Latest Blog Posts

<p>Scott Speedman on &quot;Last Resort.&quot;</p>

Scott Speedman on "Last Resort."

Credit: ABC

Review: 'Last Resort' - 'Another Fine Navy Day'

Sam and Marcus suffer hallucinations in a chemical attack

A quick review of tonight's "Last Resort" coming up just as soon as I peg you for an exotic fruit man...

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Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" in 1994. Could he be back in "Django Unchained?"
Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" in 1994. Could he be back in "Django Unchained?"
Credit: The Weinstein Company

As Waltz goes lead, might we want to keep an eye on Samuel L. Jackson in 'Django Unchained?'

A source says the actor nails his best role in a long while

The acting races are in full sprint at this point. Everyone concedes the Best Actor race is stuffed to the gills, only more so with consistent additions. The lead actress category began to look a bit fuller when Helen Mirren's name was thrown into the ring and, as Guy pointed out yesterday, features plenty of performances for Academy members looking to venture even the least bit out of their comfort zones.

One actress recently added to that flock is Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty," which will screen for press at the end of the month. And another added to the boys' club is Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained," as reported earlier today. Many who have read the script (probably the most widely read awards season hopeful before the fact ever) had noted that Waltz felt like more of a co-lead in the piece. But the way I hear it, as good as Waltz may be in the film, this all likely clears some room in the supporting ranks for a pair of actors poised to strike.

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<p>Beatrice Miller of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>

Beatrice Miller of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Top 13 - Results

Who's heading home? And, heck, how many people are heading home?

The only thing I know about Thursday (November 8) night's "The X Factor" is that One Direction is performing twice.

How many singers are being elimination from the Top 13? Not a clue!

But I'm going with the hunch that Beatrice Miller won't be one of them...

So click through and follow the results...


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Credit: Reprise

Album Review: Green Day's 'Dos!' blasts through the midnight hour

The time is right for dancing in the streets

Green Day’s “Dos!,” the second in the band’s trilogy, opens with Billie Joe Armstrong gently backed by an acoustic guitar as he sweetly asks if he’ll “see you tonight.”

Then the gloves come off. The next 35 minutes are a manic midnight ramble through a bacchanalian night out as Armstrong and band mates Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt ain’t looking for nothing but a good time.  If “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown” were about broad social themes,  “Uno!” and “Dos!” have no such sweeping ambition....unless getting laid counts.  (The album is streaming in full here now).

And of course it does, as “F*** Time” concedes. The tune’s music is so playful you could twist to it, but Armstrong has other moves in mind.

“Dos!” gallops through the evening, with stops to visit a girl hooked on meth (the driving “Ashley,” which sounds like a holdover from “21st Century Breakdrown),” a yearning for some rest before a second wind kinks in (the propulsive “Lazy Bones”) and raw, rave up “Make Out Party,” on which Armstrong declares “you’ve got yourself a pretty little blouse/I think I want to rub it the wrong way.” (check out Dirnt’s great bass solo toward the end).

Green Day stays tried and true to its rock conventions for the most part, with each song drawing from a different subgenre: for example, first single “Stray Heart”  doesn’t stray that far from the genial head shaking rockabilly of the Stray Cats  crossed with Katrina & The Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine.” Throughout, the characters are full of the usual discontent displayed in Green Day’s catalog: they’re none too bright nor ambitious with way too much time on their hands.  In addition to meth-head Amy, the “Wild One” is “strung out on erasers” after giving up “living on Jesus.”

The biggest exception is “Nightlife” featuring Lady Cobra. It’s a sinewy, snaky, serpentine of a song anchored by Lady Cobra’s sultry  spoken word verses. If you’re into Green Day only for the rock, it may be too much of a stretch, but it fits into the theme of the evening as the bewitching hour has come and gone.  Next track, “Wow! That’s Loud” features a Who-like wavy psychedelic breakdown in the middle before resuming its straight-ahead four-on-the-floor beat.

The album comes full circle, as it closes with Armstrong, backed again only by an acoustic guitar, on “Amy” (he’s clearly dumped “Ashley”). He pleas with her to stick around, even though she’s “too young for the golden age because the record bin has been replaced.” As the sun comes up, no one wants to be alone.

If "Uno," the more uplifting of the two albums, was about getting ready to go out, "Dos!" is about sticking it out through the long night, through the dark alleys and twists and turns. It's scrappier and messier. “Dos!,” out Nov. 13, follows “Uno,” which came out Sept. 21. The trilogy finale, “Tre,” comes out Dec. 11.

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<p>The Weeknd in &quot;The Zone&quot;</p>

The Weeknd in "The Zone"

Watch: Drake and the Weeknd's 'The Zone' is a haunted House of Balloons

Hand-in-hand with other miseries 'Wicked Girl' and 'Rolling Stone'

The Weeknd's first mixtape "House of Balloons" has its name incorporated into the set of "The Zone," the tracks that features the singer's collaboration with Canadian kinsman Drake. I take the Zone, then, to mean that House of Balloons is closer to a haunted house of ex-girlfriends, sad and echoing of the horrors of empty sex. And "The Zone" itself is its soundtrack.

In the clip for recently released "Wicked Games," a beautiful girl hangs around -- again -- in lingerie, appearing as an apparition or a memory, just as the teenaged-dreamy one does in "The Zone." The same could be said of austere "Rolling Stone." They all seem to represent different women, or the "experience" of each woman, as if sex and love were happening to the Weeknd, not as a relationship or a participatory event in which he plays a part. It seems very isolating, which goes hand-in-hand with that haunted sound.

He and Drake, then, make natural partners. You've seen the cover of "Take Care," right?

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<p>Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar pose for a Tweet pic back in July</p>

Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar pose for a Tweet pic back in July

Lady Gaga leaks her Kendrick Lamar collaboration on 'B*tch Don't Kill My Vibe'

'Partynausous' still M.I.A.

It was clear by the end of the summer that Lady Gaga and rapper Kendrick Lamar were gonna be friends. However, their collaborations in the studio on his stunning "good kid m.A.A.d. city" have never surfaced, until now.

Gaga has "leaked" her own unreleased contribution on his song "B*tch Don't Kill My Vibe," a track that ultimately landed on the set but with Lamar himself speak-singing the hook. Her version makes the chorus a much more feminine and purposefully hooky feel, with the subject matter folling right in line with the Gaga we knwo and love: "I am a sinner who's probably gonna sin again / Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me... I got my drink, I got my music / I would share it but today I'm yelling / Bitch don't kill my vibe."

It sounds like a singer trying to "vibe" like a an R&B singer when they're not used to doing so, which seems a bit affected. But this is Gaga we're talking about, as affectation is the signature on all songs. Plus, it could be given a better mix, a little too pointy.

Gaga reportedly worked on another song with Lamar, the unreleased "Partynausous," but that may be supressed in part maybe because Gaga hadn't time to finish a take she was happy with, or because her vocals may not have been treated to taste, or both. According to a post to a post on her website last month, there were some power factors in play:

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Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Michael Arndt has already written a 'Star Wars Episode VII' treatment

Will the 'Little Miss Sunshine' writer also take a crack at the script?

Michael Arndt, eh?

There are dream jobs that certain writers book that I genuinely envy, and I'll admit it.  There are storytelling opportunities that I wish were mine instead of someone else's.  And while I think it will eventually be a great job to sign up and do a "Star Wars" movie, I don't think "Episode VII" is going to be the moment I'd want to handle, if only because we have never seen expectations like the ones that will fall on whoever is brought in to write and direct this movie.

Michael Arndt won the Academy Award for his script for "Little Miss Sunshine," and he was one of the writers on Pixar's "Toy Story 3," so you certainly can't fault Kathleen Kennedy for reaching out to him to help craft an outline that is evidently going to be used as the road map for "Star Wars - Episode VII."

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<p>Steven McQueen and Todd Williams of &quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</p>

Steven McQueen and Todd Williams of "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

Interview: Todd Williams discusses his 'Vampire Diaries' hunter

'Chicago Code' veteran discusses his approach to Connor
Todd Williams' Connor Jordan hasn't been around for very long on "The Vampire Diaries," but the character has already caused a heap of trouble, leaving bodies and flashbacks in his wake.
Introduced earlier this season in "Memorial," Connor arrived in Mystic Falls to investigate the death of The Council and we quickly learned that he's a vampire hunter with a very peculiar and increasingly informative tattoo. 
Since then, Connor has spent nearly equal amounts of time torturing or threatening the show's main characters and being tortured and threatened by them.
Earlier this week, I got on the phone with Williams, who some viewers will remember from his regular gig on FOX's short-lived "The Chicago Code." 
We talked about Connor's moral code, his mysterious past and the sort of revelations that may come out in Thursday's (November 8) episode, titled "The Killer."
Click through for the conversation...
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Now that's what I call a money shot.
Now that's what I call a money shot.
Credit: Universal Studios

The first trailer for 'Jurassic Park 3D' plays like a greatest-hits reel

Steven Spielberg film returning to theaters for 20th anniversary

Yesterday, I showed the poster for "Jurassic Park 3D" to my two sons, who have seen the film here at home several times, including a Film Nerd 2.0 screening that I wrote about, and when Toshi realized he was going to get to see it in a theater next summer in both IMAX and 3D, his eyes went wide.

"That's going to scare me out of the crap!"

Indeed it will.  I'm all for the sudden realization by the studios that they have these valuable assets on their shelves, these movies that could be living an ongoing theatrical life if they would just treat them like events, even if they are releasing them in slightly revised form.  In this particular case, I think "Jurassic Park" is pretty much the perfect movie to use, and 3D and IMAX both sound like they could be great new ways to have fun with the film.  It's funny to see this trailer because they can use images that were never part of the original advertising for the film.  If they'd shown this much in 1993, audiences would have been furious. 

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<p>Sally Field talks about her role as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's &quot;Lincoln.&quot;</p>

Sally Field talks about her role as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."

Sally Field says acting with Daniel Day-Lewis was like she'd 'died and gone to heaven'

Two-time Oscar winner gives an impressive history lesson on Mary Todd Lincoln

BEVERLY HILLS - You don't get to speak to a legend like Sally Field every day.  The 66-year-old actress has been in the public eye for over 45 years first gaining notoriety with her starring roles in the '60s TV series "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun." In the '70s she began to show an unexpected range. Whether it was her acclaimed performance in the TV movie "Sybil" or  indulging superstar Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit" it was clear Field had more than a smile, she had fire.

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<p>Here's the logo for my new book, &quot;The Revolution Was Televised:&nbsp;The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV&nbsp;Drama Forever.&quot;</p>

Here's the logo for my new book, "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever."

What's Alan writing? A new book called 'The Revolution Was Televised'

A look back at TV dramas from 'Sopranos' through 'Breaking Bad' will go on sale around Thanksgiving

Over the last year and change, you may have noticed an occasional mysterious allusion to some project I was working on but wasn't ready to discuss. Well, today I am very proud to announce that it's my new book, "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever."

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<p>Besedka Johnson and Dree Hemingway form a very odd friendship in Sean Baker's 'Starlet'</p>

Besedka Johnson and Dree Hemingway form a very odd friendship in Sean Baker's 'Starlet'

Credit: Music Box Films

Meet Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson in this exclusive clip from 'Starlet'

The carefully rendered character drama arrives in theaters this weekend

I'll have a review of Sean Baker's "Starlet" for you a little later, but first I want to share a clip from the film with you.  It's the story of a girl in her 20s living in the San Fernando Valley, where she meets an old woman at a garage sale.  The woman sells her a vase, and inside, the girl finds $10,000 in cash that the old woman didn't know existed.  What results is a very strange friendship, and a very charming movie.

Dree Hemingway is the star of the film, and I'm going to bet this is just the start of what we'll see from her.  She does very delicate, careful work as Jane, who is still young and still figuring out who she is, but who also seems to be possessed of a greater sense of self than most of her peers.  And, yes, she's one of those Hemingways.  Her mother is Mariel Hemingway, making her the great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway.  She is tall and striking and seems to made up of about 96% legs.

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