And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
We're past Labor Day, which means the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast is about to get very busy again as we start talking about fall premieres. On this week's show, Dan and I discuss the return of Luther to BBC America and "Boardwalk Empire" to HBO, the new "American Idol" judging panel, the FX spin-off network FXX and the latest "Breaking Bad." We also announce our final pilot rewatch of the summer.
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
Early tomorrow afternoon, I'll be on a plane on my way to Toronto for Toronto International Film Festival, the fifth time since joining HitFix. One of the things I love most about this job is being able to attend festivals I've been hearing about and reading about for years, and one of the festivals I love most is the one that happens in the first part of September each year.
Sundance is all about the weather. South By Southwest is all about the crowds. Cannes is all about the mystique. Fantastic Fest is all about the social side of being a film fan. And then there's Toronto… and honestly, for me, Toronto is the one that is all about the movies. So many movies. Hundreds more than anyone could even begin to see in the nine days that the festival runs.
It's easy for me to forget that Toronto also has an international film market that is part of the festival. At Cannes, the commerce is right up front, and you can't visit the festival without taking at least one stroll around the insane carnival atmosphere of the marketplace. I have never even considered attending the one at Toronto, but I may see just how far my press badge will let me go in trying to catch a glimpse when Jon Stewart shows footage to international buyers for the first time.
Justin Bieber has yet another concert documentary on the way, as it was announced over the weekend that new "Believe" will be shopped during the Toronto Film Festival later this month.
"Believe" -- titled after Bieber's platinum-selling album -- will be released by Open Road Films, on the heels of highly successful "Never Say Never" documentary from 2011. Director Jon M. Chu, who also shot "Never Say Never" will helm "Believe."
Below, three HitFix entertainment experts Melinda Newman, Gregory Ellwood and Katie Hasty sound off on three questions on Bieber and the doc. Will you be seeing "Believe" when it hits theaters? Sound off by voting in the poll below.
1. Is there still an audience for a Justin Bieber concert doc?
Melinda Newman: Absolutely. The Biebs has 44 million Twitter followers, more than any other creature in the Twitterverse. Even if only a tiny portion of the Beliebers show up for opening weekend, “Believe” will be a success. They haven't all switched their loyalties to One Direction. His 2010 doc, “Never Say Never,” just missed joining the $100 million club. Bieber’s appeal has waned, but his 15 minutes aren’t over yet. The bigger question is how will this doc advance the story from “Never Said Never” since the same director, Jon M. Chu, seems to be tracing much of the same territory in the concert/behind-the-scenes doc.
Gregory Ellwood: Depending on the budget, maybe? It's notable Paramount, who produced "Never Say Never," is not behind "Believe." Sure, they were burned with the "Katy Perry 3D: Part of Me," but "Never Say Never" made $73 million. Why wouldn't they jump at the chance for a sequel? Instead, mini-major Open Road will release in the U.S. Not a major studio, but Open Road. The industry and Bieber fans should have much lower expectations this time around.
Katie Hasty: Yes. There are still so many fans who want to see Justin Bieber graduate from teen idol to grown-up pop star, and this concert doc may be the message and the vantage point they’ll happily push, even if it’s the last time. During this “Believe” tour and promoting his album, Bieber tried very (very) hard to showcase the kind of dancer he can be, jumped behind different instruments and guested with a variety of artists who could amplify his talents as a star any pop lover could embrace. Fans would rather have a new album, but as a performer, this doc could be an easy stop-gap measure. Y’know, like an acoustic album.
2. Is this part of a concentrated effort to deal with Bieber backlash?
Newman: No doubt, but it’s a misguided one. Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, believes there’s a “witch hunt” going on against Bieber. That notion seems a bit reductive and paranoid: There have always been backlashes to teen idols and their haircuts and Bieber is no exception, but it’s hard to believe that people are actually gunning for the young star. Still, there’s no denying that Bieber’s star seems to have dimmed lately, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because he’s between album cycles or his era is coming to an end. The bigger point is that films of this kind are for the die-hard fans— they aren’t meant to make new converts— so with the “Believe” tour having recently concluded (and grossing $94 million, by the way), there was probably no shortage of footage to get out there and to help build the story for the next album, and chapter, of Bieber’s career.
Ellwood: Absolutely. And it's way to obvious a move. Bieber is on the verge of entering Chris Brown territory with the gossip rags. He can't escape controversy and unlike contemporaries Miley Cyrus, Demi Lomato and ex Selena Gomez his fan base may be starting to lose interest. An artist controlled "documentary" will allow Bieber and his management to try and refocus his image on his music and not his personal life. At this point, however, it may just be too late.
Hasty: Totally. Bieber, a 19-year-old, has gotten guff for essentially acting like a 19-year-old kid. Which, let’s be honest, is still fairly insufferable and threatens to worsen with each Grammy snub, each tabloid headline and each paparazzi scuffle. The best revenge is living well, and in Bieber’s case, performing well: if he shows up in his film and at premieres like a professional who keeps his nose clean, it could help his imaging as he transitions into his 20-somethings.
3. Two years ago many were saying that Bieber would be around for the long run. Do you still believe that?
Newman: No, simply because the shelf life for any teen idol is depressingly short and we can count on two hands those who have made the transition to adult artist (including Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson). It’s hard to tell if his latest antics have simply been growing pains or if he’s committing self sabotage and he's ready to move on. Regardless, Braun keeps referring to Bieber’s next song cycle as “music journal” and that the release plan will be different than for a traditional album. Much more than how the new project is delivered, the music for the next album will show whether there is a game plan beyond teen idol for the 19-year old Bieber.
Ellwood: Looking like a "no." Bieber may have had some crossover success with "Boyfriend" and "Beauty and the Beat" (meaning: people over 18 bought it or thought it was cool enough to dance to), but 2013 has been a PR disaster. Oh, and did we mention the "Believe" album sold less than his Christmas album the year before? If he can't dominate the charts like he did previously, the fall may come very, very fast.
Hasty: Justin Bieber needs to tread lightly. It won’t be his talent that holds him back, but his responses to criticism and to fame. People aren’t sending your singles to No. 1? Make a better single. Haters booing you at an awards show? Thank your fans and win the rest over at a later date. You’re getting wasted on your weekends and racing your car? Don’t let people see you, and dial it back. Fame means giving up on a childhood or burning out on the thing that brought fame to begin with. Bieber can play the long game if he earns it beyond having a couple of hit records when he had every privilege as a youngster, the new kid, dance chops and a pretty face.
"Under the Dome's" ratings grow after blackout ends
The CBS drama saw a four-week high last night, the first since the end of the CBS-Time Warner dispute.
Philadelphia Phillies star Chase Utley answers Mac's "It's Always Sunny" letter -- 4 years later
"From a Philadelphia youngster named Mac."
Jimmy Fallon tonight unveils his brand-new "Late Night" studio, which looks like the old one
"Late Night" re-created Fallon's studio across the hall -- in the studio previously occupied by Conan and Letterman's "Late Night" -- so that Fallon's old studio could be expanded for when he launches "The Tonight Show."
Miley Cyrus says her controversial VMAs performance made history
"Madonna's done it," she says. "Britney's done it. Every VMA performance, that's what you're looking for; you're wanting to make history."
CBS goes black and white to mark the 50th anniversary of the 30-minute nightly newscast
The "CBS Evening News" shift from 15 to 30 minutes led to all the network newscasts expanding to 30 minutes.
Matt Damon & Michael Douglas will present together at the Emmys
The "Behind The Candelabra" co-stars are the first presenters named.
PaleyFest spins off a New York edition for NYC shows
The Oct. 2 - 6 event will include shows like "Boardwalk Empire," "Orange is the New Black" and "The Americans."
Rachel Zoe is pregnant again
The Bravo star confirms she's expecting her 2nd child.
"Idol" confirms Harry Connick Jr. and J.Lo as judges, Randy Jackson as mentor
Fox is hailing the Season 13 cast as its "Dream Team."
LeBron James developing a comedy for Starz
The NBA superstar is teaming with Mike O'Malley on "Survivor's Remorse," which follows two cousins who find success after making it out of Philly's toughest neighborhood.
Katie Couric gets engaged
Couric is set to wed her boyfriend of two years, banker John Molner.
Last spring, a snippet of M.I.A.’s new single, “Come Walk With Me” leaked, but the teaser last week revealed a reworked tune and the full version, released today, turns out to be a pop song that morphs into a psychedelic banger back to pop song and back to banger again. In other words, it’s the perfect tune to wake you up and get you ready for the short work week after the three-day holiday.
It’s a deceptively sweet song: things seem all rosy as she sings “Can I be your best friend? Can I make it to the end,” until she innocently throws in, “It’s cool, it’s takes two, so I’m gonna still fu** with you.” She also threatens that "there are a thousand ways to track you down." Stalk much? You can’t turn your back on this one for a minute.
“Come Walk With Me” is from “Matangi,” which will come out Nov. 5 (the same day as Eminem’s “MMLP2”), and is a reference to M.I.A.’s birth name, Mathangi, and the Hindu goddess of music. As you may recall, “Matangi” has been pushed back a few times this year because, of all things, M.I.A. claimed that Interscope found it too “positive” and wanted her to make it darker. I guess that’s where the “f*ck with you" comes in.
M.I.A. previously released "Bring The Noize" from "Matangi."
VENICE - I want to sit with Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin" for a while longer before writing about it at length: the film's hard surfaces are so immaculate, belying the powerful, frayed-nerve story of multiple forms of bodily invasion that nestles inside, that I may take in a second screening at Venice before trying to crack them. This much is immediately apparent: it's the riskiest, most extravagantly sensual and image-fuelled film in Competition at Venice. Naturally, a handful of dolts booed it at this morning's press screening. What else is new?
TELLURIDE, Colo. - The 40th annual Telluride Film Festival has come to a close, unofficially launching the Oscar season and wrapping up another wonderfully curated program that continues to be one of my most anticipated journeys each year.
Neko Case’s follow-up to “Middle Cyclone,” finds her in a far more personal mood. On that 2009 album, she explored forces of nature. On “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You,” Case tackles something much harder to wrangle: her own life.
Case wrote and recorded “The Worse Things Get” during a time of great turmoil: her grandmother, whom she was close to, and both her parents, whom she was not, died and she plunged into a depression. Much of the tunes carry a sense of tumult, a near fruitless attempt at making sense amid the chaos. Buoyed by her crystalline vocals, the songs transcend the maudlin to become something much more interesting: a look at the life force that surges through us even as we may feel we’re getting pulled under. Or, as she confesses in “Where Did I Leave That Fire, “I wanted to badly not to be me.”
The album’s most arresting track is “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” an a capella song that recounts Case seeing a mother yell at her child at a bus stop. Case not only wants to tell the child that she loves him/her (the child’s gender is never revealed), but that she witnessed the horror as the child will remember it, it really happened, and to never lose his/her voice. Given Case’s own very troubled relationship with her parents, it’s easy to imagine that she’s wishing someone had done that for her. (Parents come up again in opening track “Wild Creatures,” as she laments “There’s no mother’s hands to quiet me.”)
There’s an aloneness, and in many ways, a sense of isolation, that pervades the album, making the lone cover here, Nico’s “Afraid,” a perfect fit. Case’s take on the tune is spare and haunting. “You’re beautiful and you’re alone,” Case sings as if it’s a haunting curse, as she finds herself in her 40s and single and childless.
Despite its “every woman is an island” feel, “The Worse Things Get” is far from a downer of a set (well, at least not totally). First single “Man,” featuring M. Ward is a gender bending propulsive rocker about Case being a woman in a man’s world. Gender roles come up again in “Night Still Comes,” as she asks “Did you poison my food? Is it because I’m a girl? if I puked up some sonnets would me a ‘miracle?,” and on “I’m From Nowhere.”
In addition to M. Ward, Case is joined by a phalanx of like-minded, indie-rock oriented compatriots, including her New Pornographers band mate A.C. Newman, Howe Gelb, members of My Morning Jacket, Los Lobos and Visqueen.
There’s a sense that the darkness is lifting on closing track, “Ragtime” (Case has said that ragtime was the only music that pulled her out of the abyss during her depression). It’s a shaky ground she finds herself on as “The Worse Things Get” comes to its conclusion, but there is the feeling that rock bottom is in her rear view mirror.
It's such a pleasure to watch Idris Elba periodically return to television as British cop John Luther that it can be easy to ignore for a moment what a mess "Luther" the show is around him.