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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 187: 'Mad Men,' 'Veronica Mars,' 'Devious Maids' & 'Crossing Lines'
After the last few record-breaking weeks, today's installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast clocked in at a relatively tidy 97-minute length, thanks to only two new premieres we both had time to watch, plus the usual "Mad Men" discussion, our latest pilot rewatch ("Veronica Mars"), and a couple of letters. (The "Game of Thrones" suggestion is cool, even though we agreed HBO would never do it.) Next week, two pilots: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
The trailer for Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill among others, sent a shock wave last night when it finally dropped. Set to the pulse of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" (releasing tomorrow as part of the rapper's already-leaked sixth studio album, "Yeezus"), it announced a whole new shade for the filmmaker that has brought us delicious bite in a wide array of films, from "Taxi Driver" to "Goodfellas" to "The Departed."
Will this take on capitalism's great shame, coming at just the right time, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those classics? Time will tell. Will Marty dance with the awards season once more after nearly owning it two years ago with "Hugo?" Time will tell. But for now, the electric new tease raises a couple of questions, so three of HitFix's staffers take a stab at answering them in a new installment of our "3 on 3" feature. Check out the conversation below.
While much, if not all, of the focus on June 18 album releases has been on Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” fellow rapper J Cole is nipping at his heels like a eager, overly-confident puppy. Cole deliberately moved the release of his sophomore set, “Born Sinner,” up a week to compete directly with “Yeezus.”
“Yeezus” will win the sales battle, but Cole may win the war. “Born Sinner,” produced largely by Cole with some help from No I.D., Elite and others, solidifies Cole’s impressive wordplay and rap skills. While he may not have as much of import to say as he thinks he does, Cole certainly has a way with a story: here they often tie in with with biblical references, whether its original sin, the promised land, or crucifixion (though, thankfully, he doesn’t have quite the level of messianic complex as West).
His lyrics, as full of braggadocio as they can be, are also full of questions for which there are often no answers. “Born Sinners”’ tunes deal with conflict after conflict, whether it’s the war between genders (all too often, Cole resorts to denigrating women), race relations, his sudden rise in money and the accompanying power, or just the endless noise in his own head.
“Cole World: The Sideline Story,” Cole’s 2011 debut studio album (following a series of mixtapes) entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1. As the Jay-Z protege displayed, he had a keen sense of rhyming and delivery, if a bit deadpan, sort of like Drake.
Cole anchors “Born Sinner,” but there are plenty of guests that nicely counterpoint his flat vocals, such as Miguel on “Power Trip.” (Is there any song that Miguel doesn’t make better?)
On “Power Trip,” the woman keeps him up all night. Females continue to vex him throughout the album. On “Forbidden Fruit,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, Cole raps about “apple juice falling from her lips,” in an extrapolation of Eve tempting Adam with an apple in the Garden of Eden. (In the song, he also addresses deciding to “jump out the same day at Kanye, and shouts out to Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, even if he does mispronounce his last name).
The conflicted relationship with women continues: On “Crooked Smile,” which features TLC, he is all about empowering women, telling them to be happy with their natural beauty, before expanding “Crooked Smile” into a treatise about race. “If my skin pale, would I sell like Eminem or Adele,” he asks over a loping, easy-going melody.
That’s not the only place he takes on the white/black divide. “Chaining Day” has tough lyrics about the lessons he’s learned so far over a chant of “I need you to love me, love me, love,” while early in the song he questions the different reactions between blacks and whites and what constitutes enslavement.
On “Mo Money Trouble,” he raps over an ethereal, floating melody, “Money control ni**as, white men control money,” before the song gives way to a heavier beat base. He realizes that the money and supposed wealth he has accrued is illusory compared to the true magnates, almost all of whom are white.
When he’s not trying to figure out if women are saints or whores or tackling race relations, he alternately praising and slapping down his elders. In addition to taking on West, he sings about his heartache of realizing he let down one of his heroes, Nas, on “Let Nas Down.” “Long Live the idols, may they never be your rivals/Pac was like Jesus,” he sings in the beginning of the song over a jazzy saxophone bed. The song is a near literal telling of how much he admired Nas, and how devastated he is when he found out that Nas was let down by his music (particularly, a song called “Work Out”). He compares himself to Jesus, taking the fall. “For the greater good, I walk among the evil...I went to Hell and resurrected.”
Cole, like West, masterminds his own records from constructing most of the beats to writing the songs and there’s genuine talent there. There are germs of innovation that show he has plenty of room to grow as his inchoate talent continues to develop.
On “Born Sinner,” he’s smartly created an album that examines what happens when your dreams come true both money and fame wise and you’ve gotten yourself a little dirty in the process. Is redemption possible or even desirable or do you wait until you fall further. Stay tuned.
Why didn't E! break the news that Kim Kardashian gave birth?
E! didn't break into programming until an hour after several outlets reported the news.
Jeff Garlin won't face charges in vandalism incident
The "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star can still be hit with damages from the woman whose Mercedes window he broke with his bare hand.
"House of Cards" serving BBQ to get Emmy votes
Academy members can get free food from the Rollin’ Rib BBQ food truck, displaying a giant picture of Frank Underwood.
"True Blood" returns down from last year
About 4.5 million watched, down 13% from last year.
Neil Patrick Harris will return to Broadway after "HIMYM"
He has signed on to play Hedwig in "Hedwig and The Angry Inch" next spring.
If you're waiting for Sony to give up the rights to "Spider-Man" so Marvel can reboot the character and drop him into the same continuity as "The Avengers," you may want to take up a time-consuming hobby, because it's going to be a while.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is set for release on May 2, 2014, but Sony must already be feeling fairly confident about what they're seeing, because they put out a press release today to announce that they are setting dates for two additional sequels. On June 10, 2016, they'll release the third film in the series, and on May 4, 2018, they'll release the fourth.
That means that, barring some unexpected massive failure, this version of the Spider-Man story is going to last at least one more film than Raimi's version did, which makes me sad. I wasn't crazy about the first film, and more than anything, I'm just frustrated by my reaction. I love the character, and I want to love movies about him.
Britney Spears has revealed more details about her eighth studio album, including her plans to enter the studio with William Orbit next week. Orbit is best known for his work with Madonna on “Ray of Light.”
[More after the jump...]
Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" was arguably the most contentious film at last month's Cannes Film Festival, prompting a broad spread of reactions ranging from outrage in the moral-police quarter to disappointment from genre-friendly "Drive" fans to the odd rave review. But it certainly left the festival slightly worse for wear, and when it came to the awards, no one even considered the possibility of it winning anything from Steven Spielberg's jury.
Emmys: Is 'The Colbert Report' poised to break 'The Daily Show's' decade-long variety series dominance?
Just as the Emmy voting period began last week, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" was all over the news, specifically for lopping off the second half of its show title. Stewart is taking the summer off to direct "Rosewater," his first feature-length film about Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari’s wrongful imprisonment in 2009. In his place strolled the cheery John Oliver, with a disarming grin and genuine gratitude that his boss would place the show in his hands for almost three months.
Even if these new, impossibly polite episodes aren’t technically in consideration for Emmys, the timing of the ensuing press blitz seems oddly convenient. After all, "The Daily Show" has won 10 Emmys in a row for Outstanding Variety Series, and they’re probably hoping for that to go up to a "Spinal Tap" 11 this year. But at the same time, Stephen Colbert has been up to his own Pavlovian trickery. The stage could be set, finally, for a change-up in the category.
Jay-Z has partnered with Samsung to give away 1 million copies of his new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail.”
The rapper announced the deal during a 3-minute commercial that aired during Sunday (June 16) night’s NBA game between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
[More after the jump...]
CBS announces fall premiere dates
The season kicks off the night after the Emmys, Sept. 23, with an hour-long "How I Met Your Mother," though "Survivor" will air one week early as it does each year.
MDA Telethon moves to ABC
September 1st will mark the first time the telethon will be on a single network.
"The Americans" Russian spy Annet Mahendru to visit "White Collar"
She'll guest as a Russian ice skater.
Nick Zano to star in a "Nicky" comedy from producer Channing Tatum
The comedy project is based on Zano's experience living in a multi-generational house of seven women in New Jersey.
Now, this is what you call a high wire act. Nik Wallenda, known as “The King of the High Wire,” will traverse the Grand Canyon without using a harness for "Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda." He'll be 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River, a height greater than the Empire State Building. The tightrope crossing will take place in a remote section of the canyon operated by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation.
Discovery Channel will capture the play-by-play live event at 8:00 p.m. on Sun., June 23.
Watch three clips of Wallenda below: