Latest Blog Posts

<p>Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez of &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez of "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 11 Finale - Performances

Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez go head-to-head for America's votes

It's "American Idol" Finale week!

After five months of auditions and performances and eliminations, we've come down an entirely logical finale: It's a showdown between the season's Best White Guy With a Guitar and the season's Most Talented Teenage Girl.

If you've been following "Idol" voting for a while, this is the matchup most likely to produce drama and this season does, indeed, seem to be up for grabs. 

My instinct is that although we may assume Phil-Phil is the favorite, for demographic reasons, he's more than capable of turning in a lackluster finale night performance, while Jessica is more than capable of dominating a head-to-head sing-off.

Click through for tonight's songs...

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<p>Brad Pitt is not to be trifled with.&nbsp; Seriously.</p>

Brad Pitt is not to be trifled with.  Seriously.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'Killing Them Softly' uses Brad Pitt as a blunt instrument

His second film with Andrew Dominik is dark, cynical, and fairly great

CANNES - Andrew Dominik's last film, "The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford" was, to put it kindly, divisive.  You can count me on the side of the folks who thought it was a gorgeous, poetic look at an American West that may not have ever truly existed, and the legends that stood astride it in its sunset years.  The score alone would qualify it as a fairly major work of film art for me, and when I revisited the film about four days before flying out for this year's festival, I found myself smitten all over again.

With "Killing Me Softly," Dominik appears to have zagged when everyone expected a zig, and this lean, mean, cynical little crime film, adapted from a novel by George V. Higgins, is a stylish delight, but perhaps not what many viewers will expect.  Brad Pitt is obviously the biggest name in the film, and his work as Jackie Cogan is great.  But he doesn't appear in the film nearly as much as some of his lesser-known co-stars like Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, who both rip it up playing low-level criminal dummies who are enticed into a job by The Squirrel, played by Vince Curatola.  If you're a "Sopranos" fan, you'd know Curatola immediately as Johnny "Sack," and it's interesting seeing him show up in a key role in the same film as James Gandolfini, who contributes a lovely supporting turn as a washed-up hitman who's too busy whoring and drinking to actually pull a trigger.

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<p>Hugh Laurie of &quot;House&quot;</p>

Hugh Laurie of "House"

Credit: FOX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 130

Dan and Alan talk 'Community,' 'House,' 'Mad Men' and 'Men at Work'

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls.
 
Time for a fairly lengthy installment of The Firewall & Iceberg podcast, which includes a dismissive review of TBS' "Men at Work," plus thoughts on the "Community," "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "House" finales. We also talked "Mad Men" and, because a few people wanted to hear it, we talked "Avengers."
 
And we also announced the Firewall & Iceberg Summer Re-Watch show for 2012!
 
Since we spoiled a lot of things in a lot of sections, pay close attention to the times if you don't want things spoiled...
 
This week's breakdown:
Tessa's Mom Candidates (00:01:30 - 00:05:00)
"Men at Work" (00:05:00 - 00:10:45)
"Community" finale/Dan Harmon (00:10:45 - 00:28:00)
"Grey's Anatomy"/"Scandal" finales (00:28:10 - 00:45:45)
"House" finale (00:45:45 - 00:58:45)
Listener Mail - "Breaking Bad" premiere (00:59:00 - 01:03:45)
"Mad Men" (01:03:50 - 01:20:00)
"Avengers" (01:20:10 - 01:36:00)
Our Summer Re-Watch Announcement (01:36:10 - 01:39:25)
 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 129: 'Community,' 'House,' 'Avengers' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 129: 'Community,' 'House,' 'Avengers' & more

Dan and Alan also review TBS' 'Men at Work' and announce their summer rewatch

The

A very busy, very long Firewall & Iceberg Podcast this week deals with finales, firings, a forgettable new TBS sitcom, a metaphorical Marvel Team-Up between Don Draper and Joan Harris, a more literal Marvel team-up between the members of The Avengers, and the announcement of this week's summer re-watch. 

The line-up: 

Tessa's Mom Candidates (00:01:30 - 00:05:00)
"Men at Work" (00:05:00 - 00:10:45)
"Community" finale/Dan Harmon (00:10:45 - 00:28:00)
"Grey's Anatomy"/"Scandal" finales (00:28:10 - 00:45:45)
"House" finale (00:45:45 - 00:58:45)
Listener Mail - "Breaking Bad" premiere (00:59:00 - 01:03:45)
"Mad Men" (01:03:50 - 01:20:00)
"Avengers" (01:20:10 - 01:36:00)
Our Summer Re-Watch Announcement (01:36:10 - 01:39:25)
 
As we discuss towards the end of the show, there may or may not be a podcast next week, due to Dan's travel schedule, but there will definitely not be a podcast on Monday, due to the Memorial Day holiday.

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Michael Jackson</p>

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's 'Bad' celebrates its 25th anniversary in a very good way

A 3-CD set with plenty of goodies arrives in September

Who’s bad? Michael Jackson, that’s who.  To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the King of Pop’s mega-million-selling 1987 set, “Bad,” Eplc/Legacy will release a 3-CD box set on Sept. 18.

The collection will include the remastered original album, a CD of unreleased demos recorded around the same time, and the audio from Jackson’s July 16, 1988 performance at London’s Wembley Stadium, according to Billboard.

[More after the jump...]

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Album Review: 'American Idol' Kris Allen's 'Thank You Camellia'

Album Review: 'American Idol' Kris Allen's 'Thank You Camellia'

Does his sophomore set show growth?

Though it’s totally coincidental, Kris Allen has picked the perfect time to release his second album, “Thank You Camellia.”

A lot has changed at radio since the “American Idol” season 8 winner released his debut in 2009. Back then, his soft- rock, The Fray-type gentle pop ramblings were out of favor with what was happening at Top 40 (although he managed to have a very nice-sized AC hit with “Live Like We’re Dying.”)  This time, we are in a full-blown pop revival, so it should help him, especially on the album’s opening tune, the peppy “Better With You, “ which sounds like it could be straight off of One Direction’s current album, “Up All Night.” "Thank You Camellia" comes out today.

Allen’s music is non-challenging and perfectly pleasant and, depending upon what you want from your music, that’s either just fine or the worst indictment anyone could write. But regardless of how you feel, there’s no denying that he is one artist who does not seem to be trying to be anything other than who he is: A straight-down-the-middle pop singer, who has a love and knack for a simple melody. There's a loping sincerity to everything he touches and an extreme likeability.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Chang as Chow Yun-Fat, Britta as Mrs. Mia Wallace and a blood-splattered Shirley were three memorable moments of the Dan Harmon era.</p>

Chang as Chow Yun-Fat, Britta as Mrs. Mia Wallace and a blood-splattered Shirley were three memorable moments of the Dan Harmon era.

Credit: NBC

Saying goodbye to the Dan Harmon era of 'Community'

Here are 10 episodes that defined the mad genius of the show's ousted creator

The news that Dan Harmon was fired as "Community" showrunner still feels like a cruel joke — like fans of the show wished for a fourth season on a monkey's paw, only to discover that the fourth season would air on Fridays after "Whitney" and not involve the man whose mad genius made "Community" what it was.

Over the weekend, the cast and many of the show's top writers paid homage to Harmon on Twitter, thanking him for the opportunity and fun that came with his creation. We have no idea what the show will look like under new bosses Moses Port and David Guarascio, but they definitely have a tough, if not impossible, act to follow.

Before we move forward on whatever "Community" is about to become, I first wanted to look back at 10 episodes from the Harmon era — not necessarily the 10 best, but 10 that represent the depth, breadth and insanity of what the show was under his watch.

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<p>Rick Baker with his &quot;Men in&nbsp;Black III&quot;&nbsp;creations</p>

Rick Baker with his "Men in Black III" creations

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 Rick Baker contributions to the movies

With 'Men in Black III' on the way, we look at the legendary makeup artist's career

Hitting theaters this weekend is "Men in Black III," the latest installment of a sci-fi comedy franchise that has been box office gold the world over. This one has been mired in whispers of behind-the-scenes crises and near shut-downs, but what matters is what's on screen. And what's on screen is another showcase from film makeup designer Rick Baker.

Baker is seemingly the face of film makeup, his rockstar look and landmark-laden portfolio adding to the mythic image of one of the medium's top tier talents. But Baker is a fan like the rest. His accomplishments in the industry stretch back to second unit work in "Star Wars" (post-production additions on the famous Cantina scene being his big moment) and further.

Oh, and he has 12 Oscar nominations and seven wins to show for himself. Naturally, then, there's plenty of fodder for a new installment of the lists!

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<p>Red Hot Chili Peppers</p>

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys and Jack White headline Austin City Limits Festival

Why yes, the headliner slate is very similar to Lollapalooza

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, and Jack White are among the artists who will headline the Austin City Limits Festival, which takes place in the Texas capital Oct. 12-14.

If that lineup sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it looks a lot like the roster for Lollapalooza, which takes place in Chicago:  The RHCP, Black Keys and Jack White are all playing the Aug. 3-5 festival as well.

Among the other acts the two festivals will share are Florence + The Machine, The Shins,  Avicii, Bassnectar, M83, Childish Gambino, Alabama Shakes, Delta Spirit, and Kopecky Family Band.  That’s bound to happen when both events feature more than 120 acts, but we don’t remember ever seeing this many big names playing both in the same year.

Among the other acts performing at ACL’s Zilker Park will by Gotye, The Afghan Whigs, The Civil Wars, Patterson Hood, Big K.R.I.T., Kimbra, The Avett Bros., and Iggy & The Stooges.

Tickets are on  sale now at www.aclfestival.com

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<p>Director Pablo Larrain (center) and stars Alfredo Castro and Gael Garcia Bernal arrives for the Cannes premiere of &quot;No.&quot;</p>

Director Pablo Larrain (center) and stars Alfredo Castro and Gael Garcia Bernal arrives for the Cannes premiere of "No."

Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

Sony Classics says yes to 'No' at Cannes

Festival standout finds home with top foreign-language distributor

In the mid-Cannes checkup piece I posted yesterday, I wrote that the festival sidebars (Un Certain Regard, Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week, plus a handful of stray special selections) haven't produced much in the way of a word-of-mouth sensation. The clear exception I noted was Chilean director Pablo Larrain's "No" -- my own favourite film of the festival thus far -- which I saw on the third day of the festival and was far from alone in admiring. (When even self-confessed sidebar sceptic Jeff Wells has checked it out and is singing its praises, you know word has officially got round.)

So I'm thrilled to hear that the positive buzz for "No" has paid off handsomely in the distribution racket, as the US rights to the film have been picked up by arthouse major Sony Pictures Classics, whose record of shepherding foreign-language fare Stateside currently stands second to none. (For starters, they've been behind five of the last six winners of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.) That's a major profile boost for Larrain, whose last two films, "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem" (with which "No" forms a thematically-linked trilogy), were distributed in the US by the far lower-profile outfit Kino Lorber. ("Post Mortem" hit theaters only last month on a highly limited release.)

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<p>Britt Daniel of Spoon</p>

Britt Daniel of Spoon

Credit: AP Photo

Spoon's Britt Daniel forms Divine Fits with members of Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks

New group will release album on Merge later this year

Get ready for another indie rock supergroup.

Spoon's Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner and former New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown are joining forces to become Divine Fits.

The group's as yet untitled debut album will be released later this year on Merge Records, longtime home to Spoon, Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Fucked Up and numerous other bands. Post-punk production guru Nick Launay (Gang of Four, PiL, Kate Bush) recorded the album.

There's little information available about the album or any touring plans. Keep up-to-date at the band's web site here. Divine Fits should have an interesting sound, since all three band members' other projects have been distinctively different; Spoon purveys sparse, soulful pop while New Bomb Turks played upbeat punk-pop and Wolf Parade eyed '80s new wave as inspiration and often featured keyboards and dancier sounds.

Spoon's last studio album, "Transference," hit No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in 2010. Wolf Parade, whose last album was also released in 2010, recently announced that they're on hiatus. The New Bomb Turks, meanwhile, haven't played together since 2005.

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<p>Hugh Laurie in the &quot;House&quot;&nbsp;series finale.</p>

Hugh Laurie in the "House" series finale.

Credit: FOX

Series finale review: 'House' - 'Everybody Dies'

House confronts his greatest foe — himself — and solves one final problem

A review of the "House" series finale coming up just as soon as I say that Pascal's Wager is facile...

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