Latest Blog Posts

<p>Soundgarden's &quot;King Animal&quot;</p>

Soundgarden's "King Animal"

Watch Soundgarden's artsy trailer for 'King Animal'

Maybe Stonehenge wasn't available

It’s four seasons in one day in the video trailer for “King Animal,” Soundgarden’s first album of new material in 15 years.

The cover art for the set, which comes out Nov. 13, shows a snow-covered field, with trees covered in frost. In the middle is a collection of animal skulls, artfully arranged  with horns and bones all perfectly aligned.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Frank Ocean in &quot;Pyramids&quot;</p>

Frank Ocean in "Pyramids"

Watch: Frank Ocean conjures up strippers and world wonders in 'Pyramids' video

Is it all a dream?

Frank Ocean isn’t exactly known for his coherent music videos, he’s worn a panda mask in one, for goodness’s sake. Add one more to the WTF pile with the nearly 8-minute clip for “Pyramids,” the newest single from "Channel Orange." 

The Nabil-directed video opens with Ocean shooting up a bar (though we never understand why). He then hops on his motorcycle and rides through the rain. Then, just like that, he’s in the desert and it’s the next day and it’s sunny.  He’s flashes back to a strip club, The Pyramid, where the girl he has just spent the night with works.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>(l-r)&nbsp;Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo,&quot;&nbsp;Philip Seymour Hoffman in &quot;The Master&quot;&nbsp;and Bradley Cooper in &quot;Silver Linings Playbook&quot;</p>

(l-r) Ben Affleck in "Argo," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master" and Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: Three to start the season

'Argo,' 'The Master' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' get us going

Ben Affleck's "Argo," Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook." With Venice, Telluride and Toronto in the rear view, those are the three films with the early stranglehold on the 2012-2013 Oscar season.

In the case of Affleck's thrilling true story, an impressive ensemble carries the load and the zeitgeist has been unexpectedly tapped in very direct ways. In the case of Anderson's artful Rorschach, a pair of compelling performances reflects a vibrant thematic treatise that is sure to court the cinephile vote this year. And in the case of Russell's Toronto Audience Award-winning dip back into the world of quirk and comedy, an apparent (it's the one I've yet to see) return to form for a veteran actor matched with a sure-fire Best Actress contender -- and a lead with his fair share of praise -- reflects a filmmaker keeping an impressive stride.

I mention the performances of each because the actors branch -- the largest of the Academy -- is sure to find plenty to appreciate in this trio. And that will be key, as always. This even in the case of "Argo," which doesn't have a single stand-out, though Alan Arkin will surely land his share of votes.

Read Full Post
<p>Six seasons and an Emmy?&nbsp;&quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;has a shot at the latter thanks to &quot;Remedial Chaos Theory.&quot;</p>

Six seasons and an Emmy? "Community" has a shot at the latter thanks to "Remedial Chaos Theory."

Credit: NBC

Emmys 2012 Predictions: Outstanding Writing for Comedy & Drama

Will 'Mad Men' beat 'Downton'? And which great comedy script will win?

It's time to talk about writing as Dan and I make our picks for who should and will win Emmys on Sunday night. As always, I should warn you that my prognostication skills are terrible. This time, we're doing the comedy and drama writing categories.

Read Full Post
<p>Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Season premiere review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Resolution'

Nucky and friends usher in the new year with the same old lies

"Boardwalk Empire" is back for its third season. I reviewed the first half of season 3 as a whole earlier in the week, and I have specific thoughts on the premiere coming up just as soon as I go to the flea circus...

Read Full Post
"Big Brother"

 "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother''s final three duke it out as the finish line looms

Things are getting tougher now that the Quack Pack's smaller

Can you believe Shane, totally suckered by Dan's Personal Sock Puppet (Danielle), is gone? Or that resident dork Ian, who seemed destined to be heading home on his tippy-toes in week one, is in the final three? Actually, the same could be said about both Dan (otherwise known as the biggest threat in the house to anyone thinking clearly) as well as Danielle (see sock puppet reference above). This isn't the final three I ever would have predicted, but that's the thing about "Big Brother." Hard to predict. And this season, that doesn't even take into consideration predicting the Hamster Most Likely to Wear a Pink Tank Top category. I mean, come on! It was a guy! 

Read Full Post
<p>Bryan Cranston in a scene from the &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Bryan Cranston in a scene from the "Breaking Bad" season finale.

Credit: AMC

Emmys 2012 Predictions: Outstanding Directing for Comedy & Drama

Will this be where Louis C.K. or Lena Dunham get recognized?

Dan and I are continuing our Emmy predictions in advance of the awards ceremony on September 23rd, and in order to get this done in time, we'll be doubling up genres for most of these posts. Next up: the comedy and drama directing awards.

Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Your new &quot;American Idol&quot; judging panel. And Ryan.</p>

 Your new "American Idol" judging panel. And Ryan.

Credit: FOX

What do the new judges mean for 'American Idol'?

Will Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Mariah Carey bring more than starpower?
I've been regularly covering "American Idol" since the very beginning of its second season and, on Sunday morning I woke up to a whole new show. 
 
With nary a warning to West Coast reporters who might have wanted to cover a fairly large -- by network TV standards -- story, FOX officially revealed at 7:18 a.m. Pacific Time that Randy Jackson will be joined on the "American Idol" judging panel next spring by Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Mariah Carey. 
 
When it comes to the most popular show on television, FOX has an erratic track record for secret-keeping. While Steven Tyler's exit this summer was an effectively detonated surprise, Jennifer Lopez scooped the network on her exit with a radio interview, just as Paula Abdul's tweets caught the network flatfooted several years back. This was the judging panel we all knew was coming, whether or not we woke up early on a Sunday to report it or not. Carey had already been formally announced back in July, Minaj and Urban had been rumored for weeks and Randy is Randy, so this was more of a confirmation than a grand announcement. 
 
That means that the only thing to analyze about the "American Idol" judges is what mindset this quartet reflects for FOX and its most important property going into Season 12. To my mind, it becomes a coin-flip between "insecurity" and "desperation."
 
I get the idea that FOX and "Idol" might be insecure, but I wonder if they've jumped the gun on "desperation" and let the marketplace dictate creative changes that toss out the basic ethos of the show.
Read Full Post
<p>Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in &quot;Silver Linings Playbook.&quot;</p>

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Silver Linings Playbook' beats 'Argo' for Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award

'Seven Psychopaths' wins People's Midnight Madness award

The Toronto International Film Festival announced this year's award winners and moviegoers in the Great White North have once again found a way to influence the always competitive Oscar race.

David O. Russell's adaptation of Matthew Quick's novel "The Silver Linings Playbook" won the notable People's Choice Award this year.  Ben Affleck's "Argo" and Eran Rikli's "Zaytoun" were first and second runners up. "Playbook" now joins "Slumdog Millionaire," "The King's Speech" and "Precious" as recent awards season players who were able to snag the festival's most publicity worthy honor. Even if it doesn't lead to Oscar glory, the win certainly is a key indicator that The Weinstein Company may have a much needed box office smash waiting in the wings.

Read Full Post
<p>This is the only image The CW has made available from &quot;Cult&quot;</p>

This is the only image The CW has made available from "Cult"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Cult'

Alternate universe tale of a hit CW show is awful, but kinda watchable

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Cult" (The CW) [Midseason]
The Pitch: "What if the people who watched "Lost" (or "Jericho" or "Fringe" or "Community") weren't just obsessed with their favorite shows? What if they were dangerously obsessed?" or "It's 'Twin Peaks' meets 'The L.A. Complex' only BAD."
Quick Response: Of the "three or four audaciously weird, wacky and possibly terrible (but possibly terribly addictive) new dramas" I've mentioned are premiering at midseason, "Cult" is perhaps the king, only I'm already prepared to remove the "possibly" caveat in front of "terrible." I'm fairly sure that "Cult" is terrible, but it's also almost certainly going to be the kind of show that I won't be able to turn off out of fear that I'm going to miss the next bonkers, disconnected-from-reality plot twist or character development. Right from the top, you have to take "Cult" with a grain of salt, because it's about the fanatical fans of a wildly popular CW show. So you know that Rockne O'Bannon's script is taking place in an alternate reality. And the pilot's take on the television business and Internet fandom and Los Angeles is similarly disconnected from logic and the actual living, breathing world around us. Every second is goofy and yet director Jason Ensler has decided that everything should be played with a straight-forward earnestness that wouldn't have been my personal storytelling instinct at all. Hand this exact script to somebody wanting to channel their inner David Lynch and this could be almost "Mulholland Drive"-esque. In that context, the wooden lead performances by Matt Davis and Jessica Lucas would just be elements of the surrealism. But this isn't "Twin Peaks" and Davis and Lucas are simply having a really hard time convincingly delivering the lines in the twisty script, which becomes almost unexpurgated mythology-blather and TV meta-commentary at a certain point. I feel especially bad for Davis, who had the role of his career on "Vampire Diaries" and now is forced to retreat back into Soap Opera Leading Man blandness. If the "Cult" producers are smart, they'll let Davis' character go down a conspiratorial rabbit hole and go increasingly insane. That's where Mr. Ernesto Riley would shine. The most intriguing element of "Cult" is the show-within-a-show in which Robert Knepper plays a deranged cult leader. Nobody will be surprised to learn that Robert Knepper is a lot of fun as a deranged cult leader. Knepper was on "Prison Break" and later seasons of "Heroes," so if anybody knows how to take painful dialogue and sell it, it's him. Also maintaining some dignity is Tom Amandes, also good enough that his presence grounds the ludicrousness around him. But yeah, "Cult" makes "Do No Harm" and "The Zero Hour" feel like they take place in a recognizable universe. Well hey. These things just snap. Right off.
Desire To Watch Again: I watched a whole season of "Ringer" and I'll probably do the same with "Cult." And I think "Cult" has the potential to maybe be the kind of guilty pleasure that "Ringer" never became. So while I'm not "looking forward" to watching more of "Cult," I just know with certainty that I will. And hey... It's better than "Beauty and the Beast." A lot better. That's not saying anything.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Next Caller'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Following'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Family Tools'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

 

Read Full Post
<p>Frank Ocean and Seth MacFarlane of &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot;</p>

Frank Ocean and Seth MacFarlane of "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' Premiere - Seth MacFarlane and Frank Ocean

'SNL' launches its 38th season by giving new exposure to familiar stars

Every season of “Saturday Night Live” is a beast unto itself. But in my short time recapping episodes for HitFix, the time between seasons has seen the most change. Stalwarts Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg are gone. Jason Sudeikis will join them in a few months. Three new cast members (Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson, and Cecily Strong) have been added as featured players. Lorne Michaels finally decided to let Jay Pharoah play President Obama. These aren’t seismic changes, to be certain. The show has handled more turnover in its past. And no one expects the overall quality of the show to take a sudden downhill turn even with the aforementioned changes.

But maybe people should expect more from the show this season. At the very least, they should expect something different. I wrote up ten suggestions last week for “SNL,” and while I don’t expect the powers that be to stop production and have every member of the writer’s room read that gallery (although let’s be frank, that would be the smart thing to do!), I do expect the change in the show’s onscreen talent to inevitable change the overall makeup of the show. Such change is built into the program’s DNA, and has kept it a part of the pop culture landscape for nearly thirty years. How successful the writing of the show adapts to the new cast composition will go a long way to determining the show’s success this season. 
 
So I’ll keep a keen eye on which cast members break out, which ones recede, and how the new combinations possible given the absence of Wiig and Samberg affect the in-sketch dynamics. The lucky first host to be part of this ongoing comedic experiment? Seth MacFarlane, who took time to leap off his big pile of money AMASSED from his FOX animated comedies and this past summer’s surprise box-office smash “Ted” to come down and host the show for us little people. Along for the ride is musical act Frank Ocean, a writer/producer who entered the public consciousness over this past year through both his music (the album “Channel Orange”) and his personal life (announcing publicly that his first love was a man).
 
Will Ocean stay on stage, or join so many previous musical guests in appearing in sketches as well? Will he help pen an opening monologue song for MacFarlane? What is the future of pre-produced comedic content on the show? Will Pharaoh’s chance to shine be a mere imitation of Obama or a unique impersonation? Will the women of the cast have a chance to form their own version of the female-led ensembles that represent some of the show’s finest seasons? So many questions, and only one way to answer them: by grading each segment of the show as they happen in real time. After that, you tell me how wrong I was, how I have no business covering a show that hasn’t been funny in years, and then we do the whole thing again next week. We cool? Cool. Onto the recap!
 
Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Liam Richards/AP

Music Power Rankings: Taylor Swift, Rihanna and 'The Voice' top the list

Psy joins the party

1. Taylor Swift: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” becomes the longest running country hit at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 32 years. Please explain to me what part of the song is “country” again...

2. "The Voice": As the show’s third season, 3-night premiere dominates over “The X Factor,” “The Voice” becomes THE vocal talent competition to beat. Mark Burnett tries to figure out a way to run three editions a year.

3.Rihanna: You can set a clock to that girl. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, the rumor is she will drop another album in November. She has released one album a year since 2005, except for 2008.

4 Psy: Resistance is futile. Just learn the horse trot and give in to “Gangnam Style.” Join the 150 million who already have. The South Korean artist is now signed to Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun’s label. We smell a duet.

5 . Nikki Minaj: She injects herself into the political conversation with her fake endorsement of Romney and then real endorsement of Obama. We’re really listening to a cartoon character’s political thoughts?

6. Matchbox Twenty:
After nearly 20 years, the pop-rock band scores its first No. 1 album. They are definitely “Back 2 Good.”

7. Randy Jackson: This Dawg has nine lives. It would seem rumors of his demise as an “American Idol” judge were greatly exaggerated.

8. Goldenvoice:
The folks who bring you Coachella and Stagecoach reveal that they may add up to three more annual music events in Indio, Calif. The neighbors’ heads explode, while everyone else cheers.

9. Bruce Springsteen: After President Obama uses “We Take Care of Our Own” at the close of his speech at the DNC, sales of the song skyrocket 409%. As if Obama didn’t already have The Boss’s vote.

10. Apple: The company finally realizes that Ping was rotten to the core and kills its music-sharing platform. Oh, and did you order your iPhone 5 yet?

 

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME