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<p>Jack Black stars as Eddie in 'Brutal Legend,' a new game by eccentric gaming legend Tim Schafer, due out this year on PS3 and XBOX</p>

Jack Black stars as Eddie in 'Brutal Legend,' a new game by eccentric gaming legend Tim Schafer, due out this year on PS3 and XBOX

Credit: EA Games

TMR: Jack Black rocks out in 'Brutal Legend,' 'Star Wars' in 3 minutes, and a trip to heaven and hell

Plus how to see a space station and the truth about movie weed

Welcome to The Morning Read.

And happy birthday, Toshi! As you read this, I'm probably already at Toshi's school, where we're planning to celebrate with his classmates and pizza a nd cake, and I can't stop smiling at the fact that I've made it four years now as a father, and so far, no authorities have had to be called in.  Before I met my wife, I could barely keep myself alive from day to day, so it's sort of gobsmacking to me to think that we're starting to get pretty good at this whole "being parents" thing.  How do I know we're good at it?  Because my kids are awesome, and happy, and healthy, and that's pretty much all the yardstick I need to know I'm doing the job right.

I love that The New York Times ran a segment on "Jaws" because (A) you can never talk about "Jaws" enough, it seems and (B) they once again show the most oft-displayed beaver shot in cinema history.  And it's not marked "NSFW" at all, because it's "Jaws."  Everyone's seen "Jaws."  And even if you haven't seen "Jaws," you've probably seen the graphic push-in on a completely naked actress from underwater.  Depends on which color timing you've seen of the film, evidently, but still... I love that Steven Spielberg is so omnipresent in our film culture at this point that this shot, as explicit as it is, has simply entered the cultural language.  That's what I mean when I say you really can't say enough about "Jaws" and how good it is at what it does.  It is simply a marvel of storytelling by tagteam.  From script to cast improv to Spielberg to Verna Fields to John Williams to release, "Jaws" is about a series of storytellers all taking their shot at "Jaws," and all landing their punches with precision and taste.  "Jaws" is a blockbuster, sure... but it's a great movie first.  It was a blockbuster precisely because it was such a great movie.  It was an organic event.  Last time that happened, in my opinon?  "The Sixth Sense."  Here's the NY Times piece, which is pretty nicely done.  I like the use of the Alex scene on both ends of that report.

[more after the jump]

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<p>The full cast of the JJ Abrams 'Star Trek' reboot, lookin' mighty serious</p>

The full cast of the JJ Abrams 'Star Trek' reboot, lookin' mighty serious

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Star Trek' week begins on Motion/Captured

In which we examine everything 'Trek' available on BluRay so far

Today is my oldest son's fourth birthday.

Crazy.  I can't believe I've been a dad for four years already, and I can't believe that in that time, I've managed to create a raving "Star Trek" nerd already.  That wasn't the endgame I had in mind, certainly, but a series of events in the last two months has brought us to this place, and so in honor of Toshi and his latest obsession, this week we're going to be talking about a whole lot of "Trek" here on the blog, as well as my evolving reactions to the series since rewatching it all and the reactions of a nascent nerd being exposed to it all for the first time.

It's strange, too.  I've never really thought of myself as a "Star Trek" fan.  I've liked some of it.  Haven't liked some of it.  So this definitely isn't a case of my trying desperately to force Toshi to like something I like.  No, like most of his current obsessions, this began with him asking to watch trailers on my computer one afternoon while I was working.  This was right after the third of the "Trek" trailers was released, and I figured he'd like seeing some spaceships and aliens.

When it finished, though, he looked at me, eyes wide, and just said, "Again, Daddy."  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  He would have kept watching it over and over all afternoon if I let him.  That trailer hit him like a bullet, dead between the eyes, and left him reeling.  He asked me dozens of questions about it.  "Who's that?  Who's that?  What is he doing?  What's that ship called?"  Right away, there was a hunger to try and understand the images that so obviously rang his bell.  In case you've forgotten it, here's that final theatrical trailer for the JJ Abrams film:

[more after the jump]

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<p>Guillermo Del Toro on the set of 'Pan's Labyrinth,' with one of his iconic monster creations</p>

Guillermo Del Toro on the set of 'Pan's Labyrinth,' with one of his iconic monster creations

Credit: New Line Home Video

My Book Shelf: 'The Strain' Del Toro returns to vampires

A proposed TV show-turned-novel definitely feels like Del Toro's work... but is that enough?

I remember when Guillermo Del Toro signed a deal with Fox to develop a TV series.  I thought at the time it was a strange fit, and I couldn't imagine Fox having the nerve to actually air anything that came out of the fertile and fevered mind of Guillermo.  They're so bad about supporting genre shows that they put on that I couldn't imagine that partnership proving to be a durable one.

Sure enough, Del Toro pitched them a series about a plague that turns out to be an attempt by vampires to take over the world, and when Fox passed on it, Guillermo decided instead to develop the story as a series of three novels, working with co-writer Chuck Hogan.  The result has already made a huge impact on the bestseller lists, and I'm willing to bet that the entire trilogy will end up optioned for film at some point.  The question is how does this work as a book, by itself, removed from the hype of Guillermo's involvement and the promise of a trilogy?

Before picking up The Strain, I was unfamiliar with the work of Chuck Hogan.  He's an award-winning crime novelist, and his book Prince Of Thieves is going to be adaptated into a film by Ben Affleck as his follow-up to "Gone Baby Gone," so I'm guessing there's some substance to his work.  Now that I've read The Strain, though, I think I have a pretty good handle on Hogan's voice as a writer, because no matter what I thought of it as a book, it doesn't read like it came out of Guillermo Del Toro.

[more after the jump]

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<p>"Now 31" looks like it will beat Jacko and Paisley and Thomas for this week's album chart.</p>

"Now 31" looks like it will beat Jacko and Paisley and Thomas for this week's album chart.

Will Michael Jackson continue to 'thrill,' will Paisley and Thomas prevail or is it 'Now 31'?

Who is headed to the top of next week's album chart?


Look for lots of action on the album chart  that comes out Wednesday as  Rob Thomas and Brad Paisley are among the two artists vying for the top spot, but it appears  "Now 31," the never-ending series of the latest top hits will beat the pop singer and the guitarslinger.

"Now 31," which includes recent chart toppers from the likes of the Black Eyed Peas and Britney Spears, will sell around 140,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double.

HDD then has  Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at No. 2, dropping from No. 1 after last week's resurgence of Jackson titles following his death. HDD's chart differs from Billboard's Top 200 in that Billboard doesn't allow catalog titles back on the Billboard 200.

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<p>Michael Jackson on the cover of this week's Entertainment Weekly circa the release of "Thriller."</p>

Michael Jackson on the cover of this week's Entertainment Weekly circa the release of "Thriller."

Credit: AP Photo/ Entertainment Weekly

How Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' changed how we hear music

My Billboard piece about the album's lasting legacy


"Thriller," which zoomed back to the top of the charts last week following Michael Jackson's unexpected death, changed the music industry forever.   The album, which came out in 1982, was the first released around the world at the same time and the first to spawn seven singles from the same project.

With such groundbreaking videos as "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and, of course, "Thriller,"  Jackson also changed the face of MTV and videos forever.

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<p>Being a film director is really, really hard work, as Jody Hill demonstrates here.&nbsp; Pray for him.</p>

Being a film director is really, really hard work, as Jody Hill demonstrates here.  Pray for him.

TMR: Jody Hill talks 'East Bound,' Harlan Ellison rants, and what role do critics play?

Plus the greatest trailer ever, lists about effects, and serious conversation about cookies

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Since Hollywood tried to get a jump on the holiday weekend, everything opened on Wednesday, so "Public Enemies" and "Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs" are both playing wide, and for anyone who feels like they just didn't get enough Nia Vardalos with "My Life In Ruins" last month, her new film "I Hate Valentine's Day" is opening limited.  How much you want to bet her character doesn't reeeeeally hate it?  Hmmm?

Fourth of July weekend normally means the news cycle slows down to a crawl, but already this morning, Sarah Palin announced she's resigning from politics and the New Beverly announced they're bringing The Movie Orgy back in August.  I can't handle a "slow day" like this.  I am troubled by rumors that Palin's resigning because she is the one who killed Jeff Goldblum, and I hope there is swift and terrible and hopefully dinosaur-oriented justice in the days ahead.

I can't believe I forgot to run this link in one of the Morning Reads already.  For a truly great interview with Jody Hill on all things "East Bound And Down," check out part one of /Film's talk.  Part two isn't up yet, but I'm sure it'll be equally awesome.  Jody is one of those guys who hasn't learned that you're supposed to never tell the truth in interviews and you have to only say the "right thing," and I hope to god he never learns those lessons.  He's way too cool for Hollywood to ruin.  I hope.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Phillip Chbeeb of 'So You Think You Can Dance'</p>

Phillip Chbeeb of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Week Four Results

We've been waiting for Phillip to go home for weeks now... Would somebody else pop ahead of him again?

Okay, let’s all say it together: “I hate Thursday!” Or maybe we should try Cat’s new twist, a jolly-but-sarcastic, “Thursdays, don’t you just love ‘em?” Either way, it’s elimination day.

First off, kinda loved the opening number, which gave us a topical Michael Jackson reference (“Brand New Day” from “The Wiz”), a taste of Toasty Oreo and some very “Cats”-like choreography. Whoo hoo!

Before we get to the good and bad news, can I just ask one question? Did Cat really say PAZ de deux? Really? But the good news is that the girl actually looked relaxed and sexy instead of like a Wal-Mart Barbie, which has to count for something, even if she was in a tin foil toga. But girlfriend, totally the wrong shoes. Take one of those inappropriate black pumps and drive the heel into the costume designer’s eyeball. Seriously, why is Fox incapable of dressing a gorgeous woman?

[Results for Thursday (July 2) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]

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<p>Daughtry goes GaGa.</p>

Daughtry goes GaGa.

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Daughtry keeps his 'P-P-Poker Face'

Rocker performs Lady GaGa's hit in Germany



Even Daughtry is a Lady GaGa fan.  Band namesake Chris Daughtry delivers a great acoustic version of "Poker Face" while on a radio tour in Germany. He puts everything he's got into it and turns it into some slightly anguished rock tune.

On the surface of it-and the first time I heard it-I dismissed "Pokerface" as some lightweight dance fluff and it's still not going to go down in history as one of the all-time great songs, but it has proven to be amazingly malleable when it comes to artists interpreting it in myriad ways.

What do you think of Daughtry's version?

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<p>Michael Jackson circa "HIStory" tour.</p>

Michael Jackson circa "HIStory" tour.

Credit: AP Photo

Some thoughts one week after Michael Jackson's death

Is a tribute show coming to a city near you? You bet it is


Our former colleague Ray Waddell, touring editor at Billboard, just posted a great, forthcoming  interview with AEG's CEO Randy Phillips.  In case you haven't heard his name enough this week, Phillips was the main point person at concert promoter AEG for Michael Jackson's 50-show run at London's O2 Arena.

Phillips reveals some great stuff to Waddell, who is one of the best reporters in the business. He maintains that AEG will survive Jackson's death, regardless of what the insurance companies rule.

More relevant to fans, Phillips fanned the flames that there will be some kind of tribute show, utilizing Jackson's stage production, and that AEG is getting calls from interested opportunists, oops, we mean artists.  "We have the most breathtaking production ever created for an arena, and it's all Michael Jackson's vision as directed and executed by Kenny Ortega," he
says. "It would be some closure for fans who have nowhere to really express their emotion and are looking for a place."

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<p>This image from Atari's 'Ghostbusters: The Video Game' highlights the game's biggest plus... using the proton packs</p>

This image from Atari's 'Ghostbusters: The Video Game' highlights the game's biggest plus... using the proton packs

Credit: Atari

The Motion/Captured Review: 'Ghostbusters' returns on BluRay and as a game

Is it 1984 all over again, or do these new releases fall flat?

I was 14 when "Ghostbusters" opened.

I had spent the two weeks before the movie opened with my grandmother in Memphis.  She was my most dedicated moviegoing co-conspirator.  A trip to Grandmommy's house meant a full week of going to see everything playing in the theater all week long.  I picked.  We went.  That was how easy it was.  I was set to leave from her house and go straight to Boy Scout Camp for two weeks, and the day before I left from her house, "Ghostbusters" opened.

I was the only kid in camp for those two weeks who had seen "Ghostbusters" before leaving home.  While the outside world was going crazy for the movie, with bootleg t-shirts onsale in Times Square three days after the movie opened and the dialogue instantly becoming the most-quoted lines of the year, inside the camp, I was alone in my mania, and I think I must have sounded like a lunatic to everyone else as I tried to explain just why "Ghostbusters" was so incredible.

Even now, it's hard to explain to someone who wasn't a movie fan at the time just how big an impact the film had.  It was a monster runaway financial hit, sure, but beyond that, it was one of those genuine collective cultural moments, and I would argue that "Ghostbusters" is one of the most influential movies of the '80s.  What they did so well was make a blockbuster horror film, complete with "state-of-the-art" ghosts and hardware, while making fun of it at the same time.  The attitude of Bill Murray's character, Peter Venkman, has become the prevailing attitude of pop culture in the '90s and the '00s.  Pop culture ribs itself so mercilessly all the time now that sincerity is almost subversive. 

[more after the jump]

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Alice In Chains breaks free on summer tour

Alice In Chains breaks free on summer tour

First album since Layne Staley's death out in September


Alice in Chains will become unshackled this summer when the Seattle band hits the road July 18 at Detroit's Comerica Park. After that date with none other than Kid RockJerry Cantrell and buds head for the U.K.  before returning to  the U.S. to start their own theater tour in Pomona, Calif. Aug. 22.

All this activity is to warm up the crowds for "Black Gives Way to Blue," the band's first studio album in more than 10 years and the first since lead singer Layne Staley died of an overdose in 2002. "Black," out Sept. 29, is the first album to feature Staley's replacement vocalist/guitarist William DuVall. The band recorded the album in the Los Angeles area with producer   Nick Raskulinecz. First single, "A Looking In View," can be streamed via

Listen, and then see them. Below are the tour dates.

July 18    Detroit, MI    Comerica Park (with Kid Rock)
Aug 1      Dublin, IE         Marlay Park
Aug 2      Stevenage, GB  Knebworth House - Sonisphere
Aug 4      London, GB           Scala
August 6   Cologne, DE          Essigfabrik
August 8   Berlin, DE              Columbia Club
August 10  Hamburg, DE    Grunspan
August 12  Amsterdam, NL        Melkweg
August 22  Pomona, CA           Epicenter
Sept. 4    Washington, DC        9:30 Club
Sept. 5    Philadelphia, PA    Theatre of Living Arts
Sept. 7    Boston, MA              Paradise Rock Club
Sept. 8    New York, NY           The Fillmore
Sept. 15   Toronto, ON             The Opera House
Sept. 16   Cleveland, OH           House of Blues
Sept. 19   Chicago, IL               House of Blues
Sept. 20   Milwaukee, WI          The Rave
Sept. 21   Minneapolis, MN       First Ave
Sept. 26   Portland, OR             Roseland Grill
Sept. 28   San Francisco, CA     The Fillmore

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<p>Bono performs in Barcelona</p>
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Bono performs in Barcelona

Credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Watch: U2's 360 Tour goes up in Barcelona

Massive production for Bono and the boys

U2's  360 world tour doesn't hit the U.S. until September, but you can get a sneak peak at the action now. 

See the tour come together as you see the construction of the set, plus comments from the band's manager and tour producer. Plus see Bono and the boys' first reaction to the massive set. All we can say is Wow!  It is clearly one of the largest productions ever staged. Moving it from city to city is going to be a Herculean fete.

The tour opened June 30 in Barcelona and moves through Europe, finally touching down in the U.S. on Sept. 12 at Chicago's Soldier Field. At the opening, the band dedicated "Angel of Harlem" to Michael Jackson before segueing into "Man in the Mirror."

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