Latest Blog Posts

<p>Leslie (Amy Poehler)&nbsp;and Ann (Rashida Jones)&nbsp;are at odds in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ann (Rashida Jones) are at odds in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Sex Education'

Leslie goes to war with Marcia Langman, and Tom loses all his screen time

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I ask Alta Vista to take me to Yahoo...

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<p>An image from Alex Gibney's &quot;Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.&quot;</p>

An image from Alex Gibney's "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God."

Credit: HBO Films

US docs 'Mea Maxima Culpa,' 'Central Park Five' and 'West of Memphis' powerfully take on corrupt authorities

Multiple institutions take a beating in a seething trio of films

LONDON -- There's a temptation at film festivals to imagine cinematic trends based on certain likenesses between films screened in close proximity – though when those films drift away from each other out in the real world, those initial overlaps don't always seem so resonant. So I'm not going to point to something in the air after watching three standout US documentaries at the London Film Festival – “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” “Central Park Five” and “West of Memphis” – that chronicle a range of young individuals failed in various ways by American authorities.

Even so, their shared spirit of measured fury is striking: each film documents a long night's journey into day of sorts, as a severe human infraction is brought to rights – or at least partial correction – over the course of years, or even decades. The inequities of the United States justice system come under scrutiny in “Central Park Five” and “West of Memphis,” while “Mea Maxima Culpa” puts the Catholic Church atop its target list. Considered distrust of the social systems designed to protect us, however, courses through all of them, making for a powerful American collective in a touchy election year.

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<p>Jessy Schram in &quot;Last Resort.&quot;</p>

Jessy Schram in "Last Resort."

Credit: ABC

Review: 'Last Resort' - 'Voluntold'

Marcus offers the crew a chance to stay or go, and Sam's wife takes a stand

A quick review of tonight's "Last Resort" coming up just as soon as I have front row seats to the end of the world...

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<p>As we all know, nothing keeps a family together like a coffin.</p>

As we all know, nothing keeps a family together like a coffin.

Credit: Brainstorm Media

Review: 'The American Scream' documents home haunters following their dreams

Sincere and smart, 'The American Scream' makes two great docs from this director

Michael Stephenson's first documentary, "Best Worst Movie," was about the infamously terrible "Troll 2" and the cult audience that has sprung up around it.  Stephenson had a special connection to the story being told seeing as how he was the young star of the film, and many of the interviews in that film would not have been possible or nearly as personal if Stephenson had not been behind the camera.

As a result, it would be easy to assume that his connection is the reason that film was so good, but that would be a mistake.  His second documentary, "The American Scream," is just as good if not better, and it indicates that Stephenson is a natural documentarian, a guy who is able to get his subjects to open up and reveal themselves and who is able to tell a great human story.  This time, the subject is "home haunters," people who put on elaborate haunted houses or set up extravagant displays as part of their celebration of Halloween.  The film is about to get a limited theatrical run, and it will also be airing on the Chiller network on Sunday, October 28, at 8:00 PM EST.

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<p>&quot;Go ahead... call me Madea again and see what happens.&nbsp; DO&nbsp;IT!&quot;</p>

"Go ahead... call me Madea again and see what happens.  DO IT!"

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: 'Alex Cross' seems artifically engineered for franchise success

Can Tyler Perry be as popular with a gun in his hand as with a wig on his head?

This weekend, Summit Entertainment is going to try to launch a new franchise with Tyler Perry starring as "Alex Cross," a character created by publishing juggernaut James Patterson, in a film directed by Rob Cohen, who directed the first "The Fast and the Furious," kicking off one of the few reliable franchises Universal has at the moment.  This is a perfect storm of franchise-friendly energy, and with the announcement this week that they are already in development on "Double Cross," the follow-up film, it seems like Summit is about as confident as a company can be.

And why not?  Tyler Perry has built one of the most reliable brand names in the business, made even more remarkable by the fact that he's done it with very little conventional press support.  Perry is, like Kevin Smith, someone I respect for their accomplishments even if I'm not crazy about the work they produce.  Perry worked hard to put together his media empire, and he targeted one audience aggressively, a tactic that has paid off in what looks like a sort of blind faith agreement between him and the people who see his films.  When they walk up to the ticket window, I'll bet money that nine times out of ten, they ask for a ticket to "Tyler Perry."

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<p>From &quot;Ich R U&quot;</p>

From "Ich R U"

Song Of The Day: Boys Noize's 'Ich R U' music video is robot vs. nature

Clip is the first from 'Out of the Black'

We are becoming our computers. Our information becomes us. And nature will destroy us in retort.

That's what I'll take away from the partially animated music video to Boys Noize's "Ich R U," which I've now watched no fewer than 13 times. It's culled from the electronica act's third album "Out of the Black," which was released on Tuesday (Oct. 16).

The track is the more "put-together" of theirs, but that doesn't mean its not reflective of the whole set. It bangs and bruises with the rest.

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<p>Robert Patrick of &quot;Last Resort&quot;</p>

Robert Patrick of "Last Resort"

Credit: ABC

Interview: 'Last Resort' star Robert Patrick discusses The COB's loyalties

'The Unit' star also talks about reuniting with Shawn Ryan
Robert Patrick's resume is littered with military titles. 
 
He's been sergeants and majors and commanders. He's also played an astounding variety of colonels, from "NCIS" to "Chuck" to "The Unit."
 
It was on "The Unit" that Patrick worked with Shawn Ryan, the man behind his latest military role, Master Chief Joseph Prosser on "Last Resort."
 
In one respect, Prosser is probably a villain on "Last Resort," in the sense that the Chief of Boat has developed an adversarial relationship with our ostensible hero, Andre Braugher's Captain Marcus Chaplin.
 
But "heroes" and "villains" aren't so clearly delineated on the Thursday night drama and in an interview last week, Patrick made it clear that Prosser is merely following his loyalties to the United States of America in the face of what he views as Marcus Chaplin's treason. Of course, don't expect things on "Last Resort" to be that simple, whether Prosser is about to foment revolt against Chaplin, or whether his loyalties are about to change.
 
In my conversation with Patrick, we discussed his reunion with Ryan, his new friend Andre Braugher and the very personal stake he has in his collection of military roles.
 
Click through...
 
 
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"I Was Mummified"

 "I Was Mummified"

Credit: Discovery

Interview: The modern mummy's widow talks about 'I Was Mummified'

Jan Billis admits 'people think I'm very strange'

When London taxi driver Alan Billis discovered he was dying of lung cancer, he may not have seemed like an obvious candidate for a pharaoh's farewell. But thanks to some enterprising scientists searching for one lucky person to donate his or her body for an old-school wrap-up using all of the techniques practiced by the ancient Egyptians, Billis, who died at 61, will be sticking around -- as a mummy -- for a very long time. Also sticking around is his widow, Jan, who took some time to phone me from the U.K. to talk about the U.S. version of the show detailing her husband's preservation, "Curiosity: I Was Mummified" (Sun. Oct. 21 at 9:00 p.m. ET). She reveals she never asked her husband why he did it and also talks about how many times she's watched the show that focuses on her husband's body being covered in honey, soaked in salt water, then put in an oven at a slow bake. She also shows she has a very good sense of humor -- without telling one mummy joke. 

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<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: Columbia/XL

Adele's 'Someone Like You,' Beyonce's hits: Stories behind the songs

Songwriters' panel reveals how some songs made it... and made it bigger

Every hit song begins with a writer or group of writers sitting in a room staring at a keyboard, holding a guitar, staring at a blank computer screen or a pad of paper.

The story of how a song comes together, much less becomes an enduring hit heard by millions, always seems like some kind of magical miracle.  Earlier this week, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles held its annual Songwriters in the Round evening in conjunction with the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Top songwriters told the stories behind some of the biggest hits. This week’s writers included Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Dixie Chicks, Adele), Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkson, Pink), Evan Bogart (Beyonce, Rihanna) and Rodney Jerkins (Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Beyonce). 

Below are five secrets they reveals about some of your favorite songs.

Beyonce initially hated Destiny Child’s mega-hit “Say My Name”

Producer/songwriter Rodney Jerkins was in London in the late ‘90s, clubbing with the  Spice Girls. It was in a club that he first heard 2-step, a jittery electronic dance style. “I wanted to bring 2-step to the States,” Jerkins said and his first session back just happened to be with Destiny’s Child. He played them “Say My Name,” which featured a prominent 2-step. “Beyonce said, ‘What is this garbage?’ I said, ‘Trust me.’ They sang it, but they weren’t happy.” When it came time to do the final mix, Jerkins “humbled” himself and stripped out all the music and built the song from the ground up again from an a capella vocal track with the trio rapping the beat that was taken out.

Adele obsessed over Wanda Jackson before writing “Someone Like You”
At Dan Wilson’s first writing session with Adele after they were “blind dated” by produced Rick Rubin, “she had four lines for two songs. Two lines turned into ‘Rumour Has It’ and two into ‘Someone Like You’,” he recalls. “But for the first hour, she played me Wanda Jackson videos on YouTube.” He admits the move was brilliant in that it broke the ice and helped them “wipe the etch-a-sketch clean” in terms of their expectations.


Pink originally wrote “Throw In the towel” instead of “Blow me one last kiss”
Greg Kurstin wrote and recorded “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” in one day. Kurstin brought some tracks he’d created into the session. Pink quickly wrote the melody for the verse and Kurstin wrote the melody for the chorus. “She’s so fast. She’s an amazing lyric writer,” he says. But something wasn’t quite sitting right with them on the lyrics. Pink originally had penned “Let’s throw in the towel” and Kurstin felt it didn’t work.  Next thing he knew, she’d switched it to “Blow me one last kiss” and a top 10 song was born.


Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock My World’ started as a dream

When Rodney Jerkins was 19 and coming off having worked with Mary J. Blige and Brandy and Monica, he had a very vivid dream that he would work with Michael Jackson as he slept on his mother’s couch in New Jersey.  He dreamed of walking up to a structure with lots of glass and seeing Jackson in a red shirt waving to him. He woke up the next morning, the phone rang and it was legendary songwriter Carole Bayer Sager “asking if I wanted to write for Michael Jackson,” Jerkins said. “She said, I don’t don’t know when it will be.’ I said, ‘I’m going to come [to L.A.] tomorrow so when it’s time, I’m ready’.” As he approached their meeting point, he looked up and there was Jackson, looking out a window in a red shirt, exactly as he had appeared in Jerkins’ dream.


Beyonce’s “Halo” was inspired by Ray LaMontagne’s “Shelter”
Evan Bogart, who was still working as a booking agent at the time, was writing with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, who was home nursing a ruptured Achilles tendon which has caused him to cancel his band's tour. Bogart was enamored with Ray LaMontage’s song “Shelter” and wanted to write a song that conveyed that same feeling. “Three hours later, we had the song done and four hours later, we had the word that she was going to cut it,” Bogart says.  The song they submitted had no bridge, to even though Beyonce has agreed to cut it, they went back later and added a bridge that was Bogart’s tribute to LaMontagne.  Don’t recognize it in the final version of “Halo?” For good reason: “When Beyonce recorded it, she ripped it out and replaced it,” Bogart said with a laugh.
 

 

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<p>Carly Rae Jepsen</p>

Carly Rae Jepsen

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Carly Rae Jepsen's lyric video for 'This Kiss'

Singer promises official video is coming soon

It’s a candy-colored world in Carly Rae Jepsen’s lyric video for current single, “This Kiss.”

The decidedly low tech clip features the lyrics about a potential cheating kiss pop up against bright pop art backgrounds full of geometric shapes and polka dots. And drawn lips and perky hearts. There are no images of Jepsen anywhere.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The museum is set to open in 2016</p>

The museum is set to open in 2016

Credit: AMPAS

The Academy unveils vision for motion picture museum

$100 million in the bank with $150 million more to go

The Academy has taken another big step toward establishing its long-in-the-making motion picture museum right in the heart of Los Angeles. The organization announced today that it has reached its initial goal of $100 million toward a $250 capital campaign to fund the project, which will be housed within the former Wilshire May Company building on the southwest corner of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's campus on Wilshire Blvd.

Concurrently, the Academy also unveiled its vision for the museum, which is designed by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali and set to open in 2016. The non-profit enterprise "will be a landmark that both our industry and our city can be immensely proud of," Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said via press release, and indeed, it's a bold and unique undertaking that comes at a crucial time for the preservation of film and continued cinema history education.

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<p>Nicki Minaj and Cassie are like ooooo</p>

Nicki Minaj and Cassie are like ooooo

Watch: Nicki Minaj and Cassie bring loud sounds and colors to 'The Boys' video

The single hits back at hip-hop dudes: what does the clip bring to the table?

Nicki Minaj has never looked better in a video than she does in "The Boys." Cassie, who is stunning, bares most of her, ehm, assets for the clip. The girls strut besides and inside of cars, immobile for the sake of the traditional girls-with-cars trope in hip-hop videos.

The "The Boys" of hip-hop, much of Minaj's new video will ring familiar, albeit in furious colors of magenta, aggressive greens, volcanic reds and the rapper's favorite color pink -- conveniently coordinated with their bikinis. Barbie and her hook-singing guest literally stop traffic with their look, and where else would they be headed but the salon? The leading ladies also flirt with each other throughout, Minaj even simulating going down on her comely friend.

On its face (pun intended), "The Boys" pretty much follows all the rules for a proper male gaze. Except for the part where Minaj sets a barber shop on fire, killing its inhabitants.

If you don't listen closely to the lyrics (which is somewhat impossible to do, considering the crystal-clearness of that refrain), this track takes solid aim at the boys of hip-hop, how they expect their "love" to be hand-delivered as a commodity: "They want to touch it, taste it, see it, pet it, bone it, own it." Here, Cassie and Minaj even put a bow on it.

Minaj's "revenge" to that notion is carried out in her sentencing, letting loose of her flame-thrower. She and its creators also try to mix up the genders, by putting Cassie in a suit without a shirt on underneath, for instance, or Nicki rocking denim in a princess-styled two-piece. Minaj's attack on the barber shop actually seems methodical, pre-planned, less as an actual violent act and more of a warning, that if this is how "the boys" carry on, they're gonna get burned. 

Unfortunately, though, the glossiness of this package will override any social commentary it actually brings to the table. As is evident already through Minaj's Twitter response and retweets, fans are arriving on the other side, naturally, responding "OMG bikini " and the ilk. It's disappointing, after how punk, rude and awesome the single was when it first dropped. Minaj is giving it to "the boys"... by giving them what they want, with only a whiff of danger.

But, hey, at least it's still better than "Starships."

"The Boys" is the new single off of "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, The Re-Up," a confusingly titled repackaging of confoundingly titled "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," due on Nov. 19.

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