It's Upfront Week, which means it's (hopefully) going to be a two-episode week for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. Today, we'll be dealing with the NBC, FOX and ABC upfront announcements (plus another "Mad Men" review), while the plan is to return on Friday to discuss CBS, the CW and a bunch of recent season finales.
Upfronts - NBC, FOX and ABC (00:01:00 - 00:49:30)
"Mad Men" (00:49:30 - 01:14:30)
As we discuss towards the end of the show, we will likely have two podcasts next week, but also probably not on Monday. It will be catch as catch can. Follow our blogs, iTunes, the RSS feed, Twitter, etc., to have some sense of when a new podcast has been published.
I continue the exploration of my love and loathing of R. Kelly, that time-traveling horndog of R&B mysterium. Today his label RCA announced a June 26 drop date of his new album "Write Me Back," as well as lifted the veil on another new song from it, "Feelin' Single."
Like "Write's" first song-single "Share My Love," "Feelin' Single" borrows from the same strings-dripping '70s era of soul and disco, this time with Kels fondling playing with the space bars between lonliness and landing the skinny, big-boobed lady of his dreams. It goes up via digital retailers on May 29.
I'm not sure we could write much more about "Margaret" in this space. Last December, filling in the gaps with the rest of a press corps hammering out their top 10 lists for the year, I caught up to Kenneth Lonergan's embattled film at one of two screenings Fox Searchlight politely scheduled for those who had missed it during its fleeting September release.
ABC had a very strange 2011-12 TV season. On the one hand, "Modern Family" had its biggest ratings yet, the network launched the top-rated new drama of the season in "Once Upon a Time," had a much-buzzed-about (if more modestly-rated) new success in "Revenge," and had four other rookies ("Suburgatory," "Scandal," "Last Man Standing" and "Don't Trust the (Beaver) in Apt. 23") do well enough to merit renewal for another season.
On the other hand, those successes — plus the continuation of other hits like "Grey's Anatomy" (still the most-watched drama on TV in the 18-49 demographic) and "Dancing with the Stars" — likely won't be enough to keep the network out of fourth place in the season's demo ratings. Even if NBC will only squeak ahead of ABC because it aired the Super Bowl, that's still not a good overall result considering all the successes.
But on an upfront press conference call, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee acknowledged that the network needed a lot of work when he took over a couple of years ago.
It was only a couple weeks ago that Usher unzipped "Lemme See" featuring Rick Ross in promoting his new album "Looking for Myself"; now the pair are back together for another sexy back-and-forth for Rozay's new single "Touch'N You."
If that's so, then look for a lot of steam-windowed R&B combos with Bawse's confident woof, because this mid-tempo bedroom jammer has Usher over-repeating his intentions of "f*ckin' you." Of course, there's a radio version available -- "Touch'N You" -- reminiscent of how Enrique Iglesias, tonight, is "lovin'" you.
Ross' rhymes work, though, and its another gangbusters combination from this team, who could benefit from each others' prowess as they drop their respective new albums. As repetitive as I think "f*ckin' you" gets, it on a meta-level reflects the actual nature of, well, f*ckin'. Good work, lit team, "Touch'N You" sounds like a definite hit.
I can hardly believe it's snuck up on like this, but today I jet off to the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival, which officially kicks off tomorrow with the premiere of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom." Currently, we're in the exciting night-before-Christmas stage of the festival. 22 Competition films (among a buffet of others in secondary strands) lie unseen ahead of us: all of them have serious artistic intentions and creditable names attached, and have been hand-picked for the programme by the powers that be.
Yet there will be successes and there will be failures: predicting the annual critical disaster as much a sport as handicapping the jury awards. We have no idea what the prizewinners and/or future classics from the lineup might prove to be -- and that "and/or" is crucial, since the two don't always overlap. Cannes juries are no less capable than the Academy of missing the boat with their choices, of passing over long-haul masterworks for short-lived sensations. Will future generations care about Palme d'Or winner "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" -- any more than people today care about "The Mission?"
Even sitting down to write about the film, I feel ridiculous. It's a movie in name only, a simulation of a movie, and it is by far the strangest thing that Peter Berg has ever put his name on. I do not see the director of "The Rundown" or "Friday Night Lights" in this film at all. That's not to say it is without any personal touches, but they feel more like him distracting himself from the absurdity of the material than a real connection to what he's making, and the result is a wannabe-blockbuster that should be studied in film schools as a perfect example of what happens when commerce becomes more important than concept.
Written by a computer program that Universal cleverly named "Erich and Jon Hoeber," I'm still not even sure what the actual premise of the movie is. I can tell you what happens in it, but plot is not premise. I cannot imagine the meetings in which grown, rational people sat around planning this film, because nothing about it makes sense. You would think someone involved in signing $250 million worth of checks would have at some point spoken up and said, "Is it okay that none of this is even remotely coherent?" Evidently, it's fine, because the film almost seems to delight in the specific form of nonsense that it offers up, and there's not a hint of shame to the enterprise. It is blissfully, cheerfully stupid, and it doesn't remotely care about reality.
"Survivor: One World" wrapped up on Sunday (May 13) night with the first all-female Top Five in the show's history.
Because of timing relating to NBC and FOX upfront presentations on Monday, I wasn't able to do exit interviews with Alicia and Christina, but I was able to get on the phone with the three castoffs who faced The Jury and were up for the million dollar prize.
That would be 26-year-old Chelsea Meissner, who finished third after failing to receive a single vote from the Jury.
Chelsea, who was partners-in-crime with Kim, as they decimated the entire male contingent after the Merge, had a hand in most of the season's strategic intrigue, but she probably lost Jury support when she basically endorsed her friend in her opening statement.
In her exit interview, Chelsea discusses her support for Kim, her Final Tribal emotions and tries to explain Christina's accusation that she hates people.
I could offer up excuses, but the truth is that things just plain got away from Scott Swan and me, and there's no other way to put it. Our best intentions were repeatedly frustrated by real-life obstacles, and we let them build up week after week.
The only reason we finally sat down to do this again is because you have all been so vocal about wanting a new podcast, and I take your feedback seriously.
This week, we decided to talk about Mother's day and the long tradition of mothers in movies. We also brought back Movie God, the game that broke me in our final episode of Season Two, and we welcomed Patrick Morgan, known to AICN readers as Henchman Mongo, to help us kick off this year's version of the game.