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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 106: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Luck,' 'Boss' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 106: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Luck,' 'Boss' & more

Alan and Dan also answer your mail and do even more sports talk


It's a finale-heavy episode of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I discuss how "Boardwalk Empire," "Sons of Anarchy" and "Boss" wrapped up their seasons, briefly discuss HBO's "Luck" sneak preview, answer your mail and once again dip a toe into the waters of sports discussion (this time at the very end of the show, for the benefit of those of you who don't want sporting peanut butter mixed in with your TV chocolate) .

The line-up: 

"Sons of Anarchy" (02:00 - 23:55)
"Boardwalk Empire" (23:55 - 42:40)
"Boss" (42:40 - 49:50)
"Luck" (49:55 - 58:45)
Listener Mail: Enduring comedies (58:55 - 01:04:28)
Listener Mail: Increasingly niche networks (01:04:30 - 01:09:30)
Listener Mail: Single-cam/multi-cam comedies (01:09:35 - 01:14:10)
Random Sports Blather (01:14:40 - 01:26:45)
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 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>Woody Harrelson was named Best Actor for his performance in Oren&nbsp;Moverman's &quot;Rampart.&quot;</p>

Woody Harrelson was named Best Actor for his performance in Oren Moverman's "Rampart."

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

'The Tree of Life,' Woody Harrelson honored by African American Film Critics Association

But what's up with that Best Song winner?

Wheeeeee! You ready for more? These are a nice change of pace. Seriously.

The African American Film Critics Association have named "The Tree of Life" the best film of the year and Steven McQueen the best director, for his film "Shame." Just yesterday the San Francisco crowd went with Terrence Malick's effort (which clocked in at #2 for me on the year). It would be nice to see more groups going that way. Mostly I'm stoked by their Best Actor choice: Woody Harrelson in "Rampart."

One award on the list really annoys me, though. And that's giving Best Song to "The Show" from "Moneyball." The inclusion of that track in the film already irritates me to no end. It's anachronistic and they don't even make an attempt to NOT pass it off as original to the movie. It could have been anything else. Yes, the words are perfect. But… But… And then to give it an award? Odd.

Anyway, check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>&quot;The Simpsons&quot;&nbsp;taking one of many Christmas card photos last night.</p>

"The Simpsons" taking one of many Christmas card photos last night.

Credit: FOX

'The Simpsons' - 'Holidays of Future Passed': The darkest timeline?

The series jumps 30 years into the future for a sweet, funny Christmas story

I have other work I should be getting to right now, but last night's "The Simpsons" was so tremendous that I want to take a couple of minutes to acknowledge it, with thoughts on the Christmas episode coming up just as soon as I get some mohawk gel and a can of dog food...

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"Fear Factor"

 "Fear Factor"

Credit: NBC

Do we really need more 'Fear Factor'?

The reality classic returns tonight, but will audiences respond?

In the world of television, everything old really is new again (and again and again). Five years after "Fear Factor" and its gross-out stunts fell off prime-time's radar, the show is back and, NBC promises, bigger and badder (and, we can assume, grosser) than ever. Even original host Joe Rogan returns, albeit with a little less hair. The question is whether audiences will have the same appetite for bug eating, endurance tests and innards-swallowing they've had in the past. I mean, audiences other than 10-year-old boys, of course. 

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<p>Ernest Hemingway sits at his typewriter in Cuba.</p>

Ernest Hemingway sits at his typewriter in Cuba.

Credit: AP Photo

Corey Stoll on Ernest Hemingway's complicity in his own myth

The 'Midnight in Paris' star reads from the author's letters at Boston's JFK Library

BOSTON - The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum sits fairly isolated on Boston Harbor. On a cold and clear December day, I.M. Pei’s architecture looks undeniably beautiful, in many ways showing the best of what can be accomplished in America. But the view of the harbor is undeniably stark, leaving one to wonder: What if the man to which it was dedicated had lived longer?

It seems only appropriate that this shrine to the most notable member of the famed yet tragic “essential American family” is also home to the largest collection of letters from the famed yet tragic “essential American author.” Once upon a time, Ernest Hemingway’s widow struck up a friendship with the 35th president and his wife when she needed permission to go to Cuba to retrieve her husband’s belongings. One thing led to another and today, there is more original archived material from and about Hemingway at the JFK Library than anywhere in the world.

In addition to his novels and short stories, Hemingway was also a prolific letter writer (around 2,500 of his letters are at the JFK Library alone). And Hemingway scholar Sandra Spanier has recently edited the first book in a 16-volume collection of them.

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<p>This is a candid photo taken during the recording of the soundtrack for 'The Muppets,' and was not staged in any way. &nbsp;Seriously.</p>

This is a candid photo taken during the recording of the soundtrack for 'The Muppets,' and was not staged in any way.  Seriously.

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Listen: Bret McKenzie discusses songwriting for 'The Muppets'

Plus Scott loves Jonah Hill and we play some more Movie God

Wow.  I really screwed this up.

Until someone asked me about it on Twitter last night, I was under the impression that I had published both the pre-Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving podcasts, and I even distinctly remember putting together the article for the first one.  But when I went back to look, I realized that I seem to be going soft in my old age.

It's a shame, too, so I'm going to publish not one… not two… but three podcasts in the next 9 hours.  It's going to veritably rain podcasts down on you people.  And all three of them are overloaded with goodness, so hopefully that will make up for my apparent brain damage.

This first podcast features an interview with Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie, and it's a real treat to talk to him about his work on "The Muppets."  He's at an interesting point in his career right now, and they don't really make a ton of movie musicals.  Still, I'd say he more than proved he's up for the task, and I hope more filmmakers reach out to him and build some projects around the work he does.

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<p>&quot;Drive&quot;&nbsp;had a strong showing, popping up twice in the &quot;Best Scene&quot;&nbsp;category.</p>

"Drive" had a strong showing, popping up twice in the "Best Scene" category.

Credit: FilmDistrict

'The Artist' and 'Drive' lead with St. Louis critics

They also really dug 'Hanna'

Strap in. It's gonna be a bumpy ride. More critics kudos! (Hey, look on the bright side. At this rate it'll be over sooner rather than later.)

But the St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association's list of nominees brings up an interesting question: Should critics groups really be bothering with self-satisfying nominations announcements? I'm one to talk, of course, since I do something similar every year, but that's always covered within three days, whereas some of these guys (the D.C. crowd excepted) will stretch things out between nods and awards to simply get another burst of PR later.

It would be one thing if this allowed for a nice sampling of unique mentions, but that's rarely the case. With this group we get a Best Picture nod for "My Week with Marilyn," some Best Director love for David Fincher, notices for Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan in "Hanna," a tip of the hat to Alan Rickman, etc. So it's okay, I guess. But I don't know. Just give us your winners and be done with it.

Anyway, check out the full list of nominees below.

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<p>Radiohead's &quot;The Daily Mail&quot; b/w &quot;Staircase&quot;</p>

Radiohead's "The Daily Mail" b/w "Staircase"

Radiohead officially releasing 'Daily Mail' and 'Staircase' tracks

'From the Basement' DVD/Blu-Ray release imminent; more tour dates TBA

Despite not having been on "The King of Limbs" album, Radiohead's "The Daily Mail" and "Staircase" have made the rounds enough this year to be considered part of that album.

Never the less, the British band has decided to finally, formally release those two songs, recorded during TKoL sessions, as MP3s and WAVs starting on Dec. 19. The two must be purchased together, and are available now for pre-order through the band's website.

Dec. 19 is also the date which fans can purchase Nigel Godrich's "The King of Limbs - From the Basement" DVD of the group performing TKoL in full, plus the two tracks above and the song "Supercollider." (The latter was released as a 12" single b/w "The Butcher" earlier this year.) Any order also includes a free download of the intimate concert performance.

These arrive in time for the holidays, but also ahead of Radiohead's North American tour. Check out all announced dates here; a press releases promises "more live dates to be announced soon."

Radiohead didn't tour or play many shows at all this summer and fall (with a few stops in New York), and spent some of it milking expanding on TKoL with their remix releases. That's a whole lot of merch at the table this spring.

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<p>Andre Braugher and Treat Williams in a scene from last week's &quot;Law &amp;&nbsp;Order:&nbsp;Special Victims Unit.&quot;</p>

Andre Braugher and Treat Williams in a scene from last week's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Credit: NBC

One too many hits: checking in on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'

How are people feeling about the revamped cop drama?

I'll admit up-front that "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has always been my least favorite major entry in the franchise. No knock on Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay and company, but the subject matter was always a turn-off for me, and that was even before the show went through that period of casting beloved TV stars to play sick rapists for maximum shock value.

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<p>Robyn on &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot;</p>

Robyn on "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Watch: Robyn hits 'Saturday Night Live' for the first time

Katy Perry introduces the dancing Swede, who performs 'Call Your Girlfriend' and 'Dancing'

Robyn opened for Katy Perry during the pop star's California Dreams tour, so it seemed only natural the two paired up again for "Saturday Night Live."

Robyn, my girl-crush, was the musical guest on "SNL" this past weekend, with Perry hosting. And while I actually love both of those women's voices (Perry's is its own little study in "vocal fry"), the Swede brought a bag of her moves.

At times, she was out-of-breath for "Dancing on My Own," but she brought the same campy, desperate energy in her face and on the chorus. "Call Your Girlfriend" was much steadier, and she whirled through the same dance interlude from the music video, including that stellar stumble move.

Just thought you'd like this. She and Perry need a fashion face-off. That is all.

Read a full recap of Saturday's show.

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<p>Jean Dujardin (left)&nbsp;and Indiana film critics Best Director winner Michel&nbsp;Hazanavicius on the set of &quot;The Artist&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin (left) and Indiana film critics Best Director winner Michel Hazanavicius on the set of "The Artist"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Indiana critics like 'The Artist,' Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Olsen

Viola Davis cited in supporting, 'Into the Abyss' gets some recognition

After yesterday's all-day critics awards onslaught, you might be wondering, "What's left?" Plenty, I can tell you. Everyone seems to have gotten together and formed a critics group these days, and this morning, the onslaught continues with the Indiana Film Journalists Association.

The group picked "The Artist" for Best Picture and Best Director, but were more interesting in their acting selections. Paul Giamatti took Best Actor for "Win Win" while Elizabeth Olsen won Best Actress for "Martha Marcy May Marlene." And though "The Descendants" was clearly the second-favorite of the lot, it was Ralph Fiennes in "Coriolanus" coming in at runner-up for Best Actor, which is interesting.

Other things of note: Viola Davis was spotlighted int he supporting category, not lead, and Werner Herzog's "Into the Abyss" finally gets a shout-out, coming in as a runner-up to "Project Nim" in the documentary category.

Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;Moneyball,&quot;&nbsp;one of the year's best films that fell outside the top 10</p>

Brad Pitt in "Moneyball," one of the year's best films that fell outside the top 10

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Bottled up: the best films of 2011

And then there were 10

If you listened to Friday's Oscar Talk podcast, then you already know both my feelings on the 2011 film year and the 10 films I thought represented the best that it had to offer. But to elaborate a bit...

It's been an interesting year. I've tried to make sense of things via the weekly Off the Carpet columns, which aim to contextualize the year as it pushes forward. But with each passing week, it became clear to me that I didn't particularly love what 2011 had to offer. Don't misunderstand. The films that landed at the top for me are personal treasures. Nevertheless, it's a distillation of a year in film that I broadly liked, but didn't particularly love in any deep way. It reminds me of my reaction to 2005, but I'm more positive on this lot.

Whittling the list down was strangely difficult as a result. You'd think that the cream would really be evident when there's so little of it to rise, but the truth is, that kind of thing makes you start to really consider those on the outside of the list more than you normally would. At least I found this to be the case.

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