November 13th, 2009
09:13 PM ET

Why we love Taylor Swift

From the MTV Video Music Awards to "Saturday Night Live" to the CMA Awards, Taylor Swift is on top of the world, and America absolutely loves her. What makes Taylor Swift so loveable? How has she captured our hearts and escaped the pitfalls that have faced those like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus? Maybe it is because under all of the hair and makeup, the glitz and the glamour, Taylor Swift is still just a normal 19-year-old girl. There aren’t any pretenses, there aren’t any games — there certainly aren’t any ridiculous costumes and pole dances, there’s just a girl and her guitar.

Ever since she burst onto the scene with her breakout single in 2006, Taylor has been a fixture on the Hollywood scene, appearing on magazine covers and selling out concerts. Her first single, “Tim McGraw,” was a hit and she never looked back.

Taylor doesn’t wear booty shorts and she doesn’t make inappropriate music videos — actually it is quite the opposite. She isn’t afraid to look bad or to make fun of herself. In the video for “You Belong with Me,” she's living the life of most teenagers: sitting at home in her room, looking awkward, feeling self-conscious, and singing into a hairbrush. At the end of the video (spoiler alert!), she shows up at the school dance in a long, very age-appropriate gown, having undergone the prerequisite fairy tale makeover that every gawky teenager dreams of.

We love Taylor because she posts fun YouTube videos of herself getting nominated for awards, so we can share the moment with her. It’s rare that celebrities let fans have as much access to them as Taylor does. She might be one of the most internet-savvy stars out there — communicating with fans via Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, in addition to her own website.

It’s not just that she communicates with her fans that make Taylor so unique; it’s the way that she does it that makes her so personable. Take this gem from her Facebook page:

 I'm extremely tall. Like, I'm that really tall person that is blocking your view at a concert. On behalf of all of us, we're sorry.

As a whole, I don’t think we as fans are accustomed to our celebrities being so self deprecating, so I was especially shocked to see this quote from her — right under her picture!

I'm not a big deal. At all.

Well Taylor, I beg to differ. I think you are a very big deal. As someone a bit older than you, I still look up to you —I think you are an awesome role model. I wish that when I was younger, I had someone like you to look up to, because the people I read about in magazines weren’t exactly great examples of how to exist in Hollywood and come out as a normal person. Taylor, you are doing a great job.

On Wednesday night, when I watched Taylor win Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs, as her dad watched her with tears in his eyes, I couldn’t help but tear up myself. For all of the celebrities who go out and party, all of the starlets who pile into cars without underwear, all of the ones who drink and drive, its nice to finally see one of the “good girls” get an award.

And really, who can resist loving a girl who ends one of the best nights of her life with a tweet like this:

taylorswift13: Just wrapped up a cereal party with my mom and dad at the kitchen table. What a night.

November 13th, 2009
01:56 PM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

Here's what's happening in the world of entertainment:

"Charlie's Angels" is returning to TV, Variety reports. ABC wants to do a modern version of the 1970s show, after its remake of "V."

It turns out that former President Clinton is a fan of "Mad Men." The Chicago Sun-Times quoted him as saying, "You ever watch that TV series 'Mad Men?' If I keep watching this program, will I ever find a happy person? Great television. Good drama. But a lot of really painful reminders in that show about how black people were supposed to run the elevators... were supposed to ask permission before they get on an elevator. The way women were treated is appalling and only occasionally funny to me."

"Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" beat "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in the ratings for the first time last week, Variety reports. "Late Show with David Letterman" has regularly been beating "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."

At the box office this weekend, John Cusack witnesses the world coming to an end in "2012," Philip Seymour Hoffman takes us back to the '60s in "Pirate Radio," George Clooney voices the animated "Fantastic Mr. Fox," and Woody Harrelson stars as a Casualty Notification Officer with the Army in "The Messenger." Share your movie reviews here.

November 13th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

What happened to Friday night TV?

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Earlier this decade, the four major TV networks pretty much gave up on Saturday nights.  Outside of the Fox crime block and "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS, the only new network programming you see on Saturday nights is live coverage of sporting events.

Now it appears the networks are about to do the same to Friday nights as well.  CBS announced that it is cutting the episode count of Friday night staple "Numb3rs" from 22 to 16 this season - a likely sign that the show will be done after six seasons.  Fox has canceled cult fave "Dollhouse," which aired on Friday nights.  NBC opted not to air the second season of "Southland," which was scheduled to air on Fridays.  And ABC may or may not move "Ugly Betty" to another night after several poor showings on Fridays.

Pretty soon, the Friday night network TV landscape will be made up of cheaply-produced news magazine shows, low-budget "reality" fare, "re-purposing" (fancy term for reruns) of current network fare and first-run scripted shows on their last legs.  Sounds a lot like Saturday night, right?

Looking at the numbers, it's easy to understand why the networks appear to be pulling away from Friday nights. 

Last week, the top Friday night show on the major networks was the 20-year-old "Law and Order" with 8.4 million viewers.  That's almost four million below last week's 20th overall ranked show, "CSI: NY" on CBS.  And in the 18-49 target demo that advertisers crave, no network could reach a 2.0 average.  Compare that to this past Tuesday, where three of the four major networks reached at least a 3.0 average in the demos.

Can Friday night network TV be saved?  Anything is possible, but it is up to the networks to put competitive programming in these slots.  Give the viewers something they want to watch, and they will come in droves.  Disney Channel, for instance, has had a great deal of success premiering its big movie events on Friday nights - the 2007 premiere of "High School Musical 2" was watched by 17.2 million viewers.  Perhaps the networks should look at their cable counterparts for some guidance.

There was a time in the U.S. where Friday night was required network TV viewing.  CBS in the 1980s featured "Dallas" and "The Dukes of Hazzard," while NBC ruled the night with "Miami Vice" for a time.  ABC could always be counted on with successful family fare like "Full House" and "Mr. Belvedere," while "The X-Files" made Fox the network to watch on Friday nights not too long ago.

Do you think Friday night network television can be saved?  And if so, what will the networks need to do?

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Filed under: television
November 13th, 2009
11:48 AM ET

'New Moon' beating 'Twilight' in advance tickets

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“New Moon” is already more popular than its predecessor “Twilight” when it comes to advance ticket sales.

 According to movie ticketing company Fandango, the vampire romance sequel currently ranks fourth in the company’s advance ticket sales list, surpassing “Twilight” at number 5.

“Ever since we started selling advance tickets to New Moon on August 31, the demand has been unstoppable, as the fan base just keeps growing every day,” said Fandango Chief Operating Officer Rick Butler. "'New Moon' is tracking to be Fandango’s number-one top advance ticket-seller of all time.”

The film, based on the bestselling vampire novels by Stephanie Meyer, hits theaters next Friday, November 20. Thousands of midnight screenings are already sold-out across the country.

According to a recent Fandango survey of more than 2,000 New Moon ticket-buyers, the first “Twilight” movie helped to fuel the fan frenzy over the book series and the movie saga with 55% of respondents saying that “Twilight” inspired them to read all of the books by Stephanie Meyer and 51% saying they plan to see “New Moon” more than once in the theater.

At this rate “New Moon” could potentially surpass the top three advance-selling movies of all time on the site, "Star Wars: Episode III  Revenge of the Sith", "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "The Dark Knight." 

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Filed under: movies • New Moon • Twilight
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