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Tonight, one of the best comedies of the last decade comes to an end when How I Met Your Mother airs its series finale at 8/7 central on CBS, after nine seasons.

The cast, which includes Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, and Jason Segel, really didn’t know each other very well before they began working on the series together. But over the past nine years, they have all became close friends. During one of the last interviews the cast did together, they all spoke about the early days of the show and how their friendship progressed throughout the years.

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MAN OF STEELThroughout Kevin Costner’s long film career, he has made some iconic sports films such as Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and Tin Cup. Those films were loved by audiences and critics alike. Throughout the years, rumors have persisted that sequels were possibly in the works for one or more of those films. We spoke to Kevin Costner, who was doing early promotion for his next sports movie, Draft Day, who confirmed that those rumors were true, and that while he would have liked to do sequels on those earlier films, the scripts he was presented with just weren’t up to par.

Draft Day opens in theaters on April 11, 2014.

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American Idol (FOX, Michael Becker)

It was definitely tough seeing Majesty Rose go last night on American Idol, but unfortunately her performance of Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out” received a lukewarm response. Rose was actually one of the show’s early frontrunners thanks to her vocal prowess, natural ease with the cameras, and talented musicianship (her audition performance of Coldplay’s “Violet Hill” is one of this season’s highlights).

Still, there are no free rides on American Idol and even the most talked about singers can go home the following week. “I think it’s really about each performance,” says judge Keith Urban ” ‘Cause I think, you know, she’s been in the top three a lot and for whatever reason the performance last night didn’t register with everybody as much as previous performances have, so who knows?  It’s a funny thing when we have to deliberate and make a decision.  Everyone’s booing us not saving her, but what we’re really doing is agreeing with the rest of America.”

As for Connick Jr., he understands that sometimes American Idol results may shock viewers. “I mean at this point, you know, really, what is the right choice,” said the singer. “Because you have nine artists and eight of them are going to go home.  So they’re all talented in their own right, so it’s just a matter of who America votes for.  And sometimes it’s so, so surprising, but you know, you have to respect the process.”

As for Rose, she managed to remain upbeat after her elimination, stating that she would love to also be a commercial model (along with being a pre-school teacher and a singer).

Click on the media bar below to hear Majesty Rose:

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The Raid: Berandal (Sony Pictures Classics)

Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s premiere visualist, weaved his narratives in seductive, and oftentimes grand, cinematic fashion. These masterworks were accomplished by, in his own words, “a success of shots and bits of film in between.” Director Gareth Evans is a disciple of this methodology, and The Raid 2 is an unabashedly visceral and awe inspiring experience. If you’re a film buff who geeks out on visually arresting action sequences, this film has no peer (Evans’ The Raid 2: Redemption is its equal). But life is more than a punch to the gut or a hammer to one’s skull, and it’s these subtle moments of betrayal and anguish which shows Evans’ creative fluidity isn’t confined to the camera.

We continue with Rama’s (Iko Uwais) journey, and this time his task of going undercover as a prison convict may finally drive a wedge between himself and his loved ones. As part of his thankless job, Rama ingratiates himself into the lives of a crime family after saving the boss’ egotistical son Ucok (Arifin Putra). As Ucok descends further into a rabbit hole of self-delusion, his quick trigger decisions leads to an all out bloodbath between criminals, crooked cops, and a few good guys along the way.

Evans, though affable and self-deprecating in person, crafts Rama’s world with unfailing moxie and refreshing verve. There are very few restful moments in The Raid 2, and though the more subtle scenes show the filmmaker has true dramatic chops, they mainly function as the calm before the storm. One seemingly indestructible character named Prakoso (Yayan Ruhian) has been part of Ucok’s crime family for years, a walking instrument of destruction. Evans spends a few minutes delving into Prakoso’s prime motivations, giving viewers a more sympathetic look at a cold blooded (yet principled) killer.

The Raid 2 (Sony Pictures Classics)I trolled Gareth Evans’ twitter page (@ghuevans) and the filmmaker uploaded a poster of Sergio Leone’s classic epic Once Upon a Time in the West as his backdrop. Leone’s revered Western contains various notable achievements, including Ennio Morricone’s sweeping score, the ambitious opening showdown sequence with Charles Bronson, and Henry Fonda’s cast against type performance as an amoral gunslinger.

Like Leone, Evans creates set pieces and characters (i.e. The Raid 2’s Hammer Girl) which leave an indelible impression on moviegoers. Both have a much bigger picture in mind, as they are searching for a life that exists beyond the frame. Once Upon a Time in the West centered a harmonica playing man’s (Bronson) quest for vengeance. After his mission is completed, nothing profoundly substantial occurs, save for the satiation’s of his own blood lust. No matter who wins or dies, the West’s progress will continue to move on. The railroads will be built even at the expense of its denizens’ livelihood. Nothing, not even the bullets from a man’s gun, can stop the inevitable.

The Raid 2 forges a similar existential and truthful path. No matter which side Rama chooses, or even if he ensures his family’s safety, time waits for no one. Where there is money to be made, crime and corruption is always on the menu. Amidst all his cinematic virtuosity, Evans is aiming for a much more universal and evocative theme. Rama, just like the man with the harmonica, is an individual trapped in a world that will continue to leave heroes and villains in their wake.

Of course, The Raid 2 is a first rate and thrilling action flick, and that should be the main reason for checking out Evans’ latest offering. But if you’re in need of a much grander meal, look a bit closer. The view, even if you’re stuck the cheap seats, is a sight to behold.

*** Check out my article on Deepest Dream and listen to Gareth Evans discuss his expanded visual style and design for The Raid 2.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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16Is Simon Cowell returning to American Idol? Earlier today, the former American Idol Judge tweeted the following:

While the current Idol judges, Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban have been great, there seems to be an element lacking since the original judges departed Idol. We spoke to Cowell before one of his final American Idol shows and asked him why he thought his tenure on the show was so successful (Click on the media bar below to hear Simon Cowell)

Should American Idol producers bring Simon Cowell back along with Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul? Let us know!

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15Academy Award winner Russell Crowe stars in the new epic film, Noah. The film is directed and written by Darren Aronofsky. Many stars would be hesitant to star in what is considered to be a religious story. Crowe was at first not sure that he was interested in starring in the film, but Darren Aronofsky’s pitch about how the movie would be a much different film than previous retellings of Noah’s Arc, changed his mind.

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HOW I MET YOUR MOTHERAfter nine seasons and 208 episodes, the CBS hit comedy How I Met Your Mother ends its great run Monday on CBS. While the series has been a ratings hit for several years, that wasn’t always the case. During the early seasons of the show, it was on the brink of cancellation several times. HIMYM stars Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan recall those early days of the show, and whether or not it would be picked up for the following season. (Click on the media bar to hear Neil Patrick Harris & Alyson Hannigan)


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American Idol (FOX, CR: Michael Becker)

It’s another week on American Idol, as the top 9 try to survive another week on the show. The great news is that these singers are all taking part in the anticipated Idol summer tour, and now it’s pretty much about building their respective fan base and attempting to win the coveted Idol crown.

Each performer has their own strategy and theory on how to keep their momentum going, and for Jessica Meuse a huge part of her success lies in her song selection. “I’m going to really, really look at song choice and you know, measure out the pros and cons and just make sure I pick the absolute perfect song for the ‘I’m with the band’ theme.”

With a countrified and roots infused voice and aesthetic, CJ Harris is one of this season’s most talented artists. Having a diverse skill set can have its drawbacks, as Harris now understands that staying in his specified lane should continue to serve him well: “I need to work on just staying to who I am, doing songs that really fit me and make my voice stand out because I think sometimes that I’m overthinking it and maybe trying to learn a new song to please other people instead of just going with what I know and what got me here.”

Along with Harris, Jena Irene is also focusing on the rock side of her musicianship. Click on the media bar below to hear Irene talk about dipping her toes this week with a “modern rock” tune:


American Idol airs tonight (FOX, 8 pm et/pt). To check out my piece on recently eliminated contestant MK Nobilette, go to Deepest Dream.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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The Voice (NBC, CR: Tyler Golden)

Initially part of Usher’s team, singer Brittnee Camelle was stolen last week by Adam Levine after her memorable battle round performance with Melissa Jimenez. We talked to Camelle via phone this morning, and during our brief chat she brought a welcome sense of introspection and levity to the proceedings.

Here’s our Q&A, and if you want to follow Camelle on Twitter, go to @MissCamelle. Enjoy!

You exude strength and confidence in your performances. Did you learn that from your family or are those traits you’ve honed as a singer?

You know I would probably have to say a combination of both, and probably more so my family. Especially my mother just because she’s always taught me to be strong in everything that I do. I think just like growing up and having to deal with different type of situations I guess.

Like I kind of explained on the show, when I was growing up, I was teased a lot. I was given a lot of different crap (laughs). It really gave me a backbone to stand on and to not let the outside world bother me. I guess that does come across in my voice and in my performance because I want people to feel that when they watch me perform. That feeling of strength and confidence, because if I were to speak to a group of young girls right now, that would be the two things I would like teach them. I believe as a woman that’s very important. We’ve had so many hardships that we have overcome. We should be proud to be strong women and exude those traits.

I owe a lot of that to my mother and my father for raising me the way that they did. And also learning through life lessons.

What is an average week on The Voice like, with all the press, rehearsals, and performances that are part of your schedule?

We actually spend a lot of time just rehearsing. We get to meet with our coach and go over the new song and we get some time to get acquainted with the song before we go in with our couch. And then we take the pointers they give us and the pointers from our mentors and we get to go back to our hotel and practice it a million times. (laughs) We also get to have fun the choreographers. That’s always the most relaxed part. No nerves there. It’s just a moment when you can kind of let loose for a little while and really get involved physically with the song. I have to say we spend the majority of our time rehearsing our songs like a crazy person.

Number one, you don’t want to go on stage and forget the lyrics. And two, just getting so comfortable with it that when you walk out there it’s like second nature. So it’s really cool and it’s up and down. We always say that more than staying healthy physically, you have to stay healthy mentally. Not only are you nervous about everything that’s going to happen, but you have to be able to digest a lot of criticism and you have to incorporate what the coach and the mentor is telling you to do and incorporate that into who you already are. And be willing to grow. It’s definitely a roller coaster, but it’s a lot of fun.

During the battle rounds with Melissa Jimenez, we also spent time trying to get to know each other so our chemistry on stage would make sense.

The Voice (NBC, CR: Tyler Golden)

That was the best battle round of the season, and that was a performance that could have gone the other way since you and Melissa are powerhouse vocalists.

That is tough, you do get close in the process and throughout all the rehearsals and just being a part of the experience you do get close. I think honestly it was just about embodying the song and owning our parts and also as a duo. For the moments we had to sing together we had to make sure that we became one. The moves and all that - Melissa is a great performer. She’s performed with a band for years which was (an advantage) over me because performing a live band, I’ve only had that pleasure a few times.

It was just about taking the time to become one on stage and convey the message of what the song was saying.

It was great seeing you take criticism from Jill Scott and Usher in a constructive way. Do you believe having a positive attitude is a huge part of the process?

When you’re in a such a life changing experience like this, I feel like it’s the best best (to have a positive attitude). Who’s to say that I’ll ever be able to sit in front of icons like Jill Scott, or Usher, and Adam Levine again and be able to take that criticism, or listen to what they have to say? When you want something in life, you don’t let it bury you. You take it and you say, “Well they definitely know what they’re talking about, because they’re already doing what I want to do.” I really just wanted to make them proud and transform it in the best way so they can see the growth.

I think this is what The Voice is all about. It’s about growth and to see the star that lives in all the contestants. I think we just need the right grooming and nurturing, and then we’re there.

There’s a lot of talk about The Voice family. Are you getting a sense of what that really means to you during this journey? The main goal is to win The Voice, but the longer term goal is to nurture one’s career.

That is true. It would be wonderful to win the show, don’t get me wrong! But you’re right, I have to say we grow so close because we spend so much time with each other and we’re away from our families for long periods of time and really at the end of the day, all we have is each other. We’re going through this experience together. We have our ups and downs and sometimes we need to cry just to get the stress out.

Sometimes we just need someone we can laugh with and for a second just forget about what we’re doing - just so we can breathe. II’ve created some of the greatest friendships that I have ever experienced (on The Voice). I know that no matter where the end of our journey comes on the show, I will always have them as supporters and they will always have me.

It’s like one big network and I know that Melissa, when she puts out new music, I will be her number one supporter. Or any of the ladies that I have grown close with. I will make sure that we all stay connected. It is all about what you take from The Voice.

The Voice airs tonight (8 pm et/pt) and Tuesday night (8 pm et/pt) on NBC. To check out my interview with Patrick Thomson, who was stolen last week and is now on Team Shakira, check out my post on Deepest Dream.


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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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American Idol (FOX, CR: Michael Becker)

For Jennifer Lopez, there are no huge favorites to win it all this season on American Idol. “I don’t think there’s a front runner this year,” said Lopez, who performed her hit single ‘I Luh Ya Papi’ on the show.” I think anybody can win and I think it’s very performance based and that’s what we’re seeing with the bottom three. (It’s) different every single times whereas in past seasons it’s kind of like you knew.”

“Certain people were never in the bottom three. Certain people just skated all through to win or just make the top four or five. That’s not what this year is like.”

It appeared that Lopez wanted to save MK Nobilette, who received mixed reviews this week with her rendition of Pink’s “Perfect,” from elimination. Unfortunately, fellow judge Harry Connick Jr. dished out the bad news to MK, saying: “It breaks our heart, but we have to say goodbye to you.”

As for Lopez, she was asked after the show about what type of music she listens to these days (her own album comes out June 17). Click on the audio below to hear her answer:

To hear what MK Nobilette had to say after her American Idol, check out the article on our sister site Deepeest Dream.


American Idol airs on FOX on Wednesday and Thursday nights (8 pm et/pt).

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