Latest Blog Posts

<p>A scene from &quot;Wreck-It Ralph.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Wreck-It Ralph."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Roundup: Is there a Disney/Pixar identity crisis?

Also: Affleck recognized as a Modern Master, and 'Les Mis' cast goes Vogue

Are the Disney and Pixar animation brands beginning to merge into each other? Josh L. Dickey is asking the question, as he notes that Pixar's tradition-focused summer hit "Brave" seemed to borrow significantly from the classic Disney storybook, while Disney's current smash "Wreck-It Ralph" is a hi-tech, pop-savvy firecracker that seems more informed by the contemporary Pixar model of crossover entertainment. (Dickey also wonders if "Ralph"'s box office performance would be even more impressive if it had been released under the Pixar label.) Are the twin houses going to borrow more from each other from here on out, or should Disney be mindful of preserving its more old-school identity? With their next film a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale adaptation, perhaps the overlap is temporary. [Variety]

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<p>Barney (Neil Patrick Harris)&nbsp;and Robin (Cobie Smulders)&nbsp;on &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) on "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Splitsville'

The gang pushes Robin to dump Nick, and Marshall and Ted play basketball

A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I buy a ticket to see "Groins On Ice" at Madison Square Garden...

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: 'The Higher the Heel, the Closer to God'

Adrienne and Lisa still can't play nice - even at a kiddie birthday party

This week, we don't see much of new housewife Yolanda, but no matter. What we do see is enough to convince me that she's going to be a force for crazy for the rest of the season. Really, even if the rest of the wives dove head first into talk therapy to emerge as sweet and bland as packets of single serve artificially flavored apple cinnamon oatmeal, we'd still be plenty amused watching Yolanda spin around in circles trying to rationalize her inescapable nuttiness. But, as we know, the other housewives are just as catty and ridiculous as ever, so unleash the crazy!

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'Breaking Dawn' stars Elizabeth Reaser and Nikki Reed talk spinoffs for their 'Twilight' characters

'Breaking Dawn' stars Elizabeth Reaser and Nikki Reed talk spinoffs for their 'Twilight' characters

What were the last days on set like for the actresses playing Esme and Rosalie?
Much has been made of the closeness shared by the actors who made up the Cullen family in the "Twilight" franchise and certainly sitting down with Elizabeth Reaser and Nikki Reed, it's possible to get the feeling that reporters are just passing in and out of a lengthy, ongoing conversation between two close friends.
In my portion of that long, ongoing conversation, Reaser and Reed discuss their respective last days of shooting on "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" -- One of them rushed to the airport immediately, while the other one stuck around and shared some emotions with a co-star -- and the final grace notes for Esme and Rosalie that they wish the film had had time for.
And, because Hollywood bean counters probably aren't going to be ready to bid adieu to the cash cow that is the "Twilight" franchise, Reaser shares her version of a perfect "Twilight" spinoff around her character, which sounds like something Stephenie Meyer should get to work on immediately.
I've already posted my "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" interviews with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Expect more as we get closer to Friday's (Nov. 16) premiere...
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<p>Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson lose themselves to passion in Joe Wright's daring new film version of Leo Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina'</p>

Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson lose themselves to passion in Joe Wright's daring new film version of Leo Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina'

Credit: Focus Features

Review: Keira Knightley is electric in bold new take on Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina'

Joe Wright and his favorite actress deliver again with a fascinating new film

Joe Wright's breakthrough film was "Pride and Prejudice," a very well-made and spirited adaptation of the frequently adapted novel by Jane Austen.  While I admired the craftsmanship, I had already reached an oversaturation point with the material itself. It is safe to say that I never need to see another production of "Pride" in any format, or a loose adaptation or a re-imagining or pretty much any version.  It wasn't Wright's problem, but mine.

His adaptation of Ian McEwan's "Atonement" was far more impressive to me, and that was a case of familiarity with the source material adding to the impact of the film.  I thought it was a book that really couldn't work as a film, and yet working with Christopher Hampton, as smart an adapter as one could hope to hire, Wright turned a largely internal piece of work into something cinematic and visually dynamic.  "The Soloist" felt like Hollywood trying to absorb Wright and turn him into a studio filmmaker, someone they could plug into pretty much anything, but with "Hanna," Wright seems to have reclaimed his voice and once again demonstrated that his keen eye for material (it was a great script by Seth Lochhead and David Farr) is better served when he's able to be daring, to come at things from a slightly left-of-center perspective.

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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

'Dancing with the Stars' recap: The celebs hit the floor for three-ways

It's time for trio dancing, which brings one

Only two weeks left! And so many celebrities left! It's madness, I tell you, madness! But there will be a double elimination tomorrow. Tonight, we get dancing. Most significantly, we get dance trios. One celeb, two professionals to prop up him or her. This does not seem like a great idea to me, as a waltz or a samba sort of lends itself to two people, not three. But I guess the desperate need for challenges on "DWTS" this season requires wacky stuff like this. 

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<p>Trevin Hunte of &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

Trevin Hunte of "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Top 12 Performances

The Top 12 yields several strong performances and few stinkers
If the listings on my cable package are correct, we’re going to be down to four contestants by the end of tomorrow’s night’s results episode. That’s…kind of quick, no? Granted, I’m all for the show forgoing any stall techniques as it heads to the finish line. But there’s a difference between racing to the finish and turning into The Flash on the home stretch. Again, we’ll have confirmation once the episode starts, but it sounds like only one member of each team will be around next week. That means two per team may be packing in roughly 24 hours.
In any case, all 12 remaining contestants will be performing tonight, which should make for a fast-moving, streamlined show with a minimum of overt product placement. That should mean mercifully few moments in Christina Milian’s Social Media Circle Of Doom. There are no more saves for Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton from this point on. It’s all about the audience vote at this point. That means those saved by the coaches last week (Adriana Louise, Cody Belew, Melanie Martinez, and Michaela Paige) seem to be at a major disadvantage at this stage of the game. Their performances may be the most make-or-break of the night. I’ll make predictions at the end of recap as to who will survive tomorrow night. For now, let’s get to tonight’s running diary.
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<p>JJ Abrams, seen here at the 'Mission:&nbsp;Impossible -&nbsp;Ghost Protocol' premiere, certainly isn't afraid to play with iconic properties, but 'Star Wars' may be the offer he refuses.</p>

JJ Abrams, seen here at the 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' premiere, certainly isn't afraid to play with iconic properties, but 'Star Wars' may be the offer he refuses.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Directors like Favreau and Abrams respond as 'Star Wars' helmer search continues

As rumors fly, filmmakers openly discuss the idea of taking up the mantle

The first time I ever spoke to JJ Abrams for any length of time, it was during the early days of pre-production on 2009's "Star Trek," and we spent as much of the phone call talking about "Star Wars" as we did anything else.

The comments he made to Hollywood Life certainly echo the sentiments he shared with me that afternoon.  We talked about why he was tackling something as well-examined and iconic as "Star Trek," and he explained that when he was growing up, he was aware of "Trek" and enjoyed it in a passing sort of way, but that "Star Wars" was the thing that he couldn't get enough of, the thing that really turned him on to the potential of world-building.  He felt like with "Trek," he had more room to play because he liked the iconography, but wasn't overly reverent towards it.  He was able to see ways to twist things, to try new things with the characters, whereas he felt like "Star Wars" was something that he would be afraid to change or screw up at all.

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Credit: RCA Records

Album Review: Christina Aguilera blooms on 'Lotus'

In case you've forgotten, she's a fighter, but also a dancer

Christina Aguilera has a manifesto and on “Lotus,” it’s upfront and center. Her new album, out Nov. 13, opens with a self-important, autotuned declaration set to a trance-like chant, that her rebirth is here: “submerged from her pain, broken pieces,” this “songbird” is beginning again and she needs to speak her truth:  “I say goodbye to the scared child inside. I sing for freedom and for love. I look at my reflection, embrace the woman that I’ve become. The unbreakable lotus in me, I now set free.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Ludacris in &quot;Rest of My Life&quot;</p>

Ludacris in "Rest of My Life"

Watch: Ludacris, Usher and David Guetta's 'Rest of My Life' aspires to inspire

Yoga and a smoky road

The video for Ludacris' "Rest of My Life" featuring David Guetta and Usher is like one of those inspirational posters: it's a lot of monumental "moments" framed in motivational speech, but not without commerce. That is, look for the product placements inside this general message of carpe diem.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 157

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 157

Dan and Alan talk 'Catfish,' 'Crossfire Hurricane' and catch up on a few shows


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. 
It's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast Time!
We didn't review Ken Burns' "Dust Bowl" or History's "Mankind" this week. Sorry.
We did, however, review HBO's "Crossfire Hurricane" and MTV's "Catfish." Plus, we dropped in on a wide array of shows, including "Boardwalk Empire," "Dexter" and "Go On," plus our obligatory discussion of this week's "Homeland."
WARNING: Next week, we will not be podcasting, due to Thanksgiving and whatnot. NO PODCAST. We'll be back the following week with the usual stuff, likely on Tuesday.
Here's today's breakdown:
"Catfish: The TV Show" (00:02:35 - 00:14:50)
"Crossfire Hurricane" (00:14:50 - 00:24:20)
"Go On" (00:24:20 - 00:31:30)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:31:30 - 00:42:20)
"Dexter" (00:42:25 - 00:52:40)
Listener Mail - "Mockingbird Lane" (00:52:55 - 00:58:20)
Listener Mail - TV stars in movie ensembles (00:58:20 - 01:03:40)
"Homeland" (01:03:40 - 01:23:15)

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>Jeff Bridges winning Best Actor at the 2009 Academy Awards.</p>

Jeff Bridges winning Best Actor at the 2009 Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Oscar Bait: Will the Academy feel generous toward Jeff Bridges as 'The Giver?'

Philip Noyce in talks to direct long-gestating adaptation of Lois Lowry's novel

Kris inaugurated our Oscar Bait column, in which we muse on the awards potential of projects still in development or production, a few weeks ago with some thoughts on Tom Hanks's upcoming turn as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks." Unfortunately, we've neglected to revisit the feature since -- as the season ramps up, after all, it's a challenge to see as far ahead as February, let alone to films that haven't even been made yet.

But when promising news dropped last week concerning the long-forestalled film adaptation of Lois Lowry's "The Giver," I pricked up my ears. Pre-production talk doesn't tend to grab my attention, but in this case I was willing to make an exception -- not least because I'd been talking with friends about my desire for "The Giver" to eventually reach the screen only two days before. (Sadly, this power to magick a project into being seems to be a one-time deal: I've casually been inserting Wong Kar-wai's abandoned Nicole Kidman collaboration "The Lady from Shanghai" into conversations for a whole week, but no dice.)

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