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<p>Ben Harper in "Fly One Time"</p>
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Ben Harper in "Fly One Time"

Watch: Ben Harper says 'go for it' in new video

Lance Armstrong and the Dalai Lama share screen time in 'Fly One Time'

 

Take the risk. That's the message in the video for Ben Harper and Relentless 7's new tune, "Fly One Time."

Even though we're all "caught in between what you can't leave behind and what you might never find," we have to let go of the past to realize our potential. In this potent clip, Harper uses footage of such inspirational figures as the Dalai Lama and Lance Armstrong to show how we can triumph over what often seem to be failures.

Interspersed between low-key performance footage, we see pro-surfer Laird Hamilton pulling a rock behind him in a scene that almost seems biblical as he trains to ride some awesome waves and the legendary Olympian Jesse Owens.

The song's message is much stronger than the music. "Fly One Time" is the most recent single from Harper's otherwise excellent "White Lies for Dark Times."

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<p>Dead By Sunrise</p>
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Dead By Sunrise

Credit: Warner Bros. Records

Linkin Park's Chester Bennington forms new band, Dead By Sunrise

Is this the end of Linkin Park?

 

Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington 's new group, Dead By Sunrise, will release its debut album, "Out of Ashes," this fall.

Don't worry, Bennington isn't leaving rock/hip-hop outfit LP, but he makes it clear in a statement that the songs he penned for DBS reveals the true him.

"It's got me all over it," he says. "This is the music I hear in my head." "There are no hip-hop influences at all on this record, which is obviously a big difference.

"Also, the amount of vocal layering and use of harmony really showcase my voice in a new way. I was involved in the entire process of making the record, including the programming and the production, which was not only a great educational experience, it was very empowering. I'm really excited that the album is finally going to see the light of day!"

DBS was born after Bennington wrote some songs that he felt didn't fit Linkin Park. "They were darker and moodier than anything I'd come up with for the band. So I decided to work on them on my own rather than turn them over and have them transformed into Linkin Park tracks," he says.

Joining him in DBS are guitarists Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh (from Orgy), Drummer Elias Anda and keyboardist Anthony Valcic.  Howard Benson, best known for his work with everyone from Daughtry to My Chemical Romance, produced the project.

You can hear one track from the group, "Morning After," via the band's MySpace page.

In the meantime, Linkin Park is enjoying success with "New Divide," its theme to "Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

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Michael Jackson's sales still 'Thrill,' but 'Now 31' rules The Billboard 200

Six debuts dominate the chart including new Rob Thomas, Brad Paisley, Wilco

 

The multi-artist compilation "Now 31"  bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week with sales of more than 169,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is one of six new titles in the top 10

The "Now That's What I Call Music" set, which takes current top hits from the hottest acts, such as Black Eyed Peas and Britney Spears, continues to do well despite the fact that virtually all the songs are available for digital download.

Country superstar Brad Paisley comes in No. 2 with "American Saturday Night, " his first album since the largely-instrumental "Play." He sells close to 130,000 copies, beating Rob Thomas by more than 8,000 copies. The matchbox twenty lead singer's "Cradlesong" debuts at No. 3 as he continues a press blitz.

Despite leaking several weeks ago, "Wilco (the album)" by Wilco starts its chart life at No. 4, just barely missing the 100,000 mark. It's a very well rounded chart with virtually all genres of mainstream music represented by debuts: R&B artist Jeremih, who has a huge hit with his single "Birthday Sex," comes in at No. 6 with his self-titled debut, while hard rock band "Killswitch Engage"  sells more than 58,000 with its fifth album to land at No. 7

Of course, the big story remains Michael Jackson and his posthumous record sales. Billboard does not put catalog albums on Billboard 200, therefore  Jackson's titles are not eligible. However, if they were, Jackson's "Number Ones" would handily come in at No. 1-as it does on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart and Billboard Top Comprehensive Albums chart. "Number Ones" sold 339,999 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan and   "Thriller" would be No. 2 at 187,000 .

On next week's chart, look for Maxwell's "Blacksummer's Night"  to handily come in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

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<p>Here's a partial view of the t-shirts we'll be wearing to San Diego this year for Comic-Con, and we hope you will, too</p>
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Here's a partial view of the t-shirts we'll be wearing to San Diego this year for Comic-Con, and we hope you will, too

Credit: HitFix

The Morning Read: Win Comic-Con swag

Plus: Comic-Con lineups from Disney, appearance from Miyazaki

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I'm going to try to make this a more compact edition of the column today, because I've got a huge schedule ahead of me for the afternoon, but before we get into things, I've got a very simple contest for you, and it's one I'm excited to explain to you.

HitFix is going to ComicCon this year in a big way, and we would love to find some HitFix readers who'd be happy to be part of that presence.  So I'm going to offer up something special today, our very first HitFix t-shirt, designed and printed specifically for the convention.  If you'd like to be one of the first fifteen people anywhere to own one of these shirts, designed by the very talented Kyle Cummings, it's simple.

There are two requirements to win the shirt:

(1)  You must be going to Comic-Con in San Diego in two weeks.

(2)  You must leave a comment here on this story.  Any comment.  Just leave "comment" if that's all you want to leave, although obviously, I'd rather you leave something more. 

I get mail from you guys, so I know you're out there, and I'd love to hear from you here as well.  There's a really interesting cross-section of people who seem to be reading, and I'd love to see that reflected in the kinds of conversations we could have here.  I like what Jim Emerson wrote (which was a response to earlier pieces by both David Poland and Roger Ebert), and I think one of the reasons Ebert's blog is so great is because of the community of commenters he's attracted.  And you guys who do comment here so far are all welcome additions.  I'm just hoping to add some new voices as well.  I mean, no less than David Puttnam recently called for the entire British film industry to get better at engaging the online community in dialogue.

The t-shirts come in grey for guys and light blue for girls, and the design on each shirt is just a little different, paying homage to different comic icons.  That's it, the graphic at the top of this story, and I love it.  The design is inspired by a certain 1980s superhero lunchbox, and if anyone wants to post an link to that image, I'm sure I can come up with a little extra something for you as a reward.

We want to meet you in San Diego, too, and you can follow me on Twitter at @DrewAtHitFix to find out where we might be over the course of the convention.  It's going to be an exciting test of the HitFix team working together, and I think it's going to be a big week overall.

So come on... leave a comment.  Face down the dreaded Captcha beast and respond to something from today's read, or something about Comic-Con (like what you hope to see), and let's hand out some shirts.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Leslie Hayman, Kirsten Dunst, A.J. Cook, and Hanna Hall play the lovely, haunted Lisbon sisters in Sophia Coppola's 'The Virgin Suicides'</p>

Leslie Hayman, Kirsten Dunst, A.J. Cook, and Hanna Hall play the lovely, haunted Lisbon sisters in Sophia Coppola's 'The Virgin Suicides'

Credit: Paramount Home Video

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'The Virgin Suicides'

Sophia Coppola's first film is still her best

Welcome to The Motion/Captured Must-See Project.

Been a while.  I got busy running the blog, I guess.  The reason for an ongoing column like this is to hit the "reset" button while you're writing on deadline about what's happening, part of a sort of a dull roar of entertainment sites all writing about the same thing.  It's nice to pick something, a film you really love and respect and think is worth sharing with people, and write about that.  Just refocus, then do whatever else you have to do that day to stay afloat.

That's doubly true of a film as delicate and particular as "The Virgin Suicides."  I think this is a home run.  An effortlessly great film.  It's a film that's overflowing with this heated emotional secret language of girls thing, but it's told from the outside, so the glimpses of the girls are still like UFO encounters, these haunting surreal impossible-to-believe-and-impossible-to-forget memories that stick with these boys for life.  Sophia Coppola nails both points of view, and that dreamy, sweaty empathy that she evokes throughout is what makes me love the film so protectively.  It's a film that wears its heart bare, and that can make it uncomfortable because it's so strange and raw.

"The Virgin Suicides" is the tragedy of the Lisbon family.  Walking into it, you should take the title seriously.  This is a movie about how grief comes calling, and the only question is to what degree will it happen.  The Lisbons have four daughters, four beautiful girls.  Therese (Leslie Hayman), Mary (A.J. Cook), Lex (Kirsten Dunst) and Cecelia (Hanna Hall).  Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon are played by James Woods and Kathleen Turner, and they're both in absolutely peak form here.  Woods plays Mr. Lisbon as a sort of charming shambles, a flustered schoolteacher who has no idea how to talk to his household of women.  He loves them, but he's as mystified by them as any of the boys in the neighborhood who orbit the girls, looking for any opening.  The main obstacle is Mrs. Lisbon, and Turner's heartbreaking as a woman whose own twisted fears of reality corrupt her family to catastrophic degree.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Recent uptick in Michael Jackson album sales won't necessarily save the CD business</p>
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Recent uptick in Michael Jackson album sales won't necessarily save the CD business

Credit: AP Photo/Wally Santana

How low can they go? Album sales continue to plummet in 2009

Taylor Swift, Hannah Montana and Eminem top sellers

 The news goes from bad to worse for the record industry as album sales continued to decline for the first half of 2009.

Any remaining illusion that digital album sales will even remotely make up for sagging physical CD sales was completely obliterated by the stats that showed slower than expected growth in the online space.

As first reported in Billboard,   U.S. sales of physical CDs, digital CDs and track-equivalent albums (the awkward term where 10 sold tracks from one album equal an album sale) for the first six months of 2009 tallied 235.8 million units for a decline of 8.9% over the same period in 2008.

Additionally, CD sales in the second quarter of 2009 dropped 22.3%, a stronger fall than that of the first quarter.

Digital sales are not picking up the slack, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  Digital album sales increased 18.9% over the corresponding time period for the first six months of 2008. However, that rate is slackening. For example, digital album sales grew 32.7% during the second quarter of 2008.

The top seller so far for 2009 is, no surprise, Taylor Swift. "Fearless," which came out in November 2008, has sold 1.3 million copies since Jan. 1. The only other CDs to shift more than a million units in the first half of 2009 are the soundtrack to "Hannah Montana: the Movie" and Eminem's "The Relapse."

Even sales of digital singles are starting to slow. While sales of digital tracks increased 13 % for the first half of 2009 over the same period of 2008, that increase is down markedly from the 30% growth experienced  during the first half of 2008.

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<p>Sondre Lerche</p>
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Sondre Lerche

Credit: Rounder

Sondre in 'Real Life': new album and tour

Norwegian artist Lerche returns with 'Heartbeat Radio' in September

 

Sondre Lerche, whose new album, "Heartbeat Radio," comes out Sept. 8,  will hit the road in support of his new Rounder album in early September.

The Norwegian Lerche, whose last project was the soundtrack to the Steve Carrell film "Dan in Real Life," will hit the road solo for the month-long outing. That might make it hard to recreate the songs on "Heartbeat Radio" since the label describes the album as a mix of "acoustic guitars and grand orchestral pop," drawing upon his influences ranging from '50s jazz to '70s psych-folk (whatever that is).

Full tour itinerary here:
9/5/09 Philadelphia, PA, World Cafe Live
9/8/09 New York, NY, Bowery Ballroom
9/9/09 Brooklyn, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg
9/11/09 Washington D. C., 9:30 Club
9/12/09 Northampton, MA, Iron Horse Music Hall
9/13/09 Boston, MA, Paradise Rock Club
9/14/09 South Burlington, VT, Higher Ground
9/16/09 Montreal, QC, Petit Campus
9/17/09 Toronto, ON, Mod Club Theatre
9/18/09 Cleveland, OH, Beachland Ballroom
9/19/09 Chicago, IL, Schuba's Tavern
9/20/09 Minneapolis, MN Fine Line Music Cafe
9/23/09 San Diego, CA, The Casbah
9/24/09 Los Angeles, CA, The Troubadour
9/26/09 Santa Barbara, CA, Soho Restaurant and Music Club
9/27/09 San Francisco, CA, Slim's
9/28/09 Portland, OR, Doug Fir Lounge
9/29/09 Seattle, WA, Triple Door
9/30/09 Vancouver, BC The Biltmore Cabaret

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Brandon Bryant

Brandon Bryant of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Five Performances

Would Jeanine survive her last week with Phillip? Could anyone compete with Jeanette and Brandon?

So Cat cut her hair... which, apparently, the audience needed to applaud for ten minutes. Really? Because it doesn't look that good. Sure, it works with a period dress and dark lipstick, but I suspect it just looks like a frizzy mess without the retro hair clip. Seriously, it looks like one of those "This a-hole I was dating dumped me and you know what? I need to do something DRASTIC" moves that every woman ends up regretting. Hang in there, Cat.

Tyce DiOrio is on the judges' panel, which is exciting, because it means I can call him Toasty Oreo again and again and again. It's the little things that make me happy.

Of course, I didn't have much time to enjoy that, because everyone's cramming in two dances tonight, so the show pretty much threw the kids on the dance floor, pumped up the music, and got going, pronto.

[Recap of Wednesday (July 8) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" performances after the break...]

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<p>Sacha Baron Cohen appeared out of character on 'The Late Show' and seemed to entertain David Letterman tremendously</p>

Sacha Baron Cohen appeared out of character on 'The Late Show' and seemed to entertain David Letterman tremendously

Credit: AP Photo/CBS, John Paul Filo

TMR: Sacha Baron Cohen sighted in the wild and Mary Louise Parker makes bedtime stories fun

Plus MK3D, Joe Dante, Harold Ramis, and more 'Scott Pilgrim' blogs

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Well, I was supposed to do an interview this morning by phone, but apparently I've dropped off the "to do" list, so instead, let's jump right in and see what's going on all over the internets this morning.

Kim Voynar published an excellent piece about the notion of "truth" in the non-fiction film.  I've never heard of anything like what happened with the situation around "Bananas!" at the LA Film Festival.  Crazy.

I was fascinated to see Sacha Baron Cohen on Letterman last night, out of character.  It's a very rare thing, like seeing Bigfoot doing a talk show, and even though it's just a clip, it's worth following that link to see him talk about how he shot the segment of "Bruno" involving the interview with the terrorist.

It makes me sad when former cast members of "Saturday Night Live" go hopelessly barking mad.  It makes me even sadder when they write revealing columns about just how crazy they are and they don't seem to realize they've even pooped themselves in public.

JJ Abrams is a tech nerd.  I love it.

And check it out... I think Jackie Earle Haley is starting to transform into a nerd as well.  Cool!

Oh, I see how this is going to be, Esquire.  You're going to use my shameless love of Mary Louise Parker to bait me into visiting your website and embedding your videos, aren't you?

[more after the jump]

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<p>Penelope Cruz reunites with Pedro Almodovar once more in "Broken Embraces."</p>

Penelope Cruz reunites with Pedro Almodovar once more in "Broken Embraces."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

First Look: Penelope Cruz in U.S. 'Broken Embraces' poster

New thriller reunites Almodovar and Cruz once more

 

Through all the ups and downs at this year's Cannes Film Festival one of the most constant refrains was the more than solid performance of Penelope Cruz in Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces." 

Described as a melodramtic homage to Hitchockian thrillers such as "Vertigo," "Embraces" is the fourth collaboration between longtime friends Cruz and Almodovar.  In fact, it was Almodovar's "Volver" which provided Cruz with her first Oscar nomination in 2007.  She lost out to "The Queen's" Helen Mirren that year, but won this past go around for her superb comic performance in "Vicky Christina Barcelona."

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<p>Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard make for a memorable duo in the shaggy, smart 'Humpday'</p>

Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard make for a memorable duo in the shaggy, smart 'Humpday'

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

The Motion/Pictured Review: 'Humpday' Sundance hit opens in limited release

Can this wry look at sexual politics compete with 'Bruno' this weekend?

It's interesting strategy by Magnolia Pictures to open the movie "Humpday" the same weekend that Universal opens the they're-praying-it's-a-juggernaut "Bruno." Both of them touch on similar subject matter, but come at it from such profoundly different directions that any hope Magnolia has of getting some free publicity in the form of trends pieces designed to showcase the Sacha Baron Cohen vehicle is somewhat negated by the fact that they're chasing different audiences.

There's a game called "gay chicken." Not the most brilliant or defensible of games, but the gag is that two ostensibly straight opponents lean in towards each other like they're going to kiss.  And the first one to flinch is the loser. Both "Humpday" and "Bruno" feel like they are playing the game, both onscreen and in terms of what they hope to do to the audience. And the question that you have to ask when you see several people chasing this same reaction is "Why?"

I think this goes back to the idea that Lenny Bruce discussed, how the more you say something or the more you discuss something or the more frank you are about something, the less impact it has.  He believed you could rob any word of its power to hurt if you reclaim it the right way. A movie like "Humpday" puts the very notion of heterosexual panic on trial, and to hilarious effect. Lynn Shelton, working in close collaboration with her cast, has crafted a wise and mature film that happens to be explosively funny in places.  Would I call it a comedy?  No.  Not really.  I think it's a film that has a lot to say, and it uses some outrageous situations and reactions to offer some hefty social criticism.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Nicolas Cage in what I must assume is a wildly exciting moment from the apocalyptic thriller 'Knowing'</p>

Nicolas Cage in what I must assume is a wildly exciting moment from the apocalyptic thriller 'Knowing'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

TMR: 'Knowing' and 'Push' hit DVD, 'Humpday' interviews, and the best trailer of all time

Plus wild tilt-shift Mardi Gras, a 'Potter' mash-up, and 'The Collector' trailer premieres

Welcome to The Morning Read.

As you read this, pray for me.  I'm driving from Northridge to 20th Century Fox on Pico.  Today is the Michael Jackson funeral, which could create traffic ripples so profoundly screwed up as to alter the fabric of space and time.  And I could get totally caught up in that crap against my will.  I'm not going to to the same part of town.  But what if people can't get onto the 10, and so they're backed up on the 405, and they're backed up so far that I can't get to Pico, since it's so close to the 10?  Don't just pray for me... light candles or whatever else you can do, and let's hope two hours is enough time for me to make it there.

So it may be a slightly shorter column today.  First up, the DVD releases for this week, something I got out of practice doing.  I like it here in the Morning Read, where it doesn't become some giant ridiculous recitation each week.  There are some interesting titles, including a Summit double feature of "Knowing" and "Push."  I haven't seen either yet, but I will.  I guess I'm picking them up next time I'm at Amoeba.  There's also the 15th "Mystery Science Theater 3000" collection.  I haven't seen it, but I hear it's got one of the earliest episodes published yet in any of these collections.  I've got the prior 14, and it's 100% certain I'll be adding this to the collection immediately.  There's an Iron Maiden documentary called "Iron Maiden Flight 666" that I will have to track down.  Looks cool.  I can't wait to pick up the new "Peanuts 1960's Collection," featuring six of the original animated specials.  Those are the best.  David Goyer's "The Unborn" comes out today in an unrated edition from Universal, who are also releasing four vintage titles that any serious film freak should pick up.  "Beau Geste," "Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves," "Lonely Are The Brave," and "The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" will all get reviews here, and they're all sensational.  "Reno 911: The Complete Sixth Season" is out now, and at this point, either you dig the joke or you don't.  "The Deep" is out in BluRay this week.  Interesting random catalog title from Sony.

That's pretty much it, too.  It's a light couple of weeks.  Admittedly, I'm hoping a wrangle a review copy of next week's release of "The State," but we'll talk about that next week.

[more after the jump]

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