I had a chance to talk to Kal Penn at the premiere of his new show, "Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius," and found that the "Harold & Kumar" franchise and "House" star as well as former Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement (say that ten times fast) has some, as you might expect, big ideas. The show (which airs Wed. at 10:00 p.m.) challenges 10 real-life rocket scientists, engineers and brainiacs to solve tricky problems and, on occasion, blow up stuff, all while living together. Here's what Penn had to say about doing battle with stupidity, why girls are underrepresented on the show, and why STEM classes count.
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I never expected to actually see a studio announcing "Doc Savage".
Sure, we've reported on the various blips and bloops about this one over the course of the development so far, and just over a week ago, we mentioned this as a very real possibility for Black to return to as his next film.
Now it appears to be official. Sony sent out the press release a little while ago announcing a formal deal with Shane to write and direct what I'm sure they all hope will be the first of many "Doc Savage" movies. This is a thrilling moment on a lot of levels. First, Shane Black has never been more white-hot than he is right now. Even the release of "Lethal Weapon" can't compare to this based on what a commercial juggernaut "Iron Man 3" has become. I'm sure everyone expected it to be a hit, but it's a sensation. The money it's earning is sort of amazing. Marvel defies all expectations each time out.
One of your least favorite things about the summer months is the featured creature in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Mosquito" music video. The famed blood-sucker spends the clip doing as the song says.
The CGI winged nuisance also changes shape over the duration, taking on neon colors and getting greedy, chowing down on a little boy's hand. Curiously, director Shimbe Shim shows the mosquito's victim's face in the lower right hand corner, making a display of him watching us and watching it, without the ability to do anything to warn him. The insect ultimately gets his, but it is a very uncomfortable time up until then.
Perhaps the wily song has the same initiative: to make the listener a little perturbed and slightly violent, a little raging weirdo among the other weirdos on the album that shares the same name as this track.
Whatever, just keep it away from me.
I'm still not entirely sure I understand the "Diamond Heist Challenge," but then again, I find myself baffled by a lot of the real-world tech games that fans love to play, so that's nothing new.
What I do know is this: Summit is try to come up with fun ways to get you thinking about "Now You See Me," their upcoming thriller by Louis Leterrier about a supergroup of magicians who decide to push the filthy rich by staging a bold series of heists. It's one of those trailers where I realized halfway through it that I'm not supposed to worry about what is or isn't real. They're not trying to make a movie that is about the real art of stage magic, but instead, they're making a souped-up Robin Hood riff with a lot of visual razzle dazzle.
Here is the official description that Summit sent over to explain what the "Diamond Heist Challenge" is:
Last night I was watching the season finale of "RuPaul's Drag Race" and marveling at how much better at being Tyra Banks RuPaul is than, well, Tyra Banks. Over the years, "America's Next Top Model" has become a campy parody of itself, which isn't such a bad thing. Banks clearly understands where fashion and performance intersect, and she's not above some knowing self-parody.
"The Office" series finale expands to 1 hour, 15 minutes
The May 16 finale will be preceded by a one-hour "Office" clip show and it will be followed by a 45-minute "Hannibal."
"Mad Men's" "Ted Chaough" speaks, says he and Don Draper are like Magic and Larry
"It reminds me of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson back in the day," says actor Kevin Rahm. "Two men at the top of their class who played better when they played each other." PLUS: Don's fake ads are terrible compared to real '60s ads.
"The Americans" promotes "Nina" and "Martha"
Annet Mahendru and Alison Wright will become series regulars next season.
Jason Collins to make his first late-night visit on Jimmy Kimmel
The NBA player, who came out last week, will be joined by his twin brother Jarron next week on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
"Downton Abbey" could last 10 seasons
"I think it is going to go on for a while," says exec producer Gareth Neame. "Right now the show is still growing in the U.S. and it would be awful to think of the show ending."
Michael Bay's pirate drama "Black Sails" premieres in January
The Starz series features Toby Stephens as Captain Flint 20 years before "Treasure Island."
Stephen Colbert taking on Oprah with "cOlbert's Book Club"
Its first book: "The Great Gatsby."
Jason Collins to make his first late-night visit on Jimmy Kimmel
The NBA player, who came out last week, will be joined by his twin brother Jarron next week on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
See Justin Bieber, "Simpsonized"
Bieber makes a brief cameo on Sunday's episode.
"Teen Mom's" sex tape breaks Kim Kardashian's record
Farrah Abraham's sex tape was so popular it crashed Vivid's servers.
Fuse orders "The Hustle," a hip-hop dramedy
Fuse's first scripted series will be followed by "The Hustle After Party," a talk show like "The Talking Dead."
For the last 13 years, one of my favorite stops on my daily circuit around the internet was TV Tattle, a TV news blog run by Norman Weiss. Even in the age of Twitter, TV Tattle remained a valuable repository of the day's most interesting bits of TV news and commentary, and when Norman chose one of my pieces — particularly on a subject that many, many critics and reporters had written about — I still felt the sense of professional pride I did in the blog's early days, when "Who did Tattle Boy pick today?" became a competitive party game among most of the critics I knew.
Even in the age of Twitter, Tattle remained a hugely valuable resource, as Norman would inevitably catch a lot of good reads each day I might have otherwise missed. So when he announced last month that the site was shutting down — which he later explained was due to a struggle to generate ad revenue — I was hugely disappointed. Many people on Twitter asked if I could recommend a similar site to fill the void, but none existed that I was aware of.
That's why I'm incredibly pleased to announce that HitFix has partnered with Norman to bring TV Tattle back to life. Starting today — right now, in fact — you can find TV Tattle at HitFix.com/tvtattle, or through its original URL, TVTattle.com. Nothing changes about the site; Norman has full editorial independence to pick whatever links he likes. We wanted Tattle to continue to exist as it always has.
We don't have the power to uncancel shows most of the time, but we did have the ability to uncancel TV Tattle. Sounds good to me.
"Nashville" to do some "housecleaning" for the season finale
The ABC freshman drama hasn't been renewed, but the season finale wasn't written as a series finale.
"Montel" psychic told Amanda Berry's mom her daughter was dead
Amanda Berry was one of three women missing for nearly a decade who were discovered alive yesterday. But in a 2004 appearance on "The Montel Williams Show," Berry's mom was told by a psychic, "She's not alive, honey."
Simon Cowell to avoid big-name celebs for "X Factor" Season 3
Cowell is said to be interested in lesser-name music professionals with "real chemistry."
Sony releases a "Community -- Keep it Alive" video
This is your "LAST CHANCE" warns the video from "Community's" studio.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to guest co-host "Today"
The NBC show will be doing a special show from the Jersey Shore later this month. PLUS: Christie's late-night talk show appearances used in anti-Christie ads.
Edie Falco admits she hasn't seen every "Sopranos" episode
"There are a good number of them that I haven't seen ever," she tells Jimmy Kimmel.
Canada's "Dexter" copycat allowed to watch "Dexter" in prison
Mark Twitchell, who killed a stranger based on the methods used in the Showtime series, has access to cable TV and a flatscreen in federal prison, which allows him to watch "Dexter."
Steve Martin takes a Letterman detour in his walk to Jimmy Fallon's couch
Watch as Martin takes his sweet time going from the green room to the Fallon's "Late Night" studio.
"Game of Thrones" hits another season high
The HBO drama saw record ratings for the fourth season in a row.
Part of Lady Antebellum’s broad appeal is that the trio rocks just enough to be embraced by mainstream pop fans and yet the group is country enough, with the obligatory mandolins and banjo, to fit solidly into the country format. The co-ed ban balances the two adroitly again on “Golden,” its fourth studio album.
For “Golden,” out today, the Grammy-winning group said they wanted to stretch out and throw away any formula. However, other than the spunky first single, “Downtown” and the driving, Byrds-like “Better Off Now (That You’re Gone)” —two of six songs on the album written by outside songwriters— there’s nothing much here that couldn’t have been on any of Lady A’s previous three albums. That’s not to say there’s not a lot to like here: Hillary Scott’s and Charles Kelley’s voices still weave in and out of each other’s airspace beautifully and the melodies are catchy, if unchallenging, especially on “Better Off Now (That You’re Gone).” However, at this point in their career, the threesome, which also includes Dave Haywood, should be comfortable taking a few more risks.
The biggest change here is the increased confidence in Scott’s vocals. Kelley has the more distinctive voice of the two and his slightly gruff tone is what gives the group whatever edginess it has, but on “Golden,” Scott sounds more commanding than she has previously, especially on the Tom Petty-reminiscent opener “Get To Me,” and the wistful “Nothin‘ Like The First Time.”?
Also to the band’s credit, with all three now happily married and Scott very close to becoming a mom, it would have been understandable if they had succumbed to writing nothing but songs that glow about being in love. While such songs are certainly represented here, there are also plenty of tunes that address the aftermath of love’s ruins, including the sad “It Ain’t Pretty,” about the uncomfortableness of trying to re-enter the dating scene. Scott adds a poignancy to the track as she takes her “walk of shame,” with her high heels in her hand. Similarly, Kelley brings the right amount of pain to “All For Love,” a conversation with Scott, on which they trade verses in a he said/she said about a break-up. And he lets loose nicely on the end of “Goodbye Town.”
Many of these songs were written during jams sessions while the band was on its sold-out headlining tour, and they may have been served better if they’d remained less polished once they hit the studio. For as much as Lady Antebellum seems to want to strip away some of the veneer, there’s nothing on here that approaches the ruggedness of their breakthrough single, 2007’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.”
While there are few losers here, closing track “Generation Away” is a fun arm-waver musically but lyrically, it’s trite, clunky lyrics and its segue into “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” is a regrettable, generic way to end the set.
Fans of Lady A will no doubt embrace the new set, but here’s hoping the band achieves the change on the next album it seems to believe happened on “Golden.” They have the talent and the ability, which is part of what makes their largely treading familiar ground here all the more disappointing.
Watching Monday night’s “Rihanna 777” special on Fox was a little like watching home movies from the roughest, most exhausting vacation you can imagine and all you see are shots of the pretty sunsets, cute animals, and none of the footage of the crazy relatives. It was an incredibly whitewashed version of what really happened when the superstar took journalists and fans with her to play seven shows in seven countries in seven days. The special bore pretty much no reality to the truth.
As one of the 150 journalists on the journey, I watched the special with disbelief. It made it seem as if we were all a little sleep deprived because of the schedule, not because Rihanna or other circumstances made it so that we took off at least six hours later than planned every flight and were stuck waiting in the airport each time. Plus, after Rihanna made her foray through the plane on our first flight from Los Angeles to Mexico, she never deigned to talk to the press again until we were on our final approach into New York, the final stop.
I understand that the point of the special wasn’t to show how rough the coddled press had it, but what really struck me was that even as a commercial for Rihanna, the special failed. Say what you will about Rihanna, but the one thing she isn’t is boring and yet as I watched the special, I felt like there was nothing at all compelling about her as a personality or as a performer (although the latter is sadly largely true, there were certainly moments that shone--bright like a diamond--during the shows and yet the editors decided to primarily show footage of songs from “Unapologetic” to prop up the new album’s sagging sales).
A few other thoughts on the special:
*Rihanna addressed how the press wanted her to come back and talk but she needed to rest her voice. And yet she managed to go shopping for lingerie, have after parties until 4 in the morning, drink with her friends, do yoga, etc. We only needed 10 minutes or so once she boarded the plane each day/night and yet we only got it on the first and last flights. The simple fact is she wanted nothing to do with us once she had us captive.
*While I understand that the special, which was to promote Rihanna in all her goodness after all, didn't want to stress how badly she ignored the press, the special could have benefitted from some of the humor that sprung up around her disappearing act, including a MISSING RIHANNA poster, the kind you see attached to telephone poles for missing pets, that one of the TV crews created, as well as the fact that many of us resorted to getting our pictures taken with a cardboard cut out of RuPaul that a journalist from Logo brought on the trip that served as the same role as a Flat Stanley.
*God bless Mike Ruffino, who served as the journalist/talking head for much of the special and gets far more airtime than Rihanna (who apparently didn't give her film crew that much access either). There’s so little substance that he gives some context, as sanitized as it is. Ruffino is a lovely guy, so this is not meant as a slag of him at all, but it was crazy for the rest of us journalists that the Island Def Jam label representatives were so besotted with Ruffino that we felt like he was the official #777 mascot. The rest of us were left to our own devices and could have been left bleeding in the street, but IDJ reps were obsessive about knowing where “Mikey” was at every turn. If he weren’t such a cool dude, we may have thrown him off the plane, but we enjoyed him as much as IDJ did. The bigger question now is if he was there the whole time solely to be used as a talking head since he didn't seem to cover the trip for any outlet, and was he paid by IDJ to be there.
*Yes, Rihanna has very ardent fans, but when two fans outside the Parisian show talk about how she’s one of the best performers ever after we’ve just seen footage of her moving the mic away from her mouth as she should be singing “Umbrella,” it’s laughable. And there’s no footage of the Berlin fans who were furious after waiting four hours for her to come on stage or the Swedish audience who waited for three hours and were belligerent and surly because they’d been served lots of free vodka during the delay. Also, why are we watching band members, who are on Rihanna's payroll, talk about how great it is to play with Rihanna? Are they really going to say anything different?
*Speaking of selective, when Tim, the Australian DJ, streaks, and Ruffino talks about mutiny, the special in no way explained the level of frustration and exhaustion that we had reached after five days of no sleep because we were always waiting for hours to take off and we had nothing to write about because Rihanna’s show was the same every night and she had ignored us for five days. Another week under these conditions and we probably would have resorted to cannibalism.
*The journalists were invited to two of the afterparties that manager Jay Brown talks about, but most of us were too exhausted to even think about trading a few hours sleep for the possibility of getting near Rihanna. Plus, the few journalists who did go were sorely disappointed: they were allowed nowhere near Rihanna who was surrounded by her bodyguards.
There is a fascinating film to be done on the #777 tour and how the wheels came off, and what it says about album promotion and the press as part of the machine, but whatever aired on Fox on Monday had absolutely nothing to do with that.
Female "Criminal Minds" stars may walk over salary inequality with male co-stars
A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness are negotiating together, according to Deadline, and they've been making less than half the salary of their male counterparts. Meanwhile, the negotiating deadline is later today.
Will Carrie Underwood replace Faith Hill on NBC's "Sunday Night Football"?
Signs point to the "Idol" champ singing the "SNF" theme song, with NBC expected to make an announcement later today.
"Dr. Phil" sues website for posting a clip online before it aired across country
Deadspin.com posted Dr. Phil's exclusive with Manti Te'o hoaxer Ronaiah Tuiasosopo immediately after it aired on the East Coast, thus interfering with his exclusive, as the lawsuit claims.
Why do women host so few "SNL" episodes?
This season, females hosted 23.8% of "SNLs." Last year, it was 36.4%.
Obama loves ESPN, so interest groups are buying up ads on ESPN to get his attention
But does the strategy of targeting the president actually work?
Has "Game of Thrones" transformed into "The Wire"?
Sunday's "The Climb" episode was the most "Wire"-like yet, thanks to former "Wire" star Aiden Gillen's Littlefinger. PLUS: Mark Zuckerberg delayed Facebook's Instagram deal to watch "Game of Thrones," and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has a "Virtuality" past.
"Scandal": The Bush/Obama TV show we didn't know we needed?
The Shonda Rhimes series is the present day answer to "The West Wing," says Todd VanDerWerff, and President Fitz is a bit George W. Bush, a bit Mitt Romney, and a bit Barack Obama.
Ex-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry likes to live-tweet "Scandal"
The disgraced former mayor used to have "Scandal" inspiration Judy Smith as his crisis manager.
"Late Night" staying in NY; Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight" could expand to 90 minutes
If Seth Meyers does succeed Fallon as "Late Night" host, his talk show could run 30 minutes with a "Daily Show"-esque format. If Meyers doesn't get the job, NBC is said to also be interested in Andy Cohen and Nick Cannon.
USA will label "Modern Family" fans "Mofys"
It's all part of a 14-week marketing plan to promote "Modern Family" reruns as if they weren't repeats.
"Smash" intended to have a connection to "Rent" in last week's episode
"Of course, it's something we intended to do," showrunner Josh Safran said of lat week's episode.
Steve Carell: Will he or won't he appear in "The Office" finale?
He reportedly won't be making a "full-fledged guest appearance." PLUS: Behind the scenes of "The Office" finale, Carell appeared at Scranton's "Office" wrap party.
Aaron Rodgers joins Clay Aiken to judge an "Office" singing competition
The Green Bay Packers QB makes a cameo Thursday as a judge on "America's Next A Capella Sensation."
It's OK if you avoid watching "Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones"
Not everyone has to keep up with the two biggest shows in pop-culture at the moment.
White House honors Matthew Perry
U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske presented Perry with the Champion of Recovery award for his drug court advocacy work.
"Cops" creator happy to find a new home on Spike TV
"Fox is changing its programming strategy," says John Langley. "So I was happy to find a new home with Spike. It matches our demo and it's an aggressive cable network."
Dr. Drew is done with "Celebrity Rehab"
"I'm tired of taking all the heat -- it's just ridiculous," Dr. Drew Pinsky said in a recent radio interview, adding that he won't be part of any future episodes of the VH1 reality show.
"Wilfred" returns June 20 without a companion series
With "Louie" on hiatus, the 3rd-season drama will go it alone this summer.
Fred Armisen's punk "SNL" alter ego Ian Rubbish releases EP
Armisen recently opened for Vampire Weekend as Ian Rubbish. PLUS: Zach Galifianakis plays a '70s cop in cut "SNL" sketch.
Billy Crystal may make a sitcom comeback on cable
Crystal is teaming with "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry Charles and "Burn Notice" creator Matt Nix on a cable comedy project.
"Mad Men's" Chevy ad pitch: How does it compare to the real thing?
Here's a look at the real ads for the Chevy Vega. PLUS: What happened to the real ad agency IPOs?, and finally, "Mad Men" returns to form.
Publishers Clearing House's new ad campaign features classic sitcom stars
Mike Brady from "The Brady Bunch," Gilligan from "Gilligan's Island" and Arnold Jackson from "Diff'rent Strokes" are each included in new sweepstakes ads -- watch here.
"The Newsroom" promo promises a newbie-friendly Season 2
Next season is set during last year's campaign.
Honey Boo Boo's parents didn't actually get married at their wedding
"It was just a commitment ceremony," a source tells E! News. PLUS: Honey Boo Boo returns July 17.
Carson Daly insists there's a difference between him and Ryan Seacrest
Despite both being radio DJs turned bland music show hosts, Daly says he proudly isn't the workaholic that Seacrest is. "I choose to have a family," says Daly. "I don't know how he has a minute in his day. I think Ryan’s great at what he does, but we are innately different people."
Warren Buffett films a "Breaking Bad" spoof
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul participated in a Berkshire Hathaway sketch -- but instead of selling meth, they sold peanut brittle. "Brittle, bitches!" PLUS: How one man created the "Breaking Bad" Lego video game.
George Takei & Jesse Tyler Ferguson release a PSA
"The Mentalist" creator: "Only the truth gets revealed from now on in"
Bruno Heller talks about the Season 5 finale. He says next season will be "much faster paced, more thrilling, more action, more surprises."
Jon Stewart's dog has 3 legs
Check out "The Daily Show" host taking his dog for a walk.
Nick Cannon: Mariah Carey feared "Idol" would turn into "Love & Hip Hop"
"What's amazing," says Cannon, "is my wife foreseen all of this. She tried to tell the network, 'I don't think this is going to work. I'm afraid.' 'I love the show, but you're kinda taking it in the wrong direction. This is going to turn into one of those reality shows.' She's like, 'I didn't sign up to be on 'Love & Hip Hop.'" PLUS: J.Lo to perform on "Idol" finale, Crystal Bowserox getting divorced, and Adam Lambert to sing on the finale.
ABC to celebrate "The Bachelor's Funniest Moments"
Chris Harrison will host the one-hour special on May 21. PLUS: Ali Fedotowsky is dating the host of "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition."
"Suburgatory's" Jane Levy ends her secret marriage
The 23-year-old actress was married to Jaime Freitas for seven months.
Lana Parrilla gets engaged
The "Once Upon a Time" star was popped the question by her boyfriend in Israel.
Matt Groening's mom dies at 94: She inspired Marge Simpson
Margaret Groening was born a Wiggum and, like Marge, married a Homer.