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Avril Lavigne
Credit: Epic Records

5 Steps Avril Lavigne needs to take to get her career back on track

Can she rebound from the 'Hello Kitty' fiasco?

Avril Lavigne has been all over the press the past two days for all the wrong reasons. Her tone-deaf video for new single, “Hello Kitty,” is already a leading contender for worst video of the year… so bad that YouTube yanked it (although it is still up on Lavigne’s website; you can watch it here while you chuck cupcakes and roll around in your underwear.

The nearly unlistenable EDM track is meant for Hello Kitty aficionados only (Lavigne, herself, being one), and the video features Lavigne awkwardly lip-syncing through the song backed by robot-like, expressionless Asian women. Didn’t she learn from Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls experience that even if you mean their inclusion as an homage (perhaps in this case, to Lavigne’s massive Asian following), it’s going to backfire?

The truth is that Lavigne has been on a bit of a downward slope even before “Hello Kitty.” She’s a global superstar, having sold more than 35 million albums and having won  eight Juno Awards, but she’s struggled at radio lately. Her last top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Girlfriend” in 2007, which went all the way to No. 1. So far, the highest a single from current album has risen is No. 20 for first single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up.”

Here are five steps she needs to take to get her career back on track:

1. Decide if she wants to make music anymore. On her latest self-titled album, it feels like Lavigne is calling it in from some very remote location. First single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up,” which recalled her brat punk past, wasn’t a good fit for anyone over 21. “Rock n Roll” was better, but it felt empty instead of fun, and it peaked at No. 91. The best track, “Let Me Go,” a lovely ballad with her husband, Chad Kroeger, didn’t get the attention it deserved, and current single, “Hello Kitty,” is a misfire in every way. The album felt like it was made by someone with one foot out the door.

2. Stop being in her own videos: It’s not just the “Hello Kitty” video that is horrific. (And if you want to read a piece that really doesn’t pull any punches about the clip, check this one out). Lavigne has never seemed comfortable in her videos. That’s OK, some artists just aren’t. In fact, most of the time, she looks distinctly unhappy to be there and like she can’t wait for it to be over. The exception seem to be the ballads, such as the video for “Wish You Were Here,” from 2011’s “Goodbye Lullaby” album or the aforementioned “Let Me Go” clip. But some of her other clips are cringeworthy in that her reluctance is palpable.

3. Figure out who she is as an artist and what she wants to say:  When she first burst on the scene in 2002, through songs like “Complicated,” “Sk8ter Boi” and “I’m With You,” we instantly understood who she was: a snot-nosed teenage kid with both attitude and heart. She was a toasty marshmallow: crusty on the outside, but soft on the inside. Over the years, she’s thrown us, veering in different directions and taking long breaks. She needs to find a producer who can take her vision and where she is now — as a married, 29-year old— and capture that instead of leaving her and us dangling and a little confused, like the last few albums have done.

4. Sell herself on the road: Lavigne hits the concert trail this summer with the Backstreet Boys. It seems like an odd pairing to me: the only thing they have in common is that they were having hits at approximately the same time. Regardless, it’s Lavigne’s opportunity to show her fans and BSB’s fans that she still wants to be in the game, that getting before an audience and performing these songs that many of them grew up on is enjoyable to her and that she lives to be on that stage and wants to keep doing it.

5. Find a way to communicate more effectively: Lavigne now has a perception problem. I interviewed her a few months ago and she was lovely and friendly.  I was struck by the difference in my perception of her as a somewhat remote artist versus the warmth she displayed in the interview, especially when she talked about her fans and what they mean to her and how much she loves being on stage. Somehow, the fact that she may actually enjoy what she does has gotten lost. She needs to find a way, either through more interviews, TV appearances, some other method, to get that across.

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<p>There&#39;s little doubt Kirk and Spock will be back, but with who as a director?</p>

There's little doubt Kirk and Spock will be back, but with who as a director?

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot

'Star Trek' and 'Spider-Man' in question as Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman split

And are Universal's monsters lurching back to life as well?

Here's the thing: whatever the next "Star Trek" film is, it needs to be special since it will be released (most likely) during the 50th anniversary of the original series first making its television premiere.

I'm not a Trekkie who believes that the series has to be done one particular way or it's wrong, but I think it's an important overall property for the studio, and I would like to see it treated with a certain degree of respect. I am an unabashed fan of the 2009 film, and the more I've seen it, the more convinced I am that it's pretty close to a perfect way to kick off a brand-new version of a very familiar property. They nod to the original series in a nice way, they reinvent familiar characters, and they made something that had a new flavor that was all its own.

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Meg Ryan will play the narrator on 'How I Met Your Mother' spinoff

Meg Ryan will play the narrator on “How I Met Your Mother” spinoff
She’ll be the female Bob Saget on "How I Met Your Dad," playing the future Sally to Greta Gerwig's present Sally.

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'Grey’s Anatomy’s' season finale will revolve around a possible terrorist attack

“Grey’s Anatomy’s” season finale will revolve around a possible terrorist attack
Check out images from the Season 10 finale. PLUS: Sandra Oh is cleaning out her trailer.


HBO is developing “Pharaoh” drama with Ridley Scott
The drama, from “Do Not Harm” creator David Schulner, will offer an alternate explanation for the ascent of the ancient  Egyptian empire.


What was up with Stephen Colbert’s glasses on Letterman?
Colbert opted to go on “The Late Show” with thicker glasses.


Seth Meyers talks to “Fresh Air” about his uneven “Late Night” desk
Seth’s original desk was modified so you don’t see his feet. Says Meyers: "The thing I like about the desk is that the right-hand side of the desk that leans toward the guest is smaller than the left-hand side which leans away from it."


Sony trying to get “Community” renewed with a Troy-“Cast Away” spoof poster
Check out the latest installment in Sony’s “Six Seasons and a Movie” campaign.


VH1 cancels “Best Week Ever” for the 2nd time
The comedic commentary show was first canceled in 2010, then revived in 2012.


Bravo developing “All the Pretty Faces” with producer Jennifer Garner
The dramedy would revolve around two feuding families who come together in Half Moon Bay, CA.


Jerry Seinfeld to “Louie”: “Can you not curse?”
Watch Jerry give career advice in the latest “Louie” promo.


Sean Hannity calls Jon Stewart a “comedy hack”
"He's kind of obsessed with this program,” the Fox News host said in response to his skewering on Monday’s “Daily Show."


Jodie Foster marries her “L Word” girlfriend
Foster tied the knot with Alexandra Hedison, who played Dylan Moreland on Showtime’s “The L Word."


Comedy Central picks up "This Is Not Happening”
The comedy follows comics telling stories at a strip club called Cheetahs.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 227

Dan and Alan talk 'Community,' 'Mad Men' and and Reality TV

The

Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

On Tuesday's Firewall & Iceberg Video Show, we reviewed "Black Box," "Bad Teacher" and talked about recent episodes of "Scandal," "Parenthood" and "Game of Thrones."

That meant that the podcast included some news -- Amazon/HBO made a pact -- and Dan's Reality Roundup, as well as discussion of the "Community" finale and season, plus our usual "Mad Men" talk, which devolved in VERY strange ways at the end.

Today's breakdown:
Listener Mail: HBO/Amazon deal (00:1:10 -  00:8:50)
Listener Mail: Dan's Reality Roundup (00:08:55 - 00:21:00)
Listener Mail: Late-night homogeneity (00:21:00 - 00:25:45)
"Community" finale (00:25:50 - 00:39:05)
"Mad Men" (00:39:05 - 01:01:40)

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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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 227: 'Community,' 'Mad Men' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss the Amazon/HBO deal and do a Dan's Reality Round-Up

The

Time for a new Firewall & Iceberg podcast, as Dan and I do our weekly "Mad Men" breakdown, discuss the latest season of "Community," and answer a bunch of mail, which includes an excuse for a new Dan's Reality Round-Up. 

The rundown: 

Listener Mail: HBO/Amazon deal (00:1:10 -  00:8:50)
Listener Mail: Dan's Reality Roundup (00:08:55 - 00:21:00)
Listener Mail: Late-night homogeneity (00:21:00 - 00:25:45)
"Community" finale (00:25:50 - 00:39:05)
"Mad Men" (00:39:05 - 01:01:40)
 
As always, send questions to firewalliceberg@hitfix.com. 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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15 under-the-radar movies to keep summer 2014 interesting

15 under-the-radar movies to keep summer 2014 interesting

Don't sleep on these hidden gems at the multiplex

It's nearly that time of year. The hot months, when popcorn fare tear through the multiplex on the way to massive box office receipts. The result, for most, is a shortlist of must-sees throughout the next couple of months, lists typically dominated by franchise entries, anticipated sequels and high concept spectacle. But as always, there are a number of counter-programming options, if you will, gems — or potential gems — lurking beneath the radar.

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Coldplay
Credit: NBC

Coldplay debuts haunting new song, 'Oceans': Listen

Check out the trailer for the group's May 18 NBC special and Georgio Moroder remix

Coldplay's new album, "Ghost Stories," is shaping up to be quite the stripped down, atmospheric set, given the three songs the band has unveiled.

Following "Midnight" and "Magic," the British band debuted "Oceans" on BBC 1. The song, anchored by a lonely, steady, synth note reminiscent of a submarine sonar,  finds Chris Martin trying to resurrect a relationship, declaring he's "ready for the pain" as they prepare to meet in the rain. The song concludes with his singing,  "You've got to find yourself alone in this world."  Of course, now every song that band releases will be filtered through the prism of Martin's separation from Gwyneth Paltrow.

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<p>&quot;Jimmy&#39;s Hall&quot;</p>

"Jimmy's Hall"

Credit: Entertainment One

Ken Loach's latest (and last?) Cannes entry 'Jimmy's Hall' gets a trailer

The Irish period drama is said to be the veteran's final narrative feature

If there was one Cannes Competition entry you could absolutely set in stone before the announcement last week, it was Ken Loach's "Jimmy's Hall." The 77-year-old king of British social realism has been in Competition 11 times before, making him the most-tapped filmmaker in the festival's history. So there was no way Thierry Fremaux and his team weren't going to make it an even dozen with the film that Loach has stated will be his final narrative feature.

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"Vikings"

"Vikings"

Credit: History

Exclusive clip: Ragnar and Bjorn prepare for war on 'Vikings'

Turns out it's handy to have access to a seer

How did we ever move away from having seers around? They seem to be pretty darn handy, especially if you have people trudging into war (and that trend certainly hasn't gone away). In this exclusive clip, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) has the ultimate reassurance for his son Bjorn about going into battle. The seer said he'll be fine!

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Andy Samberg will host 'SNL's' season finale, Charlize Theron hosts the week before

Andy Samberg will host “SNL's” season finale, Charlize Theron will host the week before
Samberg will return two seasons after his "SNL" exit to host the May 17 season finale with musical guest St. Vincent. Theron, who last hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2000, will be joined by The Black Keys on May 10.


NBC to air a Coldplay concert special
Coldplay will follow its “SNL” performance on May 3 with a "Coldplay: Ghost Stories” special on NBC on May 18, one day before their new album drops.


Netflix orders its 1st Spanish-language original series, a soccer comedy
The comedy will revolve around a family heirs’ dispute over a soccer club after the owner’s death.

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Stephen Colbert helps Letterman beat Jimmy Fallon, at least in total viewers

Stephen Colbert helps Letterman beat Jimmy Fallon, at least in total viewers
Fallon did top “The Late Show” last night in the key 18-49 demo, according to preliminary numbers.


This week’s “The Blacklist” episode was yanked from Chinese websites
For the 2nd time, an episode of the NBC series was pulled for a plotline that portrays the Chinese government in a negative light. Monday’s episode, which was immediately posted on Chinese websites after airing in the U.S., had the Chinese government conducting germ warfare research.


Peggy and Joan aren’t secretaries, yet “Mad Men” used them to celebrate Secretary’s Day
Why not use current secretaries Dawn and Shirley in today’s “Happy Secretary’s Day” tweet?


Why HBO was smart to keep shows like “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” off Amazon Prime
Those shows, plus new shows like “Silicon Valley,” won’t ever be available under the current terms of the deal. (“Girls” and “Veep,” though, will be included.) The deal also excludes syndicated shows like “Entourage,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Sex and the City.” So the Amazon deal really isn’t a cord-cutters dream, as you will still need an HBO subscription to which current shows. PLUS: This deal is good for everybody — except Netflix.


“Ice Road Truckers” star denies kidnapping and beating up a prostitute
Tim Zickuhr claims he was the victim, and that the alleged prostitute was a friend who ripped him off.


PBS will try to recreate D-Day with digital technology
“D-Day 360” will use forensic laser scanning, 3-D computer modeling and eyewitness accounts will be utilized to “bring the battlefield to life as never before,” says PBS.


HBO comes aboard J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” miniseries
HBO is joining the BBC in the TV adaptation of Rowling’s follow-up to “Harry Potter."


"Mystery Science Theater 3000” may have an “online incarnation”
Creator and original host Joel Hodgson tells Wired that an online “MST3K” series would "feature a fresh (and as-yet unannounced) host and cameos from many MST3K alumni."


Gov. Chris Christie says good riddance to Letterman, welcomes Colbert
The New Jersey governor wasn’t happy with Dave’s latest fat joke.


Laura Prepon slams conspiracy theories, says scheduling reduced her Season 2 “Orange is the New Black” role
“Alex fits me like a glove, man,” she says. “The fact remains that I want to do Orange, and it’s a matter of trying to balance different aspects of your career.”


Watch the 1st scene from “Orange is the New Black’s” darker Season 2
The Netflix show’s cast is on this week’s EW cover. "We had a theme for season 2,” says creator Jenji Kohan. "A little darker, a little more fractured. We wanted to explore the groups one at a time. It was getting a little summer-campy, and we wanted to address the realities that this is prison.”


Letterman to grill “Veep’s” Jonah
Timothy Simon tonight makes his “Late Show” debut. PLUS: Simon on this week’s "Veep."


GQ’s Funniest Comedians in America include Louis CK, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Silicon Valley” cast
Kate McKinnon, Amy Schumer, Key & Peele, Nick Kroll, Kevin Hart and John Oliver are also on GQ’s list.

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