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<p>Just how many spy franchises does one man need?</p>

Just how many spy franchises does one man need?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Is signing Tom Cruise to star in 'Man From UNCLE' an impossible mission?

Guy Ritchie's big-screen version is looking for a lead

When I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago for the "Incredible Burt Wonderstone" press day, part of what we did involved a tour of David Copperfield's private magic museum. In order to get into the museum, you have to go through an outer room that is a reproduction of the men's wear store that his parents owned. Before showing us the secret door that would open the door to the inner warehouse, Copperfield told us that his favorite show as a kid was "The Man From UNCLE," and as soon as he said it, the theme started playing.

To some degree, "The Man From UNCLE" has always been the poor cousin to other spy shows. Norman Felton is the creator of the show, but his work was overshadowed by the publicity around Ian Fleming, who created two characters for the show. Napoleon Solo and April Dancer (who later served as the lead in "The Girl From UNCLE") both came from the back-and-forth between Fleming and Felton, and there was a point where the show was going to be called "Ian Fleming's Solo." The James Bond producers sued to prevent the show from using Fleming's name in the promotions for the show, and his work was just a small part of the overall premise. Producer Sam Rolfe also played a big part in coming up with the details of how UNCLE worked. Once the show went on the air, it was quickly turned into a buddy show, with Robert Vaughn playing Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin. The series ran for 105 episodes in the mid-to-late '60s, and it was a massive cultural hit.

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The Staves talk debut album, plus band's EXCLUSIVE SXSW photo diary

The Staves talk debut album, plus band's EXCLUSIVE SXSW photo diary

Join the British trio as the drink, eat, and play their way through Austin

On the Staves’ debut album, “Dead & Born & Grown,” the three sisters,  Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Stavely-Taylor, get away with singing about the darkest depths while their angelic harmonies sound like they are soaring to the heavens.

“Oh, I don’t think we sound like angels,” says Jessica Stavely-Taylor. “I think we sound just like us. I think sometimes there’s a downside to sounding [so lovely]. We spend a lot of time writing our music and making sure they sound as good as they can and sometimes people are just like, ‘You sound so sweet!’ The [songs] are not really happy or super chill. We’re talking about serious stuff in them.”

Indeed, on “Tongue Behind My Teeth,” the British trio is dressing down a liar and a cheat. “I’d hurt you if I could,” they sing, in glorious spite. “Oh, I will never belong to anyone,” they declare with an equal mix of independence and sadness on “Snow.”

Of course, there’s plenty of romance as well. On the lulling, gentle “Mexico,” they sing, “Carry me home on your shoulders, lower me on to my bed, show me the night that I dreamed about before” so dreamily that it feels like the invitation comes wrapped in lace and perfect lighting and whispers.

Relying largely on acoustic instruments, the pop-folk trio recalls Simon & Garfunkel or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with heavy doses of Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling thrown in.

Stavely-Taylor is calling from Austin, where the band had just played one of its two shows at SXSW.  The band chronicled their SXSW experience for us in the exclusive photo gallery below.  The group’s own promotional duties had left little opportunity to see other acts, although they had seen fellow British sister act Haim and Montreal-based Half Moon Run.

Out tomorrow (March 19) in the U.S., the album, and the trio, have already found favor in their native U.K. with the set, produced by the legendary father-and-son duo Glyn and Ethan Johns.

“They work in an old-fashioned way; they both record to tape and they like to record everything as possible,” Stavely-Taylor says. “We recorded it in a pretty old-fashioned way, which is really cool, given it’s an old-fashioned sound.” On the down side, since the album was recorded largely live, any time someone goofed, “you have to redo it every single time.”  On the plus side, Glyn Johns has no shortage of stories about the legends he’s produced. “We’d be sitting there having lunch and Glyn would be name dropping Mick Jagger, Keith Richards or Paul McCartney. It was incredible.”

Stavely-Taylor laughs when she’s asked who the trio would work with if they wanted to turn their sound completely on its ear: “We’re all really big fans of Daft Punk. It would be amazing to have someone like that. Or the Gorillaz or Hot Chip!”

The Staves sent much of the last several months touring in the U.S., playing Sasquatch! Music Festival and Bonnaroo, as well as opening for Bon Iver and The Civil Wars.

As the trio gets ready to embark on its first headlining tour in the U.K. next month, Stavely-Taylor says she and her sisters learned much from both acts. “With The Civil Wars, it was really inspiring to see the two of them holding an audience of thousands captive every night,” she says. “We thought, could we ever pull that off for an hour and a half? We play with a band already, so we won’t be doing it like them. That was really special. Not many bands have it as stripped down as they do.”

Bon Iver was just the reverse: “Bon Iver has a huge show. It’s such an epic sound,” she says. “It makes you think about where you can take your music, the possibilities.”

She also gives both acts high marks for being lovely to their opening act. “We’ve had other bands that haven’t been quite as nice as that,” she says, of course, declining to say whom.

The Staves will headline a U.S. tour in May. After years of playing open mic nights in their English hometown of Watford before they got signed, Stavely-Taylor says they’ve witnessed plenty from the stage, but she’s sure there’s more to come: "I think a guy’s taken his top off, but we haven’t been flashed, so I think there’s a lot that you could do to shock us.”

Check out our exclusive photo gallery of The Staves as they take Austin for SXSW.
 

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 173: 'Bates Motel,' 'Top of the Lake,' 'Veronica Mars' movie & more

Dan and Alan also review HBO's 'Phil Spector' and talk about the 'Girls' season finale

The

Back to roughly standard length for this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, including reviews of a series, a miniseries and a movie all with murder as the backdrop, plus lots of talk about the "Veronica Mars" Kickstarter initiative and the "Girls" season finale. The lineup:

"Top of the Lake" (00:00:50 - 00:13:40)
"Bates Motel" (00:13:40 - 00:27:20)
"Phil Spector" (00:27:20 - 00:39:50)
"Veronica Mars" Kickstarter (00:39:50 - 01:04:20)
"Girls" finale (01:04:55 - 01:24:00)
 
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>Simon Baker, Anna Faris, Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall have got some serious issues to work out in the deconstructionist romantic comedy 'I Give It A Year'</p>

Simon Baker, Anna Faris, Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall have got some serious issues to work out in the deconstructionist romantic comedy 'I Give It A Year'

Credit: Working Title

Review: Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne headline fresh and funny anti-romantic comedy 'I Give It A Year'

Supporting players score big laughs in a sly deconstruction of a genre

AUSTIN - Dan Mazer has built a career based on a very particular type of humor. As a writer/producer, he's been involved in "Da Ali G Show," "Borat," "Bruno," and "The Dictator," and he's helped define Sacha Baron Cohen's public persona in the process. Now with his first feature film as a writer/director, he's turned his attention to the Working Title romantic comedy formula, and "I Give It A Year" manages to parody the structure of those films while playing as an actual one at the same time. No easy feat, that, and I was surprised by how well Mazer manages the balancing act.

Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) meet, fall in love, and tie the knot all within seven months of meeting one another, and from the very start, their marriage seems like a bad fit. It would be easy to make one of them the bad guy in this film to make it clear whose fault things are, but Mazer instead paints both of them as decent people who simply might not be suited for each other. The weakest element in the film is a structure that involves both of them talking to a marriage counsellor played by the great Olivia Colman, and those scenes play like they're cut in from another movie. The actual day-to-day struggle between Josh and Nat is written well, and it's only gradually that Mazer starts to bring in Chloe (Anna Faris) and Guy (Simon Baker), who seem like far better-suited partners to Josh and Nat.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 173

Dan and Alan talk 'Bates Motel,' 'Veronica Mars,' 'Top of the Lake' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls
 
Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We went a little short last week, due to a total absence of new programming to review. But this week? Lots of new stuff. We've got reviews of "Top of the Lake" and "Bates Motel," which both premiere tonight. We also review HBO's upcoming Phil Spector movie.
 
We talk for a while about the "Veronica Mars" Kickstarter triumph.
 
And we also discussed the finale of HBO's "Girls."
 
Next week? Lots more new stuff!
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Top of the Lake" (00:00:50 - 00:13:40)
"Bates Motel" (00:13:40 - 00:27:20)
"Phil Spector" (00:27:20 - 00:39:50)
"Veronica Mars" Kickstarter (00:39:50 - 01:04:20)

"Girls" finale (01:04:55 - 01:24:00) 

the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

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

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<p>Eleven-year-old me spent all of Halloween night 1981 trying to explain to the adults in the neighborhood who Snake Plissken is. It did not end well.</p>

Eleven-year-old me spent all of Halloween night 1981 trying to explain to the adults in the neighborhood who Snake Plissken is. It did not end well.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Entertainment

Will Joel Silver finally 'Escape From New York'?

The long-in-development remake gets another shot at life

Even in an age where horror remakes seem to arrive every other week, the work of John Carpenter seems to be particularly picked over. Small wonder, though. Carpenter was a writer before he was a director, and he had a knack for creating films based around smart, easy to understand hooks. And of all of his films, one of the best loglines was for "Escape From New York." Talk about easy. New York is a prison now, and the President's plane crashes on it. One man is sent in to find the President and rescue him, and if he fails, he will die.

It would be accurate to say that the film has been unofficially remade any number of times now, including last year's "Space Jail" with Guy Pearce, or whatever the heck it was called. Neil Marshall's "Doomsday" went so far in its homage as to even use Carpenter's signature font for the film's credits.

There have been several attempts to remake "Escape From New York" in recent years. Ken Nolan, one of the "Black Hawk Down" writers, wrote a fairly faithful version of the movie that almost happened in 2007 with Gerard Butler attached to play Snake Plissken. What Nolan's script tried to do was flesh out the world around New York, while also delving slightly into the back story for Plissken that was suggested with a few key lines in Carpenter's script.

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<p>Ben Stiller in &quot;Zoolander.&quot;</p>

Ben Stiller in "Zoolander."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Terrence Malick turns film curator for Oklahoma museum

His diverse choices range from 'Zoolander' to 'The Lady Eve'

By his admittedly scarce standards, Terrence Malick is a positive ball of energy these days. I admit I've lost track of his three projects currently in various stages of production -- a sentence that would once have been only slightly less absurd than calling the sky green -- but his US devotees still have "To the Wonder" to look forward to next month. (Unusually, it opened in the UK a month ago.) The director has fewer critics on his side than usual with this one, but I was a fan at Venice, and remain one.

If you're in the group left disappointed or even dismayed by "Wonder," however, you may have more time for Malick's latest gig: a guest curator at the Philbrook Museum of Art in his current home state of Oklahoma.

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<p>Justin Timberlake</p>

Justin Timberlake

Questlove reveals another Justin Timberlake album coming in 2013

Does the Roots drummer have the inside track on 'The 20/20 Experience: Vol. 2?"

Could Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” out Tuesday, be just half of his 2013 output?

Yes,  if we are to believe Roots drummer Questlove. In a chat board posting on okayplayer.com  over the weekend, he said that we’ve only heard half of the story:  “Spoiler alert. 20/20 Vol 2 comes out in nov. (10 songs now...10 songs later = 20 vision).”

Furthermore, Questlove has heard the tunes: “He played me songs out of order and off both records so I don’t know what made the final cut.

It’s one of those things that just makes sense, doesn’t it? Regardless, we’ve contacted Timberlake’s representative to see if we can get any confirmation.

Questlove may be spilling the beans inappropriately, but it’s also possible that he got the news straight from JT’s mouth since they were hanging together last week while Timberlake performed nightly on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and he DJ’d before Timberlake’s well-received SXSW set on Saturday night.

As far s Questlove’s review of the album? He calls it “overly ambitious," in response to the New York Times' middling review.  He also gives JT credit for sticking with Timbaland. “I admire the balls it took to make this record. cause he coulda easily urshurd [cq] his work in and made diplo his teddy riley to 20/20’s dangerous instead of sticking with Timb’s Quincy.”  Lots of different references there to follow...

But he’s not done, Questlove also reveals that Timberlake figured that “Suit & Tie” would  not appeal to those under 35. Says Questlove, after he told JT that his 25-year old assistant wasn’t a “Suit & Tie” fan, Timberlake  “was like, ‘why do we put all of our power in the hands of 18 year olds... I wanted to make a joint that 40 year olds would love too.”

Sadly, Questlove came back a few hours later and was made that he couldn’t post on Okeyplayer (“I thought okayplayer was a place I could trust) about Timberlake and not have bloggers pick up on it.

Here's my  review of "The 20/20 Experience." 


 

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Watch: 2 Chainz's new video for 'Crack'

Watch: 2 Chainz's new video for 'Crack'

Rapper has all he needs, including a car with a stripper pole

I have a new goal in life: I want to be the girl in the 2 Chainz video whose entire performance is relegated to seeing her high-heeled legs from the knees down moving sexily from the backseat of a convertible in a garage. That’s a credit that’s going to be hard to prove. We guess she’s the stripper since he notes that his car is so big it has a stripper pole. What will they think of next?

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Thom Yorke</p>

Thom Yorke

Atoms for Peace set U.S. tour dates

Band led by Radiohead's Thom Yorke plans fall outing

Atoms for Peace will start a U.S. fall tour in September at Philadelphia’s Liacouras Center.

Individually known as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, producer Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco, Atoms For Peace released its debut set, “Amok,”  in February. The album entered the Billboard charts at No. 2.

It was uncertain that the collective would actually tour; instead, in February and March, Yorke and Godrich hosted Atoms for Peace DJ sets in London, Berlin and New York.

The good news is that it looks like the six dates are just the start, not the tour in full, as the press release calls them “the first dates of a U.S. tour.”   Tickets go on sale March 23.  Prior to the U.S. tour, the group will play continental  Europe and the U.K. in July.

ATOMS FOR PEACE
U.S. Tour 2013
 
Sept. 24           Philadelphia PA                    Liacouras Center
Sept. 27           Brooklyn NY                         Barclays Center
Sept. 30           Fairfax, VA                           Patriot Center
Oct. 2              Chicago IL                             UIC Pavilion
Oct. 16            Los Angeles CA                     Hollywood Bowl
Oct. 17            Santa Barbara CA                Santa Barbara Bowl
 

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Lily Rabe at PaleyFest

 Lily Rabe at PaleyFest

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Lily Rabe talks to HitFix about being evil for 'American Horror Story'

She explains why she'd gladly do an action movie - and her own stunts

 Let no one say Lily Rabe isn't one hell of an actress. Literally. As Sister Mary Eunice in the second season of "American Horror Story," she played an innocent nun who is taken over by the devil. At PaleyFest, she talked to HitFix about getting into character and why she wants to play an action hero.

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<p>Rihanna</p>

Rihanna

Credit: Markus Schreiber/AP

Rihanna's 777 tour documentary set to fly on FOX

Superstar's diary of seven shows in seven countries will air May 6

Rihanna 777,” an hour-long concert film about Rihanna’s November promotional tour where she performed seven shows in seven days in seven countries, will air on Fox May 6 at 8 p.m.

As one of the 150 journalists from 32 countries on the tour, I love this description from Fox: “The film also provides an inside look at the singer’s ambitious and often turbulent tour, from the sound of popping champagne corks on the plane to the backstage chaos to the singer’s special worldwide appearances.” I wonder if the footage will include the journalists’ on-plane riot after we had no access for Rihanna for five days and were on our third red-eye in five days? What about the streaker? Or how she kept audiences in Stockholm and Berlin waiting for more than two hours? For my thoughts on the tour, read here.

The concert film chronicles Ri-ri’s travels from Los Angeles to Mexico, Toronto, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, London and New York to promote “Unapologetic,” which came in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has spawned the hits “Diamonds” and “Stay.”  Rihanna is now on a U.S. tour.


 

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BLOGS BY NAME