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<p>The cast of ABC's 'Revenge'</p>
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The cast of ABC's 'Revenge'

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'

This 'Count of Monte Cristo Lite' is either trash or trashy fun

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]

Show: "Revenge," ABC
The Pitch:"It's a reverse-gendered 'Count of Monte Cristo' *by* people who have never read 'Count of Monte Cristo' and *for* people who have never read 'Count of Monte Cristo.'"
Quick Response: For years, I've always thought that it was mind-boggling that nobody had made a high school version of of "Count of Monte Cristo." The concept seemed like such a no-brainer. Well, now ABC has *kinda* done a high school version, only the main characters are pretending to be in their 20s, even if they look indistinguishable from the current cast of "90210." No matter how old the characters are supposed to be, "Revenge" is a trashy teen soap set in the Hamptons, an effort far better suited for The CW than ABC and not especially well suited for airing in the fall and winter months where it's going to be stuck. And even though referencing "Monte Cristo" is unavoidable, it hasn't even scraped the skin of Dumas, so just as ABC's press material ignores any possible literary root, viewers would be well advised to do the same (easier done from some than others). A few people loved "Swingtown," but my feeling is that Mike Kelley has a tendency to embrace trashiness and he's found a willing co-conspirator in "Salt" and "Patriot Games" director Phillip Noyce, who's gleefully slumming on the pilot, practically parodying the Aussie thrillers (like "Dead Calm") on which he cut his teeth. Wacky camera angle! Corny musical sting! Vampy starlet casting an all-too-knowing scowl! Or maybe it isn't parody? Maybe sometimes you hire Phillip Noyce and you get the director of "The Quiet American" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence" and even Showtime's "Brotherhood" and sometimes you get the director of "Sliver." Here? "Sliver." I've always liked Emily Van Camp, but I wouldn't have guessed her capable of playing a vengeful badass and the pilot didn't sway me, especially a flashback sequence towards the end that had me laughing out loud. She's cute and winsome and her character knows and repeats a lot of quotes about revenge, but Blair Waldorf would tear her to shreds. None of the other young actors even vaguely register, other than the weirdness of seeing Connor Paolo (speaking of "Gossip Girl") fumbling through an attempt to play blue-collar. On the "older" side of the equation, Madeleine Stowe and Henry Czerny are in a different, more grown-up show, not that Czerny has ever been afraid to ham it up. Like a dumber "Damages," "Revenge" opens on a murder and flashes back to the set-up months earlier, but I hope the producers have a one-season resolution in mind.
Desire To Watch Again: There's nothing about "Revenge" that I would categorize as "good," other than the reasonably high production values, but this is still the sort of cheesy series I could see watching for a little while. As potential guilty pleasures go, this is still far above The CW's somewhat similarly tawdry, tacky "Ringer."

Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

 

 

 

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<p>Rihanna</p>
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Rihanna

Credit: Brian Jones

Music Power Rankings: Adele, Rihanna and Chris Brown make the list

So do Spotify and Pandora

1) Spotify (not ranked): The ad-supported streaming service (or users can choose two premium, ad-free tiers) finally arrives stateside and it brings 15 million tracks with it. We doubt Steve Jobs has lost one minute’s sleep over this.

2) Adele (not ranked): Another week, another record or two: “Rolling in the Deep” becomes the biggest crossover hit in the last 25 years and “21” surpasses Eminem’s “Recovery” as the top-selling digital album since Nielsen SoundScan started keeping track.

3) Rihanna (not ranked): She overtakes Lady Gaga as the female artist with the most “friends” on Facebook, but the little monsters rally. As of this writing, LG is less than 50,000 behind.  We expect her fans will work their fingers down to the nubs to get her back into prime position.

4) Lyor Cohen (not ranked):
The Warner Music Group chief of recorded music is expected to get the big bump up to the Chairman/CEO spot, according to the rumor mill, following WMG’s sale to Len Blavatnik by current CEO/chairman Edgar Bronfman and his partners.

5) Chris Brown (not ranked): He draws a record-breaking crowd of more than 18,000 for his Today” show appearance on Friday. Following that and his big wins at the BET Awards, it’s clear that it’s okay to beat a woman and that the public will not only forgive you, but exalt you a few years later. (I would just like to compare this to Leann Rimes, who had an affair with a man she’s now married to, and seems to not be able to come back no matter what and continues to be condemned...just as long as we’ve got our priorities straight).

6) Clear Channel (not ranked):
The radio giant takes huge measures to increase awareness for I Heart Radio, its web offering, by announcing a two-day festival, Sept. 23-24, featuring Lady Gaga, Coldplay, The Black Eyed Peas (God, when does that hiatus begin?) Nicki Minaj, Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood and many more. Anyone want to still pretend that radio isn’t still king? Or at least prince?

7) Pandora (not ranked): The service that Clear Channel is taking on head to head with I Heart Radio’s upcoming ability for listeners to create their own station streams, hits 100 million users. That’s a pretty good head start.

8) Jennifer Lopez (not ranked): She likely says yes to “American Idol” for another year for at least $12 million, but no to Marc Anthony as the pair announce their split. I did not see that one coming.

9) Mathew Knowles (not ranked): Did Live Nation set him up by telling his daughter Beyonce that he was allegedly taking money from her? He sues and Live Nation lawyers up with a very big name. Blood may be thicker than water, but money is thicker than blood.

10) Rob Grill (not ranked): Lead singer of the Grassroots dies from complications of a fall. He will live on forever via such perfect pop tunes as “Midnight Confessions” and “Temptation Eyes.”



 

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<p>Jack (John Barrowman)&nbsp;and Gwen (Eve Myles)&nbsp;go traveling in &quot;Torchwood:&nbsp;Miracle Day.&quot;</p>

Jack (John Barrowman) and Gwen (Eve Myles) go traveling in "Torchwood: Miracle Day."

Credit: Starz/BBC

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Rendition': Aches on a plane

Jack and Gwen run into trouble on a long cross-continental voyage

A review of tonight's "Torchwood: Miracle Day" coming up just as soon as I contribute to our cultural hegemony with a nice frosty cola...

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<p>Ray Romano got the &quot;Men of a Certain Age&quot; cancellation news on the golf course.</p>

Ray Romano got the "Men of a Certain Age" cancellation news on the golf course.

Credit: TNT

TNT cancels 'Men of a Certain Age,' take two: Talking with Mike Royce

The show's co-creator is proud of the 22 episodes he and Ray Romano got to make

Just got off the phone with "Men of a Certain Age" co-creator Mike Royce, whose mood was relatively upbeat in spite of TNT canceling the show this afternoon.

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<p>It was hard for &quot;Friday Night Lights&quot; showrunner to say goodbye to characters like Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and Jason Street (Scott Porter), but the story dictated it.</p>

It was hard for "Friday Night Lights" showrunner to say goodbye to characters like Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and Jason Street (Scott Porter), but the story dictated it.

Credit: NBC/DirecTV

Interview: 'Friday Night Lights' showrunner Jason Katims post-mortems the series finale

On saying goodbye to a town, a team and a whole lot of great actors
(NOTE: This interview was originally posted when the "FNL" finale aired on DirecTV in February.)
 
Jason Katims has had a lot longer to say goodbye to "Friday Night Lights" than the rest of us. The series' longtime showrunner already wrote or co-wrote two previous episodes - season 1's "State" and season 3's "Tomorrow Blues" - that might have had to serve as series finales if not for 11th-hour renewals from NBC and/or DirecTV, and he wrote the series finale, "Always," which wrapped production back in the summer and just finished airing on DirecTV's The 101 Network. (You can read my "Always" review here.)
 
The day before the finale aired, I spoke with Katims about letting go of these characters he's shepherded for five years, about opportunities missed, about the controversial season 2 murder plot, and about the many things that made "Friday Night Lights" so damn great.
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<p>Coach (Kyle Chandler)&nbsp;and Mrs. Coach (Connie Britton)&nbsp;share a tender moment in the &quot;Friday Night Lights&quot;&nbsp;series finale.</p>

Coach (Kyle Chandler) and Mrs. Coach (Connie Britton) share a tender moment in the "Friday Night Lights" series finale.

Credit: NBC/DirecTV

'Friday Night Lights' - 'Always': Texas forever?

Say goodbye to Dillon in the beautiful series finale

Well, damn it. "Friday Night Lights" is over. Earlier today I posted my breakdown of my favorite moments of the series, and you can also read my interview with showrunner Jason Katims about the ups and downs of the series, and Fienberg and I also recorded a podcast looking back over the whole series. And my review of the series finale coming up just as soon as I make it clear that it's not incest...  

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<p>TNT has canceled &quot;Men of a Certain Age.&quot;</p>

TNT has canceled "Men of a Certain Age."

Credit: TNT

TNT cancels 'Men of a Certain Age'

Emmy nominated drama is done after two seasons

TNT has canceled "Men of a Certain Age," the low-rated critical darling starring Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula as the three titular men.

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kelly Clarkson shows her 'Dark Side' in another leaked track

Will you still love her tomorrow?

Kelly Clarkson’s fifth studio album isn’t out for awhile, but as another song leaks, it sure sounds like a winner.



“Dark Side,” a mid-tempo thumper (girl likes her mid-tempo songs, doesn’t she?) opens with a few wispy, Katy Perry-like “oh,ohs” and a jewelry box-sounding tinker before she gets to the point: can her partner love her “even with her dark side.” 



She sounds sweet and vulnerable before the chorus bursts into an explosion that matches the cacophony going on in her own head.
 â€¨Clarkson’s voice sounds great here. There are times when she’s really belting--and she’s a strong belter-- that the pitch doesn’t match the power. Here, both are perfect.



Between “Dark Side” and “Let Me Down,”  which leaked two weeks ago, sounds like Clarkson’s love life has been less than satisfactory lately. But that’s okay. We’ve had enough of silly little love songs.

Clarkson has been downright lowkey about the leaks, taking them in stride. As she posted on her website on Monday, "Well .....I get back in the states from a vacation and somehow like 50 of my songs are leaked on the Internet?! No point in getting angry because there's nothing I can do so I hope y'all like the music. I can't wait for everybody to hear my actual finished 5th album! On a side note, Tahiti is one of the greatest places I've ever been. It's so beautiful! I had an amazing vacation and and got to hang with some awesome people! There's nothing better than dancing, laughing, having a couple drinks, then more dancing, games, and then more laughing :)"



Clarkson will play at the IHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas, which takes place Sept. 23-24.



Listen to “Dark Side” via Idolator.

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<p>Leona Lewis</p>

Leona Lewis

Listen: Leona Lewis 'Collides' with new dance-pop single

Is this song a ripoff?

There's already a fight over who Leona Lewis' "Collide" belongs to, but I'm not sure why it's worth the fuss.

In what is one of the more boring vocal lines to be headed to a top 40 radio station near you, "Collide" features Lewis' best vanilla voice on vanilla lines like “I’ll pick you up when you’re down / Be there when no one’s around." The only way this ear-ingested sleeping pill succeeds is in bucking the cookie-cutter pop recipe of quiet-loud-quiet-loud-bridge-breakdown-loud. She busts out at the end, but I don't feel moved: instead I feel like she shouting that it's the part where I'm supposed to be moved. There's a difference.

For one -- as Idolator also points out -- it's stupid-similar to Alexis Jordan's "Happiness" (probably because it was written by the same person: Autumn Rowe). And Ministry of Sound is claiming that it's also spot-on for Avicii's "Penguin." These are all below. And they are all a testament to larger industry and creative problems. 

Tired now? Me too.

Lewis' third album will drop this November.

[Jump...]

Leona Lewis - Collide (BBC Radio 1 Premiere) by josepvinaixa

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<p>Evan Sneider is the star of the unsettling and unusual 'Girlfriend'</p>

Evan Sneider is the star of the unsettling and unusual 'Girlfriend'

Credit: Wayne/Lauren Film Company

Review: 'Girlfriend' tells uneasy story of love and kindness with unlikely star

Justin Lerner's debut feature hinges on a very special lead performance

It's not often that I can honestly say that a movie strikes me as completely original, but that is true of Justin Lerner's new film "Girlfriend," opening today in New York.  It's the sort of film I have trouble even assigning a genre as I watch it, and I strongly encourage you to get out and support this tiny indie right now while you can, and maybe we'll see this one get a wider release, which it absolutely deserves.

I'm curious what the order of events was for this one.  The lead in the movie, Evan Sneider, is a young man with Down's Syndrome, and I'm curious if the role was written for them or if they went out and found Evan after writing the script.  It's one of those cases where the film wouldn't exist without Evan, and I'm not sure this is the sort of thing you could even put together if you didn't know you had the exact right person to play the part.  Sneider's work in the film is accomplished and moving and, again, original.  I'm so used to the ingrained idea that any time you see someone with Down's in a key role in a film, they'll be portrayed a certain way, that when you see something like this that throws rules out the window, it's enough to make the experience deeply unsetting.

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Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf took a trip back to World War II on tonight's "Leverage."
Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf took a trip back to World War II on tonight's "Leverage."
Credit: TNT

'Leverage' travels back to WWII for 'The Van Gogh Job'

A fun flashback episode and showcase for Aldis Hodge

I write about a lot of TV shows, but there are many more that I watch but don't write about, either due to lack of time, bulk viewing (I tended to marathon "The Good Wife" a lot in season 1, for instance) or simply because there's just not enough meat there to justify episode-by-episode analysis. ("Burn Notice" is a show that I think has slipped into that territory, even though I still enjoy it.)

One of those often-watched, rarely-reviewed shows is "Leverage," and for once I'm a bit ahead of the game, having seen a screener of Sunday night's episode, titled "The Van Gogh Job." It's a notable episode for a few reasons.

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<p>Lenny Kravitz </p>

Lenny Kravitz

Watch: Lenny Kravitz as you've never seen him in new video for 'Stand'

He lets his freak flag fly in '70s game show spoof

We’ve already declared our love for Lenny Kravitz’s new single, the crunchy, infectious pop delight, “Stand.” And now he’s made a Foo Fighters-worthy video to go along with it. And that is high praise indeed.

The song has a ‘70s vibe to it, so it makes perfect sense that the Paul Hunter-directed clip sets the Wayback Machine to a spoof of “Let’s Make A Deal”--the original with Monty Hall, not the current lame version with Wayne Brady.

Kravitz plays obnoxious host Bart Billingsworth as well as bad, hair-flipping Prince clone, Desmond Richie.  As deal after deal goes south for the contestants, drummer Bubba Washington, also played by Kravitz, pulls back the curtain (literally) on the corruption.

[More after the jump...]

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