Spin-offs of hit television shows are rarely good things. Too often the lightning in the bottle that made the first show worthy of a second property can't be captured; ideas are diluted and repeated. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Some shows not only thrive once characters leave the mothership, the new show explores fresh emotional terrain, digging more deeply into ideas that had only been skimmed in the original property. When they really get it right, spin-offs leave their old shows better than they used to be, giving the characters left behind room to stretch.
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Ye gods, what is this: am I seeing double? Were they separated at birth? Is it an optical illusion, with one of them looking in a mirror? How else to explain the uncanny resemblance betw--okay, okay, I'll stop now. Suffice to say this shot of Tom Hardy and Elton John from this morning doesn't exactly highlight the physical likeness between the hulking actor and the legendarily flamboyant pop star, which is why the thought of the former playing the latter in an upcoming film remains so deliciously, intriguingly weird.
Eminem’s new album, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” comes out today. In addition to receiving primarily strong reviews, the album is expected to be one of the year’s top sellers, with opening week sales projections to be as high as 750,000, according to Billboard.
That will give “MMLP2” the second-highest sales week of the year, behind Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” which sold 968,000 copies. Eminem’s first week numbers should easily eclipse the current second-place holder, Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” which sold 658,000 in its opening frame.
It’s been 14 years since Eminem’s major label debut, “The Slim Shady LP,” arrived (that will be his only studio album not to reach No. 1, by the way) and he’s captivated and repulsed listeners ever since, but he’s never bored us. Many superstar rappers such as Kayne West, Kendrick Lamar and Drake have come after him, but he's still at the top of his game.
Here are the top 5 reasons why Eminem still matters:
1. His delivery: Just listen to any number of Eminem’s songs, including the tongue-in-cheek “Rap God” on the new album. It’s dizzying to hear how quickly, cleanly and smoothly he raps. He has a dexterity and flow that many other rappers don’t (though Kendrick Lamar gives him a good run for his money on “Love Game.”). Even if you don’t like what he’s saying, it’s often astonishing to hear how well he says it.
2. He’s not afraid to show his vulnerability: Many rappers are more concerned with showing their swagger and their invincibility, whereas Eminem really puts it out there just how severely screwed up he is...and people respond to that. Yes, his homophobic and misogynistic comments can get tiresome (even if you buy, as he insists, that he’s merely playing a persona), but the one thing that is very clear: he saves his greatest amount of vitriol and loathing for himself.
3. He is a great rap lyricist: While some folks would say Nas or Jay Z are rap’s best lyricists (and Tupac was its No. 1 poet), Eminem definitely comes out at the very top. Yes, plenty of what he says is puerile, but his mind works in a fascinating pattern. As he says in “Legacy,” it’s as if he’s linking crossword puzzles.
4. He can write both beats and melodies: This, of course, is not a trait that a number of other rappers don’t share, but Eminem just seems to have a better sense of melody than others. And while he’s not the strongest singer, he also is among the elite group of rappers who can sing as well as rap.
5. He lets his music do the talking: Part of Eminem’s appeal is that he doesn’t care about being a celebrity. If anything, he wants to be left alone. Some of that may have been because of his substance issues, but if we hear something about his personal life (yes, we're talking to you, Kanye), it’s certainly not because he’s let it out. In this age of oversharing, it’s a relief.
"Scandal" casts Khandi Alexander as Olivia Pope's mom
The "Treme" star will play Maya Lewis, the mother of Pope, who will make her debut in Thursday's episode.
NBC is still No. 1 in the demo that matters
Six weeks into the fall season, the Peacocks is topping all networks in the 18-49 demographic.
"Trophy Wife" books Rob Corddry
It'll be a "Children's Hospital" reunion when Corddry joins Malin Akerman as "Sensei Rick," a martial arts instructor.
See Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard's "Game of Thrones"-inspired Halloween costume
They went as Khal Drogo and the Khaleesi.
It's never too early to look at future awards season players. Today, Warner Bros. slotted two potential players with new release dates.
I'm curious to see how filmmakers cast Cobie Smulders in the future. She's had an interesting decade with "How I Met Your Mother" launching her to prominence. A mere ten years ago, she was one of the young stars of ABC's flash-in-a-pan series "Veritas: The Quest," but once she was part of the break-out ensemble comedy that's wrapping things up with a controversial final season right now, it seems like she would suddenly start getting bigger roles.
Oddly, that's not how it has played out. I like "The Slammin' Salmon," and I think she's funny in it, but that's the biggest film role she played before "The Avengers," where she made her first appearance as Maria Hill. "Delivery Man" is still a smaller supporting role, but it's a step in the right direction. Next year, she's starring in a David Wain comedy along with some folks like Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Michael Shannon, Ed Helms, and Christopher Meloni. In addition, she's the voice of Wonder Woman for "The LEGO Movie," and she'll be back as Hill for the S.H.I.E.L.D.-centric "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
Cheyenne Jackson joins Ryan Murphy's HBO human sexuality drama
The "Glee" vet will play a "handsome meth addict" on "Open."
FX announces premiere dates for "Justified" and "Archer"
Raylan Givens returns for Season 5, while "Archer" will be paired with gay white rapper comedy "Chozen" starting Jan. 13.
What was Cee Lo Green smoking on last night's "The Voice"?
Green was captured on camera with smoke coming out of his mouth, but NBC has edited the smoking out of the online version.
Damon Wayans Jr.: "New Girl" set has changed since I left
Wayans, who returns tonight as Coach, says: "There weren’t as many rooms when they shot the pilot. It was weird not knowing where stuff was." Meanwhile, "New Girl" creator Liz Meriwether recounts casting Wayans and losing him, and having to create the character of Winston. PLUS: How Coach will change the group, and Hannah Simone answers questions on Reddit.
Jason Ritter: No, I won't star in a "Three's Company" spinoff
Suzanne Somers proposed the idea, with Jason Ritter playing the son of Jack Tripper and Chrissy Snow.
Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night" head writer will assume the same role on "The Tonight Show"
A.D. Miles has been Fallon's head writer during the entirety of Jimmy's "Late Night" run.
Conan O'Brien joins Chris Rock tonight on BET's "Real Husbands of Hollywood"
Says Conan: "I'm gonna hit that network like a ton of plain yogurt."
David Arquette is having a baby with his "ET" girlfriend
Arquette's girlfriend, Christina McLarty, is four months pregnant. Arquette already has a 9-year-old daughter with Courteney Cox.
Jimi Hendrix tonight gets the "American Masters" treatment, but is it too polite?
"Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin'" tends to smooth out the rough edges of his life, even the circumstances of his death.
FX has announced a winter schedule that again has "Justified" on Tuesdays starting in January, "Archer" moving to Mondays around the same time, and "The Americans" debuting a bit later. And "Chozen," which was set to be the first brand-new series to debut on spin-off channel FXX, will instead be paired with "Archer" on the mothership, while repackaged episodes of "Da Ali G Show" will wind up on FXX with "Legit."
Let's go one at a time:
History channel is remaking "Roots"
The 12-hour classic high-rated 1977 miniseries is being remade as an eight-hour miniseries that, according to Deadline, "will draw both on the book and the original mini from a contemporary perspective." A History exec adds: "We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience."
"2 Broke Girls" will host the People's Choice Awards
Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings will take over hosting duties from Kaley Cuoco, who hosted the last two years. PLUS: Check out the list of People's Choice nominees.
"Game of Thrones" taps a Russian actor to play Styr, the Magnar of Thenn
Yuri Kolokolnikov joins Season 4 as the leader of the Thenn, "the most warlike tribe from beyond the Wall."
Lifetime adapting Broadway's "Trip to Bountiful" with Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams
They'll reprise their roles, while Blair Underwood and Keke Palmer will join the cast for the movie.
Pitbull to host the American Music Awards
The rapper/pop star will also perform with Ke$ha at the Nov. 24 ceremony.
Report: Paul Ryan prepped for his GOP Convention speech by watching HBO's "Game Change"
The new 2012 campaign book "Double Down" by the authors of the 2008 campaign book "Game Change" reveals that little tidbit, adding: "Ryan was riveted, but soon regretted it."
NBC orders more "Sean Saves the World" scripts
The four-script order is a sign NBC is confident in the freshman comedy.
Jason O'Mara joins USA's "Complications"
The "Vegas" and "Terra Nova" alum will play an ER doctor who's involved in a gang shooting in the drama from "Burn Notice" creator Matt Nix.
Anderson Cooper & Kathy Griffin will host CNN's New Years coverage for 7th straight year
The duo have provided many memorable moments over the past six New Year's Eves.
"Mob City" unveils its poster
It's by legendary movie poster artist Drew Struzan, who's designed posters for "Star Wars," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Harry Potter."
Alexis Denisof to star in "Finding Carter" on MTV
The "Angel" alum will play the dad of "Skins" alum Kathryn Prescott in the coming of age drama.
As we begin to taper off the weekly category run-downs (we have just one more left, Best Animated Feature Film), we move on to the screenplays. It's an interesting mix and the two categories, while not loaded with a ton of contenders, are still quite dense with multiple hopefuls sporting a fair shot at recognition from the writers branch.