Latest Blog Posts

Lifetime casts Yaya DaCosta to play Whitney Houston

Lifetime casts Yaya DaCosta to play Whitney Houston
The “America’s Next Top Model” alum will star in the Angela Bassett-directed biopic about Houston’s volatile relationship with Bobby Brown.

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<p>&quot;Halt and Catch Fire&quot;</p>

"Halt and Catch Fire"

Credit: AMC

Interview: 'Halt and Catch Fire' showrunner Jonathan Lisco on the TV tech zeitgeist and more

'Southland' veteran discusses his AMC drama's true visionaries

I like talking to the creative people who have jobs that folks outside of the industry bubble don't necessarily understand.

Last month, for example, I talked with Michael Spiller about what it means to be a directing producer on "The Mindy Project."

Jonathan Lisco has a more glamorous and identifiable job. He is, after all, the showrunner on AMC's new drama "Halt and Catch Fire" and we've all learned to revere the showrunner. However, Lisco didn't create "Halt and Catch Fire." The '80s-set computer drama was created by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, but The Chrises don't have a lengthy TV background, so Lisco was brought in as writer, executive producer and showrunner for the first season as part of an overall deal he signed with AMC.

Lisco has been a creator -- FOX's "K-Ville" was the first series to shoot in New Orleans after Katrina -- but his most recent credit was executive producing TNT's much-admired "Southland."

I sat down with Lisco last month to discuss the process that brought him to "Halt and Catch Fire" and the challenges of running a first-year show that you didn't create. We also discussed TV's high tech zeitgeist, the struggles of not fetishizing the '80s and the struggles to get computer minutia correct.

Check out the full Q&A... Also check out my "Halt and Catch Fire" interviews with Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy.

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'SVU' puts an episode on hold due to an exhausted cast

“SVU” puts an episode on hold due to an exhausted cast
The “Law & Order” series usually films three episodes during its hiatus before next season’s filming officially begins. Instead, they are filming two episodes before production gets underway on Season 16.


New Kids on the Block cruise reality show: Watch the trailer
TVGN has released the first trailer of “Rock This Boat,” which puts members of the aging boy band on a cruise ship with 2,500 of their biggest fans.


How a 17-year-old binge-watched “Orange is the New Black” in 6 1/2 hours
James Rush was the first to boast about completing the 13-hour season, six and a half hours after Season 2 was released on Netflix. How’d he do it? “The main reason I made it through so quick was I was not at all intrigued by some of the sequences focusing away from Piper,” he says. “As the show headed towards the finale of the season I began skipping some scenes for general lack of interest.” PLUS: Why you shouldn’t binge on “OITNB,” what was that song from the premiere?, Netflix to hand out “Crazy Pyes” in NYC next week, and a look back at Laverne Cox before she was on Netflix.


“Friday Night Lights” stars reunite in Austin
Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki, Derek Phillips, Louanne Stephens and Katherine Willis were all part of the ATX Television Festival.


See “Oberyn’s" pre-“Game of Thrones” past on “Buffy,” “Law & Order,” “Homeland" and MTV’s” “Undressed”
Pedro Pascal has had a number of TV roles before becoming famous with his HBO character. He’s recurred on “The Good Wife,” appeared on “CSI” and was even on “The Mentalist” earlier this year.


“24: Live Another Day” terrifies British residents with an early morning gun battle
About 20 people called Britain’s version of 911 on Monday in the village of Bricket Wood in Hertfordshire.


HBO developing “God Save Texas”
The proposed series follows a cowboy who gets elected to the Texas Legislature, where he has to survive in the brutal world of Texas politics.


CBS’ “The Class” is now on DVD after launching many big names
The 2006 sitcom, canceled after one season, boasted a cast of Jason Ritter, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lizzy Caplan, Jon Berthal, David Keith, Andrea Anders and Sean Maguire.


“Cosmos” ends its run: It was “not awful” for Fox
A respectable 3.5 million tuned in for the Seth MacFarlane project starring Neil deGrasse Tyson.


Why aren’t more of HBO’s pre-“Sopranos” hits on HBO Go?
No “Dream On,” no Mr. Show,” not even “Larry Sanders.”


The Groundlings oral history: Kathy Griffin recalls teaching J.J. Abrams, who worked as a receptionist
The Groundlings comedy troupe is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Its alums include Conan O’Brien, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Pee-wee Herman, Phil Hartman, Melissa McCarthy, Will Forte, Cheryl Hines, Maya Rudolph and many other big names in the comedy world.


“The Americans” cast and crew talk Season 2
Watch their panel at the ATX Television Festival in Austin.


Don’t expect a “Roswell” movie
In advance of their ATX Television Festival reunion on Saturday, the WB show’s cast talks about a possible movie.


How does Andy Samberg produce “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”?
In describing his role as producer, Samberg says, "I’m not in the writers room unless it’s to visit. I don’t put my hands on the keyboard. I will give thoughts on scripts — sometimes, not always.”


“Hey Dude” cast reunites after 23 years
Stars of the Nickelodeon series were featured on a panel at the ATX Television Festival in Austin.


FX turns 20: Here’s how it looked like in the ‘90s with Tom Bergeron and Phil Keoghan
Before they were reality TV hosts, Bergeron and Keoghan were on FX’s “Breakfast Time."


Watch “The Price is Right” from behind the scenes
A new video gives you a two-screen experience.


75-year-old “Real Housewives” dad defends having a 25-year-old girlfriend
"Real Housewives of New York” star Aviva Drescher’s father and his much-younger girlfriend have become a storyline on the  Bravo reality show.


A look back at Howard Stern’s 30 years of visiting with Letterman
The shock jock first sat on David Letterman's couch in 1984.


50 Cent’s Starz series “Power” looks like a superficial video rather than a real drama
“'Power' seemingly wants to be a show that tells a big, complicated, meaningful story about, well, the perils and problems of power and how one man deals with them,” says Tim Goodman. "That man is James ‘Ghost' St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) and how he deals with these issues isn’t particularly intriguing. In fact, no part of Power is particularly intriguing. It feels like a superficial video rather than a real drama. Take out the sex and the swearing and it could be on ABC like any of its other vapid soaps.” PLUS: “Power” revels in all the clichés of the genre — but with sincerity, not cynicism, and it offers undemanding escapism with pay-TV trappings.


“True Blood’s” Sam Trammell: “I get naked as much as I’ve ever gotten naked in this season”
"And there’s a few other people that get naked,” he says. "Joe (Manganiello) gets naked. We’re not going to do a final season without getting naked.”


Regis Philbin: Hitchhiker
TMZ caught Reege getting in a “creepy white van.”


“Top Chef Canada” canceled
The “Top Chef” spinoff lasted four seasons.

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"Edge of Tomorrow"

Interview: 'Frozen' composer Christophe Beck on scoring 'Edge of Tomorrow'

What's it really like to work with Doug Liman?

Stepping in to replace another composer on a film is never an easy task, but for Christophe Beck, coming in at the tail end of “Edge of Tomorrow” had one great advantage: the movie was largely completed.

When “Tomorrow,” which opens today, started shooting, there was no finished script: director Doug Liman and star Tom Cruise continued to craft the film as shooting went along. Liman replaced original composer Ramin Djawadi with Beck, who was best known for scoring films like the three “Hangover” movies, “Muppets Most Wanted,” “Pitch Perfect” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
He jokes that getting thrown into the summer blockbuster made him feel a little bit like Cruise’s character, who is thrust into the front lines of a war with no combat experience. “You sort of get dropped in to the situation kind of running, kind of like the Tom Cruise character,” he says.  (Typically, even the original composer isn’t brought in until shooting is near complete, although some directors bring in composers earlier in the process, especially if they have an ongoing relationship).

Even though Beck has composed for thrillers like “Runner Runner,”  “Tomorrow” is his first big action pic, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ready. “I had a lot of training,” who graduated from Yale with a music degree before attending USC’s Film Scoring program. “I’m always entertaining possibilities and ideas even if it’s not the project I’m working on,” he says. “If I see a cool sci-fi movie with a cool score, I think what would I do there? It’s not like, ‘I’ll be starting this big sci-fi movie in a month and I need to ramp up’.”

Having said that, he knew he was coming into a situation where not only the first composer had been let go, but that Liman was figuring out  how to navigate working with a composer other than his frequent collaborator John Powell, who has decided to take a break from scoring to work on other projects.

“I think any composer going in to that situation might have met the same fate [as Djawadi],” he says. “I wonder if I had been the first composer if I would have lasted the whole time.”

Beck and Liman found their footing, but it took some time: “It took me awhile to get some stuff out of my system,” Beck says. “Doug really pushed me to constantly find unconventional ways to score scenes. That took a couple of months.”

For example, there’s an extended scene where Cruise, in the “Groundhog Day”-like plot, keeps reliving the beach invasion scene, but each time before he dies, he comes back with a little extra knowledge. “At first, we were hung up on the super soldier aspect and had a heroic theme with french horns,” Beck says. “It was important to Doug that [the audience] be able to laugh at the scene. After multiple attempts at doing it [with] a more traditional hero melody, we played it more like a punk rebel and sampled bits and pieces of the orchestra and distorted them.”

 Beck calls Liman “a very enthusiastic musician —he can play a mean Billy Joel on the piano—who always knows what he wants, even if he has to hear what he doesn’t want first. As Blunt and Cruise have both also noted, Liman doesn’t sugarcoat his criticism. “When you’re in the moment and you’re hearing it from him, it can sometimes make your heart sink, but I’d much rather work with someone where you know where you stand,” Beck says. “When he’s telling you it’s the best cue or it’s a total miss and he wonders what movie you were watching, he delivers the news i the same even-keeled manner. It’s quite remarkable.”

Working on “Edge of Tomorrow” was a sharp contrast to scoring “Frozen.” Whereas Liman pushed Beck for innovation, with the Disney animated film, “there was an expectation of a traditional symphonic sound with melody, and not too much emphasis on writing something completely original,” Beck says. “The emphasis on surprising the audience is not there. For a Disney film, you have to stick to the tradition of all that came before it.” However, at the core, he adds, “you’re still storytelling through music.”

“Frozen,” which has grossed more than $1 billion in worldwide box office, has made more money than any film in Disney Animation’s history.  “It’s always fun to have a giant hit,” Beck says of working on a movie that belongs in the pantheon of Disney’s classic films. “It’s nice to be able to tell someone I worked on a film that’s so wildly beloved and widely known so I don’t have to explain that I worked on a movie that opened three months ago and is gone.”

Beck names John Williams as his all-time favorite composer, also tips his hat to legendary Jerry Goldsmith: “He was one of my teachers at USC. He only taught one year or so and I had him. He was a huge influence on me, mainly through his ability to make such great music out of so few ideas. He was very economical. His music has a real feeling of cohesiveness. It’s almost Beethoven-esque.

His favorite contemporary composer is Alexandre Desplat. “No matter what style he does, there’s still his stamp on it it, which is a certain sophistication and minimalism,” Beck says. “It has a real elegance to it, even when he’s doing ‘Godzilla’ with 18 trombone players.”

Beck hints that he has some future animated projects in the works that he can’t announce yet. In the meantime, he’s working on the score for “Hot Tube Time Machine 2.” “They go into the future this time as opposed to the past, so the score takes a turn. It’s very cool.”

 

 

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'Game of Thrones’' visual-effects supervisor: 'It was always intended to be a pretty nasty squish'

“Game of Thrones’” visual-effects supervisor: "It was always intended to be a pretty nasty squish"
Joe Bauer, the visual-effects supervisor, and prosthetics supervisor Barrie Gower recall Sunday’s episode. "It's horrible,” says Bauer, "it's the worst thing—and you have to go through, like, 50 grotesque shots that aren't the right thing before you get to the one that is. You never do that research close to bedtime!”


“The Returned” adds Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Agnes Brucker and Sadrine Holt
They’ll co-star with Kevin Alejandro, Jeremy Sisto and Mark Pelligrino in Carlton Cuse’s adaptation of the French zombie series.


See “Breaking Bad’s” Dean Norris when he had long blonde hair
Here are a bunch of photos from the “Under the Dome” star in high school, rocking a bad perm. PLUS: Norris talks about playing Benjamin Franklin.


Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t want to lose to “Duck Dynasty” on the Critics’ Choice Awards
“I don’t know what that would mean — that ‘Cosmos’ lost to the Duck people,” he tells Jimmy Fallon.

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<p>The Americans</p>

The Americans

Credit: FX

'The Americans' cast & producers talk wigs, romance, combat & more

Full video of the recent TV Academy panel for the FX spy drama

Last week, I came to Los Angeles to moderate a panel featuring "The Americans" producers, stars Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich, and composer Nate Barr before an audience at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It wasn't live-streamed, but FX recorded the whole thing, and now we're happy to present you the video of a lively (and at times silly) chat about the wigs, the intensity, the sex and all the other excellent things about the drama's great second season.

Please note: I regretted the Ukraine joke the second it escaped my lips. I apologize to you, and to all the people of Crimea.

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Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys awarded $1.7 million in Monster Energy copyright case

Monster Energy admitted infringement from the start of trial

A New York jury has awarded the Beastie Boys $1.7 million in the rap trio’s copyright violation lawsuit against Monster Energy drink.

At issue was a mix by DJ Z-Trip used by Monster Energy that included five Beastie Boys songs, including “Sabotage” and “Pass the Mic.”  DJ Z-Trip gave the drink manufacturer permission to use the mix for a recap of a snowboarding competition it sponsored, but Monster Energy did not have the Beastie Boys’ permission.

From the start of the New York Federal Court trial, Monster Energy admitted it was at fault, so the trial was to determine damages. Monster Energy wanted to pay $125,000, the two remaining Beastie Boys, Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond, wanted $2 million— $1 million for the copyright infringement and $1 million for Monster Energy implying that the Beastie Boys’ endorsed the usage.

Both Horovitz and Diamond testified at the trial. Among the facts revealed was that the pair will not ever record together as the Beastie Boys again, following Adam Yauch’s death.

The Beastie Boys aren't messing around when they say they do not want their music used to endorse products. In March, the act settled with GoldieBlox over the toy company's parody of the group's 1987 song, "Girls."  The settlement included an apology on the company's website to the band and an undisclosed donation to Beastie Boy-selected charities that supported science, technology, engineering and math education for girls.

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Stephen Colbert gets emotional recalling his uncle’s role on D-Day

Stephen Colbert gets emotional recalling his uncle’s role on D-Day
Colbert’s uncle, 1st Lt. Andrew Edward Tuck III, was a paratrooper who landed in Normandy 70 years ago today. Colbert’s uncle was later killed in Europe. PLUS: Listen to Benedict Cumberbatch read the D-Day news broadcast.


OWN to simulcast Maya Angelou’s memorial service
Michelle Obama will be among the speakers at the Wake Forest memorial on Saturday morning.


Why the Daytime Emmys couldn’t find a TV home
More than 20 million people would watch the Daytime Emmys in the early 90s, but viewership has declined as soaps have disappeared.


Comedy Central orders "The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail"
“Silicon Valley” star Kumail Nanjani and Jonah Ray will host the standup showcase, premiering July 23, which will feature Weird Al Yankovic, Amy Schumer and Nick Offerman, among others.


A “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” mansion is for sale for $27.5 million
Yolanda Foster and her husband are listing their 11,622-sq.-ft. home, overlooking a bluff in Malibu.


Nun wins Italy’s “The Voice”
Sister Cristina became a viral sensation with her “Livin’ On a Prayer” performance on "The Voice Of Italy."


Former “ER” star Maria Bello writing a memoir about coming out
The book, "Miracles and Madness,” is due out next year.

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<p>Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley in &quot;The Fault in Our Stars.&quot;</p>

Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley in "The Fault in Our Stars."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Tell us what you thought of 'The Fault in Our Stars'

The Shailene Woodley-starring cancer drama is set to be a massive teen hit

Only a couple of months ago, I had never heard of John Green or "The Fault in Our Stars" -- as clear a sign as any that I'm no longer a spring chicken, since for a certain demographic and generation, the film adaptation of the young-adult bestseller is the biggest event of the summer. I remain mostly in the dark, since the film has yet to be screened for UK press, but I've gathered from responses so far that Josh Boone's film, a romance between two teens who meet at a cancer support group, looks poised to be a "Love Story"-type sensation for contemporary teens -- though evidently older folks have been weeping their way through it too. (Perhaps someday it'll earn a spot in our list of the all-time greatest tearjerkers.)

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<p>&quot;How to Train Your Dragon 2&quot;</p>

"How to Train Your Dragon 2"

Credit: DreamWorks Animation

'How to Train Your Dragon 2' deserves to be in the Best Picture Oscar discussion

Not only that, but this should be the DreamWorks ideal

Earlier this week I wrote about the whole of DreamWorks Animation, which came after I — no joke — revisited all 28 features released by the studio so far and attended a screening of the studio's latest, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (hitting theaters next week). That hotly anticipated sequel, which bowed at the Cannes Film Festival last month, comfortably took the top spot, with the 2010 original firmly at #2. Because these, to me, are the crowning achievements of DreamWorks so far.

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Tom Cruise in "Edge of Tomorrow."
Tom Cruise in "Edge of Tomorrow."
Credit: Warner Bros.

Tell us what you thought of 'Edge of Tomorrow'

Tom Cruise's latest has exceeded critical expectations - what about yours?

I don't know why I expected Doug Liman's "Edge of Tomorrow" to be a misfire -- maybe the change of title (it was originally, more intriguingly, named "All You Need is Kill") suggested a lack of studio confidence, maybe the marketing materials looked a bit drab, or maybe the memory of Liman's last big-budget actioner (the terrible "Jumper") cast a dark shadow over the project. Whatever the case, this nifty time-loop sci-fi adventure appears to have exceeded critical expectations.

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'Game of Thrones’' Pedro Pascal coming to Netflix

“Game of Thrones’” Pedro Pascal coming to Netflix
He’ll star in “Narcos," playing a DEA agent who pursues cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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