Latest Blog Posts

<p>&quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;&nbsp;creator Kurt Sutter, in character as Big Otto.</p>
<br />

"Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter, in character as Big Otto.

Credit: FX

Interview: 'Sons of Anarchy' creator Kurt Sutter post-mortems season 4

On surprise plot twists, last-second reprieves and other highs and lows of the season
"Sons of Anarchy" wrapped up its 4th season on Tuesday night, and I figured my review would be the last I'd have to say on the subject for a while. But the show's creator, Kurt Sutter, changed his mind about doing a season-ending interview with me, and we spoke for a little under an hour this afternoon about various developments and criticisms from throughout the season. Here's the Q&A; please note that Kurt talks vaguely about ways in which a few stories will carry over into the next season, and that we also talk about a story arc from the last few seasons of "The Shield," so read at your own risk:
Read Full Post
<p>Frontman Eddie Vedder performs with Pearl Jam in Sao Paulo, Brazil last month.</p>

Frontman Eddie Vedder performs with Pearl Jam in Sao Paulo, Brazil last month.

Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner

Pearl Jam sets European tour dates, including Isle of Wight Festival

Is a U.S. tour next?

Pearl Jam will kick off a series of European headlining gigs  on June 20 and include a show at the Isle of Wight Festival in the U.K. on June 23.

The headliners for Isle of Wight this year are the top of vintage American rock acts with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers playing June 22 and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performing June 24.

Pearl Jam, who celebrated their 20th anniversary all year long this year, including with the fine documentary “Pearl Jam 20,” will spend three weeks touring Europe. No word on a new U.S. tour yet.

Los Angeles punk band X, who has toured with the band before, will serve as the opener. For a fun interview with X’s Exene Cervenka about touring with Eddie Vedder and the boys, as well as some other illuminated comments, go here

Pearl Jam's European tour dates:

June 20: Manchester, U.K. (MEN Arena) ?
June 23: Isle of Wright, U.K. (Isle of Wight Festival) ?
June 26: Amsterdam, Netherlands (Ziggo Dome) ?
June 29: Werchter, Belgium (Rockwerchter Festival)
July 4: Berlin, Germany (O2 Arena)
July 7: Stockholm, Sweden (Ericsson Globe Arena) ?
July 9: Oslo, Norway (Spektrum) ?
July 10: Copenhagen, Denmark (Forum)


Read Full Post
Download Tim McGraw's jangly 'Christmas All Over the World' for free
Credit: StyleSonic Records

Download Tim McGraw's jangly 'Christmas All Over the World' for free

Plus, new holiday treats from Lyle Lovett

Tim McGraw got his Christmas present early when a judge decided that he could, indeed, get released from his record contract from Curb Records, with whom he has been feuding for years now.

So now, he’s spreading his joy with his fans via this free download of “Christmas All Over the World,” a rocking, twangy little tune written by Daniel Tashian and Troy Verges. The Beatlesque backing vocals and Glen Campbell-style guitar playing are a nice touch. And McGraw sounds great. It is available for free via AOL on Dec. 8 and then, starting Dec. 9, through Hear it here.

McGraw, who embarks on a stadium tour with buddy Kenny Chesney next summer, released the song on his StyleSonic Records. He’ll have a new album out next year-- although it’s unclear if it will come out via StyleSonic or if he’s looking for another major label deal. 

Fellow soon-to-be-ex-Curb artist Lyle Lovett also just released a Christmas EP, “Songs for the Season.” Produced by Lovett and Nathaniel Kunkel, the online release features the Vince Guaraldi/ “Peanuts” classic “Christmastime is Here,” as well as “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a duet with Kat Edmonson,” and a few other treats.  On other Lovett news, the four-time Grammy winner will release his last set for Curb on Feb. 28. Appropriately enough, the album is titled "Release Me," 

Read Full Post
"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Will you read 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star Taylor Armstrong's book?

Her memoir of abuse is already getting mixed reactions

When Taylor Armstrong gave a teary-eyed plug for her new book on "Watch What Happens: Live" after this Monday's episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," I didn't give it much thought. Reality stars pump out fluffy, catty, ghost-written tomes at the same rate Michelle Duggar pops out babies, and this seemed to be just another unimpressive addition to the genre. 

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

Jay Z

Credit: Charlies Sykes/AP

Jay-Z set to headline Carnegie Hall's first hip-hop series

The two shows will benefit education in New York

Jay Z will be headline two shows at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Feb. 6-7.  The two concerts are benefits for the United Way and Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation (Carter is Jay Z’s real name).

“It’s every artists dream to play a venue as legendary as Carnegie Hall,” said Jay Z in a statement. “The fact that I can use the arts and my talent to benefit the education of the next generation of artist, entrepreneurs and great thinkers makes for a legendary night. I’m proud to be a part of the continuing work of United Way of New York City and expanding the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.”

Read Full Post
<p>Octavia Spencer is in line for an Oscar nomination for her performance in &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Octavia Spencer is in line for an Oscar nomination for her performance in "The Help."

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Octavia Spencer to receive Breakthrough Award at Palm Springs

'The Help' co-star's Supporting Actress campaign gets an extra boost

It's never too late to be recognized as a "breakthrough performer," apparently. 15 years after making her first big-screen appearance in "A Time to Kill," 39 year-old actress Octavia Spencer -- the chief source of comic relief in the ensemble of "The Help" -- has been honored with the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs festival.

Like most of the awards dished out at Palm Springs and Santa Barbara next month, this honor acts chiefly as an Oscar nomination forecast: previous winners of the prize include Felicity Huffman, Jennifer Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Carey Mulligan. (Hard luck, Mariah Carey and Freida Pinto.) Not that one needs  any such minor bellwethers to predict Spencer's nomination, which has been set in stone since "The Help" opened in August: the question is whether she can win in a field that still has no clear frontrunner.

Read Full Post
<p>An Elton&nbsp;gnome from &quot;Gnomeo &amp;&nbsp;Juliet.&quot;&nbsp;Yes, an Elton&nbsp;gnome.</p>

An Elton gnome from "Gnomeo & Juliet." Yes, an Elton gnome.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tech Support: Chris Cornell, Elton John, Madonna and 'The Muppets' throw down for Best Original Song

Other contenders include tunes from 'Captain America' and 'Footloose'

Tech Support inadvertently took a week off as I never did get around to writing up the Best Original Song category. No worries. Nothing has happened of note in the field all year long, really, and the contenders have pretty much laid themselves bare, for the most part.

Naturally there will be some other considerations when the official list of qualifying tunes is revealed soon enough. That announcement dropped on December 15 last year, so I imagine within the week we'll know what's in the running.

For now, though, it's time to run a comb through what we're aware of and see what makes sense as formidable in the field. There are a number of tracks worth considering, so as we close up shop on Tech Support's category analysis this season, let's see what they are.

Read Full Post
<p>The cover of &quot;Clint&nbsp;Eastwood:&nbsp;35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.&quot;</p>

The cover of "Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros."

Credit: Warner Home Video

Oscarweb Round-up: 35 years of Eastwood at Warner Bros.

Also: George Méliès turns 150 and Asa Butterfield talks Scorsese film school

Remember that exchange on "Entourage" a few years back? Something about Clint Eastwood being set up at Warner Bros. for decades. "We give him $90 million to make movies now," the studio head said. To which Turtle quipped, "I heard he uses 60 and pockets 30. That's why he only does one take." Like so much of the show, it was inside baseball, but it cracked me up. Anyway, the point being, Eastwood has been a fixture on that lot seemingly since the dawn of time. Every once in a while he's ventured out and done a film with another studio, but home base is Warner Bros. So it makes sense for a handsome boxed set of his work there to hit the market. Enter "Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.," which would make a great Christmas gift for the Eastwood fanatic in your family. It has everything from "Where Eagles Dare" to "Invictus." [Amazon]

Read Full Post
<p>From Foster the People's &quot;Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)&quot;</p>

From Foster the People's "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)"

Watch: Foster the People go on a ride with Gabourey Sidibe in 'Don't Stop'

Video-making duo Daniels goes on another epic journey, post-Battles

Filmmaking duo Daniels made an epic journey of a man falling down an escalator, so undoubtedly they can take you on a ride when given access to an entire crash course.

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert were behind Foster the People's newest video "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)," featuring members of the band and Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe. A driver's exam goes terribly awry, then awesomely awry, then romantically awry, as police try to nab a thief who has a little help getting away.

The song that has launched a thousand car commercials now is successful in wrecking a couple vehicles in its wake. Pretty entertaining.

Read Full Post
<p>Damon Wayans Jr. and Eliza Coupe on last night's &quot;Happy Endings.&quot;</p>

Damon Wayans Jr. and Eliza Coupe on last night's "Happy Endings."

Credit: ABC

Wednesday night TV open thread

What's everybody watching/enjoying on Wednesdays?

I had some DVR issues last night, and am having some other time and technological issues this morning, so rather than make you wait forever for the usual Wednesday round-up of shows I half-saw before the DVR went rogue on me, I thought this would be as good a time as any to check in and get your take on the Wednesday night landscape.

I've been consistently watching and writing about "Up All Night" plus the 8:30 through 9:30 ABC Wednesday comedies as a bloc, but there's plenty of other interesting stuff on. Every other TV critic I know swears by "Revenge," and I can see how it could have turned out to be a good soap (though that's generally not to my taste). I'm done with "American Horror Story," but I'm sure some of you have things to say about it. "Law & Order: SVU" boss Warren Leight (and former "Lights Out" and "In Treatment" showrunner) was banging the drums for last night's episode with Treat Williams, and of course he's overseen a significant overhaul of the cast (including the great Andre Braugher in a recurring role as a defense lawyer). Fienberg's been exhaustively covering "Survivor" and "The X Factor" on his blog, and there are many dozens of other notable shows I haven't even mentioned yet.

So it's your turn this morning. What are you watching and/or liking on Wednesday nights? And if you just want to weigh in on the specific episodes that aired last night, go for it.

Read Full Post
<p>Alan Rickman's final turn as Prof. Servus Snape in &quot;Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2.&quot;</p>

Alan Rickman's final turn as Prof. Servus Snape in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Alan Rickman clarifies just how much J.K. Rowling told him about Snape's fate in the 'Harry Potter' series

Could the audience and critic's favorite crash the supporting actor party?

More than any awards season in recent memory, the past few months has shined the spotlight on the great actors and actresses who still haven't been honored with the Oscar spotlight.  Whether it's the embarrassing fact that Gary Oldman still hasn't been nominated once or that legendary actors such as Nick Nolte, Christopher Plummer, Glen Close, Julianne Moore, Ian McKellen or Sigourney Weaver are statue-less, the unrecognized club has found more vocal support than usual.  One member of that illustrious group who should be getting a bit more consideration for his work this year is none other than Alan Rickman.

Read Full Post
<p>Gary Oldman gives good 'little grey man' in the new film version of the famous John Le Carre novel 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'</p>

Gary Oldman gives good 'little grey man' in the new film version of the famous John Le Carre novel 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

Credit: Focus Features

Review: Gary Oldman stars in smart and subtle 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

Director of 'Let The Right One In' makes a stunning English-language debut

If you're a fan of spy fiction, you're pretty much covered this Christmas no matter which flavor you like.  For people who like the big and improbable and outrageous, with action to spare, there's Brad Bird's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," and if you prefer the more thoughtful, quiet, real-world approach, prepare to bask in the glory of Tomas Alfredson's new film version of the John le Carre classic, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

I've been addicted to spy stories, both fiction and non-fiction, since I was very young, and one of the things I remember as a formative event for that interest of mine was the broadcast of the TV version of "Tinker Tailor" that starred Alec Guinness.  I tuned in because of Alec Guinness, who I already knew and adored from "Star Wars" and "Bridge Over The River Kwai," and at first, I was disappointed because I thought all spy movies were supposed to be just like James Bond films.  As the series progressed, though, I got drawn into this world of quiet power plays, a world where the most dangerous men weren't the ones who looked dangerous, but the ones you barely noticed.  I read the le Carre novel, and then read the rest of the books featuring the same character, George Smiley, and that led me to read non-fiction about the history of MI6, and then that led me to reading about the American intelligence community, and a lifelong obsession took hold.

Read Full Post