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Report Card: Grading the last 10 Academy Awards hosts

Report Card: Grading the last 10 Academy Awards hosts

With Ellen confirmed for next year, we size up every Oscar host of the new century

Well, AMPAS brass decided to end the speculation mercifully early this year, announcing Ellen DeGeneres as the host of next year's Academy Awards ceremony -- her second stab at one of showbiz's trickiest gigs, having first done the job to amiable effect back in 2007. And predictably enough, the news has met with a mixed response: for everyone who's happy to see DeGeneres return with her warm, non-confrontational approach, there's another (like our own Greg Ellwood) who thinks it's too conservative a choice.

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<p>Bradley&nbsp;Cooper (left) and Derek Cianfrance on the set of &quot;The Place Beyond the Pines&quot;</p>

Bradley Cooper (left) and Derek Cianfrance on the set of "The Place Beyond the Pines"

Credit: Focus Features

Derek Cianfrance on the anxiety of legacy in 'The Place Beyond the Pines'

The film hits DVD/Blu-ray next week

I very rarely run a transcript/Q&A-style interview because, well, on one hand I think it's kind of lazy (not always). On the other, I'm a writer and I like to write, I like to paint a portrait of someone and use their words as tools toward those ends.

But sometimes you talk to someone whose every word you want to print, and filmmaker Derek Cianfrance is definitely one of those guys. The director of "The Place Beyond the Pines" has been making the rounds lately to discuss the film again as it heads for DVD/Blu-ray next week and so it was a great opportunity to finally see the film (I had missed it in theatrical) and talk to him about his vision for it.

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<p>The cast of &quot;Jayne Mansfield's Car.&quot;</p>

The cast of "Jayne Mansfield's Car."

Credit: Aldamisa Releasing

Billy Bob Thornton's ensemble drama 'Jayne Mansfield's Car' finally gets a trailer

Eighteen months after its Berlinale debut, the film hits theaters and VOD soon

Yesterday, Kris and I looked over a number of upcoming potential prestige films that, despite high-profile festival appointments, are still seeking a foothold in the distribution market. Today, coincidentally enough, a trailer has arrived that handily proves just how long the journey from a festival premiere to an actual release can be -- even for a relatively big-name project. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Billy Bob Thornton's "Jayne Mansfield's Car."

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<p>Jay-Z</p>

Jay-Z

Credit: AP Photo

U.S. album sales reach record lows

Can anything be done to staunch the bleeding?

Will this be the low point? U.S. album sales have hit a new low in the 22-year SoundScan era. For each of the past five weeks, total scans have been lower than 5 million, the longest stretch in SoundScan history.
Even worse, for the past two weeks, album sales hit consecutive record lows, according to Billboard. For the week ending July 21, total album sales were 4.71 million units. For the week ending July 28, they were 4.68 million.

As you know, album sales have been plummeting since 2000. While many in the industry tried to convince themselves that digital sales would make up for the falling physical sales, these numbers are sad proof that this is not the case. As CD sales continue to decline (sales are down 14.1 % so far in 2013 over 2012), digital sales are also slowing.  In the Q1 2013, digital sales were up 10.4%, but that figure slowed to 1.9% for the second quarter.

As a comparison, Billboard notes that sales dropped below 5 million for the week for the first time in 2010. That year, there were four weeks under the 5 million watermark, in 2011, two weeks; in 2012, three weeks. So far in 2013, there have been nine weeks, the last five of them in a row.

Of course, some of this can be attributed to a relatively weak summer release schedule that will heat back up in the fall with new albums from Katy Perry, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and more. Industry observers also cite the continuing decline in catalog album sales, which are down 8.8% from last year.

As CD sales continue to decline (sales are down 14.1 % so far in 2013 over 2012), digital sales are also slowing.  In  Q1 2013, digital sales were up 10.4%, but that figure slowed to 1.9% for the second quarter.

The larger question is how are streaming services siphoning off sales? Streaming revenue and subscribers continues to grow, although both Spotify and Pandora are losing money. Will a subscription or freemium service ever make up for the decline in sales? I can’t imagine it happening. And while Spotify likes to say it doesn’t hurt album sales, I know that I don’t buy as many albums as I used to, especially when I can stream them at the click of a mouse.

How low will they continue to go? Will we be writing stories about SoundScan numbers not reaching above 4 million for several weeks in a row this time next year?  While older consumers continue to purchase music, a recent MTV survey showed that 68% of kids thought music should be free.  As new distribution models evolve, such as Jay Z’s deal with Samsung, SoundScan may have to figure out more accurate ways to count sales (Remember, it didn’t count the 1 million copies of “Magna Carta Holy Grail” downloaded via Samsung), but even then, the numbers are still likely to plummet.

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'American Horror Story'

 'American Horror Story' 

Credit: FX

Press Tour: Details revealed about 'American Horror Story: Coven'

Look for historical witches and a mother-daughter relationship

It was a spellbinding panel of talent when FX presented the latest "AHS" installment, "American Horror Story: Coven." Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, and executive producer Tim Minear took the stage, being careful not to give away too much -- though that doesn't mean we didn't get a tantalizing glimpse of what to expect in season three. 

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'Sharknado' screenings sell out, prompting theaters to add more screenings


"Sharknado" screenings sell out, prompting theaters to add more screenings
Turns out the Syfy film is perfect for movie theaters. "You need full audience participation to truly appreciate a film like 'Sharknado,'" says a spokesperson for movie ticketing service Fandango.


Time Warner pulls the plug on all CBS-owned stations

Time Warner subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and other markets, as of 5 pm ET, have lost not only CBS but Showtime, TMC, Flix and the Smithsonian channel.


Kathy Bates: NBC treated "Harry's Law" like "sh*t"
"I think they treated us like s–t," the actress said today while promoting "American Horror Story: Coven." "They kicked us to the curb," she added, noting that "Harry's Law" had a lot of viewers.


"Sherlock": Watch the Season 3 teaser
John Watson has a mustache.


"Breaking Bad" Season 5 debuts on Netflix

There are nine days to catch up on the first eight episodes of the season.

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NBC dumps 'To Catch a Predator's' Chris Hansen


NBC dumps "To Catch a Predator's" Chris Hansen
Hansen had been with NBC News for 20 years, but the network opted not to renew his contract.


Seth Rogen named James Franco Roastmaster

Rogen will roast his longtime pal on Aug. 18 to air on Labor Day Weekend.


Did Raven-Symone come out?
The former "Cosby Show" kid tweeted, "I can finally get married! Yay government!" PLUS: The actress released a statement, saying she is "not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to."


"Sons of Anarchy's" creator talks about a controversial scene in season premiere
"I've wanted to do that story for about three years," says Sutter. "I knew obviously it would be somewhat controversial but I feel like as much as I wouldn't do something just because it was controversial, I’m also not not going to do something because it’s controversial."


NBC teases "Parenthood's" return

"Discover what you've been missing."

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Watch: Kanye West remixes 'The Canyons' trailer with new music

Watch: Kanye West remixes 'The Canyons' trailer with new music

Also, Yeezy makes a surprise concert cameo that is off the hook: 'New Slaves'

There may be a few things that have blighted the release of director Paul Schrader's "The Canyons," including the trailer. Or maybe that's what Kanye West thought, so he and his arts company DONDA made a "Canyons" trailer remix, which includes new music from the hitmaker.

"The Canyons," starring Lindsay Lohan and James Deen, was penned by West's pal Bret Easton Ellis; the "American Psycho" writer helped put together West's "American Psycho" parody promo video for his latest album "Yeezus." So this West "remix" essentially brought collaborators back together.

"The Canyons" hits theaters and iTunes VOD today. Check it out:

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'CBGB' soundtrack includes Talking Heads, Police, Blondie, MC5, The Stooges

'CBGB' soundtrack includes Talking Heads, Police, Blondie, MC5, The Stooges

Who is the noticable exception from the set?

The soundtrack for “CBGB,” the upcoming film about the iconic New York club, will feature music from some of the iconic acts who are forever linked to the venue and its ‘70s heyday, including The Velvet Underground, Blondie, Talking Heads, and Police.

Interestingly, the soundtrack includes Joey Ramone’s “I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up),” but not a track from the Ramones.  The only new music on the set is a 2013 version of Blondie’s “Sunday Girl.”

The soundtrack will come out Oct. 8. Small indie Omnivore will release the vinyl and CD version, while Rhino will put out the deluxe digital version.

The film, which will premiere at New York’s  CBGB Music & Film Festival in October, stars Alan Rickman as club owner Hilly Kristal, as well as Malin Ackerman as Blondie’s Debbie Harry, “Harry Potter’s”  Rupert Grint at Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop, and Sting’s daughter, Mickey Sumner, as Patti Smith.

According to the movie’s Facebook page, the official trailer will come out next week.

Track Listing:


1. Life During Wartime – Talking Heads
2. Kick Out the Jams (Uncensored Version) – MC5
3. Chatterbox – New York Dolls
4. Careful – Television
5. Blank Generation – Richard Hell & The Voidoids
6. Slow Death – Flamin’ Groovies
7. I Can’t Stand It – The Velvet Underground
8. Out of Control – Wayne County & The Electric Chairs
9. Psychotic Reaction – The Count Five
10. All For the Love of Rock ’n’ Roll (Live) – Tuff Darts
11. All By Myself – Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers
12. California Sun (Original Demo) – The Dictators
13. Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth – Dead Boys
14. I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up) – Joey Ramone
15. Get Outta My Way – The Laughing Dogs
16. Sunday Girl (2013 Version) – Blondie
17. I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges
18. Sonic Reducer – Dead Boys
19. Roxanne – The Police
20. Birds and the Bees – Hilly Kristal

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Did Oscars pick Ellen as a response to Seth MacFarlane?


Did Oscars pick Ellen as a response to Seth MacFarlane?
The Academy apparently is trying to distance itself from last year's controversies. PLUS: Is the Oscars done chasing young viewers?, and Ellen boosts ratings when she hosts awards shows.


"It's Alway Sunny" stars feel like they could keep on going by doing 10 episodes a season
"I think at only 10 episodes a season, you really don't run the risk of burning out," says Charlie Day. PLUS: "Sunny" will mock Emmy snubs.


"Glee" releases a "Cory Monteith Memorial Card"

Watch a 12-second tribute to the late "Glee" star. PLUS: Darren Criss talks to Conan about Monteith's passing.


FX picked Courteney Cox's "Dirt" over "Breaking Bad," Vince Gilligan recalls to Charlie Rose

In an hour-long conversation, Gilligan explained that FX had to pick one of the two shows and settled on Cox's 2007 series "Dirt" because  the network had a mandate to add female viewers. But Gilligan credits FX boss John Landgraf with letting AMC acquire the rights to "Breaking Bad." This morning, Landgraf said you can't go darker than "Breaking Bad." PLUS: Watch the "It's Heisenberg" music video."Nightline" goes behind the scenes of the Aug. 11 premiere.


"The League" co-creator finds FXX move exciting yet frustrating

"To be perfectly frank, it's very exciting," says Jeff Schaffer. "It's also a little frustrating right now that we can't tell our fans what channel FXX is yet. … It's like saying, 'When I die I'm going to heaven.' I know it's a good thing but I don't know where that is." PLUS: Nowadays, NFL players ask to be on "The League," and read more "League" tidbits from today's TCA panel.


Watch a preview of talk show host Lindsay Lohan
Mocking Kristen Stewart while guest-hosting "Chelsea Lately."


Joy Behar ends her Current stint with the disassembly of her set
Watch as Al Jazeera "staffers" remove her desk.


Daft Punk to make a rare TV appearance on "Colbert Report"

The "Get Lucky" band will appear next week as pat of Colbert's "Colbchella" concert series.


Why FX is splitting into 3 channels
FX boss John Landgraf says the plan is for FX, FXX and FXM to "support one brand. I don't believe it's possible to be all things to all people. What we hope with the brand is to be able to capture people when they're young and keep them in our brand as they go through their life."

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<p>Ellen DeGeneres</p>

Ellen DeGeneres

Credit: Courtesy of AMPAS

Oscars goes cute and safe with Ellen DeGeneres as host

Pass me a vodka martini with lemon and wake me when it's over

When I woke up this morning I checked my inbox on my phone and quickly saw there were a number of E-mails with the headline "Ellen DeGeneres returns to host…" My first thought was, "Wow, FOX must have spent a ton of money to get DeGeneres to return as an 'American Idol' judge.  I wonder if that means Jennifer Lopez is still coming back?"  Of course, a host and a judge are two very different things (don't worry Seacrest your job is safe and I was half awake) and it quickly dawned on me that, instead, DeGeneres is heading for her second go around as Oscar host.

Oh, well.

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<p>Katy Perry teaser image for &quot;Prism&quot;</p>

Katy Perry teaser image for "Prism"

Katy Perry reveals 'Prism' teaser and single 'Roar' release date

Watch as she destroys her past in one swift move

Katy Perry drops two goodies on her fans today and both reveal a bit about the direction she may be going with her third studio album, “Prism,” which comes out Oct. 22.

Both a new album teaser  and a video snippet for first single “Roar” hint at a Perry who is ready to strip away the artifice. Let’s tackle them one at a time:

The album teaser for “Prism,”  dropped by Perry on Facebook this morning, shows Perry, her face bare of any make-up (other than, we imagine, foundation, mascara, lip balm, concealer, a touch of blush, etc... all the stuff it takes to look like you have no make-up on) and devoid of the usual heavy eye-liner and candy-colored lips. Similarly, her hair is her own, not one of her usual wigs, and while still beautiful, it’s not styled in any particular way and she even has some fly-aways.

[More after the jump...]

 

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