Nathan Foster brings you the latest news and highlights of the week in pop culture, from the cinema to the music stage, from Hollywood to Broadway.
1. The 28th MTV Music Video Awards were held Thursday night in Los Angeles. Hosted by comedian Kevin Hart, the event was about as much as you would expect. There was another pregnancy announcement, this time from model Amber Rose and rapper Wiz Khalifa, a kiss from pop singer Katy Perry to One Direction members Niall Horan and Harry Styles, and a performance of Taylor Swift’s new song with Taylor Lautner in the audience (awkward). The best performances came from P!nk and Frank Ocean, P!nk performing the lead-single from her new album and Ocean his song “Thinkin Bout You.” The biggest winner of the night was British boy-band One Direction, winners of three awards, including one for Best New Artist, much to the chagrin of people (including me) who had hoped for a Frank Ocean win.
2. The Toronto International Film Festival is going on right now until September 16th. This festival features some of the year’s most anticipated films, ranging from Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller “Looper” starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt, to some of this year’s Oscar contenders like Ben Affleck’s poltical drama “Argo” or Roger Michell’s FDR dramedy “Hyde Park on Hudson.” In years past, many films that go on to win the Academy Award or Golden Globe for Best Picture have premiered or been shown in Toronto like 2009’s “The Hurt Locker” or 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain.” The Toronto Film Festival is one of the most prestigious in the world, among the ranks of the Cannes Film Festival or the Sundance Film Festival, and if your film gets a positive reaction here, it can become an instant awards contender.
3. The Democratic National Convention wrapped up on Thursday night, officially giving Barack Obama and Joe Biden the presidential ticket for the Democratic Party. All three nights were filled with high-profile speakers supporting the president. There was a very large celebrity presence at the convention from Kal Penn to Scarlett Johansson, all giving President Obama their support. However, the best speaker was former president Bill Clinton. His 45 minute speech was the buzz of the internet with celebs and people everywhere making “Bill Clinton” a top trending topic on Twitter, something that also happened during speeches by First Lady Michelle Obama and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. Through the entirety of the convention, online reaction to the Democratic Convention was much more positive than that of the Republicans and it looks like the Democrats won the battle of public perception.
4. It’s September now, which means a new fall season of TV is on the way. CBS continues to dominate the overall ratings, something that will most likely not change this year with their dependable slate of programming such as “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” or their innumerable police procedurals. In the most important (to advertisers) 18-49 years old demographic however, Fox is the network that has won the past eight years and looks to continue with perhaps the best comedy slate of any network on Tuesday nights, led by Zooey Deschanel’s “New Girl,” and the true bread-and-butter of American television; reality shows such as “American Idol” or “The X-Factor.” ABC continues to finish middle of the pack with its Wednesday comedy night (“Modern Family”) and shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Once Upon a Time” bringing in a fair amount of viewers. Their biggest bright spot continues to be “Dancing With the Stars,” though ratings have been slipping. The worst-faring of the networks is NBC, finishing in fourth-place consistently. Its comedy shows, though critically loved, get dreadful viewership and NBC is attempting to change that with new shows like the Matthew Perry starring “Go On,” and making moves with old shows like moving “Community” to Friday nights, and closing down “The Office” and “30 Rock.”
5. Actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away on September 3rd, 2012 at the age of 54. Born in Chicago in 1957, he was raised in a single-parent home and always aspired to be an actor. His first major role was oil-driller “Bear” in Michael Bay’s “Armageddon.” He reached mainstream success in 1998 as falsely convicted killer John Coffey in Frank Darabont’s “The Green Mile,” being nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Supporting Actor. He continued work mostly in television voice-over on shows like “King of the Hill.” He died from complications of a heart attack he suffered in July.