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This Wu-Tang Album Is Beginning to Bug People

1 hour ago

Wu-Tang Clan's forthcoming final album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, is one-of-a-kind, worth upward of $1 million, and on the verge of becoming annoying. What began as a potential gimmick had shown signs of being a noble endeavor. "The music industry is in crisis. Creativity has become disposable and value has been stripped out. Mass production and content saturation have devalued both our experience of music and our ability to establish its value," reads an edict on a site associated with Wu-Tang and the album. "Industrial production and digital reproduction have failed. The economic and experiential value of music are being eroded at an exponential rate. This album is a work of contemporary art." But then RZA announced that the public would have to wait 88 years for their own copy of the record, and a large portion of the population concerned with Wu-Tang effectively lost their marbles. Wu-Tang »


- Sean Fitz-Gerald

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The Americans Recap: After-School Special

2 hours ago

It's baptism day at the Reed Street Church, accompanied by the cool acoustic guitar stylings of Pastor Tim. Paige is about to go for a little swim and begin her new life in Christ, a coming-of-age moment that feels very different from the way that most baptisms are conducted: Rather than parents making a declaration of faith and identity for their child, she is making one for herself.It's something that makes Philip and Elizabeth — her parents, the secret atheist Kgb spies — display a weird mess of emotions and faces throughout the ceremony, although Elizabeth smiles a little when Pastor Tim talks about her daughter's ideological fervor: "Paige gives her whole heart to every political action we engage in at this church." Back at home, Philip asks Paige if she feels any different, and she says something about feeling more at peace. Still worried — rightly — that Elizabeth »

- Laura Hudson

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Broad City’s Paul W. Downs on His Character’s Big Reveal, Voicing Abbi’s Stuffed Animal, and Writing the Pegging Episode

3 hours ago

The following interview contains spoilers for tonight’s episode of Broad City. Broad City viewers now know where Soulstice trainer and BodyByTrey.biz founder Trey (Paul W. Downs) picked up his camerawork — amateur porn. In tonight’s episode, newly informed Abbi used this leverage against her boss to evade pube-cleaning duty at their health club (played by Chalk Gyms in Williamsburg). Earlier this season, Downs — also a writer and co-producer on the show — voiced Bingo Bronson, Abbi’s stuffed animal who comes to life during a post-oral-surgery Vicodin trip. Vulture spoke with Downs about dick-sock woes, his character’s feelings for Abbi, and writing the pegging episode.Are you ready for the Twittersphere to explode?As long as my mom’s head doesn’t explode. Did you tell her anything about the episode?I warned her that there is basically a full act of me completely nude [laughs]. And that it is pornographic. »


- Jenna Marotta

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CSI: Cyber Is As Dumb As It Seems

8 hours ago

I tried every possible way to get out of writing about CSI: Cyber. "Oh, just round up the dumbest things," my bosses said. "It's all dumb things," I pleaded, but they were unmoved. The dumbest things, the dumbest things. Would that be the line, "Unlike drugs, babies have a value … as long as they're alive"? That's pretty dumb. Dumb enough that I wrote it down, at least. "After every case, I go somewhere to think" sounds extremely dumb, and it's even worse when we see that our heroine's thinking place is on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. You know old Abraham Lincoln, he was so famous for his distaste for cybercrime. Don't get him started on Bluetooth security. Four score and seven Wi-Fi passwords ago, jeez, Louise.The dumbest thing. Hm. One detective explains some cockamamie scheme about a computer, and another detective sagely agrees that this "[makes] that »


- Margaret Lyons

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Why the Oscars Shouldn’t Go Back to 5 Best Picture Nominees

9 hours ago

This year’s Oscars were mildly rated and blasted by critics, and you know what that means: Instead of blaming host Neil Patrick Harris or the wan writing for that shortfall, the Academy is flirting with yet another rule change to shake things up. Every few years, this seems to happen in order to stir more interest in the lengthy awards-season race, where countless trophies are handed out before Oscar finally gets to weigh in. In 2009, the Academy expanded the Best Picture field from five nominees to ten in a famously muscular move; two years later, they tweaked that category to include anywhere between five and ten nominees, depending on how many contenders crossed a certain voting threshold. This time, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a significant amount of Academy higher-ups are urging the board to return to a simple five Best Picture nominees, which would nip in the bud »


- Kyle Buchanan

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The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde Is Publishing an Album-Style Memoir

9 hours ago

It's a badass female-rock-star memoir free-for-all! Not to be outdone by Kim GordonLinda Ronstadt, or  Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of the Pretenders, is set to release her own "literary memoir" on September 8. The book, to be published by Doubleday, will include "a surprise on every page," according to her editor. And it won't be just any memoir: "I’m approaching writing this memoir much the same way as I would an album," Hynde says. "I hope it makes you want to dance, have fun, dig out some old records and maybe even root through your closet and dust off your guitar." Well, we're sold. »


- Dee Lockett

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What Empire Gets Right About the Music Business

10 hours ago

Among its many, many charms, Empire makes us want to play a fun guessing game. Is there a real Lucious Lyon? Is his label supposed to be like Roc-a-Fella? Is Cookie based on Sylvia Robinson? Could Empire Entertainment really go public? Trying to figure out where fact and fiction intersect is almost as entertaining as embracing the show’s over-the-top plotlines, baby-mama drama, and white-collar intrigue. It’s not just us non-music-biz laypeople — industry insiders have also been hooked by the show’s attempts (and feints) at aping actual life. “I love the Cookie Monster,” says L.A. Reid, CEO of Epic Records, who worked with Empire co-creator Lee Daniels on Precious. “I identify with her. She’s funny, she deals with talent well, she has so much game. She’s real to me. She feels like the industry.” Reid says Cookie’s unstoppable hustle reminds him of the “greats of our industry. »


- Lauretta Charlton

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Cumberbitches, Watch Out: Ian McKellen’s the New (But Much Older) Sherlock in Mr. Holmes

10 hours ago

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes tales have had many film and TV iterations, most recently with Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch playing versions of the sleuth. Now we're about to see an aging Holmes, played by Ian McKellen, in Bill Condon's Mr. Holmes, where he'll embark on one last investigation with a much younger sidekick. (Though we're secretly hoping Patrick Stewart shows up as Watson at some point.) »


- Dee Lockett

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Who Was That at the End of the New Avengers Trailer, and Why Should You Be So Excited?

11 hours ago

You may have noticed a mysteeeeeeerious humanoid face at the end of the brand-new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. That ain't no Avenger I ever heard of, you may have thought to yourself. Sure don't look like a Chris to me — Hemsworth or Evans! That's because he's not an Avenger you've seen before in any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks, and not even in any previous Avengers trailers. But his name is Vision (or "the Vision," depending on how formal you wanna get), and he's very important in superhero lore. Here's a basic rundown on him.Vision is a heroic, sentient robot who has trouble understanding what you fleshy humans call fee-lings. He first popped up in Marvel Comics in 1968, within the pages of Avengers No. 57, written and drawn by Marvel legends Roy Thomas and John Buscema, respectively. (The cover, with Vision looking like he's about 70 feet »


- Abraham Riesman

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Amy Pascal Can’t Move Into Her New Office Because It Smells Like Seth Rogen’s Weed [Updated]

11 hours ago

Seth Rogen will forever be a thorn in Amy Pascal's side. He already cost the former Sony co-chair her job, thanks to The Interview debacle, and now she can't even move into her new office in peace, because guess who it used to belong to? That's right, everyone's favorite potheads, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who apparently smoked so much weed there that they can't get the stench out in time for Pascal's transition to producer. It's not that cleaning people weren't hired; it's just that for some reason, they just keep on taking breaks to eat all the chips.Update: Seth Rogen has a few choices words for THR's report, and one of them is definitely not stench: "I don't know what's more irresponsible: that they would print a story that is completely untrue, or that they would refer to how pot smells as a 'stench.' #myshitssmellsgood. »


- Dee Lockett

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Justified Recap: Why Drink to the Future?

11 hours ago

"The Hunt" ends with a maybe-reconciliation between Raylan and Winona, and the possibility that Boyd might murder his beloved Ava after deviously getting confirmation that she was ratting him out to the U.S. Marshals. These are both huge developments, but the episode takes its sweet time setting them up. It's a slow-building hour, but so confident and patient that the slowness creates a different kind of tension than we're used to seeing on TV.Words and emotions become nearly as excruciating here as torture scenes and bullet wounds in other episodes (though this episode had a bit of the latter). The long conversation between Raylan and Winona in the motel room with the baby crying and crying and crying and crying and crying is one of the more nerve-racking scenes I've watched on TV in a while. It captures the blank, hard reality of being a parent without any fuss: »


- Matt Zoller Seitz

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Do I Really Need to Watch Empire? Your Pressing TV Questions, Answered

12 hours ago

Welcome back to Stay Tuned, Vulture's TV advice column. Each Wednesday, Margaret Lyons answers your questions about your various TV triumphs and woes. Need help? Have a theory? Want a recommendation? Submit a question! You can email staytuned@nymag.com, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned. Do I really need to watch Empire? —Jaye Yeah, you do.In some way, Empire reminds me of Melrose Place, or maybe even Models Inc.: Once the first scene starts, just give yourself over to the show; buckle up and say, "Here we go." Secret love-children, inappropriate romantic entanglements, horrible dinner parties, impressive outfits — plus it's secretly a musical. It's not Glee or Smash or something, but there are moments on the show where a character is so overcome with emotion that he or she has no choice but to express it in song. Sometimes these songs are good. »


- Margaret Lyons

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The New Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Finally Shows Paul Bettany’s Vision

12 hours ago

There's nothing completely shocking in this third (and supposedly final) Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, unless you missed the part where Tony Stark accidentally creates the villainous Ultron (oops!) or craved some more portentous looks from Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), whose Eastern European accents have yet to be revealed. However, that opening eyeball at the very, very end? That looks to be the first appearance of Paul Bettany as Vision, the android hero that Marvel had previously kept under wraps. »


- Lindsey Weber

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Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Recap: Trippin’ in Amsterdam

12 hours ago

Why, oh, why do these Real Housewives go on the trips? I know it’s contractually obligated, but haven’t they learned their lesson by now? It’s like you put your hand on a hot burner and it gets seared. Then the next year you are faced with a stove in a different location and think, Oh, the burner can’t be that hot, but it is. It is that hot, and you burn your hand all over again and think, God, why do all these burners have to be so hot? There must be something wrong with the burner. But these women never bother to stop and ask if there is something wrong with them. No, they do not do that. Well, maybe they should.This year, the scalding-hot burner on the Amsterdam vacation is Kim Richards. Ugh, I would rather drink a smoothie of Ryan Seacrest’s »


- Brian Moylan

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Conan O’Brien on Going to Cuba and the State of Late-Night TV

13 hours ago

Late-night TV is a numbers game. It's not about specific moments as much as an overall impression. No one knows that better than Conan O'Brien, who has been a late-night host for over two decades. So, how does he stay relevant in a crowded field as he approaches his 22nd year? Cuba! Tonight, O'Brien will air a special episode of his show that will put him as the first late-night host to be there in 50 years. Earlier this week, O'Brien spoke with John Horn, host of Southern California Public Radio's new arts and entertainment show “The Frame,” about the special, doing comedy in a foreign country, and the ever-changing late-night terrain. (Listen to part of Horn and O'Brien's interview here, and subscribe to “The Frame” at iTunes or Stitcher.)Conan, welcome back from Cuba. Thank you very much, it’s good to be back. So just in terms of the landscape, »


- John Horn

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The Future of Orchestral Music in Two Pieces

13 hours ago

If you’d like a glimpse of the future of symphonic music — or if you just want to know what devilish majesty the New York Philharmonic will shortly unleash — this two-year-old YouTube video from the Proms in London is a good place to start. It shows the world premiere of Thomas Adès’s Totentanz (Dance of Death), which the Philharmonic will perform March 12 through 14. Or you could give Andrew Norman’s equally gob-smacking Play a whirl; that piece, too, is from 2013, but the killer world-premiere recording by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project has just come out, and although only a live performance can do this wild score justice, those are still extremely rare.These two not-yet-senior composers — Adès is English and 44, Norman Californian and 35; both overflow with bravado — have double-handedly resurrected the grand symphonic manner that, like the novel and the painting, has died any number »


- Justin Davidson

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Foxcatcher Finally Gets Recognized: Channing Tatum Nominated for Best Shirtless Performance by MTV

14 hours ago

You can see all of the 2015 MTV Movie Awards nominations here (is it really fair to give Best Onscreen Transformation to Boyhood's leading boy?), but what we're most concerned about are the nominations for Best Shirtless Performance: Zac EfronNeighbors Chris PrattGuardians of the Galaxy  Channing TatumFoxcatcher Ansel ElgortThe Fault in Our Stars Kate Upton, The Other Woman  Zac Efron's pecs really did play a huge role in Neighbors, as did Kate Upton's cleavage in The Other Woman, but we'd be crazy not to point out how purposefully insane-looking Channing Tatum looked in Foxcatcher. Perhaps this is to make up for the fact that Magic Mike Chan lost to Taylor Lautner's bod in Twilight: Breaking Dawn in 2013? There's always Magic Mike Xxl, my friend. This one seems like it's going to Efron (who also won last year for his "work" in That Awkward Moment »


- Lindsey Weber

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Photo Proof That Prince Has Never Been Uncool

14 hours ago

Prince is the epitome of cool, and it's comforting to know that he has always been that way. Proof comes in the form of an old Star Tribune article:And even in high school, Prince was at his Prince-iest: "I knew he wanted to be starting and felt that he should be starting. He was unhappy. And he expressed that many, many times."   »

- Lindsey Weber

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There May Never Be Another Movie Star As Big As Will Smith

14 hours ago

Will Smith's con-man drama Focus opened to a mild $19 million this past weekend, and the fact that this figure was received with such a shrug tells you all you need to know about the industry's diminished expectations not just for Will Smith, but for movie stars in general. Certainly, the 46-year-old Smith has been on a career downswing as of late, but if you swapped him and his co-star Margot Robbie for another set of actors — say, Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart, or Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, just to name two pairs previously attached to the project — would they really have been able to bring in more viewers for an original R-rated drama released at the ass-end of February?This sort of thing used to be the litmus test that separated true-blue movie stars from the merely well-known: Back in the day, audiences were compelled to see »


- Kyle Buchanan

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Mo’Nique Says She Was Supposed to Play Empire’s Cookie First

14 hours ago

The war of words between Mo’Nique and her Precious director Lee Daniels is only getting worse. After the two seemed to have a misunderstanding about comments to The Hollywood Reporter regarding Mo’Nique being "blackballed" by Hollywood, she later accused Daniels of having a problem with her not directly thanking him in her 2010 Oscars speech, as well as with his paying her only $50,000 for her winning role. She also previously noted that Daniels had offered her parts in The Butler and Empire that, for whatever reason, didn't pan out. Mo’Nique now tells Access Hollywood that Daniels offered her the part of Cookie Lyon before Taraji P. Henson. She says Daniels asked her to do a screen test as a "technicality," but after not hearing from the director for four days, she was then told that Fox thought she was "difficult to work with." Empire co-creator Danny Strong has »


- Dee Lockett

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