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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' eliminates another couple and teams are picked

It's a 'Gangnam Style' guilty pleasure for the celebs next week

Well, it's Tuesday night, and that means it's elimination night. And presidential debate night, in case you're on the East Coast and were planning to watch something else on network television after "Dancing with the Stars." Or hey, you could watch the debates, too. It's a free country. 

First up, Bristol & Mark, Kelly & Val,  Sabrina & Louis, Shawn & Derek are on the block. The package is pretty zippy, but we do get at least one intriguing moment. We see Val kiss Kelly on the sternum before they go on stage. Okay, this has to be dating, right? Or they are just the absolute best of friends.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 154

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 154

Dan and Alan talk 'Emily Owens MD,' 'Hunted,' 'American Horror Story' and more

The

Happy Late Tuesday, Boys & Girls! Time for a later-than-we-were-hoping-for installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We were delayed yesterday by my travel and the sheer quantity of stuff to watch and then time slipped through the cracks today as well.
 
But hopefully this podcast'll make it up before the premiere of "Emily Owens, MD" tonight. Or, at the least, it'll certainly make it up before tonight's premiere of MTV's "Underemployed."
 
That's not saying much. Sorry about the lateness.
 
But we discussed a lot of stuff this week, including HBO's "The Girl," FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum," Cinemax's "Hunted" and this week's episode of "Homeland."
 
Today's breakdown:
"Emily Owens MD" (00:01:00 - 00:08:15)
"Underemployed" (00:08:20 - 00:16:15)
"Suburgatory" (00:16:15 - 00:23:45)
"American Horror Story" (00:23:50 - 00:32:20)
"Hunted" (00:32:25 - 00:44:15)
"The Girl" (00:44:20 - 00:54:40)
Early cancellations (00:54:40 - 01:05:20)
"X Factor" Hosts (01:05:25 - 01:10:35)
"Homeland" (01:10:40 - 01:23:30)

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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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 154: 'American Horror Story,' 'Suburgatory,' 'Hunted' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 154: 'American Horror Story,' 'Suburgatory,' 'Hunted' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'Emily Owens, M.D.,' 'Underemployed' and 'The Girl'

The

It's a very late in the day installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I talk about shows returning and new, discuss the season's first cancellations and some other moves of note, and continue what's for now been a weekly "Homeland" segment.

The line-up: 

"Emily Owens MD" (00:01:00 - 00:08:15)
"Underemployed" (00:08:20 - 00:16:15)
"Suburgatory" (00:16:15 - 00:23:45)
"American Horror Story" (00:23:50 - 00:32:20)
"Hunted" (00:32:25 - 00:44:15)
"The Girl" (00:44:20 - 00:54:40)
Early cancellations (00:54:40 - 01:05:20)
"X Factor" Hosts (01:05:25 - 01:10:35)
"Homeland" (01:10:40 - 01:23:30)

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.
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<p>Taylor Swift's &quot;State of Grace&quot;</p>

Taylor Swift's "State of Grace"

Credit: Big Machine

Listen: Taylor Swift channels U2 on new song, 'State of Grace'

Fifth tune from 'Red' rock out

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of Taylor Swift waving country music goodbye. Today, she released her fifth song from “Red,” her fourth studio album out Oct. 22.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Bon Iver's Justin Vernon</p>

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon

Credit: D.L. Anderson

Watch: Bon Iver's 'Beth/Rest' video, directed and written by Justin Vernon

Heaven is a treehouse

Bon Iver's "Beth/Rest" from last year's self-titled album was songwriter Justin Vernon at his Steve Winwood-iest. The project mastermind has embraced that inner-bygone-era and wrote a treatment that looks just how the song sounds.

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<p>Brandy</p>

Brandy

Interview: Brandy on 'Two Eleven,' working with Chris Brown and Frank Ocean

The R&B superstar also talks about her '5-minute freak outs'

The last time Brandy reached No. 3 on the Billboard R&B chart was in early 2002 with “What About Us,” George Bush was president, the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City and NASA sent Odyssey to probe Mars’ surface.

It has been a lean chart time for the R&B singer since then, so much so that Brandy wondered if she still had a career in music, but this month the answer came back a resounding “yes.”

“Put It Down,” a a sultry stomp featuring Chris Brown, reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B chart earlier this month. The track is from Brandy’s album, “Two Eleven,” out today.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: RCA

Watch: Kelly Clarkson's lyric video for 'Catch My Breath'

Practice your reading skills

Now that lyric videos are a necessarily intermediary step between when an artist releases a new single and the “official video,” some artists are using them as a chance to make a video that is much more than simply slapping words up on a screen as a placeholder.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Jason Aldean's Night Train</p>

Jason Aldean's Night Train

Album Review: Jason Aldean's 'Night Train' stays on track

Country superstar hits all the right marks on new set

Other than Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean is the biggest star country music has produced in the last few years. Unlike Swift and Lady A, he has not crossed over into pop, so the first time many folks heard his name may have been when he got caught a few weeks ago canoodling with someone he shouldn’t have been canoodling with.

If the broader name recognition (regardless of how ignominiously it came about) causes potential new fans to check out his music, then “Night Train” is a good place to come in on. Out today, “Night Train,” which is almost certain to top the charts next week, continues the story started on 2010’s “My Kinda Party,” one of the top-selling albums that year for all genres and a Grammy nominee for best country album.

The 15-track “Night Train,” Aldean’s fifth album, doesn’t necessarily advance Aldean’s artistry beyond “Party,” but that’s because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The songs here are uniformly punchy, catchy, well-played and well-sung in Aldean’s slightly nasally, sturdy vocals. Country radio still sells albums and Aldean easily has five singles here, including first single, the invitingly breezy “Take A Little Ride,” which already topped Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

Aldean embraces the usual country tropes about life in a small town —its virtues and its claustrophobia— and cars In “Night Train.” The title track serves up that one of the few escapes from daily life includes going to listen to the train roll through town with his lover. They get to the look-out spot in their truck, of course. On “Talk,” the time for chat is over: “I don’t want to waste that moon and the heat on the hood of this Ford.”

Most of the songs here are mid-tempo, and the album could definitely use a little more variety in that regard, but mid-tempo is Aldean’s sweet spot, especially when it comes to loves lost and found. On both “When She Says Baby” and “Staring At The Sun,” he extols the virtues of coming home from a long, hard day to the woman he can’t forget. Sure single, “I Don’t Do Lonely Well,” conjures up the pain that heartache brings in those moments when he has have nothing else to distract him from the hurt that still coats him. 

Aldean hit it big on the last album with “Dirt Road Anthem,” which featured him rapping. He’s comfortable enough to return to that trick, speaking much of the lyrics on “The Only Way I Know.” He’s joined by his buddies Luke Bryan and Eric Church on the anthem to going “full throttle” 24/7.

Aldean wrote none of the songs on “Night Train,” but at this juncture in his career, he is going to get the absolute pick of the litter when it comes to Music City songwriters pitching him their Grade A material. He also knows what works for him and what his male fans want (songs to raise hell by) and what his female fans want (songs to romance by) and he sings each style with equal conviction.  There’s nothing here that sounds inauthentic.

While undeniably country, Aldean grew up on rock, and screeching guitar solos rise out of almost every song. They’re a bit cliche and overdone at times, but the songs will undoubtedly benefit from the rock treatment when he cranks them up on the road, especially on “Wheels Rollin’,” a meaty tour anthem that combines Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”

That’s not to say everything here works. “Black Tears” is a song about an exotic dancer and her sob story that goes nowhere. “1994” is a very silly, though very catchy, song about longing to turn the clock back and contains a major shout out to Joe Diffie, who scored a number of hits in the mid-‘90s.  The “Hey Joe, c’mon and  teach us how to Diffie,” line will either make you laugh or drive you crazy, as will the “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie” chant. The novelty song sounds something much more akin to a tune Big & Rich would do, but Aldean’s earned the right to be goof if he wants to. And Joe Diffie owes him a big old thank you.

“Night Track” seldom slips off the tracks. It’s a sure-wheeled, confident album from a superstar with a very firm grasp of what works for him. It may not be adventurous, but it’s more than enough to keep his millions of fans eager to hop aboard.

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<p>John Hawkes in &quot;The Sessions&quot;</p>

John Hawkes in "The Sessions"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Interview: John Hawkes on Mark O'Brien, 'The Sessions' and maintaining an even keel

One of Sundance's favorite sons comes into full leading man bloom

NEW YORK -- The first time actor John Hawkes heard about Mark O'Brien, the polio-afflicted author, journalist and poet he portrays in the new film "The Sessions," it was due to the Oscars. Documentary filmmaker Jessica Yu had just won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for 1996's "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien." Hawkes read a quote from her in the newspaper basically noting that the dress loaned to her for the evening cost more than the budget for her film, and he enjoyed a chuckle over that.

Hawkes knows a little something about low-budget filmmaking, too. After working consistently for years as a character actor on screen and TV, he's become something of an indie darling. "The Sessions" in fact marked his third-straight trip to the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year (at which point the film was titled "The Surrogate"). And 16 years after the Oscars managed to put O'Brien on his radar, he looks entirely likely to pop up on Oscars' radar for his performance of the man.

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<p>Alyson Hannigan in &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Alyson Hannigan in "How I Met Your Mother." 

Credit: CBS

Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Who Wants To Be A Godparent?'

Marshall and Lily make the others play a game show

A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I send you to the British Columbia Military School For Boys...

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<p>Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at a Golden Globes party earlier this year.</p>

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at a Golden Globes party earlier this year.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Roundup: Globes trump the Oscars with Fey and Poehler

Also: Questioning the facts of 'Argo,' and celebrating Melissa Leo

You have to hand it to the Golden Globes. Barely had the chatter died down about the Academy's surprising choice of Oscar host than the HFPA chimed in with their own... and grabbed bigger headlines than Seth Macfarlane ever did. While the "Ted" man's appointment was welcomed in some quarters, others expressed concern that most viewers out in the real world don't know who he is -- a weak spot the Globes have cunningly zeroed in on by snapping up star comedy duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to continue the work done by Ricky Gervais in the last two years. With Fey a name many have suggested for the Oscar gig (she's presented at the big show twice), this likely ratings coup must really smart for AMPAS. I know which show I'm looking forward to more now. You? [HitFix]

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<p>Denzel Washington may look like he's holding it together in the new Robert Zemeckis film 'Flight,' but he's hiding some serious pain behind those shades.</p>

Denzel Washington may look like he's holding it together in the new Robert Zemeckis film 'Flight,' but he's hiding some serious pain behind those shades.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: 'Flight' takes Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington on an unexpected trip

An unsparing look at a life spent in free-fall marks new territory for director and star

Robert Zemeckis has never made anything like "Flight," and Denzel Washington has rarely played a character this damaged.  I frequently feel like studio movies arrive somewhat predigested because of how many times we've seen variations on the same basic formulas, and when you do run into something that takes its own path, that tells its own story in a way you're not expecting, it can be positively shocking.  Working from a strong piece of material by John Gatins, Zemeckis seems to be trying something that is, for him, both new and a clear representation of the things that make him most interesting as a filmmaker.

I remember seeing Spike Lee talk about the making of "Mo' Better Blues," and one of the things that he said made the film difficult to shoot was a firm rule from Denzel Washington that he did not want to do any elaborate love scenes or any sort of onscreen nudity with a female co-star because of his own offscreen marriage.  As good as he is, there's often a sense that he's holding back something, that he is careful about his image.  It's the sort of thing that I think often affects Will Smith's choices as a movie star as well, and it can be hard to let go of after you've lived with it for a long time.  I couldn't help but think about that when we first see Denzel in this film, in bed with Nadine Velazquez, finishing a beer for breakfast and doing a rail to wake himself up as she walks around the room totally nude.  At one point, he gives a sideways glance right up her backside as he talks on the phone, and there is a world weary quality to the beat that is both funny and immediately crushing.  This is the sort of performance where there's no personal vanity involved, and there's no thought of Denzel as Denzel.

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