Latest Blog Posts

<p>Sigourney Weaver in &quot;Political Animals.&quot;</p>

Sigourney Weaver in "Political Animals."

Credit: USA

Series premiere review: 'Political Animals' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of the new USA miniseries?

I posted my review of "Political Animals" on Wednesday. Now it's your turn. For those who tuned in, what did you think of Greg Berlanti's soap opera spin on the Clinton family story? Did you prefer the political material, the personal subplots, or even the material on the downfall of the newspaper business? Did you buy Ciaran Hinds as an alt-reality Bill Clinton? Enjoy Sigourney Weaver jousting with Carla Gugino? If you're a fan of the usual USA dramas, how did you feel about something this off-brand? And do you intend to watch the whole miniseries?

Have at it. Because it's airing in such a crowded timeslot, and because I'll be dealing with press tour, etc., for the next few weeks, I'm not going to be doing weekly posts on this one, but will endeavor to check back in after the final installment airs.

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<p>Walt, Jesse and Mike head to the scrap yard for inspiration in the &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Walt, Jesse and Mike head to the scrap yard for inspiration in the "Breaking Bad" season premiere.

Credit: AMC

Season premiere review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Live Free or Die'

Walt, Jesse and Mike have to pull off another caper to clean up a Gus mess

"Breaking Bad" is back to start the first half of its fifth and final season. I reviewed the early episodes back on Tuesday (and then posted an interview with Aaron Paul and a two-part interview with Bryan Cranston) and I have specific, spoiler-filled thoughts on the season premiere coming up just as soon as I foresee an outcome that involves Miller Time...

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<p>Jeff Daniels and Olivia Munn in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Jeff Daniels and Olivia Munn in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'I'll Try to Fix You'

Did the strong last 7 minutes redeem the terrible 50 that came before them?

A review of tonight's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as I talk to you about Bigfoot...

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"Big Brother"

 "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: The first two players land on the block

The coaches compete, but HOH Willie gets the final word

It's the first "real" episode of "Big Brother" tonight, and by real, I mean it's the first episode to get down and dirty in the essence of the game -- strategy, backstabbing and the creation of fledgling alliances. A lot hangs on Willie, but I'm not too worried. He seems to by bypassing his brother Russell's more evil characteristics on "Survivor" but has taken away an understanding of game play. So let's see if the ragin' Cajun (hey, it's on his T-shirt) lives up to his potential!

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<p>The entire 'Hobbit' panel poses together for a photo at the end of their triumphant Hall H presentation during the San Diego Comic-Con</p>

The entire 'Hobbit' panel poses together for a photo at the end of their triumphant Hall H presentation during the San Diego Comic-Con

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Gollum and Gandalf take center stage in twelve minute presentation for 'The Hobbit'

An amazing production serves to give the best look so far at what Jackson's done

SAN DIEGO - Gollum dropped some f-bombs, Elijah Wood made a surprise appearance, and the slightest glimpse of Orlando Bloom dressed as Legolas elicited shrieks of pleasure from the J.R.R. Tolkien fans who packed into Hall H today specifically to catch a glimpse of footage from part one of what may yet grow into a full trilogy of films based on Tolkien's enduring classic, 'The Hobbit."

In short, it was a perfect Comic-Con moment.

Before I recap what happened, let's talk about what didn't.  There was no demonstration of the 48 frames-per-second process that will be used for special engagements of "The Hobbit" when it opens this year, and the footage wasn't even shown in 3D.  I think it was a poor decision all the way around to avoid revealing the process here, but I think Jackson's stated reasons are right.  He knows that almost any conversation about the footage would focus on the technical if he did bring it, and good or bad, that's not really the point of bringing the material to show to the faithful.  These are fans, and what they're concerned with is the content of the movie, not the mechanics of how it will be shown to them.  Disappointed as I was, and frustrated to still have not seen a demonstration of the process, I do think it probably served them well in the end.

Warner Bros went all out this year, bringing a real sense of showmanship to their presentations.  Obviously, one of the most anticipated moments for many people was a detailed look at what Peter Jackson's been up to with "The Hobbit," a two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved book, and they were rewarded with over twelve minutes of footage.  The way the panel opened, though, was immediately immersive.  Warner put in two screens flanking the stage, extending out into the audience, and as the lights went down, the song of the dwarves filled Hall H and the various images from the recently released banner filled the screens, surrounding us with characters both familiar and new.

It immediately set a mood, and then, in the center panel, a new "Hobbit" production diary began to play.  You'll see it soon, I'm sure.  Basically, it covered the last five days of the production, and it was carefully cut because much of the work in those last five days is for material that will appear in the second film, which is still well over a year away.  

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<p>Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff of &quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;</p>

Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff of "Sons of Anarchy"

Credit: FX

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: FX's 'Sons of Anarchy'

Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman and company end Comic-Con with a bang

SAN DIEGO - This is it, folks. After four days of frenzied live-blogging, this is the conclusion of Comic-Con 2012, both for me and, I believe, for Hall H. 

And what better way to end Comic-Con with one of the least Comic-Con-y panels imaginable... FX's "Sons of Anarchy," which goes under the same "Smart people attend Comic-Con and smart people watch 'Sons of Anarchy' [kinda]" banner that I used to justify why "Breaking Bad" was so well received on Friday.

Click through to see how long it takes Kurt Sutter, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam and company to notice that the placards with their names also warn them that some members of the audience are under 18...


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<p>Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>

Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: FOX's 'Fringe'

FOX favorite takes over Hall H for its Comic-Con farewell

SAN DIEGO - Comic-Con is a good place to say good-bye. In recent years, I remember final Comic-Con panels for shows like "Lost" and "Chuck," which ended up being emotional farewells for fans and stars alike.

On Sunday (July 15), Comic-Con faithful will be able to bid adieu to "Fringe," as the cult favorite holds its last panel, this time taking over Hall H.

Who will laugh? Who will cry?

Click through for the full live-blog...

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<p>Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in &quot;Strike Back.&quot;</p>
<br />

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in "Strike Back."

Credit: Cinemax

Comic-Con 2012: 'Strike Back' stars on sex, violence and... Eric Cartman?

Cinemax action series returns August 17

I initially wasn't going to write up the "Strike Back" panel I moderated at Comic-Con on Friday night, not because it didn't go well, but because it's always difficult to recap a panel where I was on stage and couldn't take notes. I did it with the "Wilfred" panel from the day before, but mainly because there was one quote of David Zuckerman's I wanted to use, and as it happened, the entire panel wound up on YouTube and it became easy to transcribe that section. Though we wound up with a good-sized crowd for "Strike Back," there was nobody recording the whole thing — though everyone whipped out their cameras to record Philip Winchester's Cartman impression (you can hear a better version by clicking the behind-the-scenes video link below) — so I was only working off my memories.

But it was a good panel, and I'm looking forward to the return of the series on August 17 — as I said last year, here was a show that could have just been mindless violence and gratuitous sex scenes and fit the Cinemax brand, and wound up being much better, smarter and cooler than it needed to be — so I wanted to write up a few paraphrased highlights before I headed home.

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Robert Downey Jr. certainly seemed right at home playing King Of Hall H during Saturday's appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Robert Downey Jr. certainly seemed right at home playing King Of Hall H during Saturday's appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. shows 'Iron Man 3' footage during his Hall H victory lap

A rowdy panel turns out to be as much a celebration of success as hype for next year

SAN DIEGO - There was little doubt left after Robert Downey Jr. danced his way triumphantly through Hall H to the sounds of Luther Vandross singing "Never Too Much" as to who the King of Comic-Con truly is.  

Marvel's victory lap to celebrate "The Avengers" becoming the highest grossing superhero film of all time was capped off on Saturday afternoon by the appearance of the man who could well be credited with setting the tone for the entire interconnected universe that Marvel is building from film to film now, and Downey seemed winded but exhilarated by the time he finally reached the stage, one hand encased in an Iron Man glove with a glowing palm.

"I have three questions for you," he said, and the crowd roared at him, cheering.

"First, how much do I love you?"  The wave of noise that came back at him was huge.

"How much do you love me?" he asked next, smiling as he said it, and if anything, the noise was even bigger.

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<p>With Lea Michele's Rachel in New York and much of the rest of the cast in Lima, will &quot;Glee&quot;&nbsp;become even more unfocused next season?</p>

With Lea Michele's Rachel in New York and much of the rest of the cast in Lima, will "Glee" become even more unfocused next season?

Credit: FOX

Comic-Con 2012: 'Glee' prepares for a divided year

Will splitting time between McKinley and the graduates help or hurt?

"Glee" has been a show that even in its better creative periods (which most fans would agree the third season was not) has struggled with storytelling ADD. It's also about to enter its fourth season, with many of its original characters having graduated high school — a precarious moment in the life of any teen drama.

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<p>Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder, and 'Man Of Steel' made a dramatic entrance today in Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con</p>

Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder, and 'Man Of Steel' made a dramatic entrance today in Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Zack Snyder wows with pastoral and powerful 'Man Of Steel' presentation

What did the director bring to make his first impression with the franchise reboot?

SAN DIEGO - One of the last things I would have expected before the panel began would be the amount of emotional impact that Zack Snyder's 'Man Of Steel' presentation seemed to have on the fans who were assembled for their first look at this new version of one of the most famous superheroes of all time.

Warner's set-up this year featured three huge screens that created a feeling of surrounding the audience, and it was definitely one of the most impressive technical set-ups I've seen in this room in any year I've been here.  As a break between the segments of the panel, the Superman logo began to fill the screens, as if the camera was rolling over different parts of it, eventually filling all of the screens with the recognizable "S" logo.

Zack Snyder, who has proven in years past that he understands exactly how to play to Hall H, took the stage, and immediately dropped his favorite word in describing why he signed on to make the film.  "Superman's pretty awesome, as you know."

That made me cackle, because "awesome" is a word that Zack uses often, and in this case, it should be true.  You should feel a sense of awe when you see Superman.  He can't be just another superhero at this point, or the film won't work, and I think Snyder knows that.  "Superman is a big responsibility," he said, "and I felt like Superman needed to be reintroduced to a new generation, and so that's why I did it.  We finished shooting, and now we're working on turning what we shot into a movie."

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<p>Some folks from HBO's &quot;True Blood&quot;</p>

Some folks from HBO's "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: HBO's 'True Blood'

Alan Ball and company discuss vampires, werewolves and more

San Diego - Welcome to hour two of Comic-Con's Saturday (July 14) afternoon sucking, vampire-wise.

I already live-blogged "The Vampire Diaries" and now it's time for HBO's "True Blood."

Get psyched, after the break...

4:35 p.m. OK. This is starting a bit late. I'm kinda rolling the dice on not swapping my batteries now. Cross your fingers that I make it to the end.

4:36 p.m. Alan Ball takes the stage first. "Wow," he says. We're starting with a trailer, mostly sneak peeks of things to come in Season 5. Sookie seems to want to be regular and she seems to want to forget about Bill. Tara seems to be working as a gogo dancer. Jessica seems to be dancing sexy and in bed with somebody in lingerie. Russell seems to get healthier and hammier (in a good way). Lafayette seems to be channeling some spirits. Jessica seems to be kicking some butt. An apocalypse seems to be coming. Or something. That actually looked decent.

4:39 p.m. People are very excited for Joe Manganiello. Excited, but less-so for Ryan Kwanten. I'm excited for Deborah Ann Woll, looking smashing in green. We've also got Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, Christopher Meloni, Alexander Skarsgard (not in the program, but extremely well-received), Kristen Baurer van Staten, Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin (VERY pregnant). And, of course, we've got Alan Ball.

4:42 p.m. The moderator wants to know if the "True Blood" cast has a rivalry with "The Vampire Diaries" cast. "We don't talk about them," Moyer cracks. 

4:42 p.m. Ball agrees that he's enjoying finding new combinations of characters. "It's one of my favorite things about the show is the new chemistry between characters who were maybe at odds before," Ball says. Wesley calls it an "overall joy" to play "a new baby vampire" this season. But what's going to happen between Tara and Jessica after last week's tensions. 

4:44 p.m. Does Anna know the lyrics to "The Pina Colada Song"? "I kinda liked our rewrite of the lyrics," Paquin says.

4:44 p.m. I'm so sick of the word "bromance." But how have Stephen and Alex enjoyed being allies this season? "Yes," Alex says. "We've been struggling with that this whole season," Skarsgard says, noting that they've "had a little bit too much fun together." "I kinda felt, when we were working together, that there's something between them in the past that we haven't seen yet," Moyer teases. Skarsgard suggests that Eric is surprised with how much he's enjoying spending time with Bill. The moderator is eager to hear about how it was for the two actors to spend time in a trunk together. Moyer says, "We couldn't do it without laughing... but we did rehearse it all weekend." "It got a little Benny Hill," Alex says. Moyer and Skarsgard admit that they got emails from Ball having to meet with him and have their wrists slapped. "Who was the best cuddler?" asks the moderator. Yawn.

4:48 p.m. Now we're talking about Pam's wardrobe. I'm not interested in this, but Bauer van Straten says that it starts with the writing. She says her favorite outfit is the one she's wearing at any moment. Sam Trammell apparently has an obsession with a red one-piece from the second season. Everybody finds this weird. "I love that we literally just talked for five minutes about a sequin jump suit," the moderate says. I do not.

4:50 p.m. But now we're talking about Tara's wardrobe and whether Tara is exploring her more leather-y side. Wesley remembers her mother calling her on Monday to praise a bustier she wore. "It's been fun to dress up this year and have them thangs out," Wesley says.

4:51 p.m. Did Joe Manganiello give Rutina stripping advice? The crowd is very excited that the "Magic Mike" star might strip here and not. He does not. "I don't think they make my fireman suit in Rutina's size... But werewolf stripping, I like that idea," Manganiello says. Somehow this ends with Alan Ball standing on a chair and doing a body roll. "I love my job," Paquin laughs as Manganiello walks over and drops money on Ball.

4:53 p.m. Are we going to see Claude, Sookie's relative, stripping? Ball clarifies that on the show, it's more of a burlesque club. 

4:54 p.m. Are things over between Sam and Luna? We're not sure if Luna's daughter is a shifter or a wolf and Sam is trying to figure out how to fit into that family. Or something. 

4:55 p.m. How good are Deborah Ann Woll and Ryan Kwanten at "Rock Band"? It turns out that Ryan practiced the wrong version of "Cherry Bomb." "I practiced a lot for that, actually. the singing was the only thing we did live," Woll recalls. Are they having fun with the Jessica-Jason relationship? "I adore working with Ryan. I think he's the sweetest, most giving actor," Woll says. 

4:57 p.m. Ball suggests that Steve Newlin always had gay potential and that being a vampire just freed him.

4:57 p.m. How does "True Blood" compare to "SVU" for Meloni? "Trying to figure out what's a sex crime on this show is very different," Meloni says. "I'd never even heard as a were-panther," Meloni talks about his expanded horizons. Meloni recalls that he'd been told that one of the Guardians had betrayed him, but he wasn't told which one and he rooted for it to be the kid. The moderator wants to know if it was gross to stake the kid? "It's pretty much the one thing I wanted to do," referring to the staking, not the kid. He refers to it as very intricate and reassures him that "the kid doesn't actually expose." 5:00 p.m. Is Sookie completing her "badass" path this season? "Absolutely," Paquin agrees. "She always gets into some sort of action-y trouble," Paquin says, but she predicts that Sookie probably won't drink any more peach schnapps for a while.

5:01 p.m. Are we going to learn more about the Stackhouse parents? "Yes," Ball says. Will that be flashbacks or dreams? "Yes," Ball says again. We're going to learn more about the parents, what happened to them and the effects on Sookie and particularly Jason.

5:01 p.m. Who came up with the Fairy Club? They wanted to deal with refugee fairies and they decided they would be sensual. They decided to play off the strip club in the books. They wanted to make clear that these weren't Disney ferries. "We wanted to be more adult, more sensual more soft-core porno," Ball explains.

5:03 p.m. Will we get any good sex scenes this season? "Yes. I sexually eviscerate another character in one of the episodes coming up," Manganiello says. Ball promises both "sexy" sex scenes and "wacky what-the-f***" sex scenes.

5:04 p.m. Stephen Moyer directed an upcoming episode. "It was amazing. I got to see Joe naked," Moyer says. "It was a lot of fun and I was very pleased with what we ended up with," Moyer said. "He did an amazing job," Ball says. "All kidding aside, he was amazing," Paquin says. Paquin says that she wants to direct at some point, but she has no desire to direct "True Blood," because that sounds terrifying to her. She also recalls that Moyer directing made her "a widow for one month." Skarsgard is impressed Moyer was able to balance his acting responsibilities with the pressures of acting. "Being an actor himself, he really cares about the actors and the relationships," Skarsgard says. Bauer van Straten calls it "lovely" and says that she goes to Stephen for line readings anyway, even when he isn't directing. Moyer's episode is Episode 8, incidentally. 

5:08 p.m. What does Moyer's episode deal with? "I absolutely adore Sam Trammell. He is an amazing actor and he had one of the toughest jobs in my episode that you could possibly have," Moyer says, praising Sam highly for his understanding of what they needed to get. "It was a blast. It was really fun," Trammell says, adding his praise to the sea of superlatives for Moyer's preparation. Would Moyer do it again? "It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time," he says, noting that he begged Alan and Alan said "No" multiple times before giving in. Ball is making a face like he isn't remembering. Ball says that Stephen shadowed directors on two previous episodes before doing it himself and that he'd heard stories from the crew about how good Moyer was. "That's why we work so well, Stephen, because I always create problems and you solve them," Skarsgard says.

5:11 p.m. People want Alex to be in "50 Shades of Grey." "I haven't read the book. I haven't seen a script," he says. "He's just lived the life," Moyer says. 

5:14 p.m. Very sweet stuff with Kristen Bauer van Straten and Alexander Skarsgard talking about how much they've enjoyed working together this season and how emotional she got while filming the release scene. I have no quoted, because my battery died. All replaced now.

5:15 p.m. "I totally have gotten to recreate Tara, while keeping the essence of Tara at the same time," Wesley says, admitting that New Tara is "a little off." "Her life has been saved, whether she wants to admit it or not," Wesley says. This is not where she'd have predicted Tara would go four years ago. Alan Ball says that they'd already had the story of a young vampire with Jessica, but the goal was to tell the story again through somebody who really, really hates vampires.

5:17 p.m. How gross was the tanning stuff? Gross, but fun, Wesley says. "I thought it was fun to be rotting and give up vanity all together," Bauer van Straten says, recalling her own experience decomposing last season. "I liked that stuff. For three weeks," she concludes. It seems Anna Paquin gets freaked out by the burn makeup, because when Stephen had to do it in the first season, she wouldn't look at him. Kristen says she's kept her ear and her lip from the rotting last season.

5:20 p.m. We're finally opening things up to the audience. Are we going to get a were-tiger? "As of now, there are no plans for that," Ball says, before noting that he's stepping back after this season. I would have much rather heard more about THAT than about Tara's wardrobe. The moderator and I differ on that.

5:21 p.m. Would Meloni return to "SVU" for the finale whenever that happens? "I'm always willing to consider," Meloni says. "There's no bad blood there, so we'll see it as it comes. I don't know. It's still doing OK, I guess," adds Meloni, who doesn't look at ratings.

5:22 p.m. A fan gets Alex's placard and asks if any new romantic relationships are upcoming? Alex signs his card and also signs Chris' card and gives Chris a kiss on the cheek. "That's the new relationship," somebody says. "I can think of three that are going to happen. Three new romances this season. There's also a lot of people having sex, but those don't count as romances," Ball says.

5:25 p.m. What kind of music are they listening to? Woll salutes Martin Sexton. Meloni's listening to Tool. "I'm a big Tool... fan," Meloni says. Rutina likes Deathcab for Cutie. Kristen's listening to her husband. Stephen and Anna have been listening to the Eddie Vedder solo album. Ryan's listening to Angus and Julia Stone. Well... OK.

5:26 p.m. Ball says that there's a chance we're going to see the fairy war. Or a fairy war. Or something involving warring fairies. But he won't be involved.

5:26 p.m. A female fan asks the men to flex for the audience. Cameras rise around the room, including on the panel, where Meloni whips out his phone. "I'm sorry, we're legally not allowed to do that," Skarsgard says. "I won't go anywhere near taking anything off when Joe is part of our cast and, by the way, Ryan," Stephen says. Moyer asks for a handstand from Ryan, who blushes. The crowd begins to clap. Ryan comes to the front of the stage and, indeed, does a handstand and walks across the stage. "Holy s***," the young lady next to me says. 

5:29 p.m. Last question. She asks what has been the most memorable scene or episode. She also says that her mom wants her to take Joe home in a suitcase. "It'd better be a big suitcase," Joe says. Deborah says that Episode 10 of this season is memorable for her. Ryan remembers wearing his He-Man onesie. "It was a very emotional scene for me and Jason," Kwanten says. Joe liked the naked lake scene from last season. "The last scene of our last episode is going to blow people's minds," Paquin says, calling it "a very, very crazy scene." Alex mentions Godrick's death scene and people clap. Kristen mentions her scene of being released. "We work on a show where we get to do the most extraordinary things all the day," Moyer says. This Sunday's episode and the finale are the last Alan Ball episodes and Moyer ends the panel with a round of applause for Alan Ball. The cast stands for him and, eventually, much of the crowd does. He's very touched and gives Paquin a big hug.

5:32 p.m. I know I'm not one to talk, but that was a loooong panel for only 13 minutes of audience questions.

5:35 p.m. Ball, voice cracking, thanks everybody.

That's all, folks...

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