First off, Dan is fine. He was planning to be with all of you today, but alas, it was not to be. He called me shortly after he landed in Park City, Utah (where he's on deck to cover Sundance) and asked me to pinch hit, as the wi-fi there was on the fritz. There are very few things that can keep Dan from his appointed rounds (he's like a postal carrier that way), but an inability to actually file a story will take any reporter down at the knees. To complicate matters, I was in Santa Clarita visiting the set of "Vegas" at the time, so I'm also coming to the party a little late (thus, the lack of live blogging). My apologies in advance if this seems a little harried because, well... it is. So let's get on with the show!
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We're closing in on the end of the second season of "American Horror Story," and I'm still not sure how all of the different threads of this story can be satisfactorily tied up, though we do get a hint this week of one big, ugly potential resolution ahead for at least two characters. Of course, there's still plenty of time for everyone to be killed off in, say, a raging flu epidemic (topical, if not dramatic) or an alien invasion, so never say never with this show.
Perhaps not everyone feels this way, but I’ve always seen a gratifying kind of dignity in films nominated for a single Academy Award. Granted, for some contenders it can be a disappointing underachievement. For other, more marginalized films, however, it can be a heartening sign of individual voting branches paying careful attention to work that excelled in their own craft, and not just rubber-stamping the buzz-hogging juggernauts.
The new season of “American Idol” premieres tonight on Fox and with it, the debut of three new judges, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.
The trio join Randy Jackson, the only judge who has been with the show since its 2002 launch. Here’s what we expect from each of the judges. Though their roles will morph as the season plays out, we have a pretty good idea how each will position him- or herself.
*Mariah Carey: Look for Mimi to put aside the diva-tude and step into the role of earth mother. No, she’s not going to go all hippie on us, but look for the mom of Moroccan and Monroe to show how kind and compassionate she can be as she treats all of the contestants with a little gentle tough love. As the panel’s biggest superstar and biggest voice, expect her to offer the most valid critiques of the contestants’ voices, especially for the singers who exhibit anywhere near her tremendous range. But pity the misguided contestant who thinks he/she can impress Ms. Carey by trying to take on one of her songs and hit her calling-all-dogs high notes.
*Nicki Minaj: Minaj has the finest line to walk: she’s doing this for the money and the exposure, but she can’t abandon whatever perceived edge she still has (not that some profane mixtape won’t cure that). Expect her to celebrate the oddballs, the misfits that the other judges may not initially embrace. She’s also the judge most likely to take in the whole package, as opposed to just the vocal performance, since she is such a visual artist.
*Keith Urban: Urban has the most to gain here. A superstar in the country world, he’s best known to the rest of the world as Nicole Kidman’s husband. If he plays this right, he could have the same kind of mainstream breakthrough as Blake Shelton from “The Voice.” Urban will be unfailingly kind, but he will be firm and direct in his critiques. He’ll look for overall musicality, given his excellent guitar chops and songwriting ability, and a feel for someone’s authenticity. He’s talked about wanting to show the contestants how to strip down to their core, so look for him to stress to contestants to pack up any bells and whistles and concentrate on the basics. Urban was a judge last year on the Australian version of ‘The Voice,” so also look for him to try to mentor the contestants just as much as he judges them.
Who do you think will be the best judge?
"Change is good, you know?" comedian Jim Jefferies announces early in his new FX series "Legit," which debuts tomorrow night at 10:30. "Can't keep going on like this. I think I'd like to have kids."
Jim sounds sincere as he explains this to his friend Steve (Dan Bakkedahl), but quickly adds that he doesn't want to get married — that, in an ideal world, he would meet a woman, get her pregnant, and she would stick around long enough to get the baby through the sleepless nights/dirty diaper phase before conveniently dying.
"That would really be best for everyone," he explains to a horrified Steve, who tries to work around his friend's narcissism by suggesting, "My therapist says if you want to get out of your head, you do something nice for someone else."
"Legit" is the story of a selfish pig who decides to do something nice for someone else, but it's not a fairy tale. Jim does the right things, but inevitably for the wrong reasons, and always with a twisted logic that makes it hard to see any of his actions as entirely generous.
Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” locks the competition out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for the sixth consecutive week. But next week it will face serious threats for No. 1 from not only Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, but Justin Timberlake, as well.
The track, from “Unorthodox Jukebox,” holds off a charge from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop,” which jumps 5- 2 on the Hot 100. Sales and airplay propel the title to No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where it knocks Rihanna’s “Diamonds” out of No. 1 after 14 weeks. “Thrift Shop” is also No. 1 on Digital Songs, making it the first independently-distributed tune to top that chart since Artists for Haiti’s “We Are The World 25: For Haiti” in March 2010, according to Billboard.
The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” rises 4-3, trading places with Taylor Swift’s “I Knew Your Were Trouble.” Rihanna’s “Diamonds” falls 2-5.
Will.i.am and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout” rises 8-6. Swedish House Mafia earns its first Top 10 with “Don’t You Worry Child” featuring John Martin surging 11-7. Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat” featuring Nicki Minaj slides 7-8, Phillip Phillips’ “Home” slips 6-9 and Flo Rida’s “I Cry” holds at No. 10.
So how does Justin Timberlake’s new single, “Suit & Tie” fare? The track debuts at No. 84 based solely on two days of airplay. The tally does not include the 350,000 downloads the track is expected to sell in its first week of release. That’s because Nielsen Soundscan tracks sales from Monday-Sunday, so this week’s sales tracking was completed by the time the track went on sale at midnight Sunday. Conversely, radio information runs Wednesday-Tuesday, so this week’s chart includes the first two days’ worth of radio play. Billboard is predicting that “Suit & Tie” could leap into the Top 5 next week.
This may be the best cover ever: Samuel L. Jackson took a go at Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” when he appeared on U.K. radio station Capital FM recently.
[More after the jump...]
Before they "Star Trek Into Darkness," U.S.S. Enterprise crew members Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana are reuniting to host the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards in February.
Southern California folk rockers Dawes will release their third album, “Stories Don’t End,” on April 9. The set marks the band’s first since its departure from ATO Records. "Stories" is the follow-up to 2011's "Nothing Is Wrong," a collection that made many critics' best-of lists, including mine.
Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith says to expect the band to wear its influences a little less on its collective musical sleeve this time out. “"I feel like a big part of our existence is, 'Dawes is this cool band that takes us back to the Seventies,' which is never something we wanted at all," Goldsmith tells Rolling Stone. "Obviously we have our influences, and I know that some of what we do as a band is of another time, even simple aspects like guitar solos. So I get it, I'm not mad at it, but at the same time, we just wanted to make sure people saw us as a modern band as well.” Of course, when you're backing Robbie Robertson or Jackson Browne, being seen as a little retro is part of the package.
Working with producer Jacquire King, Dawes recorded the album over five weeks in Asheville, N.C.
A spring and summer tour will follow the album’s release.
Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks will come together for an edition of CMT’s “Crossroads,” which will air later this year on the cable outlet.
The Fleetwood Mac singer and the country trio will tape the show, which features each act singing the other’s biggest hits. The show generally pairs a country artist with one of his or her musical heroes from another genre. Past collaborations include Taylor Swift with Def Leppard, The Avett Brothers with Randy Travis, Ryan Adams with Elton John and Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler.
The episode will tape later this month in Los Angeles. The taping comes at a period of great activity for Nicks: in addition to the deluxe re-issue of “Rumours” out Jan. 29, Nicks and her Fleetwood Mac band mates will kick off a tour later this spring. Additionally, she is part of Dave Grohl’s “Sound City” band, composed of musicians featured in his new documentary about the landmark Van Nuys, Calif., recording studio. The band will play at the film’s premiere at Sundance, as well as a Los Angeles premiere on Jan. 31.
I caught Jeff Nichols' "Mud" yesterday in advance of its North American bow at Sundance next week and was bowled over. Over the moon. Full tilt in love with this movie, but I'll get into that during the festival.
Today, Roadside Attractions has released the first trailer for the film via Yahoo! Movies, which builds on its thriller aspects well enough but really isn't the most honest representation of what the film is. But that's fine. This will get people into the theater.
Check out the trailer above and stay tuned this week for further thoughts on the film and an interview with Nichols about his finest achievement to date. "Mud" opens in limited release April 26.
A quick review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I pick up calls on a banana...