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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 171: Mid-season check-ins, reality round-up & more

Dan and Alan catch up on 'The Americans,' 'Enlightened,' 'The Mindy Project,' and more


It's at once a slow and busy week for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. There aren't any premieres of note, and a lot of network shows are in repeats during the post-sweeps lull (which we explain in the podcast's opening minutes), so we decided to take the opportunity to check back in on a bunch of series we haven't discussed in a while, and also to answer some mail, and also to do one of our periodic Dan's Reality Round-Up segments. So a dead week wound up leading to one of our longest podcasts ever. The lineup: 

Slow Week (00:00:30 - 00:08:00)
"The Americans" (00:08:05 - 00:17:05)
"Shameless" (00:17:05 - 00:28:35)
"The Mindy Project" (00:28:40 - 00:37:50)
Midseason Struggles (00:37:55 - 00:47:25)
Listener Mail - Uneven Shows like "Suburgatory" (00:47:30 - 00:56:45)
Listener Mail - "Top Chef," leading into Dan's Reality Roundup - (01:02:10 - 01:22:25)
"Enlightened" finale - (01:22:50 - 01:36:50)
"Bunheads" finale - (01:36:50 - 01:47:40)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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<p>James Franco plays a morally shady version of the beloved Wizard in 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' and we sat down to talk to him about it.</p>

James Franco plays a morally shady version of the beloved Wizard in 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' and we sat down to talk to him about it.

Credit: HitFix

James Franco talks about protecting the Disney brand in 'Oz The Great And Powerful'

Reunited with Raimi, Franco talks about playing a sense of wonder

I didn't have a chance to see James Franco's film "Interior. Leather Bar" at Sundance, but I am certainly intrigued by the idea behind it.  Co-directed with Travis Mathews, it uses the footage that was deleted from William Friedkin's infamous movie "Cruising" to confront the hypocrisy that exists in the way gay sex and straight sex are portrayed onscreen and in the media.

Heady stuff, but it's pretty clear at this point that Franco loves confrontational art, and that one of the things he is intrigued by is the exploration of human sexuality on the fringe of the mainstream.

Today, Franco is speaking out about the Australian censorship of another movie by Mathews called "I Want Your Love." The unrated film features a six-minute unsimulated sex scene between two men, and it has now been banned from screening at festivals in Australia, which sent Franco running for YouTube so he could weigh in on the decision.  I like that Franco seems unconcerned about the giant mega-budget Disney family movie he's got coming out on Friday. There are plenty of movie stars who would steer clear of any controversy, especially one about explicit gay sex, during the week of release, but not Franco.

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<p>Steve Carrell seems highly entertained by the recent table read for 'Anchorman 2'</p>

Steve Carrell seems highly entertained by the recent table read for 'Anchorman 2'

Credit: HitFix

Steve Carrell can't keep a straight face when discussing 'Anchorman 2'

He seems just as excited by the upcoming sequel as we are

The first time I met Steve Carrell was on the set of the original "Anchorman."

I wasn't formally invited to the set, but a friend who was working on the film knew how excited I was about it being made, and he invited me to come down and see him while they were shooting on an exterior location.  It wasn't easy to find them in the particular corner of downtown LA where they were working, but I eventually made my way there, just in time to see them setting up to shoot the giant rumble between Ron Burgundy and his friends and the rival news teams from around San Diego.

It's one of the craziest moments in the film, and it was even crazier standing there watching it unfold.  When I watched them stage the moment where Brick, Carrell's character, killed a guy on horseback with a trident, I was sure we were never going to see that in the finished film. I had trouble believing something this gleefully ridiculous was ever going to make it intact to the screen for release.

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Watch: Miranda Lambert's crazy, sexy new clip for 'Mama's Broken Heart'

Watch: Miranda Lambert's crazy, sexy new clip for 'Mama's Broken Heart'

Should Blake Shelton be worried?

Well, Blake Shelton can’t say he wasn’t warned. Should he and Miranda Lambert ever split, he gets a little preview of how his wife will react in Lambert’s crazy cool video for “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Yep. This is going to be awesome.</p>

Yep. This is going to be awesome.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Harrison Ford joins the cast of 'Anchorman 2' as a veteran news anchor

Adam McKay's comedy sequel keeps getting more and more promising

Adam McKay has made many funny films, but I think he'd be the first to admit that there is something special about "Anchorman."

Part of that is the script, which might be the most unfettered bit of madness that McKay and Will Ferrell have put together so far, a celebration of a breed of glorious idiot that is far too rare today.  Part of that is the ensemble, packed with actors who were all completely in tune with the weird reality of the film, all of them free to try almost anything in front of the camera.  And part of it is because broadcast news is so preposterously silly, especially on the local level, that you barely have to exaggerate to make it work.

I thought one of the best things about the film was the way they suggested the '70s in little details like the non-stop littering or the smoking in public, accentuating some of the worst of the decade with glee.  When the sequel arrives in theaters in December, I'm excited to see how they have moved the cast up to the '80s, and it sounds like they are indeed dealing with the rise of the 24-hour-a-day news cycle thanks to the advent of the cable news networks.

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<p>Ed Sheeran</p>

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran sets February release date for new set, reveals song title

Singer/songwriter hits the road with Taylor Swift this month

Best new artist Grammy nominee and Taylor Swift collaborator Ed Sheeran’s current album, “+” may still have a lot of life left in it in the U.S., but the British singer/songwriter is already thinking of his follow-up. Plus, the "A Team" singer has already set a release date of Feb. 17, 2014.

“My second album has taken full shape recently,” he told Australian outlet “I don’t know if there will be any collaborations on it yet. I have a name for it but I can’t tell you the name just yet but it doesn’t start with a letter.”

The song titles, thankfully, do start with letters, including “Photograph,” a tune Sheeran expects “will be the big one on the album.”

Sheeran, who plays three nights at Melbourne’s Festival Hall starting March 4, says he isn’t ready to preview any of the new material on stage just yet, in part because he knows it goes out to the world the minute he does.
“Big bands can ease in new songs to their set but my fans are so viral that the moment that I’d play a new song, every one of them would hear it,” he told “I don’t want everyone knowing what the record is before they get it. I want them to listen to it first.”

We previously reported that Sheeran thinks fans can expect a more mature sound on the set. He'll continue working on it as he hits the road with Swift, whose U.S. tour starts March 13 in Omaha.



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Watch: Dido watches the parade pass her by in new video for 'No Freedom'

Watch: Dido watches the parade pass her by in new video for 'No Freedom'

Even the confetti is crying

Dido’s new video for “No Freedom” sure is pretty, but I’d be lying if I said I understood it at all.

The angelic-sounding British singer is dealing with the dissolution of her relationship to a seemingly indifferent boyfriend as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade scrolls by, include the big Nemo balloon. Confetti rains down during the happy occasion, in direct contrast to the sadness (or so we think) in the huge loft.  All we could think about was how much that apartment must rent for each month with those gorgeous ceiling to floor windows.

[More after the jump...]

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

Credit: Bravo

Is Kenya for real on ''The Real Housewives of Atlanta'?

If she's fabricating everything from her ex to a cancer scare, does it matter?

Last night, we were treated to yet another version of former Kenya Moore on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Having waited nervously for the results of three breast biopsies, the former Miss USA determined that, for the sake of her health, she's going to be Zen Kenya -- taking deep breaths instead of tearing into Porsha for her inability to make coffee, for example, and refusing to be pulled into the drama that always swirls around these women. 

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<p>&quot;New Girl&quot;&nbsp;was one of four FOX&nbsp;shows renewed this afternoon.</p>

"New Girl" was one of four FOX shows renewed this afternoon.

Credit: FOX

FOX renews 'The Following,' 'New Girl' & other Tuesday comedies

'The Mindy Project' and 'Raising Hope' will also be back next season
FOX has renewed “The Following,” “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project” and “Raising Hope” for next season.
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<p>Joel McHale as Jeff Winger on &quot;Community.&quot;</p>

Joel McHale as Jeff Winger on "Community."

Credit: NBC

HitFix First Look: A 'Community' family reunion

Jeff Winger and his dad get together, with a little help from Britta

Dan Harmon didn't leave an awful lot of dangling threads for his "Community" successors to tie up, but one big one is Jeff Winger's search for closure with the father who abandoned him and his mother when Jeff was young. This Thursday's episode, "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations," finally brings Jeff face-to-face with the man he's resented for so long — in the form of an actor who's starting to specialize in playing estranged TV dads.

In this clip — exclusive to HitFix for the next few hours — Jeff and his father attempt to lay out the ground rules for how this reunion will work, with help from Britta, who's overjoyed by the opportunities this presents to test out her new knowledge (or lack thereof) of psychology. 

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Exclusive Premiere: Stream Highasakite's dreamy debut EP 'In and out of weeks'

Watch a video and get ready for the Norwegian band's U.S. premiere at SXSW

Highasakite's EP "In and out of weeks" is all at once dreamy and confrontational. The brevity and alarm of the chorus to "Son of a Bitch" is cushioned in melodic guitar lines. "Winner's Don't Come Easy" drips with tittering drums, a natural match for the fast-moving title track, and then takes a turn on dramatic new age triumph of "Whatever That Means."

It's all the parts of what makes bands like Beach House resonate with listeners, with Ingrid Håvik’s washy vocals and '60s-influenced production that makes the room bigger and fuller than this quintet intimates. The HitFix exclusive stream of the mini-album can be heard below.

The enchanting video for "In and out of weeks," the track, is underneath that; it's another kaleidoscopic view into the Norwegian band's compelling musical vision.

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<p>Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe in the &quot;Enlightened&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe in the "Enlightened" season finale.

Credit: HBO

Season finale review: 'Enlightened' - 'Agent of Change'

Amy goes public, but will this be the end of her story?

"Enlightened" has wrapped up its second season, and I have some thoughts on the finale, and this great season as a whole, coming up just as soon as I finish my young-adult novel...

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