<p>Spencer of &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot;</p>

Spencer of "Survivor: Cagayan"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Spencer Bledsoe talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

'Survivor' superfan is frank about his failings and what surprised him about the game

[Prelude: This was a nutty, chaotic week and I really wasn't able to get on top of my seven "Amazing Race: All-Stars" and "Survivor: Cagayan" exit interviews. Apologies for the slowness, but it means a little extra content over the holiday weekend and whatnot. Starting tonight, I'll post my four "Survivor: Cagayan" exit interviews, one per day (give or take) starting with the season's fourth place finisher. Then I'll get to the three "Amazing Race: All-Stars" exit interviews, by which time you'll hopefully have forgotten how awful the finale was. Again, though, sorry for the delay.]

My first two "Survivor: Cagayan" finale exit interviews could hardly be more different.

Up first is Spencer Bledsoe, who made a disadvantageous alliance at the beginning with Garrett, an alliance that nearly led to his snuffing from the notoriously weak Brains tribe. Spencer came close to being in a power position after the Merge, but Kass' abrupt flip-flop had him scurrying for several weeks. Only a string of Immunity wins, aggressive scrambling and Tony's paranoia kept him from going home, but a tight Immunity loss to Kass at Final 4 ended his run.

In some cases finishing fourth is a disappointment, but given Spencer's early position, such a long run was so impressive that he earned a vocal apology and a sealed letter of apology from "Survivor" host Jeff Probst, who underestimated him initially.

Reflecting on his experience, super-fan Spencer is humble, introspective and self-deprecating, which runs counter to the Spencer we met at the start of the season. He's quick to point out his strategic flaws and fast to credit the season's winner, Tony, who he says he would have voted for over himself, had he somehow been both on the Jury and in the Final 2. 

The next exit interview, posting tomorrow, is with Kass. Her hindsight perspective is a bit different.

Click through for my Q&A with Spencer, who candidly handicaps his Jury prospects had he made the Final 2 and explains the speech he made in Tony's favor at Final Tribal... 

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Sharlto Copley says Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie' will be 'massively unique'

Sharlto Copley says Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie' will be 'massively unique'

How much of the 'Maleficent' star will be in his robot character?

Sharlto Copley is a quirky and flawed King Stefan in Disney's upcoming "Maleficent" and when I sat down with him this week, he was very excited to talk about his character-actor approach to that role. 

He was also quite pleased to tease his latest collaboration with "District 9" and "Elysium" helmer Neill Blomkamp on the very peculiar-sounding (and deceptively titled) new sci-fi film "Chappie."

In "Chappie," currently set for a March 2015 release, Copley plays the title character, who gets kidnapped and raised by a pair of criminals. The catch is that Chappie is a robot with artificial intelligence.

Copley is primarily a voice in "Chappie," which he says will be "massively unique," but he also explains how the animators worked with him to create his character.

Check out that chunk of the interview above.

And stay tuned for next week when I'll post my full interviews with Copley, Elle Fanning and other key "Maleficent" figures (no, not Angelina Jolie, alas).

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<p>&quot;Last Comic Standing&quot; host JB Smoove</p>

"Last Comic Standing" host JB Smoove

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Last Comic' return leads NBC Thursday, 'Gang Related' generates little heat

The CW gets OK numbers for 'Labyrinth'

Fast National ratings for Thursday, May 22, 2014.

On the first day of TV's Summer of 2014, a "Big Bang Theory" repeat helped CBS rule Thursday overall, but NBC won among young viewers with a solid return for "Last Comic Standing."

Without originals as lead-ins, ABC's "Black Box" and CBS' "Bad Teacher" both fizzled and even with a solid "Hell's Kitchen" as a lead-in, FOX's new drama "Gang Related" failed to stir up any heat. 

Thursday also saw an OK debut for The CW's "Labyrinth," as the four-hour miniseries launched to basically "Reign"-esque ratings.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Blended</p>

Blended

Credit: Warner Bros.

Movie Review: 'Blended' isn't Adam Sandler's worst subsidized vacation

HitFix
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Drew Barrymore and the young actresses add a little sweetness

You know those real estate scams where you're offered a free vacation if you just sit through a time-share presentation and that time-share presentation seems never-ending, because even if it's just two hours, what you really wanted was a free vacation?

For Adam Sandler, filmmaking is like that time-share presentation. 

All the guy wants is to get major motion picture studios to subsidize his vacations. Is that so wrong? If Sony or Warner Brothers said to you, "How would you like an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii or Africa or a secluded lake? And all you have to do is deliver a movie and nobody on our side will even ask to see a script or bother looking at the final cut," what would you say? You'd accept the deal. Don't deny it. 

It's obvious that Sandler and his partners-in-vacation-loving-crime don't especially enjoy the quid pro quo required for their global galavanting, but like that monotonous time-share presentation, a mid-range budgeted theatrical comedy is the price they have to pay for a situation I assume is luxurious.

Trust me, if Sandler could get vacations in exchange for an Allen Covert-centric features, he'd do nothing but produce. Unfortunately, a sequel to "Grandma's Boy" isn't getting you even as far as Shreveport. 

In the name of a comped holiday, Sandler has meandered through offerings that range from mediocre-but-unsettling (the amnesiac romance of "50 First Dates" creeps me out) to downright cinematic crimes ("Grown Ups," "Grown Ups 2," that thing with Brooklyn Decker). 

That's a preamble to my warning that I sat down for "Blended," a temporary impediment to Sandler and Drew Barrymore enjoying a vacation in South Africa, with trepidation, having already cringed through the trailers on the behalf of the absurdly talented Terry Crews, seemingly clowning his way through a stereotypical African musical act that probably should have been dubbed Ladysmith Black ManBozo. [Thanks to Twitter follower @EstherK for recognizing "ManBozo" was funnier in this context than just "MamBozo." If either is funny, I mean.] 

You say "pre-judging." I say "citing ample precedent." But at this point, nobody goes into Adam Sandler movies a blank slate. You either dread every low-brow comedy and wish for "Punch-Drunk Love II," or you're willing to forgive nearly anything in perpetuity because "Billy Madison," "The Wedding Singer" and "The Waterboy" were all hella funny back in the day.

You need to know the context and the perspective so that you know how many grains of salt to take this with: 

"Blended" is far from the worst movie to come out of a studio-subsidized Adam Sandler vacation. 

In fact, I'd wager that there's a serviceably so-so movie hiding within the flabby bloat of the 117 minute "Blended" running time. With a better director and a more discerning editor, "Blended" might have been trimmed and reshaped into a 90-minute family dramedy that still might have allowed for a couple shots of humping rhinos and for two or three iterations of a gag in which a mother whacks her sleeping son's head against a wall or a door. As it stands, "Blended" is a woefully unfunny movie, but almost despite itself, there are moments of fleeting human emotion, delivered largely by Barrymore and young co-stars Emma Furmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind. 

By the end, I wouldn't say that I was especially moved by "Blended," but I respected its mawkish aspirations more than its attempts at predictable family-style bawdiness. 

More after the break...

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 231

Dan and Alan discuss talk 'Americans,' 'Good Wife,' 'Review' and 'Mad Men'

The

Happy Thursday, Boys & Girls! Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

On Tuesday's video show, we reviewed "The Normal Heart," "Gang Related" and "The Night Shift," so that's where that coverage is.

In this podcast, we cover finales for "The Good Wife" and "The Americans," discuss Sunday's "Mad Men" and, since I binged it last Friday, we talked about the first season of Comedy Central's "Review," which is available to watch in its entirety on Hulu or the Comedy Central ap.

Busy busy!

And, again, we're not sure when we're podcasting next week, but it'll happen at some point! 

Today's breakdown:
"Review" (00:01:05 - 00:11:20)
"The Good Wife" finale (00:11:55 - 00:26:30)
"The Americans" finale (00:27:20 - 00:43:20)
Listener Mail - TV show ownership (00:43:30 - 00:49:05)
Listener Mail - "Mad Men" comparisons (00:49:10 - 00:56:55)
Sunday's "Mad Men" (00:56:55 - 01:15:20)

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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 

 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

 

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<p>&quot;American Idol&quot; winner Caleb Johnson</p>

"American Idol" winner Caleb Johnson

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'American Idol' goes out strong as FOX wins season-closing Wednesday

'Modern Family' finale wins the key demo and 'Survivor' is also steady

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

A rough season for "American Idol" ended on a high note for FOX as the finale for the singing competition drew the show's biggest audience in months and, for the first time in many weeks, beat "Survivor," as the network closed the 2013-14 season with Wednesday wins in all measures.

Sure, it was the lowest-rating "American Idol" finale ever, but it still must have relieved FOX to see that "Idol" was capable of ticking back over 10 million viewers and above a 2.5 in the key demo. It was also, percentage-wise, a much larger finale bump than any of the spring's other competition shows.

[Note, of course, that "Idol" ran six-ish minutes into the 10 p.m. hour, so these won't be the averages for the full "Idol" block, but since the results were read pretty promptly at 10, there's unlikely to be a big change. Of course, "Idol" and "Survivor" were neck-and-neck in the key demo, so it's entirely possible that "Survivor" might inch back ahead in Finals. Or not!]

There were other notables on Wednesday with "Modern Family" also getting a big bump for its wedding-centric finale, though the "Mixology"finale and "Motive" premiere were less impressive. NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" finale got a small finale, though the "Chicago PD" closer was pretty flat. And, without "Arrow" as a lead-in, The CW's "The 100" was down in all measures.

On to the numbers...

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<p>&quot;Gang Related&quot;</p>

"Gang Related"

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'Gang Related' showrunner Scott Rosenbaum on antiheroes, 'Shield' comparisons and more

How is the drama more 'Godfather II' than 'The Departed'?

I didn't have time to write a review, but if you've watched this week's Firewall & Iceberg video show, you know I like FOX's "Gang Related."

"Gang Related" comes on strong with a confidence that you don't expect to see from a show premiering a week after the network upfront season. The pilot, written by Chris Morgan and directed by Allen Hughes, is brash, explosive and features a strong cast ably chewing scenery. It is, in short, like a summer movie only on TV.

As often happens with the transition from pilots to series, subsequent episodes maybe don't have quite the same scale, but they still offer tight pacing, terrific use of LA locations and an interestingly twisty narrative focusing on Ryan Lopez (Ramon Rodriguez), a cop torn between his gang task force and the gang family (fronted by Cliff Curtis' Javier Acosta) that raised him. 

With most of Morgan's credits coming from the big screen, FOX brought in Scott Rosenbaum as showrunner for "Gang Related." While Rosenbaum's more recent credits include "Chuck" and ABC's "V" reboot, when he comes on-board an LA-set cop drama, it's immediately going to raise questions about one thing and one thing only: A little FX drama called "The Shield." The Shawn Ryan-created Emmy winner is one of the genre's pinnacles and Rosenbaum was there from the beginning, rising to the rank of EP and standing with Ryan, Glenn Mazzara, Kurt Sutter and Scott Brazil in the show's creative core.

I got on the phone last week for a lengthy conversation with Rosenbaum about his work on "Gang Related" and, naturally, "The Shield" was where I started and it comes up a lot. But "Gang Related" isn't "The Shield" and it doesn't do much good to compare the two shows, so Rosenbaum discusses many of the other things he tried to explore in his new gig. We discussed the challenges of making a good anti-hero in a post-Vic Mackey/Walter White world, the difficulties of making a network show without any chance for feedback and the advice he got from Kurt Sutter about reading reviews. He also explains FOX's expectations for "Gang Related" given that a 2014-2015 schedule was already announced without "Gang Related" being mentioned.

Click through for the full Q&A. And check out "Gang Related" on Thursday night...

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<p>The &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot; Top 4</p>

The "Survivor: Cagayan" Top 4

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Cagayan' Finale - 'It's Do Or Die'

Spencer, Tony, Woo and Kass go head to head and somebody won

Pre-credit warning. I'm going to ignore these live segments, if you don't mind. This recap is already going to be horribly long if I cover the two-hour episode. At least I get to fast-forward through the lengthy season-long recap.

Also, this recap is so darned long that I had to paginate it. I won't be insulted if you just skip to Page 3 for the results and my Bottom Lines...

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<p>Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson of &quot;American Idol.&quot;</p>

Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson of "American Idol."

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 13 - Finale - The Winner Is...

Did American choose Caleb Johnson or Jena Irene? Find out in two hours...

Ratings suggest that most of America skipped Tuesday's performance finale for "American Idol."

If you're just tuning in for Wednesday's two hours of guest appearances and very limited results, here's what you missed on Tuesday.

Bottom Line: Caleb Johnson versus Jena Irene? It's gonna be a close one. 

Probably.

Click through and follow along for two hours of live-blogging!

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<p>One of these people won &quot;The Voice&quot; last night</p>

One of these people won "The Voice" last night

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Dancing,' 'Voice' finales lead Tuesday while 'Supernatural' tops FOX's 'Harry'

It's a weak start to the Season 13 finale for 'American Idol'

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

The season finales for "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Voice" didn't exactly soar, but they still helped ABC rule Tuesday overall and NBC win the night among young viewers.

"The Voice" and "Dancing" were down 25 percent and 11 percent respectively from last spring's finales .

Actually, the only thing doing bigger-than-normal numbers on Tuesday was The CW's "Supernatural" finale, as FOX's "American Idol" stumbled for its performance finale and the network's "I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" proved to be neither the next "Joe Millionaire" nor even the next "The Next Joe Millionaire."

[The CW had a baseball preemption in Chicago, but still should easily top "I Wanna Marry 'Harry.'"]

CBS also struggled with a pair of primetime specials, though "Judge Judy Primetime" was still more successful than "Harry."

Combined with "Riot," "Harry" represents a second consecutive mega-dud of a summer premiere for FOX, which has to be mighty excited about the returns of "So You Think You Can Dance" and "MasterChef."

On to the numbers...

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