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Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran

Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran take on Tracy Chapman and Snow Patrol: Watch

They both salute car songs. Which one does it better?

Two of England’s hottest male singers turned to covers this week: Sam Smith tackled Tracy Chapman’s classic, “Fast Car,” for BBC Live Lounge, while Ed Sheehan covered his buddies in Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”

While Smith’s clear, gorgeous tenor would seem perfect for Chapman’s heartbreaking song of escape, it ends up being a not great fit. That’s not because his voice doesn’t sound strong, it’s because he doesn’t imbue the song with any of the heartbreaking emotion from the original.

Sheeran succeeds far better  covering "Chasing Cars."  His tackling the song is nothing new. He's been doing it for at least a few years since he's such good pals with the dudes in Snow Patrol and has written with them and toured with them, but he unveiled a new solo acoustic version for MTV that went online today that's lovely and spare and very romantic.


Which do you like better? 

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Green Bay Packers

12 greatest sports songs ever: Are you ready for some football?

Your playlist for tonight's NFL opener

Tonight marks the opening night of the 2014 NFL Season, so in celebration, here are the 10 best songs about sports. I tried to make it all football, but there are surprisingly few football-themed hits. And since it’s still baseball season, I decided to throw in a few baseball ones as well. Basketball? Other than “I Believe I Can Fly,” the round ball got left out in the cold since the only other basketball song I could think of was Cheech & Chong’s “Basketball Jones,” which, quite frankly, is in a league of its own. Given that the World Cup just ended, I also threw in a little soccer love.

Though certainly not written about football, Jay Z and Rihanna's "Run This Town" is the new theme song for Thursday Night Football, according to NFL and CBS. The pair's hit, from Jay Z's "The Blueprint 3," will get reworked each week with narration by Don Cheadle.

1. “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” Chicago Bears (1985)
It wasn’t pretty or even remotely good, but the rap by The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew captured the feeling in Chicago like no other as we watched Da Bears go all the way. I lived in Chicago then and it was an exhilarating, great time to be a sports fan (which, as Chicago fans know, that is not always the case). The song missed hitting Billboard’s Top 40 by one slot, peaking at No. 41.

2. “The Boys of Fall,” Kenny Chesney (2010)
Though Chesney didn’t write this somber salute to high school football, he sang it like he’d lived it and took it all the way to No. 1.

3.“Centerfield,” John Fogerty (1985)
Fogerty’s salute to America’s Game is note perfect and its inclusion in “Bull Durham” only sealed it as the best song ever written in the short canon of songs written about baseball. The song also plays at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown Put me in, coach. I’m ready to play.

4. “The Boys of Summer,” Don Henley (1984)
Only the title refers to baseball, but the song perfectly captures the wistful feelings of the fleeting last days of summer— of youth, really— and glory days on and off the field.

5. “I Believe I Can Fly,” R Kelly (1996)
The song first appeared in “Space Jam,” and is in someways forever linked to Michael Jordan, who soared like no other player. However, for most folks, it’s simply R Kelly’s best, most inspirational track.

6. “All Kinds of Time,” Fountains of Wayne (2003)
The New Jersey boys put themselves in the mind of a QB and what goes through his mind after he takes the snap. His mind slows, he thinks of his family watching on TV and feels like he has all the time in the world to find his open man.  The NFL used the song in commercials in 2005.

7. “Green and Yellow,” Lil Wayne (2011)
The rapper’s salute to his beloved Green Bay Packers manages to dis the Pittsburgh Steelers and several other teams, while promoting Cheez Whiz and Cheeseheads everywhere.

8. “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” Hank Williams Jr. (1984)
Monday Night Football adopted (and adapted) the song as its theme from 1989 to 2011. Are you ready for some football?

9. “Gonna Fly Now,” DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford (1977)
Bill Conti’s theme from “Rocky” is indelibly linked to Rocky running the steps in Philadelphia forever more and is an ode to the underdog. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song, the tune is short on words, but long on heart.

10.“Eye of The Tiger,” Survivor (1982)
Continuing with everyone's favorite film pugilist, this “Rocky III” smash would have made the list regardless, but now the anthem to working hard and going the distance serves as a tribute to Survivor lead singer, Jimi Jamison, who died last week. Fun fact: Sylvester Stallone asked the band to write an anthem after he was unable to get the rights to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”

11. “We Are The Champions/We Will Rock You,” Queen (1977)
Speaking of Queen, the all-time greatest sports anthems not written about sports and among the greatest single A&B sides ever (ask your parents if you’re too young to know what that means). The band wrote “We Are The Champions” to get their fans going in concert, and then “We Will Rock You” was the B-side. It’s impossible to go to any team sporting event and not hear one or the other.

12. "The Cup of Life," Ricky Martin (1998)
The official theme song for the 1998 World Cup was not only a great soccer anthem, the song broke Ricky Martin into the Anglo market with his performance of the track on the 41st annual Grammy Awards. He scored a major goal with his performance, one of the best in Grammy history.

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CBS wants the Hollywood Film Awards to be the next big thing

CBS wants the Hollywood Film Awards to be the next big thing

We're a little worried about this one

Anyone who had read my work over the years known if there is any event I have almost complete disdain for, it's the Hollywood Film Awards. You remember that one, right? It's the "awards show" that gives out honors to stars and filmmakers who are usually appearing in films that have not been released and often not even screened for critics or guild members yet. And yet, because it's usually situated at the end of October, movie studios have used it as a one-night publicity vehicle right before awards season really gets into high gear.

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David Chase learned a lesson from last week’s 'Sopranos' hubbub, says he feels a 'little competitive' with 'Mad Men'
Credit: Associated Press

David Chase learned a lesson from last week’s 'Sopranos' hubbub, says he feels a 'little competitive' with 'Mad Men'

David Chase learned a lesson from last week’s “Sopranos” hubbub, says he feels a "little competitive" with “Mad Men”
"This has taught me, for good and all, not to befriend any journalist,” “The Sopranos” creator says in a new interview about Vox's story claiming to reveal whether he thought Tony Soprano lived or died. "I got too friendly with her. And I kept saying to her, “You know, this can’t be good that you and I talk to each other and have lunch and coffee. Something’s wrong here,” and she’d say, “No, no, no.” And she meant that—she wasn’t setting me up. It seems like, poor Dave, there’s no way he can win. I don’t recall that conversation. I’m sure it happened, but I don’t recall it, and if I did say that, I believe I was probably thinking about something else.” PLUS: Chase says he feels a “little competitive” with “Mad Men” because Matthew Weiner worked for him, "but I also think it’s just so spectacular.” Chase also says he has yet to complete “Breaking Bad” — "I got into it too late” — or “True Detective."


E!’s “Fashion Police” is going on hiatus as Joan Rivers recovers
“We will not be producing a ‘Fashion Police’ this week or next as we await Joan and Melissa’s return in front and behind the camera,” E! said in a statement.

NBC developing a hotel comedy that will air live
The multi-camera comedy from Sean Hayes would also feature live commercials during the breaks.

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TV Ratings: 'So You Think You Can Dance' finale rises as CBS, NBC split Wednesday
Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'So You Think You Can Dance' finale rises as CBS, NBC split Wednesday

The CW's 'Penn & Teller: Fool Us' it a series high

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, September 3, 2014.

FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" got a solid bump for its latest season finale, but it was "Big Brother" leading CBS to a Wednesday win among young viewers and "America's Got Talent" pacing NBC's overall win.

"Big Brother" was down a hair from last week, while "America's Got Talent" was up a similarly tiny amount.

Meanwhile, Wednesday night saw bumps for NBC's "Taxi Brooklyn" and for The CW's "Penn & Teller: Fool Us."

It was, in fact, a series high for "Penn & Teller: Fool Us," which soared 30 percent week-to-week in total viewers.

On to the numbers...

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<p>BoJack Horseman &amp; You&#39;re the Worst</p>

BoJack Horseman & You're the Worst

'You're the Worst' & BoJack Horseman': Tragedy + comedy = time well spent

Two summer treats that find the pathos inside the absurdity, and vice versa

Reviewing a new TV show usually comes out to about 50 percent analysis of what's there, 50 percent psychic projection of what the show might become past the episode(s) you've seen. With comedy, the balance tilts heavily towards the psychic end of things, because so few comedies start out strongly, and you have to make an informed guess as to what mediocre pilot will turn out to be great like "Parks and Recreation," and what will settle for being crass like "2 Broke Girls."

Even having more episodes beyond the pilot isn't always a help. Back in January, for instance, Comedy Central sent out the first two "Broad City"s to critics. They were clever and seemed to have a distinctive voice, but it was a busy time of year, and I moved on to other things. Then my friends kept raving about it, I watched the rest of the season over the summer, and fell hard for the rest of it. (Really, it's clearly becoming great as early as episode 3.)

Even in this era of Too Much Good TV, summer is still a reasonable time to catch up on things I've missed like that, and to stick with shows that didn't necessarily wow me at first. In two recent instances, that patience has paid off terrifically — and in ways that are eerily similar — as I stuck with FX's "You're the Worst" and Netflix's "BoJack Horseman" until they turned out to be much more impressive than they seemed at first.

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'Dancing with the Stars' cast announced: Tommy Chong, Alfonso Ribeiro, Lea Thompson

'Dancing with the Stars' cast announced: Tommy Chong, Alfonso Ribeiro, Lea Thompson

“Dancing with the Stars” cast announced: Tommy Chong, Alfonso Ribeiro, Lea Thompson
They’ll be joined by soap star Antonio Sabato Jr. YouTube sensation Bethany Mota, fashion designer Betsey Johnson, Janel Parrish from “Pretty Little Liars,” Olympian Lolo Jones, “Mean Girls” star Jonathan Bennett, NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip, MMA champion Randy Couture, “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson and PBS host Tavis Smiley.

Report: Barbara Walters will be backstage only for the new “View”
She’ll stay backstage only, according to Roger Friedman, in her role as executive producer.

“Jeopardy!” champion charged with child sexual assault
Jerome Slowik, who won $120,000 on “Jeopardy!,” has pleaded not guilty to second-degree sexual assault of a child, a felony.

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Review: Willem Dafoe can’t anchor Abel Ferrara's overwrought 'Pasolini'

Review: Willem Dafoe can’t anchor Abel Ferrara's overwrought 'Pasolini'

Abel Ferrara’s 'Pasolini' is an intriguing mess

VENICE — "Pasolini is me." So sang erstwhile Smiths frontman Morrissey on single "You Have Killed Me" from "Ringleader of the Tormentors," an album recorded in Italy. The very next track on the album opens with a sample of a very distinctive sound: the siren of an Italian ambulance. At the Venice festival, it's impossible to go for more than a day without hearing this dolorous yet urgent wail on the Lido; it's an unofficial soundtrack. These congruences were very much slushing around my head as I sat down for Abel Ferrara's "Pasolini."

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Nicole, Big Brother 16

Recap: 'Big Brother' Wednesday - Ranking the 7 Remaining HGs

Who's the best houseguest in the game?

Your opinion about how good the current season of "Big Brother" is hinges on one question: Are you entertained or bored to tears by Derrick's flawless gaming? Because it is flawless, everyone. It is righteous, it is true, and it is proceeding without any conflict. 

As spotlit on Wednesday's episode, Derrick's game is going so according to plan that it's almost unnerving. Surely he'll be forced to get tyrannical in the coming weeks (or even tomorrow, considering it's a Double Eviction he'll have to steer), but his slyness and sureness is only becoming bolder. He's so great at this game that he can even convince lesser houseguests, time and again, that he's somehow a worse player than they are. Did you watch Derrick seamlessly goad Caleb, through flattery and wholly untrue prattle about Caleb's strengths in the game, into a Final Two deal? Because I did, and it was both shocking (You go, emperor Derrick!) and un-shocking (Of course Caleb thinks he's a great player; after all, he has... a nickname).

Despite a veto game with some titillating explosives, Wednesday's episode did little to convince us that anyone but Nicole can go home on Thursday. So without further ado, let's rank the seven remaining players and see just who has a chance of pulling off an upset.

7. Nicole

God bless this squeaky Babs Bunny clone for sobbing through her past week in the house. Though Derrick had designs to boot Christine, even he is following through on the general consensus and electing to kick out Nicole for the second time this week. And because he's such a good player, Nicole begged him for friendly hugs as her doom was sealed. 

6. Christine

I was pretty weirded out to see Christine monologuing to herself in ostracism-based anger like Wendy Pepper on the first season of "Project Runway." She got so heated that I swear I heard some "REDRUM"s thrown in there, along with the occasional "Kara Saun thinks she's SO PERFECT." I still think Christine has a Hail Mary left in her, a last-ditch swing at her shifty-eyed Detonator posse that could rock the game. But just because she's more naturally intelligent than other players here doesn't mean she won't fall in line with Amber, Donny, and other people who died in, like, the 1930s. 

5. Caleb

Still aligned with his bros like a dead-eyed member of the Hatfield clan, Caleb's stony stupidity is basically calcifying into unimportance. I think he has a keen eye for the kinds of players who will eventually turn on him, but he's so -- wait for it! -- delusional about his effectiveness and power in the game that I can't help rooting for his swift ejection. He's not fit to debate Derrick for $500,000 even though he promised to arrange that finale for us. Better to lose him now so we don't have to suffer through a final soliloquy filled with beast metaphors.

4. Frankie

I'm not saying Frankie's the most likable chap in the house (In fact, there are reasons to argue the opposite), but I think it's important to note that his game is definitely the most interesting in the BB house. I mean, is he good? He is certainly an ingratiating mastermind and occasionally a powerful player. If you're a member of the anti-floater gestapo, you won't be shaking your gestapo stick at Frankie any time soon. But his impetuousness and neurotic tizzies are getting worse, and it feels like Frankie is losing his grip on the game at the exact moment when key players are planting their footing. 

3. Victoria

The cynical "Big Brother" viewer laughs that Victoria will definitely make the final two. Since she entered Julie Chen's dollhouse back in June, Victoria has not uttered a single serious word about gameplay. In fact, I don't think she's uttered a single serious word, period. She's just an eyebrow pencil wrapped in a perma-scowl tucked into a Hello Kitty backpack. And while every other player is arguing and b*tching and gaming (for better or for worse), Victoria is smiling at nothing -- and sometimes on a couch! I think the Detonators are too tight to give Victoria a spot in the final two, but no one's actively stopping her lazy-eyed trek to $50,000 at the moment. So good for her?

2. Cody

The stealth candidate to win the whole thing, no? Face it: Getting through "Big Brother" as a physically strong guy is pretty tough. And somehow Cody has figured out a way never to be a target or a pawn, and that is in essence the key to playing "Big Brother."

1. Derrick

The master, the trickster, the calm orchestrator, and -- more importantly -- the ego-free player. Though Nicole compared him to Dan Gheesling, he is so not Dan in key ways. He is not theatrical in his self-regard. He's not angry. He's not cocky. He's just a guy who sees the game as a job, and he's pulling off a good day's work every day. It may not be the most telegenic way to win "Big Brother," but Derrick's method is reason enough to call him -- even without having won the season -- a "Big Brother" pro. 

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Album sales at an all-time low: 5 things that only maybe could save a dismal 2014
Credit: AP Photos

Album sales at an all-time low: 5 things that only maybe could save a dismal 2014

Adele, are you there? It's me, the consumer

As we previously reported, album sales are at a record all-time low in the U.S. Last week, album sales totaled 3.97 million for the week, marking the first time the tally has dropped below 4 million, unprecedented in the SoundScan era (which kicked off with tracking sales data in 1991).

Billboard -- who has a partnership with SoundScan -- is the first to report album and sales news, the good, the bad and the ugly. Today it was reported that sales are slightly up from that grim news last week, 5% only (to 4.2 million), due to Ariana Grande's fresh "My Everything." But still, that makes it trending low, which Ed Christman said is only to be expected.

"The weekly average number of album sales fell from 4.75 million units in the first quarter to 4.55 million units in the second quarter. In the first 8 weeks of the third quarter, the average has fallen further to 4.2 million. This decline is actually in line with historical trends."

Sales for the year are down 15% compared to totals from the same point last year so far.

Who is buying albums right now?

Let's do a spot cross-section: artists who all have earned No. 1 albums on The Billboard 200 sales chart in 2014.

It says a lot that Tom Petty earned his first No. 1 album ever just this summer. Now, I want you to try and name a Tom Petty song that's fewer that 15 years old. Bruce Springsteen nabbed one week, as did "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Young girls love "5 Seconds of Summer" and the "Frozen" soundtrack. Sweet God, do they ever love "Frozen."

Coldplay, Rick Ross, Beyonce, Eric Church, Jack White, Trey Songz and Ariana Grande had previously earned No. 1 on the chart  one or more times. They all have had hit radio singles, No. 1 for each of the genre categories.

"Now 49" and "Now 50" are bred from the same radio single compilation series, for those people who cannot be bothered to cherry-pick their favorite hits. "Guardians of the Galaxy" soundtrack is essentially, too, a hits compilation of late-1960s and '70s hits, aligning with one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer.

The newbies and anomalies are rappers Wiz Khalifa and Schoolboy Q, soft pop/rock songwriter Ed Sheeran, country artist Miranda Lambert, rockers The Black Keys and "Chandelier" singer Sia.

There, of course, are many other new and old albums that have sold and sold moderately well in 2014. But start thinking about that long tail -- those indie bands that have a lot of buzz, those 2013 albums that only got heir due (or radio single) later, the popular touring band that has no airplay. And critical acclaim doesn't guarantee that sale -- or even the full-album stream.

5 Ways To Maybe Save A Dismal Year Like This One

1. Adele: She's one of the few post-2000 artists to have passed the 10-million units mark with a single album, for "21," and the only artist to have done it post-2010. Her album spent 24 weeks in the penthouse of The Billboard 200, which also keeps it in the consciousness of the buying public. Likelihood of her sweeping in to save the day? It's September, folks; this month is the time labels start their 3-month album promotional cycle in time for holiday gift season. There has been no single farmed from her new album -- purportedly called "25." She's said over and over again that she'll take her sweet time producing her next, especially after vocal cord surgery and having a baby. Not really counting on her pulling a Beyonce and surprising us either. So, low chance but weirdly possible, with many limitations.

2. Taylor Swift: "Shake It Off" is definitely a song you'll hear for a year straight. She's got her next album "1989" set for October and the Swift brand is still on the rise: Swift is squarely out of the "country" category now and into the A-list celebrity and artistry world, here to stay for young buyers as well as those who "grew up" with her handful of hits from each album. Released in October 2012, her previous "Red" sold a brain-blowing 1.21 million copies in its first week, and while this new one may not fare nearly as well this fall, "1989" will be far-and-away one of the best-selling albums this year. But save the year? She'll have to sing at every ballgame, awards show, late-night TV show and morning show on top of making the purchase of her album more appealing (or the only option -- she didn't let Spotify stream "Shake It Off," users could only YouTube, buy or find their way around).

3. An Eminem album plus a Drake or a Kanye or Jay Z album: Best-seller Eminem's "Recovery" fared well two years ago, but not Adele-well. Sometimes, rap artists help amplify the sales of other rap artists, or come seemingly in a package (Young Money acts, Watch the Throne, etc.). While Kanye West and Nicki Minaj are guaranteed to sell well on their own, they couldn't do enough to dent this stinker of a sales run this year. Eminem is helping release the Shady Records "ShadyXV" compilation this fall, but not a new studio album. So no go on this front -- if Minaj wants to put an onsale date on her "Pinkprint," though, we're all for it. Just need to rock the Top 5 in airplay with "Anaconda" or otherwise first if she wants to make a big move on album sales. Notice I did not bring up Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter V." Because I dunno, man.

4. A gangbusters Christmas album: These new titles will hit starting in October, and tend to make up some sleeper sales late in the year, on top of albums purchased as stocking stuffers for family. But, I mean, it'd have to be a Michael Buble duets album with Mariah Carey and special guest Susan Boyle, or Bing Crosby returning from the dead to personally ring your doorbell and hand you a copy of whatever's there to shill. Or, hey, we hear "Frozen's" still popular, how 'bout Josh Gad singing "Silent Night."

5. Sale! Sale! Sale! And not just on Black Friday. Billboard requires a minimum $3.49 price tag in the first four weeks of release for an album to count toward their chart, and charting is important to many labels. Though, can you imagine, if CDs were $5, and all the digital sales of albums were $3.50 for a day, and it all was promoted across the board in a disgusting display of the reduced value of art (or "art")? Gnashing of teeth, counting of dollars, uptick in "sales." Also: never gonna happen.

What won't work to help this poor sales year?

That Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett standards album: Promotion on "Cheek to Cheek" is warm right now, and Bennett is catnip to older buyers, especially those who helped shoot "Duets II" up to the summit in 2012 (179,000 first week). Gaga's "Artpop" also made No. 1, with 258,000 first-week. But don't go thinking combining the two will make Taylor Swift numbers, maybe more like 300,000. The two could be doing more together than archival studio videos, and the ought to do that soon, since it's due in less than three weeks.

These best-sellers combined: Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Antebellum, Weezer and Foo Fighters all have confirmed albums due this fall. The latter actually stands a chance of taking a big bite into sales, due to a bump of exposure from the series of the same name (created by Dave Grohl) on HBO. Maroon 5 (out this week with "V") is going to do well. But not Adele well.

Rumored albums: Rihanna, U2 and One Direction have sent out whiffs of fall/holiday releases. Has the hype cooled on all them, however?

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" soundtrack: It's being curated by Lorde, so who the heck knows what all she'll slap on there. That movie, though? Will take all the money that's left over the holidays.

These potentially awesome albums: Run the Jewels, "RTJ2"; Charli XCX "Sucker"; Scott Walker + Sunn O))), "Soused"; Jessie Ware, "Tough Love"; Death From Above 1979, "The Physical World"; Aphex Twin, "SYRO." These won't move many copies. You should give them a spin anyway.

Oh, so there still might be good music out there. Why are sales still falling so badly?

This is a gimme. CD and digital album sales are both falling. There's been a decreasing number of brick-and-mortar stores (ones you actually, physically, walk into) because specialty shops closed and the big boxes like Best Buy and Wal-mart aren't gonna keep sinking money into stock they can't move (including smaller, harder-to-find releases).

There are some young people who will never buy a CD in their life. Some haven't ever even bought an album, whether on Amazon or iTunes, Best Buy or Amoeba or Barnes & Noble. Single sales in 2013, though, were also down...

But streaming is up. Before, it was just piracy and illegal downloading eating away at sales, starting in 2000. Now it's Spotify and Pandora on top of that.

How do you best support the music and musicians you love?

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Watch a clip from James Franco's Venice entry 'The Sound and the Fury'

Watch a clip from James Franco's Venice entry 'The Sound and the Fury'

The multi-hyphenate is set to be honored on the Lido this week

James Franco seems to be as busy as ever. The tireless actor, filmmaker, poet, samurai, infantryman, Blue Angels pilot, second string football kicker (OK, only a couple of those) is being honored by the Venice Film Festival this week, where he has a new film, "The Sound and the Fury," screening out of competition. It's the 36-year-old's second William Faulkner adaptation after 2013 Cannes premiere "As I Lay Dying," and it's just one of a slew of features and documentaries Franco has on the horizon.

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<p>Ted Levine in &quot;The Bridge.&quot;</p>

Ted Levine in "The Bridge."

Credit: FX

Review: 'The Bridge' - 'Rakshasa'

The Chopper takes Sonya to the desert, while things get rough at Red Ridge

A review of tonight's "The Bridge" coming up just as soon as I turn up the relaxing strings...

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