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Credit: ABC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 115

Dan and Alan talk Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Lilyhammer' and Linsanity


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
We're a bit late, but it's always a good time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
This week... Grammy talk! "Cougar Town" returns! You told us to watch "Lilyhammer," so we did! Mail! And Alan gets to talk about Jeremy Lin.
As always, regarding the Linsanity segment, the sports talk is at the end of a podcast that was already over an hour. Think of it as bonus content. Or filler. But it isn't impacting your weekly TV chatter.
Here's the breakdown:
The Grammys (00:00:45 - 00:15:35)
"Cougar Town" (00:15:40 - 00:29:50)
"Life's Too Short" (00:29:50 - 38:45)
"Lilyhammer" (00:38:55 - 00:51:10)
Listen Mail - "Person of Interest" (00:52:00 - 00:59:05)
Listener Mail - New shows we're sticking with (00:59:05 - 01:07:25)
LINSANITY (01:08:15 - 01:20:45)

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.] 

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

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<p>&quot;American Idol&quot; hopefuls await news on Thursday's episode</p>
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"American Idol" hopefuls await news on Thursday's episode

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Hollywood Week, Part 2 - Live-Blog

Did Symone Black survive? And what drama did Group Day bring?

When we left "American Idol," 16-year-old Symone Black had just performed "Sitting On The Dock of the Bay," bantered briefly with the judges and then toppled off the stage, much to the horror of all involved.

Of course, if you only set your DVR to record "American Idol" and didn't set it to record "Mobbed," you missed the swan-dive and you also missed the cliffhanger. Instead, you spent a full hour waiting for a contestant to pass out and you got... nothing. 

But don't worry. I suspect that we're going to get a full replay as Thursday (Feb. 9) night's "American Idol" begins...

Click through...

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<p>Your &quot;American Idol&quot; judges</p>
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Your "American Idol" judges

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Hollywood Week, Part 1 - Live-Blog

The auditions are over and now Randy, Steven and J-Lo get serious

The "American Idol" auditions are over!

Everybody do a happy dance!

Wednesday (Feb. 8) night's episode begins Hollywood Week, the most intense Hollywood Week in the history of humanity. Or somesuch. Click through for the highs and lows...

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<p>The four &quot;Voice&quot; mentors</p>
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The four "Voice" mentors

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - Blind Auditions, Part 2 - Live-Blog

The mentors perform and the judges spin their chairs for more contestants

Just under 38 million viewers tuned in for "The Voice" last night. How many will return for Night 2? Who knows!

Let's get down to the Blind Audition business... After the break...

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Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 114

Dan and Alan talk Super Bowl commercials, 'Smash,' 'The River' and more


Happy Monday, Boys and Girls!
Well, it's not a happy Monday if you're a Patriots fan, but Sepinwall isn't, so at least it's a happy Monday for him.
It's time for a busy post-Super Bowl installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, in which I'm relieved that we made no bets on the Big Game. In the podcast, we discuss Super Bowl commercials, "Smash," "The River" and answer a pile of mail.
A good time will be had by all.
Here's the breakdown:
Super Bowl commercials (01:15 - 20:40)
"Smash" (20:40 - 39:00)
"The River" (39:00 - 52:50)
Listener Mail - "30 Rock" (53:30 - 58:45)
Listener Mail - "Kid Nation" and stuff (58:45 - 01:05:45)
Listener Mail - Casting "exclusives" (01:06:25 - 01:13:25)

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.] 

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

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<p>&quot;The Voice&quot;</p>
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"The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - Post-Super Bowl Premiere Live-Blog

Christina, Cee-Lo, Blake, Adam and the swiveling chairs return

OK. Deep breaths. 

So that was an exciting and competitive Super Bowl, eh?

OK. See? I'm slowly taking my Patriots Fan hat off and moving in the direction of my Reality TV Live-Blogging hat. 

It's time to start Season 2 of "The Voice"... Click through for my full discussion of the magical chairs, Christina Aguilera's cleavage and Cee-Lo's weirdness. 

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<p>Tom Brady. He's a pretty man.</p>
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Tom Brady. He's a pretty man.

Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP

Super Bowl XLVI Live-Blog - Commercials, football and more

Which ads hit? Which ads miss? And how grumpy is our Pats-fan blogger?

Super Bowl Sunday, y'all!

After a couple years without a clear rooting interest, I'm relieved that the Patriots are back in the Big Game on Sunday (February 5) afternoon. Of course, that means that my enjoyment of the game and the intervening commercials and trailers and whatnot may be more regulated by the action on the field than it has been the past few Super Bowls. By the time the commercials start repeating themselves in the second half, I could either be loopy and giddy or grumpy and miserable. And if I'm grumpy and miserable, that'll spill over into "The Voice," which I'll be live-blogging right after the game (in a different post).

One quick proviso before we start the live-blogging, which will include interjections on the game, but will mostly concentrate on the ad breaks: Yes, I know that the commercials have almost all been available online for a week. I haven't watched a single one of them. I didn't really see the point. I have a nice TV and the Super Bowl is gonna have my full attention. Why would I be YouTubing clips and spoiling the moment of discovery? Exactly.

Anyway, click through, chat along and GO PATRIOTS!

3:11 p.m. Pacific. I've got my Ruffles, my french onion dip and my Sam Adams. And I'm already sick of "Safe House," which seems to have taken the cost-effective route of buying up oodles of pre-game time, but will probably skip the game itself.

3:14 p.m. Last year, Adrien Brody shilled for Stella. This year? Gillette. Next year? He'll fight off the Hamburglar.

3:18 p.m. Kelly Clarkson's bangs are singing the National Anthem. That was a fast, efficient and fine "Star-Spangled Banner." She hit every note, remembered every word and didn't keep us waiting. Kudos, Kelly!

3:25 p.m. New England wins the coin toss! Prop betters are already going nuts... This breaks a long NFC Super Bowl coin-flip winning streak. I have no idea what it augers, other than that the Patriots will get the ball to start the second half.

3:27 p.m. Remember: The money commercials don't kick in until after kickoff. So this "Gotta Fly Now" commercial for Hyundai is a bargain. 

3:31 p.m. KICKOFF!!!!!

3:37 p.m. The Patriots pass defense is a problem. The Patriots pass rush? WOOT!

3:38 p.m. COMMERCIAL TIME! The first spot for Bud Light Platinum. It's dull. Bud Light usually does jokey commercials, so I guess they've decided to show that Bud Light Platinum takes itself very seriously. But why am I impressed with the assembly line manufacturing of beer?

3:39 p.m. "Twilight" capitalization! A group of vampires are partying out in the forest. The man who comes to deliver their Type O blood shows up with an Audi. He doesn't know that the Audi's LED headlights will kill vampire. I'll have to consult Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson on this one, but at least it's better than the Bud Light commercial.

3:41 p.m. Elton John plays the king in a commercial for Pepsi. OMG! It's the Melanie Amaro commercial! The lame jester doesn't entertain Elton John, but Melanie sings "Respect" and wins the King's approval. "OK. Pepsi for you." And Melanie's all, "No! Pepsi for all!" and she sends Elton John to the dungeon where we find... Flava Flav? Ummm... OK.

3:43  p.m. Cheetah attacks man in a Hyundai commercial. I don't understand why.

3:44 p.m. Well, there's your first "Smash" promo. 

3:44 p.m. I'm not saying the Safety call was wrong, but I'm not sure that's a call you make in the Super Bowl.

3:46 p.m. So you boast about how your reality show's winner is going to get a Pepsi commercial and then you give her said commercial and make sure she's upstaged by Elton John and the syphilitic dwarf from Public Enemy? Really?

3:48 p.m. This live-blog is going to be getting grumpy very soon. Just a warning.12 freaking men on the field. Grrr...

3:51 p.m. 9-0 Giants. Yup. Getting grumpy. 

3:52 p.m. Another boring Bud Light Platinum commercial. I seriously don't know what they think they're proving with these commercials. Bud Light Platinum: Like Bud Light, only humorless.

3:53 p.m. A Brown M&M shows up to a party and everybody thinks she's naked. Including the Red M&M, who strips off his candy coating and starts dancing. Yes. He FLAYS HIMSELF. And starts dancing, muscles and nerves and internal organs exposed. That's disgusting.

3:54 p.m. "Celebrity Apprentice" commercial.

3:55 p.m. I like the Coca-Cola polar bears. In this case... I have no idea what they're doing. One is crossing his fingers and toes so he can't open/drink his Coke? Huh?

3:55 p.m. In the aftermath of the 2012 Mayan-predicted Apocalypse, one man and his dog survive thanks to their truck, a Chevy. They drive through the aftermath, as "Looks Like We Mad It." They meet with other survivors and eat Twinkies. They miss their friend Dave, who drove a Ford. These men have yet to realize that they'll never get laid again.

4:00 p.m. End of the first quarter. Already? And we've had such "fun."

4:01 p.m. Bridgestone is bringing tie technology to the world of sports. A scientist has made a football out of tire. Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders are the only stars available. The football handles well. Or something.

4:01 p.m. Jillian and Danica Patrick are painting a semi-naked model for Go Daddy. They make a joke about how they missed a spot or "spots." Bad ad, GoDaddy.

4:02 p.m. Dull Lexus ad.

4:02 p.m. Our first movie trailer is for "Battleship" and does a spectacular job of making it look like a "Transformers" sequel. We get very little Liam Neeson. Very little Rihanna. Almost no Tim Riggins. And a lot of robo-aliens. I'll watch just to see Rihanna go "Boom."

4:05 p.m. Well, the Patriots are on the board, at least. 9-3.

4:05 p.m. A very nicely shot Budweiser ad remembers the end of Prohibition and the triumphant return of beer and Clydesdales to America. The dalmatian is also back. It's a far better ad than those Bud Light Platinum spots. I feel properly patriotic.

4:05 p.m. A man begins to suspect his dog has killed a local cat. The dog... threatens to take away his Doritos if he narcs? I'm so confused. And it's his dog that's gone? What the heck is happening here, Doritos?

4:07 p.m. A young man is very happy to get a new Camaro. Only it isn't his. And the commercial isn't memorable.

4:08 p.m. Thanks, GE. You invented turbines. And you wanted to spend $4 million to tell me this. Oh. Cross-promoting. GE also makes the turbines that help make Budweiser. 

4:09 p.m. Another Tim Riggins movie! It's a multi-splitscreen ad for "John Carter."

4:10 p.m. Little boy has to pee. He leaves the pool, runs in circles, but ends up going back into the pool to pee. "Totally free. It feels good." And it's for TaxAct.com. Useless ad.

4:11 p.m. "The Voice" commercial. Why haven't we gotten a "Smash" commercial for a half-hour? What if we forget when "Smash" is on?

4:13 p.m. "The Lorax" looks colorful.

4:14 p.m. DOGGIE!!! A dog really likes the shape of the new VW bugl.

4:14 p.m. Darth Vader arrives at the Mos Eisley cantina and it has something to do with VW.

4:15 p.m. Howard Stern is coming to "America's Got Talent." And he's bringing a HOSE!

4:19 p.m. That was a somewhat reassuring defensive stand by the Patriots, slowing down what has already become a sluggish game.

4:20 p.m. David Beckham has something to do with H&M underwear. Or tattoos. That cost a lot of money and they don't even show his darned crotch. I'm not into that kinda thing myself, but it seems silly to barely show the product being advertised. Are Beckham's tats powerful enough to sell underwear? Not to me, certainly.

4:20 p.m. The polar bears are back. One of them has trouble catching a Coke and takes outseveral of his friends in the process. But at least he catches the Coke before it falls.

4:23 p.m. That was not a reassuring offensive stand by the Patriots.

4:29 p.m. That was a reassuring defensive stand by the Patriots. Yes. It's becoming that kinda game. 

4:30 p.m. Lots of Chevy stunts. The car jumps out of a plane. And jumps over a skateboard. And bungee jumps. I don't know that I need my car to be able to do these things, but I'm glad that the Chevy Sonic can...

4:31 p.m. Sorry. You can't fool me, LucasFilm. Just because the whole "Star Wars" series is coming to theaters in 3D doesn't mean you aren't starting  us off with the freakin' "Phantom Menace." I don't get chills for "Phantom Menace" anymore.

4:34 p.m. Gronk.

4:35 p.m. "Avengers," baby! Lots of NYC chaos! Lots of superheroes in uniform. A tiny bit of Hunk. "I still believe in Heroes," Nick Fury says.

4:36 p.m. I have no idea what this commercial is for, but I think it's Adrianna Lima. She tells me that I'll get laid on Valentine's Day if I use teleflora.com. OK!

4:37 p.m. OK. Bulldog in running shoes moonwalking in Sketchers? Perfect commercial til Mark Cuban shows up.

4:38 p.m. Please explain how Cars.com makes a worm-like "confidence" come out of your butt?

4:42 p.m. Patriots driving.

4:43 p.m. Ass-faced kid taunts his grandmother and little sibling with Doritos. Grandma slingshots the kid and gets the Doritos back. As Doritos commercials go, that was cute.

4:43 p.m. I hate the ETrade baby.

4:43 p.m. Nope. I'm not gonna get excited for the "G.I. Joe" sequel. I refuse. But that's a fun, colorful, Jay Z-inflected trailer. If I *were* gonna get excited, that would do it for me...

4:47 p.m. WOODHEAD! TD! 10-9 Patriots!

4:50 p.m. Halftime! I'm gonna go get food while Madonna does her thing. HitFix's Melinda Newman will be live-blogging the Halftime show...

5:03 p.m. As my taquitos heat up, here's Melinda's live-blog.

5:19 p.m. Nice Clint Eastwood commercial for Detroit. Apparently the "Detroit is in a bad place, but resilient" commercial is already a mandatory Super Bowl occurrence. I can live with that. Last year's Eminem commercial was also superior. 

5:22 p.m. Incidentally, if it's Halftime in America, as Clint Eastwood told us it is, is Mr. Eastwood predicting the end of our Empire in 2248?

5:28 p.m. TD Hernandez!  Brady is on FIRE!

5:28 p.m. "SMASH"!!!! Thank heavens. I was really jonesin'... This is a good Kat McPhee-heavy ad.

5:29 p.m.  It is not true that if nobody had challenged the status quo, the world would still be flat. Nor do I know how Infiniti is really challenging the status quo.

5:30 p.m. Ricky Gervais runs from a grenade. Mary-Louise Parker grows weed. Zombies attack. This has something to do with Time-Warner.

5:31 p.m. Cute girl travels the country in her Honda.

5:38 p.m. Solid defensive stand for The Pats. 17-12 for New England.

5:38 p.m. Rumor has it that we're gonna have to wait til the 4th quart for an "Awake" promo.

5:38 p.m. Nerdy man sees a hot Italian woman in the street. He stares at her. She slaps him. Then she teases him. Is the scorpion on the back of her neck supposed to be a tease? It is! It's the logo for the Fiat Abarth.

5:39 p.m. Beth Littleford in a Pepsi Max commercial. Regis also. It's the old "Salesman for one product really like a competitive product" commercial. It's much too familiar to be at all interesting.

5:41 p.m. Toyota reinvented the Camry, so it also invented the couch -- bikini models -- the baby -- no pooping -- and rain -- it makes you skinny. OK

5:42 p.m. More with the TV-watching polar bears. The game isn't going the way one of them wants it to, so he lets out a roar. But Coke makes everything better.

5:43 p.m. John Stamos needs to learn not to tease women with his Greek yogurt.

5:43 p.m. Century 21 commercial features Donald Trump, Deion Sanders -- yes, Deion again -- and Apolo Anton Ohno.

5:44 p.m. Jerry Seinfeld wants a car, so he's doing everything he can to get the No.1 position on the waiting list, including bringing him an alien corpse, the soup Nazi and access to his NYC zip-line line. Really, Jerry wants that Accura. But Jay Leno ends up getting it. Yawn. But then again, I'm not the Seinfeld audience, as we all know.

5:47 p.m. Patriots needed to hold the ball a little longer than that and at least get some field position. Apparently not.

5:48 p.m. It's a sequel to the Budweiser Prohibition ad, taking us through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, apparently suggesting that Budweiser was responsible for everything awesome during that time period, including grunge, walking on the moon, Miracle on Ice and block parties.

5:49 p.m. And a Bridgestone sequel, this one with Tim Duncan and Steve Nash, plus a tire-ized basketball.

5:52 p.m. I'm not grumpy about the game. I'm just getting tense...

5:54 p.m. Well, field goals are better than TDs. But eventually, they aren't...

5:55 p.m. We just skipped over a logical commercial break.

5:59 p.m. On to the 4th Quarter, baby! Two-point game! I guess that's what NBC wants.

5:59 p.m. Nice ad runs through the history of the NFL on a single run-back.

6:00 p.m. Really? The Seinfeld commercial AGAIN? A repeat within 15 minutes of the first showing?

6:01 p.m. We've moved into local spots? Because I'm assuming you aren't getting a Jack-in-the-Box commercial if you aren't in certain markets. Too bad. Clever "marrying bacon" conceit.

6:05 p.m. Finally the much-vaunted Matthew Broderick's Day Off commercial for Honda. While it's plundering my childhood, the message isn't bad.

6:07 p.m. I have no idea what "Act of Valor" is. 

6:08 p.m. A wide assortment of cartoon characters come together for MetLife. I'll have to watch it agan to decide if it's a winner. It also may just be pandering to childhood nostalgia.

6:09 p.m. That's a great Kat-centric "Smash" ad. The featured musical number isn't in any of the four episodes I've seen. 

6:10 p.m. Getting nervous.

6:11 p.m. Man uses his Hyundai to restart his boss's heart?!?

6:12 p.m. Guy names his dog "WeGo" and trains it to fetch Bud Lights. Ladies love WeGo. Men love WeGo. But a party arrives and poor WeGo fears for his life. The ad ends, oddly, with a note to "Help rescue dogs." Yes. Rescue dogs. And train them to get beer for you.

6:19 p.m. Very nervous.

6:19 p.m. Scary sleep gnome! A little dust yields a slightly happy dream. A whole bucket leads a dream about a Kia, Motley Crue, Adrianna Lima, rhino-rodeo. He ends up with his wife? So that's cute?

6:20 p.m. FINALLY. Monkey bosses. We've seen this basic commercial: Guy's boss and co-worker are awful monkeys, encouraging him to go to CareerBuilder.com. I like monkeys. Always. And forever.

6:21 p.m. Commercial for NBC Thursday comedies conspicuously doesn't mention "Community."

6:25 p.m. Wow. Giants players keep getting hurt and we keep getting injury time-outs. The first commercial includes people who are very impressed with the innovations to their new Samsung phones. It all relates to The Darkness somehow...

6:26 p.m. We've gotten a lot of "Voice" ads, eh?

6:31 p.m. Not feeling good here.

6:38 p.m. I have no interest in blogging about commercials.

6:38 p.m. Cadillac. Taking on BMW. German training course.

6:39 p.m. "Swamp People"? Local time, I guess?

6:40 p.m. There's our "Awake" ad. It does almost nothing to clarify the tone or plot of the show for the uninitiated.

6:44 p.m. Guh.

6:55 p.m. And now? Time to get myself in a state-of-mind to live-blog "The Voice."

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<p>Daniel Radcliffe of &quot;The Woman in Black&quot;</p>
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Daniel Radcliffe of "The Woman in Black"

Credit: CBS Films

Movie Review: Daniel Radcliffe in 'The Woman in Black'

The Man Who Was Harry Potter investigates some old-fashioned supernatural occurrences
James Watkins' "The Woman in Black" is willfully out-of-step with all of the horror trends of the past decade.
It isn't found footage or torture porn or adapted from something the Japanese or Koreans did first. It isn't in 3D or a reboot, nor is it proliferated with romantic vampires or fast-moving zombies. No sexy stars from The CW get butchered in half-clothed ways and no former film and TV icons are using their ironic on-screen deaths for career resurrection. You might say that "The Woman in Black" is in a similar vein to the 2001 smash "The Others," but it isn't a narrative built entirely around a Shyamalanian twist ending.
"The Woman in Black" is old-fashioned and proudly so. You can think of it as Hammer meets Masterpiece Theater, but it's really just a classically structured Victorian ghost story equipped with a couple decent scares, some spooky atmosphere and a very reasonable 96-minute running time. 
Attempts to find characterization, subtext or real surprises in "The Woman in Black" probably won't amount to anything, but accepting it as the creepy, decently made exercise that it is ought to yield some minor frights.
Full review after the break...
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<p>Johnny Keyser offers a reminder of why it's important to wear antiperspirant to &quot;American Idol&quot; auditions</p>
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Johnny Keyser offers a reminder of why it's important to wear antiperspirant to "American Idol" auditions

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' St. Louis Auditions - Live-Blog

What will the Show-Me state show you and America, talent-wise?

This is the final "American Idol" audition stop before Hollywood Week. 

How ready are we? 


Let's get down to business, eh?

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<p>Elton John and Leon Russell of &quot;The Union&quot;</p>
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Elton John and Leon Russell of "The Union"

Credit: HBO

TV Review: HBO's 'The Union'

Cameron Crowe chronicles Elton John and Leon Russell at work
I'm an unapologetic Cameron Crowe fan. 
That's not a big statement or anything. Lots of people are Cameron Crowe fans. But you want me to defend "Elizabethtown"? Oh, I'll defend "Elizabethtown." Happily. Assuming you don't also want a defense of Orlando Bloom *in* "Elizabethtown."
And yet somehow, Cameron Crowe released a movie in December that I didn't see in theaters. It seems that "We Bought a Zoo" has done reasonably well without me and I'll gladly catch it on DVD in a few months. 
Fortunately, it feels like I've been watching Cameron Crowe documentaries non-stop. I ended up watching Crowe's very fine "Pearl Jam Twenty" twice last year and viewers can start 2012 with Crowe's "The Union," another sturdy documentary elevated by the director's passion for music and the sometimes astounding access that that passion gives him.
It's that passion that also sometimes blinds Crowe a tiny bit when it comes to applying focus to what was surely a mountain of footage stemming from the recording sessions for Elton John and Leon Russell's "The Union" album.
The result is a documentary that's sometimes a straight-forward making-of piece, sometimes a broader retrospective on two brilliant careers, but sometimes a more introspective look at what happens to two former wild-men of music when age sucks the wildness right out of them and the music is all that remains. 
"The Union" doesn't quite gel and you're invariably wishing Crowe could give us more in some scenes and less in others, but it's full of magical and occasionally enlightening moments for fans of both artists and probably for fans of the musical process as well.
More after the break...
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