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Credit: HitFix

Watch: Slash talks the state of rock

Legendary former Guns N' Roses guitarist takes modern rock to task

LOS ANGELES - Slash is known for his hats, and recently he's been wearing a good many of them -- specifically as a producer on new horror film "Nothing Left to Fear," the composer for that same soundtrack, the head of his own Slasher Films and a touring and recording musician. He, in fact, was touring to support his most recent solo outing as "Nothing Left..." was being shot.

The legendary guitarist spoke to HitFix this week about the film, but also took the time to take rock 'n' roll of recent days to task for its problem with mediocrity. Slash gave a hand to Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains and Queens of the Stone Age (plus a little backhand to Avenged Sevenfold) for their latest albums, but said, overall, "rock is in a really bad way."

"Everybody's conforming to the industry standards," he said in talking about the current state of his longstanding genre. He said the industry gives no room to development, and has an overemphasis on the creation of a hit off the bat. "Younger bands can't even get a record made... in order to make a hit record out of the box, you gotta copy everybody else that's making hit records."

He called pop artists like Katy Perry "genuinely good" but the domination of pop has given rock a formula problem.

Watch the excerpt from our interview above, and stay tuned later this week for the complete interview on "Nothing Left to Fear," horror films, Slash's next solo album with Myles Kennedy and more.

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Lorde is queen of the Billboard Hot 100 with 'Royals'

Is she the youngest person to reach the summit?

Lorde rules over the  Billboard Hot 100 as her hit single, “Royals,” rises 3-1 to become her first chart topper. 

The 16-year old New Zealander is the youngest solo artist to top the chart since Tiffany, who was also 16 when she did so in 1987.   The overall record belongs to Stevie Wonder, who was 13 when he took “Fingertips — Part 2” to the top in 1963. Wonder whatever became of him?

Lorde isn’t the only one with big chart news: Ylvis's“The Fox,” this year’s “Gangnam Style,” enters the Top 10, moving 13-8. Plus, Drake scores his first top 5 hit as a lead artist in more than 3 years as “Hold On, We’re Going Home” moves 7-4. The track, from Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same,” which hits No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, is one of 12 songs by Drake on the Hot 100. That ties the record for the most songs charted simultaneously by a solo artist: Lil Wayne achieved the same feat in 2011. The record for all artists belongs to The Beatles who charted 14 songs at the same time in 1964.

Katy Perry’s former No. 1, “Roar,” holds at No. 2, while Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball, ends its two-week run at No. 1 and drops to No. 3. Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” falls 4-5.

Rounding out the Top 10, Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” (featuring Justin Timberlake) stays at No. 6, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” falls 5-7, Lady Gaga’s “Applause” moves 8-9, despite a rise in airplay, and Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais’ “Summertime Sadness” also slips one to No. 10, and similarly gains in airplay.


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<p>Michael Jackson on his History tour</p>

Michael Jackson on his History tour

Credit: AP Photo

What the AEG verdict means for Michael Jackson and the music industry

Does it change his legacy?

Concert promoter AEG Live has been found not negligent by a Los Angeles jury for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to treat Michael Jackson and keep him healthy in preparation for his 50-date run at London's O2 Arena. Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, had sued AEG for up to $2 billion in a wrongful death trial following her son’s passing in 2009.

The jurors ruled that AEG did hire Murray, a point that AEG had contested despite evidence that the promoter was paying Murray’s $100,000/month, but that it was not negligent  for his death and will have to pay no damages to Jackson’s family. That's the right decision.

The jurors also found that Murray was not “unfit or incompetent” to do the job he was hired to do. In a narrow reading of some of the evidence, this means that the jury agreed that AEG hired Murray, but only to treat dehydration and other issues to keep tour ready, and  not to inject him with Propofol. Therefore, the promoter couldn’t be held responsible for the final result since Murray was acting outside of the scope for which AEG hired him. That ruling seemingly contradicts the criminal case verdict against Murray.

 What the ruling  means for several key parties:

What does it mean for Michael Jackson’s legacy? His most ardent fans will, undoubtedly, continue to blame Murray and AEG and anyone else for Jackson’s death, when the simple fact is that he was a drug addict, responsible for his own actions,  and his death is a sad, almost inevitable, result of years of prescription drug abuse. His glorious music and legacy lives on and nothing can ever change that.

What does it mean for Conrad Murray: His reputation is restored to a certain extent. In a criminal case he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and has been in jail (he will be released in three weeks). He is fighting to overturn California’s decision to revoke his license. Murray has maintained that he did not inject Jackson with the fatal dose of Propofol.

What does it mean for AEG Live?  The concert promoter will pay no damages to the Jackson family and will keep its reputation in tact, but the 21-week trial revealed to the world the extent to which a promoter will go to prepare/keep an act on the road when there is so much money involved. No, AEG did not tell Murray to give Jackson illegal drugs, but I believe they did turn a blind eye to Jackson’s health and whatever Murray was doing to make sure that Jackson showed up to rehearsals. Evidence presented in the case showed that Jackson was tremendously fragile-- he cried and wouldn’t come out of his dressing room to announce the London 02 Arena dates-- and his mental and physical state of health was a matter of constant concern and yet, no one suggested that maybe the concerts be postponed until he could get healthy.

What does it mean for the music industry?
See above, re: AEG, but it’s really just more of the same. As record sales continue to decline, touring income will become an ever bigger slice of the income pie for both artists and the industry. Therefore, we can probably see more examples (perhaps not with as big names as Jackson) where promoters do whatever it takes to keep artists on the road and keep the money train rolling. This is nothing new, but the AEG trial illuminated that promoters (and anyone who has skin in the game) see artists as cash cows more than as humans.

What’s next? Jackson’s family will likely appeal, but given that Jackson’s estate is, from many reports I’ve seen, in much better financial shape than it was when he died, and many felt that this suit was a money grab more than a true belief that AEG was at fault, maybe Jackson’s family--secure in the knowledge that money from Jackson’s legacy will continue to roll in-- can finally let him rest in peace.

What do you think of the verdict?

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"Top Chef"

 "Top Chef"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef': Will you be back for the 11th season?

There have been changes, but are they enough to bring you back?

So, "Top Chef" returns tonight for an 11th season, this time very slightly tweaked. If you got a chance to watch the web series "Padma's Picks," you probably already know one of the first twists. Padma Lakshmi, having traveled around New Orleans (where the show is based this season), has already hosted a mini version of the show, in which ten of the city's best chefs have battled to get a slot on the TV series. It's a small twist, however, and after so many seasons, the question isn't whether this twist will add something to the existing series -- it's whether the existing series needed a bigger revamp.

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<p>Malin Akerman of &quot;Trophy Wife&quot;</p>

Malin Akerman of "Trophy Wife"

Credit: ABC

Tuesday ratings analysis - 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' loses viewers, 'Trophy Wife' loses women

And has ABC cancelled 'Lucky 7' yet?
It's been a busy day and I meant to have some ratings analysis up earlier, since there was a lot to talk about stemming from the numbers for Tuesday, October 1
There are also several days of Live+3 ratings that I haven't gotten to. 
So it goes!
Click through for full discussion of the big "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." drop, which was slightly smaller than reported earlier; the dangerously low numbers for "Lucky 7," which were slightly lower than reported earlier; and the ongoing weakness of FOX's comedy lineup, which is every bit as weak as reported earlier.
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"Breaking Bad"

 "Breaking Bad"

Credit: AP Photo

'Breaking Bad''s Bryan Cranston to explain 'Big History' all for you

Walter White, Bill Gates will work together to unravel history

Walter White may be gone from the airwaves, but Bryan Cranston -- or at least his voice -- isn't. He's narrating H2's new show "Big History," a series that will dare to reveal one grand unified theory for how every event throughout history is connected. It's not blue meth, but it's still pretty cool, don't you think? Oh, and Bill Gates is involved, too, if you needed more big name cred. 

The 10-hour series will premiere on Sat. Nov. 2 at 10:00 PM ET. In addition to be narrating by three-time Emmy winner Cranston, the show is produced in collaboration with the Big History Project – a free, online course from Professor David Christian and Bill Gates.  

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'The Voice' winner Danielle Bradbery sets album release date

'The Voice' winner Danielle Bradbery sets album release date

Checking in on other past winners and contestants?

Danielle Bradbery, “The Voice’s” season 4 winner will release her self-titled album debut on Nov. 19 through Big Machine Records, home to artists like Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw.

No word yet on if the country project, produced by Dann Huff, features Blake Shelton, her mentor on “The Voice.” The two performed her first single,  “The Heart Of Dixie,” live on tour.  She will also appear, coincidentally enough, on an upcoming episode of the CW’s “Hart of Dixie.”

The 17-year old Bradbery is now set to hit the road with Brad Paisley on his “Beat This Summer” tour in the fine fall month of November.

Despite proving to be a rating bonanza, "The Voice" has not launched any careers into the stratosphere like "American Idol." Season one and two winners, Javier Colon and Jermaine Paul," have somewhat fallen off the map (neither has a major label deal), although season three winner (and fellow Team Blake contestant) Cassadee Pope is doing well at country radio with single "Wasting All These Tears"  and has her own reality show on "CMT."  Additionally, her debut album comes out Oct. 8.

Plus, runner ups Judith Hill, who stars in the  "Twenty Feet From Stardom" doc as well, will release her debut album on Sony next year and is on tour with Josh Groban, and Chris Mann is carving out a space for himself among traditional singers and has two PBS specials. 

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<p>Some of the cream of Focus' crop.</p>

Some of the cream of Focus' crop.

Credit: Focus Features

As Focus Features evolves, an appreciation

Universal's specialty division gets a shake-up but the legacy lives on

Film is an art but it's also a business and the writing may well have been on the wall for Focus Features. It hurts, but it seems the rule is you don't get to crank out that kind of an art house run and live too long to tell the tale. Indie/dependent divisions have been shuttering left and right for years. We lost Paramount Vantage. We lost Warner Independent. Sony Classics is the success model, 20 years strong, having figured something out. Fox Searchlight continues to find pay dirt, too. But they're the exceptions. We should be so lucky that we got Focus for as long as we did.

But by the way, Focus Features isn't going away. It is simply, by necessity, shifting its reach and identity. Some are writing about it like the sky is falling, like folding in FilmDistrict product and putting Peter Schlessel in charge is an affront. But I think a mixture of specialty and wide releases is a smart approach and, at the end of the day, it might provide an even better opportunity for specialty product to find its way at Focus as some of the other product (in theory) proves more profitable. This is their path, and I'm personally more positive than some of my colleagues.

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'Wilfred' renewed for a 4th and final season

"Wilfred" renewed for a 4th and final season
Elijah Wood's comedy will end its run on FXX.

"Veep" already shut down the "U.S. government" in June

What prompted creator Armando Iannucci to do such a prescient episode? "I suppose it’s been sort of looming over the past couple of years," he says. "It so nearly happened already, and the whole threat was becoming a perennial thing, like Thanksgiving, really. So we thought it would fun to do."

ABC renews "Motive"
The Canadian summer series will be back for a 2nd season.

Final death report: Cory Monteith shot himself up with heroin and drank champagne before dying
The "Glee" star's hotel room contained evidence of heroin use, plus two empty bottles of champagne.

Norm MacDonald argues that "Breaking Bad" killed Walter White at the start of the finale
The rest of the episode, he says, is just a fantasy.

"Homeland" vet David Harewood headed to HBO

He'll play a "grandiose, boisterous, irascible" CEO in David Milch's "The Money."

Tom Selleck: Tom Clancy wanted to make a "Magnum P.I." movie with me

"Tom Clancy is a huge 'Magnum' fan," Selleck said in an interview published the day Clancy died.

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The 10 Craziest Moments on 'American Horror Story' So Far
Credit: FX

The 10 Craziest Moments on 'American Horror Story' So Far

With 'Coven' launching next week, we look back on 'Murder House' and 'Asylum'

It's hard to pick just 10 creepy moments in "American Horror Story" (does an entire season count?), but the nonstop scariness of this series, which returns Oct. 9 at 10:00 p.m. on FX, did have some standout moments. Of course, if you haven't watched, this photo gallery is chock full of spoilers. But if you want to remember the best of the worst of times from the show, don't blame us if your blood runs cold.

Check out our picks here:

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"American Horror Story"

 "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

Watch: Behind the voodoo on 'American Horror Story: Coven'

Interested in real voodoo? Get a tutorial here

Interested in voodoo? Well, you will be after "American Horror Story: Coven" begins on Oct. 9 at 10:00 p.m. on FX, so the network decided to release this little tutorial. Consider it educational programming for your dark side. Of course, no one seemed to think that including the bit about how Hollywood always messes up voodoo, and that fact has completely annoyed practitioners, but I'm sure "AHS" will be very, very respectful. Not camp or crazy at all. 

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Watch: Lorde makes American television debut on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Watch: Lorde makes American television debut on 'Jimmy Fallon'

She sounds good on 'Royas' and 'White Teeth Teens'

Lorde made her television debut on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Tuesday night, performing her new minted No. 1 hit,  “Royals,” as well as album cut, “White Teeth Teens,” from her just released album, “Pure Heroine”  (read our review here).

The 16-year old New Zealander is definitely finding her performance style, which, from these clips, consists mainly of standing intensely in place, eyes usually closed, and waving one hand like a claw while the other clutches the microphone. She is lovely, but between the big hair and white outfit, it's a bit Bride of Frankenstein-ish.

Most importantly, she sounds good, which is, of course, the most important thing.  But she sure doesn’t seem to be having much fun.In a Billboard cover story last month her manager said she’d only done around 10 live gigs.  This may also be her style and it could develop into hypnotic and mesmerizing. We’re happy to give her the time to figure it out.

What do you think?


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