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<p>&quot;Food Fighters&quot;</p>

"Food Fighters"

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'America's Got Talent,' OK 'Food Fighters' launch lead NBC Tuesday

CBS takes second overall, with ABC second in the key demo

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

A strong performance by "America's Got Talent" and a so-so launch for "Food Fighters" helped NBC dominate Tuesday night in all measures.

With few other notables, procedural repeats helped CBS take second overall, while "Extreme Weight Loss" put ABC in second among young viewers.

On to the numbers...

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Shovels & Rope
Credit: Lesie Ryan McKellar

Exclusive Premiere: Shovels & Rope's dark new song, 'Evil': Listen

A tale of two misfits who are very misunderstood

Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, collectively known as Shovels & Rope, release their sophomore set “Swimmin’ Time,” Aug. 26.

The set follows the husband and wife duo's highly acclaimed breakthrough, ‘O’ Be Joyful,” a set of largely acoustic tales that featured their voices wrapping around each other and slithering in and out of stomping melodies, especially on the semi-autobiographical, “Birmingham,” which was named Song of the Year at the 2013 Americana Music Awards.

One of the best tunes on “Swimmin’ Time” is the swampy, dark “Evil,” a story about two misfits, a young tomboy and an older man, who is emotionally lost following the sudden death of his wife and an accident that leaves him brain damaged.

“The rough little girl takes pity on him and his children, bringing them apples, him, cigarettes and helping with the kids,” Hearst and Trent tell HitFix. “Their interaction raises suspicion in the small town, and the cops bring her in for questioning, perhaps with her damaged friend in custody, where she explains that they were helping each other, and that all they ever shared was their mutual loneliness.  Alas, it is a story about a town with 'two Boo Radleys' who depend on each other to survive.” Hey, any tune that in any way references "To Kill A Mockingbird" works for us.

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Credit: NBC

Summer sitcom rewind: 'Seinfeld' - 'The Red Dot'

George gets a new job, a great gift for Elaine and some unexpected sex

Continuing our occasional summer look back at classic sitcom episodes, it's time to discuss "The Red Dot" from "Seinfeld" season 3, coming up just as soon as my favorite book is "Venetian Blinds" by Art Vandelay...

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<p>Guillermo del Toro</p>

Guillermo del Toro

Credit: FX

Interview: 'The Strain' co-creator Guillermo de Toro on vicious vampires, erotic vampires and FX vampires

'Pacific Rim' favorite talks genre, gut punches and the freedom of TV

On Monday's (July 21) Television Critics Association press tour panel for "The Strain," Guillermo del Toro was asked about Bleak House, the supplementary residence he purchased to serve as a museum of sorts for his vast collection of toys, props, books and memorabilia mostly relating to his beloved horror, fantasy and sci-fi genres.

"Well, I have the same restraint collecting that I have eating," del Toro cracked. 

The "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Blade II" director has always enjoyed joking about his appetites, which extend beyond eating and collecting into intellectual and conversational realms as well. If, for example, you want to talk fairy tales with del Toro, you have to be prepared to discuss varied international histories for certain stories, while bringing in Bruno Bettelheim as well.

Last week, I posted a brief-ish report from a day on the set of del Toro's "Crimson Peak," just a sampling from the nearly two hours the director took with a small group of reporters, practically having to be dragged away to make his 2015 gothic tale. He just loves what he does and he loves talking about it and since del Toro is typically attached to a dozen projects at a time, that leaves endless room for discussion.

I had 15 minutes with del Toro on Monday to talk about "The Strain," the new FX drama based on del Toro and Chuck Hogan's novel trilogy about a ruthless vampire invasion of New York City. Even knowing I could only concentrate on "The Strain," that time was always going to be woefully inadequate, so I had to choose a topic.

Mostly, that topic was vampires. And since this is Guillermo del Toro, that means the talks about "Kolchak" and John William Polidori's "The Vampyre" as much as his own blood-suckers. We also talked about his earnest love for genre, the origins of his interest in subterranean worlds and his interest in doing more TV in the future.

It's a short interview, but it's a fun interview. 

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'Downton Abbey' Season 5 Press Tour Live-Blog
Credit: PBS

'Downton Abbey' Season 5 Press Tour Live-Blog

Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Joanne Froggatt lead the panel

The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" won't premiere on PBS until January 4, 2015. 

That's a long way away and, by that time, many of you will have already watched the full season through illegal means (or legal if you happen to live in England). 

On Tuesday (July 22) evening, the Television Critics Association is going to get at least a taste of Season 5. Since the show is still in production, creator Julian Fellowes is absent, sending Gareth Neame in his stead. 

Similarly, much of the cast is shooting Across the Pond, but we've got Laura "Lady Edith" Carmichael, Michelle "Non-Stop" Dockery, Joanne "Anna" Froggatt and Allen "Branson" Leech.

Click through and follow along with my live-blog. Don't expect too many spoilers.

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HBO’s 'Westworld' pilot lands Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood

HBO’s “Westworld” pilot lands Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood
J.J. Abrams and Jerry Weintraub are producing the futuristic theme park pilot based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 film, with Hopkins poised for his first regular TV role.

Elisabeth Rohm joins “Stalker”
The “Law & Order” alum will become a series regular on the CBS drama, taking on another DA role.

FXX promo shows the scary aftermath of “Simpsons World”
This is what happens when 552 episodes are immediately available. PLUS: “Simpsons World” will be blocked in Canada.

“The Mindy Project” taps Rhea Perlman to play Danny’s mom
The “Cheers” alum will recur throughout Season 3.

Regina King is headed to “American Crime”
King is keeping busy on TV, with plans to return to “The Big Bang Theory” and direct an episode of “Scandal.”

“Face Off” returns tonight, eliminating 2 contestants before the contestant even begins
"Oh, my God, the shocked and disappointed faces! I felt so horrible delivering the news,” host McKenzie Westmore says of tonight’s season premiere.

Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts” won’t say if Eleanor Roosevelt was a lesbian
The 14-hour documentary won’t, however, shy away from “the facts,” including Eleanor’s affectionate letters to a female friend.

White House confirms it opted to cancel President Obama’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” visit due to world troubles
White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained: “We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip, and that is at least in part related to the  challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president is dealing with on the  international scene."

Why do “Under the Dome’s” ratings keep falling?
Every episode in Season 2 has had fewer viewers than the previous episode.

“Chuck’s” Sarah Lancaster will recur on “Witches of East End”
Her character’s name: "Raven Moreau.”

How is Terry Crews juggling “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine"?
"We tape five episodes at a time,” says Crews, who’s already taped 75 episodes. "It's not scripted. It's in real time; you're playing a real game with people. So it's not that bad. I do it on hiatus weeks.”

Nathan Lane would like to see “Modern Family” spin off “A Dash of Pepper”
"I think we could do something!” he says of a Pepper Saltzman sitcom.

“Sharknado 2” writer: I wouldn’t call the sharknadoes the “bad guys”
"Who says they're the bad guys?” says Thunder Levin. "I think this question just displays your own prejudices. You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. So who's to say the sharks aren't taking honorable vengeance on their only predator?”

Jay Leno’s fake George W. Bush once fooled Joe Biden
Dave Berg, author of a new behind-the-scenes book on “The Tonight Show,” recalls the time in 2008 that Biden, then a VP candidate, bumped into Bush impersonator Steve Bridges backstage. “God damn, is that you, George?” Berg recalls Biden saying.

“True Blood” vet to play a Russian agent on “Covert Affairs”
Lynn Collins, who played Dawn on “True Blood,” will cross paths with Piper Perabo.

“NCIS” star Pauley Perrette had to be hospitalized following an allergic reaction to hair dye
Perrette posted a photo of her puffy face after suffering the severe allergic reaction.

“E.T.” mom gets to reunite with Steven Spielberg on “The Whispers”
“It’s great to be reunited with the director who put me on the map,” says Dee Wallace, who played Elliott’s mom.

“True Detective” Season 1 director Cary Fukunaga has no idea what’s going on in Season 2
Fukunaga, who won’t be directing next season, will retain an executive producer credit. Still, he says, “I have the excuse of having been out of the loop, because I’ve been in Africa the last five months.”

“The Fosters” tackles the controversial subject of late-term abortion
Last night’s episode was “really damn sad.”

How the “Seinfeld” Emoji came to be
From the creator of the @Seinfeld2000 Twitter, the “Seinfeld” Emoji are more about his world than the show itself.

“Gotham” will also feature Harvey Dent and Hugo Strange
Both Batman villains should turn up in Season 1.

Check out the “Sherlock” sand castle
Britain’s Sandworld also created an homage to “Doctor Who.”

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar celebrate their 30th anniversary
See the "19 Kids and Counting” stars on their wedding day.

“Key & Peele’s” crew laughed the hardest at this image
Check out the Comedy Central stars as older women.

“The X Files’” Scully gets a musical tribute
Scully’s love of science has been set to music.

“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” daughter arrested for DUI
Yolanda Foster, 17, was taken into custody early this morning on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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Exclusive 'Mood Indigo' clip takes us on a wild ride through Michel Gondry's Paris
Credit: Drafthouse Films

Exclusive 'Mood Indigo' clip takes us on a wild ride through Michel Gondry's Paris

This is a good look at one of the year's most personal films

I just reviewed Michael Gondry's "Mood Indigo," but I'll add that a week or so after seeing it, there are images from the movie that randomly pop into my head each day. While narrative and logic may not be Gondry's primary interests when he's making a movie, images are, and there's no faulting him for the way he's created these visual ideas that make "Mood Indigo" feel like something I dreamed, not something I actually saw.

The film begins to expand to more screens this weekend, and Drafthouse Films decided to celebrate by sending us an exclusive clip that I think does a wonderful job of laying out how sublimely silly Gondry's world is for this film.

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5 Seconds of Summer

Rating 5 Seconds of Summer's new set via the Boy Band-ometer

How do the Aussie cuties compare to 1D, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync

So if One Direction is a 10 and 98 Degrees is a 1, where do 5 Seconds of Summer, whose full-length self-titled debut comes out today (22), fall on the Boy Band-ometer?

Let’s look at a few factors and bring in a few more boy band metrics.

*Harmonies: The pinnacle of Boy Band Harmony is Backstreet Boys on “As Long As You Love Me,” followed closely by Boyz II Men on “I’ll Make Love To You.”  On each, their voices wrap around each other in a gorgeous blend of longing. Few boy groups seem to understand that singing in unison is not the same as harmonizing and  warbling “Oh, oh” together a lot—on almost every song— doesn’t constitute harmony. The members of 5SOS tend to trade off on lines and then all four sing together. BSB and B2M have nothing to worry about.  GRADE: C

*Songs: Remember how other than “You Don't Know You're Beautiful,”  1D’s first album was filled with forgettable ditties. It took a few albums in for the lads to get something as memorable as “Story of My Life.”  For a first full-length album, 5SOS succeeds better than most: there are no clunkers on here, but there’s very little that’s memorable other than “Don’t Stop” and mid-tempo “Long Way Home.”  Ballad “Amnesia” has just the right amount of maudlin anguish to make us understand that the boys in 5SOS are way more than just pretty faces. GRADE: B-

*Vocals: Lead singer Luke Hemmings has a pleasing, serviceable voice and the rest chime in adequately, but there’s not a super singer like ’N Sync’s Justin Timberlake or Hanson’s Taylor Hanson lurking among the four. GRADE: B-

*Bounceability: The majority of songs on “5 Seconds of Summer” are upbeat ditties that serve as reliable fodder for working out just as much as for dancing, especially the first half of the album. The band’s label keeps stressing 5SOS’s “pop-punk,” but there is nothing remotely “punk” about 5SOS. They’re not even as “edgy” as The Wanted. They are pure, fluffy, bouncy pop and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. GRADE: A

*Swoon Appeal: What girl doesn’t want to hear her beau plead “Kiss Me, kiss me, kiss me,” as 5SOS do on the appropriately titled “Kiss me, Kiss me?” Or romantically dream of sleeping under the same sky when they’re apart on “Beside You.” It’s all PG here, as it should be, and every now and then, a little whiff of their Australian accents comes through which sends the Swoon Appeal meter sky rocketing. Plus, they already go by their first names only for the most part. Who needs last names when you’re already crushing so hard?: GRADE: B+

* 1D Successor Likelihood: 5SOS is already on its way to being the rightful heir. Its Spring EP, “She Looks So Perfect,”  debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart in 58 countries. The band’s first US headlining tour sold out and the boys are now opening for 1D on its global stadium tour. One Directioners were apoplectic when 5SOS garnered two MTV VMA noms last week, while 1D got zero. Adding insult to injury, 5SOS has pulled out of its Aug. 24 and Aug. 27 1D dates to perform at the VMAs. 5SOS won’t hit the absurd fever pitch of 1D, but between their sweet, benign talent and ability to ride on 1D’s coattails, they’ll do just fine for three years or so until the next big things comes along.


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Will Ferrell is remaking 'Manimal' for the big screen

Will Ferrell is remaking “Manimal" for the big screen
The 1980s cult TV show about a man who morphs into animals is the latest movie from Ferrell and writing partner Adam McKay.

USA’s “Dig” is leaving Israel
The Middle Eastern drama is relocating in wake of the Gaza violence to Albuquerque, where it’ll explore other locations.

Sen. Ted Cruz responds to “True Blood’s” Cruz bloodbath episode, calls it "misogynist"
"Of all the places I never thought to be mentioned, HBO's 'True Blood' vampire show would have to be near the top of the list,” the Texas U.S. senator posted on Facebook. "Sunday night, they aired a misogynist and profanity-ridden episode where Texas Republicans are murdered attending a 'Ted Cruz fundraiser.’ Well, I'm sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends.”

TLC, once known as “The Learning Channel,” now stands for “Tender Loving Care”
The cable network has unveiled a new tagline/: "Everyone needs a little TLC.”

“Downton Abbey” returns to PBS Jan. 4
The British series’ 5th season will once again be delayed, airing months after the UK broadcast. PLUS: What to expect in Season 5.

PBS not worried about “Sherlock” scheduling uncertainty
"We'll be watching for it and putting it in a great slot in the schedule,” says PBS chief Paula Kerger.

PBS will stream all 14 hours of Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts” online
The entire documentary will be posted online one day after the first two installments air on PBS stations.

William Mapother is the latest “Lost” alum to visit “Hawaii Five-0”
Mapother is the 9th “Lost” alum to appear on the CBS drama. PLUS: Evangeline Lilly has written a children’s book.

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Review: 'Magic In The Moonlight' makes weak use of Colin Firth and Emma Stone
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: 'Magic In The Moonlight' makes weak use of Colin Firth and Emma Stone

Predictable and thin, this one's just not any fun

"Magic In The Moonlight" is one of those Woody Allen films.

You know the kind I mean. At this point, with Allen currently directing his 45th feature film, his pace has become as much a part of his daily life as breathing or dodging uncomfortable questions about his personal proclivities. He writes and directs one feature film after another, and some of them are good and some of them are terrible and occasionally one of them is so great it's ridiculous. Often, what we get are serviceable premises dressed up with recognizable actors who are just happy to get their turn to work with Allen, and the films end up feeling thin, like first drafts of something that might work.

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Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and more made a rap song for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and more made a rap song for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

If the movie looks like what this song sounds like...

The new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie got itself a new Teenage Music Ninja Track, it's a rap song, and it's called "Shell Shocked."

I'm going to give you a minute to stop laughing.



"Shell Shocked" is by Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign and guests producers Kill The Noise & Madsonik. That's officially more features than there are turtles. Somebody has to call dibs on Splinter.

Beyond its many rhymers, "Shell Shocked" has all the things to make your favorite nine-year-old slam dance in the living room: big bass, clap track, trap clap and mastering with no restraint, on top of the recurring chorus "knock knock / you about to get shell shocked."

In a press release, Wiz, Ty and Juicy J each justify why they decided to take on the song, with nary a mention of the obvious ($$$$$$$), and yet (and yes) there's mentions of Rolex watches and girls taking naughty pictures in its narrative.

God is dead and the world is on fire. Check out the single "Shell Shocked" below. Another TMNT rap classic is below that. "TMNT" is in theaters on Aug. 8.

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<p>Orange Is the New Black</p>

Orange Is the New Black

Credit: Netflix

'Orange Is the New Black' season 2 in review

Vee and Red brace for a final battle, the prison weathers a storm, and Caputo both wins and loses

We've come to the end of this trip through "Orange Is the New Black" season 2. Thoughts on the final three episodes, and season 2 as a whole, coming up just as soon as I buy a banjolele on Craigslist...

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