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Interview: Composer Brian Tyler on 'TMNT,' 'Expendables 3' and 'Avengers: The Age of Ultron'

Is it harder to write for a mutant turtle or Sylvester Stallone?

Be careful what you say about the music when you come out of a movie theater, composer Brian Tyler may be listening.

Tyler has a ritual: The day one of his movies opens, he and the director theater hop, checking out how several audiences are reacting to the film and to the music. “I just pop my head in to see how the crowd is doing, kind of see how everyone is reacting,” Tyler says. “I really like to stand outside the theater and see if anyone is humming the music.”

Tyler is spending a lot of time at local cineplexes this month: two movies he scored opened last Friday,  Aug. 8: box office champ, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and “Into the Storm.” A third film, “The Expendables 3,” opens this Friday,  Aug. 15.

For “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Tyler composed an old-school, often lush,  symphonic score. He and director Jonathan Liebesman both felt very strongly that “the turtles take care of the wackiness, we didn’t need to add to that.”  They also felt the tone should stay relatively light. “I didn’t want it to feel like a “Batman.” On the dark-to-fun-ometer, we wanted it to be a perfect ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’,” he says. “There are some moments of ‘Raiders’ that are hardcore, but the overall feel is that it’s encased in an adventure film.”

“TMNT” won the box-office, despite receiving fairly negative reviews.“It’s not a movie made for critics,” he says. “It’s a movie made for people who want to completely let loose, so by design, the score that fits that the best is the kind of throwback adventure.”

So on the difficulty meter, I asked Tyler who is harder to write for: “TMNT’s” Michelangelo or “The Expendables’” Sylvester Stallone? Hands down, it’s the turtle. “I’ve known Sly for so long, I feel like I speak his language,” Tyler says. The fun in scoring his third “Expendables” film came in writing for the new characters, including Mel Gibson’s villain, “Stonebanks,” Just as Tyler played against the insanity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles be keeping the score light, but not frivolous, he makes Stonebank’s theme a beautiful solo piano piece that plays in opposition to the character. “I thought more of an etude would work really great so it’s not just arch,” Tyler says. “It shows he has an interesting villainy; there are wheels turning in that brain.”

Tyler deployed a similar device with Loki’s theme in “Thor: The Dark World” by writing the piece on the harp. Tom Hiddleson, who plays Loki, loved the theme so much, he made a point of telling Tyler that he’d downloaded not just that selection, but the whole score.

In addition to “Thor,” Tyler has scored a number of Marvel movies, including “Iron Man 3” and is now working on Josh Whedon’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” He, of course, is sworn to secrecy about “Ultron," but says of the music, "It’s coming into shape. It’s going to be a great and long process.”

The key to scoring any Marvel film, “is that you want to completely buy the idea,” Tyler says. “Especially with the Avengers, you buy the idea that there’s a genius billionaire playboy and a big green monster. Josh directs it in a way that you have fun with it, but you completely buy it.”

Tyler is scoring —every pun intended— on the little screen as well.  He scores “Hawaii 5-0” and  received an Emmy nomination this year for his theme music for “Sleepy Hollow.”   Co-creator Alex Kurtzman and Tyler are friends and he approached Tyler about the supernatural thriller. “It was a blast,” Tyler says. “We wanted to make something that sounds quirky baroque, with violin, cello, a dulcimer and some percussion. It’s kind of a weird thing for a modern day TV show.”

Scoring a number of sequels allows him to sometimes get to know the actors, as he has Stone and Hiddleson. Through his work on the “Fast & Furious” franchise (he’s now scoring “Fast & Furious 7”), he became close to Paul Walker and the actor’s death still stings. In addition to the “Fast” series, Tyler also scored Walker’s 2008 film, “The Lazarus Project.” That was a labor of love for him,” Tyler says. “I wrote his theme for that and that’s what his family asked to have played as his memorial service. It’s called ‘Jaybird.’ He was really a great guy, just a sweet guy and outside the Hollywood system. He wasn’t interested in being a superstar, he’s rather be on a surfboard.”


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'Inhumans' screenwriter revealed amid new rumors on Marvel project
Credit: Marvel Comics

'Inhumans' screenwriter revealed amid new rumors on Marvel project

Will Vin Diesel really sign on to play Black Bolt?

We first mentioned Marvel's development of "Inhumans" as a property for possible big-screen release back in September of 2013, while rumors about the film have been swirling since March of 2011.

First, let's address the Vin Diesel rumors. Over the weekend, Vin dropped some cryptic hints about possibly joining the cast of an "Inhumans" movie, and if he does end up in the movie, there's a strong chance he'd be playing Black Bolt, one of the main characters in the comics. Here's what makes that sort of a genius-level move on Marvel's part. When they announced Paul Bettany as The Vision for "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," it was not only a great chance to see him onscreen finally after just hearing his voice in the "Iron Man" movies so far, but it also makes sense from a story standpoint. Jarvis is part of the DNA of the creatures that are both Ultron and The Vision.

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Listen to Ariana Grande's new R&B jam with Big Sean

Listen to Ariana Grande's new R&B jam with Big Sean

Things you know you like, together

Ariana Grande's summer jam "Problem" was successful because it was an amalgam of a things we already knew we liked. She reminds us of classic Mariah Carey in her range; there's that four-part harmony that's like the Andrews sister; there's hints of New Jack Swing and the funk of the horns section from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop"; even if you don't know the verse, everyone can sing "you-hoo-HOO!"; Iggy Azalea is/was on fire at time of impact.

Grande has released a new song, "Best Mistake," ahead of her second album "My Everything," out on Aug. 25. This song may similarly ring a couple bells. There's a particular treatment to the keyboards that are reminiscent of Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball." The vocal bend and auto-tune filter is a reminder of Rihanna. Those chimes make us think our princess is in another castle.

But unlike her first big number, this is a song I have listened to many times now and keep forgetting I've heard it. Big Sean turns in a verse that gets a C+ -- hey, slightly above average without sticking out in the crowd! -- and Grande's voice is appropriately if not robotically melancholy.

So to answer the question what happens when the water dries up? You wait until Aug. 25 to get a real gulp of what Grande can really offer. This is a pretty, easy song. The next hit's in another castle.

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Vote for your favorite former series in HitFix's Uncanceled Showdown!

Vote for your favorite former series in HitFix's Uncanceled Showdown!

Would you like to bring back 'Freaks and Geeks'? Finally get those 'Deadwood' movies? More 'Firefly'?

TV cancellation isn't as permanent as it used to be. "Community" is moving to Yahoo, we're allegedly going to get another "Arrested Development" season on Netflix soon, and the "Entourage" cast will soon be infecting a movie theater near you.

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Ronda Rousey explains the concept of the 'ho-box' to the rest of the new 'Expendables'
Credit: HitFix

Ronda Rousey explains the concept of the 'ho-box' to the rest of the new 'Expendables'

Listen for Kellan Lutz's hilarious interjection

One thing I've learned about doing these on-camera junket interviews is that anything more than three people in the room can lead to chaos. In the case of this interview with the young cast from "The Expendables 3," I had four people to interview together, and it was just on the verge of devolving into total chaos.

To complicate matters, there was no way I was going to jump in and try to assert any sort of control over that group of people. I was talking to Glen Powell, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, and Kellan Lutz, who all play new characters who are recruited by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) to replace the older Expendables, since Barney's worried that they'll get killed on an upcoming mission.

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Credit: TNT

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 241: Robin Williams, 'The Killing' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss TNT's 'Legends' and get back to 'Friday Night Lights' season 2


Happy Tuesday, boys and girls! Time for a roller-coaster of emotions on the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, which starts off with some sad Robin Williams talk, then shifts into discussion of TNT's mostly forgettable "Legends" with Sean Bean, later pivots into irritation in our discussion of the final season of "The Killing" before getting into all the ridiculous doings of our latest episodes from "Friday Night Lights" season 2.

The rundown: 

Robin Williams (00:01:00 - 00:21:05)
"Legends" (00:21:06 - 00:31:50)
Listener Mail - "Arrested Development" (00:32:10 - 00:38:40)
Listener Mail - SimpsonsWorld implications (00:38:40 - 00:46:15)
"The Killing" Final Season (00:46:15 - 01:00:15)
"Friday Night Lights" Rewatch (01:00:15 - 01:41:00)
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. 241

Dan and Alan discuss Robin Williams, review 'The Killing' Season 4 and 'Legends'


Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls.

It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg podcast.

Even though this week's only new show is TNT's "Legends," this still ended up being a long podcast. 

We honored the legacy of the late Robin Williams and we answered some mail and we also both watched the final season of "The Killing" on Netflix. Note that the "Killing" segment is a spoiler-y segment, because we watched all six episodes.

And we also had two very eventful "Friday Night Lights episodes to talk about.

Today's breakdown:

Robin Williams (00:01:00 - 00:21:05)
"Legends" (00:21:06 - 00:31:50)
Listener Mail - "Arrested Development" (00:32:10 - 00:38:40)
Listener Mail - SimpsonsWorld implications (00:38:40 - 00:46:15)
"The Killing" Final Season (00:46:15 - 01:00:15)
"Friday Night Lights" Rewatch (01:00:15 - 01:41:00)

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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 


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


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Kristen Wiig and Adam Sandler have late additions to the 2014 Toronto Film Festival

Kristen Wiig and Adam Sandler have late additions to the 2014 Toronto Film Festival

Plus: New films from Kristen Wiig, Josh Hutcherson, John Travolta and Mia Wasikowska

The Toronto International Film Festival announced more selections Tuesday for the upcoming 2014 edition of the annual awards season kick-off. The majority of the festival's program was announced last month, but this group includes intriguing world premieres from notable directors such as Todd McCarthy ("The Cobbler") and Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Beyond the Lights").

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Robin Williams fans descend on 'Mork and Mindy’s' house

Robin Williams fans descend on “Mork and Mindy’s” house
The house located in Boulder, Colorado, was decorated today with flowers and signs in tribute to the late actor.

“It’s Always Sunny’s” Kaitlin Olson could end up as Zooey Deschanel’s “New Girl” stepmother
Olson will recur next season as the fiancee to Jess’ dad, as played by Rob Reiner.

“The Wire’s” David Simon recalls his “Homicide” encounter with Robin Williams
"I found Mr. Williams good-hearted, hilarious, talented, and remarkably, indescribably sad,” writes Simon, who co-wrote the episode guest-starring Williams. "We were in the Maryland morgue on the given day, though the location had little to do with the sadness….”

Kristen Bell and her fellow “Veronica Mars” castmates will be part of the spinoff web series
"Play It Again, Dick,” starring Ryan Hansen, will also feature Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni and Percy Daggs III.

Taylor Lautner is playing Andy Samberg’s son on BBC’s “Cuckoo”
The BBC3 sitcom revealed the twist in its 2nd season opener.

E! cancels "Hello Ross," announces “Live From E!” starring Maria Menounos, Ross Mathews and Jason Kennedy
Matthews will be part of a pop-culture debate show. And since he’s moving to primetime, his talk show will end.

Starz orders “The One Percent” from "Amores Perros” director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu
Ed Helms, Hilary Swank and Ed Harris are expected to star in a drama series about a farmer who struggles to hold onto his family farm "when a bizarre twist of fate becomes a life-changing secret that will either save them or ruin them."

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Elvira returns in Ryan Adams' 'Gimme Something Good' video: Watch

Elvira returns in Ryan Adams' 'Gimme Something Good' video: Watch

'70s meets '80s in this new music clip

Ryan Adams' single "Gimme Something Good" wears out its '70s roots rock influences, but the singer-songwriter fully embraces his love of the '80s in the new music video for the track.

Or, rather, he wishes to embrace Elvira in this clip. Adams has an unabashed and well-documented love of metal, even hair metal and power-rock from the 1980s, and if all the bros I remember from my youth are any indication, Elvira and her witch wiles go hand-in-hand with all things 1980s rock 'n' roll.

So what do you do when you grow up ("grow up")? You enlist the help of the Mistress of the Dark in a stoically cheeky video, complete with the home video aesthetic chirping into your mid-tempo longings.

I've always had a soft spot for Adams. I feel bad for any songwriter who's endured maligned bullsh*t after they get sober, and after they leave the fold of traditionally admired labels like Lost Highway, all of which happened around 2007 and 2008. There's shining moments in sets like "Orion" and "Ashes & Fire," since then, that expose his heavy metal past, his sense of humor, his endless production ethic.

But most of all, it's sounded like he's rebuilding his mold, working with Mike Viola on this new, forthcoming self-titled album instead of producing himself, or working with consistent former collaborators like Glyn or Ethan Johns, Jamie Candiloro, Tom Schick. Or even dipping back into the waters of switching up the Cardinals lineup. (Fun fact: Viola previously produced albums for Ryan Adams' wife, Mandy Moore.)

"Gimme Something Good" isn't bold. But it is catchy as hell, like something from "Gold" or "Easy Tiger" that highlight his deft touch at rock-pop. "My Wrecking Ball," which is also available now (stream below) will tickle anybody who has enjoyed the lo-fi, solo workings of the Bedhead bootlegs, and his finer solo moments.

This is all to say I'm hopeful. He's striking a chord with this lightly funny video of Darkness (and oh those famous breasts).

Expect a redux of it tomorrow (Aug. 13) on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon."

"Gimme Something Good" and "My Wrecking Ball" are on "Ryan Adams," due out on Sept. 9 via Adams' Pax Am label with distro from Blue Note. Tour dates are below the videos.

Here are Ryan Adams' tour dates:

09/08/14 — Washington, DC — 9:30 Club *
10/01/14 — Santa Barbara, CA — Arlington Theater
10/03/14 - San Francisco, CA - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
10/05/14 — Portland, OR — Arlene Schnitzer Hall
10/06/14 — Seattle, WA — Paramount Ballroom
10/07/14 — Vancouver, BC — Orpheum Theater
10/09/14 — Edmonton, AB — Francis Winspear Theater
10/10/14 — Calgary, AB — Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
10/12/14 — Winnipeg, AB — Burton Cummings Theater
10/13/14 — Minneapolis, MN — Northrop at the University of Minnesota
10/14/14 — Milwaukee, WI — Riverside Theater
10/16/14 — Chicago, IL — Chicago Theater
10/18/14 — Ames, IA — Stephens Auditorium @ Iowa State Center ***
10/19/14 — St. Louis, MO — Peabody Opera House
10/20/14 — Kansas City, MO — Uptown Theater
11/06/14 — Indianapolis, IN — Murat Theater *
11/08/14 — Columbus, OH — Palace Theater *
11/09/14 — Detroit, MI — The Fillmore *
11/11/14 — Cleveland, OH — State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare **
11/18/14 —Boston, MA — Wang Theatre *
11/19/14 — Philadelphia (Upper Darby), PA — Tower Theatre *

* On sale Friday, August 15 at 10am local time
** On sale Friday, August 15 at 11am local time
*** On sale Friday, August 22nd

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Authorities reveal details of Robin Williams' death, confirm he committed suicide

Authorities reveal details of Robin Williams' death, confirm he committed suicide
The Marin County Sheriff say Williams was found hanged, and was discovered Monday morning by his assistant.

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Credit: Sony Pictures

Brad Pitt WWII drama 'Fury' moves to October

David Ayer's latest could be a major Oscar play for Sony

Sony Pictures has jerked David Ayer's World War II drama "Fury," starring Brad Pitt, from an original Nov. 14 release date to Oct. 17. That's a date currently occupied by the limited bow of Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman," which shares a producer with "Fury" in John Lesher, but it puts the film right in the mid-month corridor that has worked out for awards season players like "Argo," "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" in recent years.

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