z's  comparing himself to wife beater Ike Turner, but it's good to know what he apparently eats for breakfast.  Really, get a room, kids.

The clip for “XO” will drop later today.

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'Homeland' delivers its biggest-ever audience with Season 3 finale

"Homeland" delivers its biggest-ever audience with Season 3 finale

Last night's episode was up 27% over last year's season-ender.

"Survivor" winner Tyson Apostol would definitely return for a 4th time
Says the "Blood vs. Water" champ: "It's hard because it's like I know there's a lot of people that say go out on top and that's your legacy, but I actually feel like I respect the pro athlete that goes past his prime and plays for the love of the sport." PLUS: Monica Culpepper talks tribal council.

Netflix confirms "Better Call Saul" will be a prequel
A Netflix press release officially calls the "Breaking Bad" spinoff a prequel, even though Bob Odenkirk has said it could either be a prequel or sequel.

The 65 Most Important TV Deaths of 2013
From Brian Griffin to Finn Hudson.

Watch HBO's 2013 "Yearender" promo, previewing 2014
Catch glimpses of the new "Girls" season as well as "Veep" and "The Leftovers."

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Kristopher Tapley's top 10 films of 2013

Kristopher Tapley's top 10 films of 2013

A great year boils down to this

It has been said, but let's say it again: 2013 was a landmark year for movies. Across the board, from indie to studio and back, the amount of exemplary artistry on display was jaw-dropping. A subjective thing? Of course. My wonderful year could be your weak one and vice versa. But this was like the kind of surge I haven't felt since 1999, and for that, narrowing it to a list of the year's best has been the most difficult of tasks.

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<p>Reunited, and it feels so good.</p>

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum get a handful of trouble in red-band '22 Jump Street' trailer

Can the sequel surprise audiences like the first film did?

One of the things that made "21 Jump Street" such a pleasant surprise as a movie was the way everyone bet against it the moment it was announced. After all, it's not like the show was a beloved classic. Under the creative guidance of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, though, it became something much stranger and funnier than anyone could have guessed.

Now they've got to beat the sequel curse. Comedies especially seem to have a terrible time with sequels, and I think part of that is because we laugh at things that we don't see coming. Surprise is certainly part of the equation when it comes to what makes audiences laugh, and with a sequel, that gets exponentially harder, especially if you bring back things from the first film that worked. The script for "22 Jump Street," though, is a very clever riff on sequels in much the same way that the first film was a riff on the idea of rebooting old TV shows, and you can hear a little bit of that from Nick Offerman in the first red-band trailer for the film, which just went up this morning.

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<p>A moment from Britney's 'Work B**ch'</p>

A moment from Britney's 'Work B**ch'

Credit: RCA Records

5 Ways Britney Spears' 'Britney Jean' went awry

How did the album go south so quickly?

Only two weeks after its Dec. 3 release, Britney Spears’ eighth studio album, “Britney Jean,” will fall out of the Top 15 of the Billboard 200 this week. The only person who could possibly be happy about this is Lady Gaga, since Spears’ disaster took the media’s eyes off of Momma Monster’s own poor performance with “Artpop.”

“Britney Jean” debuted at No. 4 on last week’s Billboard 200 with the lowest sales tally in the pop star’s career, barely skimming past the six figure mark at 107,000. Her last album, 2011’s “Femme Fatale,” sold 276,000 copies in its opening frame.

Here are five things that went wrong with “Britney Jean”:

*Too much build up: For months in advance of the album, Spears and her manager, Larry Rudolph, insisted that “Britney Jean”  was her most personal album ever, but first single, “Work Bitch” couldn’t have been more impersonal, leading fans to question the premise. Though there were hints of her life in the lyrics, they were so veiled as to be indecipherable.

*Too Many Cooks: You can’t blame Spears for wanting to switch things up in an effort to grow: She throws aside her usual collaborators such as Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Shellback, for a new bunch of contributors overseen by, the album’s executive producer; David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia’s Ingrosso and Anthony Preston. Their credentials are, of course, impeccable, but if it wasn’t broke...?

*Too little Britney: Yes, she is listed as co-writer on all 10 of songs, but that means precious little in this day and age when a superstar can demand a co-write credit for contributing a phrase or for telling the writers how she feels sad that day and then they go craft a song around that. She shouldn’t sound like a guest artist on a record that is supposed to be her most personal.

*No promotion: Other than a middle-of-the-night conclave in the desert, which was more to tout her upcoming Planet Hollywood Las Vegas residency than the new album and a few other things, there was little promotion for “Britney Jean.” E! News will air a two-hour “documentary” called “I Am Britney Jean” on Dec. 22 that covers the “Piece of Me” Vegas show and the making of the album, but that will more likely boost ticket sales than album sales.

*Britney herself: Though she seems much more stable —thankfully— than she did following her 2007 breakdown, there seems to be no there there. Yes, she gives good face and works the camera well in videos, but it just seems like she’s a facade now, kept going by a phalanx of producers, songwriters, etc... all of whom have a financial stake in continuing to prop her up. Maybe she really loves recording and performing, but it feels more like a puppet being told which way to turn and bend and sing and which camera to look into, despite the protestations from everyone that “Britney calls all the shots.”

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<p>Bilbo becomes a hero and yet some what seems absent in &quot;The Hobbit:&nbsp;The Desolation of Smaug.&quot;</p>

Bilbo becomes a hero and yet some what seems absent in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Best and Worst of 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Dragons, CG, Evangeline Lilly and more

The second chapter of Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Hobbit," "The Desolation of Smaug," hit theaters this past weekend with mixed results. On one hand, critics thought it was an improvement than "An Unexpected Journey" (58 rating on Metacritic for the original vs. a 66 rating for pt. 2).  The box office, on the other hand, showed signs of audience fatigue.  "Smaug" earned $73.6 million domestic over its first three days which was a significantly smaller haul than "Unexpected's" $84.6 million last December.  Don't cry for Warner Bros. and MGM as "Smaug" is still expected to make a killing overseas.  That being said, just scroll throw your twitter or facebook feed and you'll probably find a lot more snarky and negative remarks about the series than you did after "Journey." HitFix's own Drew McWeeny thought Jackson delivered a much better movie this time around. This writer thought it was a marginal improvement at best.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Philomena&quot;</p>

A scene from "Philomena"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Philomena' and 'Before Midnight' top Women Film Critics Circle awards

Don't forget to dig into the passionate 'Hall of Shame' sidebar

After a colorful list of nominations last week (check them out here if you missed them), the Women Film Critics Circle has deemed "Philomena" the best film of 2013…about women. The film picked up two other awards as well (the only other two for which it was nominated, in fact, making it a sweeper). "Before Midnight" also scored a hat trick.

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Damian Lewis recalls filming that 'terrifying' scene for the 'Homeland' season finale

Damian Lewis recalls filming that "terrifying" scene for the "Homeland" season finale
Lewis he greeted the events of last night's episode with a "mixture of emotions."

Adrianne Palicki joins "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series"
The "Friday Night Lights" alum is joining Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network reboot of his film, along with Lane Garrison and Gary Busey's son Jake.

Rosie Perez is headed to ABC
She'll play the vice principal in "An American Education," in Jack Whitehall's remake of his BBC comedy "Bad Education."

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<p>Michael Fassbender in &quot;12 Years a Slave.&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender in "12 Years a Slave."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'12 Years a Slave' rules Online critics awards, nabs three acting wins

Alfonso Cuarón lands another directing honor

The Online Film Critics' Society had some unique choices among their nominees -- with Johnnie To's "Drug War" up for Best Picture, for example -- but consensus favorites ruled when it came to picking the winners. Most notable here is that the predictably dominant haul for "12 Years a Slave" included three of the four acting categories, including a win for Michael Fassbender -- who has largely played bridesmaid to Jared Leto so far this season, but recently got on the scoreboard thanks to Kansas City. "Gravity," however, once more interrupted the streak by taking Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. This is becoming a bit of a pattern in the critics' awards; might the Oscars follow suit? Full list of winners after the cut, with all the season's awards so far at The Circuit.

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