Latest Blog Posts

<p>Walt (Bryan Cranston) contemplates Heisenberg's hat on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Walt (Bryan Cranston) contemplates Heisenberg's hat on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Fifty-One'

It's Walt's birthday, but Skyler's in no mood to celebrate

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I discuss your potato-mashing technique...

Read Full Post
"Big Brother"

"Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: The game resets and a new HOH steps up

It's a whole new game with the coaches joining in

Well, here we are back at the "Big Brother" house, and the game has reset. This couldn't have been a major surprise to anyone, as America was presented with the choice of mixing things up by adding a twist to the game, or watching the show limp along with nary a bump in the road. Plus, given that only one of the four coaches had to hit the reset button to activate the change (and there was no time for any discussion), there was no way that wasn't going to happen. But hey, twists are always a good thing, unless you're one of the hamsters who didn't dodge eviction last week.

Read Full Post
<p>Edward Norton was typically smart and direct in his discussion of 'The Bourne Legacy' at a recent press day</p>

Edward Norton was typically smart and direct in his discussion of 'The Bourne Legacy' at a recent press day

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Edward Norton on building a better bad guy for 'The Bourne Legacy'

Could he return for another 'Bourne' movie in the future?

When Edward Norton signs on to play the bad guy in a movie, it's a safe bet he won't just be playing a simple, easily-defined black-and-white villain.

That's doubly true when he's joining the "Bourne" series that has become one of the few reliable alternatives to Bond for fans of smart popcorn spy movies.  The latest entry, "The Bourne Legacy," is an attempt to extend the life of the series past the departure of Matt Damon, who has been the star of the first three films.  My review will be up later this week, but it's safe to say the new film absolutely feels like part of the same world and the same narrative, and Eric Byer, the shadowy government figure who Norton plays in the film, is a perfect addition to the roster of middle-management government types who have peopled these films so far.

Norton is rarely just a gun for hire, instead signing on to films as a serious collaborator, someone who's going to want to dig into the text and see what can be done to elevate the material every single time.  It's an approach that might make some people hesitate, but the filmmakers who embrace the approach tend to get great work from him, and it sounds like Tony Gilroy was absolutely up for the back-and-forth.

Read Full Post
<p>Jordana Spiro of &quot;The Mob Doctor&quot;</p>

Jordana Spiro of "The Mob Doctor"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mob Doctor'

Jordana Spiro is trapped in two generic genre shows at once

[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 Mob Doctor" (FOX)
The Pitch:Isn't this one kinda self-explanatory? "You see... She's a doctor... but she also works for the MOB. Oh and she's hot."
Quick Response: Jordana Spiro is an underutilized resource in Hollywood. She had a kinda-hit show, at least by TBS standards, but that means that maybe 1 percent of the population has a clue who she is. Expect that number to soar to 2 percent by the time FOX is done promoting "The Mob Doctor," but I doubt that this mediocre jumble of genres is going to be the show that makes her the star she probably deserves to be. "The Mob Doctor" -- Don't forget the "The," because unlike the tag line for "The Bourne Legacy," when it comes to mob doctors, there was always only meant to be one -- is a generic medical procedural grafted onto a stereotypical mobster show. That produces a unique, but not necessarily effective, world in which you can have an ethically complicated case-of-the-week getting upstaged and rendered entirely disposable by a gratuitous and jarring car chase under the L in Chicago. At least in the pilot, the hospital is a world of theoretically serious dramas and emotions, while the mob storylines are set aside for cheap jokes, one-dimensional characterizations and dialogue that feels filched from countless movies and TV shows. It'd be like "dr. vegas" except for how central Sin City and the casino backdrop were to that failed CBS drama. That's why "dr. vegas," for all of its failings and its risible title, actually *was* kinda distinctive and interesting. The use of Chicago in the "Mob Doctor" pilot only sporadically adds value and the blending of two sets of perfunctory genre elements results less in one distinctive, fresh show and more in a doubly-unengaging Frankenshow. Spiro is not at fault at all. She's tough when she needs to be tough and sensitive when she needs to be sensitive. The character has a self-righteous streak that I found off-putting immediately, but I think it's just a set-up so that she can undergo a moral or ethical slide as the "Mob" half of the title pushes against the "Doctor" half. Zeljko Ivanek is wasted. Zach "QB1!" Gilford is wasted. William Forsythe is seemingly playing the mob heavy from the nonexistent sensationalistic Lifetime original movie "I Was a Doctor For The Mob!" That is to say that he's having fun, but he's not in the same show as the rest of the actors (who are all pretty much forgettable, if I haven't mentioned them). When it comes to "The Mob Doctor," I see the hook in the premise that might get some viewers to tune in, but I don't see the value in the execution that might bring them back.
Desire To Watch Again: Middling-to-low, but "The Mob Doctor" is in a time slot that isn't all that competitive for my DVR attentions. Especially in the early-going before "Gossip Girl" returns, I'll have space to give this one a couple episodes to find a voice, any voice.

 

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

 

Read Full Post
<p>A shot of the projection above the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl.</p>

A shot of the projection above the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl.

Hollywood Bowl salutes the original scores of Pixar

Randy Newman and Michael Giacchino are on hand

HOLLYWOOD - Fans of Pixar in Southern California have been in heaven this weekend as the legendary animation house has been the subject of a very special tribute at the famed Hollywood Bowl.

Under the direction of Thomas Wilkins, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra has been performing selections from the scores of Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, Michael Giacchino and Patrick Doyle alongside projected imagery from their respective Pixar films. In fact, every film has been given a share of the spotlight (yes, even the much maligned "Cars 2") and the concert is a wonderful trip down memory lane.  The Bowl has put on two shows so far, Friday and Saturday night, and the third and final performance is tonight, Sunday August. 5 (as of publication, some seats were still available).

Read Full Post
<p>The stars of NBC's &quot;Animal Practice&quot;</p>

The stars of NBC's "Animal Practice"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'

The combination of Justin Kirk, JoAnna Garcia-Swisher and a monkey should be funnier

[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:"Animal Practice" (NBC
The Pitch:It's "Becker"... With a monkey!
Quick Response: This is the first Take Me To The Pilots show this summer where I could write a review if I wanted to. And perhaps I may in a few days. NBC is premiering "Animal Practice" next week with an Olympics bump and I've already seen two versions of the pilot, one with Amy Huberman as the romantic lead and one with JoAnna Garcia-Swisher. The addition of Garcia-Swisher is already a good sign, not because Huberman was bad by any means, but because Garcia-Swisher is quite good and there's a chemistry with leading man Justin Kirk that was entirely absent in the original pilot. I always feel better about shows when they know things need fixing and take steps to fix them and that gives me some cause for optimism with "Animal Practice," perhaps more cause for optimism than either version of the pilot. Kirk, so excellent for so long on "Weeds," gets a fair amount of mileage out of a character who's barely even sketched out in the script. He loves animals, but he hates people! Yes? And? Yeah. That's it. With Joe and Anthony Russo directing, the main edict on this "Animal Practice" pilot appears to have been "Faster!" and the 22 minutes zip by at a tremendous clip even if basically nothing of substance happens. Kirk's good with fast-talking and with Tyler Labine, Bobby Lee and newcomer Betsy Sodaro, he's got a cast of scene-stealers around him. But then, because those three slightly hammy supporting players aren't enough distraction, you also have Crystal the Monkey and a wide assortment of other animals. The core problem with the show is that there's no point in having seven or eight scene-stealing humans and/or animals if the core of the show isn't there. Right now, despite the best intentions of Kirk and the smart addition of Garcia-Swisher, it just isn't. I chuckled a few times at "Animal Practice," but I didn't care about anything and I didn't warm to a single character. You choose what you want to accentuate in a pilot -- "Ben & Kate" w/its likability or "The Mindy Project" with its singular voice or "The Neighbors" with its sucking -- and "Animal Practice" accentuates chaos and stupid animal tricks. Yes, Bobby Lee getting choked by a python isn't unfunny, but it won't be enough to bring me back. 
Desire To Watch Again: Oh, I'm gonna watch again. Seriously, the pilot has a monkey driving an ambulance. Under what circumstances WOULDN'T I watch again? Plus, I got the sense from both the slightly tinkered pilot and from the TCA press tour panel that the creative team isn't unaware of the refinements they want to or need to make to transform this into an ongoing series. That being said, I can't imagine anybody being passionately excited for "Animal Practice" off this pilot alone.

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

 

Read Full Post
<p>Bruce Stringsteen</p>

Bruce Stringsteen

Credit: AP Photo/Lehtikuva, Viena Kytojoki

Music Power Rankings: Lollapalooza, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rihanna and more

Plus, Bruce Springsteen's 4-hour concert lands him on the list

1. Lollapalooza: The father of festivals kicked off its latest edition Aug. 3 with a veritable color wheel of acts ranging from Black Sabbath to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Jack White.

2. Bruce Springsteen: The Boss and the E Street Band play a 4:06 hour show in Helsinski. It’s the longest recorded show in his 40-year career. And no one thought to pull the plug. Take that London. And, by the way, Springsteen’s 62.

3. Drake and Rihanna: The two land the most nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards. Should we all start the betting now on whether Drake and Chris Brown get into a brawl on the show or at an after party?

4. Carly Rae Jepsen: This summer’s It Girl spends another week at No. 1 atop the Billboard Hot 100, as “Call Me Maybe” ties with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” for the most weeks at No. 1 this year.

5. Phillip Phillips: The 2012 “American Idol” winner Philip Phillips sees sales of his first single, “Home,” surge after it was adopted by NBC as the theme for the women’s gymnastics team. And he didn’t even have to hop on a balance beam.

6. Mariah Carey:
Mimi is back in a big way. After announcing her role as a judge on “American Idol” next season last week, she releases her first single in a a more than two years, the hopefully prophetically named “Triumphant (Get ‘Em)” featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill.

7. John Legend: His production company signs a deal with Universal Cable Production to develop TV series. Get Lifted indeed.

8. The Rolling Stones: They’ll gather moss at HBO when a documentary commemorating their 50th anniversary airs.

9. Bob Dylan: Rock’s equivalent of the Bard announces his new studio album, appropriately enough, titled “Tempest.”

10. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood:
The two buddies sign up to host the CMA Awards together for the fifth time. Same time, next year.


 

Read Full Post
<p>Daisy Betts and Andre Braugher of ABC's &quot;Last Resort&quot;</p>

Daisy Betts and Andre Braugher of ABC's "Last Resort"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'

Shawn Ryan's submarine drama has potential, but needs more time

[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 Last Resort" (ABC)
The Pitch: "The Hunt For Red October" meets "Off The Map"
Quick Response: I know I already said this last night with my "Vegas" entry, but "The Last Resort" is another pilot that I liked, but didn't like nearly as much as I wanted to. And, like "Vegas," it's another show where my instinct is to like nearly everybody involved, from co-creator (with Karl Gajdusek) Shawn Ryan to stars like Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman and Dichen Lachman and Autumn Reeser and Jessy Schram and Robert Patrick and Bruce Davison. I also think pilot director Martin Campbell is, despite a wildly mixed feature track record, an extremely proficient director of action and tension. And "Last Resort" has a plot that's astoundingly tantalizing at nearly every turn. Claustrophobic submarine intrigue! Mutinies! Nuclear strike orders! Insubordination! Shootings! A tropical paradise! A cast of dozens! Badassery galore! There's a ridiculous amount happening in the "Last Resort" pilot and it's happening at utterly breakneck speed and... maybe that's my problem. "Last Resort" maybe makes me appreciate either the potential of the USA 75-minute pilot model or else something as old-fashioned as a two-hour pilot. There's so much happening in so little time in "The Last Resort" pilot, meaning that the characters are defined by one or two actions or one or two snippets of exposition at most. And the characters in "The Last Resort" are doing some very extreme things, things that for me as a viewer, I can't fully buy without a better understanding of motivation and relationships. I get the desire is to toss us into this world and that the answer for "Why the heck would that character do that?" is "Because they do! You don't know enough to assume they WOULDN'T do that!" But for some reason, I lacked the information to go along with the story fully in the way I wanted to because of the structure of the pilot. Too many people doing too many things that I can't accept without more context. There's a good chance that if I watch four of five more episodes and then go back and watch the pilot, I could be like, "Oooh. It all makes character-driven sense now," but in 42 minutes, I couldn't do that. I kept getting pulled out of the drama by the need to make logical sense of things. But there was much to pull me into "Last Resort" as well. Braugher's authority is effortless. Speedman is likable. Daisy Betts and a couple other co-stars make positive impressions. Campbell keeps things tense and while "The Last Resort" doesn't look like a movie, it also doesn't look notably cheap in the submarine scenes. And the end of the pilot is a great launching pad for any number of possible great shows. And maybe I'll be on-board after one more hour. I'm just not there yet.
Desire To Watch Again: Strong. The pilot didn't work the way I wanted it to, but it's sure enticing. Also, a lot of folks I respect seem to have liked it more than I did. I'll rewatch the pilot before reviewing it [as I do with everything] with higher hopes already.

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

 

 

 

Read Full Post
<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

 

Read Full Post
<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).

Read Full Post
<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.

 

Read Full Post
<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." 

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME