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Credit: Showtime

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 110

Dan and Alan review 'Work It,' 'Shameless,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'The Firm' and more


The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast leaps into 2012 with a busy show that includes reviews of "Work It," "Downton Abbey," "Shameless," "House of Lies" and "The Firm."
As if that's not enough, we fielded a little bit of Listener Mail.
And as if that weren't enough, we also spent WAY too long -- especially since this podcast was a Skype nightmare -- talking about the NFL MVP race and then the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. 
As a friendly reminder: The sports stuff is 100% backloaded to the end of what was already a regulation-lengthed podcast. It didn't take away from our TV talk time. It was just something we did at the end. We won't be offended if you don't listen.
And don't worry, we probably won't do any sports talk the next couple weeks, because we're going to be at Press Tour and there will still be premieres galore. But we'll be in the same place.
Anyway, here's the breakdown:
"Work It" (02:35 - 17:15)
"Downton Abbey" (17:20 - 27:20)
"The Firm" (27:25 - 38:20)
"Shameless" (38:30 - 47:55)
"House of Lies" (48:00 - 56:40)
Listener Mail - Reviewing shows projecting forward (57:00 - 01:04:10)
The NFL MVP Race (01:04:35 - 01:10:15)
The Baseball Hall of Fame (01:10:15 - 01:31:30)

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.] 

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<p>Kirsten Dunst seems to have a bit of a thing for upside-down kissing in her films.&nbsp; Important dating tip, fellas.</p>

Kirsten Dunst seems to have a bit of a thing for upside-down kissing in her films.  Important dating tip, fellas.

Credit: Jouror Productions/Onyx Films

First trailer for beautiful 'Upside Down' with Kirsten Dunst makes us dizzy

Fantasy-romance with Jim Sturgess has at least one big idea

Of course the moment we publish our list of the films we're anticipating most for 2012, we start to see trailers and things for movies we've never heard of that are coming out this year that immediately look like something we need to see.

"Upside Down" is a fantasy film from an Argentinean director named Juan Diego Solanas, and based on this peek at the movie, it's a big lovely Andrew Niccol style "imagine if the world was like this" movie.  Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst are the stars of this one, and it looks like Solanas has spent his money well, creating a great big visual hook that everything hinges on.  Movies like this are tricky to pull off, and most of the time, it's coming up with a tone that matches the big visual decision and making it work beyond the gimmick.

The first thing I can't help but notice is that one of the most iconic moments in any of Kirsten Dunst's films was in "Spider-Man," with the upside-down kiss in the rain.  Casting her in this is one of those choices that seems like a big bag of duh.  The question mark for me is Sturgess, who has had a number of shots as a leading man, and so far, I haven't felt like he really connected at all.  He does have his fans, though, and I suspect this will play an extended run on a double-bill with "Across The Universe" at the New Beverly for three or four months.

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<p>Meryl Streep will be honored at next month's Berlinale.</p>

Meryl Streep will be honored at next month's Berlinale.

Credit: AP Photo

Berlin Film Festival to honor Meryl Streep

'Iron Lady' star to receive Honorary Golden Bear in February

The New York Film Critics' Circle award may be the only significant trophy Meryl Streep has claimed so far this season, but she's certainly keeping her end up in terms of career honors. On the heels of an elaborate tribute to the actress at the Kennedy Center Honors comes news of a similar award on the other side of the ocean: Streep will be presented with an Honorary Golden Bear at next month's Berlin International Film Festival.

A screening of "The Iron Lady" will accompany the presentation of the Honorary Golden Bear, though I presume not as part of the official festival lineup. Other Streep films to be screened as part of the festival's Streep homage include "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Out of Africa," "Sophie's Choice," "The Bridges of Madison County" and (six years after it premiered at the Berlinale) "A Prairie Home Companion."

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 110: 'Work It,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'The Firm' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 110: 'Work It,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'The Firm' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'Shameless' and 'House of Lies' and answer your mail


Welcome to the first Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of 2012, and the last before Dan and I are hip-deep in the events of the winter Television Critics Association press tour. I apologize in advance for two things this week: 1)The audio's not great, as Skype was not our friend today; and 2)The sports talk segment at the end goes on for quite a while. As we've said before, we're doing those things in addition to the TV coverage (nothing was dropped so we could debate Rodgers vs. Brees), and there's no content after, so you don't have to listen to that if you don't want, but we may have gotten carried away nonetheless. (The Hall of Fame discussion alone is longer than any show reviews.) Before that, we do a bunch of reviews of new and returning shows, including an early contender for the worst of the year, and the return of one of Dan's favorites from last year.

The line-up: 

"Work It" (02:35 - 17:15)
"Downton Abbey" (17:20 - 27:20)
"The Firm" (27:25 - 38:20)
"Shameless" (38:30 - 47:55)
"House of Lies" (48:00 - 56:40)
Listener Mail - Reviewing shows projecting forward (57:00 - 01:04:10)
The NFL MVP Race (01:04:35 - 01:10:15)
The Baseball Hall of Fame (01:10:15 - 01:31:30)
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 at and/or if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>&quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot; is exactly the kind of critically-acclaimed, media-progressive blockbuster the PGA likes to acknowledge.</p>

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is exactly the kind of critically-acclaimed, media-progressive blockbuster the PGA likes to acknowledge.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Predicting the 2011 PGA nominees

The group will pick 10, whether the Academy does or not

This year's PGA nominees (announced tomorrow) will do little to clear up the Best Picture scenario at the Oscars. Why? Because the guild will be chalking up a full slate of 10 nominees once again, despite the fact that the Academy's final line-up could be anywhere from five to 10.

The PGA made the shift to 10 the same year the Academy did, playing follow the leader. Those two years were incredibly close to the ultimate Oscar slate, though. In 2009, the guild's nominees "Invictus" and "Star Trek" were replaced by "The Blind Side" and "A Serious Man" at the Oscars, while in 2010, "The Town" was replaced by "Winter's Bone."

I don't think there's much of a pattern there worth considering, though films like "A Serious Man" and "Winter's Bone" certainly represent the kind of concentrated passion plays that are needed to register with the Academy. But it's entirely probable that neither would have made the cut under the new rules. The point being: we're likely to see all the Oscar nominees in tomorrow's PGA announcement. The trick will be sussing out which ones they are.

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw's new album, 'Emotional Traffic,' set for Jan. 24 release

Will album, which features Ne-Yo, be his last for Curb?

Tim McGraw’s last album for Curb Records will come out Jan. 24.

“Emotional Traffic,” co-produced by McGraw and his longtime producer Byron Gallimore includes “Felt Good On My Lips,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2011, as well as current single, “Better Than I Used to Be.”

The set also features a duet with Ne-Yo on “Only Human.” McGraw is no stranger to blending genres: he and Nelly collaborated on “Over and Over” in 2004.  The album also has a song co-written by McGraw and Martina McBride.

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<p>Ben Koldyke drags it up in ABC's &quot;Work It.&quot;</p>

Ben Koldyke drags it up in ABC's "Work It."

Credit: ABC

Review: ABC's horrible 'Work It' a drag in every way

Cross-dressing has never seemed less funny
The new ABC cross-dressing sitcom "Work It" won't debut until tomorrow night at 8:30, but it's already been subject to protests from both GLAAD and several transgender activist groups. And while I would never deign to tell any minority group (particularly one I'm not a member of) what they do and don't have a right to be offended by, in this case, it feels like the offense being taken is too narrow.
"Work It" could be seen as an insult to the transgender community, sure. But it's also an affront to all women, and men, and thinking adults.
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<p>Michael&nbsp;Fassbender won&nbsp;Best Actor for &quot;Shame.&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender won Best Actor for "Shame."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Tree of Life,' Fassbender, Swinton win with Online critics

Other acting winners include Christopher Plummer and Jessica Chastain

After releasing quite the agreeable slate of nominees last week, the Online Film Critics Society has awarded "The Tree of Life" its 2011 Best Picture prize. The film won five awards in total. Previously announced special awards go to Jessica Chastain and Martin Scorsese. Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt in "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Tree of Life' leads the way with Central Ohio critics nominations

'Drive' was also a favorite, while 'The Artist' only got two mentions

The Central Ohio Film Critics Association should implement different nominating procedures so that ties, etc., don't leave them with a ridiculous slate of 15 BEST PICTURE NOMINEES. Anyway, it looks like "The Tree of Life" has the most mentions. Check out the full list of nominees below.

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<p>&quot;The Birdcage&quot; won the SAG ensemble prize for 1996.</p>

"The Birdcage" won the SAG ensemble prize for 1996.

Credit: MGM

Round-up: When 'The Birdcage' won

Also: Academy exercising Kodak escape clause and 'On the Road' to Cannes?

It's always nice to look back and see the real outside-the-box picks of awards organizations, particularly the Screen Actors Guild. Going back to the first annual ceremony, Jamie Lee Curtis was nominated for "True Lies." That's what I'm talkin' about! A year later, the criminally overlooked Kevin Bacon in "Murder in the First" got a tip of the hat, while in its inaugural year, the Best Ensemble spotlighted films like "Get Shorty" and "Nixon." With that in mind, Nathaniel Rogers flashes back to the 1996 ceremony, which saw a delightfully unique choice for the enemble prize: the cast of Mike Nichols' "The Birdcage." [Film Experience]

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<p>Chelsea Handler and Laura Prepon in NBC's &quot;Are You There, Chelsea?,&quot;&nbsp;one of dozens of new TV&nbsp;shows about to start premiering.</p>

Chelsea Handler and Laura Prepon in NBC's "Are You There, Chelsea?," one of dozens of new TV shows about to start premiering.

Credit: NBC

Glad to see me? I guess we're in the next year!

Get ready for lots of premieres and lots of press tour coverage in the weeks ahead

Happy New year, everybody! I was on a light schedule last week (though not as light as the TV business itself, which tends to ignore the last couple of weeks of December as much as possible), but I'm back in action big-time this week, as TV's mid-season begins with a new wave of premieres, plus the start of the Television Critics Association winter press tour later this week.

Over the weekend, we posted a gallery running down most of the notable TV debuts and returns of the next few months (plus some shows not coming back until later in the year), and as you can see, January is going to be pretty damn busy in terms of premieres. I'll have a review of ABC's "Work It" coming up a little later today, and I'll be trying to review as many premieres as possible, given the usual scheduling issues coupled with the insanity that is press tour.

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<p>I chose to use this shot because honestly, I&nbsp;can never get enough shots of the Witch-King and his crazy Fell Beast</p>

I chose to use this shot because honestly, I can never get enough shots of the Witch-King and his crazy Fell Beast

Credit: New Line Home Video

Could 'Lord of the Rings' have been public domain today?

The shifting landscape of copyright law makes for some interesting close calls

It's one of those accidents of timing that I would decide to finally watch the documentary "These Amazing Shadows" on January 1, the same day that I read an article about what works would have been entering the public domain on January 1, 2012, if not for a new law that revised copyright in the United States in the late '70s.

Even so, those two different bits of information at the same time caused me to really consider the idea of the public domain and what that even means.  Look at this year's Oscar poster, look at something like "The Artist" or "Hugo," or look at that documentary, and it's apparent that the main message Hollywood wants to sell you is that the memories Hollywood creates are the things that we all share, that unite us.

Isn't that the big idea behind public domain in the first place?

If you create something that everyone eventually internalizes, something like… let's pick a random example that has nothing to do with anything I happened to publish in the last week on this blog like, say, "Lord Of The Rings"… something that is hugely influential and widely commercialized and heavily exploited… then after a certain amount of time, you're going to have to expect things like fan fiction and different interpretations and parody and homage and plain old fashioned borrowing, and there comes a point where law was designed to finally say, "Okay, everyone, have at it.  The creator has had enough time with it.  Everyone knows it at this point.  It's all yours.  Do with it what you will."  That's what the law originally had in mind, with a set time period that could be renewed if the author still had an active interest in the thing.  If not, if no one stepped forward to claim something, then it would become public domain. 

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