August 21st, 2009
02:36 PM ET

A glourious CD signing with Quentin

Quentin Tarantino is a Jack-of-all-trades: director, writer, actor, producer - and music aficionado! His latest masterpiece is “Inglourious Basterds,” and being an admirer of his work, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s on the same level as “Pulp Fiction,” if not better! Yeah, I said it - so there!

Quentin Tarantino

But it wasn’t his World War II action-packed drama set in France that made people stand in line on Thursday night to see him. It was the music! Tarantino came out to Amoeba Records in Hollywood to sign CDs for the soundtrack of “Inglourious Basterds,” which went on sale this week; the movie hits theaters today.

About 75 hyped-up fans and journalists showed up for the signing, and Tarantino didn’t disappoint. He talked to the media about the soundtrack, but also talked about how every film he does has a certain music genre attached to it:

"When I go diving around looking for music, I am looking for the beat of the movie. I am looking for the rhythm of this movie. In the case of ‘Pulp Fiction,’ it could be surf music. In the case of ‘Jackie Brown,’ it would be '70s soul music. In the case of this one, it would be spaghetti Western music. That's the thing that kind of makes this World War II film stylized and kind of gives it an epic western grandeur."

The “Inglourious Basterds” soundtrack was executive produced by Tarantino, has14 tracks, and sounds like France in the 1930s - with the exception of one modern surprise: the inclusion of David Bowie’s 1982 song “Cat People.”

Anyone who knows anything about Tarantino knows he is a music lover, and has appeared on "American Idol" as a guest judge. So after a few minutes of interviewing him, I had to ask if he had any musical aspirations, like adding "record label owner" to his list of accomplishments. His answer was humorous but real: “Every time I think I want to be the Puff Daddy and Jay-Z and or Spike Lee or that I want my own thing, I think again to myself that it will never work out because I’m just too damn lazy. My job is making movies, not making T-shirts.”

Got to love Tarantino!

August 21st, 2009
11:55 AM ET

Lindsay Lohan's dad and the "Housewives"

Part of the danger of starting off the season with lots of battles and wig pulling is that Thursday night’s regular episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” came off a little blah.

The show wasn’t at all helped by the fact that it was preceded by the director’s cut of the “Unbeweavable” episode from the week before, which featured the scream-fest between Kim and Sheree.

There were even more taunts and insults between the pair in the director’s cut, and just when you thought that fight couldn’t get any better, Lindsay Lohan’s father Michael showed up in a totally inexplicable moment.

First Jon Gosselin and now Kim? Does Michael Lohan somehow make a living hanging out with reality stars? NeNe was priceless as she yelled “Hey, Mr. Lindsay Lohan’s daddy, you take your ass back to Malibu!”

So by the time we got to the regularly scheduled episode of “Housewives,” it all felt kind of staid: more heartbreak for Kandi as her mother continues to refuse to accept her fiancé, sadness for Lisa about possibly visiting her brother’s grave and outrage for Kim that her nanny left her kids alone to go buy sanitary products.

I found the most entertainment with Dwight and Sheree’s attempt at speed dating. I swear Dwight needs his own spin-off show. The Real Divos of Atlanta perhaps?

Check out Essence for more on the "Real Housewives of Atlanta."

August 21st, 2009
11:01 AM ET

The chance to be a 'Millionaire'

Ken Basin’s going to make a few bucks on Sunday. How much, he can’t say.

Ken Basin goes for a big payoff on Sunday's "Millionaire."

No, he really can’t say.

Basin, 24, is the man who will be going for $1 million on the final night of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” Sunday. (That he’s facing the million-dollar question is no secret; ABC offered a hint of what’s coming on Thursday’s episode.) The self-described “trivia nerd” taped the show August 5 and has been keeping mum on the results ever since. By making it to the million-dollar question, he’s guaranteed at least $25,000, the last fail-safe level of the show.

In a phone interview, the Los Angeles lawyer said he “didn’t have any expectations” of how he’d do.

“I think a couple of us in our contestant group admitted aloud that there was a small portion of our beings … that didn’t want to make it into the Hot Seat. Because if you didn’t make it into the Hot Seat you can blame it on the Fastest Finger - you can say it was bad luck, there was too much randomness,” he said.

But once he made it, he had the training to do well. He played quiz bowl in high school and is a regular at a bar trivia game in Santa Monica, where his teammates occasionally include “Jeopardy!” champions. Moreover, his girlfriend, Pam Mueller, won the 2000 “College Jeopardy!” tournament.

In fact, Basin's had a shot at big money before. He appeared on “College Jeopardy!” in 2003, making it as far as the semi-finals. He tried out for the syndicated version of “Millionaire” and actually received a call to go on, but was in - of all places - Croatia and missed the call. His second chance came with the phone game for the current prime-time run, and he made the most of it.

Though Basin has to be deliberately closed-mouthed when it comes to the final results, he was willing to answer some other queries. He said he had a bevy of authorities on his side; not only was the show expert Bill Nye the Science Guy, but Basin’s three phone-a-friends - Jerome Vered, Alan Bailey and Dan Pawson - compiled a combined 39 “Jeopardy!” appearances. (Pawson was “Jeopardy’s” most recent Tournament of Champions winner.)

“It’s a dream team,” he said.

As for his strategy, Basin said he was going to go as long as he could.

“As long as questions kept coming that I knew, I was going to keep rolling,” he said. “I had some pressure on myself to at least make it to 25 [thousand]. That’s really the threshold. That’s the level that you can leave with your head held high - at least I felt, going in.”

How far did he make it? We’ll all just have to tune in Sunday to find out.

August 21st, 2009
10:32 AM ET

Can Lifetime 'make it work'?

"Project Runway" fans, we can all breathe a sigh of relief: our beloved design show - for the most part - is unaltered.

Heidi and Tim are still a fantastic tag-team, Nina Garcia was unenthused as ever (loved it), and the drama incubating dorm-style bedrooms looked like they were dropped into La-La Land straight out of Gotham.

But as a “Runway” fan that was by Bravo’s side since season one, I have to admit that this episode was seriously lacking. Whether it’s the move to the left coast or the channel change, I’m not entirely sure, but something was just … off. With the exception of Lindsay Lohan’s judging appearance, the entire show could be summed up with Ra’mon-Lawrence’s runway piece: expected, remotely interesting, and boring.

Where were my big personalities? My Santino or Jay? Or even an instant obvious talent, a la Kara Saun? Yeah, there were a few who showed visionary promise, but none stood out from the pack as “the designer to watch.”

Perhaps I can blame the challenge for “Runway’s” lack of luster. Instead of demanding the designers compose their runway debuts out of sand and broken glass or something equally implausible as they’ve done in the past,  the producers wove in the Emmys, requiring red carpet-worthy gowns from contestants made from $200 worth of Mood fabrics. Again, simply average; nothing we haven’t seen before – a lot like the dresses this challenge produced.

I haven’t lost hope yet, though – between Johnny the former addict, Althea the former Alexander McQueen intern, and Gordana, the Eastern European designer who won my heart when she said “give me a sheep and I’ll make you a sweater,” this season could shape up to be a barely noticeable knockoff of its Bravo predecessors.

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Filed under: television
August 21st, 2009
08:28 AM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

Here's what's going on in the world of entertainment this morning:

  • The New York Times reports that reruns of the "Late Show with David Letterman" beat "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" last week. It was the second week in a row in which Letterman won the late night battle.
  • People reports that actor Jason Schwartzman ("Funny People") married clothing designer Brandy Cunningham in a "small ceremony" on July 11.
  • "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke is taking on "The Girl with the Red Riding Hood," a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, according to Variety.
  • A fourth "Bourne" movie is in the works with Josh Zetumer attached to write it, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
  • After being removed from "Big Brother" for tossing her microphone into a pool (among other rule violations), Chima Simone issued a statement apologizing for calling fellow houseguest Russell Kairouz, a Lebanese-American, “a terrorist,” according to "I used a phrase that was insensitive given his Middle Eastern descent, and I apologize to all who are justifiably offended with my use of that racially charged term."
  • In theaters today: Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" starring Brad Pitt, the family-friendly "Shorts" from director Robert Rodriguez and "Post Grad" starring Alexis Bledel ("Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants").
August 21st, 2009
08:21 AM ET

Colbie Caillat breaks through

Want to know what happened to the singer of "Bubbly?" CNN's Denise Quan hit the beach in Malibu with Colbie Caillat, and went behind-the-scenes on her new video.

Filed under: Music
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