Latest Blog Posts
Remember when there were six major record companies? I do. And it wasn’t that long ago. As of today (pending approvals), we’re down to three.
Embattled EMI Group, which has been waiting for a suitor, any suitor, to pluck it out of Citigroup’s hands following the Terra Firma fiasco, is being divvied up into two pieces: Vivendi’s Universal Music Group will buy the recording division for $1.9 billion, while Sony/ATV has purchasing the publishing assets for $2.2 billion.
Warner Music Group, which, itself, was sold earlier this year to Access Industries, and which had danced around EMI for years, took itself out of the running for EMI’s recorded music arm the last week. EMI CEO Roger Faxon tried very hard to have the whole company sold as one piece and to remain a stand-alone business, as its recent sales have allowed. Not this time.
So what happens next? First off, these things never run smoothly so expect some hitches. While at Billboard, I witnessed both Universal’s then-parent Seagram’s purchase of Polygram in 1998 (for $10.4 billion, by the way) and the Sony/BMG merger, which started in 2004, and culminated in Sony buying out BMG in 2008. They are bloody messes even in the best of times.
A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I replace my backup juicer...
The people of Wichita, Kansas have taken issue with Johnny Depp. Or, more accurately, certain members of the film community in the city have responded to a comment the actor made that seemed to disparage the intelligence level of the citizens of Wichita at large.
In a recent interview with The Guardian to promote the UK release of “The Rum Diary,” the actor appeared to theorize that the reason the adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel is not performing well in the states is that the American appetite for thought-provoking films is limited. "I believe that this film, regardless of what it makes in, you know, Wichita, Kansas, this week – which is probably about $13 – it doesn't make any difference,” he said. “I think it's an intelligent film…And a lot of times, outside the big cities in the States, they don't want that."
The implication is, of course, threefold. One, that there is some categorical and static standard that defines an “intelligent film”; two, that Depp’s “The Rum Diary” meets said standard; and three, that the citizens of the United States (outside of the larger urban areas) are simply not interested in cerebral nutritious cinematic fare.
Metal pioneers Black Sabbath are reuniting with the original lineup and hitting the road, more than 40 years after the band's inception.
Guitarist Tony Iommi, singer Ozzy Osbourne, bass player Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward are plotting a world tour as well as a new album, as they announced at a press conference today. The band will headline England's Download Festival in June 2012 and then head out.
Rick Rubin has been tapped to produce a new effort, the same role he had when the band made their first go at reuniting back at the end of the '90s and into the new millennium. If the album's completed, it will be Rubin's first for the band.
Black Sabbath hasn't released an album of all-new material with that lineup since 1978's "Never Say Die!"; Osbourne was fired that following year, and replaced by Ronnie James Dio. Thus, the inaugural quartet left eight studio albums in their wake.
Sabbath made their last concerted, formal reunion starting in 1997/1998, an earnest but ultimately doomed attempt at becoming a full band again. Bill Ward had a heart attack while they were on tour. Iommi pursued putting out his first solo album while Ozzy worked on a couple of his own, setting the band back on what was thought to be a temporary hiatus. The MTV's "The Osbournes" was permanently conscripted into Ozzy's life and that was that, in 2002. To show for it: 1998's decent and mostly live album "Reunion," which included two new studio tracks, with one that thankfully showed some spark ("Psycho Man").
Black Sabbath, without contest, is among one of the most influential rock bands of all time, trailblazers for metal, helping in defining an era of post-Beatles British music and yielding a template of heavy music frontmen. I am a great admirer of the band; and I won't be the first or last fan to say, that this reunion just seems sad.
Katy Perry's video for "The One That Got Away" debuted today and it's a dramatic testament to a love that ends, but never, ever dies. Perry, love interest Diego Luna, and director Floria Sigismondi throw in cliches aplenty here.At least she's not pregnant when the break-up occurs...maybe in a sequel. Here was our take away.
1) Perry will look like “Titanic”-era Gloria Stewart when she ages. The video opens with Perry made up as an elderly woman, a very well-heeled one at that, with a halo of white hair and blazing blue eyes. The similarity to Stewart is striking as she reflects back on her lover who “got away.”
[More after the jump...]
Magnolia, the US distributor of Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” has employed something of a soft-shoe strategy in releasing the arthouse blockbuster – first there was that week-long, Oscar-qualifying L.A. release a few months ago, which enabled a video-on-demand release over a month ago. Today, it finally gets a theatrical release in a few key cities, with a wider limited release to follow next week.
It’s probably prudent to trickle the film out like this. Making a big splash of the release would inevitably prompt more of a media blitz on eternal troublemaker von Trier than the movie itself: the inflated Nazi-related controversy from Cannes has not only been discussed to death, but it has no bearing on the film itself, a thoughtful, subdued existential discussion that would likely disappoint provocation-seeking viewers. It’s been a fine line to walk, with a high risk of the film slipping through the cracks entirely – this despite boisterous box office in Europe and the UK, where it ranks as the highest grosser of von Trier’s career. And yet, surely enough, the film appears to be finding its feet, particularly where US critics are concerned.
In advance of her reportedly strong performance in “Young Adult” (which I haven’t seen yet, but Kris recently enthused over), I’ve been on something of a Charlize Theron kick lately. I’ve always liked the actress – she has about as much spiky, couldn’t-give-a-shit character as it’s possible for someone who appears to be made of fine bone china to have – and the last few years have been dispiriting ones for her fans.
Her cameo in “The Road” was a frustrating tease of her firepower, she was committed but oddly constrained in “The Burning Plain” (where Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Basinger vied for best-in-show honors), and was defeated by the most cursory of characters in the muddled “In the Valley of Elah.” She had more to offer in “Sleepwalking,” but no one was there to see it; meanwhile, let us not even speak of “Hancock,” a feeble third-wheel girlfriend role for which she could hardly have been more overqualified.
I like the sweet Rihanna. And we get her in abundance on new single, “You da One.” With “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris still bouncing at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Rihanna switches from the pulsating electro-pop of that opening salvo from “Talk That Talk,” to dub-sweetened pop.
The mid-tempo swayer is anchored by an insistent beat and a cascading chorus with an adorable stutter step. Rihanna has it bad for a boy who supports her and doesn’t let her run away from love. And before she knows it, she’s hooked and she’s dreaming about him "all da-a-a-ay.”
[More after the jump...]
The Black Keys' Black Friday single "Lonely Boy" b/w "Run Right Back" will be out at the end of the month, and now you can hear both sides of that effort, in advance of the Dec. 6 full-length "El Camino."
"Run Right Back" seems to be a bit of a generic, classic-rock inspired thumper, Dan Auerbach's bluesy howl moving around the curves of some unknown girl. I'm not as wild about it as I am about "Lonely Boy," but I tend to like the duo a bit more raw than they are here, despite the wild-haired guitar lick.
And with the production from Danger Mouse, "El Camino" might be a lot of that mix, oscillating between gutter-sexy blues and more straight-forward rock tracks, a combo that helped the Black Keys earn 2010 Grammy wins for "Brothers."
Haven't written about "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" in a while, but last night's was a very good one. A quick review coming up just as soon as I dream of opening an imported leather shop in Arizona...
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
Are you ready for the most unorganized podcast of all time? This was perhaps the busiest Oscar week of the season. I forgot to ask for reader questions (sorry) and didn't even get around to an actual rundown before recorded due to a big news item dropping right before we recorded. But hey, we can fly by the seat of our pants. Let's see what's on the docket today...