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<p>Frank Ocean and Seth MacFarlane of &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot;</p>

Frank Ocean and Seth MacFarlane of "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' Premiere - Seth MacFarlane and Frank Ocean

'SNL' launches its 38th season by giving new exposure to familiar stars

Every season of “Saturday Night Live” is a beast unto itself. But in my short time recapping episodes for HitFix, the time between seasons has seen the most change. Stalwarts Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg are gone. Jason Sudeikis will join them in a few months. Three new cast members (Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong) have been added as featured players. Lorne Michaels finally decided to let Jay Pharoah play President Obama. These aren’t seismic changes, to be certain. The show has handled more turnover in its past. And no one expects the overall quality of the show to take a sudden downhill turn even with the aforementioned changes.

But maybe people should expect more from the show this season. At the very least, they should expect something different. I wrote up ten suggestions last week for “SNL,” and while I don’t expect the powers that be to stop production and have every member of the writer’s room read that gallery (although let’s be frank, that would be the smart thing to do!), I do expect the change in the show’s onscreen talent to inevitable change the overall makeup of the show. Such change is built into the program’s DNA, and has kept it a part of the pop culture landscape for nearly thirty years. How successful the writing of the show adapts to the new cast composition will go a long way to determining the show’s success this season. 
 
So I’ll keep a keen eye on which cast members break out, which ones recede, and how the new combinations possible given the absence of Wiig and Samberg affect the in-sketch dynamics. The lucky first host to be part of this ongoing comedic experiment? Seth MacFarlane, who took time to leap off his big pile of money AMASSED from his FOX animated comedies and this past summer’s surprise box-office smash “Ted” to come down and host the show for us little people. Along for the ride is musical act Frank Ocean, a writer/producer who entered the public consciousness over this past year through both his music (the album “Channel Orange”) and his personal life (announcing publicly that his first love was a man).
 
Will Ocean stay on stage, or join so many previous musical guests in appearing in sketches as well? Will he help pen an opening monologue song for MacFarlane? What is the future of pre-produced comedic content on the show? Will Pharaoh’s chance to shine be a mere imitation of Obama or a unique impersonation? Will the women of the cast have a chance to form their own version of the female-led ensembles that represent some of the show’s finest seasons? So many questions, and only one way to answer them: by grading each segment of the show as they happen in real time. After that, you tell me how wrong I was, how I have no business covering a show that hasn’t been funny in years, and then we do the whole thing again next week. We cool? Cool. Onto the recap!
 
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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Liam Richards/AP

Music Power Rankings: Taylor Swift, Rihanna and 'The Voice' top the list

Psy joins the party

1. Taylor Swift: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” becomes the longest running country hit at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 32 years. Please explain to me what part of the song is “country” again...

2. "The Voice": As the show’s third season, 3-night premiere dominates over “The X Factor,” “The Voice” becomes THE vocal talent competition to beat. Mark Burnett tries to figure out a way to run three editions a year.

3.Rihanna: You can set a clock to that girl. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, the rumor is she will drop another album in November. She has released one album a year since 2005, except for 2008.

4 Psy: Resistance is futile. Just learn the horse trot and give in to “Gangnam Style.” Join the 150 million who already have. The South Korean artist is now signed to Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun’s label. We smell a duet.

5 . Nikki Minaj: She injects herself into the political conversation with her fake endorsement of Romney and then real endorsement of Obama. We’re really listening to a cartoon character’s political thoughts?

6. Matchbox Twenty:
After nearly 20 years, the pop-rock band scores its first No. 1 album. They are definitely “Back 2 Good.”

7. Randy Jackson: This Dawg has nine lives. It would seem rumors of his demise as an “American Idol” judge were greatly exaggerated.

8. Goldenvoice:
The folks who bring you Coachella and Stagecoach reveal that they may add up to three more annual music events in Indio, Calif. The neighbors’ heads explode, while everyone else cheers.

9. Bruce Springsteen: After President Obama uses “We Take Care of Our Own” at the close of his speech at the DNC, sales of the song skyrocket 409%. As if Obama didn’t already have The Boss’s vote.

10. Apple: The company finally realizes that Ping was rotten to the core and kills its music-sharing platform. Oh, and did you order your iPhone 5 yet?

 

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<p>&quot;Doctor Who&quot;&nbsp;headed back to the Wild West.</p>

"Doctor Who" headed back to the Wild West.

Credit: BBC

Review: 'Doctor Who' - 'A Town Called Mercy'

Two alien doctors and a cyborg cause trouble in an Old West town

A quick review of tonight's "Doctor Who" just as soon as my friends wonder why I'm aging more rapidly than them...

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<p>Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in &quot;Sherlock.&quot;</p>

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in "Sherlock."

Credit: BBC

Emmys 2012 Predictions: Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

The eligibility rules are strange, but something has to win

The Primetime Emmy Awards are on Sunday, September 23rd, and that means it's time for our predictions, both of what will win (and based on my own very shabby track record in this area, I would advise against wagering actual money based on my picks), and what should. We'll be running one or two posts per day over the next week, starting with a category that remains in a state of both flux and controversy: Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

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"So You Think You Can Dance"

 "So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: Fox

Reality TV Roundup: The latest on 'So You Think You Can Dance' and other shows

'Project Runway's maxi-pad debacle, a 'Jersey Shore' couple cozies up and more

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...? ?

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 87 -- Fall fests, 'The Master,' 'Silver Linings,' 'Argo' kick off the season

Oscar Talk: Ep. 87 -- Fall fests, 'The Master,' 'Silver Linings,' 'Argo' kick off the season

We're back!

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

It's been too long since we last got together. Technical difficulties conspired to keep us away during the Toronto Film Festival, while a bout of a flu-like-thing kept us away while in Telluride. Alas, it's all for the better, as we come to you this weekend with a full, measured slate of material. Let's see what's on the docket...

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<p>Giancarlo Esposito from &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;plays a heavy in &quot;Revolution.&quot;</p>

Giancarlo Esposito from "Breaking Bad" plays a heavy in "Revolution."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's 'Revolution' lacking power

Post-apocalyptic blackout drama feels like another weak 'Lost' imitator
Every now and then, when I watch my kids fight over who gets to control the iPad, or go to a ballgame or restaurant where everyone's nose is glued to their smartphone, I ponder what it would be like to live in a simpler time where we didn't have the flashiest toys but also didn't feel so dependent on them. Of course, then I realize that my particular skill set would be useless in such a time and I go back to happily playing Words With Friends.
 
"Revolution," the new NBC drama that premieres Monday night at 10, finds a particularly rough way to force its characters to stop (texting) and smell the roses: a few minutes into the first episode, all the electricity in the world stops working. It's not just a blackout — a laptop battery is just as useless as one that's plugged in — and because it happens so suddenly, a whole lot of people die within minutes. (It's a bad time, for instance, to be on an airplane.)
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<p>&quot;Next Caller&quot;</p>

"Next Caller"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Next Caller'

Dane Cook sitcom may not be quite as bad as you fear. Maybe.

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Next Caller" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: "The kids today love Dane Cook and absolutely nobody finds him completely and totally intolerable!"
Quick Response: Imagine being warned that a medical procedure would leave you feeling like you'd been hit in the crotch with a giant steel-driving hammer 75 times and then waking up and only feeling like you'd been hit in the crotch 25 times by a padded Whack-a-Mole mallet. Your first reaction would be, "OH MY GOD, MY GROIN!" Your second reaction would be, "But I guess it wasn't quite as bad as I feared." Ladies and gentlemen, that's my rave review for "Next Caller." NBC is completely welcome to the blurb, "Less excruciatingly painful than you might otherwise have anticipated." Use it in health, NBC! "Next Caller" is misogynistic, homophobic and occasionally terrible, but it's more consistently forgettable than consistently terrible. Once again, that counts as a win for this NPR-flavored rom-com (short on both the "rom" and the "com"). Dane Cook is capable of being less-than-distracting. Remember that Kevin Costner serial killer movie? Dane Cook wasn't bad in that at all. But what he's doing here is playing a character who could have been played by every single obnoxious standup comic of the past 25 years. It's a breeze to imagine this being developed as an Andrew Dice Clay vehicle. I can imagine this being repurposed for Carlos Mencia. So Cook relies heavily on his Dane Cook schtick for at least half of the pilot, before turning on some entirely unearned "I have a heart, too" sincerity. And why is he such a boor? Because some woman broke his heart. Somehow, this is supposed to make us sympathetic towards him. It doesn't work. Because Cook is playing his character so broadly, the mostly lovable Collette Wolfe -- so good in "Young Adult," "Cougar Town" and a slew of supporting roles -- also has to play her character dialed up to 12, getting one or two chuckles in the process. The thing is, that there's a completely reasonable show that could be made about a pair of mismatched radio call-in hosts who are completely recognizable as human beings and not just the embodiments of retro Mars/Venus gender stereotypes. And I'd endeavor to say that that show could still star Dane Cook and Collette Wolfe, though I'd still lobby for a different male lead. And maybe it would actually work. With Jeffrey Tambor and Joy Osmanski, "Next Caller" even has the necessary backbone to become a "WKRP"/"NewsRadio"-style workplace ensemble. The problem is that you can't have one-dimensional main characters and then also have cartoonish supporting characters behind them. Something needs to ground the show. If Cook and Wolfe were playing real people, the randy nun saying stuff like "You hit that yet, or what?" might conceivable be a hoot. In this incarnation, she's not. I believe that "Next Caller" is undergoing an overhaul before it premieres. I think there's potential in Wolfe and Tambor and Osmanski. I think there's an approach to Cook wherein he's not an active detriment. Hopefully the retooling will find the right balance.
Desire To Watch Again: If they're actually doing a top-to-bottom fix on this pilot, my desire to see another episode or two is reasonable. If they're only fixing it piecemeal, I can't imagine an upside that goes beyond, "Not as bad as you're expecting." In that case, maybe I'll only watch the Wolfe scenes and then move on.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Following'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Family Tools'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

 

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<p>Dave Matthews</p>

Dave Matthews

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Dave Matthews Band heads for its sixth No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Six debuts dominate the Top 10

Dave Matthews Band will score its sixth No. 1 album next week as “Away From The World” is a sure bet to come in at the top of the Billboard 200.

The set, produced by Steve Lillywhite, is on track to sell up to 275,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. 

DMBis far from the only act making a Top 10 debut: As the fall rush begins, the top 5 spots will be occupied by new releases. Country co-ed quartet, Little Big Town, who scored its first No. 1 single with “Pontoon,” will top the country album chart and come in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with “Tornado.” Bob Dylan’s “Tempest” looks strong for No. 3, though it is fending off a challenge from The Avett Brothers’ “The Carpenter.” Both are targeted to sell between 95,000 and 105,000 copies. Bowing at No. 5 will like be  The xx with “Coexist.”

Rounding out the rest of the top 10, this week’s No. 2 title, Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” will likely be at No. 6. This week’s No. 1, Matchbox Twenty’s “North” and “Now 43” are in a close race for the No. 7 spot, with both selling between 27,000 and 30,000 copies.

ZZ Top’s “La Futura” will be the Top 10’s sixth new entry at the  little old band from Texas’s first album in nine years is, appropriately enough, slated for No. 9 and Christian rapper Lecrae’s “Gravity”  drops from No. 3 to No. 10.







 

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<p>Tom Rothman, seen here at this summer's AFI&nbsp;tribute to Shirley Maclaine, is leaving 20th Century Fox after over a decade in the studio's top job.</p>

Tom Rothman, seen here at this summer's AFI tribute to Shirley Maclaine, is leaving 20th Century Fox after over a decade in the studio's top job.

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

An era ends at Fox as Tom Rothman prepares to leave the studio

We look at his legacy, both good and bad, and ponder the future

From the moment we heard the first rumblings of his leaving to the moment the press release confirming it appeared in the inbox was a matter of just over an hour, and now we can confirm that Tom Rothman will be leaving 20th Century Fox at the end of the year.

Jim Gianopulos will serve as Chairman and CEO moving forward, and that ensures a certain degree of continuity, since Gianopulos has been working with Rothman for well over a decade, and he's been part of some of the key decision making in that time.  I first met Jim in 1991, and I'm excited to see what happens as he begins to assert more of his own personality.  He was one of my regular customers at Dave's Video way back at that point, and he had a huge appetite for big Hollywood entertainment, a great knowledge of the classics, and beyond that, always seemed to be genuinely excited by the business.  It should be interesting to see what sort of films he's going to make now that he's at the helm.

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<p>Chris Evans at the Toronto International Film Festival press conference for &quot;The Iceman.&quot;</p>

Chris Evans at the Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "The Iceman."

Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Chris Evans on his indie 'Iceman' break after a year of playing 'Captain America'

Someone's not looking forward to getting back into the gym

TORONTO – This is pretty close to the best of times for Chris Evans. After years of trying to breakthrough to superstar status he finally hit the A-list as Steve Rodgers in Marvel Studios’ blockbuster “Captain America: The First Avenger” last summer.  Well, to be fair, he likely solidified himself his global popularity after “The Avengers” was released in May.  Over $1.5 million in ticket sales later and you can be sure little boys and girls all over the world will always recognize Evans’ face.

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<p>Lady Gaga is an art piece</p>

Lady Gaga is an art piece

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: 'Lady Gaga Film' premieres as Lady Gaga behaves like Lady Gaga

Pop star gets a head tattoo -- live! -- and promos perfume at Guggenheim

A few hundred words have been written recently about Lady Gaga's Fame fragrance and it's television commercial. A few more were penned this week as she shaved a new 'do onto her head in an apparent tribute. Last night, the full-length "Lady Gaga Film" bowed at a museum.

These all have something to do with each other, but it's mostly just a week of Lady Gaga being Lady Gaga.

Television commercials for Mother Monster's perfume were culled from a longer film, cleverly titled "Lady Gaga Film," directed by photographer Steven Klein. The 5:30-long clip made a full debut at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which hosted the fragrance's launch with Gaga herself.

More on the party later. First the film. There's some humping motor oil and a mind-graft with black plastic garbage bags. Gaga first appears as a giant gold idol, then later completely naked with her subjects crawling on her bits. There's some German, chanting and sex. It's very expensive. I think it's art? She thinks it's art.

Anyway, she made quite an entrance with her new consumer purchase item at the Guggenheim, and that entrance was also art.

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