Latest Blog Posts

<p>&quot;Cougar Town&quot;&nbsp;co-star Busy Philipps.</p>

"Cougar Town" co-star Busy Philipps.

Credit: ABC

Interview: 'Cougar Town' co-star Busy Philipps

On fan screenings, working in a vacuum and memories of 'Freaks and Geeks'
"Cougar Town" finally returns to ABC tonight at 8:30. As I wrote about yesterday, the show has come a long way from its early days when its horrible title could be taken fairly literally. It's now a goofy, sweet, quirky, fun and at times incredibly romantic comedy about friends and family.
 
Tonight's premiere leans heavy on both the goof and the romance, which is either brilliant or horrible timing given that it's Valentine's Day. In terms of timing, though, the larger problem may be that the show has been off the air for almost nine months, which means all but the most passionate fans — or people who didn't delete their DVR season pass(*) — may have forgotten it existed by now.
 
(*) As mentioned in last week's story, those season passes are the reason the show won't abandon the terrible title, because an old show with a new title would be treated as a new show by DVRs, and it wouldn't record for anyone who didn't know to update things.  
 
ABC left the Courteney Cox comedy off its fall schedule, then bumped it from a planned mid-season debut a couple of months ago, which is tough sledding for a show that will be airing for the first time without the security of "Modern Family" as its lead-in. To keep the fans engaged during the long time off — and to keep the actors and writers from feeling too disconnected from their audience — the show's creators Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel mounted a multi-level guerrilla marketing campaign, that included cameos by most of the cast in the background of other shows and a series of screenings of season 3 episodes in cities around the country. (I talked with both Lawrence and Biegel about the campaign at press tour.)
 
One of those screenings was in Chicago, where co-star Busy Philipps and writer Melody Derloshon represented the series. Last month, before ABC announced the show's premiere date, I spoke with Philipps about the screening, making these episodes in a vacuum, and the show's optimistic approach to her dim-witted character, Laurie.
Read Full Post
<p>Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) stops to explain something to Dill (John Megna), Jem (Phillip Alford), and Scout (Mary Badham) in a scene from the classic 'To Kill A Mockingbird'</p>

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) stops to explain something to Dill (John Megna), Jem (Phillip Alford), and Scout (Mary Badham) in a scene from the classic 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Credit: Universal Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: A screening of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' uplifts, enlightens, and even terrifies

Whatever experience I expected with this one, the reality was far more fulfilling

"So, are they going to kill a mockingbird?"

"Dad, what did the bird do?"

This was the first response from Toshi and Allen, verbatim, when I was picking titles with them for this year's Film Nerd 2.0 line-up, and I stopped to look at the discs for "To Kill A Mockingbird," the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee's classic novel.

Toshi takes titles literally.  The idea of metaphor is beyond him.  It is not something he fully gets yet, the double-meanings of things.  And so when we're talking about movies, he asks for title, plot, and an explanation if necessary.  I like that he thinks that way, that he knows what it takes for him to understand something, and he knows how to interrogate me to get it.

It reminds me of the bit on "The Simpsons" where it shows Bart Simpson walking out of a theater showing "Naked Lunch" and he says, "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title."  I remember as a kid when I would try to see movies that were forbidden to me, and I would sometimes succeed in my quest only to be confused and irritated by the result.  Nine year old kids really aren't the target audience for "An Unmarried Woman," but I was sure I wanted to see it because it was rated R.  I wish I'd had Paul Mazursky there to ask questions afterwards, because I had plenty of them.

Read Full Post
"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

Recap: Is Courtney getting kicked off 'The Bachelor'?

The girls are ready to mutiny against the model, but is Ben ready to hear it?

Ben and the girls are off to Belize, and Ben is so excited! I'm less excited because Courtney is still on the show. This girl practically defines the word simpering, and with the baby voice, the lip sucking and the general childishness, I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that Ben has an interest in this manipulative, catty airhead. Each week that passes that doesn't result in her getting the boot just convinces me that Ben is 1) stupid 2) completely superficial and/or 3) an insecure little boy who's looking for someone as close to simple minded as possible so he can feel better about himself. In any case, I'm beginning to think that any of the girls who seem the least bit funny, smart or bubbly will really be better off getting kicked off the show at this point. Increasingly, it seems like dodging a bullet. 

Read Full Post
Watch: Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars in 'Safe and Sound' clip from 'The Hunger Games'

Watch: Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars in 'Safe and Sound' clip from 'The Hunger Games'

Plus, hear the Decemberists' song and check out the track listing

It’s a cold, cold world out there, but Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars will be there to protect us. In the video for “Safe & Sound,” from “The Hunger Games,” the threesome vow that “no one can hurt you now,” but it looks like our odds aren’t good.

The video, which has a bleak, winter chill feel to it, even though Swift is dressed in a billowy white summery dress, opens with The Civil Wars’ Joy Mitchell and John Paul White  in a cabin with a roaring fire. So they’re fine, but what about Swift, who seems destined to roam the plains with no shelter? Even the trees are barren. She seems slightly bothered, but mainly she’s looking beatific as she walks the land as if she’s the last person left on earth. She does see a deer, but the deer comes to an untoward end.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>The Mars Volta</p>

The Mars Volta

Listen: The Mars Volta's 'Jewel' was kept in the garage

Newest track from new album 'Noctourniquet'

It's a little hard to believe this is Mars Volta.

"The Malking Jewel" is a murky garage growler with a dash of late '70s jam, not the psych space journey we've all come to know and love. This is like inviting your weed-selling neighbor over to party, and instead his scuzzy-but-awesome cousin shows up, borrows your bowl and asks too many weird questions about your turntable.

Listen to Mars Volta's "The Maling Jewel" here.

Read Full Post
<p>Debra Messing and Christian Borle in &quot;Smash.&quot;</p>

Debra Messing and Christian Borle in "Smash."

Credit: NBC

'Smash' - 'The Callback': Being Marilyn Monroe

Karen and Ivy go down to the wire for the lead role, while Julia writes a letter

A review of tonight's "Smash" coming up just as soon as I get you to understand p orbitals...

Read Full Post
"The Voice"

 "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - 'The Blind Auditions, Pt. 3'

It's time for the latest batch of contestants to be tested

It's time for another two-hour shot of blind auditions. What we don't know? Whether Cee-Lo will bust out the cat again. We can only hope.

Read Full Post
<p>I'm willing to bet Cocteau's classic French version of 'Beauty and the Beast' will be more of an influence on Guillermo Del Toro's proposed film than the more widely-known Disney version.</p>

I'm willing to bet Cocteau's classic French version of 'Beauty and the Beast' will be more of an influence on Guillermo Del Toro's proposed film than the more widely-known Disney version.

Credit: Janus Films

Guillermo Del Toro signs to direct new 'Beauty and the Beast' with Emma Watson

The big question now is when this will happen for the busy filmmaker

When word broke that Guillermo Del Toro is developing a remake of "Beauty and the Beast" to star Emma Watson, it reminded me of an April Fool's Day joke, and I couldn't pinpoint why.

It took me almost an hour to finally pull up the 1998 article that Harry Knowles ran on Ain't It Cool, in which he gloated about how many people had fallen for his April Fool's Day jokes.  He printed that Luc Besson was attached to remake "Beauty and the Beast" and that Guillermo Del Toro was about to go to Cannes with a secret remake of "Curse Of The Demon."  As he notes in the article, I was the one person who wrote in that year, still early days in my friendship with Harry, to call B.S. on his stories.  I had that collision of pranks in my head, and this news set that off for me for fairly obvious reasons.

This seems like a very natural fit of filmmaker and material, and it certainly answers the question of whether or not other filmmakers will hire Emma Watson.  I think she's earned her starring roles in films, and I'm mystified by anyone who doesn't think she's developed into an interesting and distinct young actor, maybe the strongest of the young "Harry Potter" cast.  I think the only way we'll ever really see what else she's capable of is for directors to roll the dice and try.  "Portrait Of A Wallflower" sounds intriguing, and I thought she was fine in a very small part in "My Week With Marilyn," but this film and her possible collaboration with David Yates on "Your Voices In My Head" both sound like they're going to test her more than anything else we've ever seen her do.

Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

 

Credit: ABC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 115

Dan and Alan talk Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Lilyhammer' and Linsanity

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
We're a bit late, but it's always a good time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
This week... Grammy talk! "Cougar Town" returns! You told us to watch "Lilyhammer," so we did! Mail! And Alan gets to talk about Jeremy Lin.
 
As always, regarding the Linsanity segment, the sports talk is at the end of a podcast that was already over an hour. Think of it as bonus content. Or filler. But it isn't impacting your weekly TV chatter.
 
Here's the breakdown:
The Grammys (00:00:45 - 00:15:35)
"Cougar Town" (00:15:40 - 00:29:50)
"Life's Too Short" (00:29:50 - 38:45)
"Lilyhammer" (00:38:55 - 00:51:10)
Listen Mail - "Person of Interest" (00:52:00 - 00:59:05)
Listener Mail - New shows we're sticking with (00:59:05 - 01:07:25)
LINSANITY (01:08:15 - 01:20:45)

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.

Read Full Post
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 115: Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Life's Too Short' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 115: Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Life's Too Short' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss Netflix's 'Lilyhammer' and the improbable NBA story of Jeremy Lin

The

It's later in the day (or night) than usual, but we got in a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast just under the Monday wire. Dan and I talk a bit about the experience of watching last night's Grammys, review the return of "Cougar Town," the HBO debut of Gervais and Merchant's "Life's Too Short" and Netflix's original wiseguy-in-Norway series "Lilyhammer." We also answer some of your mail, which gives us a chance to check in on some freshman series we haven't discussed in a while, and also for me to gush over Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. (Apologies in advance for that segment.)

The line-up: 

The Grammys (00:00:45 - 00:15:35)
"Cougar Town" (00:15:40 - 00:29:50)
"Life's Too Short" (00:29:50 - 38:45)
"Lilyhammer" (00:38:55 - 00:51:10)
Listener Mail - "Person of Interest" (00:52:00 - 00:59:05)
Listener Mail - New shows we're sticking with (00:59:05 - 01:07:25)
Listener Mail - LINSANITY (01:08:15 - 01:20:45)
 
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.
Read Full Post
<p>Benjamin Walker prepares to fight a very uncivil war in 'Abraham Lincoln:&nbsp;Vampire Hunter'</p>

Benjamin Walker prepares to fight a very uncivil war in 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Watch: 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' trailer promises kung-fu and killings a-plenty

This is exactly as insane as the title would suggest, and that's probably a good thing

I may have been a little slow on the draw putting this one up today, but in my defense, that's because I was laughing so hard.

I have to assume that's okay with Timur Bekmembetov and Tim Burton and Seth Graeme-Smith, because no matter how straight-faced this trailer plays it, the entire notion of successfully convincing a studio to pay big money to make and release a film called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" has got to be one of the biggest "Holy crap, we were kidding BUT THEY REALLY DID IT" moments in the history of film.

The only way you make that film work once you decide to make it is to go all in.  No half-measures.  You can't be embarrassed to be making it.  Noooo… you have to go the other direction.  You have to pack more "f**k yeah" into every single minute of running time than has ever been attempted before.  You have to crank it up and let it run hot.  It is patently absurd, so embrace that.  Be absurd.  Be big and crazy and supercharged with lunacy.  Don't just have Abraham Lincoln kill vampires.  Have him kung-fu fight them in slow motion while dual-wielding deadly axes.  Go for it.

Read Full Post
<p>Courteney Cox and friends on &quot;Cougar Town.&quot;</p>

Courteney Cox and friends on "Cougar Town."

Credit: ABC

Good show, bad title: 'Cougar Town' returns for season 3

Some examples of how the ABC comedy transcended its horrible name

"Cougar Town" season 3 makes a very belated debut tomorrow night at 8:30 on ABC, and the guerrilla marketing campaign being waged by creators Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel and their stars seems two-pronged in its goals: 1)To remind existing "Cougar Town" fans that the show still exists and will be back on Valentine's Day, and 2)To convince people who either gave up on the show after a handful of episodes, or who simply refused to watch a show called "Cougar Town," that it has nothing to do with its horrible, horrible title anymore. (Biegel explained to me last month why they unfortunately can't change it.)

I've written a lot over the last couple of years about the ways the show transformed itself from the story of Courteney Cox's Jules living up to the cougar archetype into the story of Jules becoming the unofficial leader of a collection of oddball friends and relatives who live on her cul-de-sac. As I wrote last week, it's an incredibly goofy, incredibly charming comedy about friends and family, about red wine and running gags and boredom, and while it's certainly not for everyone, it's for far more people than anyone might suspect from thinking it's about Courteney Cox having sex with younger guys.

But no matter how many words I write, a picture will be worth 1,000 of 'em, and a bunch of embedded videos will be worth even more. So I've gathered together a collection of scenes that I feel capture the show that "Cougar Town" became over time, and that should be a good barometer of whether you want to watch the season premiere tomorrow. Lawrence's sense of humor is idiosyncratic, not universal. But if you find yourself laughing at one or more of these clips, chances are you'll want to spend more time with the Cul-de-Sac Crew this season. (And, yes, the gang's nickname is also terrible, but more intentionally so.) 

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME