Latest Blog Posts

<p>The cover of Lana Del Rey's &quot;Born to Die&quot;</p>
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The cover of Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die"

Can Adele hold off Lana Del Rey to make it 19 weeks atop the Billboard 200?

Who sees the highest debut in his 77 years?

Next week’s Billboard 200 will likely see the debut of a controversial newcomer at No. 2 and a legendary singer, who, at 77, land the highest bow of his career. And, oh yeah, some chick named Adele.

That’s right, Adele’s “21” grabs another week at No. 1 by a wide margin, marking its 19th non-consecutive week at the summit. This week, it tied with Garth Brooks’ “Ropin’ The Wind.”  The title is slated to sell between 100,000 and 110,000 next week.  It’s running full-steam ahead to tie the record for the most weeks at No. 1 in the 20-year SoundScan era with the “Titanic” soundtrack, which spent 20 weeks at No. 1.

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<p>For many younger viewers, Ben Gazzara will be remembered mainly from his role in 'The Big Lebowski,' but his impact on the art of film acting was enormous and stretched all the way back to the '50s.</p>

For many younger viewers, Ben Gazzara will be remembered mainly from his role in 'The Big Lebowski,' but his impact on the art of film acting was enormous and stretched all the way back to the '50s.

Credit: Universal Home Video

Cassavetes regular and 'Lebowski' star Ben Gazzara dies at age 81 in NYC

One of the great character actors is gone

Ben Gazzara was never the top box-office draw of the year.  He was never the guy every studio was dying to be in business with so he would headline blockbuster after blockbuster.  He was never the guy directors cast if they wanted the ladies to line up out the door.  But for filmmakers who wanted an actor with a quiet magnetism and an emotional weight that could not be faked, Gazzara was a treasure, and he made everything he touched more honest simply by virtue of who he was.

81 years old is hardly young, but even so, it seems unfair to lose a guy who was still working consistently and who still had that same fire that made him such a gift in so many of his roles.  It's hard for actors of a certain age to find quality material, but a guy like Gazzara had a way of taking a fairly thin role and making it count simply because he counted.  He was real in a way that many Hollywood types never are, no matter how many roles they play.  It is little wonder that as many of his films were European as American, because he was drawn to small stories, human stories, films where he was allowed to show some nuance and some soul.

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<p>Jasika Nicole of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>
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Jasika Nicole of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Making Angels'

A strong episode for Jasika Nicole, but she can't overcome the season's fundamental flaws
One of the fun parts about watching a long-running show on television is when a secondary, or even tertiary, character gets a chance to step into the foreground. As a “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fan, I loved watching an episode centered around Xander or Willow. (Not Dawn though. Blergh.) So when I heard that tonight’s “Fringe” episode, “Making Angels,” would be Astrid-centric, I did a little Snoopy dance. Jasika Nicole has done a lot of great work in a rather thankless role, and I have been in a large chorus calling for her screen time for Astrid. As much as John Noble and Joshua Jackson get credit for their onscreen chemistry, the connection between Walter and Astrid has often been equally as wonderful.
 
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<p>&quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;&nbsp;stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal.</p>

"Sons of Anarchy" stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal.

Credit: FX

FX renews 'Sons of Anarchy' through season 6

Kurt Sutter extends his deal on the motorcycle club drama for three more years

FX has extended its deal for "Sons of Anarchy" through the show's sixth season, while creator Kurt Sutter has extended his own deal through what everyone assumes will be the show's seventh and final year. 

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<p>Matthias Schoenaerts in the Belgian Oscar nominee &quot;Bullhead.&quot;</p>

Matthias Schoenaerts in the Belgian Oscar nominee "Bullhead."

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Foreign Language Film

'Bullhead,' 'Footnote,' 'In Darkness,' 'Monsieur Lazhar' and 'A Separation' 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.)

It may be the most dependably unsatisfying and upset-prone of all Oscar categories, but this year's Best Foreign Language Film race has thus far proceeded without stirring up too much of a fuss: there were few surprising inclusions or omissions in either the shortlist or the eventual nominee field. The arcane selection procedures in this category will never please everyone, but the Academy has wound up with a credible and well-balanced -- if not world-beating -- list of five films.

Given, however, that most observers would list the nominees as "'A Separation' and, uh, four other movies," people might just be saving their howls of protest for Oscar night, in the event that the critically revered, award-guzzling Iranian entry doesn't win. And however much people toss around the word "lock," the fact that voters are required to see all five nominees before making their decision means there are never any sure things in this ever-frustrating category.

The nominees are...

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<p>Katy Perry in &quot;Firework&quot;</p>

Katy Perry in "Firework"

Predicting the 2012 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year

Is it Adele's to lose?

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards are only 9 days away, Feb. 12. As they approach, I’ll be predicting the winners in key categories. Adele is the frontrunner for every award she is nominated for, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t expect some surprises along the way.

First up is Record of the Year, which is one of the “Big Four” awards, which also includes Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist. These are the general awards, which are voted on by all 12,000 or so members of the Recording Academy and they are open to artists of all genres.

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<p>Beck</p>

Beck

Sasquatch! Music Festival: Jack White tours, Tenacious D's new album and... is Beck back?

Listen to new material from Tenacious D's 'Fenix'

The lineup for the 2012 Sasquatch! music festival has been unveiled, but headliners like Jack White, Tenacious D, Bon Iver and Beck bring tidings of other news with them.

White, for one, will be performing at additional festivals plus will be announcing more tour dates in support of his solo debut "Blunderbuss." He'll be taking the stage at the Gorge in George, Wash., on May 26, and will also be heading up the Hangout Music Fest in Gulf Shores, Ala., on May 18 and to London's Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012 over June 23-24. A press release indicates the former White Stripes leader will be posting additional dates and music news soon.

"Blunderbuss" is due April 24; click here to hear White's first single "Love Interruption."

Then there's Beck, who has rarely toured in the last four or five years. His slot at the fest may indicate there are larger things at work.

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<p>Here is a round thing, for your face.</p>

Here is a round thing, for your face.

Watch: Drake's 'Practice' gets a voyeuristic, YouTube-style, sexy-time video

Breaking news: There are hot girls in Drake's employ to enhance the size... of his singles

Nothing says "pain and regret in your sweat" like an ass akin to a wavin' flag.

That's the gist of Drake's "Practice" music video, featuring the sex-time moves of Kyra Chaos, a model frequently featured in Smooth Girl magazine. If you are unfamiliar with Smooth Girl magazine, I highly recommend checking it out on a 17-inch screen, brightly lit, in a well-populated and professional setting such as a coffee shop or in and around your boss' office.

For more than three minutes, Chaos indicates to her audience what they're missing -- more specifically, what Drake's got and you not. She presents her greatest asset in front of a mirror and to the viewer, lo-fi YouTube style, in a pair of jeggings and a chopped and screwed top. Her dance is only interrupted, at the end, by the non-euphemistic entry of Drake.

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<p>In one of two realities on &quot;Awake,&quot;&nbsp;cop Jason Isaacs' wife dies in a car crash, but his son (Dylan Minnette)&nbsp;survives.</p>

In one of two realities on "Awake," cop Jason Isaacs' wife dies in a car crash, but his son (Dylan Minnette) survives.

Credit: NBC

NBC schedules 'Awake' for Thursdays, bumping 'The Firm'

Low-rated legal drama moves to Saturdays

With "The Firm" tanking badly in the ratings in NBC's once-prized Thursday at 10 p.m. timeslot, the only question was exactly when NBC would pull it and whether it would be replaced by a pair of comedies ("Community" and "Bent," perhaps?) or by NBC's only unscheduled mid-season drama: "Awake." After "The Firm" pulled a pathetic 0.8 rating last night in the adults 18-49 demographic, it was finally decision time, and the answers are as follows: 

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<p>Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers on &quot;Grey's Anatomy.&quot;</p>

Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers on "Grey's Anatomy."

Credit: ABC

The Morning Round-Up: '30 Rock,' 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Up All Night' & 'Grey's Anatomy'

Jack vs. Jack, Leonard vs. Sheldon, Chris vs. his brother and one timeline vs. another

It's morning round-up time (afternoon, really), with quick thoughts on last night's episodes of "30 Rock," "The Big Bang Theory," "Up All Night" and "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I tell Pat Riley the Funmeister says hi...

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<p>When did Jim and Pam go from being the most likable characters on &quot;The Office&quot;&nbsp;to the most annoying?</p>

When did Jim and Pam go from being the most likable characters on "The Office" to the most annoying?

Credit: NBC

'The Office' - 'Jury Duty': Father knows least

When did Jim and Pam become the worst people in the world?

I've mostly avoided writing about "The Office" this season because I didn't have anything new to say beyond what I wrote six weeks into the season. But where many of this season's episodes have just felt listless, last night's episode actually made me angry, and also made me want to talk a bit about the thing that annoyed me. So rather than ignore the episode, or give it one paragraph in a round-up post (which is coming later for "30 Rock" and a bunch of other shows), coming up just as soon as I use elaborate cross-hatching...

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<p>Madonna in &quot;Give Me All Your Luvin'&quot;</p>

Madonna in "Give Me All Your Luvin'"

Watch: Madonna, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. in 'Give Me All Your Luvin'' video

Madge and the girls have some f-u-n in time for the Super Bowl

After months of seriously promoting her film "W.E." and dropping some ballsy pull quotes on the press in recent days, it's nice to see Madonna simply have some fun.

The veteran pop star snagged "Give Me All Your Luvin'" guests M.I.A. and Nick Minaj for this football-themed clip, the two rappers donning cheerleader outfits while Madonna gets the royal treatment from a team of real tough players. The hair-flipping, lace-rocking walk-about was helmed by Megaforce, whose treatment of videos like Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" and Tame Impala's "Solitude Is Bliss" includes similar elements of the odd adventure, a little bit of cruelty and toying with dimension.

In "Luvin'," Madonna is beaming about 90% of the time. It's easy to see why. In a move that playfully panders to the NFL as it does parody it, Madge is in the middle, calling the shots, in four ferocious outfits. She throws a baby, walks on walls and brings it back to her '80s look with that Marilyn blonde knockoff. I still find M.I.A. and Nicki's contributions to be superfluous at best -- particularly with Roman reloading her "Y U Mad" sleeper line -- but it makes it feel more like a girls night out.

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