Welcome back. It’s hard for me to truly appreciate that this is the eighth season of Tech Support here at In Contention (third in our association with HitFix). I’m pleased to say that this column has come a long way during this time, as has media coverage of below-the-line Oscar races as a whole.*
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Tom Hanks' two-pronged Oscar campaign this year seems to be going well enough on either side of the Atlantic, but the resurgent actor is really courting the British vote this year. He's the unofficial mascot of the BFI London Film Festival, appearing on the red carpet next Wednesday for the fest opener "Captain Phillips," and returning to close things out with the world premiere of "Saving Mr. Banks" on October 20. Before, then, meanwhile, he'll be the subject of a BAFTA 'Life in Pictures' tribute evening, where he'll discuss his career and his craft before a London audience. Previous luminaries to have been hosted in such a way include Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren. Hanks has never won a competitive BAFTA, though he accepted an honorary award at BAFTA Los Angeles' Britannia Awards a few years back. [BAFTA]
Oh, last night's episode of "Nashville" started out with such promise, didn't it? First, Juliette meets with the new president of Edgehill Records, Jeff, and discovers she's no longer the bright shiny penny of the company. As we learn, he's a bean counter, and Juliette hasn't been moving enough beans lately. When she protests that she's simply growing into a "mature" new sound, Jeff snaps back that that sound isn't even besting Rayna James' sales numbers, so clearly, the mature audience isn't all that interested. Juliette fumes and storms out, which allows Rayna to storm right in.
How "The West Wing" solved its government shutdown
Can President Obama learn from President Bartlet?
Samuel L. Jackson wanted to make a "S.H.I.E.L.D." cameo
"I'm still playing the same guy, it's the same process," he says. "I just show up and they turn the cameras on and we do it."
"Orange is the New Black" creator quickly corrects herself after calling it a "TV show"
"It's not a TV show — it's a streaming show," Jenji Kohan said at NY Paleyfest. PLUS: Taylor Schilling poses with her real-life counterpart, Piper Kerman.
Is "Lucky 7" about to be canceled?
The 2nd episode logged very, very low numbers this week.
We are living in the golden age of TV Theme Songs
As the Wall Street Journal notes, "In the age of binge-viewing, it's more important than ever that a theme song be catchy. Now that viewers can watch any show at any time, a familiar song can provide an anchor for a series and preserve the sense of ritual attached to following it."
How "Breaking Bad" filmed Walter White's final scene
Walter White in the lab was filmed first, as makeup artists were "uglying" up Aaron Paul. "I'm looking at the lab equipment as if I'm inspecting the troops. One last nod. One last look at the world of chemistry," Bryan Cranston tells Entertainment Weekly, which witnessed the death of Walter White. PLUS: New Mexico rejected giving "Breaking Bad" a loan in 2008, cast reveal which scenes they always wanted to shoot, 3 lessons from the finale, will "Breaking Bad" change the way TV shows end?, and can Aaron Paul become a movie star?.
Johnny Lewis may have fathered a child with a "Sons of Anarchy" guest actress
The court is trying to figure out how to split Lewis' $41,000 estate, and documents reveal that one possible beneficiary is the daughter of an actress who appeared on the FX series.
How "SVU" came up with its Paula Deen/Trayvon Martin mashup
Producers wanted to do a story about racial profiling in New York City, but the episode had to have a sex crime component.
"Heroes" creator Tim Kring to produce a high school drug use drama for CW
"Exp" would explore what happens when a foreign designer drug becomes prevalent in American high schools.
Howard Stern agrees to do Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee"
The shock jock said he'll be taping with Seinfeld today.
Academics delve into "SNL"
A new media studies book on "Saturday Night Live" tries to examine the NBC show via academics essays.
"The Bridge" is watched by more DVR viewers than live viewers
It's the most time-shifted show in FX history.
Did Fox make a mistake picking David Tennant for the American "Broadchurch" remake?
The former "Doctor Who" star's American accent has been criticized.
See Emily Deschanel in her "Bones" wedding dress
Deschanel says she picked the most "flattering" wedding dress, a $4,800 off-white gown by Romona Keveza.
Listen to "Real Housewives" stars sing without autotune
No, they cannot sing.
Is "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" the successor to "30 Rock"?
The heavy use of flashcuts is reminiscent of Tina Fey's NBC comedy.
How "Team Clinton" shut down CNN and NBC's Hillary Clinton projects
This is not the first time Bill and Hillary have wielded their clout against a media organization.
Spike TV greenlights "Frankenfood"
Contestants will compete to create great tasting flavor combinations.
"Cop Rock" is still considered a weird idea 23 years later
What was Steven Bochco thinking?
Tyler Labine headed to Hulu
The "Reaper" alum will star in a supernatural series called "Deadbeat."
"Step by Step" cast: Where are they now?
What is the cast of the '90s TGIF comedy up to these days?
"Super Fun Night" wants to be the "Freaks and Geeks" of sitcom hangout shows
Unfortunately for Rebel Wilson, her sitcom doesn't work and feels like the network is throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall. PLUS: It came out of the oven half-baked.
Based on the events of the past week you'd think Tinseltown was on the edge of having some sort of dramatic breakdown. Let us count the ways...
"Top Chef" is back, and while some things are different (there's a cool TV in the stew room!), many things remain the same. Case in point: at this stage in the competition, there are too many cooks in the kitchen and not enough minutes in the show to get to know them all. So, let's not worry about who's who or where they're from. After all, one of the few chefs with an interesting backstory gets the boot before the show is over. Let's just hope the food continues to look delicious.
This entire film baffles me.
When "The Hunt For Red October" was published, what turned that book from a small press specialty fetish item into an international blockbuster was the dense wall of technospeak that Tom Clancy threw at readers.
I've always loved the way Clancy's story unfolded in real life. He couldn't get anyone to see past the curtain of detail that made it feel like he lived and breathed military technology, and so he ended up publishing the book through The Naval Institute Press. Ronald Reagan was the one who mentioned it during a press conference, immediately sending it onto reading lists around the world, and it launched Clancy's career in a major way as a result, eventually spawning a movie franchise. It was like when JFK admitted that he was a fan of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. It was the ultimate dream of what an endorsement can do, and the entire industry that was built around Clancy wouldn't have happened if Reagan had not read the book.
Wait… is this actually going to happen?
I'm kidding, but only because it seems like Edgar Wright has been attached to "Ant-Man" for a while now. That's the thing about the Marvel Studios game plan. They are willing to spend years developing something if they feel like the payoff will be worth it, and "Ant-Man" may have seemed like an unlikely pick at first.
The truth is that the character is a lynchpin to the Marvel Universe, and introducing him to the continuity is going to allow them to do all sorts of things. It'll make it easier to bring in The Wasp, it will give Tony Stark an intellectual sparring partner, and it will open up a number of classic "Avengers" storylines.
By now, it's clear that Joss Whedon's plans for Ultron in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" will introduce that character in a way that will break from his classic origin, where he was the creation of Hank Pym, who is the brilliant scientist also known as Ant-Man. After all, even though "Ant-Man" is currently scheduled for a summer 2015 release, it's going to be after "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" opens.
So what, then, is Edgar Wright doing this week in Los Angeles?
As you may have already read, I got a tease of the new "X Factor" round known as the Four-Chair Challenge on Monday evening and had a chance to discuss the format shift and the season as a whole (plus the possibility of a One Direction guest appearance) with judges Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato.
And check out my full live-blog recap of Wednesday's (Oct. 2) debut of the Four-Chair Challenge after the break...
A quick review of "The Bridge" season finale coming up just as soon as we pretend people missed me...
There's a Fiona Apple lyric I tend to think of -- and yes, I know it's not the first I've quoted in relation to the Oscar race -- at the outset of any awards season these days, a wistful description of a broken relationship that seems oddly applicable to the many films that are about to get tossed aside at various intervals over the next five months. "It ended bad," she croons with pained acceptance, "but I love where it started."