The Lonely Island have become grown-ass men. In a new video for YouTube's Comedy Week, the trio take on the mature subjects of wife sex and cemetery real estate ("wobble-dee-wobble-dee drop into my grave plot"). It goes hard, because it's #DIAPERCORE. Reggie Watts also debuted a video for YouTube's celebration with his variation on the Rickroll, faithfully re-creating Rick Astley's outfits and letting his upper lip dance to '80s synth like no one is watching.
Yesterday afternoon, Sean "Diddy" Combs took to Twitter to make a big announcement. It is reprinted here in full: "MY BIG NEWS: So happy to announce that Im a series regular on DOWNTON ABBEY-my favorite show+i'll be debuting a sneak peek tonight 12am PST!"
The news was, in fact, so big and instantaneously viral that PBS was quickly called upon to deny Diddy's involvement with its flagship period drama, lest someone believe that he'd been cast as Mary's love interest, or the newest competitor in the Dowager Countess's rose contest, or the latest suitor attempting to put up with Lady Edith. How much fun was that denial? No fun. No fun at all.
Lizzy Caplan's spoofy commercial "Fashion Film" is like ASMR meets an Anthropologie catalogue. "Sometimes I think to myself in French, and listen to old records from the ’60s. They're way better than stuff today."
Too many Apples a day: After adopting Steve Jobs’s fruitarian diet for his role in the biopic jOBS, Ashton Kutcher wound up in the hospital with pancreatic problems. Jobs reportedly experimented with a number of oddball diets: He turned orange from too much carrot juice, lived off of Roman Meal cereal, and attempted to combat body odor with his fruit intake (this last one "was a flawed theory").
Introducing Graph Search, the new Facebook feature that will prompt a bunch of bogus disclaimer posts, just like every new feature that came before it. If you attempt to Graph Search for something outside of your social matrix, the query will be passed along to Bing. The search, which Zuckerberg is calling the "third pillar" of the platform (Timeline and News Feed are the other pillars; Scrabble is the caterpillar), is still in beta, but you can get on the wait list here. Best-case scenario: We can all become Millionaire Matchmakers by more easily searching for single friends by city. Worst-case scenario: the Power Bar, which is "almost frightening in its ability to personalize potential questions," sings you "Daisy Bell" while trying to sell you that Baies candle you looked at once on Amazon. When you refuse, it sets you on fire like a bouquet of blackcurrant leaves and updates your status to "dead."
A new year, a new start for the Hollywood Prospectus Podcast! Or, at least, a new microphone for me. Otherwise it was business as usual as Chris Ryan and I reminisced over how we spent our winter vacation: reading mystery novels (including Len Deighton's Game, Set, Match trilogy and Dashiell Hammett's super trill Red Harvest) and almost dying together by falling from the upper decks of Brooklyn's new Barclays Center.
But the biggest topic left over from 2012 was Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained (11:30). After being goaded into seeing the film over the weekend by our producer, David Jacoby, I was primed to djargue about morality, responsibility, and a certain director's Aussie accent, but we soon circled back to another favorite from last year, Zero Dark Thirty (28:00), and the limitations of revenge. We wrapped up with a look ahead to January TV (36:15), including the arrival of Patton Oswalt on Justified and the continued unhappiness of Chris's no. 1 gal Lady Edith on Downton Abbey. Is it a spoiler if I confess that we're happy to be back?
Justin Bieber tweeted a vague apology after TMZ published photos of him with a "smoldering blunt." While some fans cast the eye of shade on Bieber’s “BFF” Lil Twist, others are taking this opportunity to air their beliebs that “weed is not the devil” and that Justin has as much right to a Funyun party of one as anyone else.
After all the fearsome talk of tumbling over the fiscal cliff, isn't it nice to be safely back among the upper crust? Downton Abbey returns to PBS's Masterpiece Classic for its third season on Sunday without so much as a snifter out of place. (The season has already aired in its native U.K. — spoiler-averse Googlers beware!) In the gentle, genteel hands of creator Julian Fellowes, the British smash remains delicious status-porn for restive commoners eager to lose themselves in the warm embrace of empire. While times change — it's now 1920, and the CGI set pieces of World War I have given way to interbellum uncertainty — the Crawleys, safe in the titular manor house, do not: They're still dressing up for dinner and dressing down hotheads hoping to sweep away the cobwebs of tradition. (Those employed to literally sweep cobwebs are welcome to stay.)
While cocktails make their scandalous debut in the second hour of Sunday's premiere, Downton's vision of the Jazz Age is a great deal more than an ocean removed from its bloody contemporary, Boardwalk Empire. Where the HBO series uses its pricey period design as a backdrop for class striving and a distinctly American sort of thirst, Downton, the house and the show, is a bulwark against the creeping rot of vulgarity and liberalism. At Downton, men are free to marry their cousins, there's always a veal and egg pie cooling in the larder, and the most vexing issue of the day is how to properly get a stain out of a bespoke dinner jacket. (Answer: soda crystals. Back to Chancery with the lot of you!)
Kate Winslet & Ned Rocknroll: Kate Winslet married Ned Rocknroll, a.k.a. Richard Branson's nephew with the incredibly dumb (self-chosen) name. "Call her Mrs. Rocknroll!" I will but I won't like it! The couple of a year wed before "a small group of friends and family." Perennial bachelor Leonardo DiCaprio "walked the bride down the aisle" and shattered/stoked the dreams of a trillion Titanic fangirls. Ned is "really attracted to her mind. She's mature, and he feels he can learn so much from her. It's sexy!" Is it just me or does that sound a little bit like shade? Oh, well, wishing all the best to the Rocknrolls.
Tea tweaking on “Breaking Abbey,” the Downton Abbey–Breaking Bad hybrid you never knew you needed until you considered the image of a person snorting a line of Earl Grey. Soon Downton will be “kicking it with mad bitches and Benjamins.”
Good news for fans of fancy old-timey British stuff: Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey — a.k.a., your favorite Anglophile's favorite Anglophilia — says he's writing a prequel. Right now Fellowes is considering doing so in book form, although everyone seems to have gone ahead and assumed it'll end up a TV show. With the highly anticipated third season on the way, he says any action on the prequel front won't come until this present iteration is all done for. Speaking at a British Academy Film and Television Arts screenwriters' lecture, Jules explained his plot:
At 5:40 a.m. this morning on the West Coast, Jimmy Kimmel (in pajamas) and Kerry Washington (in need of coffee) made a lot of English people very, very happy. Downton Abbey — freed from the shackles of its bizarre “miniseries” designation — not only was free to play with the big boys in the 64th Emmy Awards, but to now dominate them with 16 nominations (for those reading in London, that’s about nine quid). The rest of the nominations followed recent trends, a smooth mix of populist favorites (Jim Parsons, Melissa McCarthy) and critical validation (Lena Dunham! Louis C.K.! Gus Fring!). For those looking for axes to grind, the usual snubs were apparent (Community, Nick Offerman, the veterinarians of Luck). But the truth is, compared to its geriatric sister award shows, the Emmys continually come the closest to actually recognizing excellence.
As for those merely looking for axes, you can rest easy: Game of Thrones snagged 11 nominations of its own. (A full list of the nominees can be found here.)
Stiffen your lip and refill your brandy snifter: News broke over the weekend that Dame Maggie Smith, the only person involved with Downton Abbey who actually has a royal title, is planning on leaving the estate after filming the in-production third season. At first this decision seems shocking — although shocking is par for the course with a show in which surviving the Titanic turns you Canadian, engagements can last the length of a World War and the crippled can leap up out of their wheelchairs in time for snooker and cigars in the parlor. But is it really so strange? Dame Maggie is nearly 80 and used to plying her trade on the boards or in prestige one-offs. The installation of electric lights in the kitchen nearly gave the Dowager Countess a fatal case of the vapors, so imagine her reaction when she discovered that she was starring in a glorified soap opera.
There were various moments last night when Sir Richard Carlisle went out of his way to cluck disapprovingly about Crawley family traditions. Everything from allowing the maids and footmen to enjoy their own Christmas lunch to the annual Servant’s Ball, where the downstairs crew is invited to drink the upstairs liquor and dance above their station, got under his self-made skin. Not even the yearly charades contest by the fireside escaped his judgmental ire. Turning to the Dowager-Countess, he snooted, “You enjoy these games in which the player must appear ridiculous?” Deftly parrying the nouveau riche riposte, Lady Violet replied, “Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with soap opera. From the marriage plots of Jane Austen to the lurid plotzing of Jersey Shore, salacious societal high jinks have always been a staple of our entertainment, both upstairs and downstairs. So the problem isn’t that Downton Abbey is suddenly more soap operatic than Reneé Fleming in an Irish Spring factory. It’s that it hasn’t been particularly good soap opera. Introducing a disfigured heir who survived the Titanic on the strength of his Canadian accent? Fine. But introducing him and dismissing him in the course of a single hour only encourages us to take the entire storyline on face value. And that face was very burned and very, very silly. The key to selling us on suds is to take it as seriously as David Simon takes the sociopolitical degradation of Baltimore, or even as seriously as he takes himself. It’s not Lord Grantham suddenly deciding to pick up a housemaid’s spilled (forbidden) apples and then making a play for her melons, too. Sir Julian Fellowes is good at many things — class observations, withering witticisms, smirkingarchly — but wallowing in melodrama does not appear to be among them.