Oh my Lord of the Rings, I think I may have just seen the most ridiculous fight, well, at least during this season of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." The bar for cray-cray is pretty high on this show, but the battle that breaks out in this episode just has to be top ten if nothing else. The only thing that could have made it more insane would have been dwarf tossing or a Jell-O wrestling match, and since the battle continues into next week's episode, I can't even rule that out.
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The 18th annual Screen Actors Guild went down tonight and added, well, nothing to the conversation. Okay, maybe a little something. But before getting to the Best Actor surprise of the evening...
I had thought maybe -- just maybe -- Melissa McCarthy and all that TV love (though not enough love to yield a separate nod for "Mike & Molly") could provide an interesting Johnny Depp moment for her and her "Bridesmaids" performance. It wasn't to be.
Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer kicked off the evening with largely expected wins in the supporting actor and supporting actress categories for "Beginners" and "The Help," respectively. Most expect that they've sewn up their Oscar glory, but I think in the case of the former, the presence of Max Von Sydow in Best Picture nominee "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" makes things a bit more interesting than that, but for the most part, I do agree that the course is (and really has been) set.
"Luck" had its official debut tonight, but of course it was an episode that HBO had already aired as a sneak preview back in December, and which I wrote about at the time. Since then, I've seen all 9 first season episodes — and, as you can see in my review, I really liked them — and also talked a bit about the show with David Milch and Michael Mann.
So on the subject of the first episode, I think I'm all written out at this point. I'll be doing more extensive weekly write-ups for the remaining 8 — and, yes, I'm aware that HBO Go will be carrying the second episode immediately, but we're not going to discuss it until after it airs on HBO itself next Sunday — but for now I just want to get the discussion rolling, both for those of you seeing the show for the first time and any of you who may have watched it again after seeing it in December. The gist of the discussion back then was that only the real horseracing fans could follow everything about the Pick Six and certain other matters; if you watched it a second time, was it easier to make sense of all that? How did everyone feel about so much of the pilot being devoted not to Dustin Hoffman or Nick Nolte, but the four railbirds led by Jason Gedrick and Kevin Dunn? How did you react to what happened to that one horse in the day's final race? And how much did anyone understand (on first or second viewing) from John Ortiz as paranoid, hustling trainer Turo Escalante?
(For those who still feel confused, Vulture's Q&A might help.)
Have at it, and I'll be doing the full-length episode review thing starting a week from tonight.
It’s a big week for Madonna. In addition to playing the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb.5, she’ll preview the video for first single, “Give Me All Your Luvin” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. on “American Idol” on Feb. 2. The full video will be debut on Madonna’s You Tube Channel Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. EST.
“Give Me All Your Luvin” is the first single from “MDNA,” which comes out March 26, according to a release posted on Madonna’s website Sunday. Madonna, Martin Solveig, Minaj and M.I.A. are the track’s co-writers and Solveig and Madonna are the co-producers.
1) Adele: In the never-ending story of “21,” the album celebrates its one-year anniversary nestled at No. 1 on the U.K. charts and is only four weeks away in the U.S. from the most weeks at No. 1 in SoundScan history. In other news, Adele becomes the top baby name of 2012.
2) President Obama: After he sang a portion of Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together” at a Jan. 19 fundraiser, sales of the song skyrocketed 490%. He could singlehandedly save the music business if he opened every public engagement with a song.
3) Diddy: According to Broadcast & Cable he is launching Revolt, a music-themed cable network, which will bow on 12/12/12. Will Danity Kane reform for the launch?
4) Etta James: Regrettably and very sadly, dead. However, her music lives beautifully on as her album sales rise 378% following her death. A voice as wondrous as hers can never be silenced.
5) Cher: Not dead.
6) Irving Azoff: He tops Billboard’s list of the Power 100. As if there were any doubt.
7) Vevo: Will the music video channel leave YouTube for Facebook? All hail Mark Zuckerberg. Can’t wait to see what happens with that IPO.
8) iTunes: Sales in 2011 rose a staggering 55% to $6 billion...one 99 cent download at a time.
9) Ne-Yo: He becomes the latest artist to want to run things from the other side of the desk. In addition to switching from Island Def Jam as a recording artist, he has moved his Compound Entertainment to Motown, where he will now be senior VP of A&R. That’s Mr. Ne-Yo to you.
10) Bruce Springsteen: Ticket demand for his “Wrecking Ball” tour wrecked TicketMaster’s website, locking out fans trying to purchase tickets. Forever and always The Boss.
SANTA BARBARA - Tonight brought the second tribute of this year's Santa Barbara film fest, a spotlight for "Beginners" star Christopher Plummer and the festival's highest honor: the Modern Master Award.
The evening was moderated by Deadline columnist Pete Hammond, who is a perfect fit for this kind of honoree with his own personal obsessive classic film knowledge and considerations. Plummer told Hammond and the captivated audience a number of wonderful stories throughout the evening, starting at the beginning with his awakening to the arts.
He was encouraged at a young age in Montreal to seek out everything that would play the local cinemas, any kind of theater or ballet, etc. He gravitated toward it quickly and he remembered nursing many a cold beer at this or that club, seeing a young Judy Garland in his youth, a young Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf, even. "I thought, 'This is the greatest life,'" he recalled. And soon he made it his own.
And with that, I think you can just about call this Oscar race -- if you weren't willing to do so already. Fabricate uncertainty if you like by remembering the last time the winner of the award didn't take the Oscar (it was Rob Marshall, nine years ago), but in winning the Directors' Guild of America Award last night, "The Artist" and Michel Hazanavicius have enjoyed their biggest and most telling victory yet on the circuit.
There was speculation in some quarters that immense peer affection for previous DGA honoree Martin Scorsese could see him pull off an upset, but I'm not sure how realistic a prospect that really was -- when the industry embraces a frontrunner as warmly as they have "The Artist," and it happens to be a film that hinges on its showy directorial conceits, there's little reason to suspect they won't reward the helmer as well.
The Director's Guild of America announced their 2012 DGA Awards this evening and it featured a showdown in the feature film category that had every pundit and Oscar watcher this side of the Mississippi had their eye on: Michel Hazanavicus of "The Artist" vs. the legendary Martin Scorsese of "Hugo" fame. With the Producer's Guild having already awarded "The Artist" their best picture equivalent last weekend if "The Artist" could take the DGA honor its would pretty much lock up best picture.*
*The SAG Awards are expected to go to the more star-friendly ensembles of "The Help" or "The Descendants" or even "Bridesmaids" Sunday night.
The DGA Awards will be going down tonight, and the smart money remains on Michel Hazanavicius. But speaking of directors, I hadn't quite taken note yet of the fact that two of the Academy's nominees in the field are inevitable no-shows for the event. Stu VanAirsdale is way ahead of me, but let me add a few nuggets.
Woody Allen, of course, has only attended the Oscars once. It was a surprise appearance six months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the writer/director came out to introduce a Nora Ephron-directed package of clips featuring New York cinema in a show of solidarity for the city.
My colleague Steve Pond tells the story of being backstage and seeing "Nora Ephron" on the rundown, a placeholder for someone, but for whom, no one knew. It wasn't until Allen walked by decked out in his tux that everyone suddenly went, "Oh, shit."
Typically blooper reels feature actors breaking out of their created roles. There may be some unforeseen accident on set, a stray boom falling into frame, performers losing their handle on the dialogue (or language in general), unexpected bouts of Tourette syndrome, uncontrolled laughing during the funeral scene or otherwise unusable, though amusing, takes. But it is always clear that, for that moment, Fred Friendly (or whoever the character is) has dropped away and George Clooney (or whichever actor) has reemerged.
What is striking about the blooper reel from Michel Hazanavicius's “The Artist” that Coming Soon made available yesterday is that it is difficult to discern the moment where George Valentin/Peppy Miller disappear and Jean Dujardin/Bérénice Bejo emerge. Sure, when Uggie the dog fails to follow a command, it is obvious that the shot has not gone as planned (it is also more than a little bit adorable). When poor Bejo face plants in the midst of a sequence, we know it wasn’t an “I meant to do that.” But the distinction between actor and character is infinitesimal at best.
SANTA BARBARA - The tributes at this year's Santa Barbara Film Festival kicked off with a bang tonight as Viola Davis took the stage at the Arlington Theatre to be fluffed up for her Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. And in my four or five years of attending the festival, it was one of the better productions I've seen.
After Davis's "The Help" co-star Octavia Spencer introduced the actress, my Oscar Talk colleague Anne Thompson served as moderator for the evening -- her first stint in this format, and she did a great job. But Davis also makes it very easy with her organic and incredibly thoughtful responses. Truly, she commands this kind of setting so well, offering up authentic, specific insights into her process as an actress, and not in a sound byte way, but with a kind of matter-of-fact poignancy that really is exceptional. She's "on" in ways other stars only hope to be in such a scenario.