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<p>The cast of FOX's &quot;New Girl&quot;</p>
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The cast of FOX's "New Girl"

Credit: FOX

TV Review: FOX's 'New Girl'

As you may have heard, Zooey Deschanel is a fine reason to watch this one
If you haven't already read Mo Ryan's excellently reported feature about the declining number of female writers and producers in Hollywood, you really should.
 
Ryan was writing in response to the annual study from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film indicating a significant drop in the percentage of women writing for broadcast television. 
 
That study and its discouraging words pointed to the 2010-2011 TV season and while it's too soon to project how next year's study will pan out, I suspect there's cause for at least guarded optimism. 
 
I made my list of Fall TV Season's 10 Least Bad New Network Shows last night and of the 10 pilots I picked, seven were created or co-created by a female writer and the percentage of those standout shows to feature a female character or female characters in lead roles was even higher. You'd have to be a dreamer to think that in one year, there'd been a meaningful sea change in the industry, but I'm equally hesitant to think of it as a total aberration. 
 
I'm so darned peppy about this possible new semi-trend that I'm not going to quibble that three of the shows in my Top 5 -- "New Girl," "Hart of Dixie" and "Suburgatory" -- are mighty similar female-driven fish-out-of-water stories. Hollywood's creative laziness very rarely benefits women and it isn't really creative laziness if all three shows are also clever and likable, is it?
 
First out of the gates for this trio is "New Girl" -- No "The" no matter how many times I type it and have to delete it -- in which creator Liz Meriwether and star Zooey Deschanel fuse seamlessly in a way that sometimes  even the best of showrunners and stars take years to achieve. If you like Zooey Deschanel, this is Zooey Deschanel at her best. 
 
And if you don't like Zooey Deschanel? Well, you probably hate puppies, rainbows and unicorns as well. 
 
[I kid. I understand as well as anybody does that Zooey Deschanel is a polarizing figure. I can imagine "New Girl" converting a few doubters, but Zooey fandom and its antithesis are pretty entrenched positions. I'd add that this is not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl performance/character, but like so many good ideas Manic Pixie Dream Girl has lost enough meaning that detractors have decided that "Zooey = Manic Pixie Dream Girl" is a worthy formula, which it didn't used to be. But that's an entirely different article/review/meditation and I'm not going to get into it here.]
 
Full review after the break...
 
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<p>Bobcat Goldthwait is just one of the filmmakers who sat down with us during the Toronto Film Festival this year.</p>

Bobcat Goldthwait is just one of the filmmakers who sat down with us during the Toronto Film Festival this year.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Listen: The MCP interviews Bobcat Goldthwait, Eduardo Sanchez, and 'Livid' filmmakers from Toronto

This week's podcast is stuffed with Midnight Madness discussion

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?

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<p>Eddie Vedder in &quot;Pearl Jam 20&quot;</p>

Eddie Vedder in "Pearl Jam 20"

Review: Does Cameron Crowe's rock documentary 'Pearl Jam Twenty' shine?

Is there an 'Evenflow' to the film?

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...]

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<p>Zooey Deschanel</p>
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Zooey Deschanel

Watch: Zooey Deschanel talks 'New Girl,' weighs in on 'adorkable'

FOX's newest comedy star explains how she's like her character
There is a fine between asking Zooey Deschanel how she feels about being adorable and asking her opinion of "adorkable," a word accompanying her image on posters and billboards nationwide.
 
Or at least I hope there is. 
 
I sat down last week with Deschanel, star of the new FOX comedy "New Girl," to discuss the development of her free-spirited and zany character, what drew her to the small screen and the sensation of hearing that your face is stories high in Times Square. 
 
Oh and if you're curious, the "Elf" and "(500) Days of Summer" star doesn't mind the word "adorkable," though you're going to have to watch the interview to find out why not.
 
"New Girl" premieres on FOX on Tuesday (September 20) at 9 p.m. 
 
Check out my interview (and read Sepinwall's interview, which is longer, but features less Zooey imagery).
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<p>Chris Pratt sat down with us in Toronto to discuss his new film 'Moneyball'</p>

Chris Pratt sat down with us in Toronto to discuss his new film 'Moneyball'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Chris Pratt talks about playing sports for 'Moneyball'

Plus how big a role does baseball play in his real life?

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.

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<p>Poppy Montgomery studies a crime scene in &quot;Unforgettable.&quot;</p>

Poppy Montgomery studies a crime scene in "Unforgettable."

Credit: CBS

Review: CBS' 'Unforgettable' a dull police procedural

Poppy Montgomery can remember everything, but you likely won't

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.

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<p>Scott Millan accepts the Best Sound Mixing Oscar for &quot;The&nbsp;Bourne Ultimatum&quot;&nbsp;at the 80th annual Academy&nbsp;Awards.</p>

Scott Millan accepts the Best Sound Mixing Oscar for "The Bourne Ultimatum" at the 80th annual Academy Awards.

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

'Captain America' and 'The Help' sound mixer Scott Millan to be feted by CAS

Long and illustrious career has included Oscars for 'Apollo 13,' 'Gladiator,' 'Ray' and 'The Bourne Ultimatum'

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.

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<p>The new &quot;Two and a Half Men&quot;&nbsp;cast, with Ashton Kutcher joining Angus T. Jones and Jon Cryer.</p>

The new "Two and a Half Men" cast, with Ashton Kutcher joining Angus T. Jones and Jon Cryer.

Credit: CBS

'Two and a Half Men' - Good riddance, Charlie Harper

Did Ashton Kutcher's intro take too many shots at Charlie Sheen?

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...

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<p>Nicolas Winding Refn on the set of &quot;Drive&quot;</p>

Nicolas Winding Refn on the set of "Drive"

Credit: FilmDistrict

Interview: 'Drive' director Nicolas Winding Refn

We talk to the filmmaker about fashioning 'a real hero' out of neo-noir pulp

“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.

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<p>Zooey Deschanel and her &quot;New Girl&quot;&nbsp;roommates (from left, Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris).</p>

Zooey Deschanel and her "New Girl" roommates (from left, Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris).

Credit: FOX

Review: FOX's 'New Girl' showcases Zooey Deschanel

Indie film/music star is adorable, but if you don't like her, you won't like her show

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.

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<p>Could &quot;Contagion&quot;&nbsp;be a potential Best&nbsp;Picture contender in a leaderless field?</p>

Could "Contagion" be a potential Best Picture contender in a leaderless field?

Credit: Warner Bros.

Oscarweb Round-up: Are we all underestimating 'Contagion?'

Also: Madonna reportedly set to re-cut 'W.E.' and Melissa McCarthy from Emmy to Oscar?

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...

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"Dancing with the Stars"

"Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: The 'Dancing with the Stars' contestants hit the floor for the first time

Some stars dance, others just stumble around

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.

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