The second season of "Smash" returns Tues. Feb. 5 at 9:00 p.m. with a two-hour episode, but if that's too long of a wait for you, check out this sneak peek below. We spot just a few of the major stars who will be popping up on the show, including Jennifer Hudson, Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order," the Broadway musical "Rent") and Debra Messing's old "Will & Grace" co-star, Sean Hayes.
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We kick things off with a Michael Jackson tribute, because it’s the 25th anniversary of his album “Bad.” So, that will explain last week’s whackadoo dance assignments, right? Well, no. It just adds another level of confusion, as the second half of the evening will be dedicated to Michael Jackson, but not the first. Yeah, the weird mash-ups will just be freestanding weird mash-ups. Let's just hope this is something that will never be repeated on the show. Never, ever.
A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I send you a fax machine and a Charo calendar...
The clip starts out in black and white, and transitions into color (get it? Freedom from the confines of black and white? Or something? Anyway) as Minaj poses elegantly against Noah's Arc to mansion banisters to modern sculpture. It's the rapper-singer through the ages, an eternal beauty proudly hocking her wares from Macy's.
One repeating motif in this epic is Minaj's inability to quit touching her hair. Her many wigs are no match for wandering fingertips, but frankly, if I had that many weaves, I'd be poking at 'em too.
Minaj performed a chilly rendition of "Freedom" at last night's American Music Awards, as it's one of the new tracks off of her "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - The Re-Up." It hit stores today (Nov. 19).
On "Numb," only the third song on "Unapologetic," Rihanna tunelessly repeats precisely what is required of the listener to enjoy her new album: the phrase "I'm going numb" insists the designated effect on both the singer and her public. What is needed to enjoy this, her seventh album, is to turn off.
It's not so hard turning off when dancing, on diversions like "Right Now" featuring David Guetta. She puts on a saucy little number in "Jump," borrowing heavily from Ginuwine's "Pony" and re-purposing it for a dubstep mash-up.
Turning off proves more difficult when the album seems to be catwalking off in a half dozen different directions, starting with infernal headache "Fresh Off the Runway." This album could have kicked off with any other track -- SERIOUSLY, ANY OTHER TRACK -- and made more of an impact than this colorless boaster of explicit lyricism. But to make "Unapologetic" to appear without apologies, there's a slavish tromp through it; the new so-so single "Diamonds"; the aforementioned "Numb" with Eminem; and exasperating non-song "Pour It Up," a Mike WiLL-produced experiment which is far more aimless and depressing than its title implies.
I've been kind of waiting to see how J.A. Bayona's "The Impossible" will fare with Academy and guild voters. The film hit first at Toronto. I saw it just before that and loved it. It felt, to me, like a sure-fire Oscar play. But will it find room in the bait-infested waters of December?
An award for star Naomi Watts will sure give it some higher wattage going into the holidays, and that's just what the Palm Springs International Film Festival has done. Watts will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award at the 24th annual fest, an award that, in recent years, has gone to Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet and Halle Berry in recent years.
Are you ready for Hollywood to go crazy about magic?
In June, we saw the first images from the set of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," which stars Steve Carrell as a Vegas magician who tries to get back together with his former partner Anton Lovecraft (Steve Buscemi) so that they can work together to destroy Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), who seems like a cross between Criss Angel and David Blaine. That is obviously the big comedy version of doing a film about the world of magic, but since Hollywood can't do one version of something without also doing a ton of similar films at the same time, we can also look forward to the slick stylish heist movie magic film, and if the first trailer's anything to judge by, "Now You See Me" looks like it could pull off a major trick at the box-office.
It has traditionally been very different to do a film about stage magic that works, and part of that is because the thrill of magic comes from seeing it live, with no edits, and still being fooled by what you see. On film, anything is possible because it's film. When Christopher Nolan made "The Prestige," he made the entire notion of misdirection and lies part of the thematic structure of the movie, and he shot the magic scenes in a way that made all of it seem possible, even when the film took a turn towards the surreal. It looks like director Louis Leterrier is going in the exact opposite direction with "Now You See Me," which appears to have gone through a whole lot of hands on its way to the screen.
In a recent Long Shot column, I wrote about the shabby treatment typically given by awards pundits and voters alike to the Best Actress category, a race routinely described as "weak" due to the scarcity of major female-propelled prestige titles -- despite the abundance of outstanding work on the independent, genre and foreign fringes. One of the names I highlighted as unlikely to receive the attention they deserve was Linda Cardellini, whose measured, quietly aching performance as a returning war vet in Liza Johnson's microbudget debut feature "Return" went largely unseen on its release back in February.
I'm not the only one who believes the film and the actress, still arguably best-known for her TV work in "Freaks and Geeks" and "ER," deserve a second look. Over the weekend, the LA Times reported that Cardellini herself is launching a self-financed awards campaign for herself and for the film, mailing screeners to all 2200 members of the Screen Actors' Guild nominating committee, as well as to the actors', directors' and 'producers' branches of the Academy. More power to her, I say.
Phillip Phillips, the most recent of the crowned "American Idols," has a bar to raise. Previous guys-with-guitars-styled singers like Kris Allen and Lee Dewyze are struggling for their album sales and criticisms to match their FOX show success. What this 22-year-old has going for him on his debut album "The World from the Side of the Moon," besides a title charmingly impossible to remember, is his natural, warm growl and the mixed blessing of always sounding like somebody else.
Namely, Phillips splits time on "The World" between Dave Matthews Band rockers and Mumford & Sons roots numbers. This comes as no surprise to the listener, who would easily mistake his chart-breaking single "Home" for the latter's earnest heartbreaking. As for the inveterate DMB, Phillips picks up where 2001's "Everyday" left off: these are not band-written songs, this collection is shot after shot at the Next Big Single, with a frontman never stepping away from the center. Some melodies will achieve exactly the radio single sound Universal undoubtedly hoped Phillips could achieve. "Gone, Gone, Gone" has enough BPMs to differentiate it from "Home" while still dipping into the same pool. Closer "So Easy" could easily head to Adult Top 40 as "Get Up Get Down" will leave both Matthews and Maroon 5 shaking that they didn't have first dibs.
Phillips is game for all these, but it's not unfair to say he has some serious limitations, too. Dynamically, his vocals remain pleasant, lightly challenged, but rarely changing. Those performances cause tracks like "Drive Me" and country stomper "Cant' Go Wrong" to fall flat. He most emotionally expressive on "Home," still, and abstract "Fool's Dance."
The next challenge is to take Phillips' likeable brand further, without entirely disassociating him from the television show. Some songs are strong enough, and his fans can follow this set pretty easily. Now it's up to the marketing team. Happy holidays, guys.
LONDON - You may remember that two years ago, Julia Roberts attracted some attention in awards-watching circles when she held a private industry screening of "Biutiful" in aid of Javier Bardem's Best Actor campaign -- not because she was in any way involved or invested, but simply because she believed the performance was worthy of recognition, and wanted more of her colleagues to see it. We'll never know how much of an influence Roberts' efforts had, but together with the attached publicity, they certainly didn't hurt: Bardem came from behind to score a nomination for a challenging, little-seen foreign film, and in a competitive category to boot.
This trend of peers effectively campaigning for each other looks set to continue, and we had this season's first instance of it last night at London's Soho Hotel, where Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie hosted an intimate reception and screening of "The Impossible" -- chiefly to talk up the performance of her friend Ewan McGregor. (Before you hit IMDb to jog your memory: no, they've never worked together.) I was lucky enough to be in attendance.