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<p>Oliver Stone was all smiles at the press day for his new film 'Savages'</p>

Oliver Stone was all smiles at the press day for his new film 'Savages'

Credit: HitFix

Oliver Stone on pushing boundaries and shocking audiences in 'Savages'

When you're the screenwriter of 'Scarface,' is there any excess left to explore?

There was a moment in the mid-'90s when Oliver Stone could get anything funded, and he was making giant studio movies that were unlike anything anyone else was doing.  It felt like he was pulling something over on the studios on a regular basis.  He was larger-than-life, and it was amazing to watch happen from the sidelines.

During that time period, there was one project I partnered on with a number of people, including my co-writer Scott Swan.  It was an animated R-rated horror film, mega-graphic and super creepy.  And at that moment, Ixtlan Pictures, Stone's production company, was looking to get into the animation business, specifically looking for material suited to adult audiences.  When we met with the executives there, we were told that Stone got bit by the bug when he was working on "Natural Born Killers" and supervised the animation for that film.  He thought there was a chance to do something no one had really done in the mainstream yet.

And for about two months, it seemed like it was a "maybe," like they were thinking about whether or not they could put an animation pipeline together, trying to wrap their heads around the real costs of the idea.  In the end, they decided not to move ahead with anything in the animation realm, and we moved on to try to find someone else to partner with us on it.

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Shanna and Abraham on 'The Glee Project'

Shanna and Abraham are two of the contestants likely to lose on 'The Glee Project'

Credit: Tyler Golden/Oxygen

'The Glee Project' recap: 'Adaptability' narrows the field

Kevin McHale guest mentors a week full of twists

If there's one thing every actor needs in the crazy world of "Glee" it's adaptability.

But before everyone settles in for their homework assignment, Aylin and Charlie have something very important to share. They've set "ground rules" in their relationship and resolve to be friends without flirting. And Charlie is hyped: "We take all this energy we used to put into things like...snuggling...and put it into kicking each others' asses. It's making both of us better."

This week's theme: Adaptability
Homework assignment: Alanis Morissette "You Oughta Know"
Guest mentor: Kevin McHale

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<p>We always knew that James Bond had a way with the ladies, but in 'Live Or Let Die,' it turns out his 'special agent' has magic powers.</p>

We always knew that James Bond had a way with the ladies, but in 'Live Or Let Die,' it turns out his 'special agent' has magic powers.

Credit: EON/MGM/UA

James Bond Declassified: File #8 - 'Live And Let Die' introduces Roger Moore

The Macca theme, the gator farm, Sheriff Pepper and more

FILE #8: "Live And Let Die"

This series will trace the cinema history of James Bond, while also examining Ian Fleming's original novels as source material and examining how faithful (or not) the films have been to his work.

Directed by Guy Hamilton
Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz
Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli


James Bond / Roger Moore
Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big / Yaphet Kotto
Solitaire / Jane Seymour
Tee Hee Johnson / Julius Harris
Felix Leiter / David Hedison
Rosie Carver / Gloria Hendry
Baron Samedi / Geoffrey Holder
Quarrel Jr. / Roy Stewart
Whisper / Earl Jolly Brown
Adam / Tommy Lane
Miss Caruso / Madeline Smith
Sheriff J.W. Pepper / Clifton James
M / Bernard Lee
Moneypenny / Lois Maxwell


It's not insignificant that this is also the first James Bond film that Michael G. Wilson, step-son to Cubby Broccoli, worked on as part of the production office.  This is a clean break in eras.  There is everything before "Live And Let Die," and there is everything after.

That said, it has been a while since I've last seen "Live and Let Die."

The main thing that's happened since the last time I saw the movie and now is that I've really gone back and read Fleming's book.  It was a book I never read during my first round of Bond titles.  My dad's library was incomplete, but there were enough that I felt like I got the point.  Re-reading some of the books starting from about the age of 20 to now, I've grown to have a very different understanding of Fleming's strengths and weaknesses.  I've also become a much more ardent fan of blaxploitation cinema and the era in which this film was made.

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<p>Chris Langham in &quot;Black Pond.&quot;</p>

Chris Langham in "Black Pond."

Credit: Entertainment One

Karlovy Vary: Variety celebrates the European directors of the future

10 Euro Directors To Watch sidebar includes 'Wrinkles' and 'Black Pond'

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic - As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, though reasonably august itself in its 47th year, has a reputation as one of the “youngest” festivals on the scene in terms of its audience and programming focus. That’s easy enough to see on the ground here: where the lofty likes of Cannes are largely inaccessible to movie fans, hordes of students and backpackers descend on the dainty Czech spa town during the weeks of the festival to do some serious film-watching.

Allowing ticketless chancers to queue outside the cinemas for last-minute access, meanwhile, ensures I haven’t been to one screening here that wasn’t packed to capacity, with many particularly keen cinephiles content to sit in the aisles when seats run out. (Overseeing staff, not nearly as paranoid about fire regulations as their US and UK counterparts, blithely take a more-the-merrier policy.) That level of enthusiasm is heartening enough for hot Cannes repeats like “Holy Motors” and “Amour.” That the kids are also cramming in for Dan Sallitt’s sober, star-free incest drama “The Unspeakable Act,” to name one crowded screening I attended this afternoon, should make Karlovy Vary the envy of many more high-profile festivals.  

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<p>&quot;The Amazing Spider-Man&quot;</p>

"The Amazing Spider-Man"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

The web slinger reboot hits theaters this holiday

The reactions to "The Amazing Spider-Man" have been kind of schizophrenic. I haven't seen it, mind you. A) Wasn't invited. B) Probably wouldn't have been able to drum up the interest if I had been. Surely these decisions, what gets made, what doesn't, they have to mean more than money. Right? Right? I guess the wheel keeps on turning, but the holiday just doesn't feel all that exciting to me at the multiplex. Anyway, I'll save all of that until after I finally DO see it (whenever that might be). For now, though, I imagine many of you have seen it or will, so offer up your thoughts in the comments section below if/when you do.

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<p>Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and John Travolta all managed to stay civilized long enough to discuss their work in Oliver Stone's new film 'Savages'</p>

Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and John Travolta all managed to stay civilized long enough to discuss their work in Oliver Stone's new film 'Savages'

Credit: HitFix

John Travolta, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson discuss being 'Savages' for Oliver Stone

Plus the most memorable Film Nerd 2.0 encounter yet

I would be the first to admit that this job comes with some pretty great built-in perks.

For the most part, those perks mean nothing to me.  When it comes to meeting people, there's a momentary pleasure if their work is important to me, but I've met so many people at this point that I can't really claim that it's a thrill.  But for my sons, there is still something magical about getting to meet the people they watch on a movie screen, especially if it's a movie that means something special to them.

I've written at length in my Film Nerd 2.0 series about the movies that have become signposts in the relationship I'm building with my sons and in the relationship that they're building with the outside world.  These movies we screen are more than just a way to pass a few hours at a time.  These movies are their cultural education, and the movies they really love end up getting spun over and over.

I'm not the only one who can pass along a movie to the boys, of course.  Their mother has her own list of significant films that she wants to share with them.  In one case, there's a film that she has probably seen a hundred times that she has very successfully passed along, and I think it is safe to say that Toshi is a full-blown fan of the movie "Grease."  When he had just learned to walk and he was still months away from anything resembling real conversational speech, his mom would turn on "Grease," and Toshi would spend the entire movie up in front of the TV, dancing along to every musical number.

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<p>The Zac Brown Band get animated by Mike Judge in the new music video for &quot;The Wind.&quot;</p>

The Zac Brown Band get animated by Mike Judge in the new music video for "The Wind."

Credit: Atlantic Records

Watch: Mike Judge directs animated clip for Zac Brown Band's 'The Wind'

Does Boomhauer make a cameo?

Hank Hill is nowhere to be found and there’s not a stapler in sight, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the new video for Zac Brown Band’s “The Wind.” Directed by “King of The Hill”  and “Office Space’s” Mike Judge, the animated clip is little bit wacky.

“Robo Redneck AKA The Six Million Dollar Honky” features a cartoon Brown out four-wheeling with his buddies when he gets accidentally shot by a hunter’s errant bullet.

Modern medicine and science step in and he’s reconstructed as a musical Iron Man, with skills far beyond playing the guitar.  That bionic hand comes in quite handy for more than popping a beer top.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Katy Mixon and Danny McBride are going to explore what happens after the happy ending in a fourth season of 'Eastbound and Down' on HBO.</p>

Katy Mixon and Danny McBride are going to explore what happens after the happy ending in a fourth season of 'Eastbound and Down' on HBO.

Credit: HBO

Exclusive: Danny McBride explains what to expect from 'Eastbound and Down' season four

What story is left for Jody Hill and his cast to tell in a fourth season?

I am never playing poker with Danny McBride.

I was just in New Orleans for a quick visit to the set of "End Of The World," a truly deranged comedy written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and while I was there, I saw Danny, and we talked for a moment about the final season of "Eastbound and Down."  At that point, nothing he said or did indicated that he was considering returning for another season, and I walked away secure in the knowledge that I had said goodbye to Kenny Powers.

But that just plain isn't true, is it?

This morning, because of yesterday's announcement that there will be another season of the show, I got on the phone to talk to Danny again and to ask him what motivated the decision.  Also, I just plain wanted to yell at him for playing coy less than 15 days ago, which made him laugh and laugh.

"Yeah, it looks like the fans are going to get a bonus round with Kenny Powers," he said, entertained at my obvious exasperation.

I told him that when I was being sent episodes of season three by HBO and I put up reviews of what I kept calling "the final season," HBO repeatedly asked me to de-emphasize that idea, that they were keeping all options open, and that they wanted more from the guys. 

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<p>Kanye West at the 2012 BET&nbsp;Awards</p>

Kanye West at the 2012 BET Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye West and Pusha T drop 'New God Flow' in full

Should this show up on the G.O.O.D. Music comp?

Kanye West gave us a little taste of "New God Flow" the other night at the BET Awards. His verse was missing the (literal) beat, for sure, but it was also lacking the track's other voice, Pusha T.

The track's lifted up with the Ghostface Killah sample from "Mighty Healthy" and sunk with Ye's penchance for a little (OK, a lot) of darkness. I love the production, and it's fitting for the GOOD crew.

But the combo feels forced. Pusha seems to be lofting some disses at Young Money and rapping about his prowess at pushing dope, while Kanye's legitimizing his "God"-like status from a different planet, where Biggie Smalls, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rodney King meet. He talks about the issues of his hometown Chicago. They're not the easiest, "coolest" rhymes compared to Pusha, but there's a level above the normal rap game.

We might not hear this one around as much as "Mercy," but it's another angle on the "G.O.O.D." Music compilation, if it does indeed end up on it.

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Tim McGraw's new single, 'Truck Yeah'

Does it get any better than the horrible title suggests?

Tim McGraw’s new single, “Truck Yeah,” lost me at the very first line: “Got Lil Wayne poppin on my iPod.”  If you’re “Hillbilly proud” or have a “little redneck blood,” as the lyrics spout, shouldn’t you be cranking Hank, Merle, or Waylon?

McGraw’s 20-year career has careened all over the place from the truly horrific early hit, “Indian Outlaw,” to the sassy sexiness of “I Like It, I Love It” and “Real Good Man”  to the deeply poignant “Angry All The Time,” “Red Rag Top” or “My Next 30 Years.”   This song barely rates above “Indian Outlaw.” And I say this as a big McGraw fan.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Anna Paquin in &quot;Margaret&quot;</p>

Anna Paquin in "Margaret"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Margaret': an interactive study guide to the poem that inspired the film

The home entertainment marketing blitz brings things full circle

"Little kids grow up discovering the world that's shown to them, and then when you become a teenager, it kind of shrinks a little bit. I think when you get past that point, one of the important things is that you see there is more to the world than yourself. Elaine May had seen an early cut of the film and she said to me, 'Only a teenager could think that she could have that much affect on the world,' which I thought was very interesting and apt and kind of touching and sad."

That was Kenneth Lonergan last year discussing not only his embattled film "Margaret" in a nutshell, but the impact Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem "Spring and Fall" had on him when conceiving the film during our lengthy interview at the height of #teammargaret. And with the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film right around the corner, things are coming full circle in the home video marketing as Fox and the folks at ThinkJam have cooked up an interactive study guide to explain all of the intricacies and connections of the film's plot to the poem.

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<p>Tom Cruise sure is well-dressed as 'Jack Reacher'</p>

Tom Cruise sure is well-dressed as 'Jack Reacher'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise kicks butt and drives real fast, but is he 'Jack Reacher'?

The first trailer raises many questions about how they're handing the Lee Childs character

One of things I was sorry to have missed at CinemaCon this spring was the Paramount presentation for "Jack Reacher," if only because I wanted to see for myself what's being done with one of my favorite ongoing characters in current fiction.

After all, I've written several times already about my hesitations involving Tom Cruise playing the role of Jack Reacher.  First and foremost, he's just plain physically wrong for the character as he exists in the books.  Reacher is an ape, a huge guy, well over six feet tall, and in almost every book that Lee Child has written about him, there's at least one moment where Reacher's size plays a part in the handling of a situation.  I spent at least a year stumping for Dwayne Johnson to play the part, and I think Joseph Manganiello would also have made a logical and interesting choice.

But let's set aside questions of scale.  Can Tom Cruise step in and play the character anyway?  Based on the trailer that Paramount released today, I think that question no longer matters, because whatever the movie is… and it could end up being a lot of fun… it's not the Jack Reacher that exists on the page.  Two minutes of footage proved conclusively that they've refigured the character so much that it's just not the same thing anymore.  This is "Tom Cruise, moral crusader with a hot car," and I have ever confidence the film will be entertaining.

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