It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the year.
Sure, most people sing that phrase as part of a Christmas carol, but for me, September is the month when I get all my presents, and once again, it's looking like it's going to be a month overstuffed with pleasure.
Last week, we heard the first batch of titles that were announced for the Toronto International Film Festival, an amazing overabundance of movies I am absolutely dying to see. That's what Toronto normally is for me, a collection of things I've already heard about that I'm eager to finally lay eyes on, while Fantastic Fest tends to be the opposite. That's more about me discovering films I've never heard of and would otherwise never see, and I simply trust that the programming team, which has done an amazing job each and every year so far, is going to once again lay out a buffet of amazing treats that I'm going to savor.
This morning, we've got the official announcement of the first wave of titles, and while I don't recognize many of them, it sounds like a really weird batch of titles. Sure, they announced that "Frankenweenie" would open the fest recently, but there's a lot of truly low-budget and obscure titles mixed into some amazing revival titles in this announcement. In other words, it sounds like Fantastic Fest.
Have I mentioned that I can't wait?
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It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the year.
In the early hours of July 20th, I found myself starring at a tiny video screen inches from my seat. My JetBlue flight had just landed at LAX after a five-hour flight from JFK and I'd randomly turned to CNN as my plane was taxing toward the gate. There I discovered that a shooting had taken place at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in suburban Denver. Turning on my phone, I discovered twitter was being overrun with messages of disbelief and anger. Only a few hours before, on the same plane, I'd completed a lengthy article on "Rises" Oscar chances. My intent was to post it when I got home, just in time for the film's opening day. As the details of the shooting became more and more horrific, it became clear publishing my commentary anytime soon would be incredibly inappropriate.
It's been less than 10 full days since one of the worst single shootings in American history, but even for someone not dealing with the tragedy on a day to day basis it feels more like 10 weeks. Cable news networks devoured the story like the fire that enveloped the Hindenburg. Within half a day the shooting had been politicized and over-analyzed in everything from theater safety to the depiction of violence in movies. However, like so many events in our 24/7 news cycle, the public's attention has ultimately been diverted - mostly to the non-stop barrage of Olympics news and imagery (HitFix included). And to be frank, while the thriller's box office has been slightly under its processors haul, its 60% drop this past weekend had as much to do with the nation sitting in front of their televisions and watching tape-delayed opening ceremonies and swimming from London than the Aurora shootings. And for every friend or acquaintance who admits they are weary of seeing "Rises" because of Aurora, there are there or four who have already seen the film multiple times. Make no mistake, James Holmes is as disturbed as they come, but what happened in that theater could have taken place in a health club, a shopping mall or your local McDonald's. The reality of how it could have been prevented is another conversation entirely and will no doubt become a bigger issue when the story circles back when Holmes eventually faces a jury of his peers.
In Hollywood, the industry has been so shocked by the events that it's seemingly been frozen like a deer in headlights. The other major studios quickly realized they needed to join Warner Bros. in keeping the box office grosses for that weekend under wraps, but many of them are trying to quickly forget what could have been their own greatest nightmare. Warner Bros., the studio behind "The Dark Knight Rises," has been taking what can only be described as a day by day approach and trying not to over publicize its charity efforts. This is uncharted waters for any entertainment company or corporation. Some might see their conservative actions as callous, but the legal ramifications for any public move the Time Warner division makes at this point is serious business.
Happily, Christian Bale took it on himself to visit the survivors of the shooting and the only real evidence of his trip was the Facebook and twitter photos he took in the hospital, because this was for the fans, not the local or national news media (as one publicist friend at a rival studio remarked, "He can now pretty much run for president now," which of course he can't because he's British). The tributes continued Friday when the consistently remarkable composer Hans Zimmer released an original track titled "Aurora" from which digital sales go directly to a victim's fund.
So, with the Olympics in full swing and social media more obsessed with the Olympics and Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's "break-up," does it break the bounds of good taste to discuss the awards season chances for "Rises" now?
Other pundits had weighed in "Rises" chances before the film opened. One respected Oscar expert even reported on the film's triumphant response at the official Academy screenings on opening weekend after the shooting (and "moment of silence" or not, its something I personally would have postponed, if possible). At the moment, Warner Bros. is trying to delicately walk the balance of convincing moviegoers to return to the movie theater without disrespecting the victims. Sort of like the fear of flying for some. You have to remind everyone a major jetliner hasn't crashed in over a decade. This "shouldn't" happen again tomorrow. Truth be told, no one will know the true effects on movie going habits until after the Olympics. Or, at the tail end when "The Bourne Legacy," "The Campaign" and "Hope Springs" debut on August 10. So, wondering whether a full fledged awards campaign is still in the cards for "Rises" has to be the furthest thing from the minds of anyone on the Warner Bros. lot. Will that be the case two or three months from now? We'll see. "Rises" earned somewhat unexpected rave reviews from influential critics at the LA Times, Time, Salon, the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times (it got a solid B+ in my book). It's likely to land on the top 10 lists of a number of major critics and will have grossed over $425 million in theaters when all is said and done. All notable facts and figures for most tentpole awards season contenders. But, still. Even writing this post we wonder: Is it too early to talk about awards season and "The Dark Knight Rises" again?
When victims of Aurora are still in the hospital? Perhaps I'm oversensitive, but that's the easy reminder that Oscar should always take a back seat to the real world.
"Rises" and its Oscar chances can wait.
"True Blood" has already passed the point of no return to salvage this season. We're stuck with the storylines we've got, and most of them are lemons. But at least now that we're heading into the final four episodes the writers will be forced to stop dragging their feet and start delivering some payoffs.
That was sort of the case tonight, as we saw some real progress in Terry's ghost story and Sookie and Jason's investigation into their parents' murder. There was also a bit of closure for Jessica and Hoyt, the return of sassy Lafayette and a good old fashioned "True Blood" sex scene (something that's been surprisingly rare this season).
Let's break it down:
In general, asking questions of the "How I Met Your Mother" creators at press tour is a fool's errand. Because of how they've designed the show, and because they've decided they want to preserve every secret, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays have made an art of coming to press tour events, not saying anything, and apologizing for doing so. And with CBS being "pretty optimistic" about closing a deal for a ninth season (i.e., one past the upcoming one that everyone assumed would end the series), Thomas and Bays have to be even more mum than ever.
(We can discuss the ramifications of a ninth season if/when that happens. All I'll say now is that if Thomas and Bays stick to their original plan for the eighth season and do something different for the ninth, it could work, but if they just wind up elongating the season 8 story arc over twice as many episodes, it will be... ungood.)
But at CBS' press tour party, Thomas actually had some concrete show info he could reveal for once:
After many years of many goofy, catchy, memorable original songs, "How I Met Your Mother" is finally getting its own soundtrack album.
A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I run down to Costco to get a couple of dehumidifiers...
So, JoJo's gone, Shane's HOH and Danielle is feeling lucky. I think she'd like to assist Shane in feeling lucky, as she has overcome her resentment toward JoJo (hey, she's gone, why bother?) and is feeling pretty forgiving toward Shane. Or at least it seems that way after she gives Shane a big, sticky hug. Time for showmance!
For the last few years, we've been hearing about "Doctor Sleep," a sequel to "The Shining" that Stephen King has been working on, with a January 2013 release date still rumored for it. The idea that Dan Torrence is now middle-aged sort of makes me want to jump off a building, but it makes perfect story sense that King would want to return to the character and check in on him. After all, he had to have been marked by the extraordinary events of "The Shining," and he wasn't exactly a normal kid to begin with.
What I'm not as sold on upon first hearing about it is a potential sequel to "The Shining." I guess the Overlook Hotel has been around for a long time, and terrible things have certainly happened there over the years, but I'm wondering why "prequel" continues to be the go-to default position for studios looking to squeeze a little extra life out of something. By now, I think even the most accepting audiences have realized that most prequels are creative dead-ends where there's very little chance for dramatic engagement precisely because we already know what comes afterwards.
Rob Doherty, the creator of the new CBS Sherlock Holmes drama "Elementary," noted of his main character, "Because Sherlock lives in the public domain, he's been through many hands. And I think that if so many people couldn't put their spins on it, I don't know that he exists in the popular culture the way he does."
There have, indeed, been over 200 films based on Arthur Conan Doyle's stories about the great detective and his partner, Dr. Watson. But there's one filmed adaptation in particular that has been dogging "Elementary" a bit leading up to its premiere: the BBC's "Sherlock."
BEVERLY HILLS - The combination of a late night for the Television Critics Association -- we presented our awards -- plus CBS' relative paucity of new programming has led to a late-ish start on Sunday, July 29.
It's also likely to lead to yet another relatively uneventful Executive Session with CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler.
Click through for the celebration of CBS' continued place as TV's most-watched network. And more...
Good morning, all. Now that the TCA Awards are all done with, it's time to get back to the more typical business of press tour. Today we welcome the last of the Big Four broadcast networks, with a full day of CBS panels. Here's a quick run-down to give you a sense of what a day on tour looks like. After this we have a combined CW/Showtime day tomorrow, a day of set visits on Tuesday, and then various cable channels on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. (HBO is paneling "The Newsroom" on Wednesday, which should be... interesting.)
1. Mariah Carey: Mimi is confirmed as Jennifer Lopez’s replacement as a judge on “American Idol” for a reported $18 million payday. Production may have to shift to midnight to meet this night owl’s schedule, but she is a great choice. Britney Spears feels underpaid.
2. Carly Rae Jepsen: As “Call Me Maybe” spends another week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest running No. 1 by a Canadian female (even Celine!), Jepsen gets some sweet, watery love from the U.S. Olympic swim team.
3. Emeli Sande: She’s already a star in the U.K., but her performance during the Olympics’ opening ceremony kicked her from “bubbling under” to “next big thing” status in the U.S. Welcome the new "It" girl (If you didn't see it since NBC cut it out, check it out on the web).
4. “The Voice”: Whoever is booking the mentors for the talent contest deserves a thumbs up and for everyone to turn their chair around in approval. Should “The Voice” ever decide to spin off another edition, it’s got your new set of coaches right here: Mary J. Blige, Michael Buble, Rob Thomas and Billie Joe Armstrong.
5. Universal Music Group: It moves another step closer to finalizing its acquisition of EMI after EMI’s chief Roger Faxon details what the company will sell off in order to meet European Commission approval...and it’s a lot.
6. Jason Aldean: Is it selling out if you change the name of the beer you’re already giving a free plug to in your song to one that will pay you money to name it instead? In 1992, yes. In 2012, it’s called good business.
7. Elton John: Reg Dwight tops the U.K. charts for first time in more than 20 years with “Good Morning To the Night,” his collaboration with Pnau, an Australian electronica duo he allowed to play with his catalog.
8. Nas: Life is truly good for the rapper as his newest set, “Life Is Good” becomes his sixth to top the Billboard 200 and his ninth to top Billboard’s R&B album chart.
9. Madonna: The Material Girl is having a tough time of it. Even after the live streams for free an intimate show from Paris, fans complain that the concert wasn’t enough. For someone who has always loved to court controversy, between getting called out for the swastikas, the guns and the flashing, maybe she’s finally realized that not all press is good press, even when they spell MDNA right.
10. The Jackson Family: Really? Haven’t Michael Jackson’s kids been through enough. Take it off Twitter, take it out of the public arena. I know it’s never really been required of you, but act like adults.