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<p>Saul (Mandy Patinkin)&nbsp;testifies before Congress in the &quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Saul (Mandy Patinkin) testifies before Congress in the "Homeland" season premiere.

Credit: Showtime

Season premiere review: 'Homeland' - 'Tin Man is Down'

Carrie and the CIA are put on trial in the wake of Nazir's bombing

"Homeland" is back for a third season, and I have a review of the premiere coming up just as soon as I have immunity for overdue parking tickets...

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"Once Upon A Time"

 "Once Upon A Time"

Credit: ABC

'Once Upon A Time' season premiere recap: 'Heart of the Truest Believer'

It's off to Neverland, but it's not the one you might expect

"Once Upon A Time" has done a pretty great job of tweaking fairy tale convention and beloved children's lit. Some of these revisions -- Little Red Riding Hood as both the innocent little girl AND the wicked wolf is still on of my favorites -- have been truly inspired. Others, not so much (Prince Charming has an evil twin? What is this, "Sunset Beach"?). But this season, the show kicks off with one I think (and hope) will not only be great, naughty fun but will also help to aggregate storylines that started to feel scattered and rambling last season. Because, and this is a spoiler (actually, there are quite a few spoilers after this sentence, so don't read this before you watch)...

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<p>Michael Sheen of &quot;Masters of Sex&quot;</p>

Michael Sheen of "Masters of Sex"

Credit: Showtime

Interview: Michael Sheen discusses the delicate balance of 'Masters of Sex'

Actor discusses the process of crafting his version of William Masters
I've interviewed Michael Sheen twice in the past 10 months, but it also feels like I've interviewed two different Michael Sheens.
 
Last November, I sat down with a gregarious, mustachioed, wild-haired Michael Sheen, wearing a red smoking jacket, to talk about his final time playing Volturi ringleader Aro in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2." In that interview, Sheen was full of quips and laughter.
 
This August, at the Beverly Hilton, I chatted with a clean-shaven Michael Sheen, hair neatly coiffed, dark suit perfectly fitted. In this interview for Showtime's "Masters of Sex," Sheen was erudite, introspective and effusive on his craft. 
 
Probably it makes sense to find light amusement when you're talking about an ageless, telepathic vampire in a blockbuster YA franchise. 
 
And probably it makes sense to be thoughtful and, at times, fiercely protective when you're promoting a high-minded Showtime drama about pioneering human sexuality researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. In the drama, which dazzlingly avoids coming off as exploitative despite the titillating subject matter, Sheen plays the intriguingly internalized Masters opposite Lizzy Caplan's more outgoing Johnson.
 
For Sheen, it's a performance crafted from precise line-readings, precise mannerisms and brief moments of telling openness. In our conversation, Sheen sets me straight on the differences in playing internalized and externalized characters. He talks about the challenges of setting the right tone on the set and the role that he played in establishing that tone.
 
I think it's a fascinating interview, even when Sheen was telling me I was confused about things.
 
Click through for the full Q&A.
 
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<p>Fitz and Simmons!</p>

Fitz and Simmons!

Credit: ABC

'Sleepy Hollow,' 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' make big Monday/Tuesday Live+3 DVR gains

'Blacklist' rises for NBC, while 'Hostages' gets better news
The Live+3 Day DVR rankings are starting to trickle in and, like I promised, I'm going to start occasionally looking at those numbers, which make up a bigger and bigger picture of the TV landscape. The key problem is that while Fast National ratings come in with clockwork regularity each morning between 8 and 8:30 and are reported by each of the major networks simultaneously, the Live+3 figures may get to the networks at the same time each day, reflecting ratings for shows that premiered five days earlier, the networks have yet to get into a routine of transparency and spin when it comes to these numbers. So I'll be reporting them as I can, when I can and as things feel notable.
 
Certainly for Premiere Week, the numbers seem notable and so I'll give them some exposure.
 
Most figures are in for Live+3 DVR rankings for Monday, September 23 and Tuesday, September 24. And, if we're being honest, what we've learned isn't all that different from what we already knew.
 
To wit...
 
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<p>&quot;Boardwalk Empire,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;The Good Wife,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Breaking Bad,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Revenge,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Masters of Sex&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;will be part of the many conflicts of Dramageddon.</p>

"Boardwalk Empire," "The Good Wife," "Breaking Bad," "Revenge," "Masters of Sex" and "Homeland" will be part of the many conflicts of Dramageddon.

Are you ready for TV Dramageddon 2013?

What will you choose to watch on the busiest TV night in forever?

Welcome to the most insane night of television that I can ever remember, in what I've dubbed Dramageddon 2013.

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<p>Arcade Fire</p>

Arcade Fire

Credit: NBC

Arcade Fire debuts three new songs in trippy, star-studded NBC special

James Franco, Bono, Michael Cera also on hand to promote upcoming 'Reflektor's' release

Following its appearance on the Season 39 opener of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by Tina Fey, Arcade Fire kept the music going with “Here Comes The Night Time,”  a trippy, 30-minute special on NBC that aired immediately after “SNL.”

The double shot was in service to promote “Reflektor,” the band’s new album out on Merge on Oct. 29. It will be the Montreal-based group’s first set since 2010’s “The Suburbs,” which won the Grammy for Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

In addition to current single/title track, “Reflektor,” and “Afterlife,” which the band performed in “SNL,” Arcade Fire debuted three new songs from the forthcoming album during the special.

UPDATED: Arcade Fire has tweeted a link to audio of the three new songs

A bizarre trailer featuring paper mache versions of the band members that surfaced Friday set the tone for the equally strange, theatrical special that felt like a cross between a hipster’s Halloween and New Year’s Eve party. It opened with Arcade Fire’s lead singer Win Butler, clad in a red and white suit with a black bandit mask painted across his eyes,  leading a conga line, filled with costumed characters, including a bunny, from the “SNL” set to The Salsatheque  a club in their hometown. The show opened with new song “Here Comes The Night Time,” which exploded from a English Beat-like bouncy to a rave-up with Butler joining the dancing, costumed  crowd.

The club crowd line danced to new song, the new wave-y “We Exist,” as if they were re-enacting “The Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

James Franco, Aziz Ansari, Ben Stiller and Bono—the latter two with the big paper mache heads featured in the “Reflektor” video— and a Spanish-speaking Michael Cera, posing as an irritated, Arcade Fire-hating bartender in the club, all made cameo appearances. In a oddly unfunny sketch,  Bill Hader and Zach Galifianakis posed as astronauts who beamed in with Butler wishing them a safe return because “we need another ‘Hangover’ movie.”

The band then changed gears and clothes and the millieu for an ‘80s vibe (intercut with the current club scene), with Rainn Wilson as their bearded, bandana-ed roadie named Carl and Jason Schwartzmann as a centaur for the chaotic “Normal Person.”

In addition to “Reflektor,” the band is also scoring Spike Jonze’ new movie, “Her.”

We'll post video of the special as soon as it's available, but in the meantime, enjoy AF's performance of "Reflektor" from "SNL." 

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<p>Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are the leads in 'Grand Theft Auto V' and you end up playing all three of them over the course of the game.</p>

Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are the leads in 'Grand Theft Auto V' and you end up playing all three of them over the course of the game.

Credit: Rockstar Games

Fifteen memorable moments from one week of playing 'Grand Theft Auto V'

I can't begin to review the whole game yet, but I've definitely got some first thoughts

LOS SANTOS - It seems strange to realize that "Grand Theft Auto V" may well be the final game I buy for the Playstation 3.

Shortly after "Grand Theft Auto III" was released, I was at the apartment shared by my friends Josh and Kevin, and they had the game on. I'd heard the title a few times, but I didn't own it, and I hadn't played it. Once I watched Kevin play for about ten minutes, I left their place, went directly to a store, and bought the game and a Playstation 2. I played it incessantly for a while, and when I finally set it aside, I felt like I'd gotten everything out of the mayhem and the free-roaming lunacy that I could get. It was depraved, it was ridiculous, it was damn near impossible to finish as a game, and I loved every bit of it. The game seemed like the sort of thing that the authorities were going to catch wind of and shut down as soon as possible, and that made it even more fun.

Morality in gaming is a funny thing. When I played "Mass Effect 2" and "Mass Effect 3," I found that I couldn't make the renegade choices, no matter what. The way the narrative worked and the way I played Shepard, I felt it necessary to try to be as moral and as compassionate as possible. It seemed like the only way to navigate the political landscape of the games and come through it with my crew intact. The same was true of "Skyrim" when I played that for a few months. I never even considered playing it as anything but a hero. Even when I digressed to finish missions involving the Thieves Guild or whatever, I found myself overcompensating to make sure I was as far on the side of right as possible.

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<p>&quot;The Amazing Race&quot; host Phil Keoghan</p>

"The Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan

Credit: CBS

Interview: Phil Keoghan handicaps 'The Amazing Race' Season 23

Get early predictions from the Emmy-winning show's host
I met the cast of "Amazing Race" Season 23 in June before they'd faced a single Detour or Roadblock, before the teams had been allowed to say so much as a word to each other. 
 
Still, the temptation to handicap the still-unknown pairings was irresistible. It's irresistible for host Phil Keoghan as well and when we sat down, I spent a while trying to get Phil to make predictions on which teams he won't be Philiminating this season. 
 
The difficulties of predicting winners is something that Phil views as being one of the biggest strengths of "The Amazing Race." In fact, nearly everything I brought up in our conversation tied into another of the show's greatest strengths. 
 
Just as his buddy Jeff Probst is, at heart, a huge fan of "Survivor," Phil Keoghan is a huge fan of "The Amazing Race" and any concern that I raised about the show, he pivoted around into an asset.
 
Just as my interview with co-creator Elise Doganieri was like checking off boxes for the issues I like to harp on in my recaps, my chat with Phil was very much a State of "The Amazing Race" interview. We talked about equalizers, alliances and potential All-Star seasons.
 
The full Q&A is after the break...
 
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'SNL' gets a cameo out of 'Breaking Bad's' Jesse Pinkman


"SNL" gets a cameo out of "Breaking Bad's" Jesse Pinkman
Aaron Paul appeared in several sketches tonight, including one to promote eMeth. He also appeared on Weekend Update. PLUS: Tina Fey plays "New Cast Member or Arcade Fire?," and watch the best of Cecily Strong's debut on Weekend Update. PLUS: Watch "SNL's" parody of "Girls," which Lena Dunham called a "true honor."


"Breaking Bad's" Michael Bowen malnourished himself to play Uncle Jack
The actor, who auditioned with the leather jacket he wears on the show, says of his massive weightloss: "There's a specific look that ex convicts have. There's kind of a gray color to them, kind of a leathery feel to them. I tried to get all of those physicalities in there for Uncle Jack. I was essentially malnourishing myself. I got a blood test, and my vitamin D was way down, so it was kind of an idiot move, but it looks good on the character." PLUS: NFL jumps on "Breaking Bad"-spoofing bandwagon.


"Glee's" Heather Morris gives birth to a baby boy
The actress named her child Elijah.


Is Aaron Sorkin dating CNN's Ashleigh Banfield?
Will "The Newsroom" next season feature a hot female anchor with nerd glasses?

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Music Power Rankings: Kayne West takes on Justin Timberlake and Lorde

One Direction also makes the list


1. Kanye West: He compares himself to Michael Jackson, declares himself the No. 1 rock star in the world, and gets in a Twitter fight with Jimmy Kimmel.  His work here is done.

2. One Direction:
Music’s billion-dollar boys top Billboard’s 21 Under 21 list. Sounds like that decision was made before the VMAs...  #mileywasrobbed

3. Drake: The rapper so many critics love to hate will make a major splash on the Billboard 200 next week as “Nothing Was The Same” will sell up to 690,000 in its debut, making it second only to Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” for highest selling premiere of the year.

4. Paul McCartney: He appears on “Jimmy Kimmel” and performs a 15-song concert for the 10,000-strong crowd on Hollywood Blvd., far and above the performance shown on the broadcast. That’s how you stay a star for 50 years.

5. Justin Timberlake:
He also plays on “Kimmel”  (even though sick as a dog), but the real highlight is his and Jimmy Fallon’s #hashtag skit.  #funnystuff #istherenothingJTcantdo? #Questloveisthebest #JTEGOT

6. Lorde:
Her star continues to rise as her debut album comes out Monday and is sure to bow in the Top 10 on the strength of mega-hit “Royals,” while she also finds a slot on the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack.

7. Mumford & Sons:
The British folk-rock group announces it will go on hiatus. Marcus Mumford wills his vest to The Avett Bros. for the duration.

8. Avicii: Six songs from his album debut, “True,” land on Billboard’s dance/electronic songs chart this week. The only artist to ever land more debuts in one week? Daft Punk with 12. Wake me up, indeed!

9. Rock The Bells: The bell tolls for the once-mighty hip-hop festival which sadly cancels the last two dates on its festival circuit due to lack of ticket sales.

10. Jack Johnson: Part-time musician/full-time surfer dude Jack Johnson scores his fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Not bad for an artist who releases albums with very little fanfare. 

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<p>J.K. Simmons of &quot;Growing Up Fisher&quot;</p>

J.K. Simmons of "Growing Up Fisher"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Growing Up Fisher'

There aren't many more pilots to go

[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:"Growing Up Fisher" (NBC)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "It's an odd, quirky, historically non-specific 'Wonder Years' knock-off." "No thanks." "But ABC had a 'Wonder Years' knock-off and FOX has a 'Wonder Years' knock-off." "Does CBS?" "Ummm... Maybe." "Fine. We'll take it."
Quick Response: "Growing Up Fisher" isn't *exactly* a "Wonder Years" knock-off. After all, it's set in the present. However, it's being narrated from sometime in the future by a grownup version of the main character (Jason Bateman for the voiceover and Eli Baker for the story) who reflects on his childhood experiences with a mixture of wry sarcasm, cloying sentimentality and twist-teasing dramatic irony. Between this and "The Goldbergs" and "Surviving Jack," there's a lot of not-quite-getting what what worked on "The Wonder Years" 20+ years ago. So far, none of these shows have had their main character reflect on the first time they watched "The Wonder Years," but it's getting close. Complicating matters is the initial proclamation that "The following is inspired by a true story," which must mean that DJ Nash wrote it from the future and mailed scripts back to 2013? Yeah. I dunno. I am a sucker for JK Simmons. I even found him funny in "Family Tools" and nobody else can say that. But here, he's giving a performance that almost has to work against one of the most self-consciously quirky characters I've ever seen on a TV show. He's playing the main character's father and he's an attorney, but he's blind and basically nobody knows that. How is that possible? How is that sustainable? How is that workable? Well, the "Bernie's" series did two films in which nobody knew the eponymous character was DEAD, so I guess fooling people into thinking a blind guy can see isn't the most absurd thing ever, but it's definitely a thing that requires way more perpetual suspension of disbelief than I was willing to put in. The oddest part is that Simmons, often prone to going big with comedy, is underplaying a character who has been *written* absurdly big. There's a clash of tones. There's also a clash of tones with the mother, who has been written as five or six different things, basically a pipe-smoking teenager in the body of a woman-of-a-certain-age. Parker Posey had no clue what the character was and her performance in the pilot was an incongruous mess of ticks. It wasn't her fault in the slightest. She's subsequently been replaced by Jenna Elfman, but she may just have escaped. The person who probably needed replacing was director David Schwimmer, who has been a solid director in the past, but I tend to blame directors when tone gets as out-of-synch as it is here. The thing "Growing Up Fisher" has working in its favor is that at least for the pilot, I liked leading man Eli Baker, who sometimes makes things funny even if it's not always in the same way as things around him are trying to be funny. "Surviving Jack" is, as I've said, the best of the three "Wonder Years"-style comedies premiering this year, but Eli Baker may be the best of the young central stars. That's a building block and since "Growing Up Fisher" is rebuilding anyway, we'll see how things go.
Desire To Watch Again: Well, it's a guarantee I'm gonna watch again, what with the major recasting. There are so many things happening in the pilot, that I want to see a second episode just to get a feeling for what the weekly series is here. And how Simmons' character can possibly work longterm. But this isn't a very good pilot and it doesn't seem to have much upside for NBC.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Gang Related' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The 100' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Resurrection' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Surviving Jack' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'About a Boy' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Believe' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
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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Tina Fey and Arcade Fire prepare for this week's 'Saturday Night Live' premiere.

Tina Fey and Arcade Fire prepare for this week's 'Saturday Night Live' premiere.

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Tina Fey and Arcade Fire

The thirty-ninth season starts with a familiar face as host and a slew of unknown faces along for the ride.

First of all, welcome back to another season of “Saturday Night Live” recaps! Second of all, sorry about the promotional photo to the left of this paragraph and the nightmares it will undoubtedly inspire. That’s on NBC, not us.

There are many changes in the air as the show starts its thirty-ninth season, with six new cast members, a host of departing ones, and the latest round of “the show isn’t as good as it used to be” swirling around it like vultures who haven’t found a new or interesting thing to say about the show in decades. No one knows if the show will be better or worse this season. But it will absolutely, positively be different. And “different” is often good when it comes to “SNL”. Change is built into the show’s DNA, and there’s no reason to think that the departures of Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, and (later this season) Seth Meyers will finally kill the show. If “The Californians” couldn’t kill this show, nothing can.
 
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