I continue the exploration of my love and loathing of R. Kelly, that time-traveling horndog of R&B mysterium. Today his label RCA announced a June 26 drop date of his new album "Write Me Back," as well as lifted the veil on another new song from it, "Feelin' Single."
Like "Write's" first song-single "Share My Love," "Feelin' Single" borrows from the same strings-dripping '70s era of soul and disco, this time with Kels fondling playing with the space bars between lonliness and landing the skinny, big-boobed lady of his dreams. It goes up via digital retailers on May 29.
I'm not sure we could write much more about "Margaret" in this space. Last December, filling in the gaps with the rest of a press corps hammering out their top 10 lists for the year, I caught up to Kenneth Lonergan's embattled film at one of two screenings Fox Searchlight politely scheduled for those who had missed it during its fleeting September release.
ABC had a very strange 2011-12 TV season. On the one hand, "Modern Family" had its biggest ratings yet, the network launched the top-rated new drama of the season in "Once Upon a Time," had a much-buzzed-about (if more modestly-rated) new success in "Revenge," and had four other rookies ("Suburgatory," "Scandal," "Last Man Standing" and "Don't Trust the (Beaver) in Apt. 23") do well enough to merit renewal for another season.
On the other hand, those successes — plus the continuation of other hits like "Grey's Anatomy" (still the most-watched drama on TV in the 18-49 demographic) and "Dancing with the Stars" — likely won't be enough to keep the network out of fourth place in the season's demo ratings. Even if NBC will only squeak ahead of ABC because it aired the Super Bowl, that's still not a good overall result considering all the successes.
But on an upfront press conference call, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee acknowledged that the network needed a lot of work when he took over a couple of years ago.
It was only a couple weeks ago that Usher unzipped "Lemme See" featuring Rick Ross in promoting his new album "Looking for Myself"; now the pair are back together for another sexy back-and-forth for Rozay's new single "Touch'N You."
If that's so, then look for a lot of steam-windowed R&B combos with Bawse's confident woof, because this mid-tempo bedroom jammer has Usher over-repeating his intentions of "f*ckin' you." Of course, there's a radio version available -- "Touch'N You" -- reminiscent of how Enrique Iglesias, tonight, is "lovin'" you.
Ross' rhymes work, though, and its another gangbusters combination from this team, who could benefit from each others' prowess as they drop their respective new albums. As repetitive as I think "f*ckin' you" gets, it on a meta-level reflects the actual nature of, well, f*ckin'. Good work, lit team, "Touch'N You" sounds like a definite hit.
I can hardly believe it's snuck up on like this, but today I jet off to the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival, which officially kicks off tomorrow with the premiere of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom." Currently, we're in the exciting night-before-Christmas stage of the festival. 22 Competition films (among a buffet of others in secondary strands) lie unseen ahead of us: all of them have serious artistic intentions and creditable names attached, and have been hand-picked for the programme by the powers that be.
Yet there will be successes and there will be failures: predicting the annual critical disaster as much a sport as handicapping the jury awards. We have no idea what the prizewinners and/or future classics from the lineup might prove to be -- and that "and/or" is crucial, since the two don't always overlap. Cannes juries are no less capable than the Academy of missing the boat with their choices, of passing over long-haul masterworks for short-lived sensations. Will future generations care about Palme d'Or winner "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" -- any more than people today care about "The Mission?"
Even sitting down to write about the film, I feel ridiculous. It's a movie in name only, a simulation of a movie, and it is by far the strangest thing that Peter Berg has ever put his name on. I do not see the director of "The Rundown" or "Friday Night Lights" in this film at all. That's not to say it is without any personal touches, but they feel more like him distracting himself from the absurdity of the material than a real connection to what he's making, and the result is a wannabe-blockbuster that should be studied in film schools as a perfect example of what happens when commerce becomes more important than concept.
Written by a computer program that Universal cleverly named "Erich and Jon Hoeber," I'm still not even sure what the actual premise of the movie is. I can tell you what happens in it, but plot is not premise. I cannot imagine the meetings in which grown, rational people sat around planning this film, because nothing about it makes sense. You would think someone involved in signing $250 million worth of checks would have at some point spoken up and said, "Is it okay that none of this is even remotely coherent?" Evidently, it's fine, because the film almost seems to delight in the specific form of nonsense that it offers up, and there's not a hint of shame to the enterprise. It is blissfully, cheerfully stupid, and it doesn't remotely care about reality.
"Survivor: One World" wrapped up on Sunday (May 13) night with the first all-female Top Five in the show's history.
Because of timing relating to NBC and FOX upfront presentations on Monday, I wasn't able to do exit interviews with Alicia and Christina, but I was able to get on the phone with the three castoffs who faced The Jury and were up for the million dollar prize.
That would be 26-year-old Chelsea Meissner, who finished third after failing to receive a single vote from the Jury.
Chelsea, who was partners-in-crime with Kim, as they decimated the entire male contingent after the Merge, had a hand in most of the season's strategic intrigue, but she probably lost Jury support when she basically endorsed her friend in her opening statement.
In her exit interview, Chelsea discusses her support for Kim, her Final Tribal emotions and tries to explain Christina's accusation that she hates people.
I could offer up excuses, but the truth is that things just plain got away from Scott Swan and me, and there's no other way to put it. Our best intentions were repeatedly frustrated by real-life obstacles, and we let them build up week after week.
The only reason we finally sat down to do this again is because you have all been so vocal about wanting a new podcast, and I take your feedback seriously.
This week, we decided to talk about Mother's day and the long tradition of mothers in movies. We also brought back Movie God, the game that broke me in our final episode of Season Two, and we welcomed Patrick Morgan, known to AICN readers as Henchman Mongo, to help us kick off this year's version of the game.
Simon Cowell would like to make one thing perfectly clear: if you are a straight white male over the age of 15, he really doesn’t have much need for you.
The confirmation of Britney Spears as a new judge on “X Factor,” as well as the relatively surprising announcement that she and returning judge L.A. Reid will be joined by Demi Lovato shows very clearly that Cowell is serious about snaring the 12-34 female demo and not much else. Of course, all of these talent shows are geared toward females anyway, so Cowell is not even pretending that he means otherwise anymore.
This is, of course, despite the fact that “X Factor” includes the positively generic “Over 30” group.
So how do we see this playing out? L.A. Reid will be the voice of criticism on the show— and if we’re going to give them an “American Idol” analog— the Randy Jackson. Remember when Jackson was the lightweight panelist on “Idol?” Now he’s positively a Thor-sized hammer of sound critique compared to Jennifer Lopez, who will be played by the part of Demi Lovato on “X Factor,” and Steven Tyler, who will be played by Spears.
After the first season on U.S. television didn’t deliver the ratings he’d bragged endlessly about, Cowell knew he had to shake things up. Out went judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones and in are Lovato/Spears and a host to be named later.
Not that we expected anything sage or profound from their comments at the official announcement, but they did nothing to quell my doubts that Spears and Lovato will look at the artists and mutter encouragements that offer little in the way of true instruction.
Spears talked about how “fun” the experience will be and how she’s ready to find the “true star.” Lovato said she was “excited to represent my generation.” And, well, L.A. Reid, who has worked with some truly exquisite talents as a songwriter, producer and record head, said, “I’m the luckiest guy on the planet, standing new to these three. This is the Rolls Royce of television right here.” Come again? Did he turn into a pillar of salt after he said that?
We’ve already expressed our doubts about Spears’ ability to provide any meaningful commentary here, in part because we simply don’t remember anything truly insightful ever coming out of her mouth during an interview. And, furthermore, as many of the commenters said on my original piece, is someone who has to lip sync her way through her live show the best person to judge a contest that features artists performing live? But she does bring with her more than 20 million friends on Facebook and 16 million Twitter followers, making her a one-woman promo machine.
So what about 19-year-old Lovato? She’s been on TV since she was a tot on “Barney & Friends,” and then on her own Disney show, “Sonny With A Chance.” She’s breaking out of the Disney camp, but while under its reign, she showed to be an actress with a nice comedic style and her voice is a strong pop one. “X Factor” accepts contestants as young as 12, which means that many of the younger applicants will have grown up with Lovato.
Here’s what else they have in common: both present as very sympathetic people who have been through their own shares of issues lately in a very public and cruel arena and have seemingly bounced back with admirable resilience. Other than making them compassionate to other people’s struggles, I’m not sure how that qualifies them to be judges, but I know that some folks will be tuning in simply to see if Spears is a trainwreck or if she is cogent, and to see if Lovato is as fragile before the camera as she has hinted in some interviews that she may be. Even though I know that’s how the game is played, it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.
Lovato has turned her struggles into a campaign to help fellow teenage girls realize they don’t have to be “perfect” by Hollywood’s impossibly strict standards. If she applies her mentoring through that filter, she could bring a very interesting and valuable perspective to the proceedings. But my fear is that both will be so sensitive to the pain they have gone through that they will be reduced to little more than “good job!” for fear of hurting someone. They’ll have to learn the difference between being mean and giving truly constructive criticism in order to be effective judges.
They will have a very short grace period to prove they have wisdom from their decades of experience to impart or are going to be so entertaining that their lack of anything meaningful to say doesn’t matter. Lovato has impressed me in interviews as someone relatable and smart, so, while she’s still incredibly young for such a gig, she is absolutely used to the rigors of a weekly TV show.
Time and time again, I come down to Spears being the weak link here...and the main draw.
We’ll be watching when the new season bows this fall.