Latest Blog Posts

<p>Cate Blanchett at the&nbsp;Paris premiere of &quot;Blue Jasmine&quot; in August.</p>

Cate Blanchett at the Paris premiere of "Blue Jasmine" in August.

Credit: AP Photo

Cate Blanchett named Santa Barbara's Outstanding Performer of the Year

The Oscar winner will receive her prize at the 29th annual festival in February

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has kicked off a wave of tribute announcements today with the revelation that Cate Blanchett will receive this year's Outstanding Performer of the Year award for her work in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

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<p>Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in &quot;Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.&quot;</p>

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: 'Mandela' goes to Washington

Also: Independent directors dish, and how the Academy got it right in 1988

You need only look to "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" to observe how hard the fall festival circuit can be on certain prestige hopefuls: prime Oscar bait on paper, The Weinstein Company contender's buzz plummeted after a first wave of reviews that deemed it (not inaccurately, I think) turgid biopic-by-numbers stuff, however well-acted. How to get people talking about it again? Well, the announcement of an official White House screening this week for President Obama, due to be attended by Mandela's daughters and stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, will earn it a fresh batch of headlines and nifty photo opportunities. Will it help? Tim Gray considers the value of a political endorsement. [Variety]

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David Letterman has a new book, out today


David Letterman has a new book, out today

Dave has teamed with New Yorker illustrator Bruce McCall on "This Land Was Made for You and Me (but Mostly Me): Billionaires in the Wild," a satirical take on modern-day wealth.


Oprah puts Jimmy Kimmel on her fold-out O magazine cover
Check out Kimmel as an elf for Oprah's annual Favorite Things issue. PLUS: Kimmel has parents prank kids for Halloween for the 3rd year in a row.


Movie star Gael García Bernal joins an Amazon comedy pilot
He'll play a conductor on "Mozart In The Jungle," from Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman.


Eminem didn't lip-sync on "SNL," says his rep

The rapper, says the rep, "doubles his vocals live. Rhymes over a vocal track."


"Sherlock" releases its first image from Season 3
Sherlock is "hiding in plain sight."


"Mad Men's" Bryan Batt, "Rules of Engagement's" Megyn Price join Lifetime's "Unreal"
They'll appear in the reality TV-spoofing show starring Shiri Appleby.


"Duck Dynasty" Wines is the Robertson famiiy's latest venture
The reality stars have teamed with Napa winemakers for a camo-labeled wine.


Did Jay Pharoah have a breakout night on "SNL"?
Even Shaquille O'Neal was impressed.


Lea Michele and her family stayed at Kate Hudson's house following Cory Monteith's death
Hudson helped the "Glee" star avoid the paparazzi during those tough times.


Why did CBS promote "The New Mike & Molly"?

Is the network trying to fool Melissa McCarthy fans into thinking she has a new sitcom out?


ESPN's "Around the Horn" does a "Friday Night Lights" montage
In celebration of 11 years.


Watch Bob Odenkirk & Ben Stiller's reunion
The former "Ben Stiller Show" stars appear together on Odenkirk's "The Birthday Boys."


"MythBusters" star has a "Futurama" Dr. Zoidberg costume made
Check out the slightly altered costume made for Adam Savage.


Kerry Washington's new husband cut from the San Francisco 49ers
Nnamdi Asomugha, a once highly touted cornerback, is expected to make $5 million this year despite not playing.


FX orders "Texts from Bennett"

The wannabe gangster comedy is based on the book by "rapper" Mac Lethal.


10 weirdest pieces of art from Oprah's auction

Including: A painting of Oprah with The Rachel haircut.


HBO releases "Treme" Season 4 trailer
The final season premieres Dec. 1.

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' season premiere recap

Mashed up with 'Vanderpump Rules,' it's a two-hour divapalooza

I'm conflicted about the crass mash-up of the season premieres of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and "Vanderpump Rules." On the one hand, it's annoying that the shows are stitched together in such a way that not only does the Sur gang bleed into a considerable portion of the lead-in, the formal intro to "Vanderpump Rules" doesn't come until eight minutes into the second hour, presumably long enough for viewers to be sucked into the drama of Stassi and company. Whether or not you intended to watch both shows, no one likes to feel like they're being conned into doing it.

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Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel' to open 2014 Berlinale
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel' to open 2014 Berlinale

The all-star comedy will have its world premiere at the February fest

The Berlin Film Festival is generally seen as the least glamorous of the three major European fests: taking place in snowy February, it lands either too late or too early in the calendar to grab the sparkly awards-season hopefuls or the A-list international auteur titles. So landing the world premiere of Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" as their Opening Film on February 6, 2014 is obviously a great get for the Berlinale -- one that may attract more international press than usual.

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"Sherlock"

"Sherlock"

Credit: BBC One

Look: First official image from series three of 'Sherlock'

So what happened when Sherlock Holmes jumped off the roof?

While we here in the States won't find out what happened when Sherlock Holmes jumped off that roof until January 19, at least we can get a quick glimpse from series three in this official image posted on BBC One's Facebook page

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Lady Gaga splits with longtime manager on eve of 'ArtPop's' release

Troy Carter had represented the singer since 2007

A week before the release of her fourth studio album, “ArtPop,” Lady Gaga and her longtime manager, Troy Carter have split.

Carter had managed Lady Gaga since 2007, before the release of her first album on Streamline/Interscope.

Showbiz411, which broke the news
, attributed the split to creative differences, adding that Lady Gaga had not sought Carter’s advice on the “ArtPop” campaign and had cut him out of the loop.

Lady Gaga performed “Dope,” a new song from “ArtPop,” at Sunday’s YouTube Awards. It was an emotionally charged rendition of the ballad, but, as always with Gaga, it’s hard to tell if her becoming slightly unhinged was part of the performance or something more.

In the past, Lady Gaga relied on Carter to make the bulk of the business decisions, allowing Lady Gaga to focus on the creative, according to The Hollywood Reporter. From the start, “she was very specific about her vision, all of the music was there, and all she needed was someone to help translate it ot the rest of the world,” he told the Reporter earlier this year.

Among the other artists Carter manages are John Legend. He also has a label through Capitol, and had invested in such music tech companies as Spotify and SoundCloud.

We’ve emailed Carter requesting confirmation and a comment.

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Simon Cowell discusses his 'X Factor' Groups on the eve of the Top 12

Simon Cowell discusses his 'X Factor' Groups on the eve of the Top 12

How will Simon coach Restless Road, Alex & Sierra and Sweet Suspense?
As he heads into the Top 12 for the third season of "The X Factor" (American Vintage), Simon Cowell is confident.
 
Last year, Cowell was entrusted with the "X Factor" Groups and, with Fifth Harmony and Emblem 3, he cultivated two of the more successful acts to come out of the FOX series, which exists in the shadow of both "The Voice" and "American Idol," but also the towering success of the UK "X Factor," in which Cowell's creations included One Direction.
 
Does Cowell have an American One Direction this season? Well, he's heard the way the girls squeal for Restless Road, the male country trio he cobbled from three rejected solo artists. And he's seen the energy generated by another Frankengroup, the female trio Sweet Suspense. And if my own conversations are any indication of a greater "X Factor" wellspring, Alex & Sierra also have a deep pool of adoration. So Simon Cowell is confident.
 
On Monday (November 4) night, I covered the "X Factor" Top 12 Red Carpet at  The Bazaar in Beverly Hills. I chatted with all of the Finalists, an enthusiastic and perky assortment who, to a man or to a woman, insist that America will want to vote for them because they're just ordinary guys and gals pursuing a dream. 
 
I also talked with Cowell about his Groups and about the acts from other categories he wishes he could mentor. 
 
I'll be posting the other 12 interviews by category over the next two days before Wednesday's live show, but check out my chat with Simon above.
 
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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: AP Photo

Track-by-track review: Eminem's 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2' is a compelling return to form

Is there anyone who can match his rapping dexterity?

Eminem’s head has always been an intensely troubling place to visit and, despite getting sober and turning 40, Marshall Mathers seems to have found little peace, but his irreverent sense of humor is definitely still in place amid the freak show.

On “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” out Tuesday (5), Eminem, Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin have made an album that is not so much a sequel to his 2000 classic, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” as it recalls his unselfconscious stream of consciousness from an era when he  was less concerned with spouting a mood and message as he was with taking you on a wild and, often, very darkly entertaining ride. For some, it will be a welcome return to form; for others, it will be a reductive step back. I'm in the former camp.

Eminem’s fluid style and ADD delivery have always seemed as if someone shot a pinball into his brain and it’s bouncing from synapse to synapse, bringing forth a blitzkrieg of disparate, manic spillage as it pings willy nilly all over the place. But on “Marshall Mathers LP 2,” the level of word play and nimbleness are, at times, exhilarating to hear. And he still manages to drop more cultural references per song than most artists do in a lifetime. Think of someone: A Kardashian, a Detroit Lions player,  Ray J, Gwen Stefani, even Helen Keller, they’re probably name checked here in some form or fashion.

Sadly, part of Eminem’s schtick is still to bring in personas who are homophobic and misogynistic on songs like “Rap God” and “Evil Twin,” and by now, it’s simply up to the listener to decide if that’s a reason not to listen because he’s not going to change. While it’s not an excuse, for all the hate he may spew at others (and he’s way worse on females than gays; Em still has serious, serious issues with women), he reserves the greatest amount of vitriol  for himself. Time has not seemed to tame his self loathing.

Though he’s a dad with first world problems and he has a little trouble keeping up with the young whippersnappers when it comes to technology, he admits that he’s still got the maturity level of a 13-year old boy, if that. On “So Far...” he raps, “Turned 40 and still sad/teenagers act more fucking mature.” Ain’t that the truth, but I’m not sure his fans would want it any other way.

After 2009’s “Relapse” and 2012’s “Recovery”  seemed almost claustrophobic, on “The Marshall Mathers LP2” feels wide open. Whether it’s Rick Rubin’s production or the smart use of samples, the result is an album that, while extremely dense, feels cohesive and well thought out, even if at times you wish Eminem would just save some of it for his overworked therapist. Let’s face it, he’s never boring.

A track by track review follows:

“Bad Guy”: All it takes is one song on the radio, Slim Shady says, and before you know it, he’s up to his old antics from the early days: killing people with a shovel. It turns out the psycho killer spiraling downward here is Stan’s little brother (remember “Stan” from The Marshall Mathers LP?) No Dido here on the track produced by The Dividends and Street Runner (there’s a clear dramatic division between the song’s two styles). It’s a bracing, hands-off-the wheel story of someone coming unhinged that serves as an interesting, though not particularly compelling, introduction: GRADE: B-

“Parking Lot”: A 55-second skit composed mainly of sounds of footsteps of Eminem running as sirens come after him,and, horrifically, the sound of him shooting a dog before he’s taken out. GRADE: D

“Rhyme Or Reason”: Built around the Zombies’ “Time of Season,” Eminem answers back to such lyrics as “What’s your name” and “Who’s Your Daddy,” before going into his very credible Yoda impression to reference Rick Rubin. A seamless amalgam of the rock classic and Eminem's singing and rapping that really shouldn’t work, but it does. “There’s no rhyme or no reason for nothing,” Eminem declares in this exercise in working out his still-raging Daddy issues. Eminem's “a white honky devil with two horns that don’t honk” who has come to take back what’s his.  GRADE: B+

“So Much Better”: Oh, let’s face it, who hasn’t thought “My life would be so much better if you just dropped dead.” This is a lurching, supposedly comedic look at someone who’s broken his heart and he’s not about to get over it. “If it wasn’t for blow jobs/you’d be unemployed,” he declares and in reference to Jay Z, she’s all 99 of his problems. Musically, it’s a fun romp, but his misogyny runs so rampant here, that it’s tough to take and when he ends with “I’m just playing bitch, you know I love you,” he only makes it worse.  GRADE: C

“Survival”: An in-your-face track that opens with ringing, throbbing guitars. Lyrically, Eminem details his rise in music and his devotion to his craft in stark life-or-death terms: “If I don’t do this music shit/I lose my shit,” in his usual intense, matter of fact way, as compares rhymes wit "coming into battle" with him compete with the automatic weapons. He warns any newcomers that taking him on will be a lost cause. A chorus, sung by the New Royales’ Liz Rodrigues, reinforces the “Survival” theme, as she sings, “This is survival of the fittest...this is winner take it all.” GRADE: B

“Legacy”:  A trip into Eminem’s past  as he discovers rapping will be his legacy and maybe having his brain wired differently was all worth it. He addresses his ability to link “lines like crosswords” declaring “I ain’t halting until I die of exhaustion,” to all who came after him on this skipping track. New York singer/songwriter Polina plays Dido’s ethereal part here. It’s as close as Eminem gets to a self-empowerment song. GRADE: B-

“Asshole” (featuring Skylar Grey): One of Eminem’s best rants as he runs through his career like a freight train (check out the percussion on the track) on this hard-charging track taking on everything from Helen Keller to Gwen Stefani to mass murderer James Holmes. “Sometimes I forget I’m a parent,” he says, admitting he probably should never have been one. It’s a bit of a “many a truth is said in jest” song with Grey’s light-handed touch adding to the levity. GRADE: A

“Berzerk”:  Producer Rick Rubin’s hand hovers over this track more than a number of the other tracks here. The beginning has a distinctly Beastie Boys’ party feel (thanks to some fun BB samples) and the melody, based around Billy Squier’s “Strokin’, brings in a rock element to this chaotic track that lives up to its name. GRADE: B

“Rap God”: His speed, breath control and range here is nothing short of astonishing as Eminem moves from one topic to the next with such dexterity that he leaves you breathless. He wrestles with his demons and takes no prisoners. By the end, he manages to piss off all his detractors, but there’s no denying his supremacy in this six-minute track that comes closest to earning him the Rap God mantle, even if he does want it to appear that the song is tongue in cheek.  GRADE: A 

“Brainless”: Using a somewhat familiar mid-tempo beat and loop, Eminem addresses bullying and “If I could just get my head out of my ass, I could accomplish any task.” Somewhat a cousin to “Legacy,” he revisits high school when he had rhymes falling out of his pocket and no one to listen to them. GRADE: B-

“Stronger Than I Was”: A bit of a change of pace that seems to be about a relationship that went horribly awry. This is the closest Eminem normally comes to a ballad and the closest he comes to singing. “I’ll still be hopeful when I scream Fuck You because I’m stronger than I was,” he sings, in what passes for an improvement in his book. GRADE: B-

“The Monster” featuring Rihanna: “Love the Way You Live” duo reunites on this tale of a man who’s a monster, who’s trying to tame the monsters inside his head. The song, which debuted at No. 1 on the UK singles chart, is a look at fame that’s as chilling as it is catchy, although with none of the heartstopping menace of "Lie." GRADE: B-

“So Far...”:  Shady returns and he just wants to be left alone, especially when he’s dropping a load... so remember not to ask for his autograph when he’s using the bathroom. Eminem raps over Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good,” as he details first world problems, many of them unique to celebrities, others to anyone who’s lucky enough to not struggle in a day-to-day existence. This love letter to Detroit also contains some of his most hilarious lyrics ever. “Turned 40 and still sad/teenagers act more fucking mature,” may be his truest lyric on the whole album. GRADE: B

“Love Game” featuring Kendrick Lamar: Sampling Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders’ 1965 hit,  “Game of Love,” “Love Game” is absolutely irresistible musically. He and Lamar tangle with the intricacies of love and in Eminem’s world, there’s perhaps no more romantic statement than “I f**king love you, f**king bitch,” especially as the girl is holding a gun to his face. He’s dumped a girl because she blew Kanye, Lil Wayne, and seemingly a whole roster of rappers, but neither he nor Lamar, who’s style complements Eminem perfectly here, can let her go. It’s horribly misogynistic, and yet cartoonish in a De La Soul crossed with Digital Underground way. GRADE: A

“Highlights”: featuring Nate Ruess:  As anyone knows, Eminem has mommy issues and they play out writ large here in this slow jam that serves as an apology to his mother, but explains why “I’ll always love you from afar.” There’s no happy ending here. His deadbeat dad still, understandably, raises his ire given that he would (as he has proved) follow his daughter “to the end of the atlas” to find her, yet his father couldn’t be bothered to find him when his mother moved across town.  Fun.s’ Ruess provides a delicate refrain of “I guess we are who we are” that gives the song a lightness and reinforces the forgiveness that Eminem is trying to bestow.  GRADE: B+

“Evil Twin”: A six-minute rant where Eminem manages to name drop Sarahs Palin and Marshall and Jessicas Simpson and Alba, as well as a phalanx of other famous folks, as he tries to convince us that his evil twin is responsible for all the mischief before allowing that they are one and the same. He throws back to "The Real Slim Shady" (note the Burger King reference) in a song that feels like retread.  GRADE: C


 

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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

'Dancing with the Stars' recap: It's Cher!

The music icon takes over for Len and performs, too

Cher! Cher! Yay! Cher! As excited as I am that Cher is on "Dancing with the Stars," I'm going to withhold any comments on her actual performance until I'm able to watch a second time on something other than a tiny computer. I think, though I will not commit to this, her singing was off. Possibly way off. But let's not go there. I want to blame my computer as long as I possibly can. And did I mention Cher is 67? Yes, she's a miracle of modern science and possibly more plastic than human at this point, but who cares? She looks great!

Also, during her performance, she doesn't move much, which seems like an odd choice for "Dancing with the Stars." Oh, wait, an obnoxious uber fan has informed me she's having foot surgery soon. She she walked down the stairs. Oh, and she's wiggling a leg. That's a relief. Anyway, let's get on with the actual dancing! As you'd expect, the stars are dancing to Cher's greatest hits. Expect a sales bump tomorrow, Cher!

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John Noble in 'Sleepy Hollow'

John Noble's Sin Eater is hungry for some tasty, tasty transgressions in "Sleepy Hollow"

Credit: FOX

'Sleepy Hollow' recap: John Noble is 'The Sin Eater'

A deeper dive into Ichabod's past also introduces new characters played by John Noble and James Frain

It's about time for a deeper dive into Ichabod's past on "Sleepy Hollow" and that's exactly what we get from "The Sin Eater," the show's first episode back after a two week hiatus. Unfortunately, it's also an episode that highlights a widening gap between the complexity of the series mythology and the simplicity of its execution. "The Sin Eater" is a perfectly fine, workmanlike installment that does what it needs to do. But when you've been off the air for two weeks, you want to come back with a bigger bang than this.

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<p>&quot;The Act of Killing&quot;</p>

"The Act of Killing"

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Three documentaries nominated for European Film Award

Can 'The Act of KIlling' score on both sides of the Atlantic?

The European Film Awards are really spreading out their nominations announcement this year -- a couple of weeks ago, we got the nominees for Best Animated Feature, last week brought the winners in the technical categories, and today we have the final three films in the running for Best Documentary Feature. On Saturday, nominees in all remaining categories will be revealed; I guess this is their way of shining an individual spotlight on less covered races.

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