Given that the title of tonight's episode, "Our Town," is an obvious salute to the Thornton Wilder play, we can expect an evening full of transition and loss, which sounds about right given the recent direction of "The Vampire Diaries." Most high school kids find themselves feeling nostalgia as they move closer to graduation, but most of them are looking back at the innocence of childhood when they still have a little bit of innocence left (if they're lucky). For our beleaguered Mystic Falls residents, the past is more painful. As recently as last season, Caroline still clung to the typical teen rites of passage, even when her determination to have a "normal" life was a little jarring. Just as Emily realizes that trying to hold on to life in "Our Town" is simply too painful, finally, so does Caroline. It's a transition that seems inevitable, but I can't say I won't miss her bubbly, let's-go-to-the-school-dance enthusiasm.
Latest Blog Posts
Woody Harrelson's having a lovely moment these days.
I sat down with him this week to talk about his movie "Rampart," and that represents one part of what I like about his work right now. He's a great character actor, but it took a while for filmmakers to really figure out his range. I think he has a strong connection to filmmaker Oren Moverman, and I am excited to see if they're going to keep working together moving forward from here.
But Woody has also become a valuable asset for big studio movies when they find the right role for him, and I think Haymitch, an important figure in the world of "Hunger Games," could be one of those cases where he's not the first name you think of, but he's could turn out to be an inspired choice.
He's certainly ready for whatever happens, and I think it's interesting to see how different his attitude is from Elizabeth Banks, who we spoke to yesterday. She's keeping her head down, focused on the work she's doing, and tuning out the rapidly-mounting hype for the films. Woody, on the other hand, seems totally at peace with whichever way this goes. It could be gigantic, and he'd be happy to keep on playing the character in future films, or this could just miss, and he'd still be satisfied with the work and the experience.
Now that we have the horrid "turn random crap into a dress" challenge over with, it's time for our intrepid designers to actually make something nice. I'm sure they're just as relieved as we are, as it can't be fun to bypass Mood for a bag of extra large black plastic garbage bags or a roll of Dixie cups, and I'm not sure what such a challenge really proves, except that some of our designers are more committed to recycling than others.
Speaking of recycling, model-turned-"Runway" hostess and gung-ho environmentalist Angela Lindvall seems to be the biggest bust, at least with viewers, of the season. I'm not ready to turn on Angela just yet, though. She looks a little scared and not quite sure what to do (check out Molly Sims' Heidi/not Heidi flip-flopping on "Project Accessory" for another example), and I'm hoping she finds an individual voice sooner rather than later. If I had to single out anyone who's really a disappointment, I'd have to say Joanna Coles. As good as she was as a judge, those same tough love qualities make her a harsh mentor. What made Tim Gunn so special was his ability to be both honest and compassionate. I can't see Coles doling out hugs anytime soon, honestly.
Ah, the Critics Choice Awards. It's hard to put what the Critics Choice Awards really mean. They've sort of become a marketing tool for studios, but beyond a nice early red carpet we're not sure what they really are for. Plus, with the Globes on Sunday, you'll forget who won what by Friday at noon. And of course, these are the broadcast film critics. You really don't want me to start listing their names*
Next week, barring any stunning surprises, Adele’s “21” will celebrate its 16th non-consecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. That statistic gives the album the most weeks at No. 1 since the “Titanic” soundtrack in 1997-1998.
How can there by anything bad about that? Well, plenty. Especially when you think about what her success says about the state of the music industry and today’s music makers.
Let’s make something clear: This is not meant to take anything away from Adele, and her U.S. label, Columbia, which set up the album beautifully and have paced the singles perfectly. This is more a look at what's wrong with everything else. Here’s the bad news:
*If you subtract “21’s” success from the 2011 numbers, sales for 2011 were down from 2010; her album sales alone can wipe away the 1.4% increase experienced over the previous year. Since “21” first debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart dated March 12 2011, 23 other albums have hit No. 1, but “21” always bounced back to the top, never spending more than 10 weeks out of No. 1. Plus, it has never dropped out of the Top 10 since its release.
*Other than “21,” the only other album to spend more than two weeks at No. 1 since “21’s” release is Michael Buble’s “Christmas.” A holiday album. An album that does not rely on radio play and has an extraordinarily short shelf life (although it is a perennial) and does nothing to build an artist’s career.
*To drive the nail further in the coffin, the gap between “21’s” sales and sales of “Christmas,” the second-best selling album in 2011, was around 3 million copies . Do you want us to repeat that? “21” sold 5.8 million copies; “Christmas” sold 2.45 million. There are 310 million people in the U.S.
*Nearly a year after “21’s” release, Columbia is only on the third single, “Set Fire To The Rain.” How many pop records, especially urban leanings ones, are on their third single by the time the album comes out? Granted, a “Rolling in the Deep” only comes along once in, apparently, every 25 years, but there’s something to be learned from sticking with a single and not rushing things. It’s called patience and development.
*Acts need to make albums that capture people’s interest for more than a second. Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto?” Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night?” Drake’s “Take Care?” All highly anticipated albums that got one and were done: one week at No. 1 and then started to drop. All the emphasis is on opening week, there’s no building or sustaining a story.
*Artists need to make better albums. Yes, we are transitioning to a digital download world, but note that Adele had the biggest selling single of the year, as well as album. That says that people wanted to buy the album because they wanted to hear more after purchasing “Rolling In the Deep,” and they had faith that the tracks they had not heard would be just as good as the ones that they had. How many other albums can you say that about recently?
*Is it really as simple as Dave Grohl makes it sound? He told Billboard earlier this week: “Someone asked me recently, ‘What do you think the problem with the music industry is?’ I said, take the Adele record, for example. It's an amazing record and everybody's so shocked that it's such a phenomenon. I'm not. You know why that record's huge? Because it's fucking good and it's real. When you have an artist singing about something real and she's incredibly talented, it deserves all the rewards it gets, it's a great record. Now imagine if all records were that good. Do you think only one of them would sell? Fuck no! All of them would...A lot of people are promoting records that are just throw-it-against-the-wall-see-if-it-sticks meaningless bullshit. Everybody has the responsibility to do the right thing and promote artists that mean something."
No, of course it’s not that simple. The Foo Fighters’ “Wasting Light” has sold around 670,000 copies. Does that mean it’s only 1/9 as good as “21?” Of course not, but Grohl’s broader point is well taken about the industry's continued mentality that settles for merely good enough. And that's too bad.
Steven Soderbergh is a miracle worker.
These days, George Clooney is about as close to a sure bet as you can find when it comes to awards season, both as an actor and as a filmmaker, and it's easy to forget that when he made the jump from "E/R" to feature films, there was a struggle while he was trying to define himself.
These days, there is no real remnant of the tic that defined him at first, that weird sideways head thing he did where he'd sort of do the palsy shake while he was talking. The moment where he finally stopped doing that was when he worked for Soderbergh in "Out Of Sight," and whatever happened between them, it transformed Clooney, and he's never looked back.
I think the same thing might be going on right now with Channing Tatum, and it's exciting. When we sat down to talk about his role in "Haywire," we had a brief moment where we were trying to sort out some camera issues, and we started talking about the recent trailer release for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," as well as my time on the set of the film.
Press tour demands kept me from writing a review of "The Finder," which just aired its first regular episode - the characters were introduced in a "Bones" episode last spring (which Fienberg wrote about) - tonight on FOX. I gave my opinion of it on this week's podcast. Short version is that I like Geoff Stults and Michael Clarke Duncan together, don't necessarily like the two new female characters they added to replace Saffron Burrows, and wonder about the level of quirkiness/wackiness (though it was mostly in control here). Overall, I feel much the same way I do about "Bones": it's a light, well-executed procedural (very much like a USA drama), but not necessarily something I will feel compelled to watch again.
For those of you who watched it, what did you think? Did you think this episode was better or worse than the backdoor pilot? Do you prefer the newbies to Burrows, or vice versa? Is Walter too quirky or just quirky enough? And does casting an actor as tall as Stults opposite Duncan take too much away from Duncan, who is usually defined as much by his size as his sense of humor?
Have at it.
A quick review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as we have a philosophical difference about what constitutes a law...
I posted my review of CBS' "Rob" (or, if you prefer, "¡Rob!") this morning. Now it's your turn. For those of you who watched, what did you think? Were you predisposed towards liking or hating Rob Schneider? Did you enjoy the ethnic humor? The misunderstandings and slapstick? Cheech? The wacky uncle? And will you watch again?
Have at it.
The Flaming Lips have made it abundantly clear that they're rarely interested in making a traditional album anymore. They've done a 24-hour-song, released music inside a gummy skull, created musical suites for synchronized multi-iPod and boombox in-the-rounds... but here's a new one. The band is releasing a set of cover songs, with the help of many guest artists.
Many sites have confirmed that the Oklahoma-based psych-rock crew have tapped Nick Cave, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Plastic Ono Band and Neon Indian for the album; and today, Rolling Stone firmed up the participation of Bon Iver and Wayne Coyne' wishlist. The 'Lips have the desire to work in-studio with acts as diverse as Ke$ha to Lykke Li to Erykah Badu.
"Sometimes it just takes a matter of connecting," Coyne told the mag.
And so it's come to this: NBC's Thursday night comedy bloc kicks off right now on the East Coast, and "Community" is not a part of it. I'm glad to have "30 Rock" back, and to give "Up All Night" a chance to pick up viewers after being adrift on the Wednesday lineup, but dammit... I want Troy and Abed on my TV.
Once again, my plan is to spend every Thursday from now until NBC announces the show's return to the schedule (if not until the show is actually back on the schedule) revisiting a favorite moment or storyline from the series. If we can't have new "Community," at least we can bask in memories of the old ones.
Tomorrow, Friday Jan. 13, at 5 PM, it will be all over. Well, sort of. The first half of the Oscar season will be complete as the Academy's mailbox will slam shut and no more nomination ballots will be accepted for the 84th Academy Awards. And, in so doing, another strange awards season will start the final turn towards completion. While many of the nominees seem secure in their standing there is an air of uncertainty over almost every category. In fact, its been quite a long time since the feeling of upset was in the air after so many weeks of critics lists and precursor awards.