Latest Blog Posts

<p>Kelsey Grammer in &quot;Boss.&quot;</p>

Kelsey Grammer in "Boss."

Credit: Starz

Press tour: Kelsey Grammer gets serious with Starz's 'Boss'

The 'Cheers' & 'Frasier' alum talks about the move from sitcom to drama

Like Sideshow Bob Terwilliger, Kelsey Grammer never set out to be a clown, but he became so famous as one that it became hard for him to be taken seriously.

"I didn't start out as a comic actor," the "Cheers" and "Frasier" star explained at a press conference for his new Starz drama "Boss" (premiere date TBD), in which he plays the scheming mayor of Chicago. "I started out as a classical theater actor playing tragedies. This particular role probably couldn't have taken place right after 'Frasier' - probably would have been too big a jolt."

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Oprah Winfrey
Credit: AP

Oprah Winfrey to put new spin on reruns on OWN

The media mogul gives her old show class -- literally

Everything old is new again, at least on the OWN network. During a panel at the TCA Cable Press tour, Oprah Winfrey addressed journalists about how she'll be repurposing her eponymous TV show. "I'm excited to tell you that we had originally thought of putting 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' library on the air in such a way that we would look at it as maybe some of the best shows... and then one day I was standing in my kitchen window and thought about this moment and this opportunity for the network, and I realized that this is a dream come true for me, having this platform."

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<p>I'm guessing someone's a big fan of '2001'</p>

I'm guessing someone's a big fan of '2001'

Credit: Angels and Airwaves/AVA

Science-fiction indie film 'Love' tries unconventional self-distrib event

Details on where and how to see movie and live music from Angels and Airwaves

There's a hunger out there right now, and I'm curious to see what happens when someone manages to satisfy it in just the right way.  It's coming.  It's just a matter of when and which film and what timing.  I had one conversation recently with a friend who was talking about how much he wants to have an experience with a SF film that comes out of nowhere and blows his mind, something that is about ideas instead of effects.  Another friend and I were debating about why some films get grass roots support and others don't and whether a "no-name" film can ever really get that kind of push.

The truth is, no film succeeds on its own, and there's no such thing as a "no-name" film once you start showing it to audiences and press.  Films can be engineered as carefully as you want, but the truth is that they end up having lives of their own once they're out there in the wild, and all a filmmaker can do is hire the right publicist, cut a great trailer, enter the right festivals, and pray.

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<p>Liam McIntyre of 'Spartacus: Vengeance'</p>
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Liam McIntyre of 'Spartacus: Vengeance'

Credit: Starz

Liam McIntyre, Lucy Lawless talk 'Vengeance' in a new season of 'Spartacus'

The new Spartacus tells HitFix about being pushed to the breaking point

"Spartacus: Vengeance" doesn't return to Starz until January of next year, but we already know about one big change: Andy Whitfield, having dropped out due to a recurrence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, has been replaced in the title role by little known Australian actor Liam McIntyre. "it's a role you wish was never there, especially as a fan," McIntyre explained at a panel held during the TCA cable press tour. "What he did in season one was exceptional...it's a tought act to follow, but i have an oblication to fans of the show and to Andy." 

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<p>The new film 'Red Tails' will tell the story of the real-life Tuskegee Airmen of WWII</p>

The new film 'Red Tails' will tell the story of the real-life Tuskegee Airmen of WWII

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Watch: George Lucas finally pilots 'Red Tails' onscreen, first trailer revealed

Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. star in ensemble historical action drama

I feel like I'm publishing a photo of Bigfoot or an interview with JD Salinger here.  When I woke up this morning and saw that there was allegedly a trailer online for the new film "Red Tails," I laughed at the mere idea of it.  There can't be a trailer for "Red Tails" because there's no way George Lucas will finally wrap up work on "Red Tails" at any point in my lifetime.  He's been talking about making this film since sometime in the early 1900s, it seems like.  Okay, maybe it was the '80s when he first started talking about it, right around the same time he produced "Tucker: The Man And His Dream," and the script was in development for about 20 years.

I'll let you consider that for a moment.  20 years to develop a script.

In other words, "Red Tails" must be the greatest produced work of screenwriting of all time if they took that long nailing it down, right?  Anthony Hemingway is the director who finally got picked to bring the film to life, and he's a TV vet with a pretty impressive background.  "Treme."  "Community."  "True Blood."  "Battlestar Galactica."  "The Wire."  He's done his time, and he's worked his way up from 2nd AD to AD to director, and "Red Tails" looks like his reward at the end of that trip.

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<p>Jerry Lewis, subject of an upcoming documentary on Encore.</p>

Jerry Lewis, subject of an upcoming documentary on Encore.

Credit: Encore

Press tour: Jerry Lewis is cranky for Encore

The comedy legend has a few problems with the current state of the business

Early in the session to promote the upcoming Encore documentary "Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis," Lewis declared, "I'm the happiest old man you saw in your whole life."

He then proceeded to spend the next half hour doing a spectacular impression of a much grumpier one.

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<p>&nbsp;Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson co-star in the sly, violent new comedy 'The Guard'</p>
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 Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson co-star in the sly, violent new comedy 'The Guard'

 

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle team up for darkly hilarious 'The Guard'

If you love smart character comedy, this is your best weekend bet

"What a beautiful fookin' day."  

With that greeting, Brendan Gleeson kicks off the dry-as-a-bone wicked Irish comedy written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, a film that lays its traps quietly, expertly performed and with a strong sense of voice and location.  "The Guard" gives Brendan Gleeson one of the best roles he's ever had, and he plays it perfectly.  "The Guard" is one of the highlights of the year so far, and the sort of thing that could easily get lost in a weekend like this one.

That would be a shame.

Gleeson plays Sergeant Gerry Boyle,  a guy who has found his place in life and who enjoys what he's carved out for himself.  He likes his community.  He likes his place in it.  He likes who he works with, and he likes the work itself.  When there's a murder in his town on the same day he's breaking in a new guy, Garda McBride (Rory Keenan), it's the kick-off to a strange, twisted string of collisions and misunderstandings and calculated betrayals, and the way McDonagh orchestrates it all is masterful.  His brother Martin McDonagh was the writer/director of "In Bruges," and he's a gifted playwright. 

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<p>The cast of 'Entourage'</p>
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The cast of 'Entourage'

Credit: HBO

Press Tour: 'Entourage' gang convinced America still wants 'Entourage' movie

The end of 'Entourage' was emotional, but may only be a beginning
The entire key "Entourage" team took the dais at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday (July 28) afternoon. It was a crowded panel that included everybody from series creator Doug Ellin to multiple Emmy winner Jeremy Piven to executive producer (and early series inspiration) Mark Wahlberg, who spent most of the panel practically curled in a "Don't ask me about 'Max Payne'" ball on one side of the stage.
 
On one hand, it was a backward-looking panel reflecting on the eighth and final season of "Entourage."
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<p>Kurt Cobain on &quot;MTV&nbsp;Unplugged&quot;</p>

Kurt Cobain on "MTV Unplugged"

Credit: MTV

MTV's 30th Anniversary: 12 Famous and Infamous Moments

We reflect on the network, now no longer 20-something

On Aug. 1, MTV turns 30. The big 3-0. The channel is now much older than anyone in the 12-24 demographic it caters to.

I was music video editor at Billboard in the early ‘90s. Covering MTV fell under my purview and it felt like the largest, most powerful force not just in the music industry, but in pop culture. That’s because it was.  This was before the internet. This was before the dominance of video games. MTV wasn’t just king of the mountain, it was the mountain.

To be sure, there were other music video outlets—VH1, BET, TNN (The Nashville Network), CMT, “Friday Night Videos,” and several dozen local  and regional video shows (virtually all of which died off when labels began charging for videos), but nothing came close to MTV’s reach and breadth. It’s hard to imagine any one entity now having the power that MTV once had; we’re too diffuse and we get our entertainment delivered through too many different ways.

While I was music video editor, MTV was spreading its manifest destiny across the world and it never ceased to amaze me that certain Eastern Bloc countries may have still been in political and civil turmoil back then, but, by God, they would have their MTV. The company, and many of its employees, had an evangelical zeal that bordered on scary. During my tenure, MTV wanted to pretend it was still run by the cool kids, but it was already owned by Viacom and was very corporate, despite its deep desire to appear otherwise. A publicist sat in on every interview and the spin came fast, furious and, occasionally,  with a very heavy hand.

Some fellow journalists are writing a book about MTV’s first 30 years and the significant impact the channel has had on history. I can’t wait to read it. But in the meantime, here is my highly subjective list of MTV’s 12 most influential moments in chronological order.


“Video Killed The Radio Star” (1981):
  Any story about the history and significance of MTV has to include the first clip ever played on the channel for its 1981 launch. The clip, by British New Wave group The Buggles, proved very prophetic as MTV signaled the cultural shift of image over music. Ugly bands could no longer get signed.

 “Billie Jean” (1982):
Prior to adding the opening clip from Michael Jackson’s 1982’s “Thriller,” a then 18-month old MTV played very few videos by black artists, as it considered itself an album rock format.  CBS Records swears they played hardball with MTV to force them to play “Billie Jean,” MTV execs swear they always planned to play “Billie Jean,” and needed no arm twisting. Regardless of how it happened, adding “Billie Jean” to MTV’s rotation swung open the doors for black artists like Prince at the channel and catapulted Jackson’s career.

“Thriller” (1983): If “Billie Jean” bolstered Jackson’s superstar career, the “Thriller” video rocketed it—and MTV—into the stratosphere. MTV ponied up $1 million for the exclusive rights to the 14-minute clip, marking the first time MTV paid a label to air a video (paving the way for the exclusive label deals to come later that increased MTV’s dominance). MTV played the John Landis-directed mini-movie five times a day, a shrewd move that made MTV destination viewing and spiked ratings tenfold.

LiveAid” (1985): Though there had been multi-artist benefit concerts before, none had been televised from start to finish as MTV did with LiveAid. Beaming back and forth between London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, MTV changed such concerts into global events with the world watching. ABC broadcast during primetime, but MTV kept the cameras rolling for the entire 16 hours (albeit with commercials).

120 Minutes” (1986): As MTV’s regular programming became more mainstream, the channel  took two hours out of every week for truly alternative music videos that were hard to see anywhere else. Originally hosted by Dave Kendall (and later Matt Pinfield), the first few years of “120 Minutes” were a wonderful place to learn about The Replacements, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Robyn Hitchcock, and all manner of rockers that weren’t finding homes on mainstream radio. If nothing else, “120” earns its place on this list for hosting the world premiere of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video in 1991. ("120 Minutes" was resurrected July 31 on MTV2 with Pinfield)

The Real World” (1992): Arguably the first reality show, “The Real World” is the network’s longest running program. Though the concept is so commonplace now: throw some strangers into a house and keep cameras rolling 24/7, back then, the sociological experiment was something new. It brought us some memorable characters, such as the repugnant Puck, but also some that touched our hearts, none more so than Pedro Zamora, who was living with AIDS.  MTV’s inclusion of Zamora, who died in 1994, was one of TV’s first programs to have a gay male with AIDS, and the network used it to spread tolerance and understanding.

Choose or Lose (1992): Every now and then, MTV uses its powers for great good, perhaps none more so than its Choose Or Lose campaign. While it’s lost some of its potency, the ongoing program, started in 1992, attempts to educate young voters on the issues and often pairs with other organization, such as Rock the Vote, to support voter registration.

William Jefferson Clinton Town Hall (1992):
While technically under the umbrella of “Choose or Lose, “ Clinton’s Town Hall meeting is so significant, it deserves its own bullet point. Baby boomer Clinton was the first presidential candidate to actively court the youth vote and harness the power that MTV offered to address voters under 25. Despite someone asking Clinton if he had to do it all over again, if he would inhale, the Town Hall showed the intelligence, inquisitiveness and interest of many young voters, who helped propel Clinton into office.
 
Kurt Cobain's death (1994):
MTV wasn’t the first to break the news of the Nirvana frontman, but it was the most resonant as MTV News anchor Kurt Loder led the coverage. MTV understood better than an other national outlet the significance of what had just happened and why it mattered.

The Madonna and Britney Spears Kiss (2003):
The MTV Video Music Awards always took inordinate pride in pushing the envelope (a term MTV execs loved to use), which usually played itself out by trying way too hard to be audacious. After Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera performed together, Madonna kissed each of the ladies, but for some reason, the Madonna/Britney kiss, perhaps because there was a hint of tongue, turns the world upside down...  It wasn’t even much of a kiss and there was never any doubt that it was anything more than a publicity ploy, but it was the kiss seen around the world.

“16 and Pregnant” (2009):
In an attempt to show the difficulties of teen pregnancy, MTV created the next generation of tabloid stars. Two years later, the initial cast members are still cover-story fixtures on celebrity magazines. And with MTV creating spin-offs such as “Teen Mom,” many have wondered if MTV is encouraging a proliferation of teen pregnancies by girls who believe having a baby is the quickest way to stardom. Hey, if it worked for Amber Portwood...

Jersey Shore” (2009):
One week prior to its December 2009 debut, none of us knew what a Snooki was, the next, we couldn’t escape her. As MTV no longer had any upper hand as a video outlet (other than the occasional premiere) over YouTube and then Vevo, both of which leveled the playing field,   the channel had to find ways to keep its relevance. And it got back at all of us by unleashing “Jersey Shore” upon the world. I’ve never seen an episode and I can name at least six cast members. That’s saying something.

What are your favorite and worst memories of MTV?



 

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<p>&quot;Louie&quot;&nbsp;rides the subway.</p>

"Louie" rides the subway.

Credit: FX

'Louie' -' Subway/Pamela': All you need is love

Louie wears his emotions on his sleeve in a heartbreaking episode

A review of last night's "Louie" coming up just as soon as I hang my jersey from the rafters...

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<p>Miranda July is the writer, director, and star of 'The Future,' a quirky, personal vision of responsibility and love</p>

Miranda July is the writer, director, and star of 'The Future,' a quirky, personal vision of responsibility and love

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Review: 'The Future' offers up a personal, quirky view of late-30s relationships

Miranda July's second film crystallizes her filmmaking voice

Miranda July has become a polarizing figure among the film fans who know her work, and I understand why.  She is eccentric, both as a writer/director and as a performer, and it's such an organic, complete part of her personality that I can't imagine her ever shutting that off and making more "conventional" films, and I think that's just fine.  The voice she's developing as a filmmaker is sweet and funny and odd, and it feels like she's grown in the six years since she made her first film, "Me and You and Everyone We Know."

The film opens with a voice-over by a cat named Paw-Paw who is wasting away in a shelter, dying, praying for someone to take him home.  Her salvation comes in the form of Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), a couple who have been rolling along in a state of inertia for years.  They're determined to change things, experience new things, and try to accept some new responsibilities.  They haven't accomplished much, and they're at that point in life where they have to start thinking that maybe they won't, and it's obvious that the thought scares them.

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<p>Caitlynn of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>
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Caitlynn of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Eliminations and Gaga

Two dancers go home and Lady Gaga performs

Well, it’s another Thursday and another two contestants sadly must be sent home. Thankfully, “So You Think You Can Dance” has some of the more entertaining elimination episodes on reality television so at least we have a few things to look forward to before we must face the sadness. Also, this week there’s no awkward product placement, which is always a plus.

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