Latest Blog Posts

<p>Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel in &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel in "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Naked': Don't bother to knock

Zooey Deschanel and friends return from a baseball hiatus with a shaky episode

A quick review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I do close-up magic...

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<p>Gil Cates, producer of 14 Academy Awards ceremonies between 1990 and 2008.&nbsp;</p>

Gil Cates, producer of 14 Academy Awards ceremonies between 1990 and 2008. 

Credit: AP Photo/Ric Francis

Saying goodbye to Gil Cates

Director-producer defined the latter-day Oscarcast format

I feel distinctly sad about the passing of Gil Cates, who died yesterday at the age of 77, and yet what I'm mourning isn't precisely the sum of his career parts. A proficient, professional producer-director for screens big and small, he directed at least one fine film: "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams," a brittle 1973 character study for which Joanne Woodward was Oscar-robbed. (I admit I've never seen his "I Never Sang For My Father," which earned nominations for Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas.)

And yet it's not these perfectly credible titles that are foregrounded in his obituaries: rather, it's the less personal but no less demanding achievement of having produced a record 14 Oscar ceremonies between 1990 and 2008. It's those dates that resonate with me: the 1990 Academy Awards ceremony was the first one I ever watched in full, and the first one hosted by Billy Crystal, arguably the most widely beloved Oscar host of my lifetime.

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<p>Roger Waters</p>

Roger Waters

Credit: AP Photo

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters puts another brick in 'The Wall' for a 2012 U.S. tour

Outing begins in May

Roger Waters will bring Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” tour back to the U.S. in a slate of new shows starting May 1. Tickets for the tour, promoted by Live Nation, go on sale Nov. 7.

The multi-media presentation features the Pink Floyd co-founder performing the masterpiece from start to finish with a full band. Over the past two years, Waters’ “The Wall” has played to more than 1.6 million fans.

Starting at Houston’s Toyota Center on May 1, the 36-date outing will wrap at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

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<p>The Wallflowers</p>

The Wallflowers

Wallflowers to reunite in 2012, according to Jakob Dylan

Six-year hiatus was unintentional

Jakob Dylan plans to reunite with his band The Wallflowers for their first album since 2005’s “Rebel, Sweetheart.”

Dylan, who’s currently touring behind his fine 2010 T-Bone Burnett produced set, “Women and Country,” told Rolling Stone that he and the reunited Wallflowers will start work on the new set in January and that the six-year hiatus was unintentional because, well, time goes by a lot faster when you get older.

“I never suggested we were breaking up. We all felt we were losing the plot a bit and we needed a break. And that year break becomes two years, then becomes three years and before you know it, five or six years go by pretty quickly. I can’t do what I do in the Wallflowers without them. I miss them.”

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<p>Mary J. Blige croons in the music video for &quot;The Living Proof&quot; from Disney's &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Mary J. Blige croons in the music video for "The Living Proof" from Disney's "The Help."

Credit: Geffen Records

Calling all original song contenders

Putting together a list of possibilities, from Mary J. Blige to Jónsi (again)

In four or five weeks we'll be closing out this year's slate of crafts category analysis via the weekly Tech Support column with my contribution to the cause: Best Original Song. I tend to wait until the end on that because it's best to hold off until a list of eligible contenders is announced and in place and, of course, to gauge how the tunes are used in the films in question.

But I haven't even gotten around to assembling a decent list of possibilities until just recently. So maybe it's time to toss that out there and maybe ask for a little help from the readership, since I'm sure plenty of you know some things about this race that I don't.

Let's start with a few things to get the discussion going, though. And animated films are always a good place to look. With that in mind, 20th Century Fox's "Rio" has a trio of contenders: "Real in Rio," "Let Me Take You to Rio" and "Hot Wings (I Wanna Party)."

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<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman in &quot;Capote,&quot; winner of the Best Actor Oscar in 2005.</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote," winner of the Best Actor Oscar in 2005.

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

The Lists: Top 10 Oscar-winning biopic performances

Who do this year's biopic Oscar hopefuls have to live up to?

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover. All of them heading to our screens in the next few weeks, all of them looking to join the long list of actors to strike Oscar gold for playing real-life figures.

It’s a list that’s grown particularly rapidly in recent years: in the past decade alone, 12 of the 20 winners in the lead acting categories have triumphed for biopics. Meanwhile, you have to go all the way back to the 1997 Oscar race to find a year where all four acting winners played fictional characters. It’s a trend that often prompts complaints from hardened Oscar-watchers like myself: it’s no less difficult to create a character from scratch than it is to embody a previously existing one, but voters don’t all seem to agree.

Still, biopic bait needn’t always be bad news: for every actor who coasts to victory for doing a superficially impressive but soulless impersonation of an iconic figure, there’s at least one other who accepts the challenge to craft a fresh, inspired character from a real-life source, and succeeds. Which is what today’s list is about: I’ve rounded up the 10 Oscar-winning biopic performances that most excitingly avoid the obvious, and most insistently stick in my memory.

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<p>Gil Cates</p>

Gil Cates

Credit: AMPAS

Academy issues statement on passing of longtime Oscar producer Gil Cates

Veteran oversaw 14 Oscar shows between 1990 and 2008

Gil Cates, longtime Academy Awards producer and governor of the organization's Director's branch, passed away at the age of 77.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the following after the news became public.

"Gil was our colleague, our friend and a former governor of the Academy," said Academy President Tom Sherak. "He was a consummate professional who gave the Academy and the world some of the most memorable moments in Oscar history. His passing is a tremendous loss to the entertainment industry, and our thoughts go out to his family."

Cates produced the show 14 times between 1990 and 2008, more than any other individual producer.  He was also responsible for bringing in some of the show's most popular hosts including Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart. 

Martin tweeted this morning, "So sorry to hear Gil Cates has died. He helmed two Oscar shows I hosted. He was delightful, wise, canny and unperturbed. A great fellow."

Cates served three consecutive terms as a governor of the Academy's Directors Branch, from 1984 to 1993. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005.

Outside of Oscar, Cates directed a number of features including "The Last Married Couple in America" and "Oh God, Book II."


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<p>&nbsp;Jason Aldean</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

 Jason Aldean

Hitfix Interview: Jason Aldean on Lady Gaga, Adele, boxers and prosthetics

The country superstar celebrates double platinum 'My Kinda Party's' year at the top

This week marks Jason Aldean’s first anniversary. No, not to his wife. On Wednesday, his fourth album “My Kinda Party” celebrates its 52nd week on the charts. In that time, the double-platinum title has never dropped out of the top 20 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart or below the top 5 on Billboard’s country albums chart. It’s spawned four hits, including the smash “Dirt Road Anthem.”

Those numbers please Aldean, but as he sits backstage at the Universal Amphitheater, a few days before Halloween, he’s way more concerned with the night’s sold-out show, and the next album, which he starts recording this month.

Sitting on a black leather couch, Aldean, who will headline the Stagecoach Festvial this spring, has his creature comforts around him: the iconic photo of Johnny Cash flipping the bird sits atop a piano, surrounded by candles; a Georgia Bulldogs banner waves, and the album cover from Alabama’s “Mountain Music.”

Aldean, who grew more relaxed as the interview wore on, talked about what he thinks about Lady Gaga—both artists will perform at the Grammy nominations concert on CBS Nov. 30, which CMA Award means the most to him, tattoos, and his weirdest interactions with fans: think boxers and prosthetics.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>&quot;Win Win&quot;&nbsp;director Tom McCarthy, left, with Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer.</p>

"Win Win" director Tom McCarthy, left, with Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Interview: 'Win Win' director Tom McCarthy

Talking Jersey suburbs, high school wrestling and a great cast with the actor turned indie filmmaker

As I've frequently mentioned, because of my job and because I have young kids, I don't go to the movies very much anymore. But one of the directors whose films I've learned to make an effort to get out of the house to see is Tom McCarthy, the man responsible for "The Station Agent," "The Visitor" and, most recently, "Win Win."

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"Long Island Medium"

 "Long Island Medium"

Credit: TLC

'Long Island Medium' gets picked up for season two

The 'average mom' will get twelve more episode to talk to the dead

As I said before in my review of the show, it's hard to resist "Long Island Medium" -- whether or not you believe Theresa Caputo's psychic readings are the real thing. Apparently viewers agree, as TLC has announced it will be giving the show a second season beginning March 2012 with 12 half-hour episodes. Of course, you didn't need to be psychic to see why TLC might make that decision, as "Medium" brought in an average 1.3 million viewers per episode for its season one premiere episodes. 

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"Cars 2" will obviously qualify for this year's animated feature race, but does it have enough in the tank to secure a nod after a critical thrashing?
"Cars 2" will obviously qualify for this year's animated feature race, but does it have enough in the tank to secure a nod after a critical thrashing?
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Crunch time for toons

Also: Savannah festivities with Ellen Barkin and Albert Brooks still on the circuit

Today is the deadline for animated feature contenders to submit paperwork for consideration. At 5pm PT today, to be precise. So far I'm seeing enough possibilities on the radar to warrant a full slate of five nominations, should they all qualify, that is. Meanwhile, "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" is set to close AFI Fest, "Puss in Boots" has just hit theaters, "Happy Feet 2" is on the way and "Arthur Christmas" is screening for press. so animation is very much at the forefront of discussion these days. We'll see how it all shakes down. []

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravi

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' - 'Otherwise Engaged'

Pandora's engagement party gets wild and Kim reveals a big secret

I guess we're supposed to get excited about the big engagement party Mohammed is throwing for Pandora, Lisa's daughter, but really, I couldn't care less. I'm sure Pandora is a lovely girl, but she and her fiance Jason seem about as exciting as unbuttered toast or small California avocados, lacking any of Lisa's wry humor or Ken's veddy British eccentricity. They don't even have a small dog that they dress in ridiculous little outfits, so really, I just can't be bothered. I'd much rather see what our crazy ass housewives are up to, which is usually no good. We can only hope for a catfight breaking out next to the camels and bellydancers at Mohammed's, I suppose.

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