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Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Review: Alejandro G. Iñárritu's 'Birdman' opens Venice with a sure-fire Oscar bet

Michael Keaton is superb in meta showbiz drama

VENICE - Truth or dare? This is a game played by two characters in magnificently acidic metatextual comedy "Birdman." It's also the film as a three-word question. Truth or dare? Real stage actor or star? You can have your artistic integrity, or you can have a hit. You can go Method, or you can really fly. You can be Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), or you can be Birdman (Riggan Thomson). Initially, "Birdman" poses as a trenchant critique of the seemingly endless parade of men in capes that is the summer blockbuster season (Michael Fassbender and Robert Downey Jr. are name-checked as fine actors currently otherwise occupied), but it's actually rather more nuanced than that.

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<p>&quot;The President Wore Pearls&quot;</p>

"The President Wore Pearls"

Credit: FOX

FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon: Day 7 - HitFix Picks

A religious conversation, Artie Ziff's return, a musical episode... AND A HOTPLATE

[As you probably already know, starting on Thursday, August 21, FXX is running the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, running through all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons," plus "The Simpsons Movie." To aid in your viewing process, Team HitFix is selecting our favorite episodes from each day, plus an episode or two that you can skip and use as a bathroom or nap break.]

Day 7 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon goes from "Simpsons Tall Tales" (the end of Season 12) through to "The President Wore Pearls" (the beginning of Season 15).

I must admit: The "Simpsons" fans on Team HitFix are beginning to drop like flies. Josh Lasser's fandom carried through the Tomacco episode, but no further. David Lewis wrote a blurb here for "Simpsons Tall Tales," the episode he says ended his active support of the show. 

Fortunately, Sepinwall and I had a pair of favorites apiece and Katie Hasty also had a preferred episode, so we've got some recommendations for you, plus a couple episodes you can avoid. 

[And while I only wrote up two episodes I love, there are at least 10 more that I'll be happy to rewatch if I'm around and another 10 more that I'd enjoy having on in the background. Possibly more. This may be the worst period for "The Simpsons" thus far, but I'll always maintain that middling-to-poor "Simpsons" is still more rewatchable than nearly anything else on TV.]

Check out our recommendations for Day 7 and chime in with your own favorites...

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How to fix the Emmys: Create an Emmy Hall of Fame

How to fix the Emmys: Create an Emmy Hall of Fame
How about one win and an actor, actress or TV show is elevated to the Hall of Fame and out of the running for future awards? PLUS: Why not divide shows into “new” and “continuing”?, and 2015 could be a shake-up year without “Breaking Bad” and with Amy Poehler and Jon Hamm departing.

TV’s inferiority complex: Quit obsessing over movie stars!
The Emmy obsession Monday night with names like Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts just goes to show that — despite this being the Golden Age of Television — TV hasn’t shed its second-class-citizen status. PLUS: TV is anxious these days as it deals with a lot of new issues, the Emmys "seemed bent on taking the piss out of TV” all night.

8 reasons why Emmy voters rejected “True Detective”
Was the HBO series and Matthew McConaughey too much of a sure bet?

Could “Full House” survive in today’s cynical TV landscape?
“Full House” was already a throwback sitcom when it premiered in 1987. So it would be even more out of place if it were to be revived.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus corrects Vice President Biden, who apparently doesn’t watch “Veep”
The vice president tweeted congrats to Louis-Dreyfus, "A fellow Veep with a great sense of humor, and a good friend.”

Why “Chelsea Lately” will be missed
Chelsea Handler officially signs off tonight with a live one-hour E! broadcast.

Homer Simpson tries the Ice Bucket Challenge
Watch “The Simpsons” star get splashed thanks to Bart. PLUS: Kate Middleton gets “Simpson”-ized, and here is the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” Ice Bucket Challenge.

Watch Phil Hartman’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony
The “SNL” and "NewsRadio" star was celebrated today by fellow cast members Jon Lovitz and Kevin Nealon.

Why can’t Jon Hamm win an Emmy?
Is the “Mad Men” star too handsome? Or is it Bryan Cranston’s fault?

Who should host next year’s Emmys on Fox? Andy Samberg?
Jane Lynch and Ryan Seacrest were Fox’s two previous Emmy hosts. What about Fox’s Samberg or FX’s Louis CK? Or how about Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus?

Ex-NFL running back Rashard Mendenhall: I’m now a TV writer for an HBO show
Mendenhall, who retired at age 26 from the NFL in March, says: "I'm on the writing team of a new show that will air on HBO next summer.”

It was Billy Eichner’s “ballsy” idea to pitch an Emmys edition of “Billy on the Street”
"The idea actually started with me,” says Eichner. "It was kind of a ballsy email I sent. When I heard he was doing the Emmys, I actually emailed his showrunner Mike Shoemaker, who was working on the Emmys with Seth. And I almost didn’t send the email because it was a bit forward—it was a bit presumptuous of me to think this might be a good idea.” PLUS: The satirical genius of Eichner’s Emmy shtick.

“Bachelor”/“Bachelor in Paradise” teacher is back to work after her 3rd leave of absence was rejected
The school board didn’t know Elise Mosca was doing reality TV when the 3rd-grade teacher requested two unpaid leaves of absence.

Fred Armisen and Natasha Lyonne are reportedly a couple
The “Portlandia” star was spotted with the “Orange is the New Black” star at a post-Emmy celebration.

Markie Post joins “Chicago P.D.”
The “Night Court” alum will play Erin Lindsay’s mom in a multi-episode arc.

Jodie Foster might direct the "Hannibal” TV series
Last night, "The Silence of the Lambs" star bumped into TV’s “Hannibal” crew.

NFL on Fox creates a Telenovela promo starring Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
Watch Buck attempt to speak Spanish.

“Parenthood” promo apparently confirms a pregnancy
Amber appears to be pregnant in the final season.

Ex-NBA star Rick Fox will play himself on “The McCarthys”
The former L.A. Laker has previously apperaed on “Single Ladies,” “One Tree Hill” and other shows.

Matt Lauer is upset with Howard Stern’s Ice Bucket Challenge
“It’s aggravating to me,” says the "Today" host, who challenged his shock jock friend in July, only to see him actually attempt it when challenged by Jennifer Aniston.

“Once Upon a Time” bringing back Kristin Bauer van Straten
The “True Blood” alum will reprise her role as Maleficent in the 2nd half of the season.

“The Walking Dead” boss' addresses Daryl's sexuality speculation, says a gay male character will be introduced
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple says Daryl’s sexuality isn’t addressed this season, but a gay male character will indeed be joining the cast.

Netflix has already renewed "BoJack Horseman”
The Will Arnett animated comedy debuted last Friday.

“Sons of Guns” star arrested again on child rape charges
Will Hayden is accused of molesting his daughter.

Meet the “True Blood” series finale mystery man
Actor/stunt performer was chosen because he was “the man with the best arms from our stunt crew.”

“Finding Carter’s” Kathryn Prescott joins “The Dovekeepers”
She’ll play a teenaged tomboy in the CBS miniseries set in ancient Israel.

See more “Sons of Anarchy” final season pics
Jax is an inmate with tape on his hands.

Please kill the MTV VMAs
What’s the point of MTV handing out awards for videos when it’s not associated with music acts?

Jess’ lands a “New Girl” beau with a tiny penis
Alan Ritchson will guest as a good-looking guy Jess meets at a bar.

“Mr. Belding” won’t watch Lifetime’s “Saved by the Bell” movie
It’s all BS, says Dennis Haskins.

Showtime shows off a new teaser for “The Affair”
Apparently the affair will involve the authorities.

Lucy Punch to star in an FX comedy project
The former “Ben and Kate” star will play a Brit who marries a death row inmate to stay in America.

Google will let you visit famous TV sets using Google Maps
The website has put together Google Street Views for “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones” and other Emmy-nominated shows.

Johnny Galecki is single again
“The Big Bang Theory” star split from his “Pan-Am” girlfriend Kelli Garner.

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Why Superman and Batman may lose the war to Marvel before they even begin
Credit: Warner Bros.

Why Superman and Batman may lose the war to Marvel before they even begin

It's all going to come down to people falling in love with these icons

"No jokes."

Last week was about the fifth time I've heard that there is a mandate at Warner Bros. regarding any of the DC superhero films in development, and it's very simple and direct and to the point.

"No jokes."

It would seem like a crazy rule to set for an entire series of films. How can you know what the tone is for every story you'll be telling in a series before you've even started telling it? The thing is, DC has taken a few stabs at establishing this larger universe on film, and they've gotten smacked down for everything that hasn't had Batman in it. "Man Of Steel" made money, and I'm certainly not the only person to like the film. I may be one of its more ardent defenders, but I'm not alone. I think you'd have a far harder time finding someone to defend "Green Lantern," the studio's other big attempt at launching one of the core Justice League characters with a film franchise of his own.

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Nicole Scherzinger

Listen to Nicole Scherzinger's latest tune, 'On The Rocks'

Will the ex-Pussycat Doll finally achieve solo success in the U.S.?

Though her solo career has yielded no major success in the U.S. yet, former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger keeps knocking at the door waiting for her solo breakthrough. Her latest attempt, “On The Rocks,” is a mid-to-uptempo number about a break-up served “on the rocks.” The production is slightly dated, which may hamper its chances at radio in the U.S. However, in the U.K., the former "X Factor" judge is coming off a No. 6 hit with “Your Love” earlier this summer. No word on when her Epic Records release will come out in the state.

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Review: Low-key drama in the English fenland propels debut feature 'The Goob'

Review: Low-key drama in the English fenland propels debut feature 'The Goob'

Sean Harris reliably unsettling in Venice Days entry

VENICE - NBC's "The Office" rang frequent laughs from Dwight Schrute's beet farm, with glimpses of backwards Cousin Mose and his feral antics proving particularly fertile ground for comedy ("And as of this morning, we are completely wireless here at Schrute Farms, but as soon as I find out where Mose hid all the wires, we'll get all that power back on.") This kind of vaguely unsettling boys-on-the-farm vibe is played straight in "The Goob", a character piece that has atmosphere to spare, and whose minimal plot is helped along by the happily original setting; this might be the first film shot in Norfolk to premiere at Venice.

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Uncanceled Showdown final pits 'Jericho' vs. 'Almost Human'

Uncanceled Showdown final pits 'Jericho' vs. 'Almost Human'

Can android fans somehow hold off the peanut lovers?

Well, this is not necessarily the final match-up we were expecting when the Uncanceled Showdown brackets were set up, but the competition has come down to two shows: "Almost Human," which held off a late charge from "Freaks and Geeks" to win the One-Season Wonder field, versus "Jericho," which crushed all comers, including the once-mighty "Firefly" and its browncoat fans.

That is, of course, part of the fun of a thought experiment like this. "Firefly" seemed an obvious finalist, but it turns out that the same fans who convinced CBS to uncancel "Jericho" in the first place were able to stomp everyone in their path. "Almost Human," meanwhile, was one of a large group of shows we were considering for the lower seeds on that side of the bracket (look for "Rubicon," "Better Off Ted," "Karen Sisco" and more in Uncanceled Showdown 2: The Uncancelling, sometime in 2015!); it could just as easily have been, say, "The Chicago Code" in that 10 seed, and then who knows how that bracket might have turned out? Still, when in doubt on any internet-based pop culture poll, it's safest to bet on the sci-fi show, even over something as beloved as "Freaks and Geeks."

So go vote for your favorite if you have one left (or vote against the one whose victory would annoy you most). You have until Thursday, August 28 at noon Pacific to cast a vote; the winner will be announced that day.

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Stevie Nicks

Listen to Stevie Nicks' wistful new tune, 'Lady'

Second tune from new set, '24 Karat Gold,' surfaces

Lady,” the latest song from Stevie Nicks’ forthcoming “24 Karat Gold — Songs From the Vault,” is classic Nicks.

The spare piano ballad features the Fleetwood Mac singer questioning her future with her man. “I’m tired of knocking on doors and there’s nobody there,” she sings. Though she expresses uncertainty about what’s to come, her lover reassures her. “I’m unsure, I can’t see my way/And he says, ‘Lady, you don’t have to see.”

The song is the second from “24 Karat Gold” to be released in advance of the album’s Oct. 7 album following the more upbeat “The Dealer.”  The album contains previously unreleased songs written by Nicks between 1969 and 1995.



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Chris Soules is expected to be named the next 'Bachelor'

Chris Soules is expected to be named the next “Bachelor”
The Iowa farmer looks like the one after Arie Luyendyk Jr. announced on Twitter that “I’m not the Bachelor,” adding: "Have fun on the farm people.”

Stephen Colbert: “I think I just might change my name to Colborg”
Reacting to Gwen Stefani’s flub of his name, Colbert said: "I am the Colborg. Resistance is futile.”

Miley Cyrus’ homeless date is wanted on an Oregon arrest warrant
Jesse Helt reportedly violated his probation over several minor crimes.

L.A. Times mixes up “Parks and Rec’s” Retta with “OITNB’s” Danielle Brooks
Retta tweeted the mistake to her many followers.

CBS’ all-female sports talk show will be called “We Need to Talk”
Premiering Sept. 30, “We Need to Talk” will feature CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson, Lesley Visser, Amy Trask, Allie LaForce and Dana Jacobson.

Check out Lucy Lawless on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Here’s your first look at Lawless as veteran agent Hartley.

CW reveals “The Flash” poster
Also, see the poster for “Jane the Virgin.”

Anna Camp to guest on “The League”
The “True Blood” alum will date Mark Duplass in one episode.

Watch a new “Game of Thrones” visual effects reel
This one showcases many of the locations and landscapes created on computer.

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<p>Garfunkel and Oates</p>

Garfunkel and Oates

Credit: IFC

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 243: Emmys, 'Garfunkel and Oates' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'Rectify' season 2 and talk more 'Friday Night Lights'


Happy Tuesday, boys and girls! You want a lot of Emmy ranting from me and Dan on this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast? Boy, have you got it! We did about 45 minutes on all the Emmy predictability (and the many good moments in the show itself) before jumping over to catch up on IFC's "Garfunkel and Oates" and break down "Rectify" season 2, before shifting into the stretch of "Friday Night Lights" season 2 that began to remind us of the good show it was both before and after.

The rundown:

The 2014 Emmys (00:00:45 - 00:43:10)
"Garfunkel and Oates" (00:43:10 - 00:54:50)
"Rectify Season 2 (00:55:00 - 01:13:10)
"Friday Night Lights" Summer Rewatch (01:13:15 - 01:38:10)

As always, send questions to 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, subscribe on IHeartRadio or stream it on Dan's blog.

There's also now a complete archive of all the podcasts to date.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 243

Dan and Alan discuss the 2014 Emmys, 'Garfunkel and Oates,' 'Rectify' and more


Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!

It's time for another installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

If you have a hankering for nearly 45 minutes of Emmy blathering, you'll love this podcast.

If you don't... We discussed the full second season of "Rectify," the first three episodes of IFC's "Garfunkel and Oates" and then we had two relatively good "Friday Night Lights" Season 2 episodes to talk about.


It is, as she said, a long one...

Today's breakdown:
The 2014 Emmys (00:00:45 - 00:43:10)
"Garfunkel and Oates" (00:43:10 - 00:54:50)
"Rectify Season 2 (00:55:00 - 01:13:10)
"Friday Night Lights" Summer Rewatch (01:13:15 - 01:38:10)

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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 


And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.


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'Full House' may be revived

“Full House” may be revived
According to TV Guide, Warner Bros. TV is mulling a new take on “Full House” that would include some of the original cast. John Stamos is leading the revival plans, but just about everybody is on board, including “Full House’s” creator, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, Candace Cameron Bure, Andrea Barber and Jodie Sweetin.

15.6 million watched this year’s Emmys
That’s down from last year’s 17.8 million, which, unlike this year, aired on a Sunday and followed an NFL game. But it was the 2nd highest-rated Emmys in eight years.

Even “Breaking Bad’s” Vince Gilligan expected “True Detective” to win
“I didn’t think we would win — I thought it would be 'True Detective,'” the “Breaking Bad” creator said at an Emmy after-party. “I felt like there was an awful lot of groundswell for 'True Detective,' which was an excellent show and a worthy show, and I thought, ‘We’ve been off the air now for a year and a half.’” (Actually, “Breaking Bad” has been off the air for 11 months.)

CBS sued over “NCIS” farting hippo puppet
CBS is accused of violating copyright by selling a Bert the Farting Hippo puppet on its online store.

Check out “Breaking Bad’s” Dean Norris as Benjamin Franklin
The "Under the Dome" star couldn’t make it to last night’s Emmys because he’s in Romania filming  the “Sons of Liberty” History channel Revolutionary War miniseries.

“Sherlock” Season 4 will be “devastating”
So says Steven Moffat: "We have a plan to top it — and actually I do think our plan is devastating. We practically reduced our cast to tears by telling them the plan."

MTV’s VMAs down from last year
About 8.3 million watched the first airing, compared to 10.1 million last year. PLUS: Miley Cyrus says homeless youth stunt was in response to the twerking backlash.

TV Land will air a 12-hour “SNL” marathon on Labor Day
The marathon will include several “Best Of” specials, from Jimmy Fallon to Amy Poehler, plus Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Justin Timberlake.

Donald Glover will play Spider-Man in Disney XD cartoon
"Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors” will have the former “Community” star play a half-Latino, half-black version of Peter Parker in a parallel universe.

After stepping down as Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer binge-watched 100 episodes of “The Good Wife” in 2 weeks
That’s according to a Wall Street Journal profile of the new L.A. Clippers owner.

Ricky Gervais crashes other Netflix shows
Check out Netflix’s “Superfan” ad, plus outtakes.

Meredith Vieira promotes her NBC 30 Rock-based talk show on ABC’s “GMA”
Turns out that though "The Meredith Vieira Show” will air on many NBC stations, it will also be shown on some ABC affiliates.

Matt Groening releases a trailer for his “The Simpsons Family History” book
The hardcover book, containing 400 illustrations, is due out next month.

Watch ABC’s “Forever” pilot online
The drama series about an immortal NYC medical examiner starring Ioan Gruffudd and Alana De La Garza has been posted to Hulu in advance of its premiere.

Lifetime’s "The Brittany Murphy Story” suggests the late actress may have been murdered
The trailer emphasizes that there are “the suspects” and she was “afraid for her life."

Here’s “The Originals” Season 2 trailer
Klaus finds a potential new ally.

CNBC renews “Restaurant Startup”
The reality show will return in January with 10 new episodes.

“Revenge’s” Emily VanCamp takes the Ice Bucket Challenge
She challenged her co-stars Barry Sloane and Gabriel Mann to do the same.

Apple TV adds Showtime Anytime
You can now stream Showtime shows like “Homeland” if you have an Apple TV.

“Modern Family’s” Sarah Hyland is single
She and boyfriend of five years, Matt Prokop, have broken up.

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