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<p>Adapting 'Days Of Future Past' is probably better than my plan for an 'X-Men' sequel, which would have been two hours of Jennifer Lawrence like this.</p>

Adapting 'Days Of Future Past' is probably better than my plan for an 'X-Men' sequel, which would have been two hours of Jennifer Lawrence like this.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Matthew Vaughn's 'X-Men' are heading to 'Days Of Future Past'

Could Fox be prepping for the ultimate X-Men story?

Matthew Vaughn is hard at work prepping his next film in Fox's successfully reinvigorated "X-Men" franchise, and thanks to someone sending in a tip to Ain't It Cool News, we now have some idea of where they're headed.

I called the MPAA's Title Registration Bureau today to double-check the tip, and it is indeed true.  Fox recently locked down "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" as a title, and for anyone who is a longtime fan of the comics, that is very, very interesting news.

It seems strange to look back at some of what are considered the biggest and most significant storylines in comics weren't originally published as mega-events like we see from Marvel and DC today.  When they publish something like "Civil War" or "House Of M" or "Flashpoint" or the various "Crisis" events, they make those huge deals, with multiple authors, with dozens of comics involved, with tons of hype, and those events drive the entire publishing year for the companies.

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Album Review: 'Rock of Ages' soundtrack strikes a mixed chord
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Album Review: 'Rock of Ages' soundtrack strikes a mixed chord

How does Tom Cruise sound?

The success of “American Idol” and “Glee” has created a major market for collections of cover songs that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.

For a long time, people (i.e. me) wondered why would anyone want the equivalent of karaoke versions (albeit very well-produced ones) of songs rather than the usually far superior original. A legion of “Gleeks” proved they do.

Therefore, there would seem to be a built-in audience for the soundtrack for “Rock Of Ages,” out today, June 5. which features the same executive music producer, Adam Anders, as "Glee."  The movie, adapted from the long-running Broadway musical, opens June 15.

If you’ve given much thought to how Tom Cruise would sound as an Axl Rose/Joe Elliott-type lead singer or if Alec Baldwin’s estimable talents extend to warbling (we’ll go ahead and tell you “no” on that one), this album gives you the answer.

As with most ventures of this sort, some tracks work better than others. Similar to the Broadway cast album, five of the tracks are mash-ups of two or more songs and the result can be a train wreck. Add up to six different actors/singers vying for space on the same song and it creates quite the pile-up, such as on Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” which features five different singers trading lines.

We’ll get the obvious out of the way: any track that features Mary J. Blige, who plays strip club owner Justice, is a pretty safe bet given that she has more vocal chops than all the other singers put together. On a mash-up of “Shadows of the Night/Harden My Heart” she and Julianne Hough’s voices have a nice contrast: Hough’s voice, in general, is sweet and thin, and the way the duet plays out in the movie as they first meet works on record as well. Sadly, Blige has no songs of her own on here, but, then again, there’s no shortage of those in real life.

Diego Boneta, who plays the young male lead, Drew, is second to Blige in vocal talent.  He’s a strong singer who has already released two solo albums. His straight-up pop rock voice makes him a natural on both his tender tunes, such as “Waiting For a Girl Like You” with Hough or on thumping “I Wanna Rock.”

So how is Cruise? Better than anyone could have expected. As you probably know, he studied with Axl Rose’s vocal coach to learn to sing and while he never sounds like he’s totally comfortable (or looks it, in the movie), he does a fine job. His best numbers are the rockers, such as on, not surprisingly, “Paradise City,” since he’s mimicking Rose (which can’t be easy) and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,”  although he and Malin Akerman pull off a decent version of “I Want To Know What Love Is.” His absolute commitment is commendable.

There are a few missteps: Hough’s and Cruise’s take on the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” is one of two cringeworthy moment. It’s an unfair fight to begin with: few could ever equal Klaus Meine’s full-throated vocals, but they have taken a dull knife to a gunfight.  Same with Catherine Zeta-Jones’ cover of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” As she showed in “Chicago,” Zeta-Jones can sing, but her performance here is so mannered and awkward that it’s offputting.

The audience for the album  will be those who see the movie and the staunchest fans of each of the participating acts--anyone who’s that crazy about these ‘80s hits will want the originals. There’s not a likely single on here that radio would play, though, remember, that’s not unheard of: Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow had a No. 1 adult contemporary hit with their cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin” from “Duets” more than a decade ago. 


 

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<p>Black Panther is well-established as a member of the animated 'Avengers' team, so it's a safe bet Marvel will want him to be onboard by the time they make 'The Avengers 2' for 2015.</p>

Black Panther is well-established as a member of the animated 'Avengers' team, so it's a safe bet Marvel will want him to be onboard by the time they make 'The Avengers 2' for 2015.

Credit: Walt Disney Company/Marvel

'Black Panther' now rumored as next Marvel stand-alone movie

Who would wear the suit as T'challa?

One of the most anticipated announcements of the year will most likely take place at this year's San Diego Comic-Con when Marvel is expected to confirm which of their properties will be the source for their next original superhero title.  Obviously "Iron Man 3" just began production (you can see the first still from the film here), and they're casting bad guys for "Thor 2," and chances are they're going to get really serious about "The Avengers 2" sometime soon.

But what of the rest of the Marvel Universe?  Edgar Wright has been working towards making "Ant-Man" based on a script he's co-writing with Joe Cornish, but with the word that he's going to be shooting the final film in his Cornetto trilogy this fall, it seems less likely that "Ant-Man" is coming next.  Marvel poobah Kevin Feige has spoken many times about how much he wants to figure out "Doctor Strange" for the big-screen, but there hasn't been any word on when or if that will happen.

Today, El Mayimbe at Latino Review is reporting that he knows which movie is scheduled next, and if he's right, we're about to meet a new Avenger.

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<p>Adopt Me Maybe?</p>

Adopt Me Maybe?

Watch: Obama sings 'Call Me Maybe'... Is Romney's version next?

Plus, animals get in on the cuteness

Even Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” didn’t get a presidential version.  Carly Rae Jepsen, whose “Call Me Maybe” has spawned some great viral remakes, including by the Harvard baseball team, but now President Obama is chiming in...sort of.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns</p>

Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns

Credit: Anti-

Watch: Calexico announce Anti- debut 'Algiers' with new song 'Para'

Spooky single precedes set recorded in New Orleans

Calexico has always had a good handle on loss. Their new song "Para" and its accompanying music video has a downward spiral feel, aside from the obvious lyrical themes and fuzzy shots of parenthood; this dramatic track features wobbly home videos and the band performing behind distorted lenses. Oh, and Joey Burns gets a shave.

"Para" precedes the Sept. 11 release of "Algiers," the dusty-rock band's debut for Anti- and their first full-length in four years. The group released albums for years through Quarterstick/Touch & Go, rest in peace.

Calexico's principals Burns and John Convertino recorded this effort out of New Orleans with co-producer Craig Schumacher, who's worked with the band and other of their Southwesternly neighbors like Neko Case, DeVotchka and Depedro. The latter band is led by Jairo Zavala, a frequent Calexico cohort who returns to "Algiers" for a collaboration on "No Te Vayas" with Jacob Valenzuela.

In a statement, Burns explains that the choice to write and work out of New Orleans was very conscious.

"The place is strong and bold, soulful to the core, but surrounded by a sea of darkness," Burns said. "There's something creepy and old on the edge of town and written throughout the town's histories. Those kinds of aesthetics help with the writing."

Well, "Para" is certainly creepy. And marvelously visual. I'm looking forward to more, particularly to opener "Epic." Sounds like a threat, doesn't it?

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<p>Michael Kenneth Williams in a more traditional Omar kind of pose.</p>

Michael Kenneth Williams in a more traditional Omar kind of pose.

Credit: HBO

Even David Simon loves 'The Wire: The Musical'

Bubbs sings! Omar dances! And Snoop as you've never seen her before!

I don't usually do posts that are just excuses to embed funny videos, but I'm making an exception for Funny Or Die's "The Wire: The Musical" for three reasons: 1)It is among the more hilarious viral videos I've seen in a while, particularly in the way that it uses actual "Wire" castmembers like Michael Kenneth Williams, Andre Royo, Sonja Sohn and Snoop Pearson, 2)It's a very slow news day, and if not for this, I likely wouldn't be posting anything today, and 3)Even David Simon gave it his stamp of approval.

If you haven't already seen it by now — possibly many, many times — enjoy. (Also, to answer the inevitable spoiler questions, don't watch if you haven't seen the whole series.) 

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<p>&nbsp;Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra</p>

 Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmer raises $1 million for new music on Kickstarter

Listen to new song 'I Want It Back'

Long gone are the days where artists had to sign their lives away to a big, evil record conglomerate in order to get money to make music. 

On her quest to raise dough for a new project, Amanda Palmer, formerly of The Dresden Dolls, instead went straight to the source -- her fans. 

Using Kickstarter, the post-modern burlesque singer was able to raise over $1 million from her cult-like followers, who in return will get everything from a deluxe copy of the CD (per $25 pledge) to dinner with the singer (two fans pledged a whopping $10,000 each). 

Somewhat surprisingly, it's the largest music-related money-raising effort in Kickstarter history and, outside of Radiohead, it's extremely rare for an artist to enjoy that much creative independence based solely on fan loyalty. 

Palmer's already recorded the album, "Theater of Evil," but will spend the money on the stuff that record labels usually pay for: Album packaging, videos, touring production values, and an art book to compliment the record. 

Earlier this week, fans got to hear a little bit of what they're helping to fund, as Palmer released a track online. 

Listen to "Want It Back" below.

"Evil" is Palmer's first album in four years (and her first since leaving Roadrunner Records). Her new band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, features Michael McQuilken, Chad Raines and Jherek Bischoff. "Evil" was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse) and is due out in September.

Palmer has high hopes for the set. On her Kickstarter page, she noted, "i expect great, big, giant things to happen when this record comes out in september. the band & i will be touring it across the globe ALL YEAR."

What do you think of the new song? How much did you donate?

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Watch: Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce discuss Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'

Watch: Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce discuss Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'

Stars tease the art of playing mysterious characters
LONDON - It's tempting to just write, "Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce both play roles in Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus'" and move on directly into the interview clip.
 
Ambiguity permeates every frame of Scott's sorta-kinda-semi-demi-"Alien" prequel and no two characters are more difficult to talk about than the roles played by Theron and Pearce.
 
Theron plays Meredith Vickers, a tightly wound authority figure (of some sort) on a mission to possibly trace the origins of human life in a deep, far-flung recess of the universe. Meredith has secrets.
 
Pearce plays Peter Weyland, whose name means something if you're a devotee of the "Alien" franchise and who featured in the viral marketing campaign for "Prometheus," but you may have noticed the the "Memento" star is nowhere to be seen in actual trailers for the feature. He has secrets.
 
Yeah. It's hard to have a conversation with Pearce and Theron about their "Prometheus" presence and you'll probably be pleased that when I sat down with the two actors in London last week, just hours after the film's gala Leicester Square premiere, we kept things general: In this interview, the stars discuss Ridley Scott's gifts as an actors' director, the scope of the film and, in oblique terms, the challenges of playing characters this murky. 
 
Stay tuned the rest of this week for a bunch more "Prometheus" video interviews, including conversations with Noomi Rapace & Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green and writer Damon Lindelof. I also had a good chat with Ridley Scott, but that interview contains a few spoilers, so I may hold it til early next week. 
 
"Prometheus" opens on Friday, June 8. 
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<p>Justin Bieber's &quot;All Around the World&quot;</p>

Justin Bieber's "All Around the World"

Listen: Justin Bieber hits the club with 'All Around The World'

And he's taking Ludacris with him

Today, Justin Bieber released “All Around The World,” a new track from “Believe,” his new album out June 19. It’s the third song we’ve gotten, following “Boyfriend” and “Die in Your Arms.”

While all three have been about love, they have all been strikingly different musically. “All Around The World,” which is, conveniently the title of Bieb’s upcoming NBC special, is a flat-out electro-pop dance track. “Boyfriend” started with its whisper intro before paying homage to Justin Timberlake, whereas “Die In Your Arms” recalled Michael Jackson and other soul icons.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Beach Boys' &quot;That's Why God Made the Radio&quot;</p>

Beach Boys' "That's Why God Made the Radio"

Album Review: The Beach Boys' 'That's Why God Made The Radio'

Brian Wilson reunites with his band for a harmonious effort

The Beach Boys are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, but in some ways, the designation is misleading. While the initial quintet originally formed in 1961, there have been long periods—decades, actually—when the group’s brain trust Brian Wilson has not been an active member of the group.

In fact, his surprising reuniting with his bandmates for “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” out today (June 5), is the entire reason to buy the set. It’s his first full album with the group in decades. He’s joined by fellow founding members Mike Love and Al Jardine and nearly-founding members David Marks and Bruce Johnston.

For the casual fan, those who know such hits as “Good Vibrations” or “Kokomo” or “I Get Around,” there’s plenty here for you, such as “Shelter,” whose beautiful chorus makes up for the weak verses, or “Beaches In Mind.” Years later,  the surf’s still up and the summer is endless.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Holy cow, the Klingons appear to be really out of focus in the still-untitled sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' reboot</p>

Holy cow, the Klingons appear to be really out of focus in the still-untitled sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' reboot

Credit: MTV/Viacom

Confirmed: JJ Abrams sneaks a Klingon into MTV Movie Awards

Hollywood's favorite secret-keeper hides a new villain in plain sight

In the last few days, I've been talking with a number of friends about "Prometheus," written in part by Damon Lindelof, and the careful campaign of secrecy that Fox and the filmmakers mounted while it was in production.

Obviously, Lindelof has some experience with working on something that he wants to keep secret, what with his time on "Lost" and his experiences working with JJ Abrams.  Right now, I'm enjoying the build-up to the still-untitled sequel to "Star Trek," if for no other reason than it seems to be driving the Internet crazy.

Abrams, of course, is the king of playing games with the Internet while he's in production on something, and so far, he's played things very close to the vest on "Star Trek 2."  Close enough that people still are arguing about whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan in the film, and close enough that there's still rampant speculation about whether or not he's going to include Klingons in the film.

Thanks to Abrams himself, though, that no longer appears to be a question.

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<p>Mary J.&nbsp;Blige in &quot;Rock of Ages.&quot;</p>

Mary J. Blige in "Rock of Ages."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Interview: Is Mary J. Blige headed to Broadway?

How she prepared for her 'Rock of Ages' strip club owner role

If Mary J. Blige has her way, she’ll be bringing her volatile, inspiring life story to Broadway.  The multiple Grammy winner revealed her plans during an interview with Hitfix on June 3 about her role as  strip club owner Justice Charlier in “Rock Of Ages.” The movie opens June 15; the soundtrack is out June 5.

“I’m thinking more of my own life,” she replied when asked what role she’d like to play on the Great White Way.  “That’s what I’m thinking. I’m not thinking of anything else right now for Broadway. My life is a musical.”

Wearing awesome red glasses to match her red belt, Blige told Hitfix that she’s “in talks” about the idea, “so it’s definitely something we’re going to do. You’ll see it. We’re going to do it.”

Blige also revealed how visiting strip clubs helped her prepare for her character and the back story she created for Justice. 

Below is our Q&A with Blige. It includes primarily questions we asked, but also a few asked by a reporter from another outlet as the two of us sat down together with Blige.

HITFIX:  A lot of people don’t know that have covered rock tunes like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love” and U2’s “One.”  How did your love affair with rock start?


MJB: I grew up listening to it as well as R&B and hip hop. I got exposed to the heavy metal through MTV. MTV was the only video station we had so we got exposed to Van Halen and Led Zeppelin and Journey, you know what I’m saying?  And then I grew up on soft rock because there was no Hot 97 or  WBLS or 98.7 when I was five years old, so I know a lot of songs from WABC and WNBC [Editor’s note: These are all New York radio stations], That’s the radio station we were listening to and just growing up, listening to music period, you just love it. Great music is great music.

In “Rock Of Ages,” you play a strip club owner named Justice, who takes Julianne Hough’s character, Sherrie, under her wing. Did real life imitate art here? Did you share any of your experience with her?

Julianne is pretty smart and pretty wise to be so young, but the character called for me to be that person and I had to find that person in her that I was when I was a kid and someone had to help me. There were women that helped me get on my feet and helped me to remember that I’m smart and beautiful and strong regardless of whatever people say or think about me. There’s a lot of truth to the character: I had to be strong in those bad environments and believe in myself and not my circumstances, and teach her and all the girls all the same thing. That’s who Mary is a lot of, but that’s who Justice is too.

What attracted you to the script?


It was the fact that she had depth and that she saw herself in Sherrie and she wanted to help her. If she was just a strip club owner, I would have been like “I’m not doing that.” If she was a dingy, ditzy owner, it would... it had to have something that related to me in order for me to play it, be drawn to the role. She was loose and fun and it was another side of her, just like there’s another side of me that people don’t see, they always see this strong, marching through side. they don’t ever see the fun loose person. 

Justice is a woman who’s made it in a man’s world, like you.

She lost something when she was a child and she lost it to men and she kept losing it to men and so she wanted to gain back the ground and power over them in that area by keeping her identity and running the joint, like “I have power here, this is my place.” And that’s [like] being a strong woman in the music business. I have my identity. I fought for who Mary J. Blige is. I have power over a lot of the men in the industry.

That’s a complete back story that we don’t know about her. Did you create that or did director Adam Shankman give you that?

No. That’s how I see her...Why would she be there? Why would she be in a strip club? She’s supposed to be looked at as a beautiful. strong. powerful business woman. Why is she there? She’s there to get back the power that some man took from her all her life and she’s gotten that back. That’s fair enough to say. She tells them how much money to spend, she brings the girls out and she’s running the club so she has the power over men in the club.

You’re the most experienced and best singer of the cast, which includes many actors not known for their singing. Did you coach any of them?


No. they didn’t need my help (laughs)

Which was your favorite song to sing?

The “Shadows of the Night/Harden My Heart” mash-up because those songs mean so much to me.  I loved “Harden My Heart.” I loved “Shadows of the Night.”  I love, love those songs.

Julianne said she prepared by going to strip clubs. How did you prepare?

I went to strip clubs.  That was fun! It was actually fun because the women there were so sweet and nice and, you know, they just want to talk to you. They knew exactly who I was so I got bombarded and stampeded and I had to sit and talk to them all night. They didn’t want to dance, they just wanted to talk. I got the chance to talk to Maiden, the “Justice” of the club and she’s young too and she’s sweet. But they’re happy where they are. They’re confident and they’re beautiful, so I learned how to carry myself from watching them.

Were you bummed you had no scenes with Tom Cruise?


I mean I was not bummed. I did one. They might show it briefly when they do the behind-the-scenes. If you blinked, you’d probably miss it.

When you’re recording for a soundtrack and are in the booth, are you recording as Mary J. Blige or as your character?


The character. You’re Justice. You’re singing from whomever you made Justice out to be. Mary’s delivering the vocal stuff, but the pain and the depth is coming from Justice’s experience.

What’s your next movie role?


It’s “Parallel Lives.” It’s a Lifetime movie and we start shooting in September and October. It’s about [civil rights advocate] Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King. It’s about the lives of the women behind the men. [I play] Betty.

How do you prepare for that?

Gotta get an acting coach. I already started going online and looking up her interviews, so I’m already looking.

That’s such a responsibility when you’re playing a real person.


It is a responsibility. So you’ve got to do your homework to really nail... you don’t want to mess it up.

Is Broadway in your future?


Of course, there’s Broadway.

What role would you like to do?


Well, I’m thinking more of my own life, you know what I’m saying? That’s what I’m thinking. I’m not thinking of anything else right now for Broadway. My life is a musical.

Have you talked to anyone about that? Is that in formative stages?


Yeah. What’s crazy is... yeah. We’re in talks about there’s different things happening.  People are staying the same thing. The same thing you’re asking, people are saying the same thing, so it’s definitely something we’re going to do. You’ll see it. We’re going to do it.
 

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