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VENICE - The unhappy case of Philomena Lee, we are told throughout Stephen Frears’ outwardly stoic but not-so-secretly mallow-centered “Philomena,” is far more than a ‘human interest’ story. That phrase, frequently used here as a catch-all for manipulative, exploitative ‘soft’ journalism short on both sincere humanity and interest, is first contemptuously uttered by disgraced political journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) when Lee’s daughter approaches him about looking into her mother’s agonized search for a long-lost son. “It’s a human interest story,” he brusquely informs her, helpfully adding that such stories are written both for and about the “weak-minded, vulnerable and ignorant.”
TELLURIDE, Colo. - After its premiere screening at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival Friday evening, it goes without saying that no narrative film or TV program has ever depicted the sheer brutality and horror that was American slavery as Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" does. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, "12 Years" is a powerful drama driven by McQueen's bold direction and the finest performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor's career.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - It's interesting seeing Robert Redford receive a tribute at the Telluride Film Festival. With Sundance so ingrained in his blood and his being the face of an entire institution, his presence here -- albeit in a completely warranted capacity -- feels like a touch of infidelity. But it's too good an opportunity to pass up for a fixture of Hollywood history who this year delivers an absolutely amazing, sure-fire Oscar-contending performance in J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost."
TELLURIDE, Colo. - They simply don't make thrillers like Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" at the studio level, and yet here it is. Glacially paced, bloated to a 158 minute running time, stingy with details as its mystery unfolds, it goes against most every convention for a film like this.
[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.]
Airs:Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
The Pitch: "1 Broke Girl & Her Mum"
Quick Response: "Mom" is the last of the fall premieres to get a Take Me To The Pilots entry. [EDIT: I forgot about "Dracula." I keep forgetting about "Dracula," which NBC made easier by not doing anything with "Dracula" at either Comic-Con or TCA press tour. One of these days I'll watch it. But I'm transitioning into midseason pilots for a while after this.] That's because "Mom" is exactly what you think it is, for better and (somewhat more) for worse. Suggesting that this Chuck Lorre-produced multi-cam comedy is too broad for its own good and that its coarseness is frequently cringeworthy -- i.e. a joke about a teenager's sex-stained sheets -- would have all of the shock or value of saying a David Milch pilot was wordy and somewhat cryptic or that the characters on an Amy Sherman-Palladino show kept talking faster than real people actually talk. There are whole characters and subplots -- the slutty teenage daughter, French Stewart's one-liner-spouting snobby chef ("Beat those egg whites gently, as if they were a small, annoying child," is the pinnacle of his comedic contribution) -- that I could excise entirely, though at least I get the generational purpose of the horny daughter stuff. I would, in general, say that "Mom" is not a very good pilot. But there are kernels here that I'm curious about, things that work exactly as well as you might hope. Anna Faris has always been an admirably committed comedienne, an actress never afraid of playing ugly or pushing her performances "big" if the situation requires. And here, she hits every sitcom-y punchline with authority and when she's asked to cry ridiculously, she does it with an agility that calls to mind some TV greats (I'm resisting naming names because hyperbole will do me no favors). Faris also nails the dramatic scenes. Her character is a recovering addict and the AA scene at the show's center is actually its most interesting element, just as the Overeaters Anonymous scene gave the "Mike & Molly" pilot a weirdly grounded core that was immediately drowned out in a sea of fat jokes, causing me to stop watching after five or six episodes. [No clue if it got better. Some people still seem to like that show.] A version of "Mom" that I would watch would continue to keep the recovery thread as close to the surface as possible, because that melancholy shading would benefit Faris and also benefit Allison Janney, who is fine here, but isn't asked to do nearly enough. I'm still a strong advocate of Janney's work in "Mr. Sunshine" (Yay) and I appreciate the amount of "damaged" she's capable of bringing to comedic characters. My ideal "Mom" is a bit like NBC's "Go On" in tone. And you know who doesn't care about that ideal? Chuck Lorre! Oh and viewers, because audiences didn't like "Go On." I think that French Stewart and the glibly treated teenage daughter and the pot-dealing ex (even if he's played by the always-welcome Matt Jones) are the Lorre-est elements of this pilot and probably the elements the subsequent episodes are more likely to accentuate. There's a good show featuring Faris and Janney and roughly this premise. The pilot has maybe five minutes of that show and 17 minutes of something else.
Desire To Watch Again: After a podcast a few weeks ago, I was forced to go back to my "2 Broke Girls" Take Me To The Pilot to see that I was far more generous towards the show than I would feel only a week or two later. My feeling was that there was a potentially great show starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs and then there was everything around them and I hoped it became the good version of itself and, instead, it continued to be the bad version. I think "Mom" is a lot like "2 Broke Girls," where there's a version that could well become a big hit for CBS and then there's the version I'd like, which would probably have to be on NBC or FOX and would probably tank. The networks have conspired to make Mondays at 9 into one of the weakest hours for me all season. Just as this time period will give me a chance to let "Sleepy Hollow" settle into itself, I'll probably also give "Mom" a chance to become the show I don't want it to be. And yes, I'll probably keep watching "2 Broke Girls," which is an all-too-fitting lead-in.
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
Rockers Avenged Sevenfold will reign atop the Billboard 200 next week with “Hail To the King” (175,000) knocking country king, Luke Bryan and his current No. 1, “Crash My Party,” down to No. 2 (105,000). “King” is the group’s second No. 1, following 2010’s “Nightmare.”
The title is one of four debuts as we head into the busy fourth quarter. Rapper Big Sean’s “Hall of Fame” bows at No. 3 (75,000), while fellow rapper Juicy J comes in at No. 5 (65,000) with “Star Trippy.” “Alabama & Friends,” featuring top country artists performing hits by the legendary country band launches at No. 8 (28,000).
Robin Thicke’s former No. 1, “Blurred Lines” sees a little bump following the Video Music Awards, rising back up to No. 4 (65,000), while Justin Timberlake, who gave a 15-minute performance and received the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs sees an even larger sales result, climbing back up to No. 6 from No. 22 (45,000), according to Hits Daily Double.
John Mayer’s “Paradise Valley” falls to No. 7 (40,000), R&B supergroup TGT’s “Three Kings” drops to No. 9 (27,000), while “Now That’s What I Call Music 47 slides to No. 10 (27,000).
The lucky folks in Telluride are the envy of the cinephile community tonight, as "12 Years a Slave" has its unofficial world premiere with a sneak preview at the festival. It will, of course, go on to Toronto for its formal unveiling, but by that point, many key critics will have already had their say, and a reputation will already be forming.
Is Aaron Sorkin not interested in doing a 3rd season of "The Newsroom"?
Sorkin said last week he's been offered a 3rd season, but so far HBO -- which often renews hit shows early -- hasn't ordered a renewal. Could Sorkin be too busy for his HBO show? PLUS: "The Newsroom" is much-improved this season.
J.J. Abrams to remake the 1973 Yul Brinner film for HBO
"The Dark Knight" and "Person of Interest" writer Jonathan Nolan is set to write the remake.
Leah Remini will be "Ellen's" 1st guest of the season
It will be Remini's first TV appearance since leaving Scientology.
"Mad Men's" Ben Feldman joins "The Mindy Project"
He'll play a writer who's Mindy's latest love interest.
Go behind the scenes with Bill Murray on Letterman's 20th anniversary
"Let's go, Biff," he said backstage. PLUS: Letterman's wildest interviews, and 10 of Dave's trolls.
Not everybody can stomach "Breaking Bad"
Joel Mathis made it halfway through Season 2 before stopping. "Each and every episode that I've watched has filled me with increasing dread," he says. "I don't feel enlightened or informed or entertained when I watch an episode: Mostly I get a tummy ache. You've heard of 'cringe humor,' the way Larry David can make you laugh and be appalled at the same time? Well, for me, Breaking Bad is 'cringe drama." PLUS: Walter White meets "Game of Thrones," see "Breaking Bad" characters as ghosts, inside the music of "Breaking Bad," and why Walter didn't film his confession on a smartphone.
"HIMYM's" mom struggled with driving in L.A.: "I was almost arrested for drunk driving"
Cristin Milioti says she got four parking tickets her first week. And then, there was the DUI accusation. When she was flagged at a DUI checkpoint, she failed the sobriety tests -- but was saved by blowing a 0.0 on two breathalyzers.
FXX channel launches on Monday
FX's comedy spinoff debuts with a "Parks and Rec" marathon.
New book provides an oral history of '90s Nickelodeon
Read 10 fascinating facts from "Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age," due Sept. 24.
Showtime to air Jay-Z's "Made in America"
The Ron Howard-directed documentary covers last year's Made In America festival.
"Chicago PD" adds "The Killing's" Elias Koteas
He'll play an undercover detective.
Lindsay Lohan recalls working with Bill Cosby
Check her out in a 1995 Jello ad.
Book takes us "Inside the Food Network"
Allen Salkin's book even takes you inside Paula Deen's N-word controversy.
Watch the "Bones" Season 9 promo
here's your first glimpse of Freddie Prinze, Jr. as a CIA agent who shares a history with Booth.
Teresa Giudice asking for money for her legal defense fund
The "Real Housewives" star is getting desperate.
Check out "Haven's" comic book
The Syfy series is tiding over fans until Season 4.
Netflix fans should be grateful to cable
As Derek Thompson points out, "just about everything that you love about Netflix (its affordability, its variety, its ability to take risks) is made possible because of just about everything you hate about cable."
What happened to the high school students from MTV's 2008 "The Paper" reality show?
Did any of them end up going into journalism?
Why cable and satellite providers ask for your social security number
Even if you want to know prices, many providers these days ask for your SSN to avoid deadbeats.
Here are currently famous people you never knew were on "Friends"
From Craig Robinson to Jim Rash to Dakota Fanning and Kevin Rahm.
"Teen Mom" Farrah Abraham makes a home video in hopes of landing on "Days of Our Lives"
Watch her awkward audition.
Christopher Plummer gives his blessing to NBC "The Sound of Music" stars
"It was very close to the vampire life, I thought," he says of Stephen Moyer's casting as Captain Von Trapp.
Presenting past "SNL" writers who would've made great cast members
From Stephen Colbert to Larry David to Conan O'Brien.
Check out childhood TV stars as superheroes
LeVar Burton as Batman and Mr. Rogers as Superman.
Emilia Clarke remembers her favorite "Game of Thrones" Season 3 moments
Says Clarke: "One of the most exciting bits about filming Dany's storyline is I get to look at the final product and see if my imagination was right."
Wal-Mart gets the exclusive on Volume 2 of "The Walking Dead" soundtrack
The new CD dropped on Thursday.
"Doctor Who" comes out with a Mr. Potato Head doll
Based on the 11th doctor.
Connie Britton looks back at "Nashville" Season 1
What was her favorite moment?
Discovery explores "Secret Sex Lives: Swingers"
The four-part Discovery Fit & Health reality show, premiering Saturday, follows five couples who like to mix things up in the bedroom.
TELLURIDE, Colo. - All of town is abuzz today with the official revelation of two "sneak preview" screenings set for tonight: Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" and Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave." But everyone has been curious what the third would be, if indeed there would be a third.
Well, wonder no more as Deadline is reporting that Shane Salerno's documentary "Salinger" has grabbed a "surprise late entry" to the lineup. If true, it's an interesting turn of events, given how things were apparently supposed to shake out originally.
Call this season the Summer of Soul: the summer of 2013 produced some clear-cut, all-out jams that will be remembered years from now, and several of them have a soulful bent to them.
It's very telling that Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. And Pharrell Williams lived and thrived under the threat of a lawsuit from the Marvin Gaye estate: the throwback vibe of that cowbell and the singer's grooving falsetto rang some, erm, bells. (Thicke, if you'll remember, preemptively sued the Gaye estate to bar the action. So maybe "Blurred Lines" keeps its Grammy chances...)
Daft Punk's return with album "Random Access Memories" was marked by its retro action, and mega-single "Get Lucky" with Pharrell (and chops from Chic's Nile Rodgers) was the essence of the soul behind their robot masks. Avicii's "Wake Me Up" would be nothing without Aloe Blacc's stellar pipes on top of that stomp-clap. Mary Lambert's chorus on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" still sends sparkles up the spine, despite the song having been around for more than a year.
Justin Timberlake... oh, Justin, who is having such a big year with his "20/20 Experience." No songs from that album made our solstice review, but his meandering turn on Jay-Z's "Holy Grail" has a "preach" to it. And just blinking at Bruno Mars' "Treasure," it looks like it was culled straight out of "Soul Train."
Breaking up the old-school boogie were a few of bursts of dance-pop, coincidentally (or not!) from two former child actress. Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" and Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" were both invitations to what promised to be a pair of slightly sleazy parties. Ellie Goulding's melody on Calvin Harris' "I Need Your Love" provided a pristine combo from the EDM sector.
Like the MTV VMAs, rock wasn't repping very hard during the hottest months: tracks like Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" started roaring months beforehand. The closest our top 10 lists got to rockin' out were to country act Florida Georgia Line's ode to ogling "Cruise," Capital Cities' Passion Pit-esque "Safe and Sound" and that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" rip in "Holy Grail." (One Direction's "Best Song Ever" made a stab at the top tier, but aside from excitement from Directioners, limped toward the end of the end of its tenure in our memories.)
Below, HitFixers Melinda Newman, Dave Lewis, Chris Eggertsen and myself explain away our top 10 jams of 2013's Songs of the Summer, and ranked which ones were most representative. What made the songs work? Did we get burned out on them? Will we remember them in 10 years? Who is our No. 1 Song of the Summer?