Latest Blog Posts

<p>The Mars Volta</p>

The Mars Volta

Listen: The Mars Volta's 'Jewel' was kept in the garage

Newest track from new album 'Noctourniquet'

It's a little hard to believe this is Mars Volta.

"The Malking Jewel" is a murky garage growler with a dash of late '70s jam, not the psych space journey we've all come to know and love. This is like inviting your weed-selling neighbor over to party, and instead his scuzzy-but-awesome cousin shows up, borrows your bowl and asks too many weird questions about your turntable.

Listen to Mars Volta's "The Maling Jewel" here.

Read Full Post
<p>Debra Messing and Christian Borle in &quot;Smash.&quot;</p>

Debra Messing and Christian Borle in "Smash."

Credit: NBC

'Smash' - 'The Callback': Being Marilyn Monroe

Karen and Ivy go down to the wire for the lead role, while Julia writes a letter

A review of tonight's "Smash" coming up just as soon as I get you to understand p orbitals...

Read Full Post
"The Voice"

 "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - 'The Blind Auditions, Pt. 3'

It's time for the latest batch of contestants to be tested

It's time for another two-hour shot of blind auditions. What we don't know? Whether Cee-Lo will bust out the cat again. We can only hope.

Read Full Post
<p>I'm willing to bet Cocteau's classic French version of 'Beauty and the Beast' will be more of an influence on Guillermo Del Toro's proposed film than the more widely-known Disney version.</p>

I'm willing to bet Cocteau's classic French version of 'Beauty and the Beast' will be more of an influence on Guillermo Del Toro's proposed film than the more widely-known Disney version.

Credit: Janus Films

Guillermo Del Toro signs to direct new 'Beauty and the Beast' with Emma Watson

The big question now is when this will happen for the busy filmmaker

When word broke that Guillermo Del Toro is developing a remake of "Beauty and the Beast" to star Emma Watson, it reminded me of an April Fool's Day joke, and I couldn't pinpoint why.

It took me almost an hour to finally pull up the 1998 article that Harry Knowles ran on Ain't It Cool, in which he gloated about how many people had fallen for his April Fool's Day jokes.  He printed that Luc Besson was attached to remake "Beauty and the Beast" and that Guillermo Del Toro was about to go to Cannes with a secret remake of "Curse Of The Demon."  As he notes in the article, I was the one person who wrote in that year, still early days in my friendship with Harry, to call B.S. on his stories.  I had that collision of pranks in my head, and this news set that off for me for fairly obvious reasons.

This seems like a very natural fit of filmmaker and material, and it certainly answers the question of whether or not other filmmakers will hire Emma Watson.  I think she's earned her starring roles in films, and I'm mystified by anyone who doesn't think she's developed into an interesting and distinct young actor, maybe the strongest of the young "Harry Potter" cast.  I think the only way we'll ever really see what else she's capable of is for directors to roll the dice and try.  "Portrait Of A Wallflower" sounds intriguing, and I thought she was fine in a very small part in "My Week With Marilyn," but this film and her possible collaboration with David Yates on "Your Voices In My Head" both sound like they're going to test her more than anything else we've ever seen her do.

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


Credit: ABC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 115

Dan and Alan talk Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Lilyhammer' and Linsanity


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
We're a bit late, but it's always a good time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
This week... Grammy talk! "Cougar Town" returns! You told us to watch "Lilyhammer," so we did! Mail! And Alan gets to talk about Jeremy Lin.
As always, regarding the Linsanity segment, the sports talk is at the end of a podcast that was already over an hour. Think of it as bonus content. Or filler. But it isn't impacting your weekly TV chatter.
Here's the breakdown:
The Grammys (00:00:45 - 00:15:35)
"Cougar Town" (00:15:40 - 00:29:50)
"Life's Too Short" (00:29:50 - 38:45)
"Lilyhammer" (00:38:55 - 00:51:10)
Listen Mail - "Person of Interest" (00:52:00 - 00:59:05)
Listener Mail - New shows we're sticking with (00:59:05 - 01:07:25)
LINSANITY (01:08:15 - 01:20:45)

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
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 115: Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Life's Too Short' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 115: Grammys, 'Cougar Town,' 'Life's Too Short' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss Netflix's 'Lilyhammer' and the improbable NBA story of Jeremy Lin


It's later in the day (or night) than usual, but we got in a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast just under the Monday wire. Dan and I talk a bit about the experience of watching last night's Grammys, review the return of "Cougar Town," the HBO debut of Gervais and Merchant's "Life's Too Short" and Netflix's original wiseguy-in-Norway series "Lilyhammer." We also answer some of your mail, which gives us a chance to check in on some freshman series we haven't discussed in a while, and also for me to gush over Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. (Apologies in advance for that segment.)

The line-up: 

The Grammys (00:00:45 - 00:15:35)
"Cougar Town" (00:15:40 - 00:29:50)
"Life's Too Short" (00:29:50 - 38:45)
"Lilyhammer" (00:38:55 - 00:51:10)
Listener Mail - "Person of Interest" (00:52:00 - 00:59:05)
Listener Mail - New shows we're sticking with (00:59:05 - 01:07:25)
Listener Mail - LINSANITY (01:08:15 - 01:20:45)
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>Benjamin Walker prepares to fight a very uncivil war in 'Abraham Lincoln:&nbsp;Vampire Hunter'</p>

Benjamin Walker prepares to fight a very uncivil war in 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Watch: 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' trailer promises kung-fu and killings a-plenty

This is exactly as insane as the title would suggest, and that's probably a good thing

I may have been a little slow on the draw putting this one up today, but in my defense, that's because I was laughing so hard.

I have to assume that's okay with Timur Bekmembetov and Tim Burton and Seth Graeme-Smith, because no matter how straight-faced this trailer plays it, the entire notion of successfully convincing a studio to pay big money to make and release a film called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" has got to be one of the biggest "Holy crap, we were kidding BUT THEY REALLY DID IT" moments in the history of film.

The only way you make that film work once you decide to make it is to go all in.  No half-measures.  You can't be embarrassed to be making it.  Noooo… you have to go the other direction.  You have to pack more "f**k yeah" into every single minute of running time than has ever been attempted before.  You have to crank it up and let it run hot.  It is patently absurd, so embrace that.  Be absurd.  Be big and crazy and supercharged with lunacy.  Don't just have Abraham Lincoln kill vampires.  Have him kung-fu fight them in slow motion while dual-wielding deadly axes.  Go for it.

Read Full Post
<p>Courteney Cox and friends on &quot;Cougar Town.&quot;</p>

Courteney Cox and friends on "Cougar Town."

Credit: ABC

Good show, bad title: 'Cougar Town' returns for season 3

Some examples of how the ABC comedy transcended its horrible name

"Cougar Town" season 3 makes a very belated debut tomorrow night at 8:30 on ABC, and the guerrilla marketing campaign being waged by creators Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel and their stars seems two-pronged in its goals: 1)To remind existing "Cougar Town" fans that the show still exists and will be back on Valentine's Day, and 2)To convince people who either gave up on the show after a handful of episodes, or who simply refused to watch a show called "Cougar Town," that it has nothing to do with its horrible, horrible title anymore. (Biegel explained to me last month why they unfortunately can't change it.)

I've written a lot over the last couple of years about the ways the show transformed itself from the story of Courteney Cox's Jules living up to the cougar archetype into the story of Jules becoming the unofficial leader of a collection of oddball friends and relatives who live on her cul-de-sac. As I wrote last week, it's an incredibly goofy, incredibly charming comedy about friends and family, about red wine and running gags and boredom, and while it's certainly not for everyone, it's for far more people than anyone might suspect from thinking it's about Courteney Cox having sex with younger guys.

But no matter how many words I write, a picture will be worth 1,000 of 'em, and a bunch of embedded videos will be worth even more. So I've gathered together a collection of scenes that I feel capture the show that "Cougar Town" became over time, and that should be a good barometer of whether you want to watch the season premiere tomorrow. Lawrence's sense of humor is idiosyncratic, not universal. But if you find yourself laughing at one or more of these clips, chances are you'll want to spend more time with the Cul-de-Sac Crew this season. (And, yes, the gang's nickname is also terrible, but more intentionally so.) 

Read Full Post
<p>Andrea Riseborough in &quot;Shadow Dancer.&quot;</p>

Andrea Riseborough in "Shadow Dancer."

Credit: ATO Pictures

Berlinale Diary: 'Shadow Dancer,' 'Captive,' 'I, Anna,' 'Marley'

James Marsh's Sundance hit delivers on Andrea Riseborough's promise

BERLIN - You may have noticed a lack of Berlinale updates over the weekend – to apologize for that would be to suggest, presumptuously, that you missed them, but please accept my excuses for slacking off anyway. Between a flurry of screenings – which finally, after a tepid start, unearthed some B-plus-plus efforts, though from exactly the sources I’d been expecting – a flurry of snow, a blurry of BAFTAs and an awful lot of queuing for tickets, there weren’t too many waking hours to process what I’d actually seen.

Plus, you know, there was the “Iron Sky” party to attend. In a festival starved for silliness, the sci-fi flick, a sci-entry in that hoary old what-if-the-Nazis subgenre, was a hot ticket right up until the moment it screened – so much so that I, along with many other journalists, was shut out of the Saturday press screening. This prompted enough collective vocal dismay that the festival steward manning the door told us, with customary German delicacy, to “disband before I call security.” Being a critic has never felt so righteous.

Read Full Post
<p>Tim Gunn has a Melissa Leo moment during the pre-show telecast for the 83rd Academy Awards.</p>

Tim Gunn has a Melissa Leo moment during the pre-show telecast for the 83rd Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

'Project Runway' team and Robin Roberts ruling this year's Oscar pre-show

But where's Heidi?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their hosting team for the 84th Academy Awards' pre-show this year and the red carpet extravaganza has gotten a second "Project Runway" infusion.  Tim Gunn has appeared three times as an interviewer and fashion commentator, but 2012 will find "Runway" judge and Marie Claire fashion director (whatever that means) Nina Garcia joining the fun.  We have to assume Heidi Klum's recent divorce is the only reason she isn't along for the live hour long special.  (And warning ladies: if you're wearing anything designed by Mondo expect Nina to hate it.)

Another new face this year on the pre-show will be Louise Roe. Best know for her show "Plain Jane" on MTV International, the Glamour magazine editor-at-large also received high marks for co-hosting E!'s coverage of the 2011 Royal Wedding and has been a regular for red carpet coverage for the Video Music Awards and European Music Awards.

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


Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

2012 Grammy Awards: Monday Morning Quarterbacking Chris Brown and Adele

Plus, what's a 'Bonny Bear?'

It’s the morning after the 54th Annual Grammy Award and after a few hours sleep, we have a little Monday Morning Quarterbacking  to do:

*To quote a Don Henley song title, “Everything Is Different Now”: Last night was a clear referendum on real music between Adele and the Foo Fighters’ sweeps. Of course, the Grammys are cyclical and the wins are very dependent upon the pool of albums released during the eligibility period but for those of us who hope to never hear another autotuned, scantily-clad cutie in our lives, it was a victory. Plus, Skrillex’s three wins showed that EDM is a full force to be reckoned with that must be recognized as its own musical art form. That is something that, sadly, the David Guetta/Deadmau5/Foo Fighters/Chris Brown/Lil Wayne performance may not have hammered home.

Read Full Post
<p>Bon Iver's Justin Vernon with his Grammys: too heavy or too light?</p>

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon with his Grammys: too heavy or too light?

Credit: AP Photo

Bon Iver expresses nervousness, discomfort, confusion on Grammy Award win

Was Justin Vernon's band asked to perform with the Beach Boys?

LOS ANGELES - Justin Vernon felt out of place at the Grammy Awards, and not just because of the brown, slightly oversized suit.

The Bon Iver frontman himself expressed different versions of discomfort, confusion and nervousness about the 54th annual ceremony, despite a very hospitable bounty of two top-tier wins, for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album. His apprehension didn't emanate from the glut of industry heavy-hitters attending the show, but rather from those who were absent.

"When I started to make songs I did it for the inherant reward of making songs, so im a little bit uncomfortable up here. But with that discomfort I do have a sense of gratitude," he said during his acceptance speech for Best New Artist, a top-tier, telecasted honor. He indicated thanks to his fellow nominees and "all the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here."

As Vernon held his two statues backstage at the ceremony, he mentioned similar notions. I had the chance to ask him if he was ever considered actually skipping the Grammys.

"I was like, 'I dont know if I can go.' I was pretty nervous, there was a lot of emotions, feeling like maybe i didnt deserve to go or i wasn't ready to be in front of y'all, in front of all those people or something," he replied. "It's also just a slice of the industry. It's such a big slice, it's the biggest night in music, but there's so much music out there that can't be represented in this one night. I had a lot of confusion going in, but im glad i came and i feel really honored and stuff."

Vernon also further explained the circumstances around the performance invite, hinting that the band's collaboration could have been with the newly reunited Beach Boys. "It turned out with the Beach Boys coming back, it's kind of a big deal," he said, purposefully understating. "I decided I wanted to do something with my band and play our song, but there wasn't really time for that tonight."

As previously reported, the Jagjaguwar artist revealed that Bon Iver had been offered to perform at the Grammys ceremony and declined on principle. They wanted to play one of their own compositions and, were they required to collaborate with other artists on the show as so many artists do, that they wanted collaborate with friends or artists of their choosing.

Despite his concerns, Vernon couldn't shake at least some positive feeling, telling attendees during his Best Alternative Album acceptance that it "feels pretty special."

And it is pretty unique for an independent label artist to even be nominated at the Grammys -- let alone win -- Vernon's uneasiness was in part a reflection of the slim chances other indie artists have at getting wide-scale recognition. As Jagjag label head Chris Swanson told me in January, Bon Iver's appeal naturally unfurled into the larger landscape.

"It was great to participate in a record as far-reaching as “Bon Iver.” It was a nice shock but it still feels like a really natural sequence of events. He’s reaching so many people."

Perhaps when you're is so deeply committed to songcraft, nothing feels natural.

Read Full Post