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<p>Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel of &quot;Us &amp; Them&quot;</p>

Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel of "Us & Them"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Us & Them'

Alexis Bledel and Jason Ritter are likable centerpieces

[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:"Us and Them" (Network)
Airs:Midseason TBD
The Pitch: "It's 'Gavin & Stacey' only it isn't written by the actors playing the boorish besties, so it's probably going to be even more about the cute kids in love."
Quick Response: FOX's midseason comedy "Us & Them" is "Cute!" with a capital "c" and an exclamation point. With Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel, it has a pair of leads who are utterly winsome and adorable and look pretty together and have a cuddly chemistry if not any heat. Both Ritter and Bledel are capable of being funny under the right circumstances -- Rory Gilmore's "funny window" is smaller than his, but it's not non-existent -- but the pilot has little desire to make them funny, which is perfectly fine. Let the attractive kids in the middle be likable and worth rooting for as a couple and then you can let the veterans and the wacky people rounding out the cast bring the humor. The formula, at least for the pilot, works better in theory than in practice. And I'm OK with that. As I'll always say, pilots are about establishing the universe and I know with 100 percent certainty that Kurt Fuller, Jane Kaczmarek, Michael Ian Black and Kerri Kenney are capable of being funny, even if they're all mostly going through the motions in this first installment, which is based heavily, but I don't think line-for-line, on the "Gavin & Stacey" pilot. Once the writers can tailor material for those four supporting players, the chuckles ought to follow, rather than just letting them parrot lines already said by other actors in a comedy most Americans probably haven't seen. So I've got total faith there, but I'm not convinced yet on Dustin Ybarra and Ashlie Atkinson, who are playing the roles originated by "Gavin & Stacey" creators Ruth Jones and James Corden and they're playing them very similarly to the way Jones and Corden played them. I think there might have been a school of strategy wherein the American Gavin and Stacey were given a very different set of strange, wacky, totally incompatible friends, who served the same purpose in the narrative but didn't have to be identical to their predecessors. Those are Jones and Corden's characters and those characters were written by two actors who knew what they wanted to do and what they could do. Ybarra and Atkinson are left trying really, really hard and watching them becomes exhausting rather than funny. I hope American scribes begin to get a sense of what Ybarra and Atkinson do that's different and write to that, even if the plot leads the characters to the same place. Til I see them do some stuff that was meant for them, I don't want to pass any real judgment, because they're doing a performance of a performance here. This was, incidentally, yet another pilot that didn't need an in medias res structure. I think the feeling must have been that the story was too straight-forward without it, but I didn't feel like I really got very much when I reached the end and learned how the goofiness from the beginning was set in motion. But the journey in the middle was totally pleasant.
Desire To Watch Again: FOX has a handful of the likable-not-funny pilots that are this year's gold standard and the network could make a comedy block with "Us & Them," "Surviving Jack" and "Enlisted" (probably with "New Girl") and that would be a two hour comedy block that I'd find largely agreeable. The problem with almost all of these shows -- plus ABC entries like "Trophy Wife" and "Back in the Game" and NBC's "About a Boy" -- is that while I'd definitely watch all of them in the right slots, they maybe don't generate the passion required to not just entertain viewers, but to FORCE them to tune in every week. And if you can't do that, sometimes you're just left with "Bent" or "Goodwin Games." But I'd watch "Us & Them" again. Sure.

 

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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<p>Waad Mohammed in &quot;Wadjda.&quot;</p>

Waad Mohammed in "Wadjda."

Credit: Sony Classics

Saudi Arabia makes history with 'Wadjda' in foreign Oscar race, Dutch enter 'Borgman'

Looks like the race might have a new frontrunner

The other day, I described the race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar as being wide open. That’s still true, but I wonder if at least one nomination slot might now be emphatically spoken for. For in submitting Haifaa Al-Mansour’s “Wadjda” to the Academy, Saudi Arabia – despite never having taken part in the process before – have alighted on both a film and an accompanying narrative that voters could well find irresistible.

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<p>Keith Urban</p>

Keith Urban

Credit: Donn Jones/AP

Keith Urban's 'Fuse' will ignite the Billboard 200 next week

Country superstar's title will be one of seven debuts

It’s another big week for the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 as seven of the Top 10 will likely be debuting titles.

Leading the pack with a lock on No. 1 is Keith Urban’s “Fuse” (read our review here), which will be the only title to sell more than 100,000. Hits Daily Double forecasts it will top out at around 105,000. 

Bowing at No. 2 will likely be The Weeknd’s “Kiss Land” at 95,000.  The numbers drop off drastically for 2 Chainz’ “B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time,”  which will probably come in at No. 3 with sales of 55,00-60,000.

Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” hangs on at No. 4, surrounded by debuts, as Janelle Monae’s “The Electric Lady” lights up the chart at No. 5 (45,000-50,000).

The debuts continue in the bottom 5, as Arctic Monkeys’ Mercury Prize-nominated “AM” bows at No. 6 (35,000-40,000) and Sheryl Crow’s first country album, “Feels Like Home,” at No. 7 (30,000-35,000).

This week’s No. 1 album, Ariana Grande’s “Yours Truly” and the No. 2 album, Tamar Braxton’s “Love & War,” slide to Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, while vintage R&B group Earth Wind & Fire comes in at No. 10 with “Now, Then & Forever.”

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<p>Ron Howard should be smiling considering how strong the reaction to 'Rush' has been from everyone who saw it at the Toronto Film Festival.</p>

Ron Howard should be smiling considering how strong the reaction to 'Rush' has been from everyone who saw it at the Toronto Film Festival.

Credit: HitFix

Ron Howard talks about how he refused to make anyone a villain in his vibrant new film 'Rush'

The veteran filmmaker talks about how he approached the true-life story

TORONTO - The last time Ron Howard and I spoke was in a screening room after a rough-cut screening of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," and to say that it was a very different vibe than when we sat down to talk about "Rush" would be an understatement. "Rush" is one of the best things he's done as a director, and one of the things that makes it so exciting is the way it eschews Hollywood formula in its attempt to tell the complicated story of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

In the film, Chris Hemsworth stars as James Hunt, and Daniel Bruhl gives a complicated performance as Lauda, a difficult man to like under the best of circumstances. In the easy Hollywood version of the film, you make Hunt the good guy, you make Lauda the bad guy, and you play the season as the story of how the Rock Star beat the Rat. Screenwriter Peter Morgan was so drawn to the story that he wrote it on spec, and he didn't take that easy path with the characters. Instead, both men are shown to have strengths and weaknesses, and the entire season is suspenseful because there's no one we're rooting for in favor of someone else. It becomes a story about the way your worst enemy can drive you to be a better person because of what it ignites in you.

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<p>AJ&nbsp;Bowen starts to realize that perhaps a cult living in a Central American jungle is not the safest place to walk into with a camera.</p>

AJ Bowen starts to realize that perhaps a cult living in a Central American jungle is not the safest place to walk into with a camera.

Credit: Arcade Pictures

Review: Ti West's creepy 'The Sacrament' plunges viewers into the heart of a suicide cult

How does the master of the indie slow-burn handle such potent material?

TORONTO - By the time I publish this review, there's a strong chance Magnolia will have closed their deal to pick up Ti West's new film "The Sacrament" for release, and if they do, I think that's a great match for the release model that they seem to be perfecting over there.

It would be unfair and reductive to simply call "The Sacrament" a horror film. Sure, Ti has made a name for himself as a master of the slow-burn with "The House Of The Devil" and "The Innkeepers," but even those films are totally different in terms of tone and style, and I think West deserves credit for the way he stretches in each new film. He is not repeating himself, something that already makes him stand apart from many guys who work in genre these days.

His new film is told from the point of view of a team of journalists from VICE who decide to join Patrick (Kentucker Audley), one of their photographers, as he heads into the jungle to see his sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz), who joined a community for sober living. Originally located in Mississippi, they left the United States, and he hasn't really heard from her since. Sam (AJ Bowen) and cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg) accompany Patrick, and from the moment they arrive at the isolated camp, there is a sense of dread that West expertly draws out.

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Lisa Edelstein to star in Bravo's 'The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce'


Lisa Edelstein to star in Bravo's "The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce"
From Marti Noxon, the Bravo pilot will have the "House" alum play a self-help book author who hides her separation from her husband as she begins living the single life in L.A.


A Winston Churchill TV series is in the works, from the producer of "Downton Abbey"
"Young Titan" would focus on the early life of the famous British leader, from 1901 to 1915.


Ben Affleck to direct a Fox crime drama pilot
He'll helm the pilot for "The Middle Man," a '60s FBI drama set in Boston.


Isaiah Washington: My life fell apart after gay slur incident
Says the former "Grey's Anatomy" star: "After the incident at the Golden Globes, everything just fell apart. I lost everything. I couldn't afford to have an agent...I couldn't afford to have a publicist...I couldn't afford to continue."


Danny Glover to play Blair Underwood's dad on "Ironside"
He'll play Frank Ironside in a flashback sequence.


"Breaking Bad" Nazi: Stop calling it the worst shootout in history

Kevin Rankin, the Australian actor who famously played a white supremacist on "Justified," says: "It's unfair to say that it was the worst shoot-out in TV history when you don't know what the outcome is." PLUS: Aaron Paul tweets a "spoiler" photo: a Walt-Jesse-Skyler threesome, and watch Bryan Cranston's evolution as an actor.


"Castle" shooting around Nathan Fillion today due to his back problems
Fillion had to take today off to take care of his back.


Sarah Silverman took the age-related James Franco roast jokes personally
She tells W. Kamau Bell: "I'm the same age as fresh-faced new star W. Kamau Bell! I mean. I feel like it's a part of, as soon as you get -- a woman gets to an age where she has opinions and she's vital and she's strong...she's systematically shamed into hiding under a rock."


"Arrow" casts Grant Gustin as the Flash

The "Glee" vet has landed the role of Flash alter ego Barry Allen.


Check out new "American Horror Story" ads

"Coven" is on pins and needles.


TV will play a big role in Twitter's IPO
The timing of the IPO is perfect since the fall season is about to begin.


"Burn Notice" goes out on a season high
One million more watched the series finale than the penultimate episode.


"The Karate Kid's" William Zabka will be back on "HIMYM"

He'll reprise his role as himself in at least eight episodes next season. PLUS: Neil Patrick Harris brought his kids to the "HIMYM" set.


Tony Soprano's driver busted for possessing bogus $100 bills
Louis Gross, who appeared in several "Sopranos" episodes as Tony's driver, was freed on bail but is being locked up for another charge.


Check out "The Vampire Diaries" Season 5 poster
What is going on in this picture?

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<p>It's nice to know after 'The Master' that this guy is still in there somewhere.</p>

It's nice to know after 'The Master' that this guy is still in there somewhere.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Spike Jonze shows clips from new film 'Her' and looks back at his career at special TIFF Q&A

Director Kelly Reichardt makes a great moderator for a spirited afternoon

TORONTO - Normally during a film festival, it would be impossible to get me to take time out of my schedule to see sequences from an unreleased film and watch a Q&A with a filmmaker, but then again, not everyone is Spike Jonze.

The last time we spoke was at Sundance a few years ago, when he was in town to promote his short film about a robot who falls in love, "I'm Here." Based on the trailer for his new feature film, "Her," it looks like he may have had further thoughts along a similar line, and the promise of hearing a great conversation about his process and what got him back behind the camera for the first time since "Where The Wild Things Are" was too much for me to pass up.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox is a perfect venue for this sort of event. The rooms are fairly good-sized screening rooms, but they manage to create a feeling of intimacy when it comes to the Q&A part of things.

Kelly Reichardt was the moderator for the Q&A, which is a really lovely combination of filmmakers to take the stage. If you don't know Reichart's work, it wouldn't shock me. Her films are modest gems, beautifully nuanced and observational, not really built to compete for hype in a world of superhero movies and endless sequels. I can easily imagine Jonze as a big fan of films like "Wendy and Lucy," "Old Joy," and "Meek's Cutoff."

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<p>Woody&nbsp;Allen makes his one and only appearance at the Oscars in&nbsp;March of 2002.</p>

Woody Allen makes his one and only appearance at the Oscars in March of 2002.

Credit: AP Photo

Woody Allen to receive HFPA's Cecil B. DeMille Award

Woody Allen to receive HFPA's Cecil B. DeMille Award

Woody Allen never does awards shows. When he popped up at the Oscars in 2002 in the wake of 9/11, it was a huge surprise, and a welcome one. He eschews this kind of stuff and has never been in attendance to accept any of the four Oscars or two Golden Globes he's received throughout his career.

So it's a little bit of a surprise that he's been bestowed -- however deservedly -- with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille Award. After all, the organization would surely like him to be on hand to actually accept the lifetime achievement honor. It would be a little strange for a big fete without the guy in the wings to accept and give a speech, etc. Nevertheless, whether he shows up or not, it's an inarguable tip of the hat.

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<p>Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison in &quot;Sleepy Hollow.&quot;</p>

Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison in "Sleepy Hollow."

Credit: FOX

Review: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' isn't afraid to be crazy

The first new show of the fall season may be good or it may be terrible, but it's not boring

I honestly can't tell you if FOX's "Sleepy Hollow," the first new show of the 2013-14 network TV season, is good or bad — and I've already watched the pilot episode (which airs Monday at 9 p.m.) twice. I suspect it's bad, and that it will be proven to be bad over the course of its first season. But if it's bad, it's in a memorable, weird, fun way. It's a show that goes for broke, does not apologize for its excesses and is never, ever boring. In a freshman class full of forgettable new dramas, it stands out by virtue of embracing every possible way in which it could go awry, because ultimately being boring is worse than being bad.

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Proposed ABC drama asks: What if America lost the Revolutionary War?


Proposed ABC drama asks: What if America lost the Revolutionary War?
The alternative reality project, titled "The Thirteen," would be set in the present-day, with the Americans still fighting the British for freedom.


Ohio station apologizes to Julie Chen
The Dayton NBC affiliate that prompted Julie Chen to fix her eyes has said sorry, even though it's under new management from the time when Chen worked there in 1995.


Katie Couric denies she's replacing Barbara Walters on "The View"

She tweeted of the rumor: "It's totally not true and crazy how complete falsehoods get repeated. The world we live in I guess!"


Cher: I turned down Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony gig due to Russia's anti-gay laws
"I can't name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show," Cher tells a Canadian magazine.


Rosie O'Donnell makes a standup comedy comeback

Rosie last night worked a packed room at a comedy club in New York.


Gordon Ramsay to guest on "Phineas and Ferb"
Watch the Fox star lend his voice to the Disney Channel series.


See the "Scandal" Season 3 cast photo
Packed with many scandalous headlines.


"Jersey Shore" stars react to Seaside Heights boardwalk fire
"Damn Seaside again," tweeted Pauly D.


Alec Baldwin ending his WNYC podcast as he moves to MSNBC
The "Here's the Thing" podcast allowed Baldwin to hone his interviewing skills, which he'll use on his new talk show.


Check out "Revenge's" Season 3 poster
Featuring bloody bride Emily Thorne.

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<p>Can you write and record a theme song for the upcoming Firewall &amp;&nbsp;Iceberg video show?</p>

Can you write and record a theme song for the upcoming Firewall & Iceberg video show?

Contest: The Firewall & Iceberg video show needs a theme song!

Do you have the musical chops to introduce Dan and Alan's show?

From the beginning, Firewall & Iceberg has relied on audience feedback. We answer your questions most weeks. We took our name from a listener suggestion. A week ago, we asked for your feedback on the logo for a video version of the show that we're working on, hopefully to launch in October. (The winner, overwhelmingly, was the version with the classic color bars reminiscent of the audio podcast's logo.) And now we're hoping we have some musical geniuses in the audience who might want to provide the video show with a theme song.

Here's the deal: we need a 30-second music sample (and one that can also work at 10 seconds, depending on formatting issues that are still being discussed). It can have lyrics. It can have no lyrics. It can be heavy metal. Ska. Hip-hop. Barbershop. Whatever you think says "Firewall & Iceberg" (aka "Two guys bicker about TV") and is musical, send it to us. Dan and I will pick a winner, and that winner will be credited in the show, in addition to their song being played at the top.

Some legalese:

* Entrants must be the full rights owners of the song.

* Entrants must be willing to sign something granting HitFix the full rights to the song

* By submitting a song, you agree to the full contest rules which can be found here: Official rules.

All entries should be emailed to contest@hitfix.com

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<p>Robin Thicke performing in Malaysia</p>

Robin Thicke performing in Malaysia

Credit: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin

Robin Thicke sets tour dates for 2014

Jessie J and DJ Cassidy are onboard

Robin Thicke will take “Blurred Lines” on the road early next year.

The theater tour starts Feb. 21 at Atlanta’s Fox Theater, before wrapping five weeks and 15 dates later in March 29 at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The tour is concentrated primarily on the east coast, although it does hit a few midwest cities before ending on the west coast. Missing? Cities like Los Angeles and any city in the south.

Opening the shows will be Jessie J and DJ Cassidy.

Tickets go on sale Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. If you feel like combining your love for Thicke with your love for good causes, Thicke has partnered with Tickets for Charity to sell specific seats with proceeds going to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Natural Resources Defense Council. Those can be found at www.ticketsforcharity.com.

In related “Blurred Lines” news, co-writer (and performer) Pharrell told the Associated Press that he sees no similarity between the mega hit, which spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100, and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.” Thicke has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to preemptively rule that “Blurred Lines” does not infringe on the Gaye classic. “If you read music, all you have to do is read the sheet music. It’s completely different,” Pharrell said.


Robin Thicke Tour dates

February 21                        Atlanta, GA                         Fox Theatre
February 25                        Camden, NJ                        Susquehanna Bank Center                
February 27                        Washington, DC                Patriot Center
March 1                                Mashantucket, CT           MGM Grand Theatre
March 2                                Atlantic City, NJ                 Borgata
March 4                                Boston, MA                        Agannis Arena
March 7                                New York, NY                    Theatre at MSG
March 12                             Detroit, MI                          Fox Theatre
March 15                             St. Louis, MO                     Fox Theatre
March 20                             Austin, TX                            ACL Live at The Moody Theater
March 21                             Thackerville, OK                Winstar Casino      
March 23                             Denver, CO                         Fillmore Auditorium
March 26                             Seattle, WA                        WAMU Theater
March 27                             Vancouver, BC                  Rogers Arena
March 29                             San Francisco, CA             Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

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