Latest Blog Posts

<p>Lucy Alibar at the Los Angeles premiere of &quot;Beasts of the Southern Wild&quot;</p>

Lucy Alibar at the Los Angeles premiere of "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Credit: AP Photo/Todd Williamson

For writer Lucy Alibar, 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' couldn't be more personal

How an intimate play exploring her relationship with her father became one of 2012's most lauded indie films

As indie sensation "Beasts of the Southern Wild" makes its way through the awards season, and director Benh Zeitlin and star Quvenzhané Wallis pick up countless breakthrough prizes along the way, it would be worth bearing in mind how the identity of the film grew from a little play by writer Lucy Alibar.

In the stage production "Juicy and Delicious," there is no little girl. There is a boy, whose father is dying, much like Hushpuppy's in the feature film, and for Alibar, it was a way of working through emotions she was feeling in the midst of a health scare with her own father.

Read Full Post
<p>Four songs from&nbsp;&quot;Django Unchained&quot;&nbsp;qualified for Best Original&nbsp;Song, more than any other film.</p>

Four songs from "Django Unchained" qualified for Best Original Song, more than any other film.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Tech Support: International lineup of Best Original Song contenders presents a great opportunity

From Adele to Paul Williams, Ennio Morricone to Bombay Jayashri

With the recent reveal of the Academy's list of Best Original Song qualifiers -- all 75 of them -- the music branch has a wide swath of popular artists to choose from. Of course, the branch tends to focus on the work itself, not necessarily the talent involved, but it's worth mentioning that Fiona Apple, Florence + the Machine, Karen O, Christina Aguilera, Adele, Keith Urban, Mumford and Sons, The Bootleggers & Emmylou Harris, Arcade Fire, Dolly Parton, Katy Perry, Paul Williams, Jordin Sparks and Norah Jones are all in the mix. That's quite the role call.

Read Full Post
<p>Jason Clarke in &quot;Zero Dark Thirty.&quot;</p>

Jason Clarke in "Zero Dark Thirty."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Roundup: Senators take on 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Also: Ann Dowd's self-funded Oscar dream, and 2012's most overlooked gems

Looks like the debate over the depiction of torture in "Zero Dark Thirty" isn't going to end any time soon. Three US senators, all in positions concerning national security, have taken it upon themselves to dismiss the film's portrayal is "grossly inaccurate and misleading" in an open letter to Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton. "'Zero Dark Thirty' is factually inaccurate," they write, "and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Usama (sic) bin Laden is not based on facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative," They further accuse the film of having "the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner." There is plenty to counter in such claims -- both regarding the events on screen and their relative fictional status -- so I expect this conversation to continue. [Variety]

Read Full Post
"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Foiled Again'

The chefs are foiled again in a clever Quickfire Challenge

Sometimes I love "Top Chef" for the same reason I hate "Top Chef." And what's that reason? Crazy ass challenges. This week, though, I love "Top Chef," because the Quickfire Challenge is so bizarre it's actually brilliant. Yes, it's shameless product placement, but for once it doesn't feel entirely arbitrary. It doesn't make me want to create a foil frying pan, either, but hey, this one's a winner. 

Read Full Post
<p>Lisa Whelchel of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Lisa Whelchel of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Lisa Whelchel talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

The former Blair Warner talks about her run to the Final 3
As befits her past as a child sitcom star, the beginning of Lisa Whelchel's "Survivor: Philippines" journey was a joke.
 
Best knew as Blair Warner on "Facts of Life," Lisa struggled to understand the facts of "Survivor" and coasted to the Merge seemingly at the bottom of a Tandang alliance, frequently uncertain and frequently in tears. Lisa seemed unprepared for the elements and also unprepared for the social aspect of the game and she remained around because her tribe was unbeatable. 
 
Then, something shifted. In a bold move, Lisa attempted to orchestrate a game-changing blindside on strong and popular Malcolm. The move failed spectacularly, but it displayed Lisa's willingness to play "Survivor." 
 
After a brief regression into regret, Lisa bounced back after a visit from younger brother Justice, as she began taking control of her own fate, aligning with and then backstabbing Malcolm and taking the most powerful player out of the game. In the end, Lisa and Mike Skupin finished tied for second behind winner Denise, but audiences respected the journey that Lisa took from meek to somewhat-mighty and gave her the fan-voted Player of the Game.
 
In her exit interview, Lisa talks about that journey, including the impressive fact that in 39 days only Jonathan Penner and Skupin recognized her from her sitcom glory. We discussed her strategy, the moment she realized she couldn't actually win and the faith that she demonstrated vocally in her last days in the game.
 
Click through for the full conversation.
 

Read Full Post
<p>Ben&nbsp;Affleck</p>

Ben Affleck

Credit: Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP

Ben Affleck sets the record straight on 'Justice League'

The 'Argo' director recently praised Marvel's 'Avengers' build and welcomed smart genre projects

The internet was abuzz a few months back when what turned out to be an overzealous report put Ben Affleck in the driver's seat of the planned Warner Bros. team-up film "Justice League." The report was soon enough shot down and everyone went about their business, but in a recent interview about his work on "Argo," Affleck said he hated talking about it in the media at all because the eventual stories shed a negative light on the project.

"I just want to make it clear because it’s not like I had something to even pass on," he said. "Because someone will eventually do 'Justice League' and they'll go, like, 'Ben Affleck passed on it,' and it won't be true. So I don’t mind setting the record straight. It's one of those things where the closest I came was some people talked to me about it like at a meeting. They were like, 'Here's the stuff we’re doing,' you know? 'Here’s what we're looking at.' That kind of thing. And they suggested it. But I don’t think there’s a script. I don’t think there’s anything."

Read Full Post
<p>Leonardo Di Caprio would like to share a drink with you... IN&nbsp;3D!!!</p>

Leonardo Di Caprio would like to share a drink with you... IN 3D!!!

Credit: Warner Bros

Di Caprio goes dark in the decadent second trailer for Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby'

Will Warner's pricey Jazz Age gamble pay off?

"The Great Gatsby" may well be the most artificial-looking film I've ever seen, even in this condensed two minute form.

That's not a criticism, necessarily, because it looks like that's exactly what Baz Luhrmann intended.  They've had a difficult post-production process on this one, but part of that has been creating this incredibly stylized world that Luhrmann has chosen as the setting for his take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's most famous book.  Luhrmann has never been the sort of guy to shy away from a heightened reality.  That's why I loved his take on "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge."  Those movies are patently fake, impressionistic from start to finish, and it looks like he's doing that again, but on a much larger scale than ever before.

The real challenge of "Gatsby" is that the book is all about inner landscapes and the feel of a time and place, and previous film versions that have focused just on the story have felt empty because they haven't found a way to create a visual language that manages to somehow suggest the gorgeous, emotional prose that is so much a part of the appeal of Fitzgerald's novel.

Read Full Post
Hugh Jackman says training for 'Les Miserables' was as hard as any 'Wolverine' film

Hugh Jackman says training for 'Les Miserables' was as hard as any 'Wolverine' film

Aussie talks about his SAG Awards and Golden Globes nominated performance

NEW YORK - We've been waiting a long time for Hugh Jackman to sing on the big screen.  From his Tony Award-winning turn in "The Boy From Oz" to his three stints hosting Broadway's annual awards show to his lauded turn as Academy Awards host (arguably the best Oscars show over the past decade), Jackman has teased us with his impressive voice, sly dance moves and old school showmanship. Granted, producers have tried to get him to commit to a number of movie musical projects, but most of them have been stuck in development hell for years leaving fans to wonder if we'd ever see Jackman sing in his prime. That's all changed with the actor's SAG and Golden Globes Awards nominated turn as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables."  And, in something of a surprise, it turns out that he had to campaign to get the role.

Read Full Post
<p>Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann share a laugh as we discuss their new film 'This Is 40'</p>

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann share a laugh as we discuss their new film 'This Is 40'

Credit: HitFix

Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd debate 'likable' and 'relatable' as we discuss 'This Is 40'

Plus Mann gets emotional talking about working with her daughters

I think it's pretty safe to say that no one writes for Leslie Mann the way Judd Apatow does, and it's been fascinating to see the evolution of that from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" until "This Is 40." 

The thing I love in the characters she plays in his films is the way she mixes this remarkable frankness with an intense vulnerability.  She's great all the way through "Knocked Up," but the moment where I fell for the character completely came about 2/3 of the way through.  I'm going to bet most fans of that film think of the same moment first when they think of Debbie, that great scene when she is trying to get into a club and Craig Robinson plays the bouncer that has to explain why he can't let her in.

It's amazing, profane and well-observed, and what starts as a joke gets very real, then completely surreal, all in the space of about two minutes.  Her rant manages to do it all, and the reaction from Robinson is solid gold.

Read Full Post
A makeshift news studio in Newtown, Conn.

A makeshift television news studio is seen along the Housatonic River in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. 

Credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

TV news can't stop a mass murderer, but it could make a difference

There's no easy fix, but newscasters could take away one 'reward'

This Saturday, PBS will be airing "What Next After Newtown: What Our Country and Communities Can Do" at 3:00 p.m. (check local listings). I'm curious to see this, as I'm sure I share the same sense of powerlessness and frustration a lot of people have had following the events in Newtown last week. Even though I think the problems that lead to mass murder are many, complex and thorny, if there's something I can do, I'd like to know. 

Read Full Post
<p>Fifth Harmony</p>

Fifth Harmony

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 2 Finale - Performances

Demi Lovato, LeAnn Rimes and Little Big Town join the finalists

If you can measure a reality show's clout or buzz by the acts clamoring to be involved with its finale, FOX has to be absolutely terrified by how chilly "The X Factor" is. 

It was previously announced that Thursday's whopping two-hour finale would feature performances by One Direction, who have already performed two songs on "X Factor" this season and owe their entire career to Simon Cowell and the show, and Pitbull, an artist so desperate for exposure that he'd probably appear at a well-attended bar mitzvah.

That was a bad sign.

Then came Wednesday's (December 19) announcement that finalists Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony would duet on tonight's show with LeAnn Rimes, Little Big Town and Demi Lovato, respectively.

That's right. Tonight's big guests are an "X Factor" judge who didn't have anything else to do, a country singer more notorious for tabloid exploits than anything in her recent music output and a reasonably successful country act with only moderate crossover appeal. That's... weak.

Why is Carly Rose Sonenclar being asked to sing with a less vocally gifted singer in a genre she's never displayed any interest in? Is Demi singing with Fifth Harmony because they did one of her songs once? And are they keeping Tate from doing a duet with a female artist because they don't want to alienate voters who think Tate only has chemistry with his wife? 

I'm very confused. 

On to tonight's recap!

Read Full Post
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 162: Best TV of 2012

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 162: Best TV of 2012

Dan and Alan go back and forth on their top 10 shows of the year, and then some

The

It's Top 10 time on the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I go back and forth (in, for some reason, snake draft order) on our respective favorite shows of 2012. You've already seen my list, and the HitFix Television Critics' Poll has Dan's Top 10, but this is us discussing how much we liked various shows, arguing about how high or low they should be ranked, etc. And we even go a bit past the top 10.

There's no rundown this week, because Dan didn't want to individually code segments that overlap anyway, and there really aren't spoilers of note (I think we mention who won the Pawnee City Council election and a few other minor comedy things, but were very careful with regards to the big dramas).

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.

 
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME