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Johnny Worricker, the hero of the new "Masterpiece Contemporary" film "Page Eight" (Sunday at 9 on PBS), is in British intelligence, but not in the James Bond sense. He may occasionally don a tuxedo for professional reasons, and he's irresistible to a certain kind of woman (the lonely kind, mostly), but his job is to sit at a desk, study the reports that come across it, and figure out what they mean.
And it's a specific piece of paper that gives "Page Eight" both its title and its central conflict. Johnny has been in the game a long time, as has his boss and best friend Benedict, and while those years add wisdom, they can also create ennui. So it takes Johnny quite a while to notice there's something very wrong on page eight of his latest report, and even longer to realize what that means and what he has to do about it.
Justin Bieber is getting an early Christmas present next week: no, not a bundle of joy, but rather a No. 1 album as “Under The Mistletoe” is on target to sell up to 220,000 copies.
That would make the title Bieber’s third No. 1 album. And he’s only 17. But “Mistletoe” is only one of six new titles revamping the top 10 of the Billboard 200 next week. Bolstered by the success of hit single, “That Way,” rapper Wale could see “Ambition” blast onto the chart at No. 2, with sales of as much as 175,000 copies. That’s certainly a nice leap from his last album, which peaked at No. 21, according to Billboard.
Susan Boyle’s “Someone To Watch Over Me,” also looks strong with the potential to sell 150,000 in its opening frame. Boyle has become a standby for fourth quarter releases since capturing the world’s attention on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
A quick review of tonight's "Boss" coming up just as soon as I compare myself to Hitchcock...
We learned last week that The Observers are probably St. Louis Cardinals fans. How else to explain the machinations that led to the delay of this week’s “Fringe”? Maybe the return of Peter Bishop to the show prompted them to realize that they needed to interfere more, not less, with the course of human history. Who knows? In any case, we’re back tonight with “Novation,” an episode that re-inserted Peter Bishop into the mix but didn’t really solve any of the problems that his absence created. If that sentence makes your blood boil, don’t bother to read on. I promise I won’t take it personally. For the rest of you? Let’s continue.
It’s only fitting that the title of the episode comes from the legal system. Novation refers to the replacement of one obligation with a new one, or replacing a party involved in said obligation with a new member. Given the shapeshifting nature of tonight’s plot, the title is clearly meant to be ironic. But the tortured definition offers a few sentences ago speaks volumes about the insane narrative weight under which the show is currently operating. If the title of the episode meant to evoke the ways in which the new breed of shapeshifters can weave their way even more insidiously into our world, it also evoked the reality that Peter’s presence only leads to a new set of conundrums to replace the old ones.
A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I come back from four weeks of snorkling and sexual experimentation in Hawaii…
Real Estate's first music video from new record "Days" is for the dogs.
Beginning with what appears to be a Ralph Lauren commercial circa 1987 tumults into an amiable Twilight Zone of happy pooches in "It's Real." The clip was shot in Livingston, N.Y. and directed by Weird Days, who named themselves keenly.
The 45th Annual CMA Awards, country music’s equivalent to the Grammys, will air Nov. 9 on ABC. The performance-packed show already has a number of potential water cooler moments, including Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill’s salute to Glen Campbell; Lionel Richie singing a number of his hits with top country artists (all of whom appear on his forthcoming country album); the past and present meeting in Blake Shelton and Kenny Loggins’ duet on “Footloose, ” and appearances by Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, American Idols’ Scotty McCreery, Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. No Gwyneth Paltrow repeat performance though.
In between the singing, they’ll give away a few awards. Here are my predictions for the winners. It’s a tough year with no clear front runner in many categories (I left out vocal group since Sugarland is a lock). Tune back here the night of the show as I’ll be blogging the proceedings live.
Single of the Year (award goes to artist and producer)
“A Little Bit Stronger,” Sara Evans
“Colder Weather,” Zac Brown Band
“Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
“Honey Bee,” Blake Shelton
“If I Die Young,” The Band Perry
“If I Die Young” has a lock on song of the year, but I don’t know if it has the same hold on single in this very competitive category. Plus, I don’t understand why “Dirt Road Anthem” isn’t on this list as it would be my winner. All the songs were huge hits and my favorite is “Colder Weather,” but probably only because it would have made a great James Taylor tune (loved his duet with ZBB on it, by the way). Shelton’s performance on the sweet, uncomplicated “Honey Bee” is classic country.
Winner: “Honey Bee,” Blake Shelton
Album of the Year
“All About Tonight,” Blake Shelton
“My Kinda Party,” Jason Aldean
“Speak Now,” Taylor Swift
“This Is Country Music,” Brad Paisley
“You Get What You Give,” Zac Brown Band
This is between “My Kinda Party,” which has stayed in the top 5 of the Billboard country albums chart for a full year and really marked Aldean’s breakthrough, and “Speak Now,” which started out incredibly strong (1 million its first week) and has still sold tremendously well. I don’t know if an artist on an indie label has ever won this award so Aldean may be the first to do so, however, we think Swift will prevail.
Winner: “Speak Now”
Song of the Year (award goes to songwriters)
“Colder Weather” (Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey and Coy Bowles)
“Dirt Road Anthem” (Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford)
“If I Die Young” (Kimberly Perry)
“Mean” (Taylor Swift)
“You And Tequila” (Matraca Berg and Deana Carter)
Nice batch of tunes and it’s nice to see some not so usual names here among the songwriters. “You and Tequila” is my personal favorite here, but there is no denying the impact that “If I Die Young” has had in terms of its poignancy and potency: “The sharp knife of a short life...”
Winner: “If I Die Young”
A couple of things are unusual about the Academy Salute to Vanessa Redgrave, an AMPAS tribute evening (not to be confused with the Governors' Awards) dedicated to the Oscar-winning British acting legend, and taking place next Sunday. For one thing, it's being held in London, where Redgrave is currently performing on stage in a West End revival of "Driving Miss Daisy" -- the first time one of these AMPAS Salutes has taken place outside the US. (Which is lucky for me: I've got an invite.)
Furthermore, I can't remember the last time one of these evenings -- which have in recent years been held for the likes of Malcolm McDowell, Robert Evans and the late Hal Ashby -- was staged for someone already in the thick of Oscar talk that year: Redgrave is currently a Best Supporting Actress frontrunner for her tremendous performance in Ralph Fiennes's revisionist Shakespeare adaptation "Coriolanus." A tribute evening like this has no real bearing on the awards themselves, but this is nonetheless a nice bit of lily-gilding to kick off what promises to be a busy awards season for the veteran actress.