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<p>Greg Kinnear of &quot;Rake&quot;</p>

Greg Kinnear of "Rake"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'

Greg Kinnear's midseason legal dramedy has real potential

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Rake" (FOX)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "House, JD"
Quick Response: It's hard to figure the exact percentage of the early appeal of "House" that rested on Hugh Laurie, but I think that "Rake" requires at least as much of star Greg Kinnear, who is playing a lawyer wacky enough for a David E. Kelley dramedy, but also screwed up enough for something much darker. We're introduced to Kinnear's character asking a hooker to perform oral surgery on him (not in a sexy way) and the show dives deep into the muck to introduces us to his world of seedy clients -- Denis O'Hare is a hoot in a role that I'd wager will become the "Rake" equivalent of Dylan Baker's constantly-in-trouble character on "The Good Wife" -- cross-dressing pimps, amiable henchmen, probably racially problematic associates and potentially dangerous adversaries. After only one viewing, I'd say that Sam Raimi's directing efforts on the pilot are surprisingly anonymous on an aesthetic level -- This isn't like the terrifically distinctive work Bryan Singer did on the "House" pilot -- but in the place of pyrotechnics, Raimi does something more important for the long-term future of "Rake": He sets the tone of the universe and the tone feels like a good piece of comedy-infused hard-boiled fiction, not quite on the level of an Elmore Leonard or a George Pelecanos or a Dennis Lehane (when those guys are trying to be funny), but in that aspirational range. So I'm relatively able to ignore that Kinnear's character only sometimes seems as charming or as brilliant as people keep suggesting he is. I'm relatively able to overlook that there are a lot of "types" among the supporting characters, but no fully developed characters. And I'm not appreciably worried that the legal shenanigans in the pilot are wicked silly and unbelievable. Liking Kinnear helps a lot in ignoring those failings and he does what is asked, starting by over-accentuating the goofy side of his character, but then showcasing the self-destructive side that makes this guy suited for an hour-long drama-type-thing rather than a comedy. This could almost be an FX show, which I mean in a good way. By the end, I was actually surprised by how the story had pulled me in and how involved I became. But boy oh boy they're gonna have to make better use of Miranda Otto and John Ortiz and the rest of the supporting cast as the show progresses. The pilot is close to a one-man show, with other objects just ricocheting off of Greg Kinnear. And it's not like Greg Kinnear is universally loved.
Desire To Watch Again: It's not there yet, but of all of the network pilots I watched this year, "Rake" is perhaps the one with the greatest upside, because I really can see how it could become another "House" or how it could come to feel like a West Coast spin-off from "The Good Wife." Other than "S.H.I.E.L.D." (and, I guess, "The Originals," which doesn't count) "Rake" is the drama that I can most easily imagine myself watching every week. "American Idol" has no drawing power anymore, but I still like that FOX is *trying* to give "Rake" a launching pad, because I might want this one to stick around.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

 

 

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<p>Miley and Robin</p>

Miley and Robin

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Music Power Rankings: Miley Cyrus twerks her way to the top

Eminem, Robin Thicke, Michael Jackson, Jack Black also make the list

1. Miley Cyrus: She twerked her way to top headlines this week. Whether people found her VMA appearance appropriate or repugnant, her single sales increased 50%.  And the sale of tongue increased 1000%

2. VMAs: Whether it was for Lady Gaga, the ‘N Sync reunion or Miley Cyrus, people tuned in to MTV’s annual fest to the tune of a 66% ratings increase over 2012.

3. Eminem: “MMLP2” will drop Nov. 5 and it looks like Em’s not just looking backward with the album title, but with the samples. First single< "Berzerk,"  samples both Billy Squier and Beastie Boys.

4. Robin Thicke: Sure, he got overshadowed by Miley at the VMAs, but no one can top him when it comes to the Billboard Hot 100. “Blurred Lines” has been No. 1 for 12 weeks—or to put it in perspective, it’s been on top of the chart for more than 1/3 of the calendar year.

5. Imagine Dragons:
“Radioactive” celebrates a full year on the Billboard Hot 100, only the second song, following Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep,” to achieve the feat. And it’s still in the top 5! 

6. Lorde: The New Zealand singer tops Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart with “Royals,” making her the first solo woman to top the chart in 17 years... or in other words, one year before Lorde was born.
 
7. Michael Jackson: Timbaland is working on a project that combines his music and Jackson’s voice. We want a duet with Justin Timberlake.

8. George Strait: The cowboy may be riding away when it comes to the concert trail, but Strait just signed  a new deal with MCA Nashville for five more albums.  He already has 60 No. 1s... how many more are coming?

9. Jack White: He tweets a photo of his Dead Weather bandmates, saying they were back in the studio. Guess we’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the follow-up to “Blunderbuss.”

10. Paul McCartney: With no advance notice, McCartney drops “New,” a track that sounds anything but. It rings with a Beatlesque innocence and charm.



 

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<p>Oscar Isaac in &quot;Inside Llewyn&nbsp;Davis&quot;</p>

Oscar Isaac in "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Credit: CBS Films

Telluride: Nothing touches Oscar Isaac in 'Inside Llewyn Davis' ... nothing

As I let the film marinate I can't help but take a moment to praise this performance

TELLURIDE, Colo. - The truth is I don't quite know how I feel about the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" yet. A number of people have asked me, "How can you not know how you feel?" This is, after all, a film embraced almost unanimously at Cannes and now here in Telluride.

I don't quite know how to put it, so I want to wait and see how it resonates. At first blush it feels somewhat minor, but I want to think more about what's going on thematically. It shouldn't be lost on anyone that the Coens are independently making a film about a folk musician struggling against the constraints of commercial music after coming off their biggest box office hit to date, for instance. For now, though, I'll just concentrate on what sticks out as immediately worthy of praise: Oscar Isaac's absolutely pitch-perfect performance as the eponymous Davis.

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<p>Chiwetel Ejiofor and&nbsp;Michael Fassbender in &quot;12 Years a Slave&quot;</p>

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in "12 Years a Slave"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Telluride: On the beauty and barbarity of sure-fire Oscar contender '12 Years a Slave'

Steve McQueen's and his cast reflect on an intense but rewarding experience

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Fox Searchlight was smart to get into business with filmmaker Steve McQueen two years ago when, not long after screening his last film, "Shame," here at the Telluride Film Festival, they acquired it for distribution. Further dividends will be paid in the sterling accomplishment of "12 Years a Slave," to be sure.

It wasn't just the sound of sniffles but open bawling that could be heard throughout the Werner Herzog Theater today at the second screening of the film. It is every bit as emotionally devastating as you've been led to believe so far and it is a knock-out awards contender, firing on all cylinders with nominations to be expected across the board.

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<p>The Coen Bros. with T Bone Burnett and his Grammys in 2002</p>

The Coen Bros. with T Bone Burnett and his Grammys in 2002

Credit: Reed Saxon/AP Photo

Telluride: The Coen Bros. and T Bone Burnett celebrated for telling the stories of American music

And could the story of an opera singer be next?

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Given the Coen brothers' catalog of great American films, they would have been perfectly suited to a tribute unto themselves at this year's 40th annual Telluride Film Festival. But when you consider Telluride's connection to music via the annual Bluegrass music festival held in June, the Coens' collaboration with T Bone Burnett over the years and particularly how that collaboration has reached a peak with this year's "Inside Llewyn Davis," honoring them together made way too much sense.

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Report: Harry Connick Jr. finalizing 'Idol' deal


Report: Harry Connick Jr. finalizing 'Idol' deal
Next season's judging panel should be done by the end of the weekend, so that production on Season 13 can begin.

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<p>Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in &quot;Philomena.&quot;</p>

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in "Philomena."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Judi Dench on touching form in reductive but effective 'Philomena'

Stephen Frears' true-life drama brings the house down in Venice

VENICE - The unhappy case of Philomena Lee, we are told throughout Stephen Frears’ outwardly stoic but not-so-secretly mallow-centered “Philomena,” is far more than a ‘human interest’ story. That phrase, frequently used here as a catch-all for manipulative, exploitative ‘soft’ journalism short on both sincere humanity and interest, is first contemptuously uttered by disgraced political journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) when Lee’s daughter approaches him about looking into her mother’s agonized search for a long-lost son. “It’s a human interest story,” he brusquely informs her, helpfully adding that such stories are written both for and about the “weak-minded, vulnerable and ignorant.”

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<p>Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen's &quot;12 Years A&nbsp;Slave.&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review: Powerful '12 Years A Slave' won't turn away from the brutality of slavery

Chiwetel Ejiofor is exceptional in this true story

TELLURIDE, Colo. - After its premiere screening at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival Friday evening, it goes without saying that no narrative film or TV program has ever depicted the sheer brutality and horror that was American slavery as Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" does. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, "12 Years" is a powerful drama driven by McQueen's bold direction and the finest performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor's career.

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<p>Ralph Fiennes presents Robert Redford with Telluride's Silver Medallion on&nbsp;Thursday.</p>

Ralph Fiennes presents Robert Redford with Telluride's Silver Medallion on Thursday.

Credit: Getty Images

Telluride: Robert Redford looks back at the progression of an industry

The 'All is Lost' star received one of the festival's three tributes this year

TELLURIDE, Colo. - It's interesting seeing Robert Redford receive a tribute at the Telluride Film Festival. With Sundance so ingrained in his blood and his being the face of an entire institution, his presence here -- albeit in a completely warranted capacity -- feels like a touch of infidelity. But it's too good an opportunity to pass up for a fixture of Hollywood history who this year delivers an absolutely amazing, sure-fire Oscar-contending performance in J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost."

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<p>Hugh Jackman and Jake&nbsp;Gyllenhaal in &quot;Prisoners&quot;</p>

Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal in "Prisoners"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Telluride: Denis Villeneuve's 'Prisoners' is a bow of tension drawn impossibly tight

This might be Hugh Jackman's best work to date

TELLURIDE, Colo. - They simply don't make thrillers like Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" at the studio level, and yet here it is. Glacially paced, bloated to a 158 minute running time, stingy with details as its mystery unfolds, it goes against most every convention for a film like this.

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<p>&quot;Mom&quot;</p>

"Mom"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom'

Anna Faris and Allison Janney could star in a great comedy, but the pilot isn't there

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Mom" (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
The Pitch: "1 Broke Girl & Her Mum"
Quick Response: "Mom" is the last of the fall premieres to get a Take Me To The Pilots entry. [EDIT: I forgot about "Dracula." I keep forgetting about "Dracula," which NBC made easier by not doing anything with "Dracula" at either Comic-Con or TCA press tour. One of these days I'll watch it. But I'm transitioning into midseason pilots for a while after this.] That's because "Mom" is exactly what you think it is, for better and (somewhat more) for worse. Suggesting that this Chuck Lorre-produced multi-cam comedy is too broad for its own good and that its coarseness is frequently cringeworthy -- i.e. a joke about a teenager's sex-stained sheets -- would have all of the shock or value of saying a David Milch pilot was wordy and somewhat cryptic or that the characters on an Amy Sherman-Palladino show kept talking faster than real people actually talk. There are whole characters and subplots -- the slutty teenage daughter, French Stewart's one-liner-spouting snobby chef ("Beat those egg whites gently, as if they were a small, annoying child," is the pinnacle of his comedic contribution) -- that I could excise entirely, though at least I get the generational purpose of the horny daughter stuff. I would, in general, say that "Mom" is not a very good pilot. But there are kernels here that I'm curious about, things that work exactly as well as you might hope. Anna Faris has always been an admirably committed comedienne, an actress never afraid of playing ugly or pushing her performances "big" if the situation requires. And here, she hits every sitcom-y punchline with authority and when she's asked to cry ridiculously, she does it with an agility that calls to mind some TV greats (I'm resisting naming names because hyperbole will do me no favors). Faris also nails the dramatic scenes. Her character is a recovering addict and the AA scene at the show's center is actually its most interesting element, just as the Overeaters Anonymous scene gave the "Mike & Molly" pilot a weirdly grounded core that was immediately drowned out in a sea of fat jokes, causing me to stop watching after five or six episodes. [No clue if it got better. Some people still seem to like that show.] A version of "Mom" that I would watch would continue to keep the recovery thread as close to the surface as possible, because that melancholy shading would benefit Faris and also benefit Allison Janney, who is fine here, but isn't asked to do nearly enough. I'm still a strong advocate of Janney's work in "Mr. Sunshine" (Yay) and I appreciate the amount of "damaged" she's capable of bringing to comedic characters. My ideal "Mom" is a bit like NBC's "Go On" in tone. And you know who doesn't care about that ideal? Chuck Lorre! Oh and viewers, because audiences didn't like "Go On." I think that French Stewart and the glibly treated teenage daughter and the pot-dealing ex (even if he's played by the always-welcome Matt Jones) are the Lorre-est elements of this pilot and probably the elements the subsequent episodes are more likely to accentuate. There's a good show featuring Faris and Janney and roughly this premise. The pilot has maybe five minutes of that show and 17 minutes of something else.
Desire To Watch Again: After a podcast a few weeks ago, I was forced to go back to my "2 Broke Girls" Take Me To The Pilot to see that I was far more generous towards the show than I would feel only a week or two later. My feeling was that there was a potentially great show starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs and then there was everything around them and I hoped it became the good version of itself and, instead, it continued to be the bad version. I think "Mom" is a lot like "2 Broke Girls," where there's a version that could well become a big hit for CBS and then there's the version I'd like, which would probably have to be on NBC or FOX and would probably tank. The networks have conspired to make Mondays at 9 into one of the weakest hours for me all season. Just as this time period will give me a chance to let "Sleepy Hollow" settle into itself, I'll probably also give "Mom" a chance to become the show I don't want it to be. And yes, I'll probably keep watching "2 Broke Girls," which is an all-too-fitting lead-in.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

 

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<p>M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold</p>

M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Avenged Sevenfold set to top Billboard 200 next week

Justin Timberlake sees major VMA bounce

Rockers Avenged Sevenfold will reign atop the Billboard 200 next week with “Hail To the King” (175,000) knocking country king, Luke Bryan and his current No. 1, “Crash My Party,” down to No. 2 (105,000). “King” is the group’s second No. 1, following 2010’s “Nightmare.”

The title is one of four debuts as we head into the busy fourth quarter. Rapper Big Sean’s “Hall of Fame” bows at No. 3 (75,000), while fellow rapper Juicy J comes in at No. 5 (65,000) with “Star Trippy.” “Alabama & Friends,” featuring top country artists performing hits by the legendary country band launches at No. 8 (28,000).

Robin Thicke’s former No. 1, “Blurred Lines” sees a little bump following the Video Music Awards, rising back up to No. 4 (65,000), while Justin Timberlake, who gave a 15-minute performance and received the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs sees an even larger sales result, climbing back up to No. 6 from No. 22 (45,000), according to Hits Daily Double.

John Mayer’s “Paradise Valley” falls to No. 7 (40,000), R&B supergroup TGT’s “Three Kings” drops to No. 9 (27,000), while “Now That’s What I Call Music 47 slides to No. 10 (27,000).

 

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