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Michael Jackson

5 reasons we'll never see another artist like Michael Jackson

Today marks the fifth anniversary of his death

Five years ago today Michael Jackson died. It feels like it was yesterday. His music still floods the airwaves and theaters and his popularity remains undiminished.

Here are five reasons we’ll never see the likes of his singular talent again:

1. He had time to develop: There’s no real development process anymore: whether it’s the immediacy of “American Idol,” “The Voice,” etc., or YouTube, wanna-be artists get exposure often way before they are ready—even though they think they are. Jackson and his brothers incubated in Gary, Ind., away from any spotlight. Though Michael became famous at a very, very early age, that was only after the Jackson 5 had worked their way up through local talent shows, regional tours and more before Motown signed them in 1969 (after initially rejecting them in 1967).

2. He was born a star: Jackson came alive on stage in a way that only a handful of artists since the advent of modern entertainment have: Elvis, Jackson, Springsteen. These aren’t artists who simply enjoyed/enjoy being on stage: They crave it and have to have it and feel more alive on stage than anywhere else. There is a magic that happens when the lights go down and they walk on the stage that can’t be taught, it can’t be learned. It can be nurtured, but you’re either born with it or you’re not and 99.999% of all performers aren’t. Jackson was.

3. He worked hard: Jackson had an unbelievable amount of talent bestowed upon him by the talent gods, but he then took those gifts and worked on them incessantly. He studied Gene Kelly’s dance moves, he practiced singing and worked to find different places his voice could go. He was constantly trying to improve and up his game. There never seemed to be a moment where he felt like he could rest on his laurels.

4. He didn’t play it safe: It’s easy to forget how adventurous he was musically because the risks he took have since cleared the path for other artists. When “Beat It” came out, the thought of having a rock solo by the likes of Eddie Van Halen on a pop/R&B track was unheard of…and he encountered plenty of push back. Just like pioneers always do.  He transcended genres with a fearless abandon and commitment to pushing music forward.

5. He could sing: His stage presence and dance ability were so otherworldly, it’s easy to overlook what a great vocalist he was. Listen to those records: the tear in his voice on “She’s Out Of My Life,” the hopeful determination in “Man In The Mirror,” unbridled joy on “The Way You Make Me Feel,” the growl in “Dirty Diana.”  He had range and strength, but he also had emotion. Not that many artists have that hat trick.


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<p>&quot;Alone Yet Not Alone.&quot;</p>

"Alone Yet Not Alone."

Credit: Enthuse Entertainment

The Academy responds to 'Alone Yet Not Alone'-gate with new campaign regulations

Music Branch gets specific attention in the new rules revealed today

Ah, remember "Alone Yet Not Alone?" For a couple of weeks at the wintery height of awards season, it was the gift that kept giving for Oscar scandal-mongers -- the head-scratching surprise of its nomination in the first place, the uncovering of its dodgy campaign tactics, the shame of its eventual disqualification. And five month later, most people have forgotten the film (which was formally released only last week) ever even existed. Oscar season: it chews you up and spits you out, but rarely quite so humiliatingly. 

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<p>Joe Carnahan</p>

Joe Carnahan

Credit: AP Photo

'The Grey' director Joe Carnahan to take on 'Five Against a Bullet'

Bodyguard team-up flick is right up the director's alley

I've been eager to see how Joe Carnahan will follow up 2012's "The Grey" (my number one movie that year). He had a stellar vision for "Daredevil" but Fox passed on it and gave up their lease, leading Marvel to develop the property with "Cabin in the Woods" director Drew Goddard as a series for Netflix. Coming this year (or maybe next — watch for a Toronto bow) is "Stretch" with Patrick Wilson and Chris Pine. And Carnahan has always had this and that lurking, whether an adaptation of James Ellroy's "White Jazz" or the Pablo Escobar story "Killing Pablo." But it looks like the gritty "Five Against a Bullet" is on deck, and it sounds awesome.

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Rooney Mara
Rooney Mara
Credit: AP Photo

Rooney Mara turns producer-star for 'A House in the Sky'

The Oscar nominee is producing the project alongside Megan Ellison

Rooney Mara has been playing things pretty cool since picking up a Best Actress Oscar nomination two years ago for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." The franchise initially beckoned by David Fincher's Scandi-thriller remake hasn't come to pass, which has left Mara room to be discerning: she had classy leading roles last year in David Lowery's "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" and Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects," though neither one was built entirely around her; a tart supporting role in Spike Jonze's Best Picture nominee "Her" further added to her credibility.

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<p>&quot;The Flash&quot;</p>

"The Flash"

Credit: The CW

The CW sets Fall 2014 premiere dates boosting 'Flash' with 'Arrow'

Also, check out CBS Fall 2014 premiere dates

The CW announced its Fall 2014 premiere dates, once again kicking things off in early October and giving the new drama "The Flash" as big an introductory boost as possible.

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'Ask Drew' looks up with 'Interstellar' and 'Starman'
Credit: Warner Bros./Paramount

'Ask Drew' looks up with 'Interstellar' and 'Starman'

Plus a very particular match-up in this week's Movie God

I was going to try to shoot an "Ask Drew" a few weeks ago, but it fell right between two week-long trips out of the country, and the Saturday I was poised to come in, I basically just collapsed.

The video team was ready and waiting, though, and as soon as I hit the office this week, they were ready to throw me in front of a camera and shoot a new episode. The great thing about the way you guys have responded to these so far is that we are not hurting for questions. There's always a stack of stuff ready to be answered, and the video guys are always happy to see more submissions arrive at

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The CW’s fall schedule once again debuts in October

The CW’s fall schedule once again debuts in October
“The Vampire Diaries” opens CW’s fall on Oct. 2. “The Flash” premieres Oct. 7.

Watch Ben Affleck & Matt Damon announce the new “Project Greenlight”
“We look forward to looking at all your stuff,” the duo say in a YouTube video.

NBC renovating 30 Rock
The restoration and renovation of 30 Rockefeller Plaza will include the re-creation of a grand staircase and mezzanine rotunda, as well as a re-creation of the original art deco era design of the lobby.

“NTSF:SD:SUV” is on hiatus
Paul Scheer is busy working on new shows for Adult Swim and HBO. “I wanted to try something different,” he says. "We may revisit ‘NTSF,' but right now it's just kind of… it's not over, but I have no plans to do anything with it right now.”

“Big Bang Theory’s” Simon Helberg welcomes his first son
Wilder Towne Helberg joins big sister Adeline.

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Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert

5 things we learned from Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood's 'Somethin' Bad' video

Hair extensions trump all

They seemed like such nice girls… In their high-budget video for “Somethin’ Bad,” Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood—aka Belle Boyd and Priscilla Parker— play two girls gone bad on one crime caper after another.

The clip, which premiered today on CMT, plays out like a trailer for an action flick with opening and closing credits part of the package.  Lambert and Underwood, when they aren’t singing up against a police line-up wall, are busy planning heists that involve great costumes, motorcycles, card games, banks, and, above all, leather.  

Our five takeaways from the video (other than the fact that Lambert looks adorable in the brown wig and should totally try that look):

Playing in a high-stakes card game is a lot like attending the CMA or ACM Awards: the ladies are dressed in formal wear while the boys, for the most part, get to wear anything they rolled out of bed and put on.

They make lousy poker players. The signals they are sending each other and their tells are so obvious that anyone who continued to bet against them is an idiot. Be like Lady Gaga and work on that P-P-P-Poker Face.

It is far better to look good standing beside a motorcycle in a leather outfit with a head full of hair extensions and a wind machine than to actually be able to ride said motorcycle.

When in doubt, throw in an explosion.  After stealing jewelry from the vault at the bank where they have been working, our gals take time to change out of their catsuits into their getaway outfits (kind of like how you change from your wedding dress to an outfit to leave your reception) and as they run across the street there’s a random explosion in the bank that sends money and Underwood and Lambert flying. It’s just thrown in there because, well, every good action movie has an explosion or two, right?

Who says crime doesn’t pay?  The video ends with the ladies making a get away in a Mercedes (nice product placement) that takes them to a helicopter where they are undoubtedly headed for their next caper.

The song is No. 28 with a bullet on Billboard's Country Airplay chart.


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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 236

Dan and Alan review 'Leftovers,' 'Reckless' and another 'FNL' episode


Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls.

On Tuesday's video show, we reviewed "Tyrant" and "Taxi Brooklyn" and we also discussed the second season of "Orphan Black."

So none of that is in this podcast.

Fortunately, there's still lots to discuss. We didn't go two-and-a-half hours like last week, but we filled an hour with reviews of "Reckless" and "The Leftovers," plus a couple pieces of Listener Mail and, of course, our weekly celebration of "Friday Night Lights" Season 2.

Due to timing and whatnot, I had to record my side of the podcast in the echo chamber of the HitFix offices, so I sound extra-hollow. Apologies, as always.

Today's breakdown:
"Reckless" (00:00:55 - 00:12:00)
"The Leftovers" (00:12:00 - 00:31:10)
Listener Mail - Trans Characters on TV (00:31:30 - 38:30)
Listener Mail - Desert Island Showrunners (00:38:35 - 00:44:30)
"Friday Night Lights" Season 2 - (00:44:40 - 01:01:20)

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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Kelsey Grammer on being in this summer's 'Transformers,' 'X-Men,' and 'Expendables'
Credit: HitFix

Kelsey Grammer on being in this summer's 'Transformers,' 'X-Men,' and 'Expendables'

Is he the most unexpected action star of the year?

If you were to ask me who the guy would be who appeared in the most giant action movies this summer, I would have never in a million years been able to call that person as Kelsey Grammar. Never.

It's actually kind of amazing. Sure, it seems natural that he was one of the people who filmed a surprise return in Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Days Of Future Past." It was still a great moment in the theater, and when I sat down with Grammer during my time in Hong Kong for the press event for "Transformers: Age Of Extinction," we ended up talking about it for a moment. In particular, I wanted to ask him about the way Nicolas Hoult has expanded our understanding of Hank as a character, and I thought his response was great.

He's also an Expendable, and even he seems well aware how strange that is. I understand why they would want to add Wesley Snipes or Antonio Banderas or Mel Gibson or Harrison Ford, but Grammer? Fascinating. I'm curious to see if he's a good guy or a bad guy, and how he fits into that ensemble. I have learned not to be too excited about how an "Expendables" movie will actually work, but I can still be curious to see how Grammer fits into the thing.

I was shocked to see he even appears in "Think Like A Man Too," the not-surprising hit sequel. I mean, seriously… everything's coming up Grammer right now. His biggest role in any of them appears to be his role in "Transformers: Age Of Extinction," which is the one I was there to speak to him about. Harold Attinger is a shadowy government dude who seems to have no problem selling out the Autobots or the human race, and Grammer plays him with a withering sense of condescending hatred to anyone in his way. It's a nice way into a fairly pat character, and I think that's just Grammer for you. He plays smart really well, and you add amoral to that mix, and it gets fun real fast.

"Transformers: Age Of Extinction" is in theaters on Friday.

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<p>The Leftovers</p>

The Leftovers

Credit: HBO

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 236: 'The Leftovers,' 'Reckless' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss desert island showrunner choices and transgendered TV characters


Happy Wednesday, boys and girls! Welcome to the first-ever Firewall & Iceberg Podcast to be ended due to one of us being in physical distress. I won't say who it was or what exactly happened, lest I ruin the surprise, but suffice it to say that all involved were fine within minutes of the podcast's end. Before things got weird, Dan and I discussed CBS' summer suds-fest "Reckless" and HBO's ambitious "The Leftovers," answered some mail, and then got to our ongoing "Friday Night Lights" season 2 discussion.

The rundown: 

"Reckless" (00:00:55 - 00:12:00)
"The Leftovers" (00:12:00 - 00:31:10)
Listener Mail - Trans Characters on TV (00:31:30 - 38:30)
Listener Mail - Desert Island Showrunners (00:38:35 - 00:44:30)
"Friday Night Lights" Season 2 - (00:44:40 - 01:01:20)
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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Sarah Jessica Parker is set to return to series TV in a show called 'Busted'

Sarah Jessica Parker is set to return to series TV in a show called “Busted”
The “Sex and the City” alum is attached to star in the police crime thriller "Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love.”

NYC woman creeped out by a stairway “Dexter” ad sues after breaking her ankle
Ajanaffy Njewadda claims the ad of the Showtime series — painted across a subway stairway — spooked her so much she tumbled down the steps and broke her ankle. She and her husband are suing the city of New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Showtime.

Jillian Michaels exits “The Biggest Loser” for the 3rd time
She won’t be back on the NBC reality show this fall.

Rob Dyrdek expands his MTV deal
He’ll produce a new pilot for MTV, while continuing doing "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory.”

“Survivor’s" Caleb Bankston was crushed to death by 2 train cars
The "Survivor: Blood vs. Water” alum was trying to inspect something between two cars when the train went off the tracks.

Netflix can’t offer “House of Cards” in France
That’s because a French TV channel already owns the exclusive rights to the first two seasons.

Ranking every “Big Brother” season from worst to least worst
“Big Brother 3” is the least worst.

Eskimos will flee Alaska for San Diego on TLC's “Escaping Alaska"
The reality show will follow five young Eskimos as they “plot their escape” to sunny San Diego.

Mindy Kaling’s writers celebrated her 35th birthday with a Grand Canyon helicopter ride
“The Mindy Project” writers also celebrated Kaling’s birthday in Las Vegas.

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