Latest Blog Posts

<p>Erika Christensen and Craig T. Nelson in &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Erika Christensen and Craig T. Nelson in "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parenthood' - 'Let's Be Mad Together'

Max takes a controversial picture, Ryan helps Sarah and Joel gets drunk and eats cake

A quick review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I want the lute to almost drown out the Marvin Gaye sample...

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<p>Richard Armitage in &quot;Strike Back:&nbsp;Origins.&quot;</p>

Richard Armitage in "Strike Back: Origins."

Credit: Cinemax

Review: Cinemax's 'Strike Back: Origins'

A darker, more serious version than what Cinemax has already aired, but is it better?

From the moment I started writing about the Cinemax action drama "Strike Back," which wrapped perhaps its best season so far last week, I've been hearing from fans of the show's first, British-only season. To a man (or woman), they insist that as much as they enjoy the current incarnation — a well-assembled, well-oiled machine of gunfights, car chases, banter and unapologetic sex — they prefer the show that "Strike Back" started as, before Cinemax teamed up with Sky, and original leading man Richard Armitage was replaced by new co-stars Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton.

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<p>Forest Whitaker at a Chicago screening of &quot;Lee Daniels' The&nbsp;Butler&quot;</p>

Forest Whitaker at a Chicago screening of "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Forest Whitaker scores an early Oscar season honor

Black tie affair set for Dec. 15

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film has been presented every fall since 2006. The honor frequently goes to a filmmaker or actor in the early awards conversation with a sizable body of work primed for toasting. Previous recipients include Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, John Travolta, as well as Douglas himself at the first annual ceremony. The 2013 edition of the award will go to Forest Whitaker, star of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” at a black-tie Gala dinner in Santa Barbara on Sunday, Dec. 15.

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Greta Gerwig in "Frances Ha."
Greta Gerwig in "Frances Ha."
Credit: IFC Films

Roundup: Greta Gerwig waxes philosophical on awards season

Also: What 'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' have in common, and J.Law vs. K.Stew

When yesterday's Gotham Award nominations were announced, many noted with some surprise that the very good, very independent and very Gotham-centric "Frances Ha" was left off the list entirely. One of those was Nathaniel Rogers, who wound up accidentally breaking the news to the film's star and co-writer Greta Gerwig. Unsurprisingly, she's not that bothered -- about this, or awards in general. "I think if you're in the film business long enough they eventually get around to you somehow. Or at least when you die a picture of you goes up onscreen ... I also think filmmakers who I love -- sometimes the movies they get recognized for aren't as good as some of their other movies. 'Oh, we sat on it when it was fascinating in the 80s or something, so now we're going to do it!'" [The Film Experience]

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Credit: Universal Pictures

Tech Support: What films headline this year's race for Best Sound Editing?

And are there any animated films that could slide in this time around?

Last February’s Academy Awards ceremony produced a nice handful of surprises, but none was more jaw-dropping than the wacky turn of events than when “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Skyfall” tied for the Best Sound Editing Oscar. I found the moment quite appropriate, actually, as not only were they both deserving victors (in different ways) but they demonstrated different sorts of films that tend to be honored in this category.

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<p>Jonathan Rhys Meyers of &quot;Dracula&quot;</p>

Jonathan Rhys Meyers of "Dracula"

Credit: NBC

TV Review: NBC's 'Dracula' is a toothless reimagining

"Lacks bite" and "Sucks" would also have been acceptable
[This review is way the heck too long, but I'm writing it on the behalf of Young Daniel, who dressed up as Dracula every Halloween for around 10 years.]
NBC doesn't really know how to explain what "Dracula" is, which explains why they're doing it so poorly. 
"The legend takes new life," reads the primary tagline that you might have seen on billboards, buses and on-air promos for the drama, which premieres on Friday (October 25) night.
The tagline across the show's official website takes a different approach and goes with "Jonathan Rhys Myers is America's Original Vampire."
It's much easier to quantify why the latter approach is frustratingly off-base. First of all, NBC should probably know the star of its show spells his last name "Meyers." And that he's Irish. And that he's playing Carpathian in "Dracula." And "Dracula" is based on a book by an author who also happens to be Irish. And "Dracula" was published in 1897, when we all know that Abraham Lincoln was slaying American vampires more than 50 years earlier.  And there are four or five other shows on TV featuring vampires who are a good deal more American. Heck, it's even a stretch to call NBC's "Dracula" an American series, given that it's an international co-production filmed far away on The Continent. So yeah, there's really no aspect of that tag line that is  accurate. It's a bit astounding. I don't even know what about that banner sentence could possibly be a valuable lure for audiences. 
"Jonathan Rhys Myers is America's Original Vampire" is only in that one place, though. [UPDATE: And NBC has corrected the "Myers" typo. This is the largest amount of tangible change I've ever enacted in my time as a critic.]
"The legend takes new life," however, is everywhere.
And I hate to harp on this, but "Dracula" isn't a legend.
There are legends that exist surrounding Vlad III of Wallachia and the Order of the Dragon and whatnot, but those legends mostly require that you care an awful lot about power struggles within the Ottoman Empire and a certain amount of military viciousness, but would probably bore you to tears if you yearn for even rumors of resurrection or post-mortem bloodsucking. 
Vlad the Impaler was perhaps a horrifying monster of a certain sort, but the concept of Count Dracula and vampirism and all that good stuff? That's not a legend. That's a piece of fiction that Bram Stoker created. Bram Stoker also created Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker and the idea of Mina as a timeless love for Count Dracula. He created Lucy and Renfield and he created Abraham Van Helsing as well. There is no "legendary" basis for any of that. It's all from a work of credited literature that happens to have moved into the public domain worldwide in 1962 (it was apparently always in the public domain in the United States, if you like irrelevant footnotes). That's why F.W. Murnau's 1922 "Nosferatu," which has many characters and plotpoints in common with "Dracula," but failed to acquire acquire rights to the novel, couldn't actually use the "Dracula" name or any of the names from the book, but why NBC's "Dracula," which shares almost no meaningful connection to Stoker's novel at all, is able to take character names from the novel without taking anything else.
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Credit: ABC

'Scandal' recap: Is Command in trouble?

Fitz gets some new competition from Lisa Kudrow

I've never minded the procedural aspect of "Scandal." Usually it feels like a fluid part of the show, a way to give a stand alone element to the complicated and endlessly twisty storyline of Fitz and Olivia's on-again, off-again, (rinse, repeat) relationship. With Jake back in the picture and Command coming under greater scrutiny, I didn't need a great case for Olivia and her Scooby gang. But this week I kept checking my channel guide to make sure I wasn't watching "Law & Order" reruns. 

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<p>'Squeal like a Penguin for me!'</p>

'Squeal like a Penguin for me!'

Credit: WB Games Montreal/Eidos

Launch trailer for 'Batman: Arkham Origins' lands every punch it throws

It may be a prequel, but it looks like it's building off the earlier games

One of the highlights of my day was getting an e-mail from GameFly telling me that they've just shipped "Batman: Arkham Origins," which means it should be in my mailbox tomorrow, just in time for the weekend. This makes me positively giddy.

After all, both "Arkham Asylum" and "Arkham City" turned out to be fairly great Batman games, and what made them so great was the way they used the various game mechanics to genuinely make you feel like you're Batman. It may be one of my favorite hand to hand combat systems in any game ever, and there was a special satisfaction that came from mastering all the various moves and combos and little by little learning how to beat holy hell out of a room full of bad guys.

Likewise, I'm not always the biggest fan of stealth games, but that's a huge part of being Batman, and the games made it very satisfying and challenging to incorporate stealth into everything. The environments for the two games were well-designed, and the villains you face in the games were great, really outrageous versions of many of the best-known members of his massive rogue's gallery. The Joker has been a major player in both of the first two games, and with "Batman: Arkham Origins" serving as a prequel of sorts, it's a safe bet we'll get more Joker this time as well.

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"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

'The Vampire Diaries': Are Elena and Stefan fanning the flames?

Will Bonnie's big secret finally be revealed?

A 2,000 year old witch and an amnesia curse may be a long way to go to make Elena and Stefan fall in love again, but really, who cares? The scenes in which Elena tries to jog Stefan's memory as to who he (and the two of them together) used to be are sweet, sad and capture the best and worst of their relationship more effectively than the old movie montages people slap together for their wedding receptions. Of course, all the sweet stuff between them kinda goes to hell pretty quick, but whatever. At least we had Paris.  

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<p>Michael Fassbender proves to be one of the worst lawyers in movie history in Ridley Scott's new film 'The Counselor,' from an original screenplay by Cormac McCarthy.</p>

Michael Fassbender proves to be one of the worst lawyers in movie history in Ridley Scott's new film 'The Counselor,' from an original screenplay by Cormac McCarthy.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: Ridley Scott's 'Counselor' makes slick but miserable use of Fassbender

Cormac McCarthy's prose doesn't make the jump to the screen

There are many writers, great writers, who excel in one form but not in another. Vince Gilligan will not be remembered ultimately as the writer of "Wilder Napalm" and "Home Fries," but rather as the brain behind "Breaking Bad." David Chase probably doesn't have to worry about "Not Fade Away" eclipsing "The Sopranos" as his crowning accomplishment. Those guys have television in their DNA. They understand how to use that form, that storytelling rhythm, to maximum effect, and with their voices turned to something as fundamentally different in style as a 100-minute movie, they seem constricted.

Cormac McCarthy is a hell of a writer. Anything I say about him comes with the obvious caveat that he is freakin' Cormac McCarthy. His books almost feel like fights you've been in when you think back on them. They are tussles, these dense collections of horrible and ugly that illustrate a fairly dark world view, daring the reader to go full-on into McCarthy's various hellscapes. At Toronto, I saw James Franco's film adaptation of "Child Of God," and I'll say this for him: he is unflinching in trying to wrestle McCarthy's exact prose up onto the screen, and that includes a lot of things that audiences really might not expect to end up confronting, or want to. And while he hasn't always gone dark, "Blood Meridian" and "No County For Old Men" are both about as grim as you can get, unless you consider "The Road," which makes jet-black look white.

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Aasif Mandvi's 'Daily Show' interview gets GOP official fired

Aasif Mandvi's "Daily Show" interview gets GOP official fired

According to the Buncombe County Republican chairman, Don Yelton made "offensive, uniformed and unacceptable" comments on Wednesday's "Daily Show," including blasting "lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything."

E! got scooped on its Kim Kardashian-Kanye West exclusive proposal video
The co-founder of YouTube posted the engagement video before E!

Ken Jennings reunites with the woman who ended his "Jeopardy!" winning streak
Kathy Zerg beat Jennings in 2004 after he appeared in 75 episodes.

Tony Shalhoub OK after car crash outside Paramount Studios
The actor was rear-ended this afternoon.

CW doing another period drama, this one set in 1930s Hollywood

"Players" centers on a Midwestern woman who ends up in Hollywood's starmaking machine after coming to town to avenge hers sister's death.

NASA helps create a "Space Racers" cartoon for kids

NASA hopes to educate children about space using a show about five "talented young spaceships."

Kathryn Hahn reunites with Adam Scott for "Greatest Event in Television History"

She'll be part of the next installment, which has yet to be revealed.

"Dr. Phil" is losing ground to "Ellen" and "Live"

"Live With Kelly & Michael" and "Ellen" are close to surpassing the No. 1 Dr. Phil show.

"Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" vs. "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood"
Which of the two pairs does the most "double-dipping" of actors, Shonda Rhimes or Jason Katims?

"Grey's Anatomy" got permission to use tonight's superglue procedure
Jamie Arliss, whose life was saved when medical superglue was injected into a tumor in her heart, gave the show permission to use her story. PLUS: Is there hope for Callie and Arizona?

"Survivor's" Brad Culpepper: "I'm not misogynistic, I'm not sexist, I'm not racist"
"I'm not any of the things that were said," says this week's ousted "Survivor" contestant.

That "Homeland" twist wasn't so bad
"Were fans fooled?" says Verne Gay. "Sure, but that seems hardly the worst offense here - the greater one being an offense against logic. But at least the show has shed the shackles that threatened to tie it down, and in a way, already have." PLUS: 7 ways to fix "Homeland."

Lesbians are all over TV -- what about gay men?

"On television, women longing for other women may be hot," says Willa Paskin, "but men longing for other men is still decidedly not. TV’s gay men hardly ever get any action, and you will rarely see a bisexual guy falling for another man, and certainly never in a story line that could be described as swoony." PLUS: Are lesbians really having a TV moment?

"The Crazy Ones" books Adriana Lima
She'll play herself days before appearing on CBS' Victoria's Secret special.

Danielle Fishel fights back after being called a "fat cougar"

Fishel didn't take kindly to comments calling her fat in her wedding gown. PLUS: William Daniels reads Mr. Feeny's best "Boy Meets World" quotes.

How "Family Guy" will welcome back Cleveland
The "He's Bla-ack" will come with some conflict.

See the young Samantha Jones with the young Carrie Bradshaw

Lindsey Gort talks about her new "Carrie Diaries" role.

Which shows are experiencing the sophomore slump?

"The Mindy Project" is struggling, "Revolution" is seeing all-time lows, while "Chicago Fire" and "Nashville" are doing well.

Why did Adam DeVine come up with "Adam DeVine's House Party"?

The Comedy Central show, premiering tonight, aims to showcase standup comedians off the stage.

"Breaking Bad's" Vince Gilligan talks about his lifelong relationship with books

At a Los Angeles Public Library event, Gilligan remembers growing up and spending lots of time in the library. PLUS: Check out early 2000s Aaron Paul.

Seth Meyers' "Late Night" hires the daughter of Anna Wintour

The Vogue boss' daughter, Bee Shaffer, will work as a segment producer for Meyers. PLUS: Vogue publishes Meyers' wedding photos.

"Without a Trace's" Marianne Jean-Baptiste joins NBC's "Believe"

She'll recur on the midseason drama.

Amy Poehler: How I'm prepping for the Golden Globes

Poehler jokes to Ellen about going on a juice diet. PLUS: Ellen shows Poehler a bunch of scary pranks.

See how TV kids have aged
From "Mad Men's" Kiernan Shipka to "Game of Thrones'" Maisie Williams.

Starz developing a bank robber drama set in the '70s
"Most Wanted" revolves around a bank robber on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list.

"Mad Men" makeup artist: We have to shave Jon Hamm sometimes 2 to 3 times a day
Hamm's beard grows fast during the long hours they work.

Americans can buy the official "Downton Abbey" wine before the British
The "Downton" official Bordeaux collection makes its American debut on Nov. 1, weeks before its UK debut.

Watch TBS' "Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host" teaser
Staring D.L. Hughley and Michael Ian Black.

MTV's O.C. nursing reality show premieres tonight, with controversy

"Scrubbing In," a show about traveling nurses," has led to some outrage in the local Orange County nursing community.

Check out "The Woody Allen Show"
In 1965, Woody Allen filmed a TV special in Britain.

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<p>Peyton List of &quot;The Tomorrow People&quot;</p>

Peyton List of "The Tomorrow People"

Credit: The CW

Ratings Analysis: World Series rises, 'Tomorrow People' dips and more

Also 'S.H.I.E.L.D.,' 'CSI' and 'Super Fun Night' ratings
Final Nationals are in for Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals and FOX is feeling pleased with the results.
Final figures are also in the rest of Wednesday (October 23) night's ratings, including some slightly discouraging figures for "The Tomorrow People," the disappearance of this morning's "Super Fun Night" bump and more. 
Click through for the full numbers...
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