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Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin in 'True Blood'

No, Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin can't believe what's happening on "True Blood" either

Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

'True Blood' season finale recap: 'Save Yourself'

Alan Ball leaves behind a big mess for season six

Alan Ball launched "True Blood" as a romantic horror show, laced with caustic wit and social satire (vampires were finally "coming out" of their coffins around the world, demanding equal rights). He gave us two (or arguably two and half) seasons of reliably entertaining summer escapism. And now Ball leaves "True Blood" in the worst state it has ever been: an overcrowded, emotionally empty, frustrating, convoluted, nonsensical mess.

Tonight's chaotic fifth season finale was Ball's swan song with the series (at least in full-time capacity) and carried his writing credit. Here was one last chance for Ball to play around with the characters, bring couples together or drive them apart, prove to us that "True Blood" still has some magic lurking under the shambles it has become. And what did we get? A big, fat middle finger to the fans, the cast and whoever else Ball's ditching with his exit.

Alan Ball has left the building ladies and gentleman, and if you don't get the message it's time to follow him out the door, well, you're just not paying attention. After all, the title of the episode was "Save Yourself."

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"Big Brother"

 "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: Pandora's Box is back and Frank is on the warpath

The hamsters are running scared when Boogie's BFF gets mad

Wow, tensions are high at the Big Brother house. Lots of yelling, most of it from Frank. Without Boogie around to be his creepy, Burgess Meredith-esque blankie, it seems Frank is a lot more comfortable ripping into the other hamsters. Of course, he has no reason not to do so. Though the other hamsters cower in fear when he raises his voice, he knows he's only hanging on by a thread -- and when he can't win POV or HOH at a critical time, the seemingly meek rodents will come after him with kitchen cutlery and spatulas, desperately trying to pancake-flip him out of the house. 

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<p>Steven Pasquale of &quot;Do No Harm&quot;</p>

Steven Pasquale of "Do No Harm"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'

'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' medical drama raises many questions, few answers

[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: "Do No Harm" (NBC) [MIDSEASON]
The Pitch: "Remember how 'My Own Worst Enemy' failed even though it starred Christian Slater and Taylor Lautner? Maybe what it needed was... ummm... that guy from 'Rescue Me.' And to be more serious and crazy and less fun and confusing?"
Quick Response: I don't know what "Do No Harm" feels like, but it doesn't feel like an NBC drama. Maybe it belongs on FX? Or Syfy? No clue. Anyway, this is NBC's latest attempt to tap into the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" mythos, with "Rescue Me" co-star Steven Pasquale playing a charming neurosurgeon who loses control and becomes a demented sociopath at night. How? Why? Huh? David Schulner's pilot script is mostly invested in tying things up in confusing knots and planting dozens of perplexing mysteries and not especially invested in maintaining anything other than rudimentary internal logic or cohesion. It's a theme this midseason, when the networks are unveiling three or four audaciously weird, wacky and possibly terrible (but possibly terribly addictive) new dramas. I was completely involved in "Do No Harm," but much of that involvement involved writing "What the [fudge]?!?" in my notes every time something happened that I didn't understand or wasn't supposed to understand. And again, that's not an "I'm shocked!" kinda "What the [fudge]?!?" it's a "Wha' Happen?!?" thing. Bafflement is an acceptable response to a pilot -- I have no doubt there'll be people who just love how little of "Do No Harm" is spelled out, as if merely being murky were a sign of implied genius -- but it helps if you have confidence that there's a sure hand behind-the-scenes steering things in one specific direction. "Do No Harm" felt more chaotic and less structured and that left me less-than-pleased. Pasquale is the big x-factor in a show like this and he's taking an interesting approach that somewhat minimizes the distinctions between the doctor and his alter-ego (compared to the strict, rudimentary, contrast Christian Slater created in "My Own Worst Enemy"). Based on the pilot (and past work), I really can't tell if Pasquale is an interesting enough actor for this blurred Jekyll/Hyde. James Nesbitt, for example, delivered a masterclass in almost imperceptible delineation in "Jekyll," but Pasquale's not doing that yet. There's an odd sparseness to the supporting cast, which is almost entirely relative unknowns ... and then Phylicia Rashad. That also leads to the feeling that "Do No Harm" should be on cable or possibly Canadian TV. I watch a lot of TV. I know a lot of actors. So having a cast that's this devoid of familiar character actors or up-and-coming supporting players is... odd. Anyway... There's some strange Oliver Sacks-style stuff that may or may not attempt to ground this story in some kind of realism, but in a TV era in which we're accustomed to Dexter simultaneously being/balance both Jekyll and Hyde is the bifurcation actually all that interesting anymore? On a trivial side note, "Do No Harm" has the goofiest last line in TV pilot history. You may not notice its bizarreness if you've tuned out by then, but it's a classic.
Desire To Watch Again: I had so many questions at the end of the "Do No Harm" pilot that I want to watch a couple more episodes. I also think a couple more episodes would let me make a conclusive determination on whether Pasquale's subtly is a good choice or a damning choice. But this isn't an "I'm excited to see more," kinda thing. It's a "How long can they keep up this pace of vagueness and point-circling?" kinda thing. Like I said, there are a couple midseason dramas that I feel similarly towards and I'll get to those in the weeks to come.

 

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>&quot;The Carrie Diaries&quot;</p>

"The Carrie Diaries"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'

Midseason 'Sex and the City' prequel is sweeter than you're expecting

[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: "The Carrie Diaries" (The CW) [MIDSEASON]
The Pitch: It's a "Sex and the City" prequel. Who needs a pitch?
Quick Response: Every second of "Sex and the City" that I ever watched made me cringe. The characters. The dialogue. Every bit of it. Of course, I wasn't the target demo, so I don't take it personally, but "The Carrie Diaries" was definitely one of my most dreaded pilots. With that in mind, take it with as many grains of salt as you choose that I sorta kinda liked The CW's "The Carrie Diaries." It's not bad. I'm not hung up on associations with "Sex and the City," so I'm not interested in quibbling about changes to the Grand "SatC" Mythology and I'm not invested in whether or not Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw can be extrapolated logically from the version of Carrie being played by AnnaSophia Robb here. The show that The CW is airing at midseason is sweeter and more modest than anything you might be expecting, closer in tone to a John Hughes movie, right down to the '80s setting, than a premium cable raunch-fest (though some of the dialogue is a bit risque). With that in mind, I liked the dynamic between Carrie and her father (Matt Letscher) and younger sister ("Running Wild" co-star Stefania Owen all grown up) because it felt like an old WB drama. There's heart here. I didn't care nearly as much about the plotline bringing Carrie into New York City and introducing her to her future worlds of journalism and fashion, because that felt like "Jane By Design." Just as The CW premiered "Ringer" after the mighty similar "The Lying Game" last year, The CW is going to premiere "The Carrie Diaries" after ABC Family has already cancelled "Jane by Design" and there's a ton of overlap. And Robb is even less believable as a teen capable of convincing cool New Yorkers that she's in her 20s than Erica Dasher was on "Jane." Robb is, in fact, both the best and worst part of "The Carrie Diaries." There's a nice vulnerability to her performance and I warmed to her more fully in 44 minutes than I ever warmed to Parker's Carrie, but the 18-year-old actress reads very young on the screen, too young for anything she's doing to be plausible and too young to allow the show the kind of latitude for maturity it might be hoping for.  Director Miguel Arteta deserves a lot of the credit for balancing the tone and '80s nostalgia in "The Carrie Diaries," for keeping the kitsch factor from ever approaching what doomed the dismal "Gossip Girls" '80s backdoor pilot. The actors have been well-cast for the period, especially Austin Butler, whose Young James Spader vibe has never been better used. [For Butler "New Young James Spader" is a much more aspirational descriptor than "New Chad Michael Murray," which would also fit.]
Desire To Watch Again: Moderate. I sound positive here, but I think I'm mostly positive relative to my expectations, which were perilously low. I'll approach the second episode with revised expectations that'll be harder to meet. Then again, my DVR is already set for The CW in that hour with the final season of "Gossip Girl" anyway... so who knows?

 

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>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: John Shearer/AP

Taylor Swift handily tops both Music Power Rankings and Billboard's charts this week

Justin Bieber, Adele and Psy also make the top 10

1. Taylor Swift: Her new single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” sets a new record for digital downloads by a female artist selling 623,000 copies. It also sets the record for digital download sales by  a wedding crasher.

2. American Idol: If only the actual contest to find the season’s best singer was half as scintillating as the competition to find the new judges.

3. Dee Snider: The Twisted Sister frontman tells Paul Ryan’s campaign to quit using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on the stump, following Silversun Pickup’s throwing a cease and desist letter at Mitt Romney’s campaign for using “Panic Switch.”   On the bright side, the Republicans snag Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Oak Ridge Boys to perform at the convention... if a little tropical storm named Isaac doesn’t ruin the grand old party’s party before then.

4. Psy: the latest viral video sensation is about to hit the mainstream as the South Korean rapper’s “Gangnam Style” will have surpassed 50 million views on YouTube by the time you click here.  “Hey sexy lady,” it’s hilarious, silly fun that sounds like it was made in Psy’s bedroom. We feel a new dance craze coming on. Will K-Pop finally explode here?

5. Adele: Within a few weeks, “21”will accomplish the near impossible: surpass 10 million in sales in the U.S. And it may do so without having never fallen out of the top 10 since its release in February 2011. That Adele, she’s such a stage 5 clinger.

6. Muse: British recovered nicely from the round drubbing it rightly received for its awful Olympics track with “Madness,” a subtle turn that shows all is forgiven if you get it right the next time. This time they stick the landing.

7. Bob Marley: The world’s largest dead superstar continues to make news as his “Legends” greatest hits set reaches a new peak on the Billboard 200 28 years after its initial release, climbing to No. 18. One love, one heart.

8. Justin Bieber: The Biebs is headed to Springfield to play his animated self on “The Simpsons.”  We hope Maggie crushes on him so hard. They’re about the same size.

9. Dispatch: The beloved group’s first new studio album in more than a decade comes out. Good news for fans of real live music created by human beings.

10. Chavril: Admit it, Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger’s engagement feels like a sign of the apocalypse, doesn’t it?
 

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<p>&quot;Malibu Country&quot;</p>

"Malibu Country"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'

If you like your comedy old-fashioned and unfunny, ABC's built a block for you

[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:"Malibu Country" (ABC)
The Pitch:"It's important that ABC maintain its comedic position half in 2012 and half in 1992."
Quick Response: You know that the concept of cohesive network branding is dead when you look at ABC's comedy slate. On one hand, the network has some of the savviest, most current sitcoms on broadcast TV ("Modern Family," "Happy Endings," "The B---- in Apartment 23" and "Suburgatory" fit here). On the other hand, the network has a strange assortment of comedies that could have been produced a two or three decades ago, with the punchlines intact ("Last Man Standing," "The Neighbors" and the defunct "Work It" fit here). [Somewhere in the middle, fittingly, is "The Middle."] Anyway, that's how ABC ends up a lack of comedic flexibility, because some of the network's sitcoms simply CAN'T be paired with others. On the other hand, sometimes a pairing is just too perfect. "Suburgatory," for example, belonged with "Modern Family," even if it took ABC a year to realize it. And "Malibu Country" was almost literally developed, produced and ordered to go with "Last Man Standing." Tim Allen's family comedy feels consistently old-fashioned and when it comes to certain social niceties, it's sometimes well past outdated and and into retrograde. But the audience/laff-track roars enthusiastically and for some viewers, I have no doubt that's comforting. "Malibu Country" will function in the exact same way and I'm at a loss for what to say about it, because the target audience probably isn't reading me anyway and certainly wouldn't be swayed by any negativity. And, just as Tim Allen and Nancy Travis are old pros who know how to milk any plausible laughs from the thread-worn "Last Man" scripts, you know that whatever Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin are given, they'll get the most out of it, however faint that praise may be. In the case of the "Malibu Country" pilot, unfortunately, there's virtually no mirth at all. Every fish-out-of-water punchline is stale and some of the stuff involving Reba's family's gay neighbor is somewhere between "kinda" and "completely" offensive. And guess what? The audience likely to watch "Last Man Standing" and "Malibu Country" will no doubt be tickled by the jokes about homosexuality and crazy Los Angeles hippies and medicinal marijuana. Nobody else will be amused, but ABC doesn't care, because the cooler-than-thou audiences have plenty to chuckle at earlier in the week. As for the rest of the "Malibu Country" cast, Sara Rue is proudly showing off the results of her ongoing dieting, but when it comes to her pilot season choice between this and "Guys with Kids," it's pretty much a push. And Jai Rodriguez, as the sassy assistant to Reba's new agent, is irksome and seems destined to be around for the long-haul.
Desire To Watch Again: None. And yet, oddly, I watched nearly a full season of "Last Man Standing," hoping it might get better. With this one, anything more than a second episode for courtesy is unlikely.

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>Trey Songz' &quot;Chapter 5&quot;</p>

Trey Songz' "Chapter 5"

Trey Songz easily sings his way to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200

Could this be the last week in the top 10 for Adele's '21?'

With sales three times that of his closest competitor, Trey Songz will easily debut at No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200 with “Chapter 5.”

The title will also be the only album to surpass the 100,000 tally, as it is on track to sell up to 135,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

Former chart topper “Now 43” will remain at No. 2 with sales of around 50,000 copies. This week’s No. 1, 2 Chainz’ “Based On A T.R.U. Story” drops to No. 3.

In addition to Songz’ set, three other albums will crash into the Top 10: DJ Khaled’s “Kiss The Ring” will likely start at No. 4 with sales of 40,000-45,000; contemporary Christian band Tenth Avenue North at No. 8 with “The Struggle” with sales of up to 30,000; and Owl City with “The Midsummer Station” at No. 9 with sales of up to 28,000.

Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” will likely stay at No. 5 and Justin Bieber’s “Believe” at No. 6. Rick Ross’s “God Forgive, I Don’t” looks poised to fall from No. 3 to No. 7.

Adele’s “21” will likely drop two places to No. 8. Could this be its last week in the Top 10? The title has never dropped out of the top 10 since its February 2011 release.

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<p>Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha of &quot;The New Normal&quot;</p>

Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha of "The New Normal"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'

Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler's comedy suffers from a split personality

[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:"The New Normal" (NBC)
The Pitch: "Do you wanna be in the Ryan Murphy business?" "OK."
Quick Response: "The New Normal" comes from Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, who both have ample experience writing funny stuff, but have mostly done comedy in an hour-long format (Adler has a number of sitcom credits from Back in the Day, but Murphy does not). It probably isn't surprising, then, that the single-cam half-hour "The New Normal" doesn't exactly seem to know what it wants to be. The tone almost varies character-by-character, beat-by-beat. Tony Winner Nominee Andrew Rannells, for example, is really grating and verging on unwatchable at times when he's supposed to be playing beats for comedic purposes. His character has been written so that his only notable trait is self-absorption and, like Michael Urie's character in "Partners," you wonder how quickly they're going to have to soften the character in order to salvage the show around him. In semi-dramatic or emotional moments, though, Rannells' Bryan is far better, but you're left debating whether or not those moments have been earned by a character who's basically adopting a baby as an accessory. As Bryan's partner David, Justin Bartha isn't funny at all, but he has a believable and natural chemistry with Rannells. As possible future surrogate mom Goldie and her daughter Shania, Georgia King and Bebe Wood have a very pleasant rapport, though their dynamic -- flighty mom, seemingly preternaturally wise daughter -- is one of this season's most popular tropes and I preferred what FOX's "Ben & Kate" tried to do with the same relationship (less of a fan of the same relationship in ABC's "How To Live With Your Parents Etc"). And then you have the loud, shrill people who will be audience favorites in some demos and will have other viewers flipping off the TV in haste. Ellen Barkin plays the politically incorrect mother/grandmother-from-hell, a character so unguarded and generally noxious that she makes Sue Sylvester seem as lovable as Betty White. As that character's racist and homophobic ranting progressed, I became numb and when we get hints of relatability towards the end, it's hard to buy. The character is too much of a caricature for anybody to be offended by her and the excess mutes her audacity. As the antidote to Barkin's character, NeNe Leakes is dialed up to 11 at all times. I was surprised by how much I liked NeNe on "Glee" last season, but the lesson here is that you need NeNe as a precision tactical weapon and the more scenes she's allowed to dominate, the less effective she is. Perhaps proving it's more Murphy than Adler, the "New Normal" pilot packs an impressive amount of whiplash into 22 minutes and I was laughing and really annoyed in nearly equal measures. I think there are versions of "The New Normal" that I would really like, versions that would make me laugh, but would also have the ability to pack an emotional punch. There are also versions of "The New Normal" that could have me changing the channel in real frustration.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll watch to find out which one it's going to be. I'm not going to give "The New Normal" infinite time to find itself, to figure out the balance of tones and character, but this is yet another pilot that's a reminder of how tough it is to judge a comedy after one episode. If they tweak Rannells' character in the right way, if they figure out exactly the correct amount to use Barkin and Leakes, if they figure out the weekly structuring of the show, I'll stick around. In the pilot, those things aren't there yet.

 

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>Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez co-star in the silly but charming 'Premium Rush'</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dania Ramirez co-star in the silly but charming 'Premium Rush'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon sell slick and silly 'Premium Rush'

David Koepp's latest is just popcorn, but not in a bad way

"Premium Rush" is a very silly, very slight film that is invigorated by David Koepp's obvious  fascination with how to capture the visceral thrill of being a bike messenger in modern Manhattan.  It barely holds together as a narrative while you're watching, but there are some basic pleasures to be had.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has, fate willing, a long and exciting career ahead of him.  He's comfortable with comedy, drama, romance, action, dancing, singing, and who knows what else.  He seems unafraid of any subject matter, and his work with HitRECord, his art collective movement, reveals him as someone with a hunger for the pure thrill of invention.  So when he says in the press notes for the film that one of the things that helped him decide to do "Premium Rush" was the thought of riding bikes in New York in the summer, I buy it.  I can see how he'd want to mix it up, and there is a physical challenge inherent to a film like this that would be appealing to an actor who is as keenly aware of his body as Gordon-Levitt seems to be.  Koepp has staged some remarkable bike action in and around Manhattan, and I'm not sure how much is real, how much involves stunt performers, and how much had to be created in a computer or massaged in some way digitally.  I sort of don't want to know, either, because the trick of the film is that Koepp makes it all look like he just got a camera next to Gordon-Levitt or Dania Ramirez or Wole Parks when they were hauling ass through the terrifying daytime traffic of New York City.  It's a seamless trick, and that's a big part of what Koepp's job was in making the movie.

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Michael Strahan

 Michael Strahan

Credit: AP Photo

5 reasons why Michael Strahan is right for 'Live! with Kelly'

He isn't Regis, but that might be a good thing
So, the morning chat show rumor mill has been abuzz with speculation about who Kelly Ripa will choose as her permanent co-host on "Live! with Kelly." Of course, the speculation is pretty focused on just one person. Of the 59 personalities who were tried out the co-host chair, the most likely candidate to take Regis Philbin's old chair appears to be Michael Strahan. A former NFL defensive end and co-host of Fox's "NFL Sunday" show (a job he's expected to keep), Strahan is a big, brawny guy who's about as much like Regis Philbin as he is a box of cats or a sugarplum tomato. And that's not a bad thing.
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<p>Nicki MInaj in &quot;I Am Your Leader&quot;: Leaders bathe however they want</p>

Nicki MInaj in "I Am Your Leader": Leaders bathe however they want

2 new Nicki Minaj videos: 'I Am Your Leader' with Rick Ross, B.o.B.'s 'Out of My Mind'

You can tell she's in charge 'cause she's got a little hat

Nicki Minaj is making it Pink Friday today as she drops two different music videos with three other artists: "I Am Your Leader" with Rick Ross and Cam'Ron and B.o.B.'s "Out of My Mind."

"I Am Your Leader" is off of actual "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," Minaj's sophomore set and a rap from the Roman side of the coin. Dropping two verses, she talks nasty mean threats to "check bad b*tches" from her seat on rap's throne. And by throne, she means from a bathtub as she rocks thigh-high platforms; or from the middle of a pink and green funhouse floor, empty with exception to a zebra-print rug. As she's flanked by her two featured artists Cam'ron and Rick Ross, Minaj rocks what I'd describe as stipper-biker wear and she does a quick dance in a dictator's hat.

See, that's how you can tell she's you're leader: she's got a little hat.

If you get enough flesh from Nicki, there's plenty more skin to go around from Bawse's front, as he drops the jog suit and goes bare-chested in his golden dining room (styling courtesy of Party City?). Minaj's big refrain on this track is for hos and haters to "suck a big d*ck," and Ross generally runs with the theme after he's done dropping car names and the ilk. "So where the fuck is her manners, she gives brain while I Tweet," he boasts. How rude, right? "DM in the BM, you cm, you buckin', you love it / motherf*ckers on my d*ck, suck it."

Cam'ron also wants to talk about his watches, and then half the verse with an excruciating hit-em-quit-em toss off. It's a fine rhyme, but all eyes still on Nicki, who can steal the video show without even trying. And here: she's trying. The green hair and the blow-out certainly have a part in this stage play, but it's also a swing from the pop tracks she's been pimping all summer, starting with "Starships." Now she's back to the rap side of "Roman Reloaded" and simultaneously working her own sexuality as she asserts power over minions by suggesting they suck a big d*ck. There was no way this one wouldn't be eye-popping, if no other body part was already popping or sulking.

And if "I Am Your Leader" is too subtle for you, try on B.o.B.'s "Out of My Mind" -- a list of reasons why B.o.B. insists he's out of his mind, which doesn't sound like a person who is out of their mind at all. The clip is a good excuse to bust out the nuthouse porn, with leather face muzlzes, old-timey wheelchairs, straightjackets and sexy nurse outfits.

Let's be fair: all the women starring in this video, Minaj included, are playing out a sexy-time role. So perhaps B.o.B. is out of his mind because he's convinced he's getting laid and it just. never. happens.

Minaj turns on the booty pyrotechnics underneath her doctor's coat and does a lapdance for the mentally disturbed. I imagine Lady Gaga was just "watching" from the sidelines.

How do these Minaj offerings fare?

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<p>Enrique Iglesias</p>

Enrique Iglesias

Listen: Enrique Iglesias likes you, really, on new song 'Finally Found You'

You go girl... wait, what?

We’re not sure it’s much of a compliment when Enrique Iglesias tells his loved one, “You know I won’t drop you like everyone else does” on his new song "Finally Found You," but apparently it is since he later vows that there are only two choices to make “either you’re coming with me or I’m coming with you.”

[More after the jump...]

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