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<p>This image from 'Rocky 5' is tough to take in the wake of today's wrenching news about Sage Stallone passing away.</p>

This image from 'Rocky 5' is tough to take in the wake of today's wrenching news about Sage Stallone passing away.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Sage Stallone, of Grindhouse Releasing and 'Rocky 5,' has passed away

The oldest son of Sylvester Stallone was only 36 years old

As with many things, the news of Sage Stallone's untimely passing today took me back to my days working at Dave's Video, a laserdisc store that was a major industry stomping ground back in the early '90s.

Sage had an account with the store.  Not his dad, but Sage.  At the time, he was around fourteen or fifteen years old.  He would arrive at the store with his big-ass bodyguard in tow, a guy who also served as his driver, and he'd shop for hours.  He was a voracious film fan, and his interests definitely tended to the obscure.

What blew me away was just how adult he was, even at that point.  It wasn't that smarmy over-precocious kind of adult, either.  Sage carried himself like he was much older, and in conversation, he was just a rabid film lover, someone who had seen at least as much as the older film nerds I knew.  He was constantly on the hunt for some rare title, and any time he could cross a film off his huge list of "things I want to see," it was a major accomplishment.

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<p>Jodie Foster was all smiles during her first appearance ever at the San Diego Comic-Con to help promote next year's science-fiction film 'Elysium'</p>

Jodie Foster was all smiles during her first appearance ever at the San Diego Comic-Con to help promote next year's science-fiction film 'Elysium'

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are Comic-Con virgins no more thanks to 'Elysium'

Neill Blomkamp's first since 'District 9' looks like another mind-bending treat

SAN DIEGO - The first year that HitFix covered Comic-Con, one of the highlights was an early screening of "District 9," which we absolutely adored.  Small wonder one of the most anticipated moments of the convention for us came today when director Neill Blomkamp made his triumphant return to the event with seven minutes of next year's science-fiction action film, "Elysium."  As a sign of just how far he's come in a mere three years, in addition to Sharlto Copley, he also was joined by Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, both new to Comic-Con this year.

Based on the footage he put together, fans of "District 9" have reason to celebrate.

Blomkamp took the stage first, joining KROQ personality Ralph Garman, who hosted Sony's entire event today.  Blomkamp sat down and addressed the audience directly.  "I'm here to debut some footage.  I have this thing where I try to be as honest as I can.  I feel like I belong out there with you guys.  I feel like I'm a fan.  There's an element of salesmanship that makes me feel a little distanced as a fan.  The idea of launching footage here feels honest.  I like it because it's fans.  I'm okay with it."  He paused, looking around at the 6000 people packed into Hall H, and smiled.  "You guys want to see it… right?"

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<p>Zac Brown Band</p>

Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band's 'Uncaged' opens up at No. 1 on Billboard 200

Frank Ocean's digital only release also slated to open high

Zac Brown Band’s  “Uncaged” will handily bow at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week, while Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” gets off to a surprisingly strong start.

“Uncaged” will likely sell up to 230,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double, with “Channel Orange,” which became available on iTunes a week before its planned release, will surpass 130,000 for No. 2.

The drop off is steep for the No. 3 spot with Chris Brown’s “Fortune,” Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” and Justin Bieber’s “Believe” all targeted to sell between 45,000-50,000 to vie for that spot.

Similarly, it’s still too close to call for No.6 with Linkin Park’s “Living Things,” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” and Adele’s “21” all moving around 40,000 copies. That leaves One Direction’s “Up All Night” likely to hold the No. 10 spot.
 

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<p>&quot;Breaking Bad&quot;</p>

"Breaking Bad"

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: AMC's 'Breaking Bad'

Ahead of its premiere, the Emmy-winning drama takes Ballroom 20

SAN DIEGO - Why the heck is "Breaking Bad" at San Diego Comic-Con?

Because smart people attend San Diego Comic-Con and smart people love "Breaking Bad."

That was easy.

The Emmy-winning drama, two days ahead of its fifth season premiere, made its first-ever Comic-Con appearance on Friday (July 13) night. 

How was it received? Click through for the full live-blog...

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"Today"

"Today"

Credit: NBC

Elton John to tell Matt Lauer why he wants more kids on 'Today'

The singer says he was 'the luckiest person in the world' for avoiding AIDS

 

Next week 'Today' will make another play at recapturing morning show domination by airing an interview between Matt Lauer and Sir Elton John. The interview, which will promote John's memoir "Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS," will air in two parts; Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18. In the chat, prerecorded in England, John talks about his struggle with drugs, alcohol and bulimia and discusses coming out about his sexuality.

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<p>Anna Kendrick almost melted down from all the cute on display in Hall H during the 'Paranorman' panel today.</p>

Anna Kendrick almost melted down from all the cute on display in Hall H during the 'Paranorman' panel today.

Credit: Jordan Straus/Invision/AP Photo

'Paranorman' makes a strong showing to open Friday the 13th in Hall H

Creepy new family stop-motion film from Laika has style to spare

SAN DIEGO - Things may have gotten started with a few communication glitches, but once "Entertainment Weekly" writer Dave Karger took the stage to moderate the "Paranorman" presentation, everything else ran smoothly, resulting in a frequently funny and raucous glimpse at the new stop-motion animated film from Laika Studios.

It seems appropriate that the Friday the 13th programming would begin with this odd hybrid of horror and comedy aimed squarely at a family audience.  Karger brought out a full panel of guests, including producer/lead animator/president/CEO Travis Knight, the co-directors of the film, Sam Fell and Chris Butler, and three of the actors who contributed their voices to the movie.  Kodi-Smit McPhee, who voices Norman, was last onstage at Comic-Con when I moderated the "Let Me In" panel a few years ago, and he's changed a lot since then.  Anna Kendrick plays his older sister Courtney in the movie, and she was very sharp and funny during her time onstage.  Finally, Chris Mintz-Plasse got cast against type here as Alvin, the school bully.

Chris Butler was the one who initially imagined this project, and he says he did so almost sixteen years ago.  The actual production of the film got underway a little over three years ago, and in that interim, Butler's been continuously playing with the idea of the film, a zombie movie for kids.  He's one of those filmmakers of a particular age who is looking to pay tribute to the films he grew up with like "The Goonies" and "Ghostbusters."  He originally pitched it as "John Hughes meets John Carpenter."  It all grew from there.

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<p>Emilia Clarke of HBO's &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;</p>

Emilia Clarke of HBO's "Game of Thrones"

Credit: HBO

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

George R.R. Martin moderates a discussion of HBO's hit drama

SAN DIEGO - While some of the original panelists have departed and other panelists have been added, the great thing about HBO's "Game of Thrones" is that no matter which stars are able to attend, they're bound to be *somebody's* favorite.

Click through for a full live-blog of Friday's "Game of Thrones" panel, which is sure to have many teasing hints about the show's upcoming third season. I assume they'll keep spoilers to a minimum, so I'll try to do the same!

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<p>Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton will serve on this year's Venice Film Festival jury.</p>

Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton will serve on this year's Venice Film Festival jury.

Credit: AP Photo

Venice jury includes Samantha Morton and Marina Abramovic

A diverse selection of eight artists to serve under jury president Michael Mann

I confess that when the press release unveiling this year's Venice Film Festival jury landed in my inbox today, it brought me up a little short -- I hadn't quite realized that the festival, which I'll be covering here at IC for the fourth consecutive year, is only a little over six weeks away. Yep, that's how close the fall festival season, and all the feverish awards talk it brings with it, is: enjoy the peace of summer while it lasts, folks.

That slightly sobering realization aside, the press release brought good news: in keeping with Venice's recently acquired reputation as perhaps the most adventurously programmed of the big three European festivals, this year's jury -- expanded this year from the usual seven members to nine -- is a suitably contemporary and eclectic gathering of artists. It was previously announced that Michael Mann (whose daughter, Ami, competed at the fest last year with "Texas Killing Fields") will preside over this year's Competition jury, marking the third year in a year in a row that an American director has had the honor: Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky precede him. But he's to be the only Yank at the table, with his fellow jurors coming from Britain, Israel, Argentina, Hong Kong, Serbia, France, Switzerland and, of course, Italy.

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<p>The Roots</p>

The Roots

Credit: AP Photo

ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror moves from New Jersey to New York

Louis CK, Sharon Van Etten and others drop out of festival

All Tomorrow’s Parties’ I’ll Be Your Mirror is pulling a switcheroo.

Only two months before the Greg Dulli-curated event, the festival announced that it will move from its original 2012 home in  Asbury Park, N.J. to New York City’s Pier 36.  The dates remain Sept. 21-23.

In making the move, a number of artists, including Louis CK, Sharon Van Etten, Reigning Sound, and Factory Floor, have all pulled out citing scheduling conflicts.

In a statement, ATP organizer Barry Hogan primarily attributed the switch to “logistical concerns” and  the need for more fan accommodations in Asbury Park, which seems like an odd thing to have not worked out before tickets went on sale. Making the move all the stranger:  the Asbury Park waterfront location was the site of the 2011 ATP event. It had previously been held in upstate New York. Fans have until July 31 to request a full refund.

Pier 36, which is where I’ll Be Your Mirror 2013 will be held, is a new indoor venue on the East River in Manhattan.

Among the artists slated to play I’ll Be Your Mirror are Philip Glass and Tyondai Braxton, The Afghan Whigs, the Roots, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Joseph Arthur.

Hogan has liquidated ATP Concerts Ltd., seeking voluntary insolvency and transferring all of its assets to a new company, Willwall Ltd.  In a statement posted on ATP’s website, Hogan further detailed changes in the company, but added that “all future events will continue as scheduled.”

He added that on July 16, the company will begin announcing the line-up for December’s Nightmare Before Christmas festival in the U.K.  curated by Shellac.

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<p>Danai Gurira of &quot;The Walking Dead&quot;</p>

Danai Gurira of "The Walking Dead"

Credit: AMC

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: AMC's 'The Walking Dead'

How much Michonne and The Governor will fans be treated to?

SAN DIEGO - After starting the TV day with CBS' sunny multi-cam comedy "The Big Bang Theory," Comic-Con's Hall H will change gears dramatically for the Hall H debut of AMC's "The Walking Dead."

You name 'em, we've got 'em for this panel, which will feature stars Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan, plus showrunner Glen Mazzara, comic creator (and series executive producer Robert Kirkman, executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert and makeup genius (and co-executive producer) Greg Nicotero.

Oh and you know how the upcoming season will feature the introductions of fan-favorite characters The Governor and Michonne? Well, new stars David Morrissey and Danai Gurira are here as well.

Click through for the live-blog.

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<p>Frank Ocean</p>

Frank Ocean

Listen: Frank Ocean talks dropping 'Channel Orange' early and his tour

Why recording in Beverly Hills was fun, but not necessarily productive

Frank Ocean planned all along to drop “Channel Orange” a week early digitally. Or so he told Zane Lowe at BBC Radio 1 in an interview that aired today.

“[I wanted to] let the music speak for itself for a second and not be in a situation where the record leaked. It was always my plan to drop it ahead of time,” the Odd Future member said of his solo set.. He added that he mirrored his plan on what his buddies Kanye West and Jay-Z did with “Watch The Throne,” which also came out digitally prior to its physical release.

In this digital age of cherry-picking tracks, Ocean says he made a work with the intent that the album be listened to from start to finish: “I hate to sound selfish, but that’s for my own personal enjoyment also,”he says. “That’s a big thing for me to make things sound cohesive and follow through.”

Noting how expensive studio time can be, Ocean recorded a number of the tracks in a rented house in Beverly Hills, bringing in any equipment he needed. He added that he definitely spent a little more time in the house’s pool and sauna than his label approved of, but that it still saved money.

His overarching goals in making “Channel Orange” were “to do things that I hadn’t done before structurally with songs and I wanted to go places sonically where I hadn’t gone before...I tried to just make something true to what I heard in my head and true to what I thought the future should be to me music wise.”

As Ocean heads out on his own tour starting tonight in Seattle, he noted that he may not be the road dog that other artists are, preferring quality over quantity: “I want to give the best show possible where I can to put myself in position to do my best,” he says. “If that means a lesser volume of appearances, so be it.” However, he’s got a pretty full plate coming up. Following his headlining U.S. gigs, he’ll switch to opening for Coldplay on the British group’s stadium swing in August and September.

Lowe doesn’t address Ocean’s recent letter about his past love affair with a man, but they cover some other interesting territory and Ocean sounds genial and relaxed throughout.

“Channel Orange” has sold well enough in its first week of digital only release that it is on target to debut at No. 2 on next week’s Billboard 200 album chart. Target has already announced that it will not carry the album. Though some groups have accused the mass marketer of homophobia, the chain said in a statement that it was not selling the title because of the digital exclusive.

Neither Katie Hasty or I have had time to write up a proper review of “Channel Orange,” but it is an excellent, often searing, album that manages to sound retro and progressive at the same time. Fans of artists like D’Angelo and Outkast will appreciate how Ocean similarly incorporates many different musical genres, while staying primarily within the R&B field.

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<p>If Jessica Biel shows up dressed like this in 'The Wolverine' when she plays Madame Hydra, someone may need to throw a glass of water on me because I'll faint.</p>

If Jessica Biel shows up dressed like this in 'The Wolverine' when she plays Madame Hydra, someone may need to throw a glass of water on me because I'll faint.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Jessica Biel goes to war with mutants as Viper in 'The Wolverine'

Could her second Marvel movie be the one that puts her over the top?

Jessica Biel was, frankly, made to play a comic book character.  She transformed her physique when she signed on for "Blade: Trinity," and she gave a dedicated performance in what was unfortunately a weaker movie, but that performance wasn't enough to make it work.  It seems like a given that some smart producer would find the right comic book role for her, and now it appears she's once again dipping into the Marvel Universe with a role in James Mangold's upcoming "The Wolverine."

Her character, Viper, is also known as Madame Hydra at times, and she's had a long history in the various comics published by Marvel.  She's been a Captain America bad guy, and at once point she even stole the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier.  One of her most famous storylines involved characters who we already know are part of "The Wolverine," so it makes sense she would also show up.

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