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John Legend and Mary J. Blige join vocal competition summer shows
Credit: AP Photo/Kevin Wolf (Legend and Blige)

John Legend and Mary J. Blige join vocal competition summer shows

Lionel Richie drops out of 'Duets'

In with John Legend, out with Lionel Richie. Richie, who has experienced a staggering career comeback with “Tuskegee,” has dropped out of vocal competition “Duets.”

Citing “scheduling issues,” Richie will not appear on the show, which also features Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they search for singers across the country with whom to sing. The winner  will receive a recording contract from Hollywood Records, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show debuts on ABC this summer.

In other musical competition news, Mary J. Blige has linked with “American Idol” executive producer  Nigel Lythgoe for “Opening Act" on E!  The judges, which also include producer Antonina Armato, will scan the Internet to find unsigned acts and then reward them the chance to open for a big name after running them through a performance boot camp.

Among the acts who have signed on to allow the winner to open one of their shows are Nicki Minaj, Brad Paisley, Jason Mraz, Rod Stewart, LMFAO, Jason Aldean and Gym Class Heroes.

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My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine tees up new album and EP in 2012

First new material since 1991

British band My Bloody Valentine, who built up a cult following in the U.S. before largely disappearing, will release a new album and EP, the group’s Kevin Shields told Mojo (via NME). It would make the group’s first new material since 1991’s “Loveless.”

The new album entails finishing a third album that the group never released after the set got caught in a web of both band and label politics. Shields told Mojo that as he listened to the tracks, “I decided it would be insane not to finish it.”

The new/old album will be followed by an EP of new material, all recorded this year.

The band is also remastering its first two albums, “Isn’t Anything” and “Loveless” for re-release, as well as “EPs 1988-1991,” comprised from previously unreleased material recorded at that time. All come out May 7 in the U.K.  

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 126

Dan and Alan talk 'Sherlock,' 'Smash,' 'Good Wife' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
Initially, this installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast seemed potentially light, with only "Sherlock" premiering this week. But then we spent 15 minutes mocking "Smash" and 10 minutes wrapping up the season of "The Good Wife" and it became a regular-lengthed podcast. And then we tacked on 15-plus minutes of SportsTalk at the end. Just for fun.
 
So what could have been a wicked short podcast became rather long. [That, by the way, is what she said.]
 
Monday's breakdown:
Corrections (00:00:45 - 00:03:50)
"Sherlock" (00:03:50 - 00:19:50)
Listener Mail: "Smash" (00:20:10 - 00:37:40)
Listener Mail: Walton Goggins Performances (00:37:45 - 00:43:00)
Listener Mail: Jon Hamm in comedy (00:43:20 - 00:51:00)
"The Good Wife" finale (00:51:10 - 01:01:05)
"Mad Men" (01:01:30 - 01:16:30)
SportsTalk (01:16:30 - 01:32:30)

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 126: 'Sherlock,' 'Mad Men,' 'Smash' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 126: 'Sherlock,' 'Mad Men,' 'Smash' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'The Good Wife' finale and answer your mail

The

It's a very long Firewall & Iceberg Podcast this week, but a good chunk of that comes with our irregular sports talk segment at the end, so if you don't care about that, it's only slightly longer than normal! And that's with only one new show — and "new" should be in quotes, since "Sherlock" already debuted in the UK ages ago — to review. To keep ourselves busy, we revisited the trainwreck that is "Smash," we reviewed "The Good Wife" finale, and we of course talked about "Mad Men." 

The line-up: 

Monday's breakdown:
Corrections (00:00:45 - 00:03:50)
"Sherlock" (00:03:50 - 00:19:50)
Listener Mail: "Smash" (00:20:10 - 00:37:40)
Listener Mail: Walton Goggins Performances (00:37:45 - 00:43:00)
Listener Mail: Jon Hamm in comedy (00:43:20 - 00:51:00)
"The Good Wife" finale (00:51:10 - 01:01:05)
"Mad Men" (01:01:30 - 01:16:30)
SportsTalk (01:16:30 - 01:32:30)
 
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>Mark Ruffalo's version of The Hulk is winning over audiences and critics, and it looks like Marvel may take another shot at a film for him in 2015.</p>

Mark Ruffalo's version of The Hulk is winning over audiences and critics, and it looks like Marvel may take another shot at a film for him in 2015.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Will The Hulk get his own film in 2015?

An interview in Forbes reveals the company's shifting plans

It's not often that movie news breaks in Forbes, but in this case, it makes a perverse sort of sense.

When Mark Ruffalo signed on for "The Avengers," he had to sign the same kind of long-term deal that every actor signs for Marvel.  He told me at the press day that he was signed for six films, with "The Avengers" as the first of the six.  That doesn't mean he's absolutely going to actually make six full films, but Marvel has the option to press him into service several more times if they want to.

When I was at the press day at the Four Seasons, they had a Hasbro room set up, showing a number of products from their toy line this summer, and in talking with them, it was obvious that they had high hopes for the Hulk.  Evidently, even with the earlier films, the Hulk has always been a strong seller for them.  The new version of the Hulk Hands are flying off shelves already, and once people actually see the film, that's only going to intensify, since Ruffalo and his big green alternate identity are highlights of the film.

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<p>Gaslight Anthem</p>

Gaslight Anthem

Credit: Mercury

Listen: The Gaslight Anthem's new tune '45' from new album 'Handwritten'

Does the band's shift to a major label change its sound?

New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem return on July 24 with “Handwritten,” their first album since 2010’s fine “American Slang.”

The set, the group’s fourth album—but first for Mercury Records— was produced by Brendan O’Brien, who has also helmed records for the band’s hero, Bruce Springsteen, as well as Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots.

The band will be previewing new material from the album starting with a show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall on May 16 and Lost Angeles’s Roxy on May 18, with a number of festival dates, including Bamboozle, Metallica's Orion Festival, and Lollapalooza, to follow.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>HBO&nbsp;has ordered a second season of &quot;Girls,&quot; along with more "Veep."</p>

HBO has ordered a second season of "Girls," along with more "Veep."

Credit: HBO

HBO renews 'Girls' & 'Veep' for season 2

Freshman shows have gotten HBO its best comedy reviews in years

HBO has renewed both of its new Sunday comedies, "Girls" and "Veep," for second seasons, each with 10 episode orders.

Though HBO has largely renewed its freshman shows on the Tuesday after their debuts in recent years, that pattern hasn't been absolute, and in this case there was the added complication that "Veep" debuted a week after "Girls," and that HBO likely wanted to renew them at the same time to avoid making the other show look/feel bad.

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<p>Usher</p>

Usher

Listen: Usher and Rick Ross combine for 'Lemme See'

Usher goes under the covers as Bawse name-drops Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

While Usher's single "Scream" was generically top 40 rhythmic, he's gone much more urban/R&B for latest "Lemme See," yet another track from his forthcoming album "Looking for Myself."

In short: Usher wants to show you his chest, girl. Y'all explicit. And then Rick Ross loosely follows the theme by promising valet service and forcing some sort of comparison to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. It was weird.

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<p>Carrie Underwood, &quot;Blown Away&quot;</p>

Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away"

Credit: Sony Music Nashville

Album Review: Will Carrie Underwood's 'Blown Away' blow you away?

'American Idol's fourth studio set blows hot and cold

When “American Idol” is finally said and done in the year 2143, history will show that Carrie Underwood was the finest vocalist the talent show produced.

She has a purity and power in her voice that none of the other contestants can match. In a world where we’ve grown grateful for singers who can stay on key, Underwood’s talent would stand out in any era.  She’s able to belt without her voice losing any of its strength or fire and on her fourth album, “Blown Away,” out May 1, her confidence as a vocalist and her ability to harness her talent shines throughout, even if the quality of the songs does not.

A bonafide superstar in the country world, Underwood is getting the creme of the crop when it comes to material. Plus she’s coming up with her own ideas: she co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on here, as well as tapping into such top-tier Nashville tunesmiths (and past Underwood contributors) Hillary Lindsey, Josh Kear, Luke Laird and Chris Tompkins, and pop meisters like OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Mutt Lange. The result, however, is a mixed bag with the songs running the gamut from ranking among her her best to wondering who the hell let some of them on the album.

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<p>Rihanna's &quot;Where Have You Been&quot;</p>

Rihanna's "Where Have You Been"

Credit: Island/Def Jam

Watch: Rihanna gets a dance video with 'Where Have You Been'

Rihanna shows off some similar moves from her recent Coldplay clip

As evident in his work with Pink and Missy Elliott, video director Dave Meyers is a big fan of darkly poppy and bold backdrops for his music videos, sometimes letting those border on fake and cheesy. Meyers has now combined with Rihanna for her latest dance single "Where Have You Been" from "Talk That Talk," and that predisposition continues.

Ri-Ri is finally featured in a dance-heavy video, leading the troupe of nation-less natives around a little bonfire, or inside a teepee or as a heavy-lidded sprite hiding in the forest. Meyers' team makes no qualms about making each locale look shallow, like a diorama from a museum, rather than sending the singer and her team out into an actual wilderness. What troubles the clip, however, isn't the dance team's navigation of these sets, but the director's constant need to shake the frame or blur the focus, like the apocalypse from Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" apocalyptic journey.

Speaking of apocalypses, Rihanna gives a nod to "Apocalypse Now" with her half-headed emergence from black waters, as she seeks her prey, er, lover. (Lately, though, the 24-year-old lately has been promoting "Battleship," out May 18 in the U.S., which is her first major movie role. She's off the ship and now back into the waves.) The video also alludes to Rihanna's tour video clip for Coldplay's "Princess of China," with the multiple arms fanning out like a Hindu god.

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<p>Metric</p>

Metric

Listen: Metric unleashes single 'Youth Without Youth'

Band finally gets its Gary Glitter on

Metric were right in that their first single "finally" get to utilize the omnipresent Gary Glitter "Rock and Roll" beat -- it'll have you saying "Hey!" to boot.

"Youth Without Youth" is the initial track to arrive from "Synthetica," and is going on sale on May 1.

The band pushes crunchy, smarmy guitars way up front in the mix as a Muse-like synthy underbelly balances out Emily Haines' penchant creepy-little-girl voice. The child-like front is appopriate for "Youth," which explores what the band describes as a "slow sad story." It tackles "the decaying social state through the eyes of a depraved child... into a teenager," Haines explains in a song commentary, streaming after the track. It ends, predictably, with a bang and a whimper, both sonically and lyrically.

The song certainly has mass appeal, but a lot of instrumental space, too, with sparse verses and a non-traditional chorus. I don't think I'll grow out of it too soon.

"Synthetica" is due on June 12.

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<p>The new season of &quot;Sherlock,&quot;&nbsp;with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, will premiere on PBS on Sunday May 6. </p>

The new season of "Sherlock," with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, will premiere on PBS on Sunday May 6.

Credit: BBC

Keeping things in moderation: 'Sherlock'

Your local TV critic will be heading to New York to talk about a London detective

Turns out Thursday night's "Boardwalk Empire" Emmy panel (which I hope to post clips of sometime in the next few days) wasn't the only TV-related event I'll be moderating over the next week or so. This Thursday, May 3, at 6 p.m. Eastern, I'll be in New York at the Apple Store SoHo to talk about "Sherlock" with writer Steven Moffat and his producing partner (and wife) Sue Vertue, in advance of that show's American premiere on PBS on Sunday, May 6.

Where the "Boardwalk" event was streamed live, my understanding is that this "Sherlock" Q&A (some with me, some with the audience) will be available to download as a video podcast at a later date. I'll offer those details when I have them.

I've seen all three parts of "Sherlock" season 2 and am very excited to have this show back. (Though, as with the first season, the middle episode lagged behind the other two.) Based on the response last year, and my "Doctor Who" coverage during the period when there was a lag between British and American airings, my guess is that many of you have already watched the entire second season, so I'll ask you to be vague in the comments out of respect for both my spoiler policy and the American viewers who haven't seen it yet.

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