I was talking to a friend of mine about why he hates "American Horror Story: Coven," given that he loved the first two seasons of "AHS." "There's no one to like this season," he grumbled. "Everyone's a jerk." I'm not sure I completely agree with that (I can think of a few characters, like Delia and Misty, who aren't all bad), but I get his point.
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Greetings from Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival comes to a screeching halt so that I can recap the Wednesday, January 22 episode of "American Idol."
Yup. The Festival has stopped all screenings for two hours tonight just for me.
Isn't that sweet of them? And then I'll head over to see "Land Ho!"
So click through and follow along for all of the Detroit auditions, or all of the Detroit auditions our condo wifi will allow me to watch...
As we get closer to the Sunday’s Grammy Awards, we’re making our predictions in the Big Four categories: Record, album, song of the year and best new artist.
Monday, we tackled Record of the Year. Tuesday, we looked at Album of the Year. Today, we look at song of the year, an award that goes to the songwriter. This year, all of the performers of the nominated songs are also among the co-writers (Fun Fact: Ella Yelich O’Connor is Lorde’s real name and Macklemore’s real name is Ben Haggerty).
Song of the Year nominees:
“Just Give Me A Reason,” Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess (Pink)
“Locked Out Of Heaven,” Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars (Bruno Mars)
“Roar,” Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter (Katy Perry)
“Royals,” Joel Little and Ella Yelich O’Connor (Lorde)
“Same Love,” Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert and Ryan Lewis (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)
The Grammys often like to award songs that have a certain amount of heft or message to them in this category, though certainly not always. “Just Give Me A Reason” is a touching ballad with a traditional verse and chorus, so that may appeal to some of the voters who appreciate that song craft (should it win, fun.’s Nate Ruess will capture the award two years’ running after “We Are Young’s” victory last year. “Roar” is all about empowering yourself but it feels a little lightweight here, same with the incredibly catchy “Locked Out Of Heaven.” “Royals” is a better record than song. “Same Love,” other than Mary Lambert’s part, is basically spoken word, but its willingness to step out in support of gay marriage certainly makes it the most message oriented of the nominees. In a year with no clear frontrunner, my hunch is this is a race between “Just Give Me A Reason” and “Same Love,” and I’m going with “Just Give Me A Reason.”
Should Win: “Just Give Me a Reason”
Will Win: Just Give Me a Reason”
PARK CITY - When I saw "The Trip," I saw the feature film version, not the six-episode television series, and I thought it was an enjoyable lark. It's not the most profound or the most enjoyable film from Michael Winterbottom's filmography, but it might be the easiest to share with other people.
After all, it's basically just Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan trading riffs on food, love, and Michael Caine for a few hours. One of the things I found most fascinating when I saw it again was how Coogan and Brydon are playing fictionalized versions of themselves, so you can't call the film a documentary, no matter how much it feels like one at times. One of the stylistic touches that I appreciate is that they aren't trying to pretend it's a documentary. It allows Winterbottom to shoot very intimate moments without having to justify why a camera would be there or why Coogan and Brydon would allow certain things to be shot. It's a subtle approach, but a careful distinction, especially in this one as we see that Brydon's not quite the amiable family man he appeared to be in the first one and that Coogan doesn't quite fit the role of perpetual cad that he's been associated with so often.
Pitbull and Ke$ha continue their reign at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as “Timber” spends its third week in the top spot.
It fends off a charge from Katy Perry, whose “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J, trots 4-2. If it reaches the summit, three co-ed collaborations in a row will have hit No. 1 following “The Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna and “Timber.”
Perry’s ascension pushes OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” down 2-3 and the aforementioned “The Monster” down 3-5. A Great Big World’s “Say Something,” featuring Christina Aguilera rebounds 5-4, according to Billboard.
Passenger’s “Let Her Go” holds at No. 6 and Lorde’s “Royals” at No. 7. Lorde pulls off a neat feat: she also holds the No. 8 song with “Team” leaping 11-8. One Direction’s “Story of My Life” rises 10-9 and Bastille’s hit “Pompeii” makes its first appearance in the Top 10, moving 12-10, more than three months after it topped Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.
We're about a week late in wising up to the Denver Film Critics Society's list of winners this year but, well, better late than never. "Gravity" was the big winner, taking prizes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score and Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film. The acting categories all went to the frontrunners save Best Supporting Actress, which went to "American Hustle's" Jennifer Lawrence rather than "12 Years a Slave's" Lupita Nyong'o. Steve McQueen's slavery drama, which was nominated for seven awards, received no trophies. Check out the nominations here, the winners below and keep track of the season at The Circuit.
"12 Years a Slave" has picked up yet another Best Picture prize from a critics organization, as the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) tapped it the year's best for 2013. Oscar frontrunners Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won top acting honors, while "Blue is the Warmest Color" received a pair of prizes including LGBT Film of the Year. HBO's "Behind the Candelabra" and Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" picked up awards in the TV categories, including a tie for TV Drama of the Year. Check out the full list of nominees and winners below and remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.
PARK CITY - Reviewing a new Lars von Trier joint is never exactly a breeze, though it's usually a little easier when you've seen the whole thing. Presented last night as the not-so-secret Secret Screening at the Sundance Film Festival, "Nymphomaniac (Part One)" offers at least a full film's worth of theories, provocations and retina-branding images in its first half -- as well it might, given that its first half is nearly two hours long. But they're cut off cruelly in limbo, with nothing so much as a tidy temporary knot or mini-catharsis to tide us over until Part Two, and I can't feign any insight as to the film's narrative or thematic endgame.
PARK CITY - During the Q&A for Charlie McDaniel's "The One I Love," an audience member asked the director and cast how would anyone be able to market this film without giving its big secret away? McDaniel, stars Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and screenwriter Justin Lader laughed it off, but the same question could also be asked of someone reviewing the film. How do you attempt to review a movie where part of its success is not knowing a major key ingredient to the story? Perhaps that's why the term "spoiler alert" was invented. In any case, we're going to give it the old college try. And, provide an out if you'd like to stay ignorant of the set-up because this is one movie with more surprises than you could ever imagine.
Networks used to make changes to pilot episodes all the time between when they ordered them and when they aired them, and TV critics often got to see both versions. And, by seeing what was added or removed, we could also get a sense of what the network and/or creative team wanted a particular show to be.
Often, reshoots led to improvement. The original "West Wing" pilot was so one-sided in its depiction of the religious right that it felt like piling on. (Or like a preview of Aaron Sorkin's work on "Studio 60.") A new scene was shot featuring Leo talking to a sensible and decent reverend that put things much more in balance, and pointed the way forward for a show that, while a liberal fantasy, at its best had fun depicting the other side as smart and passionate in its own right. When Lauren Graham replaced Maura Tierney in "Parenthood" Due to Tierney's health issues, producers didn't just reshoot Tierney's scenes, but added a couple of new ones, including one featuring the four Braverman siblings hanging out by themselves, which helped center the series and establish the mix of light and dark tones it uses so well. (Tierney was far and away the best part of the uneven original pilot; ironically, her exit made the whole thing much better.) Sometimes, though, shows get worse: each iteration of the "Terra Nova" pilot was blander and more dumbed-down than the one before, suggesting the people in charge had no sense of their own show's strengths and weaknesses.
These days, production budgets are so lean that significant pilot reshoots are rare, even when they make sense. ("New Girl" didn't simply reshoot all of Damon Wayans Jr's scenes with Lamorne Morris taking over his role, for instance, which led to several years of complications before Wayans could finally return.) FOX's new legal drama "Rake," though, not only got an entirely new pilot, but several other episodes set prior to the events of the original pilot (which will air later in the first season). The first pilot was already emblematic of the struggle to do cable-style weirdness and moral ambiguity in a broadcast network context; the new pilot (it debuts tomorrow night at 9) sands off several of the edges that survived the first time.
The Grammy Awards pride themselves on coming up with one-of-a-kind match ups every year. Whether it was Eminem and Elton John in 2001 or the Gorillaz, Madonna & De La Soul mash-up in 2006.
The collaborations help boost viewership and create potential water cooler moments, but they are also a way to shoe horn lots of artists into the show, especially acts who may not be in the mainstream currently, such as Leon Russell, who played with the Zac Brown Band in 2010.
For Sunday night's show, the number of pairings are insane, with at least 10 on-stage partnerships, including Robin Thicke and Chicago, and Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton. And there are some big question marks that we address as well. The Grammys air Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET.
Here’s a look at six you don’t want to miss:
Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl, Nine Inch Nails and Lindsey Buckingham: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are both performing on the Grammys, but it’s unclear if the Beatles will play together. If they were, wouldn’t they be the closers? (see below) Instead, we already know the final performance will be loud and it will be this collection of artists creating a great racket to send us into the night. You might need earplugs even if you’re watching on TV.
Beyonce and Jay Z: The Grammys haven’t officially confirmed that they are appearing together —only that they will both be on the show— but chances are really good that we’ll get the first live performance of “Drunk In Love.” Given that Jay Z has nine nominations, we’re sure he’ll pull something off of “Magna Carta Holy Grail” to perform as well, like the nominated “Part II (On the Run),” though I’d love to see them go from “Crazy In Love” to “Drunk In Love” into “03 Bonnie & Clyde.”
Daft Punk with Nile Rodgers, Pharrell and Stevie Wonder: Daft Punk appeared with Kayne West in 2008, when the French duo joined the rapper for “Stronger.” Their appearance this year with Wonder as their guest is sure to be a highlight. The question is which Wonder tune will they segue into after “Get Lucky?”
Sara Bareilles and Carole King: Bareilles was a very surprising recipient of an album of the year nomination and the pairing of the singer/songwriter with the legendary King promises to be a lovely, if low-key, event. I imagine facing pianos as they perform Bareilles’ “Brave” and then any number of King’s hits…Perhaps “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” or “It’s Too Late” or “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” King will be honored Friday night as MusiCares Person of the Year, so this is a smart way to get her onto the televised event.
Metallica and Lang Lang: Sunday will mark Metallica’s first performance on the Grammys since 1991 and they will be paired with Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang. Metallica is no stranger to performing with classical artists: Its 1999 album, “S&M,” featured the metal band playing with The San Francisco Symphony conducted by the late Michael Kamen.
Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons: Two of 2013’s top new artists will join together for “Radioactive” and a Lamar song. Can you imagine hearing Imagine Dragons joining him on “Bitch, Don’t Kill Me Vibe?” Actually, I can’t… and I’m not sure the Grammys would go for that.
Two to watch for:
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr: Even though they are getting the 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, it seems like they are performing separately. In fact, The Grammys have gone out of their way to state that they “will each perform,” as if to stress it won’t be together. That just seems like a wasted opportunity, but the Grammys may be saving the reunion for a tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” that tapes the Monday night after the Grammys and will air on CBS Feb. 9
Madonna and ????: The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Madonna will appear with an artist on the show as a surprise guest. I know it sounds a little crazy, but I’d love to see her perform “Royals” with Lorde.
Which performance are you looking forward to seeing on the Grammys Sunday night?
Remember Corbin Bleu? If you didn't watch Disney's “High School Musical” franchise, you might remember his turn on ABC's “Dancing with the Stars.” You remember; he was the guy who could actually dance.