Microsoft aims to break down language barriers with Skype Translator

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on December 16th, 2014

We’re living in the future, folks, in case you didn’t know. This week Microsoft is leading the charge in breaking down language barriers with its Skype Translator. Essentially, the new software allows Skype users to translate their conversations into another language in real-time. A perfect example of it in use is featured in the saccharine clip posted above. Students in America are video chatting peers in Mexico City; when an American student speaks English, the Spanish-speaking student on the other side can understand her completely (and vice-versa) as their spoken words are translated almost instantly. It’s quite magical, really.

Skype Translator is currently available as a preview and only supports English and Spanish. Skype promises that additional language support is on the way. You can help refine the incredible technology by signing up to become a preview user today.

[Via Microsoft]

Doug Dorst & J.J. Abrams put the “S.” in “S.earch” with new promotional campaign for their mystery novel

Posted in Entertainment,Video by Scott Meisner on December 16th, 2014

The mysterious S. videos continue! Though, this clip is more straightforward than the last. Have you picked up a copy of Doug Dorst & J.J. Abrams’ novel S.? If not, now’s the time to jump in. In addition to briefly discussing the inspiration behind their book, in the video embedded above Dorst and Abrams explain that they’ve signed five copies and have hidden them in five different cities around the nation. They dare you to find one, read it, and then ditch it for someone else to discover (or keep it, that’s entirely up to you). Does this concept sound familiar? It should: D&A are borrowing the “Send Wonder” concept imagined by artist/magician Jamie D. Grant; he previously collaborated with Abrams’ Bad Robot and magic destination Theory 11 to create the Mystery Bottle. Grant’s “Send Wonder” campaign is all about spreading inspiration with the world through sharing and random discovery. Want to be one of the lucky five to score a signed copy of S.? Follow Dorst on Twitter where the author will be dropping clues to their whereabouts; first stop: NYC.

‘Birdman’ & ‘Fargo’ lead this year’s Golden Globe nominations

Posted in Movies,News,Television by Scott Meisner on December 11th, 2014

On Thursday the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced this year’s Golden Globe nominations. The hybrid award show that celebrates both film and television granted Michael Keaton vehicle Birdman and the breakout FX drama Fargo the most nominations with seven and five, respectively.

Best Motion Picture (Drama) nominees include Richard Linklater’s excellent BoyhoodFoxcatcher (Steve Carrell received a nod for Best Performance), The Imitation Game (so did Benedict Cumberbatch), Selma (and David Oyelowo), and The Theory of Everything (and Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones). And the Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) nominees: Birdman (Keaton received a nod for Best Performance), The Grand Budapest Hotel (so did Ralph Fiennes), Into the Woods (and Emily Blunt), Pride, and St. Vincent (and Bill Murray). And the five movies going after Best Animated Film are Big Hero 6The Book of LifeThe BoxtrollsHow to Train Your Dragon 2, and The LEGO Movie.

Moving over to the TV side of things, Best Television Series (Drama) nominees include Showtime’s The Affair (well deserved!, plus, Dominic West and Ruth Wilson received nods for Best Performance), Downton AbbeyGame of ThronesThe Good Wife, and Netflix original series House of Cards (so did Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright). And the Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical) nominees: Girls (Lena Dunham received a nod for Best Performance), The CW’s Jane the Virgin (s0 did Gina Rodriguez), Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (and Taylor Schilling), Silicon Valley, and Amazon’s Transparent (and Jeffrey Tambor). And the five series going after Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television are Fargo (Martin Freeman,Billy Bob Thornton, and Allison Tolman received nods for Best Performance), The Missing (so did Frances O’Connor), The Normal Heart (and Mark Ruffalo), Olive Kitteridge (and Frances McDormand), and True Detective (and Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson).

With so many great nominees also comes the snubbed. Per usual there are too many to count, but here are a few that come to mind. Interstellar was nominated for Hans Zimmer’s original score and nothing else. In TV, HomelandMasters of SexThe Leftovers, The AmericansBates MotelHannibalThe Walking Dead, Orphan Black (poor Tatiana Maslany, again!), Mad MenModern FamilyParks and Recreation: all nada.

The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards airs live Sunday, January 11 at 8PM ET on NBC hosted once again by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Click here to view the full list of nominees.

Frantic emotions star in Pixar’s latest ‘Inside Out’

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on December 11th, 2014

The next film from Pixar, the makers of Up, Toy Story 3, and Finding Nemo, is Inside Out and it looks like a ton of fun. The first full trailer that’s embedded above is so much more than the teaser that preceded it. The entirety of it takes place at the dinner table with Riley and her mom and dad. Riley’s first day of school didn’t go so well, and when her parents prod her about it we take a journey inside all three of their minds. It’s an interesting move, creatively speaking, to have people’s emotions star in a movie. But from this early sneak peek I am confident Pixar has another hit on its hands. Also, the voice cast happens to be A+: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) star as Riley’s main emotions.

Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up) directs Inside Out, out June 19, 2015.

Up-and-coming director Chris Alender’s short film ‘Eye of the Storm’ catches J.J. Abrams’ attention

Posted in Movies,News,Short film,Video by Scott Meisner on December 11th, 2014

In 2008, J.J. Abrams put director Matt Reeves on the map with the shaky-cam monster movie Cloverfield; Reeves would go on to also direct the thriller Let Me In and this year’s excellent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Abrams is looking to strike gold again by fostering new talent, according to Deadline. Enter Chris Alender, the founder of Soapbox Films, a production house that specializes in the making of music videos, commercials, and films. One of his films, namely Eye of the Storm, must have caught J.J.’s attention because Alender is now working hand-in-hand with the Star Wars director on an upcoming top secret project for Sony Pictures. Of course, as details slowly but surely spill out about the Abrams/Alender project you’ll hear it here.

But more on Alender’s short film. Eye of the Storm, embedded above for your viewing pleasure, is technically a music video for musician Ben Lovett whose song of the same name is featured throughout the clip. It wears an aesthetic that’s reminiscent of what you’d find in a Sin City movie, and yet it’s distinctive enough to be hailed as a success all on its own. Elements from science fiction and steampunk are fused together here to create a mini-adventure in the sky as a giant ship soars into the eye of a massive storm. There’s a mystical potion and a dragon, to boot. What Alender’s created here, essentially, is an exquisitely executed short film that leaves the viewer wanting more by the time you get to the end. Equally impressive is the effort put into making it a reality; after the break, check out a BTS video revealing practical effects used to manifest stunning results.

Abrams knows how to pick ‘em. Cannot wait to see what Alender cooks up next. (Click here for more…)

FX renews ‘The League’ for a seventh and final season

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on December 11th, 2014

It’s the beginning of the end for The League.  The fantasy football comedy that’s really not about fantasy football at all has been renewed for a seventh and final season by FX. The upcoming batch of 13 episodes, set to premiere in fall 2015 on FXX, will see Pete, Kevin, Ruxin, Andre, Taco, and Jenny vie for the Shiva one last time. Even after six seasons, The League is still a great go-to comedy for consistent laughs and total absurdity (is a Rafi/Dirty Randy spinoff on anyone else’s mind?). Though it’ll be sad to see the show conclude, I’d say they’re certainly going out on top and not overstaying their welcome. Read quotes from the husband-and-wife team behind the series below:

“We are incredibly excited to work with our amazing cast for another season, especially because I can now announce that I finally won the fantasy football league that we play in with them,” said Jeff Schaffer.

“Whatever, I’ve won it twice,” Jackie Schaffer said. “Most players in the NFL don’t make it seven seasons, and most TV shows even less so. We want to thank FX Networks and all our Eskimo Brothers and Sisters – NFL teams would be lucky to have fans as diehard as ours.”

“Spoiler alert – We already know how it will all end – with credits and the theme song,” added Jeff Schaffer.

Click here to learn about how the series got started.

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Sony celebrates 20 years of PlayStation with a retro-designed limited edition console

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on December 6th, 2014

This December 3 marked the 20th anniversary of PlayStation. It was on that day in 1994 when Sony released the original PlayStation in Japan forever changing the gaming landscape and evolving the industry into what it has become today: a place to play and discover and wow with incredible, life-like graphics and intuitive mechanics.

To celebrate 20 years of PlayStation, Sony is manufacturing a special, limited edition PS4 with a design that harkens back to the aforementioned OG PlayStation. The bundle is packed with a 20th Anniversary Edition PS4, DualShock 4 wireless controller, PlayStation Camera, and a vertical stand all coated in the same Original Grey finish as the PS1. You’ll also spot the original PS logo across the new hardware, as well as a cool 20/X/Square/Triangle pattern design scheme embossed all over the console and the controller’s touch pad. And when Sony says “limited,” they mean it: only 12,300 of these bad boys will be made (that number matches the PS1’s release date–neat, huh?). Consoles will be specially marked with their number (as in x/12,300). Want one? Today (12/6) the company put it up for preorder on its online store and to nobody’s surprise it sold out in minutes. This is not to say Sony won’t release another batch, but eBay will likely end up being your best bet in the future.

Already own a PS4 and still want to get in on the celebration? Sony’s got you covered: fire up your console, download the latest firmware update, and you’ll be privy to a free PS1 retro theme that takes over your home screen with a predominantly grey color scheme with floating colorful O’s, X’s, Squares, and Triangles. It also features a familiar boot-up sound! Preview the theme here.

Elsewhere in PS Land, Sony is holding its inaugural PlayStation Experience this weekend in Las Vegas. Some cool announcements worth mentioning follow, in brief. Remember when Microsoft offered those customizable console faceplates for its Xbox 360? Well, Sony is following in their footsteps with new faceplates to spruce up the PS4 for those so inclined. “Project Skylight Beta” is currently offering two faceplates at $24.99 apiece featuring designs inspired by the games The Order: 1886 and LittleBigPlanet 3 with more on the way. Removing the console’s current faceplate and snapping in a new one is, well, a snap; Sony demonstrates the painless process here.

Also at PSX, the company held a keynote for fans brimming with upcoming titles for PS4, PS3, and PS Vita. Engadget‘s done a nice job of collecting trailers for the announced games. Ones that popped out for me include this new look at Hello Games’ trippy exploration adventure No Man’s Sky, this first look at Capcom’s fifth major installment in the Street Fighter franchise, and this 15-minute preview of stunning in-game footage from Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Oh, and speaking of games, EA is handing out three free (I’ll reiterate: free) games at this very moment. PS4 owners can download the addictive animated shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, PS3 users can nab the uniquely first person Mirror’s Edge, and handheld Vita gamers are awarded Need for Speed: Most Wanted. You’ll want to hop on this fast–these awesome deals expire tonight at midnight PST/3am EST.

Jump after the break to continue the anniversary celebration with unboxing videos and a special clip featuring Sackboy and the rest of the LittleBigPlanet universe embodying the past 20 years of PlayStation. (Click here for more…)

‘Bond 24′ gets a title, release date, official synopsis, cast & all-new specifically designed Astin Martin car

Posted in Image cache,Movies,News by Scott Meisner on December 6th, 2014

Bond, James Bond returns in the 24th film in the long-running espionage franchise. On Wednesday, returning director Sam Mendes (Skyfall) hosted an unveiling event that revealed the film’s shrouded title, among other tidbits. Bond 24 is name SPECTRE and it aims to release November 6, 2015. In case you’re not ‘in the know’ when it comes to all things 007, SPECTRE is a fictional global terrorist organization featured in a number of James Bond novels written by Ian Flemming. It’s also an acronym: SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. The head of the organization is evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld; the character is featured in a number of Flemming’s novels as well as many 007 films. He was perhaps portrayed most famously by Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice (1967). The character would go on to spawn Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil, of course.

With SPECTRE at the center of the new film, you’d think Blofeld would serve as Bond’s main antagonist here. Interestingly, the cast announcement left his name out entirely. Obviously Daniel Craig reprises 007 for the fourth time running; other returning cast includes Rory Kinnear as Tanner, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny, and Ralph Fiennes as the new M. Joining the cast is Andrew Scott (Moriarty from BBC’s Sherlock) as Denbigh, Dave Bautista (Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy) as Mr. Hinx, Monica Bellucci as Bond Girl #1 Lucia Sciarra, Léa Seydoux as Bond Girl #2 Madeleine Swann, and Christoph Waltz as Hannes Oberhauser. Now, Oberhauser is an actual character plucked from Bond lore; he served as a mentor for James before he mysteriously vanished. Even then, why can’t I stop postulating that this is merely a ruse and Waltz will indeed portray the sinister Blofeld? (Star Wars did it when they cast Benedict Cumberbatch as “John Harrison” and we all know who that ended up being.)

SPECTRE will shoot at Pinewood Studios in London, as well as in exotic locales like Rome, Mexico City, Tangier, Erfoud, and the Austrian Alps. Principal photography begins this Monday at Pinewood with Mendes at the helm and Interstellar‘s cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema and editor Lee Smith beside him. Skyfall writers John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have also penned the SPECTRE script.

As in all Bond movies, 007’s method of transportation here plays an important, flashy role. Mendes dramatically revealed Bond’s latest ride at the press event: it’s the all-new Astin Martin DB10. Little is known about the high-performance vehicle, expect for the fact that it was designed specifically for the movie and limited production is underway.

What else? Here’s a log line: “A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”

So pretty much all that’s left is to find out who will be performing SPECTRE‘s theme. Recent rumblings point to talented British crooner Sam Smith. For now, jump after the break view the official teaser poster. (Click here for more…)

‘Terminator: Genisys’ trailer introduces a new past for Sarah Connor to escape

Posted in Image cache,Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on December 6th, 2014

His catchphrase is “I’ll be back,” so we should have known all along that action hero and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would eventually reprise his iconic role as The Terminator in that film franchise. The latest Terminator movie, Terminator: Genisys, is more of a reboot than a sequel. Like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek it intends to roll around in the playground already laid out by James Cameron in the 1984 original, but it introduces a new timeline that allows for a new story to unfold. As we’ve seen play out time and again, John Connor–leader of the resistance–will send his trusted lieutenant Kyle Reese back in time to save Conner’s mother Sarah to ensure his existence. However, this time around, Reese will be sent to a brand new past we haven’t seen before. The movie’s Wikipedia page does a pretty solid job in summing it all up:

The movie will take advantage of a more comprehensive grandfather paradox that includes a parallel universe. In Terminator Genisys, Kyle Reese traveling from Universe A will end up in a Universe B, created when Skynet attempted to kill Sarah Connor during childhood. Together, Reese and Sarah will attempt to create a Universe C that would obliterate both Universe A and B, and in which the events of Judgment Day (Skynet’s launching of World War III, devastating humanity) would have never happened.

Make sense? Well there it is. Jason Clarke (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) stars as John Connor, Jai Courtney is Kyle Reese, Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is a bad-ass Sarah Connor, and Lee Byung-hun is the new liquid metal T-1000. Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark WorldGame of Thrones) directs.

Terminator: Genisys releases July 1, 2015. Eye a teaser poster after the break. (Click here for more…)

Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams & Beyoncé lead 2015 Grammy nominations

Posted in Music,News by Scott Meisner on December 6th, 2014

Newcomer Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams, and Queen Bey collected the most Grammy nominations (six apiece!) at the nod announcement ceremony this week. Fun fact: Beyoncé is now the most-nominated female artist in history with 53 nods total thus far in her illustrious career. Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” is up for Record of the Year along with Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (featuring Charli XCX), Sia’ “Chandelier,” T-Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” Smith was also nominated for Album of the Year for his debut effort In The Lonely Hour; in this coveted category he’ll be competing against Beyoncé (Beyoncé), Pharrell (Girl), Beck (Morning Phase), and Ed Sheeran (X). In addition, Smith’s “Stay With Me” hopes to be crowned Song of the Year as is “All About That Bass” (Meghan Trainor), “Chandelier” (Sia), “Shake It Off” (T-Swizzle), and “Take Me To Church” (Hozier). Smith’s luck doesn’t end there; he’s also up for Best New Artist along with Iggy Azalea, Bastille, Brandy Clark, and Haim (woo!). Click here for the full list of nominees.

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards airs Sunday, Feb. 8 on CBS.

‘Toy Story’ special & new Netflix original ‘Marco Polo’ premiere this month [Update: ‘Black Mirror’ Christmas special]

Posted in News,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on December 1st, 2014

Now here’s something to tide you over until Disney and Pixar unleash Toy Story 4: it’s another Toy Story TV special, a follow-up to 2013’s Toy Story of Terror! Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprise their roles as Woody and Buzz Lightyear (alongside other fan favorite characters) in a half-hour tale titled Toy Story That Time Forgot.

During a post-Christmas play date, the Toy Story gang find themselves in uncharted territory when the coolest set of action figures ever turn out to be dangerously delusional. It’s all up to Trixie, the triceratops, if the gang hopes to return to Bonnie’s room in this Toy Story That Time Forgot.

Watch the trailer here. The special premieres Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 8pm on ABC.

Jump after the break to preview Netflix’s latest drama. (Click here for more…)

Saul Goodman meets Mike Ehrmantraut in ‘Better Call Saul’ pilot preview

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on December 1st, 2014

Better Call Saul is coming soon, and to celebrate its anticipated premiere, AMC aired an actual scene pulled directly from the pilot episode during Sunday night’s tragic midseason finale of The Walking Dead. In it, Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman prototype Jimmy McGill meets a familiar face for the first time: it’s Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut who’s reprising his character from Breaking Bad. As you’d probably guess, things don’t get off to such a great start for these two.

BCS premieres Feb. 8 at 10pm on AMC.

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‘House of Cards’ season 3 lands February premiere date

Posted in News,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on December 1st, 2014

And now, a special message from the White House: Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood returns to our screens on February 27, 2015. The official House of Cards Twitter account revealed the season three premiere date on Monday with a silent clip embedded here. All 13 episodes will launch at once, naturally, on Netflix.

Movie trailer round-up: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, ‘Jurassic World’ & ‘Pan’

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on November 28th, 2014

It’s here, and it’s glorious. Today director J.J. Abrams released upon the world his vision for Star Wars. Tatooine? Droids! Stormtropers! A landspeeder? X-wing starfighters! A triple-bladed lightsaber! TIE fighters? The Millennium Falcon! John Williams’ iconic score! A Sith (?) foreboding the reawakening of the Force: “There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark side…and the Light.”

The 88-second teaser takes no time to prove its might; it is extremely effective in teasing the seventh episode in the Star Wars saga. It injects the classic Star Wars universe with fresh characters (see John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and is that Adam Driver as the shadowy villain?), potential new worlds (I’m pretty certain the desert world is Tattoine, but what about those water and icey worlds?), and a visual style that grounds CG animation with practical finesse (how fantastically gritty is that Stormtrooper reveal sequence at 0:32!). The flashy clip does raise more questions than answers, doesn’t it? Why is Boyega wearing a Stormstrooper suit? Is he actually playing a baddie, or is he taking a cue from the Luke/Han playbook and simply impersonating one? Better question: Why are Imperial Stromtroopers still around, and more, why are TIE fighters still flying the skies chasing after X-wing starfighters? At the end of Return of the Jedour heroes defeated the Galactic Empire, right? Or perhaps they merely put a major dent in it and now, after many years have passed, The Empire will rise again with a new villain at the helm. The timing is on point: The Force, which apparently has been in a slumber, is making a comeback and both the Dark side and the Light will battle for supremacy again. Please share your theories in the comments section below!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also starring Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Crystal Clarke, Pip Andersen, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow and original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker, opens December 18th, 2015.

Jump after the break for more trailers. (Click here for more…)

First look: Cumberbatch & Martin in ‘Sherlock’ special

Posted in Image cache,Television by Scott Meisner on November 28th, 2014

Over the summerSherlock EPs Steven Moffat & Mark Gattiss made it official that they’re working on Series Four of the acclaimed BBC One show starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. They also slipped that a 90-minute special is in the works, too. The tweet embedded above, featuring Detective Sherlock Holmes and his once-again (?!) mustached partner-in-solving-crime Dr. John Watson, is a first look at said special.

What’s in store? Moffat previously teased, “A special, plus a new series of three episodes – it’s a record-breaking run! Of course, it’s far too early to say what’s coming, but we’re reasonably confident that the very next thing to happen to Sherlock and John, is the very last thing you’d expect…”

Like Watson reprising his maligned mustached?! An airdate for the special has yet to be pinned, but rumors point to Christmas 2015.

ABC gives FSO to ‘Cristela’, FOX pulls ‘Red Band Society’, ‘Selfie’ moves to Hulu

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 28th, 2014

Quick update for those of you keeping score: ABC Latino sitcom Cristela is the second comedy to get a full season order this fall following ABC’s African American sitcom Black-ish.

Elsewhere, Fox is pulling hospital drama Red Band Society from its schedule after the low-rated series’ fall finale airs next week on Dec. 3. The network hasn’t officially cancelled it yet, but with its latest airing logging a dismal 0.7 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, all signs point to this being the end.

Selfie fans, are you out there? Though ABC already axed the Karen Gillan/John Cho quirky sitcom, series creator Emily Kapnek tweeted out news that the remaining six unaired episodes will see the light of day on Hulu. They will premiere on the streaming site on a weekly basis between Nov. 25 and Dec 30.

Update (12/2): Another canceled ABC rom-com, Manhattan Love Story, will also play out the remainder of its first and final season on Hulu. Starting Dec. 4 the remaining seven unaired episodes will unspool every Thursday on the streaming site.

Peter Jackson enlists former Hobbit Billy Boyd to perform franchise swan song

Posted in Movies,Music,Video by Scott Meisner on November 21st, 2014

I’ve got the strangest feeling in the pit of my stomach; there’s pure excitement and there’s undeniable sadness lingering as we approach the release of Peter Jackson’s final film in the Hobbit trilogy. Not only will The Battle of the Five Armies close the book on The Hobbit movies, but it also serves as the last chapter in Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale of Middle-earth. So how does one properly say goodbye to characters and settings you’ve grown to know and cherish across 13 years and 6 movies? The director enlisted actor and musician Billy Boyd–who played Hobbit Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy–to perform the Five Armies swan song. “The Last Goodbye,” written by Boyd, Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, will play when the credits roll at the end of the last Hobbit movie and will surely leave fans with a feeling of closure. “We came all this way, and now comes the day, we bid you farewell,” sings Boyd on the soft, charming tune.

“We had to get the song just right, to send the audience out of the movie theater in the most perfect way we could,” Boyd tells Entertainment Weekly. “I think we discovered very quickly this wasn’t just a song to end The Battle of the Five Armies—it was a song to say goodbye to Middle-earth.” He added, “…being asked to go back to that, to work in that wonderful fantasy world again and to be singing the song that says goodbye to Middle-earth for everyone involved and the fans who took this beautiful journey with us is truly a great, great honor.”

Though “The Last Goodbye” doesn’t carry the same oomph as Ed Sheeran’s closing song used in The Desolation of Smaug, it serves its purpose with flying colors as it aims to peacefully put the stories of Middle-earth to rest. Watch Pippin Boyd perform his song in the video embedded above; it’s set against scenes across Hobbit and LOTR films, so embrace yourself for pangs of nostalgia and bring the hankies.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies releases December 17. Download “The Last Goodbye” at iTunes.

Stephen Merchant’s cringe-tastic HBO series ‘Hello Ladies’ returns to wrap things up

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 21st, 2014

Stuart Pritchard is never one to bow out without a fight. Though HBO cancelled the low-rated but highly enjoyable comedy Hello Ladies last January, creator and star Stephen Merchant (The OfficeExtras) managed to put together an 80-minute special that promises to wrap up the short-lived series. Hello Ladies was a uniquely qualified show in that it would effortlessly swing the pendulum between uproarious laughter and more-than-subtle sadness, grief, and despair. Merchant’s protagonist Stuart played this gawky, frequently awkward Englishman transplanted in Los Angeles always on the prowl for women way out of his league. “Cringe-worthy” is the term that always came to mind when friends asked me to describe the series to them. It’s true: some scenes were so awkward that they forced me to turn away in utter embarrassment for poor Stuart who could never win at his own game (episode 5, “Pool Party,” instantly comes to mind). But across all eight episodes of the first and final season of the show, I grew to feel empathy for Merchant’s odd character who–at his core–was a dickish yet romantic guy reaching too high. Friends including divorced Wade (Nate Torrence), wheel-chair bound, profane Glenn (Sean Wing), wacky work colleague Rory (Kyle Mooney), and tenant/love interest Jessica (Christine Woods) helped elevate Hello Ladies to its cult status. I’m happy to report all are returning for the special. On a final note, it’s definitively sad to see this promising young series leave the airwaves prematurely, but not every cancelled show gets the chance to properly wraps things up like this. We’ll always have eight episodes and a movie.

The logline for Hello Ladies: The Movie goes like this: “When Stuart learns that his British ex-girlfriend is planning to visit Los Angeles with her husband, he sets out to impress them with his glamorous lifestyle, enlisting a Russian model he’s just met to play the role of his beautiful girlfriend. What could go wrong?”

As much as I want Stuart to “get the girl” or simply get with a girl (whether it be Woods’ Jessica or just a smokin’ hot model), I am largely expecting the series to conclude with poor Stuart sprawled out on his couch at home, alone. This is, after all, Hello Ladies. (P.S. Jenny Slate reprising Jessica’s arch-nemesis Amelia would be the cherry on top!)

Hello Ladies: The Movie airs this Saturday night (11/22) at 10PM on HBO. Hop after the break to watch a new promo and an invitation to the set with commentary from Merchant and other members of the cast. (Click here for more…)

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This is what happens when you mash ‘Frozen’ with ‘Breaking Bad’

Posted in Hilarity,Video by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

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Kanye West puts his stamp on Lorde’s ‘Hunger Games’ track “Yellow Flicker Beat”

Posted in Music,Video by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

New Zealand singer songwriter Lorde was given the keys to curate the official soundtrack for the latest Hunger Games film, that is, Mockingjay Part 1. She got to handpick the artists featured on the album and she collaborated with them to set a particular mood and tone for the 14-song soundtrack. Two of those tracks were imagined by Lorde herself, and one of them caught the eye of Kanye West. The rapper puts his signature twist on Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat,” turning the rather upbeat tune into a darker and frankly more haunting symphony. Listen to the remix above; click here to watch Lorde dance around to the original version. Mockingjay Part 1 hits theatres November 21, and Lorde’s curated soundtrack is out now on iTunes.