Latest Blog Posts

<p>Ack! Zombie!</p>

Ack! Zombie!

Credit: AMC

Interview: 'Walking Dead' producers Glen Mazzara and Robert Kirkman tease Season 3

Scribes talk Michone, The Governor, The Prison, Annoying Carl and more
The second season of AMC's "The Walking Dead" began with the high drama of missing children and a zombie herd descending on a gridlocked highway graveyard. The season ended with two regular characters dead, dissension in the human ranks, waves of zombies pouring down and a tantalizing glimpse of an institutional facility. 
The introduction of The Prison, coupled with a katana-weilding first appearance by Danai Gurira's Michonne and the announced casting of David Morrissey as The Governor has sufficiently whet appetites for Season 3, especially among fans of Robert Kirkman's "Walking Dead" comic book.
Last week, I went to a pre-season "Walking Dead" junket in Beverly Hills attended by basically every cast member, major and minor. Trying to keep the interview tally under control, I targeted new faces Morrissey and Gurira, as well as four of the show's producers.
Up first, is my 20-plus minute chat with Kirkman and showrunner Glen Mazzara. Keeping spoilers to a minimum, we discussed the tone and structure of Season 3, while the producers also addresses some fan criticisms from the second season, including what some felt was a slow middle and the trouble-prone adventures of Young Carl.
This interview covers a lot of ground, so let's just jump into it. Like I said, spoilers are minimal, but probably not entirely absent. You've been warned...
Read Full Post
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

 "The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

Credit: Bravo

Reality TV Roundup: 'Housewives' battle, a 'Survivor' kvetches and more

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

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...? ?

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch any competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 
If you thought the first part of the season reunion was ugly, you clearly haven't watched the second part, which redefined ugly
Read Full Post
<p>Russell Swan of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Russell Swan of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Russell Swan talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

Disheartened after his second time, Russell explains the compulsion to return
I got on the phone with "Survivor: Philippines" bootee Russell Swan expecting to talking about all of the usual exit interview things. 
While I knew the frustration that he'd obviously felt having his torch snuffed in Wednesday's episode, I still figured I'd talk with Russell about the mistake of taking a leadership role after vowing he wouldn't, about the decisions to vote out Zane and Angie and Roxy and whether any move could have reversed his tribe's ill fortune and about the last day at camp being lied to be both Denise and Malcolm.
As you can tell from Russell's first response to my first question, that wasn't the kind of interview he was really prepared to do, so we went off in a very different direction. 
I've done a lot of these interviews, but this one is, to me, one of the best insights into the mind of a "Survivor" player, particularly the mind of a repeat "Survivor" player. The last answer, especially in light of Russell's post-"Survivor" condition, is definitely the most enlightening.
Check out the full interview...
Read Full Post
<p>Mumford &amp; Sons' &quot;Babel&quot;</p>

Mumford & Sons' "Babel"

Can Mumford & Sons fight off seven newcomers on the Billboard 200?

Kiss, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, MGK and Barbra Streisand all debut

It’s another busy week on the Billboard 200 as seven titles are poised to bow in the Top 10 next week.

None of the septet of debuts will prove strong enough to knock Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” out of the pinnacle. The title is projected to sell up to 110,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double,  for its third week at the top.

After “Babel” comes four new titles, including two from legendary veterans: Rapper and DJ combo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s debut album, “The Heist,” will bow at No. 2, besting rockers KISS, whose new set “Monster” will come in at No. 3 with sales of up to 70,000. Bad Boy rapper MGK (aka Machine Gun Kelly) comes in at No. 5 with “Lace Up.”  Barbra Streisand lands at No. 5 with “Release Me,” a collection of 11 previously unreleased tunes.

Pink’s former No. 1, “The Truth About Love” is at No. 6, but then we return to more debuts. Coheed & Cambria’s  “Afterman: Ascension” comes in at No. 6. Duking it out for No. 7 are  four albums, including two more debuts: newcomers  All Time Low’s “Don’t Panic” and British singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding’s “Halcyon” are in dead heats with returning albums “Kaleidoscope Dream” from Miguel and “The 2nd Law” from Muse. Each title is on target to sell between 30,000 and 35,000 copies.


Read Full Post
<p>Ren&eacute;e Fleming</p>

Renée Fleming

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Exclusive: Renée Fleming to perform original song 'Still Dream' from 'Rise of the Guardians'

The song was written by composer Alexandre Desplat and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire

The Best Original Song race is starting to fill out. We've added a few more to our contenders page in recent days, including tracks from "Celeste & Jesse Forever" and "West of Memphis," but today comes the news that DreamWorks Animation's "Rise of the Guardians" will feature a tune from acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming

Read Full Post
<p>Anna Torv of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>

Anna Torv of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'The Recordist'

The show takes a step back as the rebels seek to take a step forward
After a strong second outing, this week’s “Fringe” faltered as it set out on the first of what promises to be several outings dedicated to the scavenger hunt established in “In Absentia”. Well, if all outings are as poorly executed as this one, I think we might be second-guessing the show’s decision to go down this route. It’s more likely that “The Recordist” will be an outlier rather than standard operating procedure over the final ten episodes of the series. But who knows? I didn’t expect last week to knock my socks off, and I didn’t expect this episode to bore me to near tears. Surprises are fun. Until they aren’t.
Tonight’s episode opens on Astrid lasering the wall of amber in Walter’s former laboratory. Inside they find the third of a still-unknown number of tapes, since Walter went so far as to leave the video evidence of his plan against The Observers out-of-sequence. The tape reveals coordinates in a wooded area of Northern Pennsylvania. What do our heroes have to do there? No one knows, but the Bishop Boys, Olivia, and Etta head out anyways and leave Astrid behind to slowly piece together the rest of the damaged message. Had the episode been stronger overall, I wouldn’t have constantly wondered, “Why didn’t they simply wait until they had the tape deciphered before leaving in the first place?” I understand that time is nominally of the essence, but it certainly seemed like the five of them had full run of the place without fear of Observer detection.
Read Full Post
<p>Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in &quot;Strike Back.&quot;</p>

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in "Strike Back."

Credit: Cinemax

Season finale review: 'Strike Back'

Things get personal for Scott and Stonebridge as they race to stop Knox's nukes

"Strike Back" just wrapped up its second Cinemax season (and third overall), and I have a quick review of the season coming up just as soon as I shoot you with both hands tied behind my back...

Read Full Post
<p>Anne Hathaway in &quot;The&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Knight&nbsp;Rises&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway in "The Dark Knight Rises"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Hathaway, Hanks and Berry get lead Oscar pushes for 'Dark Knight Rises' and 'Cloud Atlas'

The studio steers clear of Hathaway's 'Les Misérables' campaign

One of the things we've been looking to get confirmation on regarding Warner Bros. Pictures' Oscar campaigns this year is just where Tom Hanks and Halle Berry would be pushed for Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis' "Cloud Atlas." Lead seemed to be the obvious call (both are the movie stars and have the most screen time across the various stories in which they appear and the characters they play), but it's always possible something like this puts everyone up for supporting.

It turns out the two will indeed go lead for the film. I suppose you can consider them contenders in our Best Actor and Best Actress galleries, then. The real surprise from the studio, however, is the decision to place "The Dark Knight Rises" star Anne Hathaway in the lead actress category as opposed to supporting. Is that indicative of a serious rallying or simply a smart decision to get out of the way of another film?

Read Full Post
Henry Winkler

 Henry Winkler

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Henry Winkler talks 'Here Comes the Boom' and his Fonz legacy

The nicest guy in Hollywood shrugs off the title, talks MMA


Henry Winkler, who plays dedicated music teacher Marty Streb in the Kevin James comedy "Here Comes the Boom," looks pretty convincing as he conducts a high school orchestra. It turns out, he's had some practice. "Five years ago I got a call, and I was asked to conduct the Boston Pops in Cape Cod on the 4th of July. I didn't realize a piece can be 15, 20 minutes long, and how in shape you have to be. 'Cause you keep thinking okay, now, it's going... and we're still going...

Read Full Post
<p>Anna Kendrick in &quot;Pitch Perfect&quot;: Wait, how many label executives are women, anyway?</p>

Anna Kendrick in "Pitch Perfect": Wait, how many label executives are women, anyway?

Anna Kendrick's character from 'Pitch Perfect': Where in music should she work?

Breaking down which music industry mainstays benefitted most from the a cappella comedy

In "Pitch Perfect," Anna Kendrick plays Beca, a musically inclined loner who is loath to enter into college per her dad's request, because she would much rather move to L.A. on her own and start working at a major record label.

It should be noted that "Pitch Perfect" is an exaggeration, a fiction in which the world of college a capella is about a dozen times more exciting, day-to-day, than it actually is, one in which adapting, licensing and performing hit songs is not a logistical nightmare but a dream. Furthermore, the stars in Beca's eyes broadly shine on an industry notoriously struggling with making money, turning to synch-licenses like those in "Pitch Perfect" and to product placement and commercial sponsorship after album sales have greatly decreased and digital single sales can only make up one piece of the lost pie.

Thus, Beca's desire is somewhat self-reflexive, if not dangerously outmoded, but I'll play this little game because "Pitch Perfect" is actually kind of funny and otherwise harmlessly entertaining.

Read Full Post
Interview: Scotty McCreery talks Christmas, Elvis and college

Interview: Scotty McCreery talks Christmas, Elvis and college

The 'American Idol' champ reveals details about his next album

When Scotty McCreery entered a Nashville studio to record his first holiday set, “Christmas With Scotty McCreery,” any dreams of a white Christmas were solely in his head.

“We recorded it in a heat wave,” says McCreery, who tweeted a photo of himself this summer in the studio with a furry Santa Claus hat perched on his head. “It was 105 in Nashville. I was singing the songs in shorts and flip-flops.” But he and his crew tried to create a festive mood. “We had a Christmas tree in the studio, Christmas lights on the mike stand. My tour manager brought in Christmas cookies and cupcakes.”

For the Oct. 16 release, which includes traditional holiday standards as well as two originals, the 2011 “American Idol” champ “knew we had to get creative” on these oft-recorded songs. “The main thing we talked about together with the band was we wanted to be different, not just to be different, but to be creative and different in a good way. Put a stamp on these songs.”

The biggest surprise to his casual fans may be the way he channels Elvis Presley on his version of “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.” He brings a Presley-like swagger to “Jingle Bells,” but he reserves his full lip-quivering, hip-shaking imitation for “Santa Claus,” even throwing in a bit of Presley’s classic cover of “C.C. Rider” in for good measure.

“I was an Elvis freak. That’s all I listened to growing up,” he says. I wasn’t listening to the Backstreet Boys,” he says. “It just got ingrained in me to where it would come out in my songs.”

The track wasn’t originally intended for the album.  “We did that in one take. The drummer [plays] in a huge Elvis production that tours across the country,” McCreery recalls. “He broke into ‘C.C. Rider.’ It wasn’t planned at all. We thought we’d cut it and not put it on the album. We were high-fiving and laughing and we decided to put it on the album.”

When told that the sultry take may make his fans see a new, sexy side of him, the 19-year old reverts back to his shy self and just replied. “Dadgum.”

McCreery has been singing another of the album’s tracks, “O Holy Night,” since he was in elementary school. “I was singing it much higher then,” he laughs. “It really was difficult. As a kid, I didn’t know anything about the technical side. It was for the children’s choir.”

He included the song as a nod to his grandmother and to his first public performance of the song when he was in 4th or 5th grade. “My grandma is tough to impress. I’d sing at a competition and she’d tell me ‘ That wasn’t so good.’ When I got done, my grandma said, ‘That was beautiful.’ My mom was videotaping, so she was concentrating on that. Coming from my grandma, that meant a lot. We were thinking about her when we recorded it and the memories that we had that night.”

The album’s two originals struck the right chord with McCreery the first time he heard them. One of them seemed destined to end up in his hands.

“The week before ‘Christmas In Heaven’ got sent to me,  I was writing a song called ‘Christmas In Heaven’ about my grandfather. He passed away a few years ago. It had some of the same lyrical ideas. It wasn’t a week later that my choir director was at a conference and told some folks who she is and that she knew me. They said, ‘I have the perfect song.’ It gave me chills. It was a God thing. No question is was going on the album.”

The second original tune, “Christmas Is Coming Around Again” deals with a couple with children going through a divorce, who reunite after the Christmas spirit hits them. “That’s about the message,” McCreery says. “There might be a family out there hurting and maybe this can help them.”

McCreery is already collecting tunes for his next studio album, which he hopes to release in Spring 2013. He’s writing for the album with two top Nashville songwriters, Ashley Gorley and Kelley Lovelace. “My songwriting craft isn’t perfect yet,” he says. “Hopefully it can get there.”

In the meantime, he is half-way done with his first semester at North Carolina State University in Raleigh,  just down the road from his hometown of Garner.  He takes classes a few days a week and then is out on the road opening for Brad Paisley on the weekends.

College has been a blast so far, he says. “I’ve loving every second of it. As far as people freaking out”  when they see him, he notes, “it hasn’t been that way at all. Maybe they’d want a handshake or a ‘hey.’ I wore my cap pulled down the first couple of days, but after a few days, I didn’t even worry about the hat and sunglasses any more.”

Read Full Post
"All-Star Celebrity Apprentice"

"All-Star Celebrity Apprentice"

Credit: NBC

See the new cast of 'All-Star Celebrity Apprentice'

Trace Adkins and Bret Michaels return, but so does Gary Busey

NBC has announced that after just five seasons, it's time for a greatest hits version of Donald Trump's C-list beat down. "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" (which will air mid-season 2012-13) brings back a roster of favorites and a few memorable contestants whom we probably didn't want to see again. As usual, they'll be competing to raise money for charity when not tearing out their hair and picking fights.

Read Full Post