Latest Blog Posts

<p>Claire Danes as Carrie in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Claire Danes as Carrie in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' season 3 trailer catches up with Carrie, Brody and Saul

Who has a new haircut? Who is sorry, and why?

Last week, I wrote about the "Homeland" panel at press tour, and about producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon's thoughts looking back on season 2 and ahead to season 3. Today, Showtime released a trailer for the new season (it's the same one critics were shown before that panel), scored to The Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A House." 

It gives you glimpses of what Carrie, Saul, Brody, Dana and others will look like this season, if not the exact context of where they are and what they're doing. If you don't want to know anything, obviously don't watch. The season premiere is on September 29 — aka TV Drama-geddon, a night that will also feature the "Breaking Bad' series finale, the "Masters of Sex" debut, "The Good Wife" premiere, a new "Boardwalk Empire," and more — at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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<p>Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in &quot;Strike Back.&quot;</p>

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in "Strike Back."

Credit: Cinemax

Review: Cinemax's 'Strike Back' returns, still ready for action

One of TV's most reliable pleasures is back with plenty of guns, ammo and angst

Some TV shows are rapidly evolving organisms. You come back for a new season to find new characters, a new workplace, maybe even a wildly different tone. That can be exciting — though if done wrong, it can strip away what the audience liked in the first place.

Some TV shows offer you roughly the same thing week after week, season after season. There's a danger in that, too, as stagnation can lead to boredom. But there are certain shows that do what they do so well that evolution seems to be beside the point. One of those is Cinemax's "Strike Back," which begins a new season tonight at 10, doing the same things it usually does(*), but with such a high level of execution and glee that I care not a whit about the formulaic nature of it all. A show that kicks this much ass doesn't especially need to stretch.

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Showtime unveils 'Homeland's' Season 3 trailer

Showtime unveils "Homeland's" Season 3 trailer

Watch the official trailer featuring brand-new footage.

A "Glee" musical is in the works
The Fox series is set to become a live stage musical.

Joy Behar says goodbye to "The View"

It was a star-studded one-hour pre-taped tribute today, with Regis Philbin, Tony Bennett, Joan Rivers, Meredith Vieira and an F-bomb.

Michael C. Hall, coming off "Six Feet Under," almost rejected "Dexter"

As he explains on next week's episode of "The Writer's Room," "My initial general response to the idea of It was aversion. I didn't want to make another open-ended commitment to a character surrounded by dead bodies."

Watch the alternate ending for "The Hills"

In which Brody says goodbye.

Katherine Heigl consulted on her CIA drama project with CIA officials

Heigl is also producing the proposed drama with her mother who also is her manager. The project, however, isn't being shopped to ABC. 

Bob Odenkirk judges crappy local lawyer ads

Watch him use his "Breaking Bad" Saul Goodman expertise.

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"Project Runway"

 "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway': Why is this the season of the meltdown?

Were these designers chosen for talent or for mental instability?

Last night's episode of "Project Runway" had a great deal going for it, didn't it? Jesse Tyler Ferguson! Bow ties! A trip to Mood! Some exceptional designs (Cam's and Bradon's come to mind) walked the runway! Alas, all of that was overshadowed by Sandro. Sandro, who'd seemed like a somewhat eccentric, mostly tasteless addition to the show (remember when he sent that model down the runway with her vajayjay showing? Oh, how we laughed!), proved himself to be less quirky fun than entirely unhinged.

Of course, this was reality TV gold, so the episode started with his meltdown, then returned to it at the end of the show so we could hear every bleep and, whenever possible, read lips to fill in the gaps. F word! S word! C word! Something Russian! Whoot!

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Jimmy Fallon reveals his daughter was born via surrogate

Jimmy Fallon reveals his daughter was born via surrogate

Fallon tells "Today" how he and his wife kept the news secret from everybody.

Switzerland apologizes to Oprah after accusing a Zurich shop of discriminating against her

Oprah says she was stunned when a posh Zurich store refused to show her a $38,000 bag.

Owner of Walter White's "Breaking Bad" home has seen a lot of tourists recently

"Last month we had 404 cars here that I saw," says Fran, who's owned the Albuquerque home since 1973. "We've met people from all over the world and it's been amazing." PLUS: Listen to Vince Gilligan chat with Jeff Garlin for more than 90 minutes, and Funny or Die does "Breaking Badge" with Girl Scouts.

Keith Olbermann returns to "SportsCenter" after 16 years
Watch his appearance, from New York.

Jon Voight is frustrated that "Ray Donovan" is blacked out on his cable system
Voight is a Time Warner customer.

Why is "Sharknado's" sequel title so lame?
Was Syfy trying to be funny with "Sharknado 2: The Next One"?

Watch CNN's Jake Tapper on "All My Children"
How did the former White House correspondent end up acting on a soap?

"Doctor Who's" Peter Capaldi announcement was watched by 1.5 million on 3 continents
BBC America attracted 895,000 viewers.

Matt Damon opts not to rescue a trapped Stephen Colbert

Colbert was stuck under a vending machine on last night's show.

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<p>Emma Thompson will almost certainly smile more on the LFF red carpet.</p>

Emma Thompson will almost certainly smile more on the LFF red carpet.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tom Hanks bookends London Film Festival, with 'Saving Mr. Banks' to close fest

Disney drama will have its European premiere there, so is NYFF first?

Two years ago, Rachel Weisz was the unofficial mascot of the London Film Festival, as "360" and "The Deep Blue Sea" opened and closed the fest, respectively. This year, Tom Hanks finds himself in that position, and this year's festival will be bookended by both his Oscar-buzzed prestige dramas. Paul Greengrass' thriller "Captain Phillips" was announced as the opening film last week; now John Lee Hancock's "Saving Mr. Banks," in which Hanks stars as Walt Disney opposite Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers, will close things out on October 20.

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<p>On &quot;Deadwood,&quot;&nbsp;Adams (Titus Welliver)&nbsp;gets a scolding from Al Swearengen (Ian McShane).</p>

On "Deadwood," Adams (Titus Welliver) gets a scolding from Al Swearengen (Ian McShane).

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 3, episode 10: 'A Constant Throb'

Al protects Alma, and in the process stretches Hearst's patience to its limit

For the third summer in a row, we're revisiting David Milch's classic revisionist HBO Western "Deadwood," this time discussing the third season.

While I once upon a time posted two separate reviews so people who hadn't watched the whole series would have a safe place to comment, almost no one bothered commenting on the newbie reviews last year, and they've been ditched. If you haven't finished the series, just avoid the comments of this review and you'll be fine.

Thoughts on episode 10, "A Constant Throb," coming up just as soon as I'm in command of the all-whore detachment...

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<p>Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in &quot;Philomena.&quot;</p>

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in "Philomena."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Judi Dench searches for her son (oh, and an Oscar) in the trailer for 'Philomena'

Stephen Frears' film will premiere in Competition at Venice

Judi Dench was a near-annual presence in the Oscar race for a time, though it's been seven years since she scored her last nomination (her sixth) for her remarkable work as an unhinged schoolteacher in "Notes on a Scandal." I maintain that she deserved the Oscar that year, but she had no chance against fellow British veteran Helen Mirren, who won Best Actress at Venice for her turn as QE2 in Stephen Frears' "The Queen" before bulldozing her way through the season. Which is funny, since that's pretty much the narrative Dench is seeking to emulate with her titular performance in Frears' latest, "Philomena." 

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<p>Sure, he looks like Clint Eastwood starring in the Mr.&nbsp;Rogers biopic, but Sharlto Copley is a true original in the work he's doing with Neill Blomkamp these days.</p>

Sure, he looks like Clint Eastwood starring in the Mr. Rogers biopic, but Sharlto Copley is a true original in the work he's doing with Neill Blomkamp these days.

Credit: HitFix

Sharlto Copley talks about how he builds his over the top character in Blomkamp's 'Elysium'

Copley seems happy to push things to the breaking point

When Sharlto Copley was shooting "The A-Team," there were rumors I heard several people repeat about dailies really upsetting some of the execs at Fox because they had no idea what they were looking at. Sharlto Copley's performance had them allegedly terrified and they weren't sure any of it would cut together. I don't really believe the exaggerated lengths that the stories then went on to describe, but I can imagine that the first time he made a film for someone besides Neill Blomkamp, it must have been a major attitude adjustment.

After all, he and Blomkamp are friends first, guys who share this particular world view, this perspective that is shaped by where they came from, and that absolutely affects how you work with someone. When Blomkamp talks to Alice Braga or Matt Damon, I'm sure he's good at conveying what it is he has in mind, but when he's directing "Sharl," as he calls him, that's a whole different level of communication.

I ran my interview the other day with Matt Damon where he was talking enthusiastically about working with Copley and about how amazing his work in "District 9" was from a performance point-of-view. I don't think I fully grasped how much character work he was doing in that film until I rewatched it recently. Now I can see all the little details, all the choices he made in building that character, and I can appreciate them in light of seeing how he approaches the mad dog soldier of fortune he's playing in "Elysium."

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<p>You will learn to name each one of these characters, and you will spend both time and money making sure every one of them is in your house in some way. Welcome to the world of 'Planes'</p>

You will learn to name each one of these characters, and you will spend both time and money making sure every one of them is in your house in some way. Welcome to the world of 'Planes'

Credit: Disney Toons

Review: Disney's 'Planes' offers up exactly what you think it will

Parents know exactly what they're getting into with this one

Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly posted a chat with John Lasseter about the way things are divided between the three different animation companies that all work now under the broader umbrella of "Disney." Walt Disney Feature Animation has always been the crown jewel for the studio, and many of the biggest landmarks in the company's history have been thanks to the efforts of WDFA. Pixar, which began as an independent studio, now operates with what seems to be some autonomy, but considering Lasseter is part of everything now, I'm not sure I see why they bother with the distinction. I'll be honest... what I think of as Pixar is really just a loose collection of very talented people who, when collaborating, represented one of the best story departments in the industry.

Then there's Disney Toons, and I would imagine the people working there must feel a bit like the red-headed stepchild, especially when the main message of the press materials so far has been "We started work on this as a direct-to-video quickie, but it looked nicer than we expected, so we decided to squeeze out a few bucks in the theater first."

Is that fair? Is that what you should carry in with you if you go to see "Planes"?

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10 would-be Oscar contenders that went nowhere

10 would-be Oscar contenders that went nowhere

With the season on the horizon, remember the lessons of these non-starters

As we steel ourselves for the season ahead with early lists of contenders and a harsh spotlight on unassuming films hoping to find an audience, let alone awards traction, it's worth remembering that the list of coulda-been players in a given Oscar season is long and considerable. And if I'm not making the point clear enough early on in that sentence, let me do so now: this is every bit the fault of analysts like me, as much as it is the films themselves, if not more.

Covering the awards season, we forecast, we look ahead, we see how things look on paper and we set sometimes unfortunate bars. Not every film is looking for that kind of exposure, and often enough, the inflated expectations of industry watchers get in the head of many a would-be player only to amplify the eventual disappointment of a dead end. That having been said, there are obviously many films that set their sights on the awards race with the right formula, or so they thought, only to come up empty-handed at the end of the day. We see them every year.

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<p>Robin&nbsp;Williams and Forest Whitaker in &quot;Lee Daniels'&nbsp;The Butler&quot;</p>

Robin Williams and Forest Whitaker in "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Will 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' be an awards season preface or just a puffy prelude?

Oprah Winfrey, if nothing else, would appear to have a great shot at recognition

Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman -- who some might call a noted Harvey Weinstein shill -- bloviated about "Lee Daniels' The Butler" under the cover of "Oscar observation" a few weeks ago but apparently no one else could. The embargo is up today so let's get into it. The question on this one is, will it be an awards player or will it just fade out before the season even gets here? A few thoughts...

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