Latest Blog Posts

<p>Julia Roberts in&nbsp;&quot;August:&nbsp;Osage&nbsp;County&quot;</p>

Julia Roberts in "August: Osage County"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: Shapeshift

Contenders hope to take advantage of exiting players

What a difference a week makes...

This time seven days ago we were telling you about a delayed "Wolf of Wall Street" from Martin Scorsese (tipping off trades to sniff it out on their end and write a version without crediting the original story, natch). Within days, "Foxcatcher" would take its leave, joining "Grace of Monaco" on that score. The season, as it always does, is changing shape.

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"Styled to Rock"

 "Styled to Rock"

Credit: Bravo

Rihanna, Pharrell Williams will judge Bravo's 'Styled for Rock'

The Grammy winning star picks the talent herself

Like rocker fashion? So does Rihanna. “Styled to Rock” (premiering Fri. Oct. 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Bravo) is executive produced by the multi-Grammy Award winner and fashion icon. Pharrell Williams will also show off his fashion sense as a mentor-judge on the show. 

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<p>Haven't you heard, Walt?&nbsp;The &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;finale was your most-watched episode ever!</p>

Haven't you heard, Walt? The "Breaking Bad" finale was your most-watched episode ever!

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' finale sets ratings records

"Felina" more than tripled the ratings for last summer's finale

"Breaking Bad" went out with several bangs, story-wise (which I discussed in my review of the series finale), and some even bigger ones, business-wise, as the last episode drew a record 10.3 million viewers and more than tripled the demographic rating of last summer's finale.

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<p>Katy Perry, seen here at the iHeartRadio Music Festival</p>

Katy Perry, seen here at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

Credit: AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones

Listen: Katy Perry's new dance track, 'Walking On Air' will have you floating

Robyn inspired deep house track

Katy Perry goes hardcore into the clubs with “Walking on Air,” a dance twirler she released today from her forthcoming album, “Prism,” out Oct. 22.

The house track is redolent of ‘90s dance thumpers and is light as cotton candy and just as enjoyable. It will make you long for C + C Music Factory... almost.

Klas Ahlund produced the track, which Perry recorded in Stockholm. Perry told Billboard the track was inspired by Ahlund collaborator Robyn, who toured with Perry on her California Dreams tour, and by seeing roller skaters in New York’s Central Park.

The track opens with another female with a big Martha Wash-type voice singing “I’m walking on air,” before Perry comes in, singing “You’re giving me sweet sweet ecstasy, yeah you take me to Utopia. you’re reading me like erotica, boy you make me feel exotic yeah,” Perry sings before rushing into the breathless chorus.  She goes on to sing about a love so strong that even heaven is jealous. At the end, she unleashes her best Christina Aguilera impression.

Walking On Air” is the third track released from “Prism,” following chart topper “Roar” and “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J.

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<p>Cover art for 'The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2'</p>

Cover art for 'The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2'

Credit: RCA

Track-by-track Review: Justin Timberlake's 'The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2'

Some songs shine, while other sink on the second half of JT's 'Experience'

Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2,” the second half of his 2013 musical exploration, arrives today and it’s a more diverse companion to its March successor, “The 20/20 Experience.”  Similarly to that album, the best-selling album of 2013 so far,  “2 of 2”  features song sketches, most of them longer than 5 minutes, than traditional chorus/verses in most cases, although the last half has some beautiful, more conventional tracks. The big band feel of the JT and the Tennessee Kids is largely gone here, other than on the horn-driven “Take Back The Night.”

Whereas “The 20/20 Experience” felt sensual, “2 of 2” feels carnal and more blatantly sexual between Timberlake’s delivery and Timbaland’s pulsating production. Plus, the lyrics often take a dark turn as love breaks bad, real bad.

While there is a lot here to admire especially in terms of Timberlake’s adventurous and willingness to stretch out here, there’s still a little too much bloat,  just as there is on the first volume. Between the two sets, there are about eight really strong songs that would have made for a tremendously impressive single set.

Here’s a track-by-track review:

“Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)”: A sultry, sexy funky number with a chorus redolent of Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life.” (Just listen to it and see if the “how ever do you need me/how ever do you want me” refrain doesn’t pop into your mind.).  It’s an rhythmic invitation to what’s still to come. There’s also a “SexyBack” feel that’s tremendously appealing. GRADE: A

“True Blood”:
  A nine-minute-plus rambling funk, beat track that will work in the clubs. Timbaland throws in all kinds of odd sounds, including ringing phones, different loops, Chic-like disco bells, a Vincent Price-like maniacal laugh, and African rhythms as Timberlake vocalizes occasionally over the cacophony about the “demon whose got me screamin....I tasted your blood and found you was the perfect fit.”   Like many of the songs on “The 20/20 Experience,” the last third turns into a different song entirely. The aural equivalent of Chubby Hubby ice cream, it’s got a little too much going on...although a catchy chorus would not be one of them. GRADE: C

“Cabaret”:  “It’s a cabaret,” Timberlake sings as Timbaland repeats “It’s a show, get on the floor” in this loop-driven ode to getting down with your lady, who’s taking off her clothes as quickly as she can. Again, nothing here you could hum as the song is all about the beats and repetitiveness. “You got me saying Jesus so much, it’s like I’m laying in a manger,” Timberlake says in the song’s cleverest line. Drake comes in for a rap that works perfectly with the song in their first collaboration. At 4:32, it’s the album’s shortest song. GRADE: B-

TKO”: The second single from “2 of 2” features Timberlake singing in his regular register about getting knocked out in love by his woman, “trying to go below the belt.” She’s not fighting fair as he admits he’s “out for the count,” over a catchy bed of busy loops, strange sounds and beats. The final quarter slinks into a spare arrangement with Timbaland beat boxing over Timberlake’s lonesome vocals. GRADE: B-

“Take Back The Night”:
A glorious throw-back to ‘70s disco with a horn-driven chorus (yes, JT’s singing “And the horns say,” not something that sounds more offensive), the first single didn’t storm up the charts in part because “Mirrors” was still holding strong, but it’s a song that will do great in concert and as time passes. GRADE: B+

Murder”: A rambling mess of song as Timberlake, even if it has a chorus/verse structure, sings about a woman who has so much going on below the waist that it can only lead to murder.  Jay Z comes in for a rap that name drops Yoko Ono, of all people. Way, way too busy. GRADE: D

“Drink You Away”:
The album’s best track with potential to be  “2 of 2’s” “Mirrors.” A gorgeous, organ-drenched, acoustic-guitar-based  tune that features JT passionately singing, “I can’t drink you away. I’ve tried Jack, I’ve tried Jim... Now, tell me baby, do they make a medicine for heartbreak.” It’s a stomping, full-out  swampy tale of a man whose gotten to the bottom of the bottle and still has further down to go. The hand-clapping gospel feel plays beautifully into Timberlake’s Memphis roots. Far and away the most captivating track on the album. GRADE: A

“You Got It On”: A dreamy, sexy song. Think Timberlake channeling Usher, which means, of course, he's also channeling Marvin and Donny.  It’s all about sexy time. “Tell me what’s better than than the two of us because you by yourself is more than enough for me,” he croons in falsetto. Cue the disco ball for this slow jamming, finger-snapping slinky paint-by-numbers description of how Timberlake is going to make his lady very, very happy.  GRADE: B+

“Amnesia”: Another slow jam, but this in case, Timberlake is lamenting that his woman has left him.  “Ain’t no we anymore, she’s a stranger that I used to know,” he sings, over a steady, swirling beat and strings. A sweeping, hypnotic song that morphs into a different track for the final third.  Someone should do a mash-up with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” immediately. GRADE: B-

“Only When I Walk Away”: 
  An autotuned Timberlake laments that his woman only loves him when walks away on this moody, dramatic track.  “She loves me only when I walk away,” he sings, as a heavy chorus and beat nail the track to the floor. There’s a darkness and experimental tribal break that sounds like something Michael Jackson would be creating today. One of the album’s more interesting tracks for both Timbaland’s production and Timberlake’s delivery. GRADE: B

“Not A Bad Thing”:
And now for something different. For the album closer, “Not A Bad Thing” starts as a breezy, hand-clapper that doesn’t sound that dissimilar to something that  ‘N Sync would have sung on its best day.  It’s a lovely, lilting straight-up pop tune. “Don’t act like it’s a bad thing to fall in love with me,” he croons. He promises fealty to his girl because she’s worth it. GRADE: A

“A Pair of Wings”: Not sure if this is part of “Not A Bad Thing,” given how much shape-shifting goes on on so many of the tracks or if it’s just a hidden bonus track on the same track, but from “Not A Bad Thing,” after a few seconds of silence, Timberlake goes into a lovely ballad featuring only him and a flamenco-inflected acoustic guitar (although strings come in later).  With the world getting uglier, all he wants to do is fly away on a pair of wings with his love. It’s a gentle, sweet lullaby that serves as a romantic song or an ode to the child he has yet to have. It’s the  polar opposite from a track like “Murder.”  A sweet capper. GRADE: B

 

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<p>Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim in &quot;The Past.&quot;</p>

Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim in "The Past."

Credit: Sony Classics

Iran surprises by picking 'The Past' as foreign language submission

Which take on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will come out on top?

The deadline for Best Foreign Language Film submissions is now one day away. We're still waiting one some countries (including China), and there are usually a couple of post-deadline stragglers, but it's fair to say the field -- which now numbers 65 films -- is close to complete.And it's a field that just got even more competitive with a flurry of high-profile entries over the weekend, including a couple of Cannes award winners.

Chief among them is Iran's selection. Having won its first Oscar two years ago with Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation," and boycotted last year's competition for political reasons, the country has returned to the race -- and to Farhadi -- by submitting the director's French-Italian production "The Past."

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<p>The New England Patriots held on for victory on Sunday</p>

The New England Patriots held on for victory on Sunday

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: Patriots-Falcons action leads NBC Sunday, while 'Betrayal' tanks for ABC

ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' and 'Revenge' are up from spring numbers
Fast National ratings for Sunday, September 29, 2013.
 
NBC's Sunday Night Football game between New England and Atlanta easily drew the highest ratings on a Premiere Week Sunday driven by delays and preemptions.
 
As will frequently be the case throughout the fall, in addition to NBC's ratings being subject to change due to football, CBS' ratings are also inflated by 15 minutes of NFL overrun, pushing "60 Minutes" and the rest of the schedule for much of the country. And even with that boost, CBS' "Amazing Race," "The Good Wife" and "The Mentalist" came in on the low side. FOX's ratings also were inflated by long-running football.
 
Ultimately, in fact, the only network with numbers unimpacted by football was ABC, which got OK -- better than spring numbers, but worse than last fall's premieres -- returns for "Once Upon a Time" and "Revenge," though "Betrayal" launched to much smaller returns than such recent Sunday luminaries as "Pan Am" and "666 Park Avenue."
 
[Ratings for the "Breaking Bad" finale and also for the "Homeland" and "Masters of Sex" premieres will be out this afternoon and we'll report on them when they're available.]
 
On to the numbers...
 
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<p>Walter White</p>

Walter White

Credit: AMC

Vince Gilligan explains 'Breaking Bad's' final scene and reveals the rejected alternatives


Vince Gilligan explains "Breaking Bad's" final scene and reveals the rejected alternatives

Our gut told us it was right. As the writers and I worked through all these different possibilities, it felt right, but I don’t think it was a necessity for us. There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he’s standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed. That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers. We talked about a version where Jesse kills Walt. We talked about a version where Walt more or less gets away with it.
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul discuss shooting their series finale scene
Walter White is reckless: So why did everything wrap up so neatly for him?
"Felina" might've been more satisfying if it was less satisfying
"Team Walt" wins: Writers protected Walt from worst possible death, letting him die on his own terms
The look on his face says it all: Walter White was victorious
Walt did not win: The look on his face as he touched Baby Holly shows him as a loser
The series finale was brilliant in exposing the truth of Walter White -- as an American, not a monster
"Felina" wasn't an endorsement of Walter, it was a reflection of him
Cranston watched the series finale for the 1st time while recording DVD commentary
Walter White was like a ghost, a modern version of Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning
What made the finale perfect was the "I did it for me" speech
The finale brimmed with love, proving that "Breaking Bad" ultimately was a show about love
It was about closure, not just for the characters but for fans
Not enough Jesse!: Why did Aaron Paul get the same amount of screentime as Lydia, Todd or Jack?
Some of the best storylines didn't get a satisfying ending -- Marie, Walt Jr.
Vince Gilligan deserved to end it all on his own terms
Gilligan crafted a perfect ending that will set a high bar for future shows
It's surprising that Gilligan would go for the "happy ending"
It looked like there would be a "The Shield" ending, but Gilligan chose to be tidy
—"Talking Bad" a disappointment: AMC's fan show could've been more analytical
Damon Lindelof retweets "Lost" finale haters comparing his ending to "Breaking Bad's"
Albuquerque will miss "Breaking Bad's" economic impact
Listen to Aaron Paul's cemetery event, featuring host Jimmy Kimmel and Bryan Cranston

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'SNL's' season premiere slightly down from last year


"SNL's" season premiere slightly down from last year
Tina Fey's premiere matched Ben Affleck's season finale. PLUS: Did "SNL" make too big a deal about the new cast members?


CNN Films cancels Hillary Clinton documentary, citing pressure from Clinton aides
The project's director says he's been under pressure not just from Clinton aides and supporters, but from the Republican National Committee.


Michael Rapaport joins "Justified"
He'll play the patriarch of the Crowe family, Dale Crowe, Jr.


Arcade Fire's post-"SNL" NBC concert was kind of bizarre
The concert airing after "Saturday Night Live" featured cameos from Bono, Ben Stiller and Zach Galifianakis.


"The Bachelor's" Courtney Robertson lands book deal
The Season 16 winner is penning a book titled, "I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain."


Lindsay Lohan's parents banned from her OWN reality show
Producers ultimately decided not to focus on Lindsay's family.


"Doctor Who" boss has an explanation for Peter Capaldi's previous "Who" appearances
Says Steven Moffat: "We are aware that Peter Capaldi's played a part in Doctor Who before and we’re not going to ignore the fact."


Lena Dunham watched "SNL's" spoof of "Girls" at Mindy Kaling's house
Check out the "Girls" star in Kaling's living room.


"The Good Wife" was robbed!
The Season 5 premiere shows why the CBS drama deserved an Emmy.


Rainn Wilson to produce a "Defeating Depression" special for MTV
The one-hour special will air on Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day.


Watch the trailer for Rihanna's reality show
She'll star in "Styled to Rock," a reality design competition.


"The Mentalist" season premiere, explained
The CBS drama's creator talks about the "final showdown."


"Top Model" winner Lisa D'Amato welcomes a baby boy

The "ANTM" winner shared a photo of her new child on Instagram.


"Glee's" Naya Rivera goes crazy after her brother's Oakland Raiders touchdown

Her brother Mychal Rivera is a rookie tight end for the Raiders.

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<p>Nicole Kidman in &quot;Grace of Monaco.&quot;</p>

Nicole Kidman in "Grace of Monaco."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: Weinstein on 'the most competitive season I've ever seen'

Also: The state of animation, and the movies behind 'Breaking Bad'

Oscar talk is not something you'd expect to surface much at the Zurich Film Festival, but when Harvey Weinstein is giving a masterclass there, it inevitably comes up. Wendy Mitchell reports from the event, where the master awards campaigner declared this year's Oscar race "the most competitive season I've ever seen," explained the delayed release of "Grace of Monaco" -- it's not ready, he wants it to play festivals and it could be "bigger than 'My Week With Marilyn'" -- and revisited the 15-year-old controversy of "Shakespeare in Love"'s five Oscar-awarded producers. He also gave a shout-out to his favorite non-Weinstein films of the season so far: "12 Years a Slave," obviously, but also "Prisoners." [Screen Daily]

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"The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

 "The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of New Jersey' season finale recap: Is this goodbye?

With prison a possibility, it seems as if this could be the end

After all the tears, hugging, horseshoe cleaning and Zennis the ladies of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" endured this season, I was fully prepared for them to come completely unhinged in the season finale. Sure, they'd gamely tackled all the New Age ridiculousness Bravo could throw at them, but I never believed they'd actually, you know, buy into all that nutty-twiggy crap. In Jersey, you make good meatballs, you wear lots of mascara, and you FIGHT. Simple. 

But, even though we get the fighting, it's misdirected. When Penny explains that, duh, Teresa is the one behind all of her friends' nasty comments on Twitter, Teresa squawks, eyes wide, like a parrot who's seen too much. "You're full of bleep! You're full of bleep! Squawk! Cracker?"

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<p>Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac perform songs from &quot;Inside Llewyn Davis.&quot;</p>

Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac perform songs from "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Marcus Mumford, Carey Mulligan and more perform at 'Inside Llewyn Davis' concert

Plus: Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and best actor contender Oscar Isaac

NEW YORK (AP) — When Justin Timberlake couldn't attend Sunday's concert celebrating the music of the new Coen Brothers movie, "Inside Llewyn Davis," master of ceremonies John Goodman told the crowd Timberlake's understudy would perform instead.

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