Latest Blog Posts

<p>Mindy Kaling of &quot;The Mindy Project&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling of "The Mindy Project"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'

Mindy Kaling's voice is a good starting point for a comedy with promise

[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 Mindy Project" (FOX)
The Pitch: Mindy Kaling! Mindy Kaling! Mindy Kaling!
Quick Response: Mindy Kaling is a bestselling author, an Emmy nominated writer-producer, a charming tweeter and a wildly likable supporting actress. Used to her full potential maybe a half-dozen times in her tenure on "The Office," it's two or three years past time for Kaling to get a chance to be front-and-center on her own series. "The Mindy Project" isn't perfect. I'm not sure I laughed out loud more than once or twice. But what it is is the work of a singular voice, one that's simultaneously smart and loopy, simultaneously whimsical and romantic, but also sarcastic and grounded. Mindy's character looks like no other leading character on TV and talks like no other character on TV and even if "The Mindy Project" is a work-in-progress, it's one that I'm looking forward to continuing with. The show's biggest challenge going forward is finding a way to keep letting Mindy be Mindy while also getting the most out of a supporting cast that's very strong, but initially underutilized. Ed Weeks gives off a charming Hugh Grant vibe, but that's all he's got so far. Chris Messina is brash and fairly funny, but as much as I like Chris Messina -- he's an astonishingly versatile actor and one need only hold his work here next to his "Damages," "Newsroom" and string of Sundance performances to respect the heck out of him -- he's pushing the "I'm in a sitcom" comedic buttons a bit hard here. Both male leads are given a wealth of material compared to Anna Camp, who has been a guest-starring MVP or four or five shows in recent years, but makes the transition to series regular with what initially reads as a nothing part. Throw in guest starring turns by Bill Hader and Ed Helms, plus Richard Schiff (who will become Steven Tobolowsky when we get a final pilot) and there are a lot of very talented people supporting Mindy on this show and she'll need to let them provide that support. I'm also wondering on the show's ability or desire to maintain what is a relentless pop culture-referencing pace in the pilot. Mindy's character loves timeless romantic comedies, but it's hard to be timeless when you're making Siri, Michael Fassbender and "Precious" jokes rapid-fire. It's possible that these shout-outs could work better once the show is on a weekly production schedule, or it could be something that makes episodes instantly dated. We'll see.
Desire To Watch Again: I feel good about "The Mindy Project." Heck, I even like the title, which some people seem to hate. Is the problem just that Kaling's character has her real name? It's a show about a woman-in-transition and the title reflects that completely, with a nod to its creator as well. Anyway, with proper improvements and evolution, "The Mindy Project" is a good pairing with "New Girl" and with "Raising Hope" and "Ben and Kate," it gives FOX what could be a really solid two-hour comedy block, qualitatively.

 

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

 

Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Theron Kirkman/AP

Girls rule this week's edition of Music Power Rankings

Taylor Swift, Spice Girls, Pussy Riot and more

1. Pussy Riot: The female Russian punk band receives a two-year sentence for “hooliganism,” while the world’s eyes turn toward Russia. We haven’t heard the last of this by a long shot.

2. Taylor Swift: She announces Oct. 22 as the release date for her fourth studio album. Everyone she’s ever dated updates their passports and starts booking flights out of the country.

3. Spice Girls: The fab five has a triumphant return at Olympics and there are rumors of a new reunion tour.  Girl Power indeed.

4. Mumford & Sons:
Anticipation zooms for “Babel,” as the British folk rockers first single from the new set, “I Will Wait,” bows on rock songs at no. 14 with 5 million impressions.

5. Ellie Varner: RB& upstart comes roaring onto the Billboard 200 at No. 4 with perfect “Perfectly Imperfect.”

6. YouTube:
A new survey reveals that YouTube tops any other media for teens when it comes to listening to music. In another striking result, 9% of adults said they listen to cassettes. Wonder what the number is for 8-tracks?

7. Janelle Monae
The “Tightrope” singer becomes a Cover Girl spokesperson. Hopefully folks will get to know her as more than the guest singer on “We Are Young.”

8. Silversun Pickups: The band tells the Romney campaign to quit using their song, “Panic Switch,” without their permission--or at all.

9. Dave Mustaine: Megadeth leader accuses President Obama of “staging”  the Aurora, Colo. deaths.  Why is there no Dixie Chicks-like backlash? Oh yeah, they actually had a career to harm when they made their (much less offensive) comments.

10. Flo Rida:
It turns out a whistle beats a phone call when it comes to reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The rapper’s paean to certain sexual delights finally knocks Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” out of No. 1. Put your lips together and blow.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Partners&quot;</p>

"Partners"

Credit: CBS

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

If you liked 'Will & Grace' but thought it was too subtle, CBS has a comedy 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:"Partners" (CBS)
The Pitch: You know that show that aired on FOX in the '90s about the two friends who are architects and co-dependents? That show that was created by the guy who used to work on "Will & Grace"? That show that was also called "Partners"? Well, this show is nothing like that. Except for the ways it is. Which you won't recognize anyway. Because nobody watched that "Partners."
Quick Response: "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, masters of exploiting the really, really obvious differences between gay folks and straight folks for very, very broad multi-cam laughs are back with what might be their most autobiographical show to date. It's also possibly their broadest show to date, which is saying a lot. I'm not really comfortable judging "Partners" solely off its pilot, which is aggressively unfunny, but is also over-invested in establishing a premise that isn't nearly complicated enough to require this much set up. See, there's a gay architect (Michael Urie) and a straight architect (David Krumholtz) and they're partners. But the gay guy has a boyfriend (Brandon Routh) and the straight guy has a fiance (Sophia Bush) and, as the fiance explains, "I think we just need to accept the fact that there are four people at this table, but three couples." In a smart pilot for smart people, that probably could have been illustrated in one well-written dinner table scene that could have taken place before the opening credits. It's not hard to understand, but Mutchnick and Kohan are afraid you won't understand, so that's all that happens in the pilot. The premise is repeated over and over and over again, underlined at every opportunity. I got it. And I wasn't all that amused. But because of the belaboring, I don't know how stories are going to be told in subsequent episodes, so I'm going to have to watch again, against my better judgment. The flaw in the structure of the pilot is that at least in the first 20 minutes, Krumholtz and Urie don't really have all that much chemistry, or at least their characters don't. I'd have sacrificed the repetition in the pilot for just one or two effective illustrations of why these guys are friends and one or two positive examples of their friendship at work. It's the kind of thing that could have taken place through their work at the architecture firm, except that the profession isn't even an afterthought in the pilot. I wasn't even an "Ugly Betty" fan, but I know that Urie's a pretty funny guy who has, unfortunately, been written and directed to be obnoxious. He's obnoxious with his best friend, with his boyfriend and with his best friend's girlfriend. So there are three couples at that table, but Urie's character poisons two of the key relationships. That's bad. Either the writers find a way to make that character's self-absorption funny or the show will fail hard. Krumholtz is fine, but he's mostly playing the straight man -- pun, unfortunately, intended -- and Routh and Bush seem like they're prepared to have fun doing a sitcom, if only they'd be allowed to have fun. So far? No fun. Just redundant writing, stagnant direction and cheap sets.
Desire To Watch Again: "Partners" is airing after "How I Met Your Mother," a show I dislike, but watch religiously anyway. Because of that slotting, and because of the appreciation for Sophia Bush that led me to watch waaaaay too many seasons of "One Tree Hill," I'll give "Partners" a few more episodes. I stick with shows airing after "HIMYM" way too faithfully. I hated "Big Bang Theory" in the beginning and kept going with it until it got a lot better. I disliked "2 Broke Girls" in the beginning and kept going with it even though it never got better. "Partners" will get its chance.

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

 

 

 

Read Full Post
<p>Keanu Reeves (left)&nbsp;and Martin&nbsp;Scorsese in &quot;Side by Side&quot;</p>

Keanu Reeves (left) and Martin Scorsese in "Side by Side"

Credit: Tribeca Films

'Side by Side' reflects a watershed moment in the history of film

The great celluloid vs. digital debate really opens up for the layman

I'm not really sure what's left to be said in the great film vs. digital debate, but if nothing else, Christopher Kenneally's "Side by Side" brings things to a head nicely as it represents the layman's way into the discussion. These things always reach broader consideration last and no film, to date, has been as thorough and definitive as this.

A year after "Hugo" brought concepts of film preservation into a narrative fold and fed a meta fire throughout a season very much about Hollywood and the history of cinema, the debate rages on. That film's director, Martin Scorsese, the great protector of celluloid, appears to be throwing in the towel, while recent pop-up screenings (with one more still to come) of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," shot on 65mm, doubled as a benefit for Scorsese's film preservation-dedicated Film Foundation. These are very divided, even contradictory times.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;The Godfather&quot; is the highest-ranking Best Picture winner on the Sight &amp; Sound list.</p>

"The Godfather" is the highest-ranking Best Picture winner on the Sight & Sound list.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Cinejabber: Best Picture, critic style

What happens when you fuse Oscar's Best Picture list with the S&S poll?

It's been a while, but welcome (back) to Cinejabber, your weekend space to spill whatever film-related thoughts are on your mind.

For me, it's still the Sight & Sound poll -- the gift that keeps giving. Or taking, perhaps: it's certainly vacuumed up far too much of my free time. Just as the analyses and arguments over the Top 100 announced at the start of the month had begun to dissipate, the conversation was re-juiced when they released the full results online, cross-referencing all 846 individual Top 10 lists from the critics' poll contributors. I already revealed my list on these pages last week again, but here it is in Sight & Sound format, with additional commentary.

Just last night, Kris was bemoaning the lack of a single vote for Sidney Lumet's "Network." It's one of several high-profile (and Oscar-guzzling) American films -- ranging from "Schindler's List" to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to "The Silence of the Lambs" -- that don't feature at all in a pile of over 2000 titles that does include such timeless classics as "Hitman," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "The Sapphires." (Okay, I like one of those. But, well, you know.) I like these odd anomalies, a sign of a list built by unconnected individuals rather than a committee, though not everyone is equally amused.

Read Full Post
<p>Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) and Detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) in &quot;Copper.&quot;</p>

Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) and Detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) in "Copper."

Credit: BBC America

'Copper' co-creator Tom Fontana on cop dramas in the 19th century

The man behind 'Homicide' goes back to 1864 New York
Tom Fontana wrote for one of the greatest medical dramas ever in "St. Elsewhere," and penned that show's celebrated yet divisive final episode, which would have made the Internet explode had it aired 20 years later. He was the showrunner for one of the greatest cop dramas ever in "Homicide: Life on the Street," and he created the first HBO original drama series "Oz," which made "The Sopranos" and everything that followed possible.
 
The latest trail he's in the process of blazing involves "Copper," a very different kind of cop show, set in New York City in 1864, and the first original scripted series in the history of BBC America, which to this point has existed solely to import shows from the UK. "Copper" (it debuts tomorrow night at 10) stars Tom Weston-Jones as Kevin Corcoran, a Civil War veteran turned NYPD detective, who closes cases with the help of both his partners and another veteran, Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), an African-American physician using a very primitive kind of forensic science.
 
I spoke with Fontana about returning to the police beat, about once again being the first in the door at a cable network, the advantages of the period setting, and more.
Read Full Post
MTV's 'Teen Wolf' finale completes a much-improved Season 2
Credit: MTV

MTV's 'Teen Wolf' finale completes a much-improved Season 2

Monday's finale capped the show's growth from a dismal first season
[Apologies for the delay in writing comments on the Monday (August 13) second season finale of MTV's "Teen Wolf." Better slightly late than never, right? Exactly.]
 
I had relatively hostile things to say about MTV's "Teen Wolf" in its first season.
 
When it premiered, I spent a long time harping on the misappropriation of the vintage "Teen Wolf" title for a show that exhibited none of the charm or humor of the relatively classic Michael J. Fox horror-comedy. [Frankly, I stand by that criticism and probably won't ever back down. When it comes to "Teen Wolf," my near-rhyming policy is simple: No Boof, no Wolf.]
 
For some reason, I stuck with "Teen Wolf" through a full season, just in case things improved, but for the most part, they didn't. At the time, I said that I was mostly inexplicably still watching because it was summer and there were fewer viewing options and that if "Teen Wolf" would just air in February, I could ditch it entirely. 
 
My feeling was basically that I wasn't fully abandoning "Teen Wolf" not because I was enjoying it, but because it seemed like the kind of show that I generally do enjoy. And I'm persistent. Some showrunners should be grateful at that persistence.
 
In its second season, which concluded with Monday's "Master Plan," "Teen Wolf" made the leap from one of the worst shows on TV, to respectably fast-paced guilty pleasure. That's not a small jump and as much as I maligned creator Jeff Davis and executive producer and Russell Mulcahy last season, I might as well give some begrudging credit now.
 
"Teen Wolf" isn't bad.
 
There. I said it. 
 
Read Full Post
<p>2 Chainz</p>

2 Chainz

Credit: Jeff Daly/AP

It's No. 1 for rapper 2 Chainz on next week's Billboard 200

It's true, his 'Based on a 'T.R.U.' Story' is poised to bow at the top

Rapper 2 Chainz will take his first major label studio album to the top of the Billboard 200 next week, as “Based on a T.R.U. Story” will handily bow at No. 1.

The title from the ubiquitous artist, who's recently collaborated with Nicki Minaj and Kanye West,  will sell up to 140,000 copies, that’s 60,000 more than the projected sales for “Now 43,” this week’s No. 1 seller, which will drop to No. 2, according to Hits Daily Double.

The only other new contender in the Top 10 will be Insane Clown Posse’s “The Might Death Pop,” which could bow at No. 4, the highest position the band’s last effort, 2009’s “Bang! Pow! Boom!,” reached.

With no Amazon .99-cent special propelling an unlikely title up into the top the chart as has happened the past two weeks (Hello Frank Sinatra and Bee Gees!), the Top 10 shifts back to familiar current names.   Rick Ross’s former No. 1, “God Forgives, I Don’t,” will likely fall slightly to No. 3.  Justin Bieber’s “Believe,” Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” and One Direction’s “Up All Night” are in a dead heat for the No. 5 spot. 

Similarly, both Zac Brown Band’s “Unchained” and Adele’s “21” are too close to call  for the No. 8 spot. (Will this be “21” last week in the top 10? It could be...after nearly 20 months of never falling out of the top 10).  Likely to land at No. 10 is  Kidz Bop Kids’  “Kidz Bop 22.”

After making a huge splash this week by debuting at No. 4 with “Perfectly Imperfect,” new arist Ellie Varner falls out of the top 15.

The new chart will be released next Wednesday.
 

Read Full Post
<p>Keanu Reeves seemed to have nearly inexhaustible enthusiasm for the conversation about film versus digital in modern movie-making.</p>

Keanu Reeves seemed to have nearly inexhaustible enthusiasm for the conversation about film versus digital in modern movie-making.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Keanu Reeves shares some insights on the digital vs film debate in 'Side By Side'

A preview of a long-form interview we'll be running next week

I'm going to have a longer version of this interview posting next week, and it was a real pleasure to have a deeply nerdy tech conversation with Keanu Reeves about the moment we're in right now as an industry, and the wrestling match that's going on right now between film and digital.

For one thing, it's always nice to realize that the person you're having a conversation with really knows their subject.  Reeves has been working on this project for two years, and during that time, he's become quite fluent in the debate, and seems to have a pretty even-handed perspective on the historic moment where we find ourselves.

The core truth is that we're really just arguing about the tools of storytelling.  In the end, good storytelling is good storytelling, and if the tools evolve, then filmmakers will evolve as well.  They'll continue to use those tools to communicate a broad spectrum of ideas and attitudes, and some people will do it well and others won't, and it won't really be about which cameras they use or how they cut the film.

Read Full Post
<p>If Mr.&nbsp;Finch was still with us, he'd surely be &quot;mad as hell&quot;&nbsp;about this.</p>

If Mr. Finch was still with us, he'd surely be "mad as hell" about this.

Credit: MGM/UA

Sidney Lumet's 'Network' robbed by critics' Sight & Sound poll

...again

I kept looking through the "N-O" section. Surely I missed it. Is there a "next page" link? No. Am I in the right...no, I'm not on the wrong page. I'm in the "all films" section. Let me search by director, for the Lumet films. There's "Dog Day Afternoon." There's "Night Falls on Manhattan." There's "12 Angry Men." One vote each. Maybe it's a glitch. Only three Lumet films? I'm getting side-tracked.

Finally it just settled: 846 top 10 lists from correspondents in 73 countries citing 2,045 different films, and not one of them -- not a single one -- thought 1976's "Network" deserved a mention. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" gets to call itself one of the lot, but not one of the greatest films of all time, indeed, the greatest screenplay of all time.

Are...you...f***ing...kidding...me?

Read Full Post
<p>CJ&nbsp;Adams and Odeya Rush co-star in 'The Odd Life&nbsp;Of Timothy Green'</p>

CJ Adams and Odeya Rush co-star in 'The Odd Life Of Timothy Green'

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Review: Earnest and sentimental 'The Odd Life Of Timothy Green' never quite blooms

A game cast doesn't ground this strange fairy tale enough

I interviewed writer/director Peter Hedges when he was getting ready to release "Dan In Real Life," a Steve Carrell movie from a few years ago, and our 20 minute scheduled conversation ended up lasting much longer.  Hedges struck me as a decidedly non-Hollywood type, smart and sincere and serious about making movies with a nice mix of sentiment and ideas.

That sensibility is definitely represented in "The Odd Life Of Timothy Green," the latest movie by Hedges, and there are definitely things to like about the film.  It's uneven, though, with a central conceit that doesn't quite hang together, and I'm not sure the film's theme is focused enough to really work.  It's a hard film to dislike because of just how earnest it is, but it's also a film that has some severe problems, making it hard to give a blanket recommendation.

Hedges, starting from a story by Ahmet Zappa, has crafted a movie that aims to make some profound statements about the nature of parenthood and what it takes to nurture someone, and he is assisted greatly by a cast that includes Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosemarie DeWitt, David Morse, M. Emmet Walsh, Lois Smith, Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, Common, and James Rebhorn.  He's got John Toll shooting, so you know the movie looks great.  It is, aesthetically speaking, uncommonly pretty for a Disney live-action family film, and it aims to earn copious tears from you.

Read Full Post
<p>Rhona Mitra as new &quot;Strike Back&quot;&nbsp;heroine Rachel Dalton.</p>

Rhona Mitra as new "Strike Back" heroine Rachel Dalton.

Credit: Cinemax

Season premiere review: 'Strike Back'

What did everybody think of the Cinemax action drama's return?

I posted my review of the new season of "Strike Back" yesterday. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the season-opening two-parter? Do you feel Rhona Mitra fit in, or was it an Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie situation? Did the scenes of Stonebridge back on the homefront work, or did they just feel like marking time until he got back to Section 20? Were you intrigued with what we've seen so far of our big villains for the season (including Tywin Lannister himself, Charles Dance)? 

This is a show I have a lot of fun watching, but not one I have much to say about week to week. Perhaps I'll check in if there's a particularly notable episode, but for the most part, "Strike Back" does what it just — just very, very well.

But as for the premiere, have at it.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME