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<p>Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis of CBS' &quot;Vegas&quot;</p>

Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis of CBS' "Vegas"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'

Dennis Quaid/Michael Chiklis drama isn't instantly great, but it has potential

[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:"Vegas" (CBS)
The Pitch: "LA[s Vegas] Confidential"
Quick Response: I did a video thingie for HuffPo last week and I had to come up with my favorite new drama of the fall and, somewhat unexpectedly, the answer that felt right-est to me was "Vegas." This was a bit of a surprise, because my initial reaction to "Vegas" was predominantly one of disappointment. With this creative team -- James Mangold directing a script from Nicholas Pileggi -- and this cast -- Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis and Carrie-Anne Moss and Oliver from "The O.C." -- my expectations (or "hopes") for "Vegas" was nothing short of "greatness." And "Vegas" isn't great. It isn't close. It's very solid and as the weeks have passed since I watched it, my mind has lingered on the things that work. Those things include Chiklis and Quaid going head-to-head in some of the most archetypal "Western" ways imaginable, actually wearing white and dark ("navy," Chiklis told me at press tour, not "black") cowboy hats in several scenes. It's not surprising to see Chiklis being this good at playing this bad, but it's hard to imagine anybody not enjoying him in this kind of role, despite the absence of anything revelatory or "different." And Quaid gets better and better as he finds Ralph Lamb's inner Frontier Sheriff, not that Quaid playing noble-and-taciturn is exactly revelatory either. This is Mangold working in "3:10 To Yuma" mode, having a tremendous amount of fun with genre iconography and he nails two or three of the pilot's biggest moment with aplomb that would do John Ford or Howard Hawks proud. The production values are terrific and the recreations of 1960 Las Vegas are mighty spiffy. And thanks to the aforementioned archetypes, it's easy to look at "Vegas" and know what the series is, or at least what the first 22 episodes are. What doesn't work? The pilot is built around drama for the long-haul, so there isn't nearly as much tension as there should be. It lags frequently, especially in the crime-of-the-week that sets the overall plot in motion That doesn't necessarily bode well, what with CBS' network-wide preference for procedural familiarity. And for all of the high production values, there's a CBS "coldness" to the pilot that probably prevents the period depictions from being as fun as they should be. In that respect, it's not even as evocative of the same period as Starz' fitfully effective "Magic City," much less something like the world Martin Scorsese recreated in the "Boardwalk Empire" pilot. The pilot also simply can't find time to get any value at all out of Moss or Jason O'Mara or really anybody in the supporting cast. Only time will tell if this is going to be a 1960s Vegas version of "Blue Bloods" or a "Good Wife"-esque example of CBS tip-toing towards a cable sensibility. It's not anywhere near as good as I want it to be, but it could get there.
Desire To Watch Again: High. I guess this is the network drama I'm most anticipating seeing in its second episode, even if I'm worried about that second episode as well.

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>A scene from &quot;The Master&quot;</p>

A scene from "The Master"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

First public screening of 'The Master' happening right now in Santa Monica (UPDATED)

The film pops up as a 'secret screening' following DCP exhibition of 'The Shining'

Anyone who happened to be on hand at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica this evening for the American Cinematheque unveiling of a new DCP of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" was treated to quite the exciting surprise: the first public screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

A source at the event tells me that, prior to the screening, personnel announced that there would be a "secret screening" following the event and that anyone who'd like to stay was more than welcome. When the lights came up after the closing credits of Kubrick's icy horror staple, attendees were told the secret film was Anderson's much anticipated opus (which will screen at the Toronto, Venice and maybe Telluride and Fantastic Fest film festivals next month).

The film is being shown in 70mm, the director's preferred format of exhibition for "The Master" and one that has reportedly caused issues in lining up both commercial and festival exhibition. Anderson is in attendance (along with Maya Rudolph).

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<p>The cover of Rick Ross' &quot;God Forgives... I Don't&quot;</p>

The cover of Rick Ross' "God Forgives... I Don't"

Rick Ross to have heavenly bow on the Billboard 200 with 'God Forgives, I Don't'

Justin Bieber, Zac Brown Band and others are top 5

Rick Ross’s “God Forgives, I Don’t”  will have a heavenly opening week as the rapper’s album is set to sell up to 220,000 copies its first week. That will handily land the title at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, as it sells five times as many copies as Zac Brown Band’s “Uncaged,” which will drop from No. 1 to No. 2.

Justin Bieber’s “Believe” will likely be No. 3.  With two days left before the chart closes, Nas’s “Life is Good,” One Direction’s “Up All Night” and Kidz Bop Kids’ “Kidz Bop 22” are all vying for the No. 4 spot, with each selling between 30,000-35,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

Adele’s “21” will sell around 27,000 copies for No. 7. Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” and Joss Stone’s “The Soul Sessions Vol 2,” the only other new title on the chart besides Ross, are tied for No. 8. Coming in at No. 10 will likely be Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange,” although Gloriana’s “A Thousand Miles Left Behind” may bow at No. 10 and push Ocean to No. 11.

 

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<p>Zac Efron in a scene from &quot;At Any Price.&quot;</p>

Zac Efron in a scene from "At Any Price."

Credit: Sony Classics

Zac Efron's 'At Any Price' finds a home with Sony Classics

Could the Venice competition title hit theaters this year?

2012 has been a year of major transition for Zac Efron. The former "High School Musical" and "17" again star has found his way-out of teen-themed flicks into more mature fare. It began at the Sundance Film Festival with a small role in Josh Radnor's dramedy "Liberal Arts" and was soon followed by the Nicholas Sparks romance "The Lucky One" which was an impressive double for Warner Bros. grossing $60 million domestic.  In May, Efron made his Cannes Film Festival debut with Lee Daniels' polarizing drama "The Paperboy" where he reportedly held his own opposite co-stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaguhey and John Cusack.  Before "Paperboy" finds its ways into theaters this October, Efron will make another trip across the atlantic to Italy for the Venice Film Festival premiere of Ramin Bahrani's drama "At Any Price." 

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<p>Phillip Phillips in &quot;Home&quot;</p>

Phillip Phillips in "Home"

Credit: VEVO

Watch: Phillip Phillips debuts 'Home' video in time for Olympic glory

So much Mumford

In this past season, America adopted Phillip Phillips as its newly crowned "American Idol" winner. Now, the songwriter and performer's song "Home" was adopted by NBC for its Team U.S.A. women's gymnastics Olympics coverage.

So it's only right that Phillips finally release an official music video for "Home," which you can check out below.

Be honest: who didn't think this was a Mumford & Sons track when you first heard it? And how many more people went out and bought Mumfords' "Sigh No More" once they knew that was the inspiration?

And the visuals behind the track are precisely the kind of thing the British band would have early in its career -- and, in fact, in a way have. "Big Easy Express" -- which chronicled that band's journey across America with Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros -- had all the sun-dapple-dee-doo, writerly focus and natural, moving-image magic that "Home" has, only with a bigger budget and a timeline that covered more than just Salt Lake City to Denver.

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<p>Mariah Carey</p>

Mariah Carey

Credit: Island/Def Jam

Listen: Mariah Carey releases rap-less 'Triumphant' dance remix

This is much closer to that thing you wanted

Yesterday, Mariah Carey released a disappointingly Mariah-reductive new song "Triumphant (Get 'Em)" featuring, primarily, special guests Meek Mill and Rick Ross

Island detected the All of the Earth's disappointment and rush-ordered a "vintage throwback" dance remix, or are trolling us by ascribing to a rule that says they should wait a day before calling us back with a superior version of a song. Either way, we greeted the day with all Mariah and no rap with this new "Triumphant."

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"Snooki & J-WOWW"

"Snooki & J-WOWW"

Credit: MTV

'Snooki & J-WOWW,' 'Money from Strangers' get second seasons on MTV

'Catfish' documentary also gets a series debut date

There's no escaping "Jersey Shore." During the TCA press tour, MTV Head of Programming David Jonollari revealed the show will be back for its sixth season, premiering Thurs. Oct. 4 at 10:00 p.m. ET. In addition, the spin-off "Snooki & J-WOWW" has been given the green light for a second season, as has hidden camera show "Money from Strangers." During the session, MTV also introduced clips of new series "The Inbetweeners, which debuts Aug. 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET, and "Wake Brothers," which join the docu-series "Catfish: The TV Show" and the scripted comedic drama "Underemployed" on the network.

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<p>Spike Lee will receive the Jaeger-Le Coultre Award at Venice later this month.</p>

Spike Lee will receive the Jaeger-Le Coultre Award at Venice later this month.

Credit: AP Photo/Amanda Schwab

Spike Lee to receive career award at Venice Film Festival

Honor coincides with premiere of his new Michael Jackson doc

You have to like any award that links Abbas Kiarostami to Sylvester Stallone, Agnes Varda to Al Pacino and, now, Spike Lee -- even if it's one of those career achievement prizes determined more by who's going to be in town than anything else. Lee, it was announced today, will be the latest recipient of the splendidly named Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award (named for a film by its inaugural recipient, Takeshi Kitano) at the Venice Film Festival later this month.

It's slightly bittersweet seeing Lee ascend to the realm of golden-watch awards. It doesn't seem that long ago that he was the abrasive upstart instead, but then, it has been all too long since he last made a feature film that shook anything up. (His latest, "Red Hook Summer," received mixed reviews at Sundance in January and opens in limited release next week.) He's arguably made more of an impression in the later career as a documentarian, and the Venice award presentation will immediately precede the world premiere of his Michael Jackson documentary, "Bad 25," at the festival.

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<p>Jimmy Fallon on his late-night talk show.</p>

Jimmy Fallon on his late-night talk show.

Credit: AP Photo/Lloyd Bishop

The Oscar hosting discussion starts early with Jimmy Fallon

He may be a popular pick at home, but what about the rest of us?

"So, what do you think of Jimmy Fallon hosting the Oscars?" a colleague asked me yesterday, when the news dropped that the Academy is wooing the talk-show host to take on the task of emceeing next year's Academy Awards ceremony, kicking off a discussion we wouldn't normally be having for a few months -- and sparking a potential political conflict between two TV networks in the process.

"Who's Jimmy Fallon?" I replied, before I could stop myself.

I was only half-joking. I know Fallon by name, and vaguely by indistinct face -- though I could well be thinking of Jimmy Kimmel instead. (If you put a gun to my head right now and asked me whether Fallon or Kimmel was the target of Sarah Silverman's famous "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" skit, I'd probably end up dead.) The online seepage of American pop culture has got me that far. But ask me what he actually does, what he sounds like, what his comic persona is, and I'll draw a blank. I've never seen him at work.

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<p>Mr. and Mrs. Bullock tend to young William on &quot;Deadwood.&quot;</p>

Mr. and Mrs. Bullock tend to young William on "Deadwood."

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 2, episodes 9 & 10

A tragedy unites the camp

We're continuing our summer trip back through David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood."

Two notable changes with this review: 1)After surveying the crowd last week, I've concluded that I'm not going to keep the newbie reviews going for the rest of the season, since the reviews are identical and newbies (who haven't really commented, anyway) will be safe so long as they don't read the comments; and 2)As I did with the season premiere, I'm reviewing two episodes together, this time dealing with episode 9, "Amalgamation and Capital," and episode 10, "Advances, None Miraculous," all coming up just as soon as I secure my toast...

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<p>Neil and Norman debate the best way to handle a long-dead witch in the lovely, creepy, beautifully-made new stop-motion animated film 'ParaNorman'</p>

Neil and Norman debate the best way to handle a long-dead witch in the lovely, creepy, beautifully-made new stop-motion animated film 'ParaNorman'

Credit: Focus/Laika

Review: Stop-motion 'ParaNorman' is smart, spooky, and beautifully animated

Laika's latest is a real testament to the tactile beauty of the art form

One of the dozens of ways that film critics and other people who write about movies do a disservice to the films that they cover is when they automatically refer to any film that is animated as a "kid's film" or a "family film."  Case in point:  Laika Studio's gorgeous new stop-motion movie, "ParaNorman," which has enough genuine scares and thoughtful material about life and death that I would have a hard time mounting an argument that it was aimed at children in any way.

Like many of the Amblin' films of the '80s, "ParaNorman" has a kid as the protagonist, but the film doesn't speak down to its audience.  Instead, it tells a sometimes sad, often scary story about perception and institutionalized lies and the things that we are driven to do by fear, and it treats all of its characters, even the most cartoonish of them, with respect.  Whatever I expected from the film, it wasn't something this smart and mature.

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"Project Runway"

"Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway' recap: 'Welcome Back (or not) to the Runway'

The designers must create clothes for former (and fussy) contestants

So, this is the episode in which (spoiler alert!) the Mass Exodus of Season 10 begins. Consider yourself warned. And don't get too attached to anyone on this episode. The person who heads for the door is, if not the last person I expected to sneak out in the middle of the night, perhaps not one of my top candidates. I guess designing Emmy dresses for former contestants is enough of a double whammy to make anyone insane. Okay, not anyone. I mean, this is a TV show, not brain surgery or search and rescue. It's really not too much to expect someone to hold on to their crazy until they're forced out, honestly.

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