Latest Blog Posts

<p>Josh Radnor and Anna Camp in &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Josh Radnor and Anna Camp in "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Knight Vision'

Ted makes bad choices, Daphne coaches Marshall, and Barney and Robin anger their reverend

A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I convince you to call me The Convincer...

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<p>Christopher Lee and Johnny Depp at the BFI&nbsp;London Film Festival awards dinner.</p>

Christopher Lee and Johnny Depp at the BFI London Film Festival awards dinner.

Credit: AP Photo/Jon Furniss

Johnny Depp honors Christopher Lee at London Film Festival awards, as 'Ida' takes top prize

Singapore's Oscar entry 'Ilo Ilo' wins for Best First Film

From the list of film critics' first world problems, "party exhaustion" must be among the most supremely dickish, so let me just say that the London Film Festival came to a close with a very full final weekend -- in addition to her bold programming and tight organization, Clare Stewart (now in her second year as director of the LFF) has made an already enjoyable festival more convivial and night-owl-oriented than ever before. And indeed, they had much to celebrate this year -- not least the world premiere of "Saving Mr. Banks," a grand coup for a fest that usually cedes such major debuts to the likes of Toronto and New York. Last night's closing bash, decked out in "Mary Poppins"-themed umbrellas and cherry trees, was suitably boastful.

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'Kitten Bowl' to take on 'Puppy Bowl'


"Kitten Bowl" to take on "Puppy Bowl"
Howard Stern's wife, Beth Stern, will host Hallmark Channel's inaugural "Kitten Bowl," which will go up against Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl" and the Super Bowl halftime show. About 60 to 70 cats will participate.

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<p>He may, in fact, be back.</p>

He may, in fact, be back.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Will Tim Burton and Michael Keaton finally get 'Beetlejuice 2' into theaters?

Is it time for the Ghost with the Most to return from the grave?

I think I've been fairly vocal about my issues with the ongoing creative collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. Sure, my favorite film of Burton's career stars Depp, but they've settled into a overly familiar rhythm to things, and it feels like the law of diminishing returns has kicked on.

On the other hand, the idea of Tim Burton making a new movie with Michael Keaton starring is exciting on many levels, and might honestly be some of my favorite news of the year. While I have many issues with the 1989 "Batman," I think overall, these two guys had a great rapport and they each push the other's sensibilities in important ways. I don't think Keaton is Burton's lost soul mate the way Depp seems to be, and that's a good thing. Keaton has a fast and strange comedy brain, and he made "Beetlejuice" feel dangerous in ways that Burton couldn't have pulled off with someone else in the role.

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Did CBS spike a 'Good Wife' storyline to appease the NFL?


Did CBS spike a "Good Wife" storyline to appease the NFL?
"The Good Wife" creators hinted earlier this month that they might have been steered off of an NFL storyline, which wouldn't surprising considering the NFL's history with ESPN's "Playmakers."


"Falling Skies" books Mira Sorvino
She'll join forces with John Pope.


CeeLo Green could end up in prison after being charged with giving a woman ecstasy
"The Voice" star's felony charge would face four years in prison, if convicted.


"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" to host a "Lost" reunion
Sayid and Ilana reunited: Zuleikha Robinson will appear in Naveen Andrews‘ special episode.


Betty White recreates Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" video
Check her out promoting the Lifetime version of "Off Their Rockers."

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<p>I hope they keep doing it until they are 140 years old.</p>

I hope they keep doing it until they are 140 years old.

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

All it takes to win 'Before Midnight' on Blu-ray is a Twitter account

And we'll even throw in the excellent soundtrack as well

There's no way I tip my hand about what film places where on my end of the year list, especially not as early as October, but it would have to be a spectacular, defining year of cinema for me not to find a place for "Before Midnight" somewhere on that list.

Richard Linklater's series about Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) is thrilling to me on several levels. First, I can't believe the films even exist. The first movie is such a smart, sweet, self-contained gem that it would have been very easy for everyone involved to decide that any sequel they attempted would ruin things. "Before Sunrise" is very slight, at least on the surface, and not the sort of thing that Hollywood falls all over itself to turn into a franchise. "Before Sunset" was amazing to me because it managed to beautifully update the first film without being an imitation of it. And now, with this latest film, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy all seem to be determined to capture these characters' lives in a constantly evolving and beautiful series of films that feel completely real.

One thing that really stands out this time is the way Linklater and cinematographer Christos Voudouris capture Greece as a location, and the best way for you to enjoy that work at home would be on the upcoming Blu-ray.

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<p>Kenny Powers tries to lull Yul Brenner, his dancing robot, because 'Eastbound &amp;&nbsp;Down' is ridiculously awesome.</p>

Kenny Powers tries to lull Yul Brenner, his dancing robot, because 'Eastbound & Down' is ridiculously awesome.

Credit: HBO

Review: Kenny Powers struggles to see who is alpha on this week's 'Eastbound & Down'

As the season picks up steam, it looks like real conflict is brewing

One of the things I want to emphasize about this year's "Eastbound & Down" episodes is how thematically strong the writing's been. This week's rumination on the idea of how to be an alpha is a great standalone piece of work, regardless of where it fits into the larger arc of Kenny Powers. Written by Jody Hill & Danny McBride & Justin Nowell, there's so much meat to what they did this week that it's hard to believe they packed it all into a mere 28 minutes.

Who is the alpha this season? Guy Young (Ken Marino) has stepped up to play a huge role in the life of Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), basically plucking him out of a life that was threatening to destroy Kenny completely and giving him not one but two chances to prove himself. Kenny knows full well how much he owes Guy, and yet he seems determined to cast their relationship as a friendship because that way they are equals. Kenny isn't built to be someone else's sidekick. Stevie (Steve Little) is about as far from being the alpha even in his own house as he can be, and it's obviously impacting him. Watching how Guy Young handles anyone at work who shows him up in any way, it's obvious that he doubts his own status as alpha, and he'll destroy anybody who threatens to change that perception. Within his neighborhood's cloistered social circle, it's obvious that Kenny sees himself as alpha, but he's worried that Gene (Tim Heidecker) might somehow take that from him. And even Kenny's son Toby (Steele Gagnon, so good in last year's "Looper") is having to grapple with his own place in the food chain thanks to Kenny's purchase of a wolf named Dakota.

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<p>&quot;New Girl&quot;</p>

"New Girl"

Credit: FOX

Ratings Analysis: 'Blacklist,' 'New Girl' get huge Live+7 bumps

'Sleepy Hollow' and 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' also add to their hauls
Ratings Analysis: 'Blacklist,' 'New Girl' get huge Live+7 bumps
 
We're starting the fifth week of the TV season, but it's time to once again travel back in time to the Week of September 30 for a glance at the Live+7 ratings for the season's second frame. 
 
Although the previous week was the official opening frame of the 2013-2014 season, the Week of September 30 saw premieres for such already-cancelled duds as "We Are Men," "Ironside" and "Welcome to the Family," a slew of comedies that are currently on life-support, The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" and "The Originals," CBS' "The Millers" and the biggest sensation, the third season launch for "Scandal." 
 
As a result, there are lots of little tidbits to examine, as "The Blacklist" continued to be a DVR sensation, FOX's "New Girl" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" took huge leaps and other wackiness ensued.
 
One interesting preamble: In premiere week, people rush to watch shows live, because they fear spoilers and because they want to sample stuff immediately while the hype is going. In subsequent weeks, people set their actual viewing schedules and are willing to push more stuff back on their schedules. That's why last week, there were only a few shows getting 60 percent DVR bumps overall or in the key demo. This week, there are lots of shows getting bumps in the 60-ish percent rang and a couple going into the 70s. Whee.
 
Click through for some numbers...
 
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Exclusive Song of the Day: Masha's acoustic 'Ugly'

Exclusive Song of the Day: Masha's acoustic 'Ugly'

Taylor Swift's producer Nathan Chapman brings rock EP to life

Masha's new 4-song EP "Stupid, Stupid Dreams" packs a dark-tinged rock 'n' roll punch and raw emotion. In HitFix's exclusive premiere of Masha's acoustic performance of set opener "Ugly," however, those vulnerabilities and top talents are laid even more bare in an impressive open-air performance.

This Song of the Day selection is brought to you a day away from the release of "Stupid, Stupid Dreams," co-produced by Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) and songwriter/producer Claude Kelly (Britney Spears, Bruno Mars).

Masha's seen further success as a performer after her cover of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" landed over top of a "Witches of East End" TV promo this fall season.

Check out the clip below, and get ready for "Stupid, Stupid Dreams." Let us know if you get some classic Alanis vibes, too.

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<p>Jean-Marc Vall&eacute;e (left)&nbsp;and&nbsp;Matthew McConaughey on the set of &quot;Dallas Buyers Club&quot;</p>

Jean-Marc Vallée (left) and Matthew McConaughey on the set of "Dallas Buyers Club"

Credit: Focus Features

Director Jean-Marc Vallée saw beauty in contrast with 'Dallas Buyers Club'

Also: How he was sold on Jared Leto's committed audition

Jean-Marc Vallée was coming off the disappointment of a potential follow-up to 2009's "The Young Victoria" falling through when the script for "Dallas Buyers Club" first floated across his desk, courtesy of producer Robbie Brenner. The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, who in 1985 was diagnosed with HIV and given 30 days to live, moved the director deeply. It was a story of drive and fire, a portrait of a man who, through smuggling unapproved medications from all corners of the globe, managed to stretch that 30 days into seven years…and prolong a few other lives along the way, too.

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<p>Katy Perry's &quot;Prism&quot;</p>

Katy Perry's "Prism"

Credit: Capitol Records

Katy Perry's 'Prism' reflects her heart and soul set to a beat: Review

Her fourth album reveals a new dimension

Katy Perry’s fourth studio album, “Prism,” finds her recovering from her divorce from Russell Brand and headed straight into love again... this time with John Mayer and, hopefully, with better results.

“Prism,” out Tuesday (22), is filled with lessons learned and self affirmations, and part of the fun is voyeuristically listening to tracks and knowing they’re about Brand or Mayer. The pop priestess lays herself bare on a number of these tunes including the confessional “By the Grace of God” and jubilantly romantic “Double Rainbow.”

Working with a range of producers from Dr. Luke to Stargate, Cirkut, Benny Blanco and Klas Ahlund, Perry pushes herself melodically here, with many of the songs seemingly influenced by the ‘80s and ‘90s. Tempos shift, synths weave in and out, and her voice rides the musical tide, often soaring on “Unconditionally” and “Double Rainbow.”

Just an any Perry album is a bit of a deep dive into her diary (she just doesn’t catch as much flack for it as Taylor Swift does... ), her sets are also a chance to cut loose, forget your cares and hit the dance floor. All your boogie needs are met as well with the playful “Walking on Air” and “International Smile.”

At this point into her career, Perry should be stretching herself a little more than she does, especially lyrically. Some of her phrases are often sound like a school girl’s, but it’s a small quibble when she admirably remains willing to reveal her soul.

Here's our track-by-track review of "Prism."

Roar:  Perry asserts that she is back and she is better than ever on this feisty first single from “Prism.” The steady stomp keeps the former No. 1 track  grounded, while much of the rest of hand clap and mid-tempo piano production sound straight out of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In fact, if you’re old enough it may remind you a little bit of the chorus of  Martika’s “Toy Soldiers” crossed with M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” with some Avril Lavigne thrown in for good measure. GRADE: B+

“Legendary Lovers”: Set against a middle-eastern beat, Perry’s words rush out in a torrent as she declares her intent to be part of a pair of lovers who are legendary in their ardor. The song shifts tempos and styles throughout. More intriguing than catchy. “Legendary Lovers” is “Prism’s” “E.T.” GRADE: B-

“Birthday”: Perry gets her Prince on in this delectable pop confection. Bouncy and fun as it gets, with a winking, sexy nod to bringing out the “birthday balloons.” GRADE: B+

“Walking On Air”: Perry enlisted the air of Swedish producer, Klas Ahlund, best known for his work with former Perry tour mate, Robyn, for this ‘90s-inspired fluffy house twirler. The juxtaposition of Perry’s airy vocals with her big-voiced, Martha Wash-like collaborator are heavenly. GRADE: A

“Unconditionally”: A big mid-tempo power ballad, propelled by Dr. Luke and Cirkut’s wide-open synth and percussion production. The title is a bit of a mouthful for Perry to get around over and over, but the theme of unconditional love resonates in part because of her convincing delivery. Is this song, the second single from the set, about John Mayer? We say yes. GRADE: B

“Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J: It’s not as out there (literally and figuratively) as “E.T.,” but it’s definitely not Perry’s standard pop, though with its finger snaps and pulsating, hypnotic beat, it will certainly fit in at radio. Juicy J’s rap —outside of regrettable line “She cuts your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer”—fits in smoothly, though makes the cut sound a little dated. GRADE: B

“This Is How We Do”:
It’s hard not to raise your arm in the air and wave it back and forth in this old-school sounding track about partying. Perry name drops Mariah Carey and Backstreet Boys in a song that would border on Ke$ha-like novelty if it weren’t for the more infectious beat. Unlike anything else Perry has recorded before. Could be a sleeper hit. Klas Ahlund is also behind this partially spoken track.  GRADE: C

“International Smile”: A musical cousin to “California Gurls,” this ode to a girl who is making the most of the mile high club as she traverses the globe is a bit of a jumbled mess, though it will make a cute video, and the upbeat track could make a strong live set piece. GRADE: C

“Ghost”: “You sent a text, it’s like the wind changed your mind,” Perry sings in the opening line of this touching mid-tempo tune about her split with Russell Brand. “My vision’s 20/20/I see through you now,” she sings without a trace of vitriol, except when she delivers the line, “So rest in peace/I’ll see you on the other side.” Last album’s “E.T.” is this album’s “Ghost.”  GRADE: B+

“Love Me”: Hushed synth droplets open the track as Perry sings about getting lost in someone else (possibly about Brand but more likely about Mayer from the first go-round) before turning the song into a self-love anthem (no, not that kind silly!) about how “I have to love myself the way I want you to love me.” A vulnerable, stripped-down song, despite a few awkward turns of phrase. Nice production by Swedish producer/songwriter Bloodshy. GRADE: B

“The Moment”: A treacly mid-tempo tune about how all we have is this moment, “so why don’t you be here with me.” The melody doesn’t really suit Perry’s range and the lyrics are straight out of a bad Hallmark card. However, if you are a high school girl looking for a prom theme song, here you go. GRADE: C-

“Double Rainbow”: She’s learning to love again in this sweet love letter to John Mayer, produced by Greg Kurstin and co-written by Sia. “When I found you, it was all pitter-patter,” she sings. Great raw, emotional vocal delivery by Perry here. Big drums come in giving it an ‘80s feel. Unabashedly uncynical. GRADE: B

“By The Grace of God”: Gut-level honest ballad about her divorce and how she  felt it was all her fault until she realized in some ways, it had nothing to do with her, and that she made the decision to go on: “I put one foot in front of the other and looked in the mirror and decided to stay. I wasn’t going to let love take me out that way.” On the piano/synth track with ‘90s production, she thanks those who helped her through, like her sister. This is autobiographical as it gets. More appealing for her honesty than for the melody.  GRADE: B

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 207

Dan and Alan also discuss last night's 'Homeland' and talk about recent renewals and cancellations

The

Happy Monday, boys and girls! For real this time! For the first time in a few weeks, the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast comes to you on its regularly scheduled day, in part because the office where I current rent space is in the process of being dismantled (you may be able to hear the sounds of movers and contractors in the background of today's show), and if we didn't record today, we probably wouldn't be able to for a while. This week, we discuss NBC's droopy "Dracula," Cinemax airing the first season of "Strike Back" under the title of "Strike Back: Origins," check in on "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," discuss last week's TV news, answer some mail and then do our second "Homeland" segment in a row because last night's episode, for good or (mostly) ill, demanded it.

It's unclear exactly when my new office will be set up, but hopefully we can aim for two Mondays in a row.

The rundown:

"Dracula" (00:01:20 - 00:19:05)
"Strike Back: Origins" (00:19:05 - 00:28:25)
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (00:28:30 - 42:15)
Recent TV News (00:42:20 - 00:53:15)
Listener Mail: Straight-to-Series orders (00:53:40 - 01:00:15)
"Homeland" (01:00:30 - 01:14:00)
 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

 

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