Another year, another Armond White controversy. The famously against-the-grain critic routinely gets people's backs up with his reviews, but he's also taken in recent years to making a nuisance of himself at the New York Film Critics' Circle Awards, denigrating his colleagues' choices in the presence of the winners themselves. Last night saw his ugliest display yet, as he disrupted Best Director winner Steve McQueen's speech by calling him "an embarrassing doorman and garbage man." McQueen classily ignored him; the NYFCC, of which White is a former chair, should not do the same. A critic's opinions are his to freely express in print; personal public abuse is another matter. [Variety]
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While lots of things happen in this episode (Jamie Lee Curtis for the win!), all of them are overshadowed by the never-ending battle between Brandi and Joyce. After the pathetic ending to Lisa's dinner party debacle, I think the win is pretty clearly in Joyce's column. She may be many things, but I don't think Joyce is one to play the victim card, at least not the way Brandi did.
Filmmaker Jane Campion has found herself in the Palme d'Or mix three times at Cannes: for 1989's "Sweetie," 1993's "The Piano" (which one the prize in a tie with Kaige Chen's "Farewell My Concubine") and 2009's "Bright Star." She also won a prize for her short film "An Exercise in Discipline - Peel" in 1982. Suffice it to say, she has a rich history with the fest, and now she adds one more notch on her Croisette belt: she'll be heading up the 2014 edition's jury.
It was a pretty good weekend for Harvey Weinstein and his crop of awards season hopefuls. On Saturday, "August: Osage County" — coming off a dominant showing at the Capri, Hollywood Film Festival in Italy — was recognized at the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala with honors for stars Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. The Weinstein Company honcho also held a private little after-soiree that was full of talent not just from his films but others as well.
Sunday night, it was a Kirk Douglas Award presentation for "Lee Daniels' The Butler" star Forest Whitaker in advance of the 29th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (which will feature another accolade in the form of the Montecito Award for, well, Montecito resident Oprah Winfrey). A big boost of visibility for the SAG nominee.
The legendary awards strategist — who recently placed number one on HitFix's inaugural Oscar Power List with ease — has a typically loaded slate of films this year and he's making all the right moves on their behalf. "August," "The Butler," "Fruitvale Station," "Philomena" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" have all been represented on the circuit (though perhaps the best of them, in my opinion — "Mandela" — has received short shrift). Yet despite SAG and WGA attention, it seems more and more like Weinstein will have his first off year in the Best Picture ranks since finally cutting through with "The Reader" in 2008.
I wrote a lot about this episode here, so this won't be an extremely in-depth recap. After all, we don't want to get too attached to anyone. We start the two-hour episode with 27 hopeful ladies and end with just 17. While kicking ten women to the curb gives Juan Pablo a chance to rid himself of most of the lunatics, amazingly, he leaves some in the mix. Maybe this is his way of keeping things interesting this season, but if the promo at the end of the episode gives any real clues, I think things progress from interesting to "didn't I see this on 'Cops' or maybe 'Dr. Phil' one time?" pretty quickly.
One of the benefits of living in Los Angeles and covering the film industry is that there are plenty of invites in any given year to premieres and special screenings. While I'm perfectly happy seeing a film under pretty much any condition, it's fun to take the family to a premiere so they can enjoy the party and see a movie in the best possible conditions.
The big winter premiere for the family this year was "Frozen" at the El Capitan, and my kids had a tremendous time with the film and with the party afterwards. They got to meet Josh Gad in the lobby of the theater and when they realized he was Olaf the Snowman, they practically hoisted him onto their shoulders for a victory lap around the room.
It's uncommon for me to get excited about saying hello to someone at a premiere, if only because I've met so many people at this point that there's no real novelty to it. At the "Frozen" premiere, though, I had two people I wanted to speak with, and when I was introduced to them, I gushed. I gushed, and I don't care who knows it. I gushed because I think Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are really, really good at what they do, and between "Avenue Q," "The Book Of Mormon," and "Frozen," I think they've staked a claim for themselves as both hilariously funny and also able to do traditional show tunes as well as anyone working.
Hopefully, "SNL's" new black female castmember won't be stuck playing only black female celebs
That's how "SNL" can achieve real diversity with the hiring of Sasheer Zamata, says James Poniewozik. "hat will make Zamata's hire worthwhile, for her and for the show, is making sure that she gets written great, memorable characters who aren't black female celebrities as well," he says. "It's the difference between being an African American woman SNL star (a funny performer who is black and female) and being the African American woman SNL star (a performer who's specifically there to be black and female)." PLUS: A video guide to Zamata's work, she has her own web series, "Pursuit of Sexiness," and happy 30th birthday, Kate McKinnon.
Stephen Colbert will make his Super Bowl ad debut, pitching pistachios in 2 commercials
Wonderful Pistachios has hired Colbert to replace Psy as its new brand ambassador.
How to create the perfect "Bachelor" contestant
Be between the ages of 24 and 26, be from California, Chicago or Florida and be employed by a beauty-related industry. PLUS: That "Bachelor" tribute to Gia Allemand was "gross," and create a "Bachelor" fantasy league.
NFL is worried about Esquire network's "Friday Night Tykes"
The show about football players under 10 years old has the NFL concerned. "The trailer is definitely troubling to watch," says an NFL spokesperson.
NBC News denies a report that Ann Curry's contract isn't being renewed
Says an NBC spokesperson: "It's completely untrue, and, as a matter of fact, she's going on a big assignment for NBC News this week."
FX puts "Chozen" on Xbox One 1 week before its TV debut
The animated comedy is now available to watch for users of the Microsoft service.
3D TV is essentially dead
Vizio today became the first major TV manufacturer to announce it is quitting 3D TV.
Watch a preview of PBS' Stephen Hawking documentary
"Hawking" is narrated by Hawking himself.
Katee Sackhoff: I was rejected for the "Wonder Woman" TV show
"I'd love to play Wonder Woman," she tells Total Film. "I remember auditioning for the Wonder Woman television show and being told that I wasn't the Wonder Woman type, but if I wanted to play the best friend, I could audition for that. And remember thinking to myself, 'You obviously haven't seen my work!'"
Emma Roberts gets engaged to her "American Horror Story" co-star
She's set to marry Evan Peters.
"2 Broke Girls" stars enlist their sitcom writers to help write People's Choice Awards jokes
"What they have planned is amazing," says Beth Behrs. "It'll be interesting and fun for people to see us as ourselves — but a heightened stage version of ourselves."
Men who dress up as dolls get their own British TV special
"Welcome to the secret world of female masking," says the trailer for "Secrets of the Living Dolls."
"Pretty Little Liars" star Troian Bellisario reveals eating disorder, self-harm past
"I kept a lot of it bottled up inside, and it turned into self-destructive behavior," she says in an interview with Seventeen magazine.
Alec Baldwin grills Robert Osborne in a TCM special
"It seemed very strange having someone like Alec, so prominent in his career, ask me questions rather than the other way around," the 81-year-old Osborne says of tonight's "Private Screenings" special.
Is NBC going too far with its "Chicago PD" campaign?
On Twitter, the fictional Chicago cops are portrayed as angry, perhaps too aggressive.
Roku announces Roku TV
Roku will be selling its own brand of smart TV sets.
"Teen Wolf" is back with "more adult" episodes
"It's definitely gone darker," says the show's creator.
Why did ESPN show a weird infomercial for Tim Tebow?
"Sunday NFL Countdown's" five-minute segment on ESPN's new hire seemed to have no news value.
Showtime also puts online the "House of Lies" and "Episodes" season premieres
You can watch the full episodes online now.
7 shows that need an aftershow
From "Scandal" to "SNL."
"Sex and the City's" 107 men, ranked
Is Mr. Big No. 1?
PBS tacks on 15 minutes to the "American Masters" J.D. Salinger documentary
"Salinger" will have a longer run on TV, compared to the theatrical version.
Elle creates covers with Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Zooey Deschanel and Allison Williams
Their part of the Women in TV issue.
Watch the 1st episode of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's variety show
"HitRECord on TV" premieres on Sundance Channel on Jan. 17.
See pics from "The Vampire Diaries'" 100th episode
"500 Years of Solitude" airs Jan. 23.
Chilli: I'm not dating Wayne Brady
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Voice of Yukon Cornelius from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" dies
Voice actor Larry D. Mann was 91.
There are at least three radically different versions of "Wonder Woman" that I've read over the last fifteen years, all developed by Warner Bros. with different teams of talent attached, and one thing has been painfully evident the entire time.
Warner Bros. does not want to make a Wonder Woman movie.
They think they do. After all, they keep paying people to write scripts, and they keep reassigning the character to different producers. As anyone even remotely interested in the character knows by this point, Gal Gadot was recently hired to play Wonder Woman for the "Man Of Steel" sequel, and there's been a lot of speculation about how the balance of characters is going to be handled in the film.
There are a number of big movies in production right now that I can honestly say I know pretty much start to finish, but the "Man Of Steel" sequel isn't one of them. I know what they've announced so far, and everything else I'm hearing would have to be considered pure rumor. Reports from one person totally contradict reports from another person, and a lot of what I've heard doesn't really make sense. I'm going to try to sort some of this out, and the new Wonder Woman rumors seem like a good place to start.
For Bruce Springsteen fans— and I am an unabashed, unapologetic one— dropping the needle on a new album is a moment full of excitement, hopeful expectation, and not a small amount of anxiety. For longtime fans, we have a lot— perhaps too much— invested in Springsteen because we know how good his music can make us feel and the deliverance it can provide at its peak.
With “High Hopes,” out officially Jan. 14, but streaming on CBS.com now, fans didn’t know quite what to expect since the album is a mix of three covers, some already familiar songs newly recorded with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and a handful of never released tunes.
Such an odds-and-sods collection can be just an excuse to dump old material, but here, Springsteen has created an album that, surprisingly, hangs together pretty well (despite a few bumpy transitions such as from “American Skin” into “Just Like Fire Would”). Springsteen has written about dashed hopes and disappointments his entire career, so bringing together a number of songs on the topic that span more than a decade doesn’t provide any major conceptual challenge.
Produced largely by “Wrecking Ball’s” Ron Aniello, “High Hopes” marks the first time Springsteen has recorded a studio album while he was on tour and the result is an energy that leaps out from much of the material, including the title track. Plus, he’s excited as a puppy with a new pal over the freshness he feels Morello, who filled in for Steven Van Zandt on the Australian leg last year, brings to the band. Even if you don’t agree with his assessment of Morello, who plays on eight tracks here, there’s no denying the pep Morello adds to Springsteen’s already damn peppy step.
Not every album has to be a masterpiece —and this is not one— but nor should it be discounted as a placeholder or a throwaway. Instead, it’s as Springsteen called it in his own words, a bit of an “anomaly.” For hardcore fans, you’ll hear traces of previously recorded songs in most of these and part of the fun is figuring out where you would have sequenced them on past albums.
As Springsteen showed on 1998’s “Tracks,” the excellent 4-CD box set of songs that didn’t make earlier albums, a tune doesn’t always get cut because it’s bad—most of the tracks here are far above average—they just needed to wait a little longer for their time in the spotlight.
“High Hopes” doesn’t bring the rush of a new album full of a batch of recently-birthed songs, but it still has plenty of delights.
Below is a track-by-track review of “High Hopes”:
“High Hopes”: The title track and first single, a cover of a song by LA-based band The Havalinas written by Tim Scott McConnell, is a tight, percussion and horn-driven mid-tempo rocker that is a good shuffler for concert. Lyrically it kicks off the album with a certain amount of world weariness-yet-hopefulness- that hints at what’s to come. GRADE: B
“Harry’s Place”: Gritty and propulsive, “Harry’s Place” has some good lyrics, but thematically and production wise, it sounds like it would have fit in perfectly to an episode of “Miami Vice” in the mid-‘80s, which is strange since it was written around 2007 about the Bush administration for the excellent “Magic” album. Singing part of the song through a bullet mike and the rest in a gravelly, mysterious voice does the tune no favors (though it worked great on "Reason To Believe"). Morello’s shredding is somewhat wasted here. Admit it, you can hear Glenn Frey singing this right after he finishes “You Belong To the City.” GRADE: C
“American Skin (41 Shots)”: Originally written to protest the brutal 1999 police killing of Amadou Ballo Diallo —he was an unarmed black immigrant whom the police shot at 41 times—and first performed on the reunion tour in 2000, “American Skin” has matured gracefully. On the newly recorded version, Springsteen trades in some of the anger of the original for a sense of melancholy and resignation, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin killing. The verse about the mother reminding her son to never talk back to the police retains its initial sadness, although the song still feels unwieldy. GRADE: B-
“Just Like Fire Would”: Originally recorded by Australian band The Saints (and covered by Springsteen during this tour down under), this jangly upbeat track will thrill fans of tunes like “Girls In Their Summer Clothes.” It’s about as pop as Springsteen gets and is a reminder of how great he sounds when he indulges his pure pop side. Nice Beatlesque horns life the track even higher. GRADE: B
“Down In The Hole”: Produced by Brendan O’Brien and originally written for “The Rising,” the mid-tempo, organ-drenched tune is about 9/11 as he sings about “wake to find my city’s gone to black...” and “I’m going to dig right here until I get you back.” There’s a chugging beat similar to “I’m on Fire.” Quietly devastating. GRADE: B
“Heaven’s Wall”: A repetitive, clap-along, gospel-inflected song that consists mainly of “Raise your hands, raise your hands, raise your hands... “ for lyrics. Springsteen does biblical references and gospel well, especially in the refrain of songs like “The Rising,” and this is more of a chance for him to do that without the heaviness. You don’t find yourself saying this often about a Springsteen tune, but there’s a great dance remix in here dying to be made. GRADE: B
“Frankie Fell In Love”: A loose-limbed track that starts acoustic and then bursts into a full-on band tune originally recorded for “Magic.” Between Springsteen’s relaxed vocals, country inflections, and generally upbeat tone: “it all starts with a kiss,” as he reminds us, “Frankie” is a fun, lightweight track that’s not meant to have any deeper meaning. GRADE: B-
“This Is Your Sword”: Celtic-flavored “This Is Your Sword” is an upbeat sweet song about “giving all the love you have in your soul” on the battlefield of love. Musically, it’s redolent of “American Land” and fans of “The Seeger Sessions” will love it for its acoustic drive. It’s good on record, but it’s one of those tracks that could really soar live. GRADE: B
“Hunter of Invisible Game”: One of the best tracks on the album, produced by Brendan O’Brien. The lilting, string-laden waltz beat is in contrast to the lyrics that are quite dark as he sinks down to the valley “where the beast has its throne.” It’s a track where everything gels about the passage of time and love. It’s easy to get lost in and it features one of his best, if Dylanesque, vocals. GRADE: A-
“The Ghost of Tom Joad”: As fans who have witnessed it in person know, Morello’s addition on the title track from the 1995 album turns it into a ferocious monster with Morello and Springsteen trading guitar licks between singing about the loss of the American Dream. Morello started performing the tune with the band in 2008 and the version here is pretty similar to the one fans hear live with Springsteen generously handing the keys to the car to Morello, who soars off into prog-rock territory during this last extended solo. Despite the pyrotechnics, the song still retains its original poignancy and call for justice. GRADE: B+
“The Wall”: A mournful track about Vietnam that even references Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who led the escalation of U.S. troops in that war. Elegant and ghostly, Springsteen sings in the track about the wall that built up around the soldiers and their families and about the Vietnam Wall memorial in D.C. Stark and haunting and unforgiving: not toward the soldiers who fought, but to those who sent them there. GRADE: A-
“Dream Baby Dream”: Springsteen began performing a hypnotic version of the Suicide tune around 2005 with just him and an organ on the “Devils & Dust” solo tour. This studio version is shorter and loses a little of the mesmerizing intensity of the live version with some added instrumentation. It’s more of a sweet benediction than the magnetic solo version, but compelling nonetheless. Plus, from “The Wall” to “Dream Baby Dream” is the album’s best transition. GRADE: B
Will you buy "High Hopes?"
Nearly four years since she took home an Oscar for her devastating performance in "Precious," Mo'Nique is finally reemerging with a new film.
The actress has signed on to star in "Blackbird," an adaptation of the 2006 coming-of-age novel by Larry Duplechan that she will also executive-produce through her and husband Sidney Hicks' Hicks Media production banner. Also onboard for the film, which is set to be directed by Patrik-Ian Polk ("Noah's Arc," "The Skinny"), are Isaiah Washington ("Blue Caprice"), Terrell Tilford, Gary L. Gray, Kevin Allesee, Torrey Lamaar, Nikki Jane, D. Woods and newcomer Julian Walker.