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<p>Jean Dujardin after winning Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011.</p>

Jean Dujardin after winning Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011.

Credit: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Cannes regains its Oscar foresight

Three of this year's Best Picture nominees began life on the Croisette

As the absence of any potential Oscar fodder from the just-wrapped Berlin Film Festival became apparent -- pundits on the hunt for a second consecutive "A Separation"-style crossover item were disappointed with the lineup, though cineastes needn't have been -- I got to thinking about the presence of festival fare in this year's Academy Awards class.

In recent years, the festival circuit has become far more integral to the Oscar race than it used to be: all but one of the last six Best Picture winners debuted at a high-profile festival, from Cannes and Venice to Toronto and Telluride.

That's in marked contrast to the beginning of the new century, when all five winners from "Gladiator" through to "Million Dollar Baby" were major studio productions that had no need of a festival platform. As independents increasingly dominate the awards conversation, so too do the festivals that birth them: spotting an orphan film that can be groomed into a major Oscar player has become a more viable practice for many studios than developing their own, with Harvey Weinstein still the master of the game.

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<p>Santigold</p>

Santigold

Listen: Santigold's new 'Disparate Youth'; singer opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers

Little Dragon and Sleigh Bells also on tap for RHCP dates

Santigold has a hell of a way of announcing her spring tour. The rhythm-loving singer has been tapped to open for Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with Sleigh Bells and Little Dragon.

To celebrate, she's dropped her second song from forthcoming and tentatively titled "Master Of My Make-Believe," available below. It proceeds her first single from the fresh effort, "Big Mouth."

"Disparate Youth" actually sounds a little more grown up and a little more chilled out. Santigold's voice just flows over a hazy, bassy drive.

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Credit: HBO

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 116

Dan and Alan talk 'Downton Abbey,' 'On Freddie Roach' and answer mail

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
 
The banks may be closed for some alleged holiday, but The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast remains in business.
 
This week, we talked about the full season of "Downton Abbey" following its premiere on Sunday, we caught up with HBO's excellent "On Freddie Roach" and we answer a lot of Listener Mail (and we've collected a lot more for the weeks to come). Good times!
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Downton Abbey" (00:01:30 - 00:21:00)
"On Freddie Roach" (00:21:00 - 00:29:30)
Dan's Reality Roundup (00:29:30 - 00:44:10)
Listener Mail - Pilots (00:45:55 - 00:59:10)
Listen Mail - Linsanity and Asian Representations (00:59:10 - 01:07:00)
Listener Mail - Critically acclaimed shows we don't acclaim (01:07:00 - 01:13:45)
Listener Mail - The Ann Perkins Problem (01:13:50 - 01:18:40)
Listener Mail - FOX's truncated schedule (01:18:50 - 01:22:25)

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.

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<p>Your author with Ice-T at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival</p>

Your author with Ice-T at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival

Credit: HitFix

Interview: Ice-T talks Lil Wayne, reality TV and making-of 'Something from Nothing'

As 'The Art of Rap' earns a release date, the 'Law & Order' actor goes back to rhyming roots

For a man so well-versed in reality television, Ice-T didn't want his directorial debut to look anything like "what's on MTV." The actor/rapper has co-starred in "Law & Order: SVU" since 2000 as Detective Tutuola; the second season of "Ice Loves Coco," his reality television show with wife Coco on E!, just premiered this week.

And yet documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" had no drama, no competitions or current events cut in to the narrative to create arc. In fact, there was no narrative; there's only a couple cinematic structures in place -- of artists talking, artists rapping and then a sweeping aerial view of rappers' hometowns of Los Angeles, Detroit or New York.

That also means there was no archival footage or old music videos, or even much of a hip-hop history lesson -- just some well-loved songs and the hip-hop royalty that made them. Repetition is the hitch of this style of documentary, but it was also a rapper roundup that only somebody like Ice-T could muster. Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Eminem, Nas, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, Chuck D, KRS-One, Run-DMC, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and more engage in spirited, intimate conversations about the literal art of rapping over a beat, and then each spitting a favorite verse from another rapper.

Because all of the footage was fresh for this film's can, that makes for a lot of rare and singular moments for rappers to tip their hat at one another.

Ice-T and "Something from Nothing" co-director Andy Baybutt wanted to "keep everything unique," the rapper told me during an interview at the Sundance Film Festival this January. The doc made its bow there.

"If I’m making a film, I wanna shoot everything with frames -- no [still] pictures or old film, no nothing. What we did was we shot them cinematically, and then we'd let it breathe, with shots of New York or whatever."
 
The result, he said, is like a big long list of everybody's legends, with more than 100 artists interviewed, around five dozen making it into the film and even more waiting in the wings to be included.
 
"All you can say is, 'I didn’t see my favorite artist,' but that'd be impossible to include everybody. When I got the nod for Sundance, I had a three-hour film. I had to cut it to two hours," he said. "Everybody’s doing the movie to be in the movie."
 
Of course, to see contemporary chart-topping acts like Em and Kanye getting sentimental about their art is a stunning insight. I asked Ice if anybody from the Young Money crew was invited in.
 
"Wayne was moving around, I was shooting 'Law & Order,' the camera crew was in London... Getting people in the same place at the same time was really, really difficult. We called Wayne and they'd be like 'OK, we can do it at 3,' and then I’d get my camera crew and they go 'Now it's at 9,'" Ice-T explained. "We’re not paying [Wayne], it’s a favor. So then it’d be like, 'Let’s do it tomorrow...' We got what we could."
 
Rap fans will be able to check out the film large-scale when it bows this summer on June 8, via The Indomina Group.

 

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 116: 'Downton Abbey,' 'On Freddie Roach,' reality TV & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 116: 'Downton Abbey,' 'On Freddie Roach,' reality TV & more

Dan and Alan also answer your questions on pilot season, Ann Perkins and Jeremy Lin

The

It's a slow week in television, relatively-speaking (no major premieres, at least), which makes for an eclectic Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, where talk of the Dowager Countess of "Downton Abbey" rubs up against discussion of boxing trainer Freddie Roach, Ann Perkins' love life, pilot season, and, of course, new podcast mainstay Jeremy Lin (but only kinda-sorta).

The line-up: 

"Downton Abbey" (00:01:30 - 00:21:00)
"On Freddie Roach" (00:21:00 - 00:29:30)
Dan's Reality Roundup (00:29:30 - 00:44:10)
Listener Mail - Pilots (00:45:55 - 00:59:10)
Listen Mail - Linsanity and Asian Representations (00:59:10 - 01:07:00)
Listener Mail - Critically acclaimed shows we don't acclaim (01:07:00 - 01:13:45)
Listener Mail - The Ann Perkins Problem (01:13:50 - 01:18:40)
Listener Mail - FOX's truncated schedule (01:18:50 - 01:22:25)
 
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.
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<p>B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo and Jean Dujardin on the set of &quot;The Artist&quot;</p>

Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin on the set of "The Artist"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: We won't get another hero

Oscar season heads into the home stretch with no real surprises in sight

Ballots are due tomorrow. The great settling has occurred. And now is the time of year when people bored with the proceedings scratch and claw for an alternative.

There isn't one. Despite a grand showing for "The Descendants" in the final stretch, it's not the one to pull the carpet out from under "The Artist." Despite "The Help" having a considerable amount of support throughout the Academy, it's not the one. And somehow, "Hugo" isn't the one, either, despite considerable spending in phase two (though the two nomination leaders spent quite a bit separately). There is no savior.

In a column today, Sasha Stone tries to make the case that more time would have mattered. It wouldn't have. If anything, a number of members are still (believe it or not) DISCOVERING "The Artist." When Stone writes that "no one seems to want 'The Artist' to win,'" she is, I think, responding to the echo-chamber that is movie punditry.

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<p>Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Grammy Awards</p>

Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Bruce Springsteen debuting new song a day, starting with 'Easy Money'

'Wrecking Ball' getting a premiere, track by track

Bruce Springsteen will let fans hear his new album in its entirety prior to release, with one new track debuting a day now until March 6, when the "Wrecking Ball" drops.

Today starts this sequenced chain of daily events, with "Easy Money" over on Backstreets.com. Rolling Stone gets dibs on "Shackled and Drawn" tomorrow. An incomplete schedule is below and, lest you forget, album opener "We Take Care of Our Own" has already manifested in stream and music video form.

"Easy Money" is an Americana-tinged stomper, swimming in choral and gang vocals, driven by a stomp-and-clap rhythm section and laced with fiddles. It's actually pretty, well, easy.

Here are the Boss' current tour dates, starting on March 18.

    •    Today: "Easy Money" on Backstreets.com
    •    Tuesday, Feb. 21: "Shackled and Drawn" at Rollingstone.com
    •    Wednesday, Feb 22: "Jack of All Trades"
    •    Thursday, Feb. 23: "Death to My Hometown"
    •    Friday, Feb. 24: "This Depression"
    •    Monday, Feb. 27: "Wrecking Ball"
    •    Tuesday, Feb. 28: "You've Got It"
    •    Wednesday, Feb. 29: "Rocky Ground"
    •    Thursday, March 1: "Land of Hope and Dreams"
    •    Friday, March 2: "We Are Alive"
 

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<p>Blur</p>

Blur

Listen: Blur performs new song 'Under the West Way' live

More news that another album's on the way: We told you so

Blur made a charity concert appearance this weekend, but ended up giving even more to fans all over the world.

In a video clip posted from the War Child benefit show at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn are seen performing a brand new song, titled "Under the West Way," with the former on acoustic guitar and the latter on piano. The slow-burner is a little theatric though instrumentally understated. And it is very, very Blur.

And do your best to ignore the show-goer who is practicing his whistle: wrong time, dude.

The band may play "West Way" or maybe even more new material tomorrow night (Feb. 21) during the Brit Awards. The last recording they dropped was in 2010, for Record Store Day, but their last album was 2003's "Think Tank." And, as previously reported, Coxon said that there is definitely another Blur album in the works, on the heels of their 2009 live reunion.

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<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman in&nbsp;&quot;Moneyball&quot;</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Moneyball"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Film Editing

'The Artist,' 'The Descendants,' 'Dragon Tatto,' 'Hugo' and 'Moneyball' square off

The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.

Of all the crafts categories, Best Film Editing always tends to parallel the Best Picture race the most, both in the nominations stage and again during the race for the win. This year’s final five fit squarely into that paradigm, with the top three Best Picture contenders being joined by another film that was almost certainly in the top six and one semi-prestigious genre film that likely wasn’t far from the Best Picture lineup. Despite the surprising omission of one of the most nominated editors of all-time, Michael Kahn (who managed to score an ACE citation for “War Horse”), the nominees were utterly predictable.

But while I was quite confident in my predictions for the nominations (at least about the six from which the five would be chosen), that confidence does not extend to this final stage of the game. No title can be safely ruled out in my opinion.

The nominees are…

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<p>Ernest Borgnine, for many the poster boy for the Academy membership.</p>

Ernest Borgnine, for many the poster boy for the Academy membership.

Credit: Screen Actors Guild

Round-up: A dry, old, white guy season

Also: The costumes of 'W.E.,' and making excuses for 'Cars 2'

The big topic of Oscar conversation over the weekend wasn't exactly a newsflash: anyone who didn't previously know that the Academy membership is dominated by older white men is presumably still reeling from the shock of "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" not receiving a Best Picture nomination. Even so, the stats revealed in the LA Times's investigation into the AMPAS makeup are pretty stunning: sadly, I'm perhaps less surprised that voters are 94% white than I am by the knowledge that they're 77% male. Add in the fact that only 2% of them are under the age of 40, and you wonder why anyone even entertained the possibility of "Bridesmaids" cracking the top category. Members from Alexander Payne to Alfre Woodard (who's a "Shame" fan, as it happens) weigh in on the matter. A must-read. [Los Angeles Times]

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<p>A scene from &quot;War Horse&quot;</p>

A scene from "War Horse"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

'War Horse,' 'Super 8' win with MPSE

'Hugo,' 'The Muppets' and 'Tintin' also go home with goodies

The Motion Picture Sound Editors' (MPSE) 59th annual Golden Reel Awards were held this evening, celebrating excellence in sound editing. "Super 8," you'll recall, led the way with nominees (and was nominated by the Cinema Audio Society), yet failed to score an Oscar nod in either sound category.

Tonight, the film managed to take home an award, for dialogue and ADR in a feature film. So it gets to hold its head up high. However, it was "War Horse" that triumphed in the sound effects and foley department, which is the area that most corresponds to Oscar (at least in terms of how the category is largely viewed).

After last night's CAS win for "Hugo," I started to lean toward a split between that film (mixing) and "War Horse" (editing) in the sound categories. I'm feeling that even more after tonight, but both categories could just as easily end up going to one film or the other. Pick your splits carefully.

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<p>A scene from the finale of ABC's &quot;Pan Am&quot;</p>
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A scene from the finale of ABC's "Pan Am"

Credit: ABC

ABC's 'Pan Am' finale looks to a future that may never come

Will 1964 be a good year for these fictional stewardesses? Probably not.
Because of Kurt Cobain's suicide note, "It's better to burn out/Than to fade away" is the most remembered line of of Neil Young's "Hey, Hey, My, My (Out of the Blue)," but the variation "It's better to burn out/ Than it is to rust" is every bit as evocative.
 
My favorite network pilot of the fall of 2010 was FOX's "Lone Star." It died spectacularly after only two airings, doing the sort of inconceivably low ratings that have taken their place as the stuff of industry legend.
 
On one hand, that failure was a TV-level tragedy (not to be confused with actual tragedy) because I like to see good things succeed, especially when those good things suggest different storytelling avenues from the ones normally followed on network primetime.
 
On the other hand, I'll always have a pristine memory of the "Lone Star" pilot, which I loved, and the second episode, which I quite enjoyed. I never had to worry about the predictable, hypothetical lag from episodes four through six. I never had to twiddle my thumbs through hypothetical episodes seven though 10 as the producers responded to low ratings by tinkering and stunt-casting. I never had to sit through the desperation of episode 13 with its hypothetical absurd cliffhanger to try to force FOX into renewal.
 
"Lone Star" burnt out, but it did so with authority. Kyle Killen lit the match and America and FOX licked their collective fingers and snuffed it out.
 
Poof.
 
My favorite network pilot of last fall was ABC's "Pan Am." I didn't love it, but I marveled at its high production values, stellar direction and charismatic cast and perhaps because I was comparing it directly to NBC's "Playboy Club" and indirectly to a lackluster crop of new fall shows, I admired its aspirations and its potential scope.
 
Unlike "Lone Star," "Pan Am" didn't instantly burn out. In fact, it premiered to nearly 11 million viewers and a robust 18-49 rating. It wasn't an instant hit, but ABC got people in the door, which seemed like a minor miracle.
 
Instead, "Pan Am" rusted. The show changed. Viewers tuned out. ABC kept airing the show opposite powerhouse dramas and major events and it kept getting clobbered.
 
Five months later, "Pan Am" is probably done. Sunday (Feb. 19) night's episode was only the season finale, but barring some sort of overhaul of what constitutes "success" and "failure" on network TV, it will also be its series finale.
 
Given what "Pan Am" has been for most of its truncated season, I'm not going to mourn the show's passing for very long. The cast never ceased to be charismatic and talented and the production values remained pretty admirable, but "Pan Am" lost any sense of its identity many months ago. The jumble of half-hearted Season 2 pitches in Sunday's finale only confirmed that lack of direction moving forward. 
 
Neither "Lone Star" nor "Pan Am" will see a back-nine, much less a second season, but with "Lone Star" we saw only the fall, but with "Pan Am," there was a complete decline and fall, all in accelerated motion.
 
More on the "Pan Am" finale after the break...
 
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