A quick review of last night's "The Good Wife" coming up just as soon as I stop selling those gnomes on the Internet...
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A quick review of last night's "The Good Wife" coming up just as soon as I stop selling those gnomes on the Internet...
James Blunt is having the last laugh. His new album, “Moon Landing,” which came out Nov. 5 in America, debuted at No. 2 in the U.K. and first single, “Bonfire Heart” is burning up the chart in a number of countries, including Germany where it’s his first No. 1 single.
The album reflects a change of pace for the British singer songwriter and represents the truest side of himself he’s shown since his breakthrough smash “You’re Beautiful,” from 2005’s “Back to Bedlam,” which catapulted him into superstardom, and inspired a level of vitriol among his detractors that seemed far out of proportion.
“‘You’re Beautiful’ stripped me of my indie roots and put me in a dirty, dirty place called mainstream,” he says, only half joking (Indeed, many reviews for “Back To Bedlam” are glowing, comparing Blunt to Elliott Smith and Badly Drawn Boy, but as soon as “You’re Beautiful” became massive, the backlash started).
Blunt adds that he has loved and is grateful for all that came after, but it took until “Moon Landing,” his fourth studio set, to settle down enough to strip away the veneer he’d built up since then and write from a place of honesty
With “Moon Landing,” written largely in Los Angeles, he and “Back To Bedlam” producer Tom Rockroth went back to the beginning. “It was important to go back to him without my band, to go back to a place before that audience was there,” Blunt says. He admits on his last two albums, 2007’s “All The Lost Souls” and 2010’s “Some Kind of Trouble,” “I was writing songs for an audience, not the words I needed to say; I didn’t want to be as open because I didn’t want to put myself through that again.”
But he found he yearned to express that side of himself and he thinks that reclaimed genuineness is what people are responding too. “I’m not hiding behind anything,” he says. “Before, I think I was feeling [defensive] when [I] was asked in an interview, ‘Are you romantic,’ and not in a positive way, it means you’re not macho. And I’d say, ‘No, I’m not. I’m a soldier’,” says the Kosovo army veteran.
Still, he has his limits when it comes to expressing himself too much. He and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder wrote “Bonfire Heart,” a song about falling deeply and passionately in love. But coming out and telling Tedder directly that was the thinking behind the song was a bit too much. “I never normally say ‘this is what I’m going through’ because I’m a man and that would feel very uncomfortable to me’,” he laughs. Instead, he went on tour with OneRepublic and on the tour bus, he and Tedder would write, inspired by the gentle, steady feel of the wheels turning beneath them. “We spar off each other with lyrics. That’s unusual for me. We’d make a racket, we’d make a noise.”
For the most part, “Moon Landing’s” songs tackle such universally shared emotions as love and longing, “I write about what is it to be a very simple human being; what we feel en masse,” he says. “I don’t write songs about how incredible or how different I am, which many songs do. I write about what it’s like to be normal. That definitely comes out of having been in the army and traveling around and meeting people.”
In fact, the experience of writing “Moon Landing” has made him acutely aware of artists who aren’t showing their true selves. “I’m on the charts with artists who surround themselves with expensive cars, expensive jewelry, girls... that’s just kind of bullshit,” he says. “They’ve constructed an image, smoke and mirrors. They want the audience to think that they are big and strong and powerful, but they’ve surrounded themselves with bodyguards who are much bigger and stronger.” When asked if he had any artists specifically in mind, he said, “I’m definitely not naming names.”
One artist he’s not wary of naming by name is Whitney Houston. The song “Miss America,” was written about her and her tragic downfall.
“We never met and in many ways I’m glad we didn’t,” he says. “In the same way that an audience member looks at a singer and thinks they know him, we go online and buy magazines to see them at their best and their worst. It’s about her incredible voice and talent and it’s the same story as Amy Winehouse and Princess Diana and and Michael Jackson and, maybe in the future, Justin Bieber. It’s how much we enjoy speculating on their downfall a bit too much.”
Ever since “You’re Beautiful,” Blunt has had plenty of critics who have wished for his downfall. And lately, he found a new way to silence them: poke fun at himself on Twitter.
For the last few years, his label had encouraged him to engage with his fans more via Twitter, but he just couldn’t fathom tweeting what he’d had for breakfast or some other minutiae.
A few months ago, however, he decided that instead of interacting with his fans, he’d find the people tweeting the most hideous things about him and he’d answer them. But instead of talking trash back, he’s let his sense of humor shine through. Below are a few examples.
Try singing it. RT @AltySi: I cannot put into words how much I hate James Blunt— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) November 11, 2013
Don't panic, Emma. It's just a glitch in the Matrix. RT @emmaogilvie_: Do people actually like James Blunt again? Like seriously?— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) November 5, 2013
I never liked the sound of my own voice. Till it made me rich. @SamanthaMika: Does anyone else HATE james blunt's voice? I can't stand it.— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) November 1, 2013
“The first two I did, I thought they were amusing and self deprecating. My label called me and said, ‘Don’t do any more of that. It’s not cool,’ he recalls with a laugh. “And I thought, ‘What the f**k am I going to do?’”
What he did was ignore his label and he continued not only replying to the negative commenters but seeking them out. And it’s clear it’s done more to change the perception of Blunt as an uber-sensitive, keening male singer than anything Atlantic Records could have ever planned. The label, once eager to silence his replies now includes a link to a Buzzfeed article about his tweeting.
“I suppose because of marketing, I’ve come across as earnest,” he says. “When the truth is, I take myself less seriously than anyone I know.” With Twitter, he appreciates the fact that there’s no filter. “It could have gone all wrong because what I’m doing is I’m going online and searching my name. I’m running tweet deck and all [my fans] are doing is saying ‘retweet me,’ and I’m looking for the ones saying mean things. I find myself completely avoiding the ones I should be engaging with, but I really enjoy engaging my detractors....the people who sit in the comfort and security and shadows of their bedrooms. It’s just great fun.”
Plus, as anyone who follows him on Twitter knows, he is never mean spirited in his replies, even to people who say horrible things to him. “It some ways, I’m saying, ‘jump on the stage with me and say that out loud’,” he says. “And I try my best to not be rude or horrid, only to myself, which is easy.”
George Clooney, Kathryn Bigelow, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sacha Baron Cohen were all honored at last night's Britannia Awards, an annual shindig held by BAFTA's Los Angeles outpost to foster Anglo-American industry relations -- or, you know, to throw what is reputedly always a pretty good party. Scott Feinberg gives a comprehensive rundown of the event, where the likes of Julia Roberts, Judd Apatow and Chiwetel Ejiofor were also on hand to present. Receiving his award from his recent co-star, Cumberbatch offered this pointed soundbite: "Chiwetel, it feels bizarre that I'm standing here getting the British Artist of the Year Award after watching your performance in '12 Years a Slave.'" [Hollywood Reporter]
My favorite kind of parody is the sort that simultaneously functions as both a comedy and a good example of the thing it's parodying. It's a much harder thing to pull off than a straight-up spoof, but it's more satisfying in the moment, and long-term. It's been a while since I got a belly laugh from "Galaxy Quest" (a "Star Trek" lampoon that was also the best "Star Trek" movie since "Wrath of Khan") for instance, but I still get chills at the moment where Alan Rickman has to say his character's stupid catchphrase and mean it. More than 25 years after I first saw "The Princess Bride," Vizzini's monologue about a land war in Asia still makes me chuckle, but the greatest pleasure comes from hearing Mandy Patinkin say with the deepest sincerity, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
I'm not going to put "The Wrong Mans," a British comic thriller that Hulu is premiering today (two episodes are up now, the other four will debut over the next four Mondays, and Hulu Plus subscribers can watch them all now), on the level of those films. But the thriller part of it as just as much fun as the comic part.
She may remain an outsider when the bigger awards have their say, but it's turning into a pretty good, and pretty unusual, awards season for Scarlett Johansson. She got a surprise Best Actress nod at the Gotham Awards for her delicious comic turn in "Don Jon," while her acclaimed voice work in "Her" has sparked talk of her becoming the first actor to score an Oscar nomination for an invisible performance. And they're digging her across the pond, too: for her remarkable work as a seductive alien in Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin," the actress has cracked the Best Actress lineup at the British Independent Film Awards.
Guess what? Nolan gets his own slice of the vengeance pie in this episode of "Revenge," and it's nice to see him get some small reward for his otherwise thankless role as Emily's sidekick. What's weird, though, is that he seems to think this opportunity to destroy someone's life requires not grim determination (Emily's standard M.O.), but an Oscar-worthy speech of gratitude. "I've learned so much from you, Ems," he gushes, so grateful is he to her for having found the inner pluck to "take control" of his own life. I really think Nolan needs to make new friends, as crushing someone like a bug under your heel isn't exactly taking the high road.
If this is what rock bottom looks like, Kenny Powers may never learn his lesson.
Last week's episode concluded with a brutally ugly implosion between Kenny and April, and I wrote at that point that I can't imagine how this marriage is fixed after something that awful. This week made it clear that while Kenny expects there to be a magic reset button, that does not appear to be the case. April wants out of the marriage, and she wants to try to wrap things up without causing each other any more pain. Kenny, on the other hand, reminds me of a Randy Newman song with the way he's behaving this week.
"I ran out on my children / And I ran out on my wife / Gonna run out on you too, baby / I done it all my life / Everybody cried the night I left / Well, almost everybody did / My little boy just hung his head / And I put my arm, put my arm around his little shoulder / And this is what I said: / 'Sonny, I just want you to hurt like I do / I just want you to hurt like I do / I just want you to hurt like I do / Honest I do, honest I do, honest I do'"
I don't know why, but I keep hoping that Kenya will suddenly realize how she comes across, give one last "Gone With the Wind" fabulous twirl, and start thinking before she speaks. I realize that would ruin the entire show and the rest of the cast would have no one to gossip about other than maybe Beyonce or Rihanna. Still, it's hard for me to accept that someone who can seem so sane and even charming sometimes transforms into the Queen of Crazypants when she feels she has been the victim of some minor transgress.
A review of tonight's "Masters of Sex" coming up just as soon as I find you a secretary who knows the difference between "I" and "me"...
Sigh. It seems that, no matter what our intrepid Henry supporters do in Neverland, Peter Pan is always one step ahead of them, laughing gleefully at how they're playing right into his tiny hands. This is starting to become frustrating, and it also makes me wonder why Pan, if he's so all-knowing and powerful, doesn't just wipe Emma and the gang off the map and stick to the business of manipulating poor Henry. I know, I know. All reasons will be revealed in time. But in the meantime, all of the ingenious plotting and creative reasoning feels futile and depressing. It also might be nice if Pan, with all his powers, could turn on the lights in Neverland. Just a thought.
MTV censors Miley Cyrus smoking a joint at the European Music Awards
This year's ceremony was broadcast from Amsterdam, but Miley's joint-smoking was gone when it was aired in the United States.
Conan O'Brien deletes tweet joking about a Muslim female superhero after backlash
Conan received considerable backlash Friday after tweeting: "Marvel Comics is introducing a new Muslim superhero. She has so many more special powers than her husband's other wives."
"Downton Abbey" renewed
The British series will be back for a 5th season.
Bill Cosby is planning another family sitcom
Cosby has re-teamed with "Cosby Show" producer Ed Werner on a project he says " "would (satisfy) the people who have come to me in public places and said, 'Can't you put something on that I can watch?'" But Cosby emphasizes he's not remaking "The Cosby Show."
Charlie Sheen offers to make amends with Chuck Lorre
Sheen tweeted the offer to the "Two and a Half Men" creator, hoping to make amends in person. But is he serious?
"60 Minutes" apologizes on-air for Benghazi report screw-up
"We are very sorry," Lara Logan said, apologizing for using a source who had proven to be unreliable.
Watch Sacha Baron Cohen prank the Brittania Awards with an "old lady"
During the ceremony, broadcast Sunday on BBC America, Cohen was awarded the "Charlie Chaplin Brittania Award for Excellence in Comedy."
"Doctor Who" unveils its official 50th anniversary trailer
"The Day of The Doctor" airs Nov. 23.
"The Vampire Diaries" throws a 100th-episode party
Check out The CW drama's Episode 100 cake.
PBS will re-air Hugh Jackman in a 1999 performance of "Oklahoma!"
Jackman's performance will be shown on Nov. 15 as part of the "Great Performances" series.