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Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley and country's expanding view of 'traditional American values'

Is country music becoming more moderate?

Country music has, for the most part, aligned itself with what are referred to as “traditional American values.” No one has a clear cut definition of what those are, but they usually include a strong sense of patriotism (or, more realistically, jingoism), and a nostalgic yearning that things were better when families came with a mom and a dad, mom stayed at home and looked after the kids and had dinner waiting on the table, Dad drove an American-made car  (preferably a truck) from his 9-to-5 job, and they went to church every Sunday.  Add in that they usually lived in middle America or the south and considered New York a place they might want to visit, but definitely didn’t want to live.

While there are plenty of songs on country radio still espousing that kind of lifestyle (despite the fact that it reflects an ever-diminishing reality), what’s interesting is that country artists, who are for the most part very reluctant to discuss politics or religion, are starting to become much more vocal about embracing a broader world view. (“Vocal” is the key word here because there are plenty of country artists who are not conservative, but other than Tim McGraw, they tend not to discuss their views publicly).

Brad Paisley is the latest to counter the “good-old-boy” stereotype. On Sunday, he posted a selfie with members of Westboro Baptist Church, who were boycotting his show for reasons that aren't totally clear, but seem to do with his song “Alcohol,” a funny ditty about what happens when you are over served. (We’re guessing they’ve never heard his heartbreaking tune, “Whiskey Lullaby,” with Alison Krauss, also about over-indulging). He’s looking very bemused into the camera and his Twitter caption reads “Westboro Baptist Selfie!! Or west-Burro(ass) selfie. Hopefully, they can hear the show out here. We’ll play loud.” (Paisley, to be fair, has always embraced a great awareness of the world around him, whether in "Welcome To the Future" or his much maligned, but well intentioned "Accidental Racist.")

Vince Gill also recently tangled with the Westboro crowd: they protested his show because he’s divorced and because he married Amy Grant, who has been open about her support of gays.  He came out swinging and really had some choice words for the hate mongers. In a video since taken down, Gill interacted with the protesters who wanted to know what he was doing “with another man’s wife.”

“I came out to see what hatred really looks like in the face,” he said to the protesters and then, as he got really mad, added “Don’t you know that you f**kers are lucky that you don’t have a sign that says something about my wife?” and took them to task for not preaching Jesus’ message of forgiveness and tolerance.

Speaking of tolerance, more and more country artists are speaking out in favor of gay marriage, a topic that once was very taboo and remains Westboro's public enemy No. 1. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles told the Advocate in a February interview, that the fight for gay marriage “should have already been behind us.”  Keith Urban was caught on camera crying happy tears during the same and opposite-sex marriage ceremony performed during this year’s Grammy Awards and later told Rolling Stone Country, “love is love.”  Carrie Underwood initially caught flack from fans in 2012, when, if not downright endorsing marriage equality, stated that she didn't want to be told who she can marry. A year later, she preached a message of "acceptance" to Allure, stating, "I feel no matter who you are, what you believe, how you live your life, it's not my place to judge."  That may not be the same thing as bluntly saying, "Yes, I believe in marriage equality," but it's not backing down from the issue either.

To be sure, there’s no openly flag-waving progressive on the country charts and there’s certainly not an openly gay country act on the charts (With all due respect, for all of Chely Wright’s protestations that coming out hurt her country career, she hadn’t had a country hit in years by the time she published her autobiography).  But artists like Kacey Musgraves, who got away with lines like “kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into” in her song “Follow Your Arrow” point to a greater openness (even though the song stalled at 43 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart).

More than anything, these actions create a dialogue and show that country is moving to a more moderate, tolerant position, which is likely in line with the majority of country fans.

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'Homeland’s' 2 new recruits include a 'House or Cards' alum

“Homeland’s” 2 new recruits include a “House or Cards” alum
Corey Stoll, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for his Netflix role, will play a CIA station chief in Pakistan. Laila Robins will play the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

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'Fargo' has its 'Spoiler Police' warn that tonight’s episode runs 1 hour and 17 minutes

“Fargo” has its “Spoiler Police” warn that tonight’s episode runs 1 hour and 17 minutes
“Please plan your post-episode coverage accordingly, says a message from the Bemidji Police Department.

“White Collar” has “one really beautiful plot” lined up for the final 6 episodes
USA hasn’t announced whether Season 6’s six-episode run will be the end, but creator Jeff Eastin says: "The really nice thing about six episodes is that it almost feels like a limited series.”

“Louie’s” Hungarian girlfriend, translated
Here’s what Amia was saying in each of the six episodes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was supposed to be a phone-a-friend on Germany’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”
The only problem: She didn’t pick up the phone.

"Roseanne for President!" documentary is in the works
The big-screen film will recap Roseanne Barr’s attempt to run for president in 2012.

“24” is becoming its old dumb self again
After showing signs on changing its ways in the new 12-hour format, last night’s “Live Another Day” introduced many of the twists that hurt the original series.

Megan Mullally raps for Nick Offerman in their 1st joint talk show interview
On “Late Night,” the couple also recalled a clean-shaven Offerman’s guest appearance on “Will & Grace."

“American Ninja Warrior” tops the night, “Mistresses” has its best-ever ratings
“American Ninja Warrior” was up 19% over last week.

Kate McKinnon explains her “SNL"Justin Bieber impression
She tells Conan: “It’s looking like a puppy who just piddled and is sort of sorry about it.”

Mindy Kaling combats “sweaty neck” with a “summer bob”
"See ya sweaty neck, I got work to do,” she wrote on Instagram.

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6 movie stars on the summer movie hot seat in June

6 movie stars on the summer movie hot seat in June

We've got titans and rising stars alike on the list this month

We did this for the first time last month, and I think it's a perspective worth offering at the start of each month, particularly during a season when the stakes are so financially important to the industry as a whole.

For the purposes of this conversation, it's important to start from a common definition of movie star. There's several different metrics you can use. There are people who are positively incandescent when they show up in front of a camera, and you can't get enough of just looking at them. They were born to be photographed. Light bends differently off of them. In a case like that, you could say someone has "movie-star charisma." That is a necessary quality for a movie star, but that's not all that is involved.

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Chris Harrison: Removing last night’s 'Bachelorette' rose ceremony was a 'game-time decision'

Chris Harrison: Removing last night’s “Bachelorette” rose ceremony was a “game-time decision”
"There was a long debate back and forth on if we would remove the rose ceremony,” Harrison writes on his “Bachelorette” blog, "and if we did replace it with an interview, what would that interview look and feel like? The night Andi and I got together to shoot that interview, we both sat there and looked at each other in silence and thought the same thing. So we just did what the two of us always do: We just started talking."

John Oliver may have helped crash the FCC’s comments system
The FCC’s comment system was down yesterday after Oliver used his “Last Week Tonight” platform to call on viewers to lodge a protest with the FCC over net neutrality.

An 8th “Game of Thrones” book!?
George R.R. Martin's editor hints that Martin may do an eighth book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. PLUS: Maisie Williams talks about laughing.

Scripps National Spelling Bee employs comedy writers
That’s the explanation for last week’s Kelis “Milkshake” mistake.

ABC releases “Rising Star” trailer
The newest singing competition promises to “change the game."

Watch the trailer for Netflix's “BoJack Horseman” starring Will Arnett and Aaron Paul
The animated series about a hard-drinking humanoid stallion debuts on Aug. 22.

Donald Faison and Zach Braff revive “Guy Love” live
The former “Scrubs” stars performed their classic tune while promoting Braff’s new movie.

Jon Stewart bids farewell to the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”
Stewart acknowledged his friend Bassem Youssef and his canceled show in a segment titled, “A Farewell to Egyptian Satire.”

Stephen Colbert returns from vacation with a “Tony Stark goatee”
He just wanted to show solidarity will billionaires.

Foo Fighters tease their new HBO series
Dave Grohl says “Foo Fighters Sonic Highways” is a “musical map of America."

USA’s “Benched” books Molly Shannon, Chris Parnell and Yvette Nicole Brown
All three will guest on the Eliza Coupe courtroom comedy.

Chris Kattan’s “SNL” character Mango shows up at CFDA Fashion Awards
Check out his curled sideburns.

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Idris Elba in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."
Idris Elba in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."
Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Mandela' writer blames film's failure on 'guilt-sucking' '12 Years a Slave'

William Nicholson also says he had to rewrite Mandela's 'boring' speeches

Hey, remember "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom?" Six months after its US theatrical release, no one would blame you if it's already slipped to the back of your mind. Despite its prestigious trappings and its unplanned topicality in the wake of Nelson Mandela's death last December, Justin Chadwick's well-intentioned biopic of South Africa's first democratically elected president was among the most prominent of 2013's awards-season hopefuls never to take flight.

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<p>&quot;American Ninja Warrior&quot;</p>

"American Ninja Warrior"

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: Rising '24: Live Another Day' and 'Bachelorette' pace Monday split

'American Ninja Warrior' is Monday's best among young viewers

Fast National ratings for Monday, June 2, 2014.

Breaking through an early summer of weak ratings, Monday night actually offered many glimmers of hope for the five networks.

At the top of the heap were ABC, which won overall with the rising "The Bachelorette," while FOX scored a narrow win among young viewers with building episodes of both "MasterChef" and "24: Live Another Day."

But that wasn't the only good news.

NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" got a good week-to-week bump and actually ranked as Monday's top show in the key demographic.

The CW's impressively reliable "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" did good numbers in its summer premiere and boosted the return of the inexplicably renewed "Beauty and the Beast" to numbers that almost could explicate the renewal. 

And "Mistresses" had an OK return on ABC.

On to the numbers...

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'Jeopardy!’s' Julia Collins: 'Women are coming into their own on the show'

“Jeopardy!’s” Julia Collins: “Women are coming into their own on the show"
Collins talks to MSNBC about the end of her 20-game win streak, which places her 2nd to Ken Jennings in all-time wins.

“The Bachelorette” scraps airing the rose ceremony for Eric Hill’s exit
Instead, a taped interview was shown of a tearful Andi Dorfman discussing the late "Bachelorette" contestant with Chris Harrison. PLUS: Andi’s favorite word is “Stop!"

“Sleepy Hollow” announces its fall premiere date
The Fox series returns with Season 2 on Sept. 22.

“The Brady Bunch’s” Ann B. Davis inspired “Iron Man’s” Pepper Potts
Marvel artist Don Heck based Pepper Potts’ look and mannerisms on Davis’ character Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz on "The Bob Cummings Show,” which ran from 1955-59. Davis won two Emmy for that role.

Constance Zimmer joins Lifetime’s “Un-Real”
The “Entourage” and “House of Cards” vet replaces Megyn Price on the behind-the-scenes of a reality show drama.

Watch Pedro Pascal talk about his “Game of Thrones" character
How would he celebrate Oberyn Martell?

Conan O’Brien reveals his awkward 1986 training video
Conan earned a few bucks making a video for the National Association of Music Merchants.

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"The Real Housewives of Orange County"

"The Real Housewives of Orange County"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of Orange County': Are Heather and Shannon okay?

Tamra discovers her son is buying HGH in 'parking lots'

So, Heather and Shannon finally meet over drinks to discuss the utter failure of their friendship, and I kind of felt as if they should just decide to split up the household belongings, file the paperwork, and move to separate counties. It's pretty clear to me that these two ladies will never, ever, ever be on the best of terms simply because they're slightly different versions of the same person and thus find the other extremely annoying. 

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'Edge of Tomorrow' star Emily Blunt on making complicated action look 'effortless'

'Edge of Tomorrow' star Emily Blunt on making complicated action look 'effortless'

What was it like for the 'Looper' star to kill Tom Cruise repeated?

LONDON - The first thing that has to be said here is that Tom Cruise's suit from "Edge of Tomorrow" is heavy as heck. It's not just styrofoam or some space-age polymer and it certainly isn't Tom Cruise running around in a green leotard that will be replaced by CGI later.

It's metal. It's weighty. It's constricting. And it's really hard to breathe in, much less deliver a stand-up for HitFix, much less deliver dialogue or attempt to act.

Last week, on a rainy Monday outside of London (also known as "a normal Monday"), I was at Leavesden Studios where the bulk of "Edge of Tomorrow" was filmed and I got to try on Tom Cruise's actual suit from the movie. 

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<p>Peele and Key on &quot;Fargo&quot;</p>

Peele and Key on "Fargo"

Credit: FX

Interview: Jordan Peele on bringing 'Key and Peele' chemistry to 'Fargo'

Why was he surprised to be Pepper and not Budge?

One of the things FX's "Fargo" does best -- and it does many things well -- is taking disparate elements that, from the outside, don't seem like they ought to mesh and then folding them into the batter so fluidly that you can't believe you ever questioned their compatibility in the first place.

In this respect, "Fargo" is an expertly made frittata, somehow light and fluffy despite a seeming surplus of ingredients. 

The ingredients added most recently were Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, known to Comedy Central fans as Key & Peele. Peele and Key made their first appearance in last week's "Fargo" playing FBI agents Pepper and Budge, introduced sitting in a car outside of an office building that is soon to become the scene of a major massacre. Yes, the character names made me thing of East-West Bowl. Yes, I briefly flashed to other skits from their repertoire -- "Soul Food," their "Wire" parody -- but that flash was ever-so-brief. In no time, Peele and Key were just part of the "Fargo" universe.

The process of integrating Budge and Pepper into the "Fargo" world continues in this Tuesday's episode, as we see the career ramifications from what Lorne Malvo did under their watch. 

I'm spoiling nothing when I say that this week's "Fargo" would be a good one to watch live.

With Key otherwise indisposed, I got on the phone this week with Jordan Peele to discuss how this paired role came about, their initial reservations and why "Fargo" is such a fertile space for acting experiments.

Check out the full Q&A...

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Credit: FX

Review: 'Louie' - 'Elevator Part 6/Pamela Part 1'

A storm strikes New York, Amia has a message for Louie, and Pamela babysits

A review of tonight's two "Louie" episodes coming up just as soon as I can name the first president that women voted for...

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