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Janet Jackson

Reports: Janet Jackson back at work on first album since 2008

She has been recording in Qatar and Paris

Is Janet Jackson back in the studio working on her first album since 2008’s “Discipline?”

According to her sound engineer, the answer is a resounding yes. In an interview with Barefoot Sound  (h/t Idolator),  Grammy-winning producer/engineer Ian Cross says he has been recording Jackson around the world.

“We’ve been working in Qatar. We’ve been working in Paris, the Middle East, and now we feel like we can work anywhere,” he says.

As far as the direction, he says “we’re going to be doing things that are completely unexpected that nobody’s seen before… The new album is going to be great. It’s a process. There’s a lot in store, yet to come. I can’t go into too many details but I think Janet Jackson’s fans are going to be very excited about the new album, and I think people who don’t know her as fans are going to be excited about it, too. The new paradigm of music, the real people in music now, are blending technology and music together. It’s becoming more and more seamless.”

The two first began working together in 2007, when he produced the vocals for “Discipline.”  He now works full time for Jackson.

 

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<p>Maggie Gyllenhaal of &quot;The Honorable Woman&quot;</p>

Maggie Gyllenhaal of "The Honorable Woman"

Credit: SundanceTV

TV Review: 'The Honorable Woman' is another SundanceTV winner

Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in Hugo Blick's complex, occasionally ponderous, miniseries

Mike Leigh's 1996 drama "Secrets & Lies" is a very good movie, at times even a great movie. It's full of great performances, rich thematic underpinnings and, like so many Mike Leigh films, fine naturalistic dialogue.

But then it also has that scene where Timothy Spall's Maurice wails, "Secrets and lies! We're all in pain! Why can't we share our pain? I've spent my entire life trying to make people happy, and the three people I love the most in the world hate each other's guts, and I'm in the middle! I can't take it anymore!"

I've never quite been sure what Mike Leigh wanted that speech to accomplish. 

Did he really think, "Without this, nobody will know why we called this movie 'Secrets & Lies' and audiences will leave disgruntled"? 

Did he think, "Yes, viewers will probably get what the movie is about, but there's no harm in underlining it just a little"?

Or did he just figure that speech was the key to Spall getting an Oscar nomination and he left it in because we all know Mike Leigh is deeply invested in award recognition for his movies?

I tend to suspect option "B," because nobody ever placed the requirement of "subtlety" on great art. Sometimes artists like to make sure they're understood, even if a largely inert sponge probably would have gotten the point anyway.

Hugo Blick's eight-part miniseries "The Honorable Woman" -- I really, really want to call it "The Honourable Woman," but once you open the door to British spelling, that door can never be closed -- is a nuanced and occasionally gripping political thriller bursting with strong performances, anchored by the clearly Emmy-worthy Maggie Gyllenhaal. It's also really, really worried that you won't understand what's happening beneath-the-surface and I'm not sure that I've ever seen a movie or TV program spend so much time directly articulating and then repeating its underlying themes. 

It's an odd combination, because while writer-director-producer Blick has almost no faith in the audience's ability to parse this text for its message on truth, lies, secrets and the Middle East, he's reasonably confident that viewers will be able to follow a fragmented narrative that withholds key pieces of information for long stretches. So "The Honorable Woman" is probably the most subtle and least subtle thing you're likely to watch on TV this month, which actually makes it of a piece with a lot of SundanceTV's original programming, which could practically have the tagline, "Pay Close Attention: We're Only Going To Tell You This 50 Times." [SundanceTV placed two shows in my Top 10 for 2013, so don't take this necessarily as a damning criticism. I like things that are both obtuse and willing to beat you over the head with a mallet.]

More on "The Honorable Woman" after the break...

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James Gunn on the tactile world of 'Guardians' and why they get to know the big secret
Credit: HitFix

James Gunn on the tactile world of 'Guardians' and why they get to know the big secret

This is a man who loves the characters he's writing and directing

My first interactions with James Gunn were, to put it lightly, awkward thanks to the particularly strident way in which Harry Knowles took him to task over his work on "Scooby-Doo." I respect the way Gunn has built a career out of a a start in the Troma factory, not a given by any means, and he's been true to his voice as he's worked on larger and larger films, something else that isn't easy.

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Guillermo Del Toro previews 'Crimson Peak' and calls Legendary 'a filmmaker's home'
Credit: HitFix

Guillermo Del Toro previews 'Crimson Peak' and calls Legendary 'a filmmaker's home'

Could 'Hellboy 3' happen after Comic-Con's surprise reaction?

If I were asked to make a list of my favorite people, I'm sure Guillermo Del Toro would take up at least three or four spots on the list all by himself.

Sure, he's an amazing visual artist, with a rich and detailed imagination that seems to have no limits in scope or variety, and that is something you have to value in an age where we finally have technology that can keep up with him.

And, yes, I think he's got a wicked sense of humor that comes out only in the overtly comic moments in his movies but also in the way he plays things straight. He's not above playing around with the audience and the way they expect things to unfold. He'll tell you a story and he'll stick it to you with some violation of convention, and if you're onboard, you'll laugh, and if you're not, you'll wonder what kind of madman has control of the camera.

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'Sharknado 2: The Second One' breaks Syfy records including meaningless Twitter milestone
Credit: Syfy

'Sharknado 2: The Second One' breaks Syfy records including meaningless Twitter milestone

Tangibly, 'Sharknado 2' nearly triples the ratings for its predecessor

Last August, Syfy's "Sharknado" premiered to a, um, sharknado of Twitter attention, but almost no live audience. 

That appears not to have been a problem for Wednesday's (July 30) premiere of "Sharknado 2: The Second One."

Syfy boasts that "Sharknado 2" drew 3.9 million viewers, including 1.6 million in the key 18-49 demographic. The original "Sharknado" drew under 1.4 million viewers total, so that's not unimpressive.

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Katy Perry

Katy Perry creates a visual feast with 'This Is How We Do' video

Is she taking a swipe at Lady Gaga in her new Rolling Stone interview?

Katy Perry’s video for “This Is How We Do” has a little something for everyone and may even top her own record for the most costume changes in one clip.

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<p>Jon Stewart</p>

Jon Stewart

Credit: AP Photo

Jon Stewart's passion project 'Rosewater' gets a November release date

The 'Daily Show' host's directorial debut could show up at Telluride

I've been very curious about Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" since the material and the story seized him so much that he took a hiatus from "The Daily Show" to go make the movie. And now at least we know when we can expect Open Road Films to release it: Nov. 7, right in the thick of awards season.

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'Sharknado 2' scores big ratings: 3.9 million, a Syfy movie record

“Sharknado 2” scores big ratings: 3.9 million, a Syfy movie record
“The Second One” sequel was up 280% from the original “Sharknado,” which attracted 1.4 million. It also beat network TV shows like “Extant” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” PLUS: “Sharknado 2” was also up in number of tweets vs. "Sharknado."


Monica Lewinsky reacts to “Orange is the New Black" using her last name as a vulgarity
Writing in Vanity Fair, Lewinsky recalls: "I was ‘Orange'-bingeing, when along came Episode 11. (O.K., I’m a late adopter. Just getting through Season 1.) In it, there was a vulgar reference to my last name and DNA. I did what I usually do in these situations where the culture throws me a shard of my former self. After the cringing embarrassment, the whiff of shame, and the sense that I am no longer an agent running my own life, I shuddered, I got up off the sofa, and I turned it off.”


Watch the trailer for DirecTV’s “Kingdom”
Nick Jonas and Matt Lauria star in a family drama set in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

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<p>Dick Smith</p>

Dick Smith

Credit: AP Photo

'Exorcist,' 'Godfather,' 'Amadeus' makeup artist Dick Smith dies at 92

The Academy gave him a well-deserved Honorary Oscar in 2011

Just yesterday I wrote about, and talked to a handful of, the many craftspeople who quite simply make the movies tick. Well, today we have lost a legend in that fray: makeup artist Dick Smith has left us.

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<p>&quot;Birdman&quot;</p>

"Birdman"

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Michael Keaton exorcizes his Batman demons in international 'Birdman' trailer

We're just under a month away from the film's Venice Film Festival premiere

I'm pretty sure that, unless Michael Mann's latest slides into the season vis a vis a qualifying run, "Birdman" is at the very top of my list of anticipations this Oscar season. How could it not be at this point? Michael Keaton is back in the saddle in an absolutely bold vision from Alejandro González Iñárritu. Add to that the fact that the film is apparently set up to look like one single "take," well, I'm just ready to be dazzled.

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'Extant' halts its slide in new timeslot

“Extant” halts its slide in new timeslot
After weeks of declining viewership, the Halle Berry drama had the same ratings as last week in its new 10 pm timeslot. Meanwhile, "Penn & Teller: Fool Us” had the CW’s 2nd highest-rated summer premiere ever.


Watch Ben Stiller go rappelling with Bear Grylls
Stiller is next week’s guest on “Running Wild.”


“Girls” books Spike Jonze
The acclaimed director (and sometimes actor) will play a character named Marcos.


Check out Syfy’s zombie drama “Z Nation”
Here’s the first teaser for Syfy’s answer to “The Walking Dead.”


Meredith Vieira on “Today” debacle: “Sh*t happens. People make mistakes”
Vieira says of the Ann Curry situation: "I thought it had not been handled smartly from the very beginning, because I don't think they ever felt that was the right fit for Ann so they should never have put her in that position to begin with.”


Fred Flintstone was not a wife-beater
A Washington Post columnist described Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice as “Going all Flintstone on his wife” when he attacked her. But as a reader pointed out, Fred Flintstone loved and respected his wife Wilma.


BBC America will air several “Doctor Who” specials in advance of Peter Capaldi’s debut
Special programming includes “Doctor Who: The Companion” and "The Real History of Science Fiction: Time.” PLUS: See photos from the season premiere.

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<p>&quot;Into the Woods&quot;</p>

"Into the Woods"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Check out zero songs and Johnny Depp's arm in the 'Into the Woods' teaser trailer

This is pretty much the definition of an appetizer

Disney has finally offered up something to tease Rob Marshall's upcoming adaptation of "Into the Woods" beyond that ubiquitous Meryl Streep still, and that's definitely the word here: "tease." By the time Johnny Depp's title card flashes on screen, all you get is the wolf's arm slithering past a tree. No music, no singing, just a handful of iconic reminders of what characters come together for this story.

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