Latest Blog Posts

<p>Katie Couric, Meryl Streep and director Lee Hirsch at a March 20 special screening of &quot;Bully&quot;&nbsp;in New York City.</p>

Katie Couric, Meryl Streep and director Lee Hirsch at a March 20 special screening of "Bully" in New York City.

Credit: AP Photo/Kristina Bumphrey

'Bully' director reflects on the grassroots movements his new doc has spawned

Lee Hirsch grateful for contributing to a national debate on two issues

A pleasant surprise at the box office this past weekend was the limited debut of "Bully." Normally, Lee Hirsch's documentary would have generated a significant amount of press just because of its timely subject matter, but a very public battle over the MPAA's unexpected R-rating for the film (due to language) turned things up a notch. While the film has become a centerpiece for a national conversation about bullying of kids in America whether in school or in your local neighborhood, the latter news resulted in unexpected support including a campaign from teenager Katy Butler whose change.org petition to convince the MPAA to drop the film's rating ruling to PG-13 has garnered over 500,000 signatures so far.  A passion project for Harvey Weinstein, who acquired the picture at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, the doc hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles this weekend unrated and grossed a stellar $115,000 or $23,000 per screen. 

Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

 

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 122

Dan and Alan talk 'Magic City,' 'Scandal,' 'Shameless,' 'Mad Men' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys and Girls. 
 
It's time for a late-afternoon installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, pushed a little bit because I needed to watch "Mad Men" and then a little bit more because Skype problems sabotaged two segments. This would not have happened if we'd won MegaMillions last week and upgraded our technology. Boo.
 
Anyway, it's an extremely packed show, featuring reviews of "Scandal," "Best Friends Forever" and "Magic City," plus the new season of "Nurse Jackie." We also discussed the "Shameless" finale and, of course, last night's "Mad Men."
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Best Friends Forever" (00:02:15 - 00:12:00)
"Scandal" (00:12:00 - 00:25:20)
"Magic City" (00:25:20 - 00:41:10)
"Nurse Jackie" (00:41:10 - 00:50:55)
Listener Mail: "Community" vs. Chevy Chase (00:51:15 - 00:59:45)
"Shameless" finale (00:59:45 - 01:10:45)
"Mad Men" (01:10:50 - 01:31:45)

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.

Read Full Post
<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: AP Photo

Adele will drop a new single in 2012... is it for James Bond?

Or will it be in advance of a new album for next year?

There have been many various reports about when we217;ll get new music from Adele: first, it sounded like she was taking off five years, then she was getting right back into the studio and now, reports are that she will release a new song this year.

The Grammy winner told French radio station, NRJ, that she will likely release a new song at the end of 2012. “But then it depends on how fast I write other new songs,” she said (courtesy of Spinner).  The big question is if she is referring to an entirely new song or if she means the theme to the new James Bond movie, "Skyfall."  She has never officially confirmed that she is recording the movie theme, although there have been rumors that she and "21" producer Paul Epworth were collaborating on the 007 tune. Epworth is currently producing John Legend's new album.

A full new album is probably at least two years away, she revealed, and added that her dream collaborator is Beyonce

In the meantime, “21,” which is No. 2 on the Billboard 200 this week, has moved up to the sixth all-time best-selling album in Adele’s native U.K. It surpasses Dire Strait’s “Brothers in Arms.”

Read Full Post
<p>So many fonts! Nicki Minaj's &quot;Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded&quot;</p>

So many fonts! Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"

Credit: Cash Money/Young Money/Universal Republic

Review: Nicki Minaj's 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded'

Multiple personalities slaughtered by the company she keeps

It’s been said before, but it’s worth reiterating, especially in consideration of “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded”: Nicki Minaj is a rapper, a better rapper than she is a singer. Let the rapper rap.

The Young Money/Cash Money artist does much of that in the first half of “Reloaded,” a confoundingly long album of 19 tracks. The latter half is devoted to Nicki Minaj, Pop Star, a calculated configuration with an evident desire to throw more than one’s fair share at the wall to see what sticks. The “Roman Reloaded” title flimsily attracts fans to its core conceit, the fleshing-out of Minaj’s trash-talking alter-ego Roman, a loose fetter that falls away with each overwrought play for top 40 airplay.
 
I’m not saying it’s lame to experiment, that any single artist should be confined to any one genre by the influence of any single source. Her former hit “Super Bass” is a good example of working her lane and still getting paid and, sadly, a track that serves more at a frustrating anomaly than a guide for great expectations on “Reloaded.”
Read Full Post
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 122: 'Magic City,' 'Scandal,' 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Mad Men' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 122: 'Magic City,' 'Scandal,' 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Mad Men' & more

Dan and Alan also review NBC's 'Best Friends Forever,' talk Dan Harmon vs. 'Community' and the 'Shameless' finale

The

"Mad Men" season means the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast will continue running long for a while, especially when we have a week filled with so many premieres, from shows we both like ("Scandal," "Nurse Jackie" season 4) to shows we're both apathetic about ("Best Friends Forever") to shows we're very much split on ("Magic City"). Plus, we delve into all the recent reports of a "Community" feud between Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase.

The line-up: 

"Best Friends Forever" (00:02:15 - 00:12:00)
"Scandal" (00:12:00 - 00:25:20)
"Magic City" (00:25:20 - 00:41:10)
"Nurse Jackie" (00:41:10 - 00:50:55)
Listener Mail: "Community" vs. Chevy Chase (00:51:15 - 00:59:45)
"Shameless" finale (00:59:45 - 01:10:45)
"Mad Men" (01:10:50 - 01:31:45)
 
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.
Read Full Post
<p>Daniel Radcliffe may have been part of the commercial success of this spring's 'The Woman In Black,' but Hammer Films is betting they can lure viewers in for a follow-up as well.</p>

Daniel Radcliffe may have been part of the commercial success of this spring's 'The Woman In Black,' but Hammer Films is betting they can lure viewers in for a follow-up as well.

Credit: CBS Films/Hammer

Hammer's horror hit 'Woman In Black' gets next installment as company begins expanding

The classic horror studio starts to find its legs commercially and creatively

One of the great traditions of Hammer Studios is that when you have a hit, you make a follow-up.  As a result, I'm not shocked to hear that they announced today that Hammer is going to begin development on "The Woman In Black: Angels Of Death," the next installment in the story begun in their hit spring movie, "The Woman In Black."

Daniel Radcliffe's first major post-"Harry Potter" performance may have had something to do with the film's international success, but before there was a film, there was a book, and then there was a stage show, both of which were also very successful.  There was meat on the bones to begin with, and this wasn't just some cheap cash-in horror film.  Hammer's approach to film series has never been to just make the typical sequels, either, so it makes sense that they'd push the definition with this series as well.

For horror fans, the return of Hammer to the world of international production is a welcome event, and even if they did release the risible "The Resident," they also were part of the very well-made "Let Me In" and "Wake Wood," which both signaled that there were people involved in this new version of the veteran British company that were determined to try harder, who respected the legacy that their company represents.

Read Full Post
<p>Scotty McCreery</p>

Scotty McCreery

Credit: AP Photo

6 Things You Didn't See at the 2012 ACM Awards: Taylor Swift, Scotty McCreery

How are 'The Voice's' Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert celebrating their anniversary?

While most of the action took place on the stage for the Academy of Country Music Awards last night, there were some backstage moments that gave some insight into the artists’ off-stage life, including how reigning male and female vocalists of the year, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, plan to spend their one-year anniversary. (Relive the ACMs with our live blog)

*Taylor Swift, who snared the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year award, contemplated how to reward her adorable Scottish Fold cat, Meredith, who appeared in this video Swift made soliciting votes. “What should I give her? Milk or something to celebrate? Is that what they do?,” she asked reporters in the press room. Someone smartly suggested tuna, which seemed like a winner to Swift. “We should celebrate. The cat definitely helped with the viral video. I don’t think she knows that she helped, but I’m excited about it.” Swift added she is “intensely” writing the new record now, her follow-up to “Speak Now.”  “I hope it’s good. Keep your fingers crossed.. I would love it if it was good.” 

Read Full Post
<p>Katharine McPhee in &quot;Smash&quot;</p>

Katharine McPhee in "Smash"

Credit: NBC

'Smash' soundtrack will crash into stores on May 1

Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty, plus Nick Jonas and more

Music from the first season of “Smash” will come out May 1. Columbia Records, the same label that handles “Glee’s” audio output and has been putting the songs from each “Smash”episode on iTunes, will put out “The Music of ‘Smash:’ Season 1.”

The soundtrack, track listing below, will include many of the originals, penned for the show by Grammy winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and “Touch Me,” which OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder wrote specifically for Katharine McPhee’s character, Karen Cartwright. There are also covers of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter Than The Sun,” and Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out.”

Read Full Post
<p>Whitney Houston in &quot;Sparkle&quot;</p>

Whitney Houston in "Sparkle"

Watch the first trailer from 'Sparkle,' Whitney Houston's cinematic swan song

Jordin Sparks and her 'sisters' answer to Houston's Emma, a mom with her own singing past

In my interview with Whitney Houston last fall, she spoke much of the themes of motherhood in her forthcoming remake of the 1976 film "Sparkle." In the first look at the film in the newly released trailer, it seems to feature a lot of that, and what it is to be a teenager and a rising star.

The film clip debuted this morning, featuring its namesake played by Jordin Sparks, plus other top cast like Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tike Sumpter, Derek Luke and -- yup! -- Cee Lo Green. Houston appears as the Williams sisters' sassy mom, who considers her past as a rising star that never reached her potential.

The film promises to integrate music from the Motown era, plus new compositions from R. Kelly with input from executive producer Whitney Houston herself. The trailer doesn't indicate yet what the late singer's big number in the film will look like, but with all that talent, it's not a question "what" song, but just how many.

Read Full Post
<p>Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson on the set of &quot;The Avengers&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson on the set of "The Avengers"

Credit: Disney/Marvel

Set Visit: Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson do battle in 'The Avengers'

HitFix was in NYC-by-way-of-Albuquerque to watch Hawkeye fight invaders
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The Santa Fe Railway Shops, a collection of mammoth warehouses, were designed to service the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.
 
Once the city's largest employer, trains haven't run through the Santa Fe Railway Shops since 1970.
 
It's a tremendously evocative physical space that has become one of the centerpieces of Albuquerque's film production infrastructure.
 
Unused rail lines going nowhere approach the building, with its multiple stories of mismatched glass window panes, some green, some gray, some missing entirely, all lending the inside light a broken quality, at once artistic and derelict. That light is laden with particulates that are probably a mixture of soot, sawdust, regular dust and airborne rust from the crisscrossing steel girders supporting the building and the lines of precariously perched walkways and beams designed to allow for easy access to all parts of the locomotive in years long since past. 
 
You could pay the best art directors in the world budgets of untold millions and they would never be able to replicate the vastness, authenticity and ingrained character of the indoor area, which has become so disconnected from its original purpose and its original purpose so disconnected from our contemporary frame of reference that it could be anything or anywhere.
 
On a warm June day in 2011, "anywhere" is "Grand Central Station." 
 
Thanks to "The Avengers," one of the buildings of the Santa Fe Railway Shops has been transformed into a block of New York City, but it's immediately clear that something horrible has happened.
 
Read Full Post
<p>Joss Whedon on the set of &quot;The Avengers&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Joss Whedon on the set of "The Avengers"

Credit: Disney/Marvel

Celebrating Joss Whedon's birthday on the set of 'The Avengers'

'Buffy,' 'Firefly' auteur shares his vision for his new Marvel epic
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Professional decorum dictates that there's almost never an appropriate time to sing to an interview subject.
 
[I would even accept the elimination of the "almost" from the previous sentence.]
 
But sometimes, Joss Whedon walks into a trailer of reporters and looks at the standard sea of digital and tape recorders and observes, "All of these for me? That's weird that you all got me the same thing for my birthday."
 
At that point, a collective serenade of "Happy Birthday" -- without advance warning, nobody paid the licensing fee -- becomes a muscle reflex as much as anything. 
 
The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly" auteur reaches us toward the end of a two-day June visit to the set of "The Avengers" in Albuquerque, arriving after the stars of the film, one and all, have spoken nothing but praise for his work on the Marvel project, particularly its script.
 
Tom Hiddleston, reprising his "Thor" role as the power-hungry Loki calls Whedon "a brilliant writer and a brilliant storyteller."
 
Chris Hemsworth -- Thor himself -- previously worked with Whedon on "Cabin in the Woods" and, like Hiddleston, he opts to repeat his superlatives, raving, "He's great, he's got a great sense of humor."
 
Jeremy Renner adds, "There's no bigger fan than Joss of this world and he's a really good writer and he had a massive task to write this movie and direct it, massive. I don't know anybody who could really write this and really put in all the stuff that he really wanted to put in, cause he honors all these characters so much."
 
Even Robert Downey Jr., who takes pride in his tendency toward on-set script revisions revisions, admits that "It wasn't broke, so it's not like we had to fix things," calling it a relief and adding, "It's nice when the car kinda drives all by itself."
 
We begin the interview by mentioning all of the praise for his work.
 
"And now it's my turn," the birthday boy says.
 
I don't need to tell Whedon fans that that quote is mock-bluster and that you'd be hard pressed to more self-deprecating storyteller, especially not one who has been handed the keys to the expensive luxury car that is "The Avengers," the crown jewel of Marvel's burgeoning movie empire. 
 
Whedon won't hesitate to admit the learning curve that a film of this scale has required. For example, he isn't shy about the reasons "The Avengers" was shot in 2D and will be post-converted to 3D. 
 
"We were going to shoot in 3D and everybody said, 'No, the new rigs move fast and they are small. It's all going to be great' and I shot the tag for 'Thor' in 3D with that setup and after we lost three and a half hours to lens changes and unknowable camera weirdness we decided to not do that," he admits.
 
But he's still glad to hear compliments from his stars.
 
"No, everybody seems to be on board," Whedon agrees. "I'm still working on it. I hope to finish it sometime before the DVD release. It's been very fluid, but it always is with a movie anyway and especially a movie where the perspective changes nine times every scene. I swore I would never make 'Serenity' again and here I am."
 
And at that "Serenity" reference, it's probably best to go to a somewhat trimmed version of the Q&A between Whedon and reporters on the "Avengers" set. 
 
Click through...
 
Read Full Post
<p>Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo on the set of &quot;The Avengers&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo on the set of "The Avengers"

Credit: Disney/Marvel

Mark Ruffalo joins the Marvel family on the set of 'The Avengers'

The newest Hulk talks about his CGI makeover and getting Ed Norton's blessing
ALBUQUERQUE, NM - In April of 2012, fans will have had their appetites whetted for The Hulk and his appearance in Joss Whedon's "Avengers."
 
We'll have heard him roar. We'll have watched him slide down a New York City skyscraper, Iron Man clutched under his mammoth green arm. We'll have seen him stand in the middle of a ruined urban street surrounded by his fellow superheroes, assembled, as the Marvel parlance goes.
 
But it isn't April 2012. 
 
It's June of 2011 and Mark Ruffalo and his emerald alter ego are among the biggest mysteries for a small cadre of journalists who have been prowling the "Avengers" -- or "Group Hug" as all of the signs and badges read -- set for the better part of two days. 
 
We've seen hints of The Hulk. 
 
Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME