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<p>Adele and Katy Perry</p>

Adele and Katy Perry

Credit: AP Photos

Adele, Katy Perry lead 2011 music top-sellers: Where's Lady Gaga?

Who comes in first?

It’s the year of the ladies so far: The biggest selling album for the first half of 2011 belongs to Adele and the best selling digital song to Katy Perry.

Adele’s “21” has sold 2.5 million copies since its Feb. 22 release in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan via Billboard. The second best-selling album so far belongs to Lady Gaga. “Born This Way,” which has shifted 1.5 million copies since it came out May 23. They are the only two albums released in 2011 to surpass 1 million in sales.

Coming in at No. 3 is Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More,” which has sold 982,000 since Jan. 1 (for a cumulative tally of 1.6 million since its release 71 weeks ago.  No. 4 is Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” at 763,000 (1.4 million total in 34 weeks).

So how does this compare to the first half of 2010? It’s not much, but album sales for the first half are up 1%  over the first half of 2010 for a total of 155.46 million. More significantly, it marks the first time since 2004 that album sales have increased.

On the singles front, Perry’s “E.T.” featuring Kanye West has sold 4.12 million copies. It is one of two singles to hit the 4 million mark: Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” which spent 7 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, has sold 4.089 million digital downloads.

Last year, no single had moved that many copies yet: the leader was Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” at 3.38 million. So far this year 52 songs have sold at least 1 million downloads compared to 39 at last year’s midway point.  Overall, digital track sales are up 11% over the first half of 2010.




 

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<p>Cy, E.B. and Al ponder news of the plague on &quot;Deadwood.&quot;</p>

Cy, E.B. and Al ponder news of the plague on "Deadwood."

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 1, Episode 6: 'Plague' (Veterans edition)

Al, Cy and the camp's other leaders come together to fight the smallpox outbreak

We're continuing our trip back through the first season of David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood," and we're continuing to do it with two separate but largely identical posts: one for people who watched the whole series and want to be able to discuss it from beginning to end, and one for people who are just starting out and don't want to be spoiled with discussion that goes past the current episode. This is the former; click here for the newbie-safe version.

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<p>Cy, E.B. and Al ponder news of the plague on &quot;Deadwood.&quot;</p>

Cy, E.B. and Al ponder news of the plague on "Deadwood."

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 1, Episode 6: 'Plague' (Newbies edition)

Al, Cy and the camp's other leaders come together to fight the smallpox outbreak

We're continuing our trip back through the first season of David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood," and we're continuing to do it with two separate but largely identical posts: one for people who watched the whole series and want to be able to discuss it from beginning to end, and one for people who are just starting out and don't want to be spoiled with discussion that goes past the current episode. This is the latter; click here for the veteran-friendly version.

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<p>Paramount and DreamWorks Animation have had a successful relationship that includes films like 'How To Train Your Dragon,' but that may be in peril now.</p>

Paramount and DreamWorks Animation have had a successful relationship that includes films like 'How To Train Your Dragon,' but that may be in peril now.

Credit: Paramount/DreamWorks Animation

Paramount announces animation division amid DreamWorks departure rumors

History suggests this is what we call 'a very bad idea'

Why in the world would Paramount want to start their own animation division?

I've always had a deep love for animation as an art form, and when I moved to Los Angeles, many of the people I met and became friends with worked in animation.  Very quickly, I learned that it can be one of the most punishing forms of filmmaking to work in.  That was the era of the giant Disney mega-blockbusters like "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," and every studio in town lost their minds trying to figure out how to get a piece of what they saw as a very easy pie.

Let's go ask Fox how they feel about that animation studio they built in Arizona for Don Bluth these days.  Let's ask them if that was a good investment.

Or maybe we can go ask Alan Horn if he feels like Warner Feature Animation was a good investment.  Sure, we got "The Iron Giant" out of that deal, but we had to basically shame the studio into giving that a theatrical release because of how badly they got burned on "The Quest For Camelot."

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<p>Andre Braugher on &quot;Men of a Certain Age.&quot;</p>

Andre Braugher on "Men of a Certain Age."

Credit: TNT

'Men of a Certain Age' - 'Hold Your Finish': Blame it on the rain

Joe, Owen and Terry reach complicated crossroads as the second season ends

"Men of a Certain Age" just wrapped up its second (and hopefully not final) season, and I have a review of the finale coming up just as soon as I punch the muffin...

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The final fourteen on "So You Think You Can Dance"

The final fourteen on "So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: Fox

Recap: One pair shines while another fades on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

A standout couple may surprise you

 

It’s down to the top fourteen and so far these dancers (who really do make up the best season yet, if you ask me) are looking pretty good. Yes, there are some wobbles, and some dancers do not fare well away from their chosen format, but each week I’m surprised by someone I’d previously written off. And even though I doubt I’ll win the HitFix Fantasy League, I don’t mind a bit. I’d rather see a season on which the lead pair can change from week to week than watch someone barrel toward the finish line without a lick of competition (okay, we see more of that on “Dancing with the Stars,” but still). Anyway, let’s get to it.
 
Carmen Electra and Travis Wall are the guest judges joining Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe. It turns out Carmen has some pretty decent dance cred, and it makes me a little sad that when I see her I think sometimes Pussycat Doll/bouncing Baywatch babe/Dave Navarro’s ex. She always seemed a little smarter than anyone gave her credit for being. Anyway, Travis was so thrilled to get the guest judging gig he had to change his pants after he got the news. Calm down, Travis.  
 
Justin Giles is a first time SYTYCD choreographer and for the guys he’s created a dance around the seven stages of grief.  Over a relationship. Hmm, I know the Kubler-Ross model works for lots of things, but its original application was for facing death, so this seems a little tacky. But I forget that immediately once the guys start dancing. How much do I love this piece? A lot. Lot, lot, lot. Such a creative use of the stage, such a smart way to highlight individual dancers and yet show them synchronized as a group. Love it. The girls have their work cut out for them now.
 
The theme for this week is meeting the families. Well, okay. I guess it’s better than “the grossest thing my partner does that may or may not include snot or sweat.”  
 
Melanie and Marko
Marko is from Guam. His family is mostly doctors and lawyers, so the dance thing wasn’t a big hit, apparently. The one job he got in Guam was part of a drag queen show, but he wasn’t in drag. Though there’s a picture of him in drag. And he was cute as a button! Melanie is from Georgia but went to Fordham. And her boyfriend was in the audience for her big Marko kiss. I’d prefer to hear more about Marko’s days in drag, but oh well. They’ll be doing a jazz routine with Ray Leeper. The costuming is not my favorite; a kind of bondage meets Cabaret thing, I guess.
 
I love, love, love Melanie and Marko, don’t get me wrong. But there are a few moments here that seem like flubs. There’s some frantic energy I’m not entirely happy about, too. But with these two, even screw-ups feel like quibbles. They’re fiery and they’re committed and mostly in perfect synch. My problem isn’t with them, but with the dance. I know, Ray Leeper is a legend and he’s choreographed a Cher video and all that, but I don’t care.
 
Travis thought it was an awesome way to start the show. He thinks Marko is one of the strongest male dancers and thinks Melanie is his favorite dancer in the competition. Whole lotta not helpful. Carmen thinks Melanie’s legs are ridiculous. She loved it. I guess I’m the only one who didn’t luuuuv it. Mary thinks it was wow. She thinks they have the passion. And she renames Marko the Domination Man. I wonder if that has to do with the front-cross suspenders. Nigel thinks their technique matches their performance and he’s a fan of Marko.
 
Sasha and Alexander
Sasha is from Bakersfield. Trinidadians know how to party. Alexander joined the dance team to get out of P.E. His dad was an actor in the 70s. Shaun Evaristo is creating a hip hop routine for them. They go to swag camp. Alexander does not have swag in rehearsal. I’m not sure Alexander would still be in this competition if not for Sasha, sorry to say. He has the moves, but not the emotion.
 
Sigh. I still have such a problem with Sasha and Alexander, in that I can never bring myself to pay attention to Alexander when Sasha’s moving. But she seems like she’s just having fun (not a bad thing) and relaxing through it, as if this was her warm-up routine. Alexander’s smile seems a little distant. It’s not wowing me.
 
Carmen thought Sasha was popping so hard. And her eyes were on her all the time, so she didn’t get a feel for them as a couple. Well put, Carmen. Mary did not see the swag. She didn’t feel a connection and she doesn’t feel their connection, either. Nigel agrees. He thought it seemed like Hip Hop 101. Travis liked it, but felt it needed help, basically.
 
Jordan and Tadd
Jordan is from Chino Hills and loves her mom and dad. Growing up in Salt Lake City, Tadd thought he was Caucasian but got over it. He’s here to represent the Philippino community. They’re dancing to a smooth waltz by Toni Redpath. The story is that Jordan is a siren and lures Tadd then kills him. They really like the sex and death thing on “SYTYCD.”
 
I realize Tadd is trying to spurn her advances, but I’m not feeling this. It’s good, but not great. I will give Tadd props, however, for waltzing not just well but convincingly. It’s hard to remember he’s a hip hop guy sometimes. And Jordan does nail some difficult moves.
 
Mary thinks it was dreamy and romantic. She thinks Tadd didn’t tighten up and she thought Jordan held her position in the floor sweep. Nigel thinks Tadd’s port de bras was excellent. And he did progressive twinkles. Travis thought it was beautiful though he felt it could have been smoother. Carmen felt it was beautiful. So, a modest hit.
 
Clarice and Jess
Clarice’s parents love and sacrifice for her, and she goes to Cal State Long Beach. Jess’ dad was an actor. I’m getting a little bored with the meet-the-parents thing. Everyone’s a good kid, yes, but they’re starting to blend together. Anyway, they’re dancing a routine by Justin Giles.
 
This was surprisingly good. Very surprisingly. I was prepared for Jess to look sort of stiff and uncomfortable, as he tends to whenever he does something that isn’t Broadway or Broadway-adjacent, but this was excellent. More importantly, he and Clarice found some kind of hostile, tortured energy (which was dead on for the dance) that infused their movements and added a level of passion to what they were doing. What was most shocking? Jess looked like a contemporary dancer. Huh. I now have to rethink this couple entirely. Good job!
 
Travis says it’s his favorite routine of theirs. He felt the chemistry was honest. I almost  compeletely agree (except I think their Broadway stuff is hands down their best). Nigel also felt honest emotion. Carmen agrees and felt the anger and the passion. Mary thinks their partnership has grown every single week. I have to admit, I’ve felt in the past that Clarice and Jess were clinging to the bottom, but this week has turned it around for me. Who knew?
 
Ashley was raised in the church. And her mom was the director of her dance program. And she loves to cook. Chris is from a huge Texas family of seven kids. He has severe dyslexia. Okay, okay, let’s get to the dancing. They’re doing a salsa routine by Liz Lira.
 
This wasn’t my favorite. Although Ashley was graceful (as usual) and Chris did an impressive job with the choreography (again, he’s really bringing it for a hip hop dancer), it seemed a little blah in the middle. Chris’ hips don’t move and the chemistry is missing. It started out strong but just… dissipated.
 
Travis says it didn’t pop. Chris tells him he’s mean. Carmen felt it was hesitant. But she thought it was okay. Mary thought it was weak. But she feels there were some things that were simmering. And yet, she thought there was some awkwardness. Just make your point and stop waffling, Mary. Nigel thinks they nailed the lifts, but thinks they lost it a bit.
 
She’s from Morgan Hill, California. Mia Michaels was/is her mentor. She did an episode of “House” with Mia recently. This is great, but she may not want to advertise this only because voters may not feel they need to vote for someone who’s hooked up with Mia and has gotten additional TV work. Ricky is from Miami, Florida. He loves the beach. He moved to Tampa and got into cheerleading. For some stupid reason, the producers choose to put scary music under this, as if he’s admitting to having a passion for bestiality or eating used diapers. What’s wrong with being a guy cheerleader? Whatever. They have a jazz routine by Chucky Klapow. It’s about two members of a cult of fashion who, um, die. Again with the death thing.
 
Oooh, they’re dancing to David Bowie! I like this already! And then, sadly, I don’t. I don’t love the choreography, honestly. I like the monster walk, but then the dance doesn’t evolve past that as much as I would like. But they’re fully committed. It’s a good monster walk. But I think Ryan and Ricky will survive because people will deem this fun, not amazing.
 
Carmen thought they rocked. She loved the energy and the music. Mary thought it was hot. She thought Ryan went full-tilt zombie. Nigel thought the zombie Zoolander routine suited them well. He loved the quirk. Travis thinks they killed it.
 
Caitlynn likes to go fishing and camping and snowboarding. Her dad works overseas. Mitchell’s dad died when he was three, and he’s been homeless. Okay, Mitchell wins for saddest back story. And of course, because we need to hear about Ashley wanting a cooking show and everyone else loving their boring suburban childhoods, we learn nothing more. Mandy Moore choreographs a routine for them about falling in love.  
 
WOW. Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. And I totally bought it. Best routine of the night by far. They get a standing ovation from the judges. Totally deserved.
 
Mary says it was her favorite number of the night. I so agree! Mary gets weepy. Mitchell is injured (is this the elbow injury still?) but he never let Caitlynn down. Nigel said the emotion in the routine grabbed everyone. The whole routine took his breath away. Best routine of the night. Travis agrees.
 
The girls do a dance that’s sort of femme fatale/slutty by my favorite, Ray Leeper. It’s fine, it’s good, but it isn’t the emotionally wrenching routine the boys put on. And the women are wearing garters. I wish the group dances wouldn’t be about making the women act and look like Pussycat Doll/Cabaret rejects.
 
So, this week was a little surprising. But a couple that’s been weak in the past – Ashley and Chris – is weak again. Still, I’m interested to see how Jess and Clarice fair going forward. This season, the top position is up for grabs every week – and it’s getting harder and harder to sort out who should go.
 
Do you think Ashley and Chris turned in the weakest performance? Who are you voting for? And what did you think of Carmen?

 

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Listen: Blake Shelton's new song, 'God Gave Me You'

Listen: Blake Shelton's new song, 'God Gave Me You'

'The Voice' mentor serenades wife Miranda Lambert

With Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee” still buzzing at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs, “The Voice” mentor has released, “God Gave Me You,”  the second single from his July 12 album, “Red River Blue.”

It would appear that Mr. Macho has quite a soft spot when it comes to his new bride, Miranda Lambert. The ballad, which is a remake of the song originally recorded by Christian artist Dave Barnes last year, appealed to Shelton when he and Lambert were going through a rough patch.

“Miranda and I have had our ups and downs over the years and this was definitely at a low point at our relationship.” he reveals in a behind-the-scenes look at the recording, which we've embedded below.  “But I heard that song come on the radio -- for whatever reason I was flipping through stations and landed on a contemporary Christian station, and that song came on and I almost had to pull the truck over. It was one of those moments for me where I felt like I was hearing that song at that moment for a reason.”

His devotion is clear, although he’s certainly putting her on a pedestal.  You’ll always be love’s great martyr and I’ll be the flattered fool. I need you,” he sings.

What do you think about Shelton’s softer side? Hear the song, exclusively streaming on The Boot,  here.

 

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Skyler Samuels in "The Nine Lives of Chloe King"

Skyler Samuels in "The Nine Lives of Chloe King"

Credit: ABC Family

The cast of ‘The 9 Lives of Chloe King’ reveals their secret character dreams

The writers may not listen, but that doesn’t stop them from dreaming
During our set visit to “The Nine Lives of Chloe King,” the cast also revealed in roundtable interviews they have a few of their own ideas about what they’d like to do in future episodes. Yes, kicking supernatural ass isn’t always enough when you have dreams of knitting on camera, too. Seriously.
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<p>Noel Gallagher at his press conference</p>

Noel Gallagher at his press conference

Oasis's Noel Gallagher sets release date for solo debut

Will it fare better than his brother's Beady Eye set?

Let the Gallagher Bros. rivalry continue:  Oasis’s Noel Gallagher will release “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” Nov. 8 on Sour Mash/Mercury Records.

Gallagher’s solo debut follows the March release of  “Different Gear, Still Speeding,” the first album from Beady Eye, a band composed of his brother Liam and three other members from Oasis.  The set failed to resonate with U.S. listeners despite working a number of tracks to radio and peaking at No. 31 on the Billboard 200.

“Different Gear” met with greater success in the U.K, where the Steve Lillywhite-produced  set reached No. 3. The band, who played four sold-out club shows in the U.S. last month,  also received a best new band nomination for the NME Awards.

Gallagher, who announced the new album at a press conference in London today, revealed he recorded the album in London and Los Angeles with co-producer Dave Sardy. Gallagher has already completed a companion set, which re corded with duo Amorphous Androgynous, will come out next year.

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<p>Creepy people from 'Torchwood: Miracle Day'</p>
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Creepy people from 'Torchwood: Miracle Day'

Credit: Starz

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 82

Dan and Alan talk 'Torchwood,' 'Treme,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and more

The

 
Happy Monday, Boys and Girls! Wait. Happy Wednesday, Boys and Girls. It's time for this week's installment
of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We really need to figure out a solution to our Skype problems, because when the podcast gets recorded in thousands of bits and pieces, we lose track of how long we've been talking and that's how we end up with an episode in which we discuss the "Treme" finale for a full 27 minutes. Strange.
 
Anyway, it's a chatty week...
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Torchwood: Miracle Day" -- 2:05 - 16:05
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- 16:05 - 24:25
"Treme" finale -- 24:30 - 51:30
Listener Mail: "Buffy" Big Bads -- 51:30 - 59:25
Listener Mail: Movie actors on TV -- 59:30 - 01:12:20
James Spader on "The Office" -- 01:12:30 - 01:16:30
"Twin Peaks" -- 01:16:50 - 01:30:00

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]

 

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 82: 'Torchwood: Miracle Day,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 82: 'Torchwood: Miracle Day,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' & more

Alan and Dan also break down the 'Treme' season finale, talk 'Twin Peaks' and answer your mail

The

Dan was traveling back from Canada in the early part of the week, so the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast makes a temporary Wednesday return, and a fairly busy one, as we discuss "Torchwood: Miracle Day," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the "Treme" finale, a new "Twin Peaks" and answer several letters. The run-down:

"Torchwood: Miracle Day" -- 2:05 - 16:05
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- 16:05 - 24:25
"Treme" finale -- 24:30 - 51:30
Listener Mail: "Buffy" Big Bads -- 51:30 - 59:25
Listener Mail: Movie actors on TV -- 59:30 - 01:12:20
James Spader on "The Office" -- 01:12:30 - 01:16:30
"Twin Peaks" -- 01:16:50 - 01:30:00
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>James Spader is joining the cast of &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

James Spader is joining the cast of "The Office."

Credit: NBC

'The Office' hires James Spader as new boss (sort of)

He was the best guest star in last season's finale

"The Office" has found its new boss - sort of - and will be adding James Spader to the cast when the series begins is eighth season in the fall. An explanation of how this will work (which some may consider spoiler-y) and my thoughts on it coming up after the jump...

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