Now this is more like it.
I saw a film at Sundance this year called "Toy's House," and I walked away smitten with the film's sense of time and place and with the wonderful young cast. Chris Galletta's script is smart and funny, and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts managed to make it all feel real, like something captured instead of something created.
The main trio of kids in the film, played by Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and the one-of-a-kind Moises Arias, all do excellent work, and they get great support from an ensemble that includes Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Angela Trimbur, Kumail Nanjiani, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. You can read my full review from Sundance if you'd like.
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Now this is more like it.
Several years ago, I interviewed Darius Rucker as Hootie & The Blowfish’s third album was coming out. He talked about how anyone could make a first album, the second one would happen if your first one did OK, but if you got to make a third album, then you had a career. By that point, you probably had enough hits under your belt that fans and radio really had started to believe in you as an artist.
And so tomorrow (May 20), Darius Rucker puts out “True Believers,” his third country album as a solo artist (he put out a pop solo album during his Hootie days that I’m not counting here). And his words have proven true once again.
There are a lot of reasons for Rucker’s country success: Perhaps, most importantly, his timing was impeccable. Many of Hootie fans from the ‘90s have migrated to country radio since what country radio plays now much more closely approximates what they were listening to then than today’s Top 40. Also, despite having sold millions of records, Rucker approached the country format with the humility of a brand new artist. He went to every radio station, shook every hand, kissed every baby, and never, ever acted as if his multi-platinum pop success gave him any kind of leg up. Furthermore, unlike many of the pop carpetbaggers who just happened to declare their love of country when their pop career dried up, Rucker really did grow up listening to country music. You don’t want to go against him in a conversation about Merle Haggard or George Jones’ catalog. You will lose.
And then, of course, there’s the music. As he shows again on “True Believers,” he has established himself as a country artist who loves singing about his kids and his family, which makes him 100% the same as every other country act, but he does it with a lighthearted honesty that resonates. On the title track, which peaked at No. 24 on the Country Songs Chart, he admits that even though “we are one, now and forever,” there have been difficult times in his marriage. On “Miss You,” he sings about longing for the person who shares a bed with him, yet feels so far away. Maybe he just sells these ideas better than other artists even though he’s mining the same territory.
Second single, the good-timey, jaunty “Wagon Wheel,” a remake of the Old Crow Medicine Show tune, featuring backing vocals by Lady Antebellum, hit No. 1. and with good reason. It’s a charming, toe-tapping slice of Americana that doesn’t sound like everything else on the radio. “Take Me Home” has the same roots/gospel feel (and a rollicking piano bed) that recalls The Band.
Other highlights include “Love Without You,” a stripped-down ballad about trying to move on featuring Sheryl Crow. There’s a nice, jazzy piano touch on the tune. “Heartbreak Road” is another peppy trip down those Carolina highways and byways he loves so much with a flirty, catchy twist.
Rucker throws in a soulfulness and bluesy touch on many of the songs. “Leavin’ The Light On” starts with “A Rainy Night In Georgia” feel before seguing into praising nocturnal activities. “I feel like I ought to tip my hat to the man upstairs” for his wife agreeing to leave the light on may be a bit of a lyrical stretch, but we’re sure many men may try to convince their wives that it’s the godly thing to do now. “Radio,” a upbeat reminiscence about controlling the car radio, has an irresistible funky back beat that should be a summer single.
Rucker’s music isn’t challenging or particularly deep, but from his star’s perch, he still manages to touch on the mundane aspects of quotidian life in a way that seems totally genuine and relatable whether you’re a CEO or a fork-lift driver. That could be an even bigger gift than his gritty, instantly recognizable vocals.
As NetFlix was no doubt hoping, I recently started rewatching all the existing episodes of "Arrested Development," and I have found myself amazed by it all over again. The writing on the show is dazzlingly funny, dense and smart, and it still confuses me why people didn't pick up on what they were doing in a bigger way.
One of the things that really holds the show together is the work done by Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth. If you weren't a fan of the show, the premise is simple. The Bluth Family, headed by George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor), is a rich family who built their fortunes on bad behavior, and as the show begins, the Feds close in on George, forcing Michael to take over the business and somehow keep his family, full of truly terrible people, intact. Bateman's work in most shows would be the straight guy role, but he scores just as many giant laughs as any of the more colorful characters around him.
The revolving door over at "The X Factor" might be pausing long enough to welcome in a new pair of judges. Kelly Rowland and Mexican pop star Paulina Rubio are the two names currently being bandied about as the most likely to fill the shoes of exiting judges Britney Spears and L.A. Reid. It seems Simon Cowell and the rest of the gang have decided once again that previous experience may be, if not necessary, helpful.
When last year's Oscarcast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were tapped for the 2014 Academy Awards, speculation immediately swirled around the possibility that they would offer hosting duties to Seth MacFarlane once again. With Academy president Hawk Koch keeping the "consistency" mantra going -- citing a ratings boost, though failing to consider that the films in play had plenty to do with it -- it made sense that MacFarlane might be back, regardless of the critical thrashing he and the telecast took in February.
Indeed, an offer was extended to the "Family Guy" funny man, despite his stern "no way" response to a Twitter query in the wake of the 85th annual show about whether he'd consider it again. Well, whether he was game or he wasn't, MacFarlane has officially dropped out of the running today, he revealed on Twitter. And he even took a bit of a shot at that critical thrashing in the process.
Seth MacFarlane declines to return as Oscar host next year, recommends Joaquin Phoenix
"Tried to make it work schedule-wise, but I need sleep," MacFarlane tweeted this morning." He added in another tweet: "My suggestion for host is Joaquin Phoenix."
"Arrested Development's" banana stand may not make it home to Newport Beach
Netflix has no plans to bring the banana stand to its hometown, which has prompted a petition from a local resident. PLUS: A guide to "Arrested" running gags.
Watch long-haired, bearded Larry David in his HBO movie teaser
He'll reunite with J.B. Smoove in "Clear History."
Bates from "Downton Abbey" auctioning himself off to be waited on
The winning bidder of the Brendan Coyle date will have to wait on the British actor "hand and foot."
3 original "Idol" judges have a Twitter lovefest
Simon, Paula and Randy tweeted each other over the weekend.
Faith Hill: I'm not joining "The X Factor"
One report claimed the country singer was set to join the Simon Cowell show.
Here's a breakdown of Stefon's "SNL" wedding guests
From black George Washington to human parking cones.
The broadcast network TV season doesn't officially end until Wednesday night at 11, but it already feels largely wrapped up. Many of TV's biggest hits, from "NCIS" to "Big Bang Theory" to "American Idol," already aired their finales last week, and while several big shows aren't done yet ("The Voice" will run into mid-June), the networks have already started slipping into their summer clothes. FOX brought back "So You Think You Can Dance" next week and is beginning the Summer Burn-Off Theatre run of "The Goodwin Games" tonight (I hope to write a short review of that later today, and I'll definitely be discussing it with Dan on the podcast), and tonight ABC launches another of its Canadian import dramas: the police procedural "Motive."
New "Star Wars" animated series will be set between Episodes III and IV
The Disney XD series will bridge the gap between the prequel and the classic trilogies.
Jay Pharoah deletes tweet saying that Jason Sudeikis is done with "SNL"
Pharoah tweeted Sunday: "Hader, Armisen & Sudekis the talent of those three and just them as people in general will be missed but we will be strong and carry on.." Meanwhile, there's still no word on Sudeikis' future.
Did PBS go too far to appease a billionaire contributor who was a documentary subject?
David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television, was a negative focus of a documentary on income inequality. In response, New York's WNET, where Koch was a board member, tried to appease him by giving him a roundtable discussion show to air after the film.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ended 10 years ago today
Last week, Sarah Michelle Gellar said of the 10-year anniversary: "You can't be prouder of that show. It still holds up in reruns and I'm blessed every day ... I've been pretty lucky."
Watch the "Teen Wolf" Season 3 trailer
MTV will air a special before the June 3 premiere.
Watch Miguel do a Billboard Music Awards leg drop ... on a fan
The artist also inadvertently kicked another fan in the face. PLUS: Billboard awards get best ratings in a decade.
20 years ago today: "Cheers" said goodbye
After the series finale aired on May 20, 1993, the cast appeared drunk on a special Boston edition of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
CANNES - Quick bit from the Croisette. The festival is still coming off a high following the rapturous premiere of the Coen Bros. "Inside Llewyn Davis" Sunday evening and, most likely, many members of the audience still have a song or two from the film's early '60s folk soundtrack stuck in their head.
CANNES - As a rule, Sony Pictures Classics tends to make the first big acquisitions strike at the Cannes Film Festival: last year, they moved quickly when Chilean sensation "No" started getting sidebar buzz (and steered it all the way to an Oscar nomination.
Back in November, I self-published a book, "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever." It was a look back at some of the best and/or most influential dramas of the last 15 years — "The Sopranos," "Oz," "The Wire," "Deadwood," "The Shield," "Lost," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Battlestar Galactica," "24," "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" — told through both my critical eye and the voices of the men and women responsible for making them.
"The X Factor" in talks with Paulina Rubio
The Mexican singer/actress is in negotiations to join the judges' panel, as is Kelly Rowland.
UNLV awards college dropout Jimmy Kimmel a doctorate
Watch Kimmel's college commencement address at UNLV -- where he was a student for one year -- in which he advised graduates: "Don't hang around with anyone who says, 'That's what she said.'"
Watch "Dr." Kerry Washington deliver a commencement at George Washington University
The "Scandal" star and 1998 GWU alum told graduates: "I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking, 'We're celebrating our academic and intellectual achievement with that lady who’s having an affair with the president on that TV show?"
"Dexter" Season 8: Go behind the scenes
Showtime has released a new video speaking with the actors.
Did "Mad Men" do a parody of "Mad Men"?
Last night's episode played like a parody: "This is 'Mad Men.' Now this is 'Mad Men' on drugs. Any questions?" PLUS: Is "Mad Men" channeling the Chevy Vega copywriter?
Watch David Boreanaz deliver his college commencement address
The "Bones" star spoke at Ithaca College, his alma mater.
Which "Game of Thrones" actress has stopped doing nude scenes?
Oona Chaplin, who plays Talisa Maegyr, says: "One of the girls in the show who got her (dress) off the most in the first couple of seasons now doesn't at all."
Stephen Colbert addresses University of Virginia grads
"I believe that means I am this year's valedictorian, and I am as shocked as you are because I didn't make it to many classes this year," he said at this year's ceremony.
Charlie Rose headed to primetime
"Charlie Rose Weekend" will air Fridays at 8:30.
HBO teases "Boardwalk Empire" Season 4
Featuring Jeffery Wright.
Report: NBC pushing Ann Curry to get an Angelina Jolie exclusive
Curry and Jolie have a close relationship, and NBC News bosses are hoping to use that to get an exclusive interview with Jolie to talk about her double mastectomy.
"Brady Bunch" stars reunite for the 40th anniversary "The Cincinnati Kids" episode
Greg, Peter and Cindy returned to Kings Island amusement park to commemorate the 1973 episode.
Ben Affleck doesn't boost "SNL" ratings
The season finale was just average, as Justin Timberlake took the crown as the season's highest-rated "SNL" episode.
"30 Rock's Katrina Bowden weds
The 24-year-old Bowden married musician Ben Jorgensen on Sunday.
Cat Deeley to guest on "The Exes"
The "SYTYCD" host will get set up with Stuart.