There are no big surprises in this morning's list of Art Directors Guild nominees -- though I guess leaving "Oz the Great and Powerful" out of the Fantasy category is an unexpected display of good taste. All the expected Oscar contenders for Best Production Design showed up in one of the Guild's three categories, notably the Period field, where Judy Becker's lurid 70s decor for "American Hustle," Catherine Martin's Jazz Age excess for "The Great Gatsby" and Adam Stockhausen's tangibly weathered plantation sets for "12 Years a Slave" will presumably duke it out for the win. (Nice, too, to see Jess Gonchor's gorgeously faded recreation of early-60s New York in "Inside Llewyn Davis" make the cut.)
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They may not be as sexy as the main Academy Awards ceremony -- something the Academy effectively acknowledges by annually selecting the hottest ingenue available to host the evening -- but the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation honors any number of worthy artists who contribute invaluably to our movie-watching pleasure. This year 52 individuals, covering 19 technical achievements, have been named as honorees, including cinematographer and VFX supervisor Peter W. Anderson, the recipient of this year's honorary Gordon E. Sawyer Award. (His credits range from "The China Syndrome" to "U2 3D.") The awards will be presented on February 15. [Deadline]
Today marks the beginning of the winter edition of the Television Critics Association press tour, which I explained at length (adapting an old Star-Ledger column on the subject) at the start of the last one in the summer. Ordinarily, I would be buckling in for two weeks of press conferences, interviews, awkward working parties and the rest of the fun, excitement and strangeness that is the TCA's semi-annual gathering.
This looks to be another interesting one, filled with stars both familiar (HBO has Julia Roberts coming today to discuss Ryan Murphy's adaptation of "The Normal Heart," plus the guys from "True Detective") and new (Tatiana Maslany makes a triumphant return in front of the group who gave her an award in the summer), some network presidents with lots of stumbles to explain (maybe ABC's Paul Lee will resort back to cross-dressing sitcoms?), the possibility of lots more Netflix discussion, etc.
Unfortunately, I went and broke my ankle yesterday morning, so I remain here in beautifully frigid New Jersey while the rest of the TCA has their start of summer camp-style reunion this morning. Dan will be covering the tour on his blog, and so will Liane, but I have to sit this one out, preferably with my foot elevated. If any particularly interesting news comes out of the tour, maybe I'll attempt some analysis from my perch 3000 miles away, but mostly I'll be focusing on reviews, including some shows I probably wouldn't have had time to cover if I was in Pasadena. Silver linings!
It was less than a year ago we first checked in with Austin-based electronica act Feathers, which was prepped for a full South By Southwest sked including opening for legends Depeche Mode.
Fast forward, and Feathers -- led by songwriter Anastastia Dimou -- is readying for several tour dates with Depeche Mode, overseas, and the release of new EP "Only One." The four-song set features two fresh new tracks -- "Wild Love" and "The Only One" -- along with two remixes of tracks from their 2013 debut full-length "If All Here Now."
In our exclusive stream and premiere of "Wild Love" below, Feathers' thriving contradictions are laid bare: it's tense yet relaxed, high-minded and easily consumed, Dimou's voice restrained and yet indulgent.
The crew will be around again at SXSW in March, and in the meantime, you may catch them as they hit Europe and beyond. Tour dates and "Wild Love" stream below.
Jan 7 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge*
Jan 9 – New York, NY – Glasslands W/Toy
Jan 15 – Barcelona, Spain – Palau St Jordi
Jan 15 & 18 – Madrid, Spain - Palacio de Desportes
Jan 21 – Montpellier, France - Arena
Jan 23 – Lyon, France - Halle Tony Garnier
Jan 25 – Antwerp, Beligum - Sportpaleis
Jan 27 - Birmingham, UK - LG Arena
Jan 29 & 31 Paris, France – Bercy
Feb 1 – London, UK – Birthdays*
Remember "The Karate Kid"? No, not the one with Jayden Smith, the original, way back in the '80s. It turns out you always had a good reason for liking Ralph Macchio, and not just because he gave you that crane kickboxing move to try out at the gym. In this exclusive clip from the OWN series "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" (Fri. Jan. 10 at 8:00 p.m.), the '80s teen dreamboat looks back on his greatest year (career wise, of course) and has a laugh.
Oh, how I was looking forward to Stevie Nicks' appearance on "American Horror Story: Coven." I could just imagine what it would be like when the real thing met its earnest imitation in Misty Day. Surely there would be a storyline befitting a rock icon, a plot twist that had been cooking since the first day Murphy and Falchuk imagined a character obsessed with all things Stevie, right? Uh, not exactly. But we do get a lovely version of "Rhiannon," so that's okay, too.
WWE Network is launching online in February
A 24-hour streaming service devoted to all things WWE premieres Feb. 24, at a cost of $10 a month.
Why "SNL's hiring of 2 black female writers is more significant
It shows that Lorne Michaels cares about having a diversity of ideas. PLUS: Taiwanese animators tackle Sasheer Zamata's hiring.
See pics of FX's "Fargo"
The miniseries remake of the Coen brothers classic airs this spring.
Watch Shia LaBeouf sing about lying on "Even Stevens"
A preteen LaBeouf singing "I Always Find a Way" is more notable in the wake of his current plagiarism scandal.
Bob Saget has an "HIMYM" question for Josh Radnor
"How did you turn into me when Ted got older?"
Lifetime unveils its extended "Flowers in the Attic" trailer
Check out the movie based on the 1979 novel starring "Mad Men's" Kiernan Shipka, Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn.
Food Network orders "Buy This Restaurant," cancels "Chef Wanted"
Anne Burrell's reality show is done after three seasons.
Bob Costas under fire for comparing some Winter Olympics sports to "Jackass"
"I think the president of the IOC should be Johnny Knoxville, because basically, this stuff is just Jackass stuff that they invented and called Olympic sports," Costas said this week.
"Sherlock" Seasons 4 and 5 have already been plotted
Says Steven Moffat: "Rather excitingly, (co-creator) Mark (Gatiss) and I, for no particular reason, we just got out of the rain and sat at the top of the ('Sherlock') production bus… and we just started plotting out what we could do in the future." PLUS: Moffat won't rule out a Matt Smith visit to "Sherlock."
"Enlisted" creator is "proud" of his pilot, yet "embarrassed" by "too many mistakes"
"I'm proud of the pilot on a story level, but on a technical level I'm totally embarrassed by it," says Kevin Biegel, adding: "We made too many mistakes and we didn't do our diligence."
Mariska Hargitay talks about facing her "SVU" attacker
"I think it was important for her to face him again because she can, and victims, I feel, need to sometimes be reminded of their own inner strength. That's what I wanted to do," the actress says of confronting Pablo Schreiber's character. PLUS: Ranking "SVU's" creepiest guest stars.
"Downton Abbey" producer: We haven't decided an end date for the series
Exec producer Gareth Neame has dismissed talk that the show will end after Season 5. PLUS: Meet the "Downton" costume designer.
"Being Mary Jane" delivers big numbers for BET
About 3.3 million watched the first airing of the Gabrielle Union series.
Matt Lauer to host "Going for Gold," which has nothing to do with the Olympics
The one-hour NBC special will actually celebrate this year's Golden Globe nominees.
Why Damon Lindelof decided to return to TV, with "Leftovers"
The "Lost" co-creator admits he was "so terrified" to tackle another project -- until he discovered the book that would become HBO's "The Leftovers."
Will Americans watch a "Utopia" reality show?
The Dutch format from "Big Brother's" creator has 15 people create their own society, with their own rules.
Watch the new "Americans" teaser
This one focusing on "Rules."
"Downton Abbey" vs. "The Walking Dead"
Both hit shows have a lot more in common than you might think.
Dick Clark's "American Bandstand": Anti-gay?
A new report in The National Enquirer claims Clark would "purge gays from the ranks," especially with many of the male dancers being in the closet.
This week's "Mindy Project" offers insight into how women see themselves
The Tinder episode revolved around body image and confidence. PLUS: Why don't more sitcoms use dating websites?
"Real World" boss defends adding exes and letting housemates use smartphones
Jon Murray explains the changes for the San Francisco edition: "There's a closed social-media site where family and loved ones, and most importantly exes, can see what’s going on when the cast posts pictures and things. We looked at the way we tell stories and the pacing of the show. We're playing more scenes dry, without music. We're pulling the lens back a little, you see some of the cameras on the floor." PLUS: Ranking the best "Real World" stars.
"Teen Mom" Farrah Abraham regrets making a sex tape
"If I went back in time, I would not have done it. The sex tape ruined my life," she says.
Buy some "Game of Thrones" mini-figures
HBO is selling special miniature figurines of the "Thrones" characters.
Jane Lynch's divorce is settled
The "Glee" star's wife is expected to get spousal support.
Dick Wolf's "Chicago PD" is badly cast and badly written
"Designed for people who want the legal clock turned back, not just to before the Constitution, but before the Magna Carta, 'Chicago P.D.' is an insult to Chicago, police departments and viewers alike," says Robert Bianco. "Against stiff competition, it claims the title of NBC's worst series since last fall's similarly atavistic and quickly canceled Ironside, which at least had Blair Underwood going for it." PLUS: "Chicago PD" doesn't feel very Chicago, and embrace "Chicago PD" as comfort food.
"Workaholics" star Anders Holm becomes a dad
Holm and his wife welcomed a baby boy on Dec. 19.
We're still a week away from the Oscar nominations and haven't so much as a clue how large this year's Best Picture category will be, yet the race already seems comfortably pared down to three films. That's not a complaint. Three plausible Best Picture contenders is more than we're given in many an Oscar year, even at the pre-nomination stage; I'm just happy in years when there appears to be a race at all. And I'm particularly happy with this one, given that the films in question -- "12 Years a Slave," "Gravity" and "American Hustle," if you haven't got the memo yet -- make for such a vibrant and disparate trifecta.
There's a certain type of movie that I think of as a Harvey Weinstein Oscar Special, and on paper, "Philomena" fits the bill. After all, it's got a starring role for Judi Dench. It's based on a true story that can easily be exploited to create some outrage that can be used to sell the film. And it's directed by Stephen Frears, who is the very model of the kinds of filmmakers that Harvey loves to enlist as he stages his annual march on the Kodak Theater.
While it seems like there's a version of "Philomena" that could have been terribly calculated and cynical, exactly the sort of Oscar bait that it sounds like, the actual film is something very different. Written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope and based on the non-fiction book by Martin Sixsmith, this is a smart, genuinely-felt film that tackles some difficult ideas head-on. I found myself surprisingly moved by the film, and it wasn't at all what I expected.
Philomena Lee (Dench) has spent her life haunted by thoughts of the baby she gave up for adoption when she was very young. It wasn't a choice she made, but one that was forced on her by the nuns at the convent where she was sent when she got pregnant. It's impossible to view what happens to Philomena as anything but an immoral crime, and the idea that it was done in the name of the church is infuriating.
Meryl Streep won't be getting on the Walt Disney bandwagon this awards season.
While presenting the best actress award to "Saving Mr. Banks" star Emma Thompson (for her portrayal of "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers) at Tuesday night's National Board of Review awards gala, the actress railed against the "gender bigotry" and "racist proclivities" harbored by Disney (played in the film by Tom Hanks) while overseeing the studio that bears his name.