The Toronto Film Festival always showers Oscar buzz on a critical and audience favorite, but I can't remember the last time a film was quite so aggressively elevated to frontrunner status as "12 Years a Slave" -- which had many rational critics and pundits going so far as to declare the Best Picture race over before it's begun. So just wait a minute, says Mark Harris: "It's a long road to the Oscars, and even if '12 Years a Slave' ends up crossing the finish line first, no movie makes it from September to February without hitting some speed bumps — other movies, backlash, op-ed page harrumphing, hype fatigue." "Argo" stealthily weathered those obstacles after emerging as the ordained frontrunner at Toronto last year; will "Slave" do the same? [Grantland]
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Bob Newhart wins his 1st Emmy -- 51 years after his 1st nomination
A guest spot on "The Big Bang Theory" was responsible for Newhart's first Emmy Award. Newhart has been nominated for seven Emmys, the first for the original "The Bob Newhart Show" in 1962. PLUS: Read the complete list of Creative Arts Emmy winners, including Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Dan Bucatinsky, Melissa Leo and Carrie Preston.
Cecily Strong to join "SNL's" Weekend Update -- Seth Meyers may stay all season
Lorne Michaels also revealed he will be adding six new cast members, including newly named Brooks Wheelan, while demoting a newbie from last year: Tim Robinson. "Cecily, from the first show, was right there," Michaels says of naming the 2nd-year player co-anchor. As for Meyers, he'll work "Late Night" four nights a week -- unlike Jimmy Fallon -- and he may stick around to do Weekend Update for the rest of the season.
Ken Jennings: "The Million Second Quiz" invited me on, then canceled
He was all set to go, but then got a call that there was a "miscommunication."
A review of "The Newsroom" season finale coming up just as soon as I get the Allman Brothers back together...
A quick review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I sell that hideous crying clown...
So, our final three is Andy, Spencer and Gina Marie. Who deserves to win? Good question. I think who you're rooting for at this point just depends on what you consider strong game play. Or, if you don't think any of them demonstrated exactly that, maybe you just toss up your hands in despair or pick a name out of a hat or something.
A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" took another step on the long road to Oscar by winning the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award. The critically acclaimed adaptation of Solomon Northup's harrowing true story received a standing ovation after both its Telluride Film Festival and Toronto premieres and was long seen as the frontrunner for this year's honor. The win should immediately assist Fox Searchlight, who produced and is distributing the picture, in convincing moviegoers and Academy members who might be concerned with the brutality depicted in the film to actually go see it.
The 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented on Sunday, Sept. 22, starting at 8 Eastern on CBS, with Neil Patrick Harris as host. From now until Sunday (sometimes multiple times a day), Dan Fienberg and I will be making our usual picks for the major categories — for both what should win and what will (and keep in mind that Dan is much better historically at predictions than I am).
Next up, we're dealing with the comedy and drama writing categories. The former has a pair of series finales going against "Louie" and "Episodes," while the latter has the episode that could single-handedly lead to another huge night for "Homeland."
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
The Pitch: "Maybe the reason nobody watched 'Touch' is because it needed just a dash of 'The Fury' and a dollop of 'Rectify' on the side."
Quick Response: NBC's midseason drama may be one of the year's most intriguing pilots, but it also has a serious cast of Agiftednanitis, which may prove fatal. Agiftednanitis is, of course, named after the CBS pilot "A Gifted Man," which featured a nonsensically New Age-y script that was marvelously undercut and clarified by Jonathan Demme's pilot direction. Every second I watched the pilot, I knew that everything I liked about it would vanish when Demme went to do other things. Now, Alfonso Cuaron is unlikely to vanish entirely from "Believe." He wrote the pilot and he's an executive producer. But Alfonso Cuaron, like fellow "Believe" executive producer J.J. Abrams, has several things on his plate and probably won't be 100 percent involved in the day-to-day. And that's too bad, because there are moments of stunning craft on display in the "Believe" pilot, moments that pretty much only could have been crafted by the director of "Children of Men" and "Believe." There are dazzling tracking shots and dizzying moments from distorted POVs and, when he wants to, Cuaron gets an intimacy with his framing that can be breathtaking. Were this a silent pilot about a girl with special powers and the death row inmate mysteriously entrusted with keeping her safe, I'd be calling "Believe" the year's best pilot. Unfortunately, it is not and for all of Cuaron's gifts as a director, his liabilities as a writer of English-language dialogue are nearly as severe. As fluid as Cuaron is with the camera, he's clumsy with theme and plausible characters and as strong as his eye is, his ear is weak. So I was nodding my head in appreciation one moment and cringing the next and, actually, sometimes I was doing both at once. As the hyper-powerful, not-so-vaguely messianic kid at the show's center, newcomer Johnny Sequoyah definitely fulfills the Drew Barrymore/Chloe Grace Moretz requirements for astounding on-screen composure and preternatural wisdom. She doesn't make Bo feel like a human child, but she's pretty much not, so that's OK. I'm far less convinced by Jake McLaughlin as Bo's confused and initially hostile protector. McLaughlin is California-born, but struggles so poorly with tone and inflection that I just assumed he was just another Australian or British interloper holding back because of his accent difficulties. I spent 40 minutes hating McLaughlin, but at the very end he and Sequoyah find a little rapport that made me think that, with the right seasoning, he could have the upside of a Surfer Lee Pace. Delroy Lindo is left to bear the brunt of so much mumbo-jumbo about faith and belief that I'm 85% sure he's playing his character from "A Life Less Ordinary," which would probably be a spoiler if it's true. The tripe about miracles and spirituality is slightly palatable here because of the sheer fun of watching Cuaron fiddle around with the limitations of a new medium in the same way that several of Stephen King's more religiously inclined books mostly work because of his demented pop culture glee. That perverse glee is actually exactly what "Believe" could really use in subsequent episodes, because the idea of an exquisitely directed version of "Touch" will lose a lot of its pleasure when the exquisite direction goes elsewhere. [NBC has experience maintaining some level of aesthetic originality on "Awake" and "Hannibal" without visionary director David Slade and there's at least *some* chance that what "Believe" loses without Cuaron's direction, it could gain from better writing. But it's a small chance.]
Desire To Watch Again: Because of Jonathan Demme, I liked the pilot for "A Gifted Man" enough that I watched *way* more than I should have (and way more than it sounds like star Patrick Wilson was fully invested) and I'm nervous about going down that path again. I definitely want to see what a few episodes of "Believe" look like without Cuaron at the helm, but I wish this could be one of those new-fangled Event Series, with Cuaron doing a full limited run. Yup. Wary.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show'
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
1. Miley Cyrus: She sets the Vevo record for most video views in 24 hours with her new song, “Wrecking Ball.” Somewhere, Bruce Springsteen laments that he didn’t pose nude in the video for his song, “Wrecking Ball.”
2. Bruno Mars: We hadn’t heard of Mars five years ago and now he’s playing the biggest show in town: the Super Bowl half time. And he’s going to tear it up like a gorilla.
3. Morrissey: Moz pulls his autobiography mere days before its publication. He heard his editor was eating a cheeseburger and yanked the project.
4. Vince Gill: Other artists have certainly confronted the yobs from Westboro Baptist Church (including Ke$ha’s dancers), but certainly no one has done it with more humor and defiance and right-on-point messaging than the country superstar. “I wanted to see what hate looked like,” just about sums it up.
5. Apple: iTunes will launch iTunes Radio on Sept. 18. Every station comes with a cheap plastic tuner.
6. Sigur Ros: Icelandic band will appear on season 4 of “Game Of Thrones.” I’m sure if I’d watched even one episode of “GoT,” I’d be able to make a joke here.
7. Kacey Musgraves: The country artist stuns Nashville by leading nominations for the CMA Awards with six as one of the freshest voices to come out of country in a long time shows that you don’t have to write fluff and dress like Barbie to have success.
8. K.D. Lang: The gorgeous-throated singer will make her Broadway debut in “After Midnight,” a new musical about the Cotton Club. How could that voice not have been heard on the Great White Way yet?
9. Billy Joel and Carlos Santana: The veteran music starts are among the elite five to receive Kennedy Center Honors. Don’t you want to see Obama jam on “Captain Jack” and “Smooth?”
10. David Bowie: His acclaimed “The Next Day” is one of 12 albums competing for Britain’s Mercury Prize. Don’t be surprised if it’s one of the five titles competing for an album of the year Grammy in a few months.
The Grammy nominations won’t be announced until December, but an important date is coming up: the eligibility period ends Sept. 30. So as that date approaches, we look at some of the leading contenders for Best New Artist. It’s not as strong a field as last year, and, in fact, we’ll go out on a limb and say that it’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s to lose, but there are always some wild cards in the category.