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I'll say this much… if you're a fan of the podcast at all, this is your lucky week.
This is the first of two full podcasts we recorded this week. The other will be up at some point tomorrow, and features one of my favorite segments from the two years we've been doing this.
Today, though, we've got a preposterous amount of material to share with you, and I decided to have Scott help me introduce four separate interviews I conducted over the course of the Toronto International Film Festival that just wrapped up.
One of the reasons I'm grateful for the Midnight Madness programming at the festival is because it would be easy to get worn down by the serious fare that the festival offers all day long, and Midnight Madness is always full of the most delightful lunatics. Where else are you going to see crazy Indonesian action, a dark killing spree comedy, creepy possession horror, and bizarre dark French fairy tales all in the same line-up?
At one point more than half way through “Pearl Jam Twenty,” Cameron Crowe’s very affectionate look at the Seattle band’s first two decades, founding member Stone Gossard muses, “No one can put a finger on what keeps us coming back together.”
That’s the beautiful, mystical alchemy of a great band, isn’t it? There is something elusive and indefinable that holds the members together that transcends petty arguments, creative differences or band wives, and that keeps them, as my late Billboard editor Timothy White used to say, locked in a dance they can’t get out of. It’s a hit— a fix— that they can not get through any other chemical or combination.
Pearl Jam was born on the back of a tragedy and, in some ways, that loss haunts and drives them to this day. In a very simple explanation, Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament were in Mother Love Bone with glittering star/lead singer Andrew Wood. After his death from a drug overdose in 1990, the pair found themselves in need of a new lead singer and ultimately connected with Eddie Vedder, who moved from San Diego to Seattle to join the band. Six days later (!!!), they, along with guitarist Mike McCready and original drummer Dave Krusen (the first of five drummers) were on stage playing “Alive.” The footage from that first concert shows something coalescing, some magical inchoate idea/structure evolving before our eyes. Superstardom followed. The fact that Pearl Jam existed only because someone died is a hell of an albatross.
[More after the jump...]
Chris Pratt seems to be living a charmed life.
It would be lovely to report that he's a jerk who seems ungrateful and who is nowhere near as likable off-screen as he is on-screen, but that would be wildly untrue. Instead, we have to contend with the possibility that he's a genuinely nice guy who happens to be just the right combination of talented, hard-working, and lucky. I spent some time on the set of Nick Stoller's new film "A Five-Year Engagement" this summer, and I met Pratt for the first time there. He's got a major supporting role in the film as one of Jason Segel's best friends, and he struck me right away as a young guy who is still defining himself in this business, but who is grateful for every break he's had so far, and who understands that each new role is an opportunity to expand his range and prove what he can do.
In "Unforgettable" (10 p.m., CBS), Poppy Montgomery plays Carrie Wells, a woman with an extremely rare condition that allows her to recall ever moment of her life in perfect, vivid detail. The condition, which a handful of Americans have in real life, was the subject of a "60 Minutes" feature last year, in which it was discovered that one of the people who has it is former "Taxi" star Marilu Henner. In a bit of corporate synergy, CBS' entertainment division decided to turn the feature into a weekly drama series - with Henner on board as a consultant - and gave Henner's super power to Carrie, a former Syracuse cop who winds up helping out the NYPD.
When you look at sound mixer Scott Millan's pedigreed resume, the last thing he seems to need is another award. Four Oscars (for "Apollo 13," "Gladiator," "Ray" and "The Bourne Ultimatum") with another four nods besides, three BAFTA awards, five Emmys for daytime soap "The Young and the Restless" and two honors from the Motion Picture Sound Editors organization, for "American Beauty." That's quite the haul.
Millan has also been awarded three times by the Cinema Audio Society over the years, including a somewhat unexpected win in 2003 for "Road to Perdition." (Blockbusters "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" and "Spider-Man," as well as eventual Oscar-winning musical "Chicago" seemed likelier victors.) Well, the Society is set to recognize him once again at February's 48th annual CAS Awards, with a coveted lifetime achievement award.
CBS kept the "Two and a Half Men" season premiere - the first episode of the series with Ashton Kutcher, and perhaps more importantly, the first without Charlie Sheen - under careful wraps, to heighten anticipation and increase tune-in. (And based on some early morning tweets from CBS execs, it worked.) Fienberg offered his review of the premiere last night, and I have a few thoughts about how this whole affair continues to unfold coming up just as soon as I buy a Zune...
“Did you like the movie?” Nicolas Winding Refn asks buoyantly from a New York sidewalk, as he takes a brief stroll around the block from his hotel. He’s escaped for a hit of air in the midst of a packed publicity schedule, but if he’s at all tired, that isn’t coming through the phone line – the city gives him a buzz, he says. In any case, his question is phrased with jazzed excitement rather than uncertainty: it’s one to which he has every reason to be confident of the answer.
The movie in question, of course, is “Drive,” Refn’s sleek, sexy, bubblegum-flavored fast-car thriller that hit US theaters on Friday. I like it very much indeed, but that hardly makes me special; since bowing in competition at Cannes, where it scooped the Best Director prize for the 40-year-old Dane, the film has collected more critical valentines than are usually reserved for the kind of high-octane action-fests that have a natural home in the multiplex.
Then again, Refn directs it as if he were Henry Higgins to “Fast Five”’s Eliza Doolittle, with a discerning eye, a literate ear and a healthy streak of European eccentricity: without wishing to speak for the Justin Lins of this world, it seems unlikely that most filmmakers would find their prime creative inspiration for such a project in the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm.
Midway through the premiere episode of the new FOX sitcom "New Girl," the show's heroine Jess (Zooey Deschanel) tries to counsel new roommate Nick (Jake Johnson) about a bad break-up. She tells Nick that living with regret isn't good for anyone, and Nick - who, like his other two roommates, has struggled to adjust to Jess's many quirks since she moved in - retorts, "Or I could pretend to be more like you, Jess, and live on a sparkly rainbow and drive a unicorn around and just sing all the time."
With "New Girl," which debuts tonight at 9, there is no middle ground. You either want to live on a sparkly rainbow and drive a unicorn with Zooey Deschanel, or you find her insufferably twee and cringe every time she starts singing her own theme song or dropping "Lord of the Rings" references.
In today's round-up, Mark Harris brings up something I've been wondering about lately: Could Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion," a well-regarded, star-studded, financially successful piece of smart dramatic filmmaking be in the hunt for Best Picture recognition? I've had at least one conversation with an Academy member who considers it one of the year's best films. Warner Bros. will already have plenty to work with in "J. Edgar" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," not to mention a planned Best Picture push for the critically acclaimed and box office-busting "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," but talk about a varied slate. Let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...
Ah, our first introduction to our stars as they trot down the stairs. First thought – some of the stars seem comfortable and have a spring in their step, and some are Rob Kardashian.