Latest Blog Posts

<p>Thomas Sadoski, Sam Waterston and Jeff Daniels in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Thomas Sadoski, Sam Waterston and Jeff Daniels in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: Aaron Sorkin's 'The Newsroom' too sanctimonious for its own good

HBO drama at least features strong performances by Jeff Daniels and company
Having seen four different television series created by Aaron Sorkin — "Sports Night," "The West Wing," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," and now "The Newsroom," a new HBO drama that premieres Sunday night at 10 — I feel I understand some of the man's core beliefs and guiding creative principles:
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<p>Doona Bae plays a pivotal role in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of David Mitchell's epic existential novel 'Cloud Atlas'</p>

Doona Bae plays a pivotal role in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of David Mitchell's epic existential novel 'Cloud Atlas'

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Cloud Atlas' gets a date, and now the hard work starts for Warner Bros.

Even with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, this one's not going to be easy

There is never going to be an easy date for Warner Bros. to release "Cloud Atlas."

Some movies are simply challenges, no matter what.  That doesn't make them bad films, and it doesn't make them good films.  It just means they are hard to sell to an audience.  When you have to cut a 30-second commercial that conveys the main idea or appeal of a film, that is a very difficult thing on certain movies.

Warner Bros. digs "Cloud Atlas."  I feel fairly safe in saying so.  They know what movie they've got, and they know what sort of challenge is ahead, and so declaring a release date is step one in setting the table for the eventual release of the film.

It helps when you have Tom Hanks and Halle Berry starring in your movie, especially when you can advertise that each of them ends up playing a variety of different roles in the film.  And when the supporting cast includes Jim Broadbent, also playing multiple parts, Hugo Weaving reteaming with his "Matrix" directors, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and younger familiar faces like Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, and James D'Arcy, you've got enough leeway that you can let a relatively unknown actress, internationally speaking, like Doona Bae star in the film in one of the main key roles.

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<p>Keira Knightley as &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley as "Anna Karenina."

Credit: Focus Features

Keira Knightley admits 'Anna Karenina' is the hardest thing she's ever done

Plus: The joys of 'Seeking a Friend at the End of the World'

NEW YORK - The last time I spoke with Keira Knightley we were sitting in an almost empty ballroom.  Knightley had just come from the early afternoon Toronto premiere of "A Dangerous Method" and was in a gorgeous gown.  I, on the other hand, had raced over in a t-shirt and jeans having no idea Knightley would be soon boarding a plane later that evening to cross the pond where production on Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" awaited her.  Nine months later, it's a different movie, country and city and yet, Knightley still looks fantastic.  On this day I've got a much shorter amount of time to talk about a rare contemporary role for the "Atonement" star - just five minutes - in Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World."

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Watch: Kevin McKidd discusses his 'Brave' voices and why animation is like being a spy

Watch: Kevin McKidd discusses his 'Brave' voices and why animation is like being a spy

'Grey's Anatomy' star also discusses another killer Shonda Rhimes finale
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Like his "Brave" co-star Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd was first introduced to most viewers in Danny Boyle's "Trainspotting" and, also like Macdonald, McKidd makes his primary living covering up his native Scottish accent for a successful television show.
 
On ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," McKidd plays tightly wound, periodically traumatized, entirely American Owen Hunt. Emotional repression aside, it's a strong role for McKidd, but when we sat down at Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel for the junket for "Brave," he admitted how fun it is to just let loose in the recording booth.
 
In "Brave," McKidd plays Scottish clan leader Lord MacGuffin, as well as his seemingly dim-witted son, one of three suitors to Macdonald's Merida. On the surface, Young MacGuffin seems to almost completely incoherent, but as McKidd explains, the character is actually speaking a specific dialect that runs in the actor's bloodlines.
 
Neither role is huge, but McKidd told me that he's been working on "Brave" for four years, a project that he compares to being a secret agent. 
 
[We also discussed "Grey's Anatomy" just a wee bit and what that conversation isn't in the "Brave"-centric interview above, it's excerpted below!]
 
Hopefully you've already watched my interview with the charming Kelly MacDonald. And stay tuned over the next couple days for my conversations with Pixar chief John Lasseter and with "Brave" director Mark Andrews & producer Katherine Sarafian. And yes, I'm still planning on posting the embarrassing video of my archery attempts in Scotland. 
 
"Brave" opens on Friday, June 22. 
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<p>The Band&nbsp;Perry perform at the 2012 CMT&nbsp;Music Awards in Nashville.</p>

The Band Perry perform at the 2012 CMT Music Awards in Nashville.

Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

The Band Perry hits the studio for sophomore set out later this year

Trio promises more of their 'modern throwback' sound

The Band Perry, who is working with producer Rick Rubin for its sophomore set, will release the first single from the new album in early fall. The album is expected to drop before the end of the year.

The group’s first self-titled album has been certified platinum and  spawned several hits, including the trio’s breakthrough hit, “If I Die Young.”

Rubin has proved a “masterful mentor,”  Kimberly Perry told Billboard.com, adding that he’d helped calm their sophomore jitters. “Now we’re feeling really, really excited about everything.”

The band, who was nominated for a Grammy for best new artist, is on the road with Brad Paisley but is jumping back into the studio whenever possible this summer. The three siblings are about halfway finished with recording.

Fans can expect an evolution from the first album says Reid Perry. “We call our sound a modern throwback,” he says. “We’ve taken the second album to more of a live feeling; we are a band, and where we’re at right now with this second album feels like a band, which we’re pleased about.”

Kimberly Reid continues, “Our melody has grown up so much, mostly our delivery an the melody that we hear in our heads and in our hearts. Everybody we keep playing the rough mixes for is like, ‘It sounds like you guys are standing on this really cool edge,’ so that’s exciting.”

Most of the material focuses around family, friends, and the experiences the trio has been through in the last few years.

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Album Review: Kenny Chesney's 'Welcome To The Fishbowl'
Credit: Columbia Records

Album Review: Kenny Chesney's 'Welcome To The Fishbowl'

Country superstar sees life through a dark filter

“No shoes, no shirt, no problems,” has been Kenny Chesney’s unofficial motto (and title for his seventh album) for much of his career.

Sure, he’s done serious songs, like “Better As A Memory,” but on his new album, “Welcome to the Fishbowl,” love and loss rule the day much more than the beach and beer.

Opening track, the sultry “Come Over,” is a booty call, but, like Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” it’s born more out of loneliness than lust. As he sings, “we’re bad for each other, but we ain’t good for anyone else,” an air of resignation and regret sets in.

Whether it’s hitting his mid-40s or other life circumstances, “Fishbowl” finds Chesney looking at life through a filter of longing, whether it be on “El Cerrito Place” or the poignant “To Get To You (55th & 3rd),” where he’s hoping for a second chance.

Hearts are broken by romance on “Fishbowl,” but they are just as likely to be torn apart by broken dreams. On “Sing ‘Em Good My Friend,” a man sells his old guitar, his only worldly possession left, in an effort to raise money for his wife’s medical bills.  “We’re all gonna die someday/You won’t remember a single word I’m trying to say/It’s all a grand illusion when you think you’re in control.” On “While He Knows Who I Am,” Chesney sings as a son whose father is dying of Alzheimer’s.

Most of the songs on here are from the perspective of someone who’s been kicked around and grown weary by life. On “Makes Me Wonder,” Chesney contemplates turning a friendship into a love affair, but fear seems to get in the way. As he sings on “To Get To You”: “Love’s become a frightening thing to do.”  The album ends with a live version of "You and Tequila," recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheater with Grace Potter. It's not as searing as their studio version from 2010's "Hemingway's Whiskey," but fits in beautifully with the themes on "Welcome to the Fishbowl."

It’s not all dark clouds, however. On “Feel Like A Rock Star” featuring his current tour mate Tim McGraw, life’s a party where the music is always free.  On “Time Flies,” the lilting island track pays homage to getting away to the sand and the surf after a heartbreak because “time flies when you’re having rum.” Bring on the Captain Morgan.

For those who like their Chesney with a side of Corona and lime and nothing but a good time, this might not be the album for you. But for anyone who’s been kicked around a little by life and knows what it’s like to wake up with your heart pounding over a lost chance that feels it will never come this way again, welcome to the fishbowl.

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<p>Fiona Apple's &quot;The Idler Wheel...&quot;</p>

Fiona Apple's "The Idler Wheel..."

Album review: Fiona Apple's 'The Idler Wheel...'

Six-year wait for songwriter's masterful anxiety is totally worthwhile

It’s taken Fiona Apple six years to get down the masterful anxiety of “The Idler Wheel…” The full title itself – “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” -- must’ve taken at least a couple of weeks and a few sleepless nights. The songwriter has proven over and over again to be both a slave and master to her own carefully selected words, with this current slate aching with the weight of sage, savage and self-effacing confessionals.

Good thing the arrangements never get in the way. In a year where Adele’s lush “21” still dominates the charts, Apple and multi-instrumentalist Charley Drayton produced these 10 tracks to sound like largely like two people sharing inside jokes with only musical toys and a moody upright at their disposal.
 
Take “Periphery,” for instance: the elementary piano line is answered by the instrument’s strings getting slapped, and a rhythm section consisting of what literally sounds like duct tape being ripped up from skin. “I don’t even really like you anymore at all,” Apple reveals childishly, bored and disappointed by her ex-lover’s bullsh*t. It’s all machinery and steam sounds in the intro to “Jonathan,” as she whirly-waltzes into Coney Island atop a tuneless mash of a piano pretending to be a calliope, skittering drums, screeches of “gulls” and her vocal counter-melody.
 
Featured, too, are some of the singer's finest vocal performances in her career. A few were unveiled in the weeks preceding the album’s release, like in war-crying “Every Single Night” and funny heartbreaker “Werewolf.” They're just teasers for more pressing and quixotic plot elements. Get into the guts of the thing and “Regret” pops out, or a her swing-dance version of “Revolution No. 9” (“Hot Knife”) sneaks up.
 
The jittery vibrato and broken howls on “Valentine” are closely recorded like a friend leaving you a pissy voicemail about a lousy date she had. “I stand no chance of growing up” she laments, but then puts the blame on “you you you you.” “Daredevil” shares the same slams, lacerations and tongue twisters, and puts them atop the sounds of thighs being slapped for percussion. “I may need a chaperone!” She laughs it off.
 
"The Idler Wheel's" thick language, overall, empties the listener: Apple’s all salt, and it can be terrifyingly sweet. Every song feels more valuable on repeat listens, even when she’s minimalistically and resolutely gloomy.  Its efficiencies are balanced by its voluptuous neediness, a tax that you’ll be happy to shoulder.

 

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<p>Cover art for &quot;The&nbsp;Artist&quot;&nbsp;on DVD/Blu-ray</p>

Cover art for "The Artist" on DVD/Blu-ray

Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Best Picture winner 'The Artist' finally makes its way to DVD/Blu-ray

Last year's talk (so to speak) of the season is set for home video next week

The ads that have been popping up around the site lately remind me that, indeed, last year's Best Picture winner "The Artist" hasn't yet transitioned over to home video yet. The DVD/Blu-ray release is set for Tuesday, June 26, a full seven months after it opened in limited release in November of last year and of course over a year since it world-premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

It's clear that The Weinstein Company, which owned distribution rights in a few other territories but was mainly focused on domestic totals, was looking to squeeze as much out of the film as possible, keeping it in theaters for quite a while. Things settled around $44 million, making "The Artist," along with the likes of "The Hurt Locker," "The Last Emperor," "The Deer Hunter," "Annie Hall" and "Midnight Cowboy," one of very few films from the last four decades to win Best Picture without hitting at least $50 million domestic. Still, having five Oscars to show probably helps that go down a bit better.

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<p>&nbsp;Linkin Park</p>

 Linkin Park

Credit: AP

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and Rick Rubin on the band's 'unusual' style

New album, 'Living Things,' marks their third collaboration

There came a moment, about six months after Linkin Park began working on “Living Things,” that it felt like it was falling apart. The band held weekly meetings to chart their progress and “it didn’t even feel like we were on the path to making a record. It was a bummer,” recalled Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.

The group’s rapper/co-songwriter/producer played the new album, out June 26, last night for a small group at Los Angeles’ Sonos Studios. The playback included a multi-media installation programmed to each of the 12 songs on the set.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The newly christened Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater) at Hollywood and Highland suped up for the world premiere of &quot;Brave.&quot;</p>

The newly christened Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater) at Hollywood and Highland suped up for the world premiere of "Brave."

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Disney brings 'Brave' to the new Dolby Theater

A taste of Scotland in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD - Walt Disney Studios and Pixar teamed up with Dolby last night to christen the "new" Dolby Theater with the world premiere of the new animated adventure "Brave" and, fortunately, everything sounded just fine.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Brave&quot;</p>

A scene from "Brave"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 Pixar films so far

With the studio's 13th feature on the way we take stock of the studio's best

This weekend, Pixar Animation Studios will be releasing its 13th feature film, "Brave." It's a milestone for the company in that not only is it the first Pixar film to feature a female protagonist, but a female co-director is also at the helm.

Pixar has built a business on milestones, actually. Going all the way back to its revolutionary short "The Adventures of Andre and Wally B." in 1984, and then again with the company's work in feature film development starting with 1995's "Toy Story," each step has been a willful one and a progressive one.

Indeed, in considering the studio's 10th feature, "Up," back in 2009, I wrote, "Watching Pixar Animation grow and develop as a studio has become almost more fascinating than experiencing one of the company’s many creative films unfold on screen. Beginning with an industry leap in 1995’s ‘Toy Story’ and eventually moving into its daring own with 2008’s ‘WALL·E,’ the studio has, at the very least, shown a desire for creative progression."

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<p>Ray Romano, seen here on &quot;Men of a Certain Age,&quot;&nbsp;will be doing a guest arc on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Ray Romano, seen here on "Men of a Certain Age," will be doing a guest arc on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

Ray Romano to do 'Parenthood' guest arc

Can the sitcom star woo Lauren Graham away from Jason Ritter?

I was in the middle of writing a paragraph for an upcoming story about how "Parenthood" requires versatile actors to bridge the gap between its dramatic moments and its comic ones, and was citing Lauren Graham as an example of a castmember who exemplifies that versatility. And as I was writing it, news broke that she's about to get a chance to work opposite another actor who can work both silly and dark.

Ray Romano will do a guest arc in the NBC drama's upcoming fourth season, playing a photographer who befriends Graham's Sarah Braverman and complicates her relationship with Jason Ritter's Mark Cyr. When the third season ended, Sarah had accepted Mark's marriage proposal, but things in real life were more ambiguous because Ritter was starring in a medical drama pilot for "Parenthood" producer Jason Katims. That show wasn't picked up, but Sarah can apparently never have smooth sailing in her love life. (And often winds up next to men who aren't close to her in age: Romano's 10 years older, and Ritter 13 years younger.)

Romano is, of course, best known for starring in "Everybody Loves Raymond," but through two seasons of TNT's brilliant-but-canceled "Men of a Certain Age," he got to demonstrate some impressive (and, to many viewers, surprising) dramatic chops playing a self-destructive gambling addict, while still deftly handling any jokes thrown his way. I'm not sure I need more Sarah romantic drama, but I love the idea of Romano being part of a show like "Parenthood" for a while.

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