Latest Blog Posts

<p>Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) walk reeeeeeeeeeeal hard in a scene from 'The Avengers'</p>

Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) walk reeeeeeeeeeeal hard in a scene from 'The Avengers'

Credit: Walt Disney Company/Marvel

New featurette for 'Avengers' offers more on Whedon's take on the characters

We're getting close to release now, so how much more should we see?

We're at that point in the publicity campaign for "The Avengers" where they kick into high gear, and we start to see footage in all sorts of strange places.

The recent trailers offered up some big moments, and when I was speaking to writer/director Joss Whedon after the live-chat we did at SXSW for "The Cabin In The Woods," we discussed the decision to put that amazing shot of The Hulk catching Iron Man into the trailer.

"That comes late in the film," Whedon said, admitting that he wasn't sure about including the image at first.  "But Marvel tested it and they told me that whenever they included that shot in the trailer, the scores went crazy."  Based on the reaction online, I'd believe it.  In my own house, I can tell you that the focus group consisting of my wife and my two sons were 100% enthusiastic about that image and the trailer as a whole.

The thing that I worry about at this point in the release of a giant blockbuster is that the campaign will start to cough up things I'd rather see in the theater in the context of the finished film.  As other promotional partners start to put things out, that's a distinct possibility.  Today, for example, Norton Security released a behind-the-scenes featurette about the film, built around a short interview with Whedon.

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Listen to Pitbull yell at you for 3 minutes in new 'Men In Black 3' song

Listen to Pitbull yell at you for 3 minutes in new 'Men In Black 3' song

'Back in Time' borrows heavily from 'Love Is Strange,' dubstep craze

For all the anticipation and money going into "Men In Black 3," there was a collective shrug from the internet when it was announced that Pitbull would be composing its theme. 

Continue shrugging. "Back in Time" is a high-mastered, thudding bumbler, with Pitbull's big-mouthed, good-timing, half-handed zingers draped in samples from a well-known, beloved former hit (Micky & Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange") and a few bars of dubstep just to prove it's "with it." In other words, it's a Black Eyed Peas song without lady vocals.

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<p>Kevin Lyman</p>

Kevin Lyman

Interview: Warped Tour's Kevin Lyman says 2012 is for the ladies

Founder talks fest history, Warped doc 'No Room for Rock Stars,' stupid punk dance moves

Recent documentary “No Room For Rock Stars” makes and twists evidence that, during Warped Tour, everybody and nobody during the fest are rock stars. 

If there’s anybody who would be, it’s Kevin Lyman, at least in his field. The festival founder has experienced the ups and downs of an all-ages roving festival during the pre- and post-internet music business wipe-out. He’s adjusted his lineups and caps from year to year, emphasizing that success is in the ability to adapt to tastes and costs; he’s followed that demand into other touring festival sectors, with events like Taste of Chaos, Country Throwdown and Mayhem tours.
“No Room For Rock Stars,” in following 2010 Warped acts from rising radio star Mike Posner to deafening Suicide Silence to PLUR-like-harbinger heartthrob NeverShoutNever, outline how some Warped lineups have been more pop than others, some more hardcore or hip-hop. In the last five years, especially, it’s been a bit of everything to every kid who couldn’t otherwise be able to see their favorite band in their hometown club.
But that’s the thing. Kids who went to Warped when they were kids… now have kids. Its success has wavered and depended on all brands and demos, particularly finding a balance between male and female attendance.  
So this year, Lyman has lined a little something up for the ladies, for the kids-now-women. Taking Back Sunday has been announced as the fest headliner, and bigger bands like New Found Glory, the Used and Yellowcard have been added, all of which will appeal to a particular concert-goer, aside from the regular crew of teenagers expected.
“This year will be a pretty female-heavy crowd, a decision we consciously made. The 23-to-27-year-old female is out of college, starting a new job… when she was 13 to 19, Warped was a rite of passage,” Lyman explained. “When kids are 19 to 23, I’m gonna lose them, to Electric Daisy or Coachella. Three-day festivals are where college kids go, as they should. But when you’re around 23 or 24, money gets tight again and Warped might appeal to them again, because all those bands had hits during their teens.
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<p>I'd like to think we'll see a whole lot of this in 'Jupiter Rising' if Channing Tatum takes the part.&nbsp; Especially the awful tuxedo.</p>

I'd like to think we'll see a whole lot of this in 'Jupiter Rising' if Channing Tatum takes the part.  Especially the awful tuxedo.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis offered leads in Wachowskis Sci-Fi 'Jupiter Ascending'

Will this be the next 'Matrix' or the new 'Speed Racer'?

It makes sense that the Wachowskis are looking forward to their next film now, because they're in the final stages of working on "Cloud Atlas," the movie they made with Tom Tykwer.

I'm dying to see "Cloud Atlas," if only because the book seems so wildly impossible to turn into a film.  I love that.  I love when artists take on a challenge that big, especially when the conventional thinking would be to do something safe and commercially friendly.  After all, the two "Matrix" sequels tarnished the reputation of the series to such a degree that it went from becoming the most promising franchise of the 2000s to being a punchline.  And while I love "Speed Racer," it is treated as a punching bag at this point.  Even with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry and Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon aboard, this is anything but a safe bet.

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<p>The cover for Regina Spektor's &quot;What We Saw From the Cheap Seats&quot;</p>

The cover for Regina Spektor's "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats"

Credit: Sire/Warner Bros.

Listen: Regina Spektor releases 'Ne me quitte pas,' rants against leakers

Sunny new material met with tempestuous back-end promotional problems

Regina Spektor's cover of "Ne me quitte pas" is awfully upbeat, but the singer-songwriter's weekend felt more like her harrowing new single "All the Rowboats" sounds.

The singer-songwriter went on a brief rant addressing the fact that bits and bobs of her new album "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats" -- like demos and art -- have been leaking. On her Facebook page, she questioned motive: "So sad to have art/photos/videos/music keep leaking online unfinished and at the wrong time... The strange thing is that if it's getting stolen and put out by someone who likes me and my music- why would they want to put me through this?" she wrote. "[A]nd if it's someone who doesn't like me- why would they waste all that precious time on me... it's confusing/feels sh*tty/takes much of the fun out (there's too much fun to take all of it out, though) Feels strange just waiting for things i'm working on to get stolen one by one."

It's a losing battle many artists have fought for years, a small war that only acts like Madonna and Watch the Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West) have the control and resources to prevent. It's also an inevitable part of the promotional process and album cycle that announces new albums three months out, release a single or song at that time and then have that awful waiting period super-fans must endure during that time, especially if a tour starts only a month out from that.

It's still no excuse. Spektor has the backing of Sire/Warner, but her profile is still small enough that every blow counts.

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<p>Jessica Par&eacute; as Megan singing &quot;Zou Bisou Bisou&quot;&nbsp;in the &quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Jessica Paré as Megan singing "Zou Bisou Bisou" in the "Mad Men" season premiere.

Credit: AMC

Interview: 'Mad Men' co-star Jessica Paré on Megan, Don and 'Zou Bisou Bisou'

When did she find out about Don and Megan? And what was it like to serenade the cast?

Having already reviewed the "Mad Men" season premiere and interviewed Matt Weiner and John Slattery about different aspects of the premiere, I had time for one more "Mad Men"-related conversation today, with the show's newest regular cast member — and one of last night's most prominent — Jessica Paré. I spoke with Paré about how Megan went from a minor character (described in the casting notes, simply, as "brunette") to her current status, how Megan feels about Don (and vice versa), and, of course, both "Zou Bisou Bisou" and the apartment cleaning scene (embedded below), all coming up just as soon as I bring things down to a sotto voce...

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Credit: Facebook

Aerosmith returns to the road with Global Warming tour

Will they make it through the dates without killing each other?

After Steven Tyler has wrapped up his season two “American Idol” judging duties, look for him to return to his day job: Aerosmith will start its first U.S. tour in two years on June 16 at Minneapolis’s Target Center.

There’s no word yet on if the new album, which the band has been working on for ages now, will be ready by then.  Aerosmith’s last studio album was 2004’s “Honkin’ On Bobo.”

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<p>Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' Alexander Ebert</p>

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' Alexander Ebert

Credit: MySpace/AP

Listen: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' new single, plus... a companion album?

'Man on Fire' is a humming, Alexander-led spiritual; group unveils 'Here' tracklist

He's a man on fire. Go dance with him.

At frontman Alexander Ebert's urging, do a little hippie dance to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros new single "Man on Fire," the first recorded track available from the group's forthcoming new album "Here."

This easy spiritual number moves between gospel and a country shuffle, spreading the message of safety and comfort with the occasional help of a didgeridoo. Like some of the band's best songs, "Man on Fire" succeeds with simplicity and earnestness, a single mind from the Magnetic Zeros seemingly numberless mass.

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<p>Olivia Colman and Gary Oldman took the top acting prizes at last night's Jameson Empire Awards.</p>

Olivia Colman and Gary Oldman took the top acting prizes at last night's Jameson Empire Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Jonathan Short

'Harry Potter' and 'Tinker, Tailor' take top honors at Empire Awards

Yet another hometown Best Actress win for Olivia Colman

With all due respect to the general public (which, if I'm being honest, is a variable amount) I don't tend to pay much attention to awards voted for entirely by them: such awards happen on a weekly basis, and they're called the box office charts.

Still, that's not to say Joe Public can't occasionally surprise us, and at least one result at last night's Jameson Empire Awards -- the last, and booziest, stop on the 2011 kudos calendar, voted for by the readers of the mainstream-oriented film magazine Empire -- reflects rather well on the British masses.

They may not have shown up in great numbers to see "Tyrannosaur" in theaters last autumn, but word of Olivia Colman's tremendous performance has clearly spread enough to nab the humble Brit a Best Actress win over the likes of Meryl Streep and Rooney Mara. When even the multiplex crowd has joined critics in feting Colman -- who also took the British Independent Film Award, London Critics' Circle Award and Evening Standard Film Award -- that BAFTA snub looks ever more boneheaded.

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<p>Lionel Richie &quot;Tuskegee&quot;</p>

Lionel Richie "Tuskegee"

Album Review: Lionel Richie's 'Tuskegee' pairs him with country's finest

Does 'Dancing on the Ceiling' cut it as a country track?

By calling his new album, “Tuskegee,” after his hometown, instead of the much-more accurate, “Nashville,” Lionel Richie is determined to let fans  that he grew up listening to country music.

For those who think it’s a stretch for the popmeister to re-record some of his biggest hits with such country stars as Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, remember that Richie has a legacy at country radio: Conway Twitty recorded “Three Times A Lady,” Alabama performed “Deep River Woman” with him, and, of course, Kenny Rogers took “Lady” to the top of not only the country charts, but Billboard’s Hot 100 and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.  (Read my interview with Richie here).

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<p>Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in &quot;The Hunger Games.&quot;</p>

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in "The Hunger Games."

Credit: Lionsgate

Woody Harrelson takes on the politics of politics in ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Game Change’

The actor's two seemingly incongruous roles point to a gaping cultural wound

When Woody Harrelson signed on to play Steve Schmidt and Haymitch Abernathy in “Game Change” and “The Hunger Games” respectively, he likely wasn’t thinking that the roles are actually strange mirrors of one another (although, who’s to say what Harrelson is thinking really?). Aside from the obvious similarities - both films are adaptations of books and they each have the word “game” in the title - there are some equally clear distinctions.

Steve Schmidt is, of course, the campaign strategist who functioned as the senior adviser on the 2008 John McCain Presidential bid. Haymitch Abernathy is a fictional character who resides within the world of author Suzanne Collins's novel “The Hunger Games,” an imagined dystopic future where North America has been reduced to a conglomerate of 12 “districts” which are presided over by a dangerously self-indulgent “Capitol.”

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<p>John Slattery as Roger Sterling on &quot;Mad Men.&quot;</p>

John Slattery as Roger Sterling on "Mad Men."

Credit: AMC

Interview: 'Mad Men' co-star John Slattery

What's Roger's place in the agency now? And how was it directing another episode this season?

After I watched the "Mad Men" premiere (which I reviewed here), I did a couple of interviews about the events of it that I agreed to run the morning after it aired. One was with creator Matthew Weiner, and this one is with Roger Sterling himself, John Slattery. Slattery and I spoke about Roger's position in the agency, his reaction to a familiar character's return to the office, and, in non-spoiler territory, about his experience directing his third episode this season (he and I discussed his directorial debut last season), and how Jon Hamm did when he followed in Slattery's footsteps and got behind the camera, all coming up just as soon as I buy myself a very beautiful picture of something to look at...

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