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<p>Idina Menzel and Lea Michele of &quot;Glee&quot;</p>
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Idina Menzel and Lea Michele of "Glee"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'I Am Unicorn'

A familiar face returns to Lima, and shakes things up for several members of New Directions

“I Am Unicorn” is a statement about “Glee” itself as much as the characters involved in tonight’s central plots. The hour concerns identity, and how people often view themselves in terms of how they are viewed by others. That’s not a radical way to structure an episode of television, but know what? “Glee” excels when it keeps things simple. At the same time, the multifaceted ways in which that theme played out amongst Kurt, Brittany, Quinn, and others also represents the multifaceted show that is “Glee.” Sometimes, that combination is an ugly mess, slapping disparate elements together to form a horrific Frankenstein of a television program. But as character after character rediscovered things about themselves tonight, perhaps the show rediscovered a few things about itself as well.

The strongest elements of this rediscovery centered around the show actually remembering its own history. “Glee” has this horrible way of rewriting motivations and situations in order to fit whatever they want to accomplish in a particular scene , never mind a particular episode. Reintroducing Shelby Corcoran (guest star Idina Menzel) seemed like a stunt at first, akin perhaps to bringing back Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday. But each scene with her reignited a long-dormant storyline, ones that I forgot because the show had forgotten them as well. Whether bringing Shelby back at this point was intentional or accidentally is besides the point, because either was it is pretty much a masterstroke. Why? Because it forces a multitude of characters to re-evaluate themselves at a critical point in their lives. She functions like Gus Fring from “Breaking Bad”, but with a pitch pipe in lieu of a box cutter.

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Watch: Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris talk 'New Girl'

Meet the New Guy who isn't playing the same character as Damon Wayans Jr.
The comedy airing on FOX tonight at 9 p.m. is still called "New Girl," but more than a few viewers are likely to spend tonight's episode being just a bit distracted by the New Guy.
 
The story is pretty well repeated by this point, but here it goes again: Damon Wayans Jr. did the "New Girl" pilot in second position to ABC's "Happy Endings," which was considered on the bubble for renewal. But when ABC picked up "Happy Endings," the "New Girl" producers had a choice: Recast and reshoot the pilot or get rid of Wayans' Coach after the pilot and bring in a new character.
 
That's why tonight, there's a new roommate on "New Girl" and it isn't Zooey Deschanel anymore, it's Lamorne Morris.
 
Before watching tonight's episode, learn a bit about the New Guy from Morris and learn a little bit about one of the Old Guys from "Veronica Mars" (and "Happy Endings") veteran Greenfield.
 
Check it out...
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<p>Adam punching Zeus in Shaun Levy's &quot;Real Steel.&quot;</p>

Adam punching Zeus in Shaun Levy's "Real Steel."

Credit: Dreamworks Studios

Review: 'Real Steel' is great family fun, even without the robots

This might be the best Amblin' throwback yet

I think it's safe to say I have not been kind to the work of Shawn Levy in print so far.

"Big Fat Liar."  "Just Married."  "Cheaper By The Dozen."  "The Pink Panther."  Both of the "Night At The Museum" films.  That's a painful list.  But it's also a list of films that managed to do well at the box-office, well enough in some cases to see Levy climb onto the A-list.  He's the sort of filmmaker executives love, good with the talent, able to work within a budget, and he makes films that make money.  It should come as no surprise, then, that when Amblin' and producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford went looking for a director for "Real Steel," Levy would be one of the names on their list.

What is a surprise to me is how well Levy seems to have done at making a genuine mid-'80s Amblin' movie.  I know we heard a lot of talk about how "Super 8" was the Spielberg fetish film this year, and certainly that movie indulged a lot of stylistic touches that were designed to evoke that Amblin' feeling.   I'd say it's proof that you're as strong as the actual script you shoot, and John Gatins has taken a whole lot of familiar and done something special with it, something that Levy benefits from as much as he does from a game and able cast.

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<p>Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays</p>
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Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays

Watch: Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays talk 'Glee'

What are Beiste and Emma up to this fall?
Even after last week's uber-clarifying "Glee" premiere, I'll confess that I'm still not 100 percent sure which characters are actually graduating, which are seniors but candidates to be held back a year and which characters have suddenly become underclassmen. 
 
I do, however, know that two characters who aren't likely to be receiving diplomas at the end of the the season are Dot-Marie Jones' Coach Beiste and Jayma Mays' Emma Pillsbury.
 
The two characters, who really only have shared passing lunchroom scenes last year, are on a collision course this fall, when they're united as the unlikely directors of the McKinley High musical.
 
I sat down with the two co-stars to chat about their expanded responsibilities and what we'll be learning about their characters this season. Check it out...
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<p>Michael&nbsp;Shannon grapples with paranoia in Jeff Nichols's &quot;Take Shelter&quot;</p>

Michael Shannon grapples with paranoia in Jeff Nichols's "Take Shelter"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Interview: Michael Shannon on 'Take Shelter,' director Jeff Nichols and 'it' girl Jessica Chastain

The actor delivers a powerhouse performance in the film

Actor Michael Shannon first met director Jeff Nichols through the latter's film school connections. North Carolina School of the Arts professor Gary Hawkins had a project at the Sundance Film Festival's Filmmaker's Lab some years back called "Down Time," which featured Shannon. Nichols saw it, loved the actor's work and knew he had to write a project for him.

Out of that came "Shotgun Stories" --  the 2007 Arkansas familial drama that netted the director awards recognition at festivals and at the Independent Spirit Awards -- and it was as simple as a phone call and a "let's do this" (no deals or payment terms were laid out) to get it going. More importantly, it was the beginning of a collaboration Shannon very much appreciates.

"The first time I read 'Shotgun Stories,' I was like, 'Oh, I get this,'" the actor says. "'I know what he's trying to do.' We've always kind of had an unspoken understanding. You just luck out, to find people like that."

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Bruno Mars' pens kiss-off 'Rain' track for 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn'

Is this sad jammer for Bella and Jacob?

Fans of the "Twilight" series -- or at least the soundtracks -- now have a first taste of the "Breaking Dawn" set.

Bruno Mars has dropped kiss-off single "It Will Rain" today (Sept. 27), and boy is it stormy.

I wish the acclaimed singer/songwriter wasn't yelling at me the entire time, but at least he's pushing his range and there's no irritating, requisite rap verse. The bass end is pushed way, way up in the mix, giving it a Timberlake sheen.

So what do you think this song with soundtrack in the movie? Does Jacob fall out of love with Edward? Does Bella have to put down a kitten?

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<p>Tom Waits</p>

Tom Waits

Listen: Tom Waits brings 'Back' a bawler

Songwriter releases another song from 'Bad As Me'

Tom Waits new album title "Bad as Me" certainly has a tinge of brawler, but his newly released song "Back in the Crowd" is trending bawler. And by that I mean I just slow-danced by myself and had a good cry.

Purchase the track through the usual digital suspects or listen for free on Spotify.

The Southwestern, nylon-string-enhanced loner ballad is the second track to arrive from the new Anti- album, after the stomping title track.

"Bad as Me" is out Oct. 24.

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<p>Mastodon, &quot;The Hunter&quot; (I mean, just look at it.)</p>

Mastodon, "The Hunter" (I mean, just look at it.)

Credit: Reprise

Album review: Mastodon, 'The Hunter'

Enter here, metal and non-metal fans

Now is the perfect time for Mastodon’s “The Hunter” arrival. This month has been a running log of grunge and ‘90s rock revisits, in addition to the speculation that the Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration album will equal a worst-case scenario. Plus, somehow, Mastodon has spent the last three records as the metal band added to the playlists of people who don’t typically listen to metal. 

The Atlanta-based foursome got a bump, in part, from scoring their first film, 2010’s “Jonah Hex,” and spent the last several years touring with more general rock groups like Cursive, Against Me! and Soundgarden as much as they have with Slayer, Metallica and Killswitch Engage. “Blood Mountain” (2006) and “Crack the Skye” (2009) shared the progressive temperaments of King Crimson and the serrated post-punk and -rock of Helmet along with other typically cited influences. But this latest set is the best testament of Mastodon’s expanding, diverse appeal.
 
“Curl of the Burl” is a good example of this: while it’s not nearly my favorite track on the album overall, it has all the trappings of a mainstream hard rock hit. The band flies into the triumphantly dark “All the Heavy Lifting” with the thrashy encouragement to “Just close your eyes / And pretend everything’s fine” during its enormous chorus – this right before the comparatively tender title track, its vocals ripped from an Ozzy instructional guide.
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"The Rachel Zoe Project"

"The Rachel Zoe Project"

Credit: Bravo

'The Rachel Zoe Project''s Jeremiah and Joey talk about what it takes to please their boss

The stylist's helpers describe how motherhood transformed Rachel Zoe

On "The Rachel Zoe Project" (Tues. at 9 p.m. on Bravo), Joey Maalouf and Jeremiah Brent are hardly the best of friends. Jeremiah, who was hired by Rachel despite a lack of experience simply because she liked his "vibe," was an unknown quantity, while her beloved longtime friend Joey is understandably skeptical of the new kid. But in a conference call with reporters, Jeremiah and Joey seem to have gotten past their rough start. "I don't think we were ever not friends," Maalouf says. "But being Rachel's friend for years, and I trust Mandana's [Zoe's assistant] judgment more than anybodys. I wanted to trust Jeremiah, but I took a couple steps back. There was never really a title [for Jeremiah], never a job description, so I had a million questions in my head. I tend to test people without realizing. It's a product of my personality that comes out. It takes me a minute to trust people."

For his part, Jeremiah took Joey's icy welcome in stride. "I think I was very aware coming in what I was getting myself into. The people around her are very protective and rightfully so. Joey has a good heart, and as the show progresses this season, you'll watch relationships evolve. I was the new guy. You've got to give the new guy some shit."

Both men agree about the other new guy on the scene -- Rachel's newborn son. "He brought a lot of love and a lot of energy and brought out a different side of Rachel," says Maalouf. "She became this amazing strong, confident, sexy woman. And he brought out a lot of patience in her. She's not usually patient, but now that she has him, she's become really patient."

"I started working for Rachel when she was pregnant," Jeremiah adds. "I never got the other version of Rachel. She was happy all the time, she didn't stress out a lot. Her ability to relinquish control is a lot different, so I've heard. Watching her with Skyler now, it's pretty amazing. He's number one."
 
Though both men come from backgrounds outside of the fashion industry (Maalouf was a hair and make-up artist while Jeremiah was an interior designer), they feel they've unraveled the secret to working with Zoe. The good news is, if you're confident, she won't micromanage. "I think it's all about getting acclimated. I want to get the job done quickly as possible, and I think that's the key to Rachel," Jeremiah says. "She wants strong, confident people who can get the job done quick. She's always been really great and given me free reign creatively and trusted my design aesthetic. She allows you to grow. It's new for me to have someone to actually learn from."
 
"She really trusts that you know what you're doing, so styling for me came naturally to work with her, because I'll say that's ugly or I don't think that's the right thing," Maalouf says. "If you're strong enough to say your opinion out loud to her, she has confidence in you. She likes it when people have lists in their head constantly."

On October 4, the show will air its Oscar episode, during which Zoe dresses host Anne Hathaway and an assortment of other stars for Hollywood's big night. Even for Zoe (who was still pregnant at the time), it was a daunting task. "It was pretty insane," Maalouf admits. "It was the most major Oscars. She's been doing this for 20 years, and it was an insane thing for her. She got run down, and it was hard for her... She's like a robotic woman. And in heels. I swear she's made of steel sometimes.
 
For Jeremiah, though, the Oscars were no more surprising than any other day at the office. "Everything's a surprise working with Rachel," he says with a laugh. "The biggest thing I learned is she has a public persona. One of the questions I get is, have you had any dragon lady moments? No. Really, it's like a big family, a lot of love and support." Aw, come on. Rachel Zoe, cuddly earth mother? What is the world coming to?
 
 
 
 
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<p>A&nbsp;Cubs fan is not happy with Steve Bartman in the documentary &quot;Catching Hell.&quot;</p>

A Cubs fan is not happy with Steve Bartman in the documentary "Catching Hell."

Credit: ESPN

Review: ESPN's '30 for 30' brand lives on with 'Catching Hell'

Alex Gibney's stirring defense of Cubs fan Steve Bartman

ESPN's 30th anniversary was more than two years ago, and it's been almost a year since the "30 for 30" documentary series - designed to both celebrate the anniversary and show off ESPN's reach and creativity - concluded. (You can read my reviews of most of the "30 for 30" docs here and here.) But having discovered that there's an appetite for off-beat, deeply personal films about sports stories big and small, ESPN has wisely kept the concept going - if not the name(*) - and the now-rechristened "ESPN Films Presents" series has a very strong unofficial kick-off with the 8 p.m. debut tonight of Alex Gibney's "Catching Hell."

(*) Personally, I'd have kept it as "30 for 30 Presents." They spent more than a year building up brand equity, and it just sounds cooler than "ESPN Films Presents," frankly.

"Catching Hell" - the story of infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman, who was the scapegoat when the Cubs failed to reach the World Series in 2003 - was originally supposed to be part of "30 for 30," but Gibney's schedule, film festival eligibility and other issues pushed it back to now. It was worth the wait.

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Album Review: Switchfoot's 'Vice Verses'

Album Review: Switchfoot's 'Vice Verses'

Band shows off its different sides of solid, thoughtful effort

Life is complicated. That’s not a new revelation, of course, but it’s the guiding theme on Switchfoot’s new album,  the cleverly titled “Vice Verses,” out today.

For every blessing, as lead singer Jon Foreman sings on the gentle, contemplative title track, there are curses. While we’re busy navigating life’s land mines, there’s beauty and sorrow going on, usually simultaneously.

The album’s second track, the propulsive, psychedelic “The Original,” sounds quite unlike anything the band has ever done before. And maybe that’s the point of “Vice Verses.” The album is all over the map musically, touching on every corner of the rock spectrum.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Will the holiday drama catch its stride in the season?</p>

Will the holiday drama catch its stride in the season?

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Steven Spielberg gets you ready for Christmas with this 'War Horse' poster

Jeremy Irvine stars in the film adaptation of the hit play

One of the great unknowns of the season still is Steven Spielberg's "War Horse." Having already bowed a trailer soaked in Oscar bait (which some accused of being incredibly forced) in the summer, the studio has today premiered a poster, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly. Most are still predicting big things for the film sight-unseen, but who knows if it can hold up to the expectation and scrutiny. "Munich" was forced into a similar corner in 2005 and turned out a Best Picture nominee in the end, but this film will have the added boost of Spielberg visibility both this year and the week of release, as his "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" hits theaters a few days earlier. Check out the full poster after the jump.

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