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Credit: FX

Series premiere talkback: 'Tyrant' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of the new FX drama?

Yesterday, I published my review of FX's "Tyrant." (And Fienberg wrote at length about the problematic bit of casting at the center of the show.) Now, it's your turn. For those who watched the pilot tonight, what did you think? Does the setting intrigue you? Did you react strongly to any of the characters? How did you feel about Adam Rayner as Barry/Bassam? About his wife and kids? And will you watch again?

Have at it. This is one I don't expect to be writing about again.

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NBC: We don’t ban ads containing the word 'abortion'

NBC: We don’t ban ads containing the word “abortion”
The Peacock addressed the “Obvious Child” controversy, saying no final ad was for the movie was submitted for TV broadcast. But NBC admits mistakenly asking to remove the “abortion” word from an online ad, which again is not company policy.

Ian Somerhalder testifies before Congress
“The Vampire Diaries” star was testifying on behalf of endangered animal species.

Lifetime’s “Saved by the Bell” movie casts Mr. Belding
Does actor Ken Tremblett resemble Dennis Haskins?

L.A.’s share of total pilot production falls below 50% for the 1st time ever
Los Angeles retained only 90 pilot projects out of 203 this past season.

Jennie Garth: CW’s “90210” cast lacked chemistry
“That’s an example of a cast that really didn’t have that chemistry,” says the former “Beverly Hills 90210” star. “It’s hard to find actors who have that.”

LeVar Burton has reached nearly $4 million of his (new) $5 million “Reading Rainbow” goal
Burton has just seven days left in his Kickstarter campaign.

Old Navy teams with Jimmy Kimmel on a flip-flop marketing campaign
A “Jimmy Kimmel Live” skit airing Thursday will be used by Old Navy and its social media channels.

“Hell on Wheels” had to cast a new bride after losing her to “Black Box”
Canadian MacKenzie Porter will take over the role as Cullen’s bride in Season 4.

Chris Harrison may write a book, but not a “Bachelor” tell-all
Harrison says he’s received many book proposals, but a new one is “the first time I've actually taken it serious. So we'll see. We'll see."

Electronic dance musician Steve Aoki spoofs “Breaking Bad” in his new music video
Its title: “Free the Madness.” PLUS: “Malcolm in the Middle’s” Frankie Muniz tweets: "Looking for Walter White...I mean my dad, I mean @BryanCranston as I drive through Albuquerque, NM."

Rachelle Lefevre delivers an “Under the Dome”-themed Letterman Top 10
"Top Ten Questions People Ask Me About The Dome."

On the “Girls” set, Lena Dunham and Gillian Jacobs look alike
See what the “Girls” star and the “Community” star were wearing today.

“Sons of Anarchy” actor releases his 1st novel
Walter Wong, who plays V-Lin on the FX series, has written a debut novel based on his struggles with addiction.

BET in lawsuit over “The Game’s” 6 million Facebook Likes
Did the network steal the Facebook page for the sitcom?

Jay Leno didn’t put on enough standup comics — that’s why he doesn’t deserve the Mark Twain Award for Humor
“Beyond peddling rimshots and tossing softballs for 21 years, Leno simply hasn't contributed much” to comedy, argues Liz Shannon Miller.

“Seinfeld’s” John O’Hurley lands a job on The Broadway Channel
He'll host “What’s Hot on Broadway.”

“Covert Affairs” returns with “a bit of a reset”
"Annie and Auggie will always be in one another’s lives, but very early in the first episode, we’ll get some clarity as to where they’re going to be and where they’re headed,” says exec producer Matt Corman.

Diego Klattenhoff hasn’t watched “Homeland” Season 3, doesn’t think he’ll return
"The Blacklist” star, who played Mike Faber on the first two seasons of the Showtime series, says: "Brody's dead and I think they've moved on.”

“Chronicle’s” Alex Russell to star in “Galyntine:” on AMC
He’ll play an orphan named Roman in the postapocalyptic drama.

“Looney Tunes” was more violent than you remember
The cartoon had a blasé approach to suicide by gun and murder. PLUS: What Nicktoons characters would look like if Hollywood rebooted them.

PBS’ "Freedom Summer” tells the  story of the 1964 voting rights fight
Tonight’s “American Experience” is gripping.

Noah Wyle weds
The “Falling Skies” star and “ER” alum married actress Sara Wells earlier this month.

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Ridley Scott's Matt Damon-starring adaptation of 'The Martian' may be his next film
Credit: Sony Pictures

Ridley Scott's Matt Damon-starring adaptation of 'The Martian' may be his next film

Simon Kinberg suggests a timeline for the big-screen version of the Andy Weir book

I'm confused. Is Ridley Scott making the "Prometheus" sequel for a 2016 release, or is he making "The Martian," with Matt Damon starring in the Drew Goddard adaptation of the book by Andy Weir? We've heard several possibilities, but according to Simon Kinberg, a producer on "The Martian," it appears that a choice has been made. The comments were made during a podast appearance with Jeff Goldsmith.

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Chris Hemsworth discussed playing 'Doc Savage' for 'Iron Man 3's Shane Black
Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth discussed playing 'Doc Savage' for 'Iron Man 3's Shane Black

If you're casting the original pulp hero, Hemsworth seems like a great choice

Last September, Shane Black did an interview with Jim Vejvoda at IGN, and the subject of "Doc Savage" came up. Black was discussing the casting challenge that Doc Savage poses, since the character was always described as being larger than anyone else, exponentially speaking. You could do it as an effect, I'm sure, but it helps if you start with someone who's already gigantic.

To that end, Jim suggested Chris Hemsworth. I concur. During a recent event of some sort that I might be heavily embargoed over, I may or may not have had reason to see Hemsworth in person in a very particular costume that showed off just how absurdly proportioned he is. I'm a long-time Doc Savage fan, and I know how I've pictured the character based on the way character in the stories react to him. He is unsettlingly large. He doesn't quite seem to be the same species as the normal human men around him. I think Hemsworth totally works if you're trying to cast that, and it helps that he is crazy talented as well. I think it would be fun to watch him play a lead in a Shane Black film, since I'm sure Black's take will have plenty of sly character humor built in, and Hemsworth is great at playing things so straight that they become funny.

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<p>Tilda Swinton at a press event for &quot;Snowpiercer&quot; in 2013.</p>

Tilda Swinton at a press event for "Snowpiercer" in 2013.

Credit: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

From 'Snowpiercer' to Amy Schumer: Tilda Swinton is having another moment

Has the reluctant Oscar winner finally found comfort in Hollywood?

A little over six years after the fact, it's striking to revisit Tilda Swinton's reaction to winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "Michael Clayton." At the time, fans were jubilant and the audience was amused by her blunt "Oh, no" reaction and on-stage decision to give the statue to her agent. Watching the clip today there is a look of almost sheer horror on her face as her name is read and as she walks to the stage. This wasn't something Swinton strived for. She's an artist. Winning Oscars wasn't part of the plan if there ever was one. In the years since, however, Swinton has clearly found a way to balance her artistic interests with films that can find some legs in the global Hollywood movie-making machine.

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Stanley Tucci on new 'Hunger Games' fans and the scale of 'Transformers' action
Credit: HitFix

Stanley Tucci on new 'Hunger Games' fans and the scale of 'Transformers' action

Plus which performance of his should have gotten more attention at the time?

One of the most immediate pleasures of flying to Hong Kong to cover the release of "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" was sitting down with the always-charming Stanley Tucci to talk about his role as "Excellent character actor screaming at the CGI robots."

As I said in my review, these are really weird movies. I am still baffled by John Malkovich in the third film. There's an entire scene in that film where I can't even fully describe what it is he's doing. I went back recently just to look at that moment, and it looks like Malkovich is on Ecstasy and that he's fixated on one of the robots, practically rubbing himself against it. It's bizarre. I'm not sure about the entire role that he played. He has a deeply strange opening scene, and it just seems to get weirder from there, like the entire perverted "Three's Company" bathroom scene.

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<p>Taxi Brooklyn</p>

Taxi Brooklyn

Credit: NBC

Firewall & Iceberg Show, episode 18: 'Tyrant,' 'Orphan Black' & more

Dan and Alan also review NBC's 'Taxi Brooklyn' and answer your mail

Happy Tuesday, boys and girls! Time for a Firewall & Iceberg Show in which we review a cable drama with a troubled origin story ("Tyrant"), a network drama with a weird origin story ("Taxi Brooklyn"), break down "Orphan Black" season 2 and answer your mail.

The rundown:

"Tyrant" review (0:00- 8:45)
"Taxi Brooklyn" review (8:45- 12:54)
Viewer Mail: "Better Call Saul" (12:54- 17:50)
Viewer Mail: Biggest Emmy acting snubs (17:50- 22:34)
"Orphan Black" finale review (22:34- 33:49)

As always, you can send us questions at There's also now a YouTube channel where you can subscribe to all upcoming Firewall & Iceberg videos, at

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<p>Ava DuVernay</p>

Ava DuVernay

Credit: AP Photo

AMPAS' Academy Originals series continues with 'Selma' director Ava DuVernay

The up-and-coming filmmaker discusses her creative inspirations

Well, this is pretty neat. I hadn't realized that the Academy has launched a web series of sorts, taking on a range of film-related subjects past and present -- and sometimes focusing on individual artists. The initiative is titled Academy Originals; previous episodes have centered on Patton Oswalt, Dustin Lee Black and "Jurassic Park," among others. This week's subject: writer-director Ava DuVernay.

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<p>The Gaslight Anthem</p>

The Gaslight Anthem

Credit: Island

Gaslight Anthem's new single 'Rollin' and Tumblin': Could the rockers top the charts?

New Jersery band returns with new album 'Get Hurt' in August

"You say I'm hopelessly devoted to misery..."


The Gaslight Anthem are back with their particular brand of high-octane, heartbroken New Jersey-bred rock in new single "Rollin' and Tumblin'."

The song is from the group's next album "Get Hurt," due on Aug. 19, and they'll be previewing it on tour all summer, some dates with Against Me! (who we caught up with last week).

"Get Hurt" comes on the heels of 2012's "Handwritten," which put the band on the map with the help of single "45." Their first album in 2008, "The '59 Sound," didn't crack the 200; 2010's "American Slang" made it to No. 16. "Handwritten" peaked at No. 3, so I'm thinking August may be a celebratory month for The Gaslight Anthem, who could potentially hook their first No. 1 on the album sales chart.

Now, back to the song: I will say this won't be the first time I (and many others) have compared Gaslight Anthem to their hero Bruce Springsteen. It won't be my last. And at this juncture, they're simply trolling me with the line "Baby, I was born on the 4th of July."

Here is the tracklist for "Get Hurt":

1. Stay Vicious
2. 1,000 Years
3. Get Hurt
4. Stray Paper
5. Helter Skeleton
6. Underneath the Ground
7. Rollin’ and Tumblin’
8. Red Violins
9. Selected Poems
10. Ain’t That a Shame
11. Break Your Heart

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'Iron Man 3' director Shane Black signs to bring the 'Predator' series back to life
Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Iron Man 3' director Shane Black signs to bring the 'Predator' series back to life

Even better, he's co-writing with his 'Monster Squad' writing partner

Oh, I see what you did there, Fox. Sneaky. I like it.

I'm not even remotely surprised that Fox is working to make a new "Predator" movie. I don't really care what they call it… reboot, remake, sequel, update… whatever. They'll never stop making "Predator" movies. They'll do it anytime they've got an idea that's even vaguely commercial, because it's an evergreen property for them. They don't have to license any rights. They're not playing with someone else's material. Like with the "Alien" series, they own "Predator" completely, and they've proven repeatedly that they're willing to bend those icons in a million different ways.

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<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;Fury&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt in "Fury"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Brad Pitt broods intensely on teaser poster for 'Fury'

David Ayer's WWII drama hits U.S. screens on November 14

The cinema doesn't exactly want for Second World War dramas, but nonetheless, I'm increasingly looking forward to "Fury." David Ayer's tough brand of crime storytelling has worked better in some projects than others -- "Sabotage" wasn't quite the follow-up to "End of Watch" most of us were hoping for -- but he's a distinctive stylist, and I'm interested to see how his street sensibility adapts to a period piece.

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Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey responds to Frances Bean Cobain's criticism over 'dead' comment

Just think...if either of them had picked up the phone we'd have to find something else to talk about

Lana Del Rey has responded, via Twitter, of course, to Frances Bean Cobain’s Twitter criticism of Del Rey for saying she wishes she were already dead.

To recap, in words that Del Rey now says were provoked, the “Ultraviolence” singer told The Guardian that she wished she were already dead and that she doesn’t particularly enjoy what she’s doing, but will continue doing it anyway.

Cobain, whose father, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, killed himself  when his daughter was 1,  took to Twitter to chide Del Rey for “romanticizing” early death. Read her tweets here.

In a continuation of what has been a civilized exchange, Del Rey tweeted back to Cobain yesterday: “It’s all good. He was asking me a lot [about] your dad. I said I liked him because he was a talent, not because he died young.”  She then added, “The other half of what I said wasn’t really related to the people he mentioned/I don’t find that part of music glam either.”

So their non-feud is over and all that’s left now is the obligatory photo of the two of them meeting and hugging it out… which they will immediately post on Instagram.

It’s really hard to imagine how websites and blogs had enough to report on before Twitter launched in 2006 and even harder to imagine that celebrities didn’t feel the need to tweet every thought that passed through their head.  

Cobain was smart: she (and any other celebrity with any media savvy) knew that all she had to do was send a tweet to Lana Del Rey for the inter webs to blow up and she was right. And Del Rey knew once she responded it would make news. I’m sure the thought of picking up their phones and actually having a private conversation about it never occurred to either one of them…because if the rest of the world doesn't know about it, that means it never happening, right?  Instead, everything plays out in a public forum now. Cobain understands the currency her tweets have and that Del Rey is hot right now. The combination is combustible. I realize this is not new at all and has been the modus operandi for quite some time, but, for some reason, this exchange really highlighted to me the extent to which we bloggers jump on anything slightly tantalizing for potential click bait.  Vicious circle…

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