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<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Credit: Victoria Will/AP

Can John Mayer top Luke Bryan on next week's Billboard 200?

It's a crazy week with five debuts in the top 10

Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” holds off five newcomers on next week’s Billboard 200 to remain at No 1 for a second straight week.

After selling a staggering 528,000 (2013’s 3rd best opening tally), Bryan will see his weekly total drop to between 165,000-175,000, but that’s still enough to keep him in pole position.

John Mayer’s excellent “Paradise Valley,”  which includes a duet with Katy Perry, comes closest to knocking Bryan off his perch, but will likely have to settle for runner-up, with sales of up to 155,000. His last album, 2012’s “Born and Raised,” bowed at No. 1.

Mayer’s title is one of four debuts in the top 5. Coming at at No. 3 will be “Three Kings” (65,000-70,000) from TGT, the new group composed of Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank; Jimmy Buffett’s “Songs From St. Somewhere” (55,000-60,000) at No. 4, and Earl Sweatshirt’s “Doris” at No. 5 (50,000-55,000).

Robin Thicke’s former No. 1, “Blurred Lines” (45,000-50,000) slips to No. 6, “Now That’s What I Call Music” is at No. 7 (35,000-40,000). Rapper A$AP Ferg bows at No. 8 with “Trap Love”  (30,000-35,000). Disney’s soundtrack for “Teen Beach” is at No. 9 (30,000-35,000) and Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” at No. 10 (27,000-30,000), according to Hits Daily Double.

Just missing the top 10 are two more debuts: the latest from the Tedeschi Trucks Band at No. 11 and singer/songwriter Ben Rector at No. 12.

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<p>Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star in 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints,' one of the independent films involved in a very unusual filmmaker-driven promotion right now.</p>

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star in 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints,' one of the independent films involved in a very unusual filmmaker-driven promotion right now.

Credit: IFC Films

The director of 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' tries something crazy to promote his film

Why would he want you to see 'Drinking Buddies,' 'You're Next,' and 'Short Term 12' as well?

While I'm not sure I think this is the best weekend of movies all year, it is an unusually dense release weekend for good strong movies that I encourage you to see.

There's the Edgar Wright film "The World's End," which I liked a lot, and if you're a fan of the earlier movies that Edgar made with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, then by all means, make sure you see this one. I've been talking about "You're Next" for two full years now, and I absolutely encourage you to check it out. It's a fun spin on a familiar structure, and the cast really does kick the whole thing up to another level.

I've never been particularly excited about Joe Swanberg's films one way or another. I haven't flipped for them, but I'm also not particularly angered by them. I think "Drinking Buddies" is a big jump for him, though, in that it manages to be thematically sound, full of strongly drawn characters, and yet still maintain the spontaneous feeling that Swanberg seems to aim for in his work. I think the entire cast of "Drinking Buddies" is at the top of their game in the film. It's the most appealing role Olivia Wilde has ever had, and Anna Kendrick gets to play against how she's normally cast here, with both Ron Livingston and Jake Johnson doing very strong work as well.

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<p>Okay, okay, Sharni... you can have the big trailer. Gina Carano just threatened to break my thigh. You win.</p>

Okay, okay, Sharni... you can have the big trailer. Gina Carano just threatened to break my thigh. You win.

Credit: Lionsgate

'You're Next' star Sharni Vinson joins the cast of the female 'Expendables'

The cast seems great. Let's hope they have something to do.

So Sharni Vinson is set to join Katee Sackhoff, and Gina Carano in what is being called "the female 'Expendables'" by everyone writing about it?

You won't hear any argument from me.

I think Carano was a badass in "Haywire" and her fights with Michelle Rodriguez are one of the best things about "Furious Six." Sackhoff is great in "Riddick," and talking to her at Comic-Con this year, watching her on that remarkable "Women Who Kick Ass" panel, I'm impressed all over again.

For most people, today is their first chance to see Sharni Vinson in action. For those of us who have been talking about "You're Next" for the last two years, it's simply the inevitable next step that comes from people seeing what a spectacular "final girl" she makes. She gives an authentic performance, and when she snaps into action, you believe it.

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<p>Zac Efron in &quot;Parkland.&quot;</p>

Zac Efron in "Parkland."

Credit: Open Road Films

Venice preview, part two: 'The Wind Rises,' 'Parkland,' 'The Unknown Known,' 'L'intrepido,' 'Miss Violence'

Casting an eye over another five Golden Lion contenders

Continuing our preview of the 20 titles in the running for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, which kicks off next week. Today's selection includes new films from Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Landesman, Errol Morris, Alexandros Avranas and Gianni Amelio.

"The Wind Rises," directed by Hayao Miyazaki: It's been five years since the last Miyazaki-directed feature, "Ponyo," premiered in Competition at Venice -- and honestly, that sweet but unapologetically minor children's film wasn't enough to satisfy Miyazaki fans' cravings for over half a decade. Since the veteran Japanese animator ascended to festival auteur status (a promotion sealed when eventual Oscar-winner "Spirited Away" won the Golden Bear at Berlin), his work has arrived with crossover expectations that "Ponyo"'s gentle maritime charms couldn't quite fulfil. That looks likely to change with "The Wind Rises," a significant change of pace for the director, and one of the most ambitious projects of his big-dreaming career.

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TV Land cancels 'Happily Divorced'


TV Land cancels "Happily Divorced"
The Fran Drescher comedy won't be back for Season 3.


HBO deciding whether to end "True Blood" after next season

"That conversation is happening, but we don't have an answer yet," says showrunner Brian Buckner. He adds that he'll know next month, but won't reveal when viewers will know.


Alec Baldwin welcomes a baby girl
Baldwin's wife Hilaria gave birth to their first child today, Carmen Gabriela.


Here's your 1st look at Amber Tamblyn on "Two and a Half Men"

She's playing Charlie Harper's long-lost daughter.


Time Warner offering blacked-out customers free antennas
Also, Time Warner is offering $20 vouchers for antennas at Best Buy.

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<p>The films that Gilbert Taylor shot are positively overflowing with classic images and brilliant visual ideas, and 'A Hard Day's Night' could well be one of the most imitated movies ever made.</p>

The films that Gilbert Taylor shot are positively overflowing with classic images and brilliant visual ideas, and 'A Hard Day's Night' could well be one of the most imitated movies ever made.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Entertainment

Gilbert Taylor, legendary photographer of 'Star Wars' and 'Hard Day's Night,' has passed away

Few cinematographers left behind more groundbreaking work

When you think of your favorite images from your favorite movies, I think it's a fair question to ask who you think is responsible for those images. More often than not, people praise the director for anything they like about a movie, and it is rare that the public even acknowledges that there are cinematographers, much less single one out for praise. I admit that when I visit a set, the guys I get most excited about meeting are the directors of photography. I think these guys are magicians, and the best of them have created things that have never existed anywhere, and they've made it look like all it took was a camera.

I always encourage people to check out "Visions Of Light," a beautiful documentary about the art of movie photography, and I love how the film puts some of the industry's giants front and center, tying them to their accomplishments and restoring some balance in terms of who we credit for those shared memories that have made movie fans of us all.

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"Breaking Amish: LA"

 "Breaking Amish: LA"

Credit: TLC

Watch: What happens in Vegas stays there in 'Breaking Amish: LA'

The Amish seek strippers and gambling in Sin City

It turns out that being Amish doesn't preclude young people from swearing like rabid sailors, which is my takeaway from this clip from Sunday's episode of "Breaking Amish: LA" (Aug. 25, 10:00 p.m. on TLC). While some of the group wants to live it up in Las Vegas (think gambling and strippers), Matt thinks there's plenty of wholesome fun to be had in Sin City. Wholesome, yes. Fun, not really. 

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<p>Even Marvel Comics took a crack at 'The Stand'</p>

Even Marvel Comics took a crack at 'The Stand'

Credit: Marvel Comics

Scott Cooper signs to write and direct 'The Stand' as Ben Affleck moves on

It's an interesting choice by the studio

What matters most when it comes to finding a filmmaker to make "The Stand"?

Forget the question of whether or not we even want or need a new film version of "The Stand." That's one of those things where it really doesn't matter about "want" or "need," because it's in motion. Money has been spent. People are working to make it happen. And if that's the case, then the next question deals with finding the right person to tell the story.

I remember when George Romero was the guy who was attached to make this happen, and I remember how long that process took without finally yielding results. Rospo Pallenberg, the writer of "Excalibur," was the writer on the film, and they chipped away at it for years. That's back when Romero was still part of Laurel Entertainment, and every year they'd have their section of AFM ads where they promoted all the films they had in development, and every year, "The Stand" was part of that package.

Richard Rubenstein, the other side of the Laurel equation, was the one who eventually managed to wrestle the project onto TV, with Mick Garris taking the creative lead on that version.

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Paula Deen and ex-employee reach settlement to dismiss discrimination lawsuit


Paula Deen and ex-employee reach settlement to dismiss discrimination lawsuit

The lawsuit from former employee Lisa Jackson caused the former Food Network star's downfall.


Scott Bakula returning to HBO
After his Emmy-nominated performance in "Behind The Candelabra," Bakula has booked a recurring role on San Francisco gay-themed drama "Looking."


"SNL" expected to add a 5th cast member
"SNL" writer Mike O'Brien of "7 Minutes in Heaven" fame will reportedly become a featured player.


Tori Spelling to star in an ABC Family sitcom pilot

"Mystery Girls" from producer Ashley Tisdale follows a former TV drama crime fighter who begins crimefighting with her on-screen partner in real life.


'N Sync is poised to perform a greatest hits medley at VMAs

They'll sing such classics as "Bye Bye Bye" before Justin Timberlake performs his new song solo. PLUS: Joey Fatone's dad confirms reunion.


Watch the "Scandal" Season 2 blooper reel

From the Season 2 DVD, out Sept. 2.

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<p>Justin Timberlake's 'Mirrors'</p>

Justin Timberlake's 'Mirrors'

Countdown to MTV's Video Music Awards: Video of the Year: Timberlake vs. Thicke

Will it be Justin Timberlake or Robin Thicke's year?

As MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards approach, we’ll countdown to the Aug. 25 ceremony, which airs live at 9 p.m. ET from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead the nominations with six each, closely followed by Bruno Mars, Pink, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and Thirty Seconds To Mars.

Among the artists performing on the show are Lady Gaga, who will open the awards; Timberlake (with a rumored ‘N Sync reunion), Mars, and Cyrus.

We’ll look at a different category each day leading up to Aug. 25. Later this weekend, we'll list all our predictions, with some additions, in a video gallery.  Plus, look for full coverage of the VMAs, including live blogging, commentary, fashion best and worsts, and more on Sunday.
 

Video of the Year 
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, "Thrift Shop"
 Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
 Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"
 Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"

This is a race between “Blurred Lines” and “Mirrors.” “Mirrors” is the more artistic statement, although some may find the second half of Timberlake’s video a little pretentious. Some folks may also find “Blurred Lines” creepy, but not enough to keep it from winning here. One question: why isn’t Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” in this category?

Who Should Win: Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
Who Will Win: Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines”
 

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<p>Marvin Gaye</p>

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye family turned down settlement from Robin Thicke: Report

Offer made before Thicke filed lawsuit to protect 'Blurred Lines'

Robin Thicke’s seemingly pre-emptive filing of lawsuit last week asking for a ruling that “Blurred Lines” does not infringe upon Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” and George Clinton’s “Sexy Ways” is suddenly making a lot more sense.

[More after the jump...]

 

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"Arrested Development"

 "Arrested Development"

Credit: Netflix

Listen: CulturePop No. 24 - 'Arrested Development' composer David Schwartz

We talk to the Emmy nominee about the 'Deadwood,' 'Northern Exposure'

Melinda and I got a chance to talk to Emmy-nominated composer David Schwartz ("Arrested Development") about all things TV music, and I think you'll have as much fun listening to this podcast as we did making it. David has lots to say about the shows he's worked on -- including "Deadwood" and "Northern Exposure" -- and for anyone wanting to pursue a career in composing, this should be a must-listen. We hope you enjoy listening to what David had to say as much as we did!

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