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<p>Rihanna's &quot;Talk That Talk&quot;</p>

Rihanna's "Talk That Talk"

Credit: Def Jam

Early Grammy predictions for Album of the Year and Best New Artist

Who did I leave out? Frank Ocean makes both lists

When the Emmy nominations were handed down last Thursday, it started me thinking about the Grammy Awards. The year-long eligibility period doesn’t end  for another two months—until Sept. 30— but there are a number of fine titles already out that are serious contenders for album of the year.

Looking ahead, here are the top 10 albums released so far that could be in the running. I’m not including any sets coming out between now and the cut-off, but September is already stacked with some major names, including Bob Dylan, Pink, Mumford & Sons, Ne-Yo, Green Day, and Dave Matthews Band, who clearly could be contenders.

These are in alphabetical order by artist instead of by any kind of rank and are my educated guess based on Grammy watching, not necessarily my wish list. In recent years, the album of the year contenders have by and large dovetailed with the year’s top pop sellers and we’ve seen a move towards nominating titles by younger pop acts (The artists whose works were nominated for Grammy album of the year this year were all 25 and under other than the Foo Fighters). However, there’s still the likely nod to a veteran act whom the voters feel may not have previously gotten his or her due or for whom they hold great fondness. Additionally, there are occasional left field choices that no one can predict.

Fiona Apple, “The Idler Wheel...”:
Apple’s first set in several years was greeted in many quarters with devoted fanboy and fangirl praise and then it seems to have fallen out the larger collective mind fairly quickly. However, she has the kind of tortured artistry that Grammy voters like to reward.

Dr. John, “Locked Down”:
A critical rave, the album nicely blends  a heritage artist like Dr. John with a current hitmaker/tastemaker, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who pulls a delightful deftness out of Dr. John a.k.a. Mac Rebennack. Auerbach’s presence helped expose Dr. John to an audience whose parents may not have even been born when he scored his one and only Top 10 hit, “Right Place Wrong Time” in 1973.

Norah Jones, “Little Broken Hearts”:
Like a number of artists singled out in this list,  Jones took some adventurous turns with “Hearts,” pairing with Danger Mouse for a stunningly dark album full of gorgeous sonic and lyrical explorations.

Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”
: Released to universally strong reviews, “Channel Orange” is an exceptionally intimate, interesting R&B album that appeals to a wide audience. Plus, Ocean’s story is a compelling one that complements, instead of overshadows, the music. If he can keep momentum going, he’s the closest thing to a sure bet for a nomination.

Bonnie Raitt, “Slipstream”:
Grammy favorite Raitt’s first album in seven years showcases her seemingly effortless guitar work as well as her always touching, raspy vocals. Every year, the Grammys look to honor veteran artist and she could fall into that slot, although even suggesting that she’s in any way a token nominee denigrates her great work on “Slipstream.”

Lionel Richie, “Tuskegee”:
It’s the feel-good story of the year. Richie is beloved and the album is the top-selling release of 2012 after One Direction’s “Up All Night.” Richie has a tremendous cross-section of Grammy voters that he could draw upon her: R&B and pop contingencies, the country crowd, and veterans. Then again, the album could fall through all the cracks. What will be really interesting is to see if “Tuskegee” gets a best country album nod.

Rihanna, “Talk That Talk”: The Grammys showed Ri-Ri love this year for “Loud” by providing the artist her first album-of-the-year nomination. “Talk” isn’t as strong as “Loud” and it’s hard to imagine an album-of-the-year winner with a song like “Birthday Cake” on it, but the strength of “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been” could propel it.

Bruce Springsteen, “Wrecking Ball”: As he did with “The Rising," The Boss taps into these troubled times and crafts an album full of what we need to hear, even if we don’t want to. Plus, the strength of a number of cuts, including “Rocky Ground,” “Jack of All Trades,” and “We Take Care of Our Own” are undeniable, even if the album as a whole is not consistently great.

Usher, “Looking 4 Myself”: Seven studio albums in, Usher released a tour de force that displayed a new maturity, without sacrificing his famous playful or sexy sides. He fearlessly incorporated other styles in a way that never felt forced or contrived, but instead seemed to be a natural evolution.

Jack White, “Blunderbuss”: Even if you’re not a huge fan of the music, his sincere, loving embrace of so many American music forms through his various projects makes it impossible not to be a fan of the person. Luckily, with his first solo project, White crafted an intriguing album that recalls an earlier, analog era filled with surprising pockets of sound around each corner. 

Best New Artist

I'll go into this more fully in a future posting, but the best new artist category has some clear frontrunners this year. Here are my best guesses for who will get a nod.

Alabama Shakes
.fun
Gotye
Carly Rae Jepsen
Frank Ocean

*UPDATE: BIllboard's Keith Caulfield just questioned how I could leave One Direction off this list. I can't. I don't think they'll win, but they absolutely should be one of the finalists for best new artist and I should have included them.

Who did I leave out? Which artist and albums are you rooting for?

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Watch: J.H. Wyman and Lance Reddick discuss the final season of 'Fringe'

Watch: J.H. Wyman and Lance Reddick discuss the final season of 'Fringe'

Which plotlines does the showrunner say definitely won't return?
SAN DIEGO - These are the last of my Comic-Con 2012 interviews from the "Fringe" press room.
 
You may already have noticed them on our video page, but I'm nesting them in this story, because I think they're both very good interviews.
 
Above, you'll see my conversation with solo showrunner J.H. Wyman. We have a good chat about how the show might have ended if FOX had asked them to do a 13-episode closer after Season 3 instead of after Season 4. I also like the part at the end where he discusses the plotlines that he knows the show won't be returning to in these last episodes. He didn't quite understand my question about harkening back to the pilot as they approach the finale, but that's OK. I think that some shows grow organically out of their pilots, while other shows just outgrow their pilots and move on. "Fringe" is in the latter category.
 
And below, you'll see my interview with Lance Reddick, in which he discusses his Comic-Con emotions and the specific kinds of roles he'll be looking for after "Fringe." He also talks a bit about what the final season will mean for his schedule, makeup-wise.
 
If you've missed them, you can also check out my Comic-Con interviews with Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble.
 
"Fringe" will return to FOX on Friday, September 27, 2012.
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<p>Madonna</p>

Madonna

Credit: Ap Photo

Quick! Madonna's live concert starts streaming at 4:15 EDT/1:15 PDT today

Beam her into your home live from Paris

Quick. Head to your computers. In less than an hour, Madonna’s concert from Paris’ Olympia Theater will stream live via http://www.youtube.com/lovelivetv. We just got confirmation it is the full show  in an intimate club setting.

[More after the jump...]

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"General Hospital" panel at press tour 2012

"General Hospital" panel at press tour 2012

Credit: ABC

Press Tour 2012: 'General Hospital' panel talks about surviving 'death row'

The forecast for soaps isn't great, but the stars remain hopeful

Things are looking, if not rosy, at least stable at ABC's daytime sudser "General Hospital" as the show enters it's 50th year. It's a nice change, according to star Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer). "I think we were all pretty emotional to get 24 [Emmy] nominations when we were so shaky a year ago… We've been living on death row."

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<p>From &quot;Runaways&quot;</p>

From "Runaways"

Watch the Killers' 'Runaways' spacey music video

New single arrives ahead of 'Battle Born' September release

Do you ever just look at the stars and, like, confess your dreams? Do you see Brandon Flowers there, or is he the manifestation confession?

The Killers have unleashed their music video for single "Runaways," a combo of the abstract and performance video that leave vapor trails of fist-pumping, tear-streaming rock sonically akin to Asia's "Heat of the Moment." The band opts for brilliant pops of color with a lot of black background as frontman Flowers recounts his seemingly doomed romance. It also looks like the performance screen for "Rock Band," without the actual game. Everybody looks good, refreshed.

They should be. It's been four years since the band's last "Day & Age," and with the new album "Battle Born" due on Sept. 18, it will have been almost exactly two years since Flowers dropped his solo debut "Flamingo."

"Runaways" bowed on the Hot 100 this week after its first week of radio and sales, at No. 78.

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Exclusive: 'Keep the Lights On' poster looks you straight in the eyes
Credit: Music Box Films

Exclusive: 'Keep the Lights On' poster looks you straight in the eyes

Sundance drama hitting theaters this September

The last time I wrote about Ira Sachs' "Keep the Lights On" was a little over six months ago at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  I'd spoken to Sachs and one of the film's stars, Zachary Booth, about the impressive gay drama with hopes it got picked up for major distribution.  A lot has happened in half a year.

"Lights" wowed a few weeks later at the Berlin Film Festival winning a "Teddy" honor and has played the festival circuit with stops at Tribeca, Seattle and Karlovy Vary.  It's also screened at gay film festivals such as San Francisco's Frameline and Los Angeles' Outfest where it won the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature Film. Oh, and happily, Music Box Films came on board to give the picture a proper art house release.

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<p>Tom Hanks plays many characters in 'Cloud Atlas,' including this survivor in a far-flung future, and the new mega-trailer for the film gives us our first good look at the movie</p>

Tom Hanks plays many characters in 'Cloud Atlas,' including this survivor in a far-flung future, and the new mega-trailer for the film gives us our first good look at the movie

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Cloud Atlas' unleashes a six-minute long trailer with plenty of Tom Hanks and Halle Berry

If there was any question what the year's most ambitious film is, there's not now

This year, while I was at the Cannes Film Festival, there was one movie that I was in an absolute frenzy to see, even though it wasn't actually playing as part of the festival.  I kept hearing mention of marketplace screenings that were held for international distributors, and I did everything I could to sneak into one of them.

And why wouldn't I be interested?  After all, it's based on a great novel by David Mitchell, it's directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, and it's got a big sprawling cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, and Ben Whishaw.  There are very few big studio movies I'm more interested in or excited about than "Cloud Atlas," so it was crushing to have to leave Cannes admitting defeat, the film still resolutely unseen by me.

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<p>Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in "To the Wonder."

Credit: FilmNation Entertainment

Venice competition lineup includes Malick, De Palma, Assayas

'The Master' may appear as a late addition

The Venice Film Festival unveiled its lineup this afternoon, and it looks much as we expected it would -- but lest we sound too blasé, who would ever have thought a few years ago that we'd see Terrence Malick debuting two new features in consecutive years? Wonders will never cease, if you'll forgive the lousy pun. "To the Wonder" is obviously the film that most Lido-bound journos are salivating over, but festival director Antonio Barbera revealed that he has one title left to announce -- and the smart money is on it being Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

Anderson's film, which hasn't -- yet -- turned up in the Toronto lineup, would represent a major coup for the Italian fest. Venice can't compete with Toronto for sheer star power, not least because it's a much smaller affair, but that selectiveness, plus its longstanding jury awards, comfortably give it the edge in prestige.

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<p>When you're trying to interview a group like this, your best bet is to cue up one question and just let them go.</p>

When you're trying to interview a group like this, your best bet is to cue up one question and just let them go.

Credit: HitFix

Watch Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade discuss 'The Watch'

And watch an interviewer scramble to cover his bases in four brief minutes

Interviewing a group of people is difficult under any circumstances.  Interviewing four very funny, very sharp comedians together is like trying to juggle water.  And when you factor in a time limit of less than five minutes, it's almost an exercise in futility.

Thankfully, I've got some sort of rapport built up with Jonah Hill and with Vince Vaughn from various encounters over the years.  I met Jonah for the first time on the set of "Superbad," and it's been a real pleasure running into him on various sets and at film festivals and at screenings and even on a Comic-Con panel over the last few years.  Vaughn has always struck me as a huge personality, and the first time we formally met was after the taping of the Ain't It Cool pilot for Comedy Central.  Jon Favreau was a guest on the show, and at our after party, Vaughn joined us, and being at a club for a wrap party with Vince Vaughn is exactly how you'd imagine being at a club for a wrap party with Vince Vaughn would be.

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"Big Brother"

"Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: Frank's nominations are revealed and more

Two hamsters are on the block, but will the POV save one of them?

My, how things have changed! Willie's gone, Britney's remaining teammates are on the ropes, Janelle's working with Boogie Mike, whom she loathes, and Frank is the king of his domain. Aren't you glad none of these people are in politics? They'd have blown up Switzerland, joined forces with North Korea and declared war on Mexico, just for kicks.

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"So You Think You Can Dance"

"So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: Fox

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: 2 more dancers head home

Kick-ass performances can't save a pair of stellar dancers

So tonight's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" is going to be tough for me to assess based on having met so many of the dancers a few nights ago at the Fox press tour party. I didn't get to meet everyone (though yes, one of the people I spoke to is in the bottom this week -- FYI, I'll be writing up those interviews soon), but everyone I did meet was pretty adorable. I'd hate to see any of them go, as I still think this season may have the most consistently amazing dancers of the series. But, as we all know, only two can win this, so let's get to the dancing.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 140

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 140

Dan and Alan talk TCA Press Tour, 'Breaking Bad' and more
Happy Whatever-Day-Today-Is, Boys & Girls!
 
It's time for our third straight mid-week installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Two weeks ago, we were delayed by the start of Comic-Con. Last week, we were delayed for the Emmy nominations. And this week, we were delayed by the start of the Television Critics Association press tour and the challenging of finding the necessary pocket of recording time.
 
In this week's gabfast, we discuss the first four days of press tour, we answer a few pieces of Comic-Con-based mail and we offer this week's reviews of "Breaking Bad" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
 
Today's breakdown:
TCA Press Tour (00:00:00 - 00:40:30)
Comic-Con Listener Mail (00:41:25 - 00:49:40)
"Breaking Bad" (00:49:40 - 01:03:20)
"Buffy the Vampire slayer" (01:03:25 - 01:13:30)
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