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Anderson Cooper

 Anderson Cooper

Credit: Bravo

Would you watch a Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper TV show?

If it happens, the CNN show would go for the funny

I've always been a fan of Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper, both together and apart. I've loved Griffin's celebrity-poking stand-up acts, her D-list dramas, and her new chat show, which mashes up real people with celebrities to surprisingly good effect. Whether he's reporting real news, rescuing a kid from getting pummeled in Haiti, or just giggling over pee jokes on "Anderson 360" (still love that clip), Anderson Cooper is no slouch, either. Even his short-lived talk show was pretty good.

Together on New Year's Eve, they've proved to be more than the sum of their parts as they counted down the moments in Times Square. He, a slightly prudish foil; she, a merry prankster with a potty mouth who lived to make him blush. The only tiresome part has been CNN vowing repeatedly to bar Griffin from returning after she said or did something offensive, only to bring her back as if she might actually play nice the next time. Like we ever expected nice. 

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<p>Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, terrorists, the White House... whattaya want, a road map?</p>

Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, terrorists, the White House... whattaya want, a road map?

Credit: Sony Pictures

Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx throw down in action-packed trailer for 'White House Down'

Emmerich blows up his favorite landmark again

It's an interesting afternoon of trailers, particularly because you can find plenty of examples of me raining scorn on the work of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich online if you go looking. At one point, Michael Bay got so used to me disliking him that he would just roll his eyes when he saw me.

Today, though, I'm sincerely impressed by the trailers for both "Pain and Gain" and "White House Down." We'll get into "White House Down" first, and it's doubly interesting to see this less than a week after sitting in the theater watching "Olympus Has Fallen" unfold. Say what you will about Roland Emmerich as a storyteller, but he orchestrates large-scale chaos with a sharp eye, and he's gotten better at it over the years. If anyone knows the value of destroying the White House in a movie, it's Emmerich, and he seems to have pulled out all the stops for this one.

What variations on the basic formula will we see here? Well, in "Olympus," Gerard Butler is a Secret Service agent who has been sidelined because he was involved in an accident involving the First Lady. Here, Channing Tatum is a DC cop who wasn't able to get a job in the Secret Service, and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he proves himself capable of the job at some point in the movie, just as Butler redeemed himself.

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<p>Kathleen Hanna</p>

Kathleen Hanna

Interview: Kathleen Hanna talks 'The Punk Singer,' Beyonce and crying in public

Tamra Davis, Sini Anderson on hand for some 'Spring Breakers' and Julie Ruin insight

AUSTIN -- "I'm definitely not writing 'slut' on my stomach any time soon," Kathleen Hanna says.

It's the day after the premiere of "The Punk Singer," the documentary that centers on Hanna's music legacy from the origins of Bikini Kill to now, as the 43-year-old artist prepares a new album under the band name The Julie Ruin. Hanna had just seen herself on the big screen at SXSW, first as a kid, a teenaged feminist, up through Riot Grrrl, the media circuses, a solidfying Third Wave, marriage, (solo act) Julie Ruin, Le Tigre and the sad steps away from the stage due to crippling illness.

That history, of course, contains the times where Hanna literally markered the word "SLUT" across her bare midriff, which was part of a "character I was playing. I was a feminist performance artist first. So it was a seven year performance piece," she says, smiling, referring to her shocking and inspired stint fronting Bikini Kill. Conclusion: "It's really weird to see a younger version of yourself."

On this day, Hanna's sitting with "The Punk Singer" director Sini Anderson and producer (and longtime friend) Tamra Davis talking about archival footage and, y'know, crying. As you do. As a powerful and confident woman on film and in life, it had been enlightening for me to see Kathleen Hanna cry in "The Punk Singer"; after so many disheartening and epic details of her life unfolded, it was during a home-video shoot of her talking about her battle with Lyme disease that tears started to fall.

Hanna refers back to her "dork manifesto," "Burn Down The Walls That Say You Can't," that commands: "Cry in public." When voices in reality TV to the election trail continue to condemn crying as a failure on the part of the cryer -- most frequently women -- Hanna and her cohorts counter that it's assurance that it's fine to "feel."

"There's a stigma of if you're a woman and working at a job you can't cry because they'll see you as weak... as an animal, you'll be torn apart," Hanna says.

"We're criers, as women. My goal was to make you [the audience] cry," Davis said. "As women, we have to show our control of our emotions, that we're not always acting from that zone."

"There's something really different about a really really strong person to emote and not be a victim, and be in their power and say 'this is what I feel like," Anderson says. "[Hanna] was sick, pushing through and showing up. Showing that being strong enough to emote then recover, that can only inspire other people. I think that's punk rock."

Hanna is a big fan of another performer who one wouldn't necessarily designate as "punk rock": Beyonce. "I love seeing her legs. I enjoy her outfits and costumes, and I wore outfits and costumes..."

But there's the elements of female superstardom that just don't add up, Hanna warns. She talks about a time when she saw Pink performing at the MTV Music Video Awards, "hanging from a trapeze, dumping water on her herself, boobs lit on fire," you get the picture. That's Pink, y'know? But then there were "guys coming out in jeans and a jacket. I was like, what do we have to do next? Knifing ourselves?"

Pop stars have to keep "ratcheting it up" in order to garner respect from the performance world. "Why do we have to prove we can multi-task?"

Then there's a flip side, and that's when we talk about "Spring Breakers," which premiered at the same time as "The Punk Singer." "Rob purity of a Disney Queen... and then it's like 'yay!'," Davis says, shrugging and shaking her head.

Check out what else Hanna has to say about body image, "Girls" creator Lena Dunham and about the personnel of The Julie Ruin, which will be releasing their new album "around" June 15 through their own record label.

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<p>Chris Brown</p>

Chris Brown

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Chris Brown's new single, 'Fine China,' breaks next week

What else do we know about his next album?

Chris Brown’s new single, “Fine China,” will drop Monday, April 1. The song comes from Brown’s sixth album, “X,” which will come out on RCA in late August/early September, according to Billboard.

“Fine China” was influenced by Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke, Brown told a handful of reporters for whom he played five new tracks recently.

Among the producers on the set are Timbaland, Danja, Diplo, BAM, Drumma Boy, CP Dubb, Mel and Mus, Verse Simmonds and Camper.

Guests on the album include Kendrick Lamar, who is on “Autumn Leaves,” a potential single.

“X” will be Brown’s first album since last year’s “Fortune.” Like girlfriend Rihanna, Brown is releasing an album a year.

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Listen to M83's title song to the 'Oblivion' soundtrack

Listen to M83's title song to the 'Oblivion' soundtrack

Susanne Sundfør guests on this bland electro-ballad for the Tom Cruise sci-fi

The hope is M83's new song "Oblivion" from the film "Oblivion" will have you out of your seat. And then probably back in your seat, because standing up in a movie theater is rude.

However, this electro-ballad is likely to play over the end credits, so get your coat: the generic "I've been waiting for you / waiting for a sign / (something something)" lyrics don't do much for singer Susanne Sundfør's pretty, hearty voice, and the climax feels like all-artifice, less gentle and subtle than M83's Anthony Gonzalez' usual hand on the beats.

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Album Review: Blake Shelton's 'Based On A True Story...'
Credit: Warner Bros. Records

Album Review: Blake Shelton's 'Based On A True Story...'

Does 'The Voice' mentor's new album give the whole picture?

Blake Shelton’s is a country mouse who’s become a part-time city mouse. By virtue of his stint as a mentor on “The Voice,” he’s now got one foot squarely in Los Angeles just as much as he has the other in Nashville (or actually Oklahoma, as the case may be), but he seems determined to make sure his redneck bonafides stay intact on “Based On A True Story...,” his seventh studio album.

In fact, the only tune that addresses his Los Angeles life is “Small Town Big Time,” a ditty that pokes fun at Hollywood, while still yearning to be back in a one-stoplight town. Most of the album is devoted to his country roots in ways both clever and disappointingly mundane. On album opener “Boys ‘Round Here,”  Shelton takes on Jason Aldean’s sloping success with a song that’s as much talking as it is singing, set to a pointed guitar melody. It even includes the refrain, “chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit...” The mid-tempo “Country On the Radio” panders to the usual tired country tropes of pick-ups, cut-offs, and, of course, a name check to King George, George Strait.

Shelton has said in interviews for this album that he is in such a happy place with his career and private life (as private as his marriage to fellow country superstar Miranda Lambert can be) that he only wanted to record upbeat tunes. For the most part, that’s what he’s done here. He displays an appealing cross between Johnny Paycheck’s feistiness and Jimmy Buffett’s good timing swagger on “I Still Got A Finger,” a modern update on “Take This Job & Shove It.”

With his easy-going voice and attitude, Shelton makes it all sound effortless, especially on current No. 1 country hit, the infectious “Sure Be Cool If You Did,” but if you’re looking for any kind of depth, look elsewhere. This is an album for popping in the car on a sunny day that will serve as the soundtrack for a day at the beach as much as a night at your favorite honky tonk.

ACM host Shelton is a man’s man, but he knows he has great appeal to the ladies, who love his romantic side: hence tunes like ballad “Mine Would Be You.” It’s one of those impossibly romantic songs about a man whose “best day/finest hour/wildest dream come true” is the woman by his side. Chicks dig that stuff, but this one comes with a twist in the last verse that gives it a kick you don’t see coming.

Similarly aimed for his female audience are My Eyes,” a sly, sultry song, where he declares, “My eyes are the only thing I don’t wanna take off of you" and  “Lay Low,” which, other than the line about “stay high,”  has the musical feel of ‘80s country tune with just the right amount of cheesiness.

The album ends with “Granddaddy’s Gun,” a touching salute to his grandfather, who suggested handling a gun with the same care as a man handles a woman. The gun has taken the place of the family Bible as the keeper of generations of memories.

There’s nothing wrong with “Based On A True Story,” but there’s also nothing particularly excellent other than “Granddaddy’s Gun” and “Mine Would Be You.” The production is predictable, as are most of the songs. Shelton is a true talent and yet this album doesn’t match up with his abilities. Maybe he’s simply too stretched to spend the amount of time writing or recording an album that would reflect the totality of his talents, but it would be great to get an album from him that really showed what he could do. While pleasing in many ways, "Based On A True Story..." rarely scratches below the surface.

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<p>Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig on the set of &quot;Skyfall.&quot;</p>

Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig on the set of "Skyfall."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Mendes will return to the Bond franchise, vow producers

Oscar-winning director ruled himself out of the next one, but 'left the door open'

The will-he-won't-he dance between Sam Mendes and the James Bond franchise continues. After the Oscar-winning director steered "Skyfall" to the best critical and commercial returns of the series' 50-year history, it was obvious that the producers would want him to remain on board for the next entry. At one point, it seemed that could be the case: in November, screenwriter Robert Wade hinted that Mendes had devised a plot for the next film with co-writer John Logan, while at last month's BAFTA Awards, sound mixer Scott Milan suggested the director "might" return. 

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<p>Queens of the Stone Age</p>

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of The Stone Age headed out on tour to support June release

'...Like Clockwork' will be group's first for Matador Records

As we previously reported, Queens of the Stone Age’s first album in six years, “...Like Clockwork,” will come out in June. We still don’t have an exact date, but the label will be Matador, best known for releasing albums by acts like Belle & Sebastian, Yo La Tengo and Interpol over the years.

In addition to playing at Lollapalooza Brazil this weekend, the band will go on an “extensive world tour,” according to a press release. It will make the first time the band hit the stage since its limited dates in 2011 around the re-release of QOTSA’s 1998 debut.

So who exactly is in the band now? It’s Josh Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen, Dean Fertita, and MIchael Shuman.  Handling drumming  duties on the album were Dave Grohl, Joey Castillo and Jon Theodore. Among the guests on “...Like Clockwork” are Elton John, Trent Reznor, Jake Shears, Mark Lanegan. Josh Homme and the band produced the set, which was recorded by Mark Rankin at Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, Calif.  “...Like Clockwork” is the band’s first album since 2007’s “Era Vulgaris.”

Exact release date and tour dates are coming soon. So is June.
 

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<p>Life gets really weird sometimes when you're growing up Film Nerd 2.0-style.</p>

Life gets really weird sometimes when you're growing up Film Nerd 2.0-style.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Film Nerd 2.0 comes face to face with Dwayne Johnson in an action-figure showdown

A sweet moment involving the artist formerly known as The Rock and my five-year-old

When I think back on how I processed things as a kid, I can't imagine what would have changed for me if I had the sort of opportunities that my kids have. I dreamed of having the sorts of encounters that they have all the time now, and I am thrilled every time I can allow them to do something that is unique or special.

For example, last week a box of toys from "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" showed up at the house, and the boys went crazy with them. In particular, Allen was smitten with a large-size action figure of Dwayne Johnson, and when he took it to pre-school as his share toy for the day, the other kids in his class went nuts for it. Several of the kids were aware of Dwayne as The Rock, and when Allen brought the figure home, he had stopped calling him Roadblock and started just calling him The Rock.

I never know who will or won't be a big deal to the boys. On Friday, Allen went with me to the press day for "42," the new film about Jackie Robinson, and I had an interview with Harrison Ford scheduled. Allen seemed totally unimpressed by Ford in general, even though he's a huge Han Solo fan. I wasn't sure at first that he even understood who he met. Ford does, after all, look fairly different now as he settles into the Spencer Tracy phase of his career. Allen told me afterwards in the car that it was amazing, and he got more excited when he told his brother who he met, but in the room? Cool as cool gets about it all.

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<p>Lily Cole in Sacrilege</p>

Lily Cole in Sacrilege

Watch this amazing, dramatic new Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'Sacrilege' music video

Possession, betrayal and marriage, plus the band schedules a tour

I'm kind of in love with this new music video for Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Sacrilege." So much that, if I can't have it, I'll destroy it and feel justified in doing so.

That part of the fantastical plot that follows the central character, played by model Lily Cole, whose "look" of innocence and mischief plays into the ultimate fantasies of the men (and one woman) around her. The clip plays backwards, telling the story of just how a young girl like her and a young man get bound, shot and left burning to die in the middle of a field.

There's a literal take on this story -- that she actually does fall into bed with all these men (and one woman) -- but I think what directors of Megaforce are trying to convey is how lustful fantasies lead one to feel ownership over women, a possession of them and the feelings of betrayal when they can't be had. Each scenario plays out specific to each's delusion, with costumes and action and even position. (Guess who they had in missionary! It's sacrilege!) As the characters watch what the ydesire burn, there's a flicker of justification, as if it were her (and the man's) fault.

The twist to this beautiful woman's inability to be "had" lies at the end of this short film, or rather its beginning. Appropriate for the day, no?

It's pretty hot, and not just because of the flames. Well played, sirs.

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'Game of Thrones' co-star Oona Chaplin explains how Talisa is good and bad for Robb Stark

'Game of Thrones' co-star Oona Chaplin explains how Talisa is good and bad for Robb Stark

And why it's OK that her character is different from in the books
Normally when heroes on TV shows find love, that's a good thing, but fans of HBO's "Game of Thrones" are smart enough to be wary of King Robb's new nuptials.
 
Yes, we should be pleased that the King in the North seems to have chosen a worthy partner in Oona Chaplin's Talisa, but as Robb's mom has been prone to observing, the hastily composed marriage may mess with the Starks' necessary alliance with House Frey.
 
On the "Game of Thrones" premiere red carpet in Los Angeles, I caught up with Oona Chaplin, who discusses the pros and cons of Talisa's relationship with Robb. Chaplin -- Yes, she's Charlie's granddaughter -- also talks about playing a character who isn't at all like her equivalent in George R.R. Martin's novels. 
 
Check out the interview above. And you should also check out my red carpet interviews with Martin, Rose Leslie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. And stay tuned for a few more interviews in the days to come. [You'll notice Natalie Tena in the background here. She'll probably be the next interview that I post.]
 
"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday, March 31.
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Vampire Weekend push new album release back a week

Vampire Weekend push new album release back a week

Listen to 'Diane Young' and 'Step' in the meantime

Fans of Vampire Weekend are going to have to wait a little bit longer for "Modern Vampires of the City." The XL set has been moved from May 7 to May 14.

The band, in the meantime, has two new songs to peruse. I like "Step" a bit better -- it's mouthy, vigilantly uppity, and a fun little outing into the world. "Diane Young," however, maybe bring in some new listeners who may only think of the NYC-based band as a bop-rock country club. Everyone can join.

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