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<p>Robert De Niro practically pops out of the screen for a round of Russian Roulette on the astounding new Universal Blu-ray edition of 'The Deer Hunter'</p>

Robert De Niro practically pops out of the screen for a round of Russian Roulette on the astounding new Universal Blu-ray edition of 'The Deer Hunter'

Credit: Universal Home Video

One Thing I Love Today: Universal's Blu-ray program to celebrate their centennial is a winner

Why don't more studios celebrate with this kind of dedication?

"The Deer Hunter."  "Charade."  "To Kill A Mockingbird."  Over the last few weeks, it's felt like a bit of an avalanche of titles have been arriving at my house from Universal, all on Blu-ray, all part of their 100th year celebration, and so far, my only question is why more studios don't celebrate their legacies like this.

Universal has gone above and beyond with these releases.  I know that some of the films, like "The Blues Brothers," have already been out on Blu-ray, but most of them are new to the format, and the studio appears to be shelling out for some full-scale restorations.  I have not yet seen "All Quiet On The Western Front," but I've heard amazing things about the work they did on it, and I can vouch for the "Deer Hunter" transfer, which has never been better.

The sad truth about Hollywood is that as much as they pay lip service to legacy and nostalgia, they are very bad about taking care of their treasures.  One only need look at the way the various movie palaces of Los Angeles have been treated over the years to see how little history means to most of these people.  Maybe it's because it's a job where there is a high turnover rate and a near-constant game of executive square-dance going on.  Maybe it's because the people who work at studios now aren't the ones who made those older films, so there's no emotional attachment.  Whatever the case, I've been frustrated by this attitude since I arrived in LA in 1990.

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<p>&nbsp;Taylor Swift - Seussafile.</p>

 Taylor Swift - Seussafile.

Watch: Taylor Swift turns on the charm to discuss her work in 'The Lorax'

Guess who our interviewer is smitten with now

I like being surprised by someone when I walk into an interview.

I do not pay much attention to pop music of any kind at this point.  I have a few trusted friends who recommend things to me that I might like listening to, and I have older artists whose new work I'll pick up because I'm a fan, and every now and then, something punches through the haze of pop culture and catches my attention.  For the most part, though, I know names more than I know the actual sound, and that was certainly the case with Taylor Swift.

I know who she is.  I know she's very young.  I know she has a reputation for writing songs about dudes who have done her wrong.  Beyond that, she's not really on my radar.  That's not a negative judgment on my part… it's just a confession that when it comes to blind spots, she occupies one of mine.

So when we sat down at the recent press day for "The Lorax" to talk about her work in the movie as Audrey, the girl whose obsession with trees kicks off the quest by Ted (Zac Efron) to find one for her, I walked in a blank slate.  I was there to talk to an actor about her latest film, end of story.

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<p>Bill of &quot;Survivor: One World&quot;</p>
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Bill of "Survivor: One World"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: One http://www.hitfix.com/admin/blogs/the-fien-print/posts/recap-survivor-one-world-one-world-is-out-the-window/edit#World' - 'One World Is Out the Window'

Will the Women shake out of their downward spiral?
Pre-credit sequence. The Women are back at camp and Alicia is trying to restore Kat's self-worth. Chelsea, kinda acknowledging that maybe keeping Kat wasn't the best of all possible moves, figures that all they need is something positive to happen so that they can gain confidence. A storm is brewing and the men are feeling charitable, inviting the women to come to their shelter. Or at least Colton makes that invitation, but I guess we assume Colton isn't acting as a complete free agent.. The women are determined to remain autonomous, but the rain starts falling and it starts getting colder and the women have no tarp and a pretty much no roof. 
 
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"Top Chef"

"Top Chef"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'Top Chef: Texas' - 'Finale'

It's a battle of good vs. evil between Paul and Sarah

We're down to the final two -- Paul and Sarah. I'm sure they're both obscenely talented, but I'm rooting for Paul, simply because he isn't a bitchy mean girl. Not the best formula, but hey, until they create taste-o-vision, it's not like you have a lot to go on with "Top Chef." 

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<p>(from left) James Caan, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and John Cazale in &quot;The Godfather&quot;</p>

(from left) James Caan, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and John Cazale in "The Godfather"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Mad Men' stars promote 'The Godfather' on AMC

Plus a remembrance of my first look at Coppola's masterpiece

Spinning off of Roth's piece this morning about the "Godfather" re-release, I just flipped it over to AMC and see that the film is airing there now. It'll show again at midnight.

According to Entertainment Weekly, "The Godfather: Part II" will air on Tuesday and Thursday at 8 pm and 12:30 am. "The trilogy will then be aired in its entirety on Friday, March 2, from 9:30 am through 10 pm. The celebration culminates on Saturday with AMC’s premiere of the digitally-restored version of 'The Godfather Saga' beginning at 10 am." You can learn more about the latter here. It's awesome.

Anyway, in a nice bit of self-promotion, AMC has tapped stars of its hit series "Mad Men" to promote the film, its 40th anniversary and the channel's special presentations. Jon Hamm, Jared Harris and Vincent Kartheiser are tapped for comments. I also saw "Breaking Bad"'s Giancarlo Esposito thrown in there, too.

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<p>Matthew McConaughey in &quot;Killer Joe.&quot;</p>

Matthew McConaughey in "Killer Joe."

Credit: LD Entertainment

Friedkin's 'Killer Joe' gets an NC-17

Meanwhile, Weinsteins continue to protest R rating for 'Bully'

It may be Cannes that generates all the media-friendly controversy, but as it turns out, it was the Venice Film Festival that was quietly hatching the eventual NC-17 films. First came "Shame," which received the MPAA's most severe rating for its plentiful sexual activity and generous exposure of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan's privates. Now, a less celebrated Venice title, William Friedkin's adaptation of the Tracy Letts play "Killer Joe," has been similarly branded ahead of its summer release Stateside.

LD Entertainment, the Friedkin film's new-on-the-block distributor, plans to appeal the MPAA's decision, which was made on the grounds of "graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality." They believe "Killer Joe" is closer to R-rated material; I agree with them.

The film, a nastily funny if stylistically clumsy black comedy starring Matthew McConaughey as a grossly corrupt cop hired by Emile Hirsch's scuzzy Southern hick to kill off a family member, is casually violent, kinkily erotic and features Gina Gershon doing inappropriate things with fried chicken. You probably wouldn't take your mom to see it.

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<p>Marilyn Monroe adorns the official poster for this year's Cannes Film Festival.</p>

Marilyn Monroe adorns the official poster for this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Credit: Cannes Film Festival

Cannes celebrates its 65th birthday with Marilyn

Unveiling of the official poster reminds us the festival is only 11 weeks away

With the long slog of the Oscar season only just out the way, one would like to put off the 2012 awards conversation for as long as possible. Yet the Cannes Film Festival is only 11 weeks away, and with a higher-than-usual presence of Croisette fare in the last Oscar race -- Best Picture winner "The Artist" debuted there, as did "The Tree of Life" and "Midnight in Paris" -- people's minds will start wandering in that direction sooner rather than later.

As if mindful of the connection, Cannes organizers chose this post-Oscar week to reveal the official poster for this year's fest, and it follows the pattern set by the last few festival posters of adopting an iconic screen beauty as a festival mascot of sorts. Monica Vitti served that purpose in 2009, Juliette Binoche (en route to a Best Actress win) in 2010, Faye Dunaway last year -- and for their 65th, they've gone for broke with Marilyn Monroe blowing out their birthday candles. It's a pretty enough poster, but based around such a familiarly iconic shot that it doesn't seem as emphatic a feat of branding as it should be.

Anyway, job done -- we're aware the festival is closer than it seems, and our appetite is duly whetted. Check out the poster below.  

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Kelly Clarkson performs at the 2012 Grammys.
Kelly Clarkson performs at the 2012 Grammys.
Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' shows its strength on the Billboard Hot 100

Is it enough to catapult the tune back to No. 1?

Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” gains back its strength as the song vaults back up to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after slipping to No. 4.

But the real story on the chart this week is the success of British boy band The Wanted, who gain their first Top 10 hit as “Glad You Came” soars 23-5. The Wanted should be very glad that “Glee” covered the song last week, helping catapult it up the chart.

Between the former “American Idol” champ and the latest recipients of “Glee’s” largesse are Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain,” which stays at No. 2, fun.’s “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae, which gains three spots to rise 6-4  and last week’s No. 1, Katy Perry’s “Part of Me,” which falls to No. 4, according to Billboard.

The bottom half of the Top 10 is basically rearranging the players with no significant leaps:  Rihanna’s “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris move 8-6, Flo Rida’s “Goo Feeling” moves 12-7,  David Guetta’s “Turn Me On” featuring Nicki Minaj fires back 11-8, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa’s “Young, Wild & Free” zips 14-9 and Minaj’s “Starships” slips one to No. 10

Why do so many tunes slide back up into the Top 10 after falling out? The Grammys. That’s why. Last week, a number of tracks saw huge digital gains following the Grammys so the chart went a little askew. Those tracks have now fallen out of the Top 10 and the previous hits have reoccupied this top 10 spots.

Also, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” which had climbed to No. 3 following her Feb. 11 death, dives to No. 30.

Three songs, at least of one of them destined for the Top 10, debut on the chart: B.o.B.’s “So Good” comes in at No. 11, Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” at No. 24 and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” at No. 39.
 

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<p>This is Jessica Sanchez, the one &quot;American Idol&quot; female contestant you won't confuse with all of the rest.</p>
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This is Jessica Sanchez, the one "American Idol" female contestant you won't confuse with all of the rest.

Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Semifinals - The Women Perform

After a lackluster night for the 'Idol' Men, could the Women shine?

Tuesday night's "American Idol" wasn't a very good showcase for the season's Top 13 Men.

However, it was a perfectly decent showcase for my ability to do a live-blog for a performance show. I was a bit pitchy at first, but I worked it out and the experience proved that, really, I could recap the phone book.

Thus? I'm ready to go with another live-blog for Wednesday's episode celebrating the Top 12  (unless they sneak in a 13th) Women.

Click through...

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<p>&quot;West of Memphis&quot; producer Peter Jackson and director Amy Berg at the Sundance premiere of the film</p>

"West of Memphis" producer Peter Jackson and director Amy Berg at the Sundance premiere of the film

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Sony Classics picks up Peter Jackson and Amy Berg's 'West of Memphis'

Could it be in the hunt next season?

I'd be curious to know how close "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" was to winning this year's Best Documentary Feature prize (which ultimately went to "Undefeated"). It would have been nice to see Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky up there accepting an award for a body of work that saved a man's life.

Some speculated that the presence of Amy Berg's "West of Memphis," produced by Peter Jackson, took some of the sting out of the final film's punch. It bowed at Sundance last month with exclusive insights and interviews in the saga of the West Memphis Three. It also played the Santa Barbara fest a week later.

Sony Pictures Classics has announced today that it has acquired US rights to the film, which could yet pop up in the film awards season and extend the much-need spotlight for this miscarriage of justice.

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<p>Mariah Carey </p>

Mariah Carey

Credit: AP Photo

Mariah Carey plans first post-babies concert for March 1

How can you get in on the action? Is new music coming?

Mariah Carey’s most devoted fans will get the chance to see her March 1 in her first post-baby concert.

Carey will entertain her little lambs in a private show at New York’s Gotham Hall. To attend, you must be a member of her Honey B. Fly fan club and be 21 or over (or accompanied by an adult).

Though the show is extremely limited, we’re hearing less than 100, it will be streamed online live. It is part of the Plot Your Escape concert series. Simultaneous concerts by Maroon 5 in Chicago, Cee Lo Green in Los Angeles and Mary J. Blige in New Orleans will also occur.  P. Diddy will appear with Carey.

No word on if she’ll debut new material, but there’s a chance. She tweeted earlier this week that she was recording vocals on a new song.

To watch the concerts, just click here at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST on March 1.

While a tour does not seem to be in the offering, Carey has also announced that she will perform a the Mawazine Festival in Morocco on May 26. That seems altogether fitting given that one of her twins is named Morocco.
 

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<p>WZRD</p>

WZRD

KId Cudi miffed at 'weak' label' over WZRD release: 5 problems with his rant

Bridging that gap between hip-hop and rock audiences is hard, Cudder

Kid Cudi wants audiences to know that his current project WZRD -- which just released its self-titled set -- is not a side project. However, it seems his problem with Universal Republic is that the "weak ass label" is treating it as though it were a side project.

WZRD is a collab between Cudi and Dot da Genius, who has worked with the rapper-slash-rocker since 2006.
Kid Cudi Tweeted some dismay this week that Universal only shipped 55,000 units of "WZRD" to physical retailers. In a series of Tweets:


Ok so just a heads up, my weak ass label only shipped 55k physicals cuz they treated this like some indie side project tax [sic] right off.

So i apologize on behalf of my weak ass major label. And I apologize for the lack of promo, again, my weak ass major label

They tried to rush me thru this so i can just give em another MOTM ["Man on the Moon"], but guess what? F*ck that, next album is WZRD. MOTM3 on hold til 2014

So its def gonna be tough to find one in the stores guys, I'm sorry about that.

Im lettin Universal Republic have it, f*ck it. What they gon' do, spank me?? hahahaha

AND Teleport 2 Me, Jamie aint on the radio!!!! like helloooooooooo????? HIT HIT HIT!!


Cudder (real name: Scott Miscudi) was also driven to shaming some talkative attendees at the "WZRD" listening party in New York last week.

"When two individuals who are putting their life out there through song and they ask for your attention, you give it to them," Cudi told the crowd. "You came here for a purpose... to hear our music. So f*cking listen to it because we're trying to educate you on what we're doing... it's as simple as that!"

Hey, I'd hate that too, if it happened to me. But aside from his fans' inattentions at that event, Kid Cudi seems to be suffering from unrealistic expectations. Below, I outline some problems I see with his expressed misgivings:

1) It's hard to get a hip-hop following to follow you to rock. Look at Universal labelmate Lil Wayne and "Rebirth." That album sold a fraction of what his rap efforts did, and Weezy is one of the biggest names in pop recording today. Kid Cudi has plenty of rock influences in his hip-hop records, but that's what "Man on the Moon: The End of Day" and "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager" were: hip-hop records. He's picked up guitars at his concerts, but that's not what he's known for. He may want to "educate" listeners on expanding the boundaries of guitar and urban music, but they're not forced to go there with him. Lil Wayne may start skating on a half-pipe at his shows, but that's not why folks are there.

2) Even for hip-hop fans who go with him there, they'd have to have enough exposure to the name WZRD. That wasn't even the final name for the duo until the latter half of 2011, and he'd already changed the name once. Nobody knows who Dot da Genius is, so that doesn't help with two parties earning the one visibility. WZRD wasn't mentioned through Cudi's other Twitter handle; it's being promoted by Kid Cudi himself as something different than Kid Cudi. If that's his game, how could Universal help but follow suit and treat it as a separate entity?

3) Breaking through to rock audiences from scratch is hard. Cudi earned his name because of his "alternative" status, with some material veering outside the normal rap zone. Same goes for rock listeners, and going to where they are. Certainly, it was up to Universal Republic to promote and market partly to rock audiences with this Pixies and Nirvana-inspired effort, but it's not like "Teleport 2 Me, Jamie" was going to be an instant radio hit. Has Cudder even looked at a commercial radio playlist recently?

4) There is no such thing as Universal releasing an "indie" side project. WZRD would probably do better in the hands of an indie, considering the genre and the listenership. It was up to Cudi to sign the line to a label that will support his creative endeavors no matter the genre. Universal isn't a non-profit organization: of course they want albums that sell in excess of 100,000 copies in their early weeks of release, which MotM I and II did. They've done their research...

5) …and according to a report, the number of physical copies that Universal shipped was realistic. Billboard spoke to retail experts, who agreed that buyers would be split between digital and brick-and-mortar purchase, and 55,000 sounds about right. Of course, if Universal put a ton of cash and a few extra months out for WZRD, then those numbers would be better. You could say that about any album. But Universal knows where the money's at. Cudi said that promo and release was rushed, but he at no point mentioned that its quality was compromised, only its sales. (Consider, too, it leaked six days out from release.) Cudi wants to cash a fat paycheck as much as Universal does, but the latter has done the numbers crunch and wanted to move forward, regardless of how good an album it is.

I'm not condoning how traditional major labels do business and treat art and artists. I like "WZRD," though I feel it could have been a little fleshier, a little more developed. It is a perfectly fine album, and if you like your garage rock a little loopy and you love Cudi's voice and raps, you give it a try. I'd hate to think that someone who wants to buy it would have trouble finding it (though look at what consumers have done to the consolidation of record stores already).

However, Cudi's expectations and complaints are shaped by his passion for this project, without similar consideration of its logistics. Now he's telling his fans what to expect, if he has his way: more WZRD, less MotM.

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