Latest Blog Posts

<p>&nbsp;Andrea of &quot;Survivor: Caramoan&quot;</p>

 Andrea of "Survivor: Caramoan"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' - 'The Beginning of the End'

Two Tribal Councils shake things up
Pre-credit sequence. I miss Malcolm already. Will the tribe? It's night 30 and... TARSIER! "You and me, Eddie! Nothing's changed since Day 1," Reynold says. Without hesitation, Reynold tells everybody that he's capable of winning five Immunities in a row. Nobody disagrees. Eddie makes no such claims about his potential prowess. "Just keep going. Keeping rolling with the punches. You never know. Anything can happen in this game," Eddie says. Andrea is getting worried about Reynold and his power, but Cochran reassures her that the Fans have no power. He's ready to take out the remaining Fans. "I'll do it without remorse. I'll do it without any reservations," vows Cochran, who says he isn't the "Harvard Nerd" anymore. Tree-Mail says something about balance and it also teases that another Immunity Challenge is coming, immediately. No time for Reward, Dr. Jones! "This game never stops," Erik says. That's not fair, Erik. Has this game really started for you yet?
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<p>What no one realizes yet is that Paul&nbsp;Thomas Anderson and Joquin Phoenix have teamed up to shoot a top secret dark and gritty reboot called 'Popeye:&nbsp;Sailor Of The Night'</p>

What no one realizes yet is that Paul Thomas Anderson and Joquin Phoenix have teamed up to shoot a top secret dark and gritty reboot called 'Popeye: Sailor Of The Night'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson take 'Inherent Vice' to Warner Bros

Does a major studio pedigree mean this is a less personal film?

There are a number of outlets that I would argue do a good job covering the oh-so-broad world of entertainment, and I certainly hope HitFix is one of those sites. But for some writers, having a much more narrow focus allows them to do one thing very, very well, and a great example of that would be Red Vines & Cigarettes, a website devoted to the work of Paul Thomas Anderson.

It should surprise no one that the first firm word of what's going on with "Inherent Vice," the next film from the writer/director of "The Master," "There Will Be Blood," and "Boogie Nights," would come from this particular source, but the news itself is somewhat surprising, if only because it looks like a very different process for the filmmaker this time.

Anderson has always been independent-minded, even if he did make "Punch-Drunk Love" for Revolution and even if he had the support of New Line as they were trying to make the jump from mini-major to major-major. His first film, "Hard Eight," was something he put together himself, and on his last movie, he had Megan Ellison and the very deep pockets of her Anapurna Pictures to help him realize his vision.

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<p>&quot;The Americans&quot;&nbsp;star Matthew Rhys in one of his many wigs.</p>

"The Americans" star Matthew Rhys in one of his many wigs.

Credit: FX

'The Americans' producers on marriage, spycraft and the wigs of season 1

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields break down the FX drama's terrific first season

FX’s “The Americans” just concluded a superb debut season. I have a review of the finale here, and I interviewed executive producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields about the state of the Jennings marriage, the period, how production of the season was impacted by Hurricane Sandy and, of course, the wigs, all coming up just as soon as I ask if you like wallpaper...

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<p>Keri Russell as Elizabeth in &quot;The Americans.&quot;</p>

Keri Russell as Elizabeth in "The Americans."

Credit: FX

Season finale review: 'The Americans' - 'The Colonel'

The FBI plans a major bust and Philip and Elizabeth disagree on a big assignment

"The Americans" just concluded its first season. I interviewed producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields about season 1, and I have a review of the finale coming up just as soon as I have to fill out a form with 27 sections...

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<p>Harry Connick Jr. served as mentor to the &quot;American Idol&quot;&nbsp;top 4 women.</p>

Harry Connick Jr. served as mentor to the "American Idol" top 4 women.

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Top 4, take two: Now and Then

What will Amber, Kree, Angie and Candice sing with the help of Harry Connick Jr.?

Hey all, as you can tell by the byline above, Dan's not around tonight. Due to unforeseen circumstances, tonight's "American Idol" recapping duties have been handed to me — who hasn't watched an episode of the show since early in the Scotty McCreery season, but who used to write about it regularly on my old blog — and what better time for me to jump into a new season, with a new judging panel, than with the top 4? My apologies; this is Dan's world and I'm just lamely filling in.

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Michael Raymond-James in "Once Upon A Time"

 Michael Raymond-James in "Once Upon A Time"

Credit: ABC

Michael Raymond-James talks 'Once Upon A Time' finale, Kerouac

The actor reveals who 'moved the furniture around in his brain'

As Neal Cassady on "Once Upon A Time," Michael Raymond-James is a charming ne'er-do-well turned caring dad who seems to be right on the verge of rekindling the flame with Emma (Jennifer Morrison), the mother of his son -- that is, until the evil Tamara makes her presence known in Storybrooke. However, romance is the least of anyone's worries for the next few weeks.

With the season finale looming on May 12, Neal (or at least his youthful self, better known by his given name of Baelfire) can expect some excitement; next week the storyline takes Bae from fairytale land to Victorian London, where he meets the Darlings (whom you might remember from a little story about Peter Pan).  I spoke briefly to Raymond-James about what's coming up in the coming weeks, whether his character's name suggests a future Kerouac crossover and whether he's seen the Tumblr site that's all about him.  [Also, fans of the show who'd like to see an extended preview of the next episode can find it here

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<p>Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Austin Psych Fest</p>

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Austin Psych Fest

Credit: Austin Psych Fest

Listen to the 10 best live bands from Austin Psych Fest

A review of the small Texas rock fest, with a look at BRMC, Moving Sidewalks and more

I think of music festivals in terms of high school, or summer camp. Lollapalooza, Coachella and the ilk may host tens and hundreds of thousands of attendees, of varying ages and actual interest in music, but some social mechanics are all still there: what you do when you're bored, the indiscriminant judgement of character on the most petty of outward appearances, the laws of attraction, clique strata and Art School Kids.

Austin Psych Fest, hosted this past weekend at Carson Creek Ranch in Austin's outskirts, hosted fewer than 5,000  people -- about the size of a large high school. Despite having three large stage areas with attendance hardly near cap, it felt snug yet inviting, with hammocks dangling from the trees, the Texas capitols' affinity for food trucks representing, and a satisfying range of what qualifies as "psych" music.

A round of rain hardly elevated festivities from "appropriately groovy" to "post-adolescent mud-hippie batsh*t" and the crowd stayed cool, even polite, and thoroughly committed to the music lineup of this sixth annual fest. (Though, this doesn't mean it didn't make for great people watching. The gorgeous Elevation Amphitheater, with its various tiers leading down to the green creek's edge, may as well have been called the Football Stadium Bleachers. The blissfully short bathroom lines were a veritable Fashion Avenue.)

But for programming with such a genre-leading tilt, the lineup was definitely above average, delivering  long-jams, space rock, stoner punk, experimental electronica, psychedelic blues, acid, prog and world. Immaculate Noise favorites like Black Angels, Os Mutantes and Goat introduced their excellent new albums with varying degrees of success (great, cheesy, trainwreck-in-slow-motion, respectively). The fest's variety is its strength, even though sticking largely to rock. The majestic tunics on Tinariwen contrasted with the goobery costumes of King Khan & BBQ Show; Man Or Astroman's hilarious banter was near-opposite of solid shoegazers No Joy, whose stage presence lived up to its name; Masaki Batoh's fascinating Brain Pulse Music improvisations were as affecting as Boris' well-practiced deep-space drones.

I wasn't wild on headliners Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's one-noting and reunited Moving Sidewalks' drummer artlessly plodding over rock hero Billy Gibbons. The phoniness of Island Records signees Deap Vally wrecked a perfectly good Sunday afternoon slot. And It doesn't cease to amaze me that Vietnam is still a band that gets booked. And of course, you could crack the jibe that there were five bands with the word "Black" in their name, one "Wolf" band, one "Deer" band, and several with death, the dead, the dying and drugs. But what was overwhelmingly good-feeling was the diversity in performers, especially with the heartening number of bands with women in them, averaging out better than your Coachellas and Bonnaroos.

Below I outline some of my favorite live performers from the 2013 Austin Psych Fest, or as I'll call it, Psych Fest High School. Included are Tinariwen, King Khan & BBQ Show, Acid Mothers Temple, Suuns, Man Or Astroman?, Spectrum, Indian Jewelry, The Saint James Society, Tjutjuna and Dead Skeletons.

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Watch: Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu come to life in new video for 'Q.U.E.E.N'
Credit: Bad Boy Records

Watch: Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu come to life in new video for 'Q.U.E.E.N'

Clip continues her black and white motif

Janelle Monae continues her black and white motif with the video for “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring the Erykah Badu.

The  Alan Ferguson-directed video starts with Monae as a time-traveling rebel, who has reduced to an exhibit in a museum, as a relic. She was captured for launching Project Q.U.E.E.N., “a musical weapons program in the 21st century” that trafficked in, among other things, “emotion pictures.”  Badoula Oblongata, aka Badu, is similarly frozen in time.

A museum goer puts a vinyl version of “Q.U.E.E.N” on the coolest turntable you’ll ever see and Monae and her band and dancers come alive.

Badu and her poodle and her changing wigs show up for her part about four minutes in, but the clip belongs to Monae, who ends it solo on camera delivering her minute-long rap.

It is a gorgeously-shot, stylish video, shot against a white background, that focuses on Monae’s charisma. Few artists are as compelling to watch on screen.

"Q.U.E.E.N" is the first single from Monae's forthcoming album, "The Electric Lady." 

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<p>Let's be honest... if an audience is coming to a 'Transformers' movie, this is why.</p>

Let's be honest... if an audience is coming to a 'Transformers' movie, this is why.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Kelsey Grammer joins the human cast for Michael Bay's 'Transformers 4'

Does it really matter who's in the movie, though?

I'm curious… does anyone think it actually matters what human cast they put together for a "Transformers" movie at this point?

After all, even though I gave the last film a positive review, that was for the Bayhem and the hour-long siege in Chicago, which I still think is a dazzling extended bit of action filmmaking. Everything that is wrong with the "Transformers" series can be traced to every scene in the films that does not involve giant robots bashing the hell out of one another.

You can't blame them, really. The first film told a small-scale and somewhat charming variation on a "boy and his car" story, a coming-of-age piece that also happened to involve giant extraterrestrial shape-shifters. Each of the sequels has added an unnecessary sense of bloat to the proceedings, though, and even as they've gotten more bizarre, they've grossed more and more money. It's become harder to sit through long stretches of "character comedy" that is often filled with some of the strangest choices you'll ever see in a mainstream blockbuster.

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Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Pink makes it 3 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100

Icona Pop finally makes it into the Top 10

Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason” makes it three weeks at No. 1. The tune, featuring fun.’s Nate Ruess, does the seemingly impossible by remaining in the top spot while not leading any of the three components that make up the chart: radio play, streaming songs, and digital sales.

That means that “Just Give Me A Reason” will probably be knocked off the  top next week by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us,” which holds at No. 2 in the closest race between No. 1 and No. 2 in six months, according to Billboard.

Rihanna’s “Stay,” featuring Mikky Ekko, climbs 6-3, pushing Macklemore & Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” down to No. 4.  Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” rises 7-5.

The bottom half of the Top 10, Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” drops 4-6, Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” featuring Jay-Z, rises 8-7, Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment,” featuring Christina Aguilera climbs 9-8. Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” featuring Charli XCX, which has been around for months now, finally makes it to the Top 10 as it climbs 13-9. Just as “I Love It” makes it into the elite Top 10, Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” returns to top the top 10, rising 12-10.

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<p>Wolverine pretty much is a swordfight all by himself, so the Silver Samurai is almost redundant here.</p>

Wolverine pretty much is a swordfight all by himself, so the Silver Samurai is almost redundant here.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Singer tweets Jackman sneak for 'X-Men' as 'Wolverine' CinemaCon trailer leaks

Two different looks ahead at Fox's busiest mutant in action

At this point, I'll bet even Hugh Jackman is wondering just how much Wolverine is too much Wolverine.

Right now, they aren't even done with "The Wolverine," the Japan-set stand-alone film by James Mangold that's coming out in July, and Hugh Jackman is already doing wardrobe tests for the about-to-start-shooting "X-Men: Days Of Future Past."

Bryan Singer, returning to the world of "X-Men" for the first time since he left Fox in turmoil so he could go direct "Superman Returns," seems to be enjoying every single part of the pre-production process, and he's being fairly open with imagery via his Twitter account. I ran a photo last week that he sent out from Storm's wardrobe test, showing off Halle Berry's new look, and yesterday, he had a little fun with the way fandom is freaking out over every little thing he releases by putting out the first image of Wolverine from "DOFP."

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<p>Julia Louis-Dreyfus in &quot;Veep.&quot;</p>

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep."

Credit: HBO

HBO renews 'Veep' for season 3

Julia Louis-Dreyfus political comedy in midst of second season right now

HBO has renewed "Veep" for a third season. The political comedy, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and created by Armando Iannucci, is three episodes into its second season, airing Sundays at 10 after "Game of Thrones."

I never got a chance to do an advance review of "Veep" season 2, though Fienberg and I discussed it at length on the podcast. I had liked but not loved the first season, and even though Iannucci made several obvious and welcome tweaks for season 2 — making Selina more relevant to the presidential administration, bringing in ace guest stars like Gary Cole and Kevin Dunn — I actually found myself laughing less frequently at the new episodes than the old ones. (And Cole has, so far, been a total bust, which didn't seem possible when I heard he'd be appearing this year.) But I'm glad it's continuing, if only because I enjoy hearing these fine actors wrap their tongues around Iannucci's clever, creatively profane dialogue.

I know some other critics feel this season's been stronger than the first, so I'm curious what all of you who are watching think. Is "Veep" better, worse, or the same as it was last year? 

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