Trailer and stills for “Machete Kills” starring Danny Trejo

“Machete Kills” will be in theaters on October 11th with Danny Trejo back in the lead role as ex-Federale agent Machete and supported by an impressive cast that includes Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Carlos Estevez (aka Charlie Sheen), Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Demián Bichir, Alexa Vega, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding, Jr., William Sadler, Marko Zaror and Mel Gibson.

We have the trailer along with some great posters and photos of some of the babes from the film, including Michelle Rodriguez, who is accustomed to playing badass characters, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard and Alexa Vega. There’s something about girls with guns so we’re definitely looking forward to this one.

  

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Flo Rida Previews New Album at Manhattan Event Sponsored by HP

Last night at the Hotel on Rivington in Manhattan, ArjanWrites.com presented a special ARTIST #TALK session with Miami-based club rapper Flo Rida, a massively successful artist who has sold 60 million records and scored 14 hit singles, including the ubiquitous hits “Low” and “Right Round.” Arjan describes the ARTIST #TALK series as “as a listening session meets ‘Inside The Actors Studio‘,” and this is a fairly accurate way to put it. The evening began with a basic interview summing up Flo Rida’s career thus far, and then proceeded to a preview listening session for his new album “Wild Ones.”

Flo Rida began as a hype man for the legendary 2 Live Crew, who were equally loved and hated in their time for boundary-pushing songs like “Me So Horny.” Of this experience, Flo says, “I heard about the crazy things that went on, but I never took part in that. I just went out and did the shows.” This is a large part of of his persona as an artist, a relentless positivity that embraces partying while avoiding explicit lyrics about drugs, guns or any other negative tropes often heard in club music. He says, “I was happy to have music that my mom could listen to … and put smiles on the faces of young and old people.” He has even started his own charity, Big Dreams 4 Kids, to give back to underprivileged youth in slums like the one in which he grew up. When asked about the way his music has mixed Hip-Hop with electronic dance music, he also points to his upbringing: “Growing up in Miami, Florida, it’s like a gumbo of different cultures.”

We then moved on to the listening portion of the evening, previewing 90-second snippets of all nine tracks from the new album, “Wild Ones.” The first single, “Whistle” has a pleasant, laid-back feel to it, with a hook that is almost reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The title track, “Wild Ones,” features the up-and-coming singer Sia, and Flo spoke of his interest in finding new talent because “when you’re starting out, you don’t have the chance to work with who you want to, you just have to do what you can, and that’s how I started out.” He would seem to have a good instinct for future success, judging by songs like “Starstruck,” an early collaboration with a then unknown artist named Lady Gaga.

The rest of the album largely follows the template of “Wild Ones,” with thumping dance beats and Flo’s facilitating delivery. It should give fans exactly what they’ve come to expect, but it would be nice to hear him switch up his style more. Flo is a club rapper, though, not an emcee’s emcee, and he has found a sound that works for him. Even his more reflective song, “I Cry” has a similarly up-tempo flow on the verses, though the beat is a bit slower than the rest. “Good Feeling” is another standout track, featuring a beautiful Etta James sample, and according to Flo, “she passed away right after we went number one” with the song, a strange omen that meant a lot to him. Perhaps the worst track on the album is “Sweet Spot,” which features a guest turn from Jennifer Lopez and lots of lazy sugar/sex references, even dropping the phrase “candy shop,” a reminder of 50 Cent’s most embarrassing work. Still, this is a record for people to dance to, not analyze, and it should satisfy that need quite nicely.

  

Ten Things We Learned While Watching the 2011 Grammys

Abraham Simpson summed up our relationship with music better than anyone. We used to be ‘with it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what we’re ‘with’ isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to us. That description also applies to some of the kids who are neck-deep in contemporary pop, since there are so many different options, it’s easier than ever to be your own musical island.

This, however, makes it difficult to throw a party celebrating the “best” music of the past year, since it really only covers the best of the popular music, and due to rigid programming, most popular music isn’t terribly good. This inspired us to watch the Grammy Awards for the first time in ages, just to see what we could glean from how the machine currently operates. What we discovered might surprise you. Could it be that the industry is lying about their financial woes?

The music industry is doing awesome

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences throws its annual Hooray For Us party – you know, the one that nets roughly four times as many viewers as last night’s broadcast – it’s held in a venue like the Kodiak Theater, which seats just over 3,400 people. Last night’s Grammy Awards were held in the Staples Center, which seats 20,000. If you equate the size of the venue for your party to the health of your company, that means that the music industry is making six times as much money as the movie industry. So don’t listen to their pitiful cries of how much money they’re losing to illegal downloads, lack of interest, etc. If they were really that despondent, they wouldn’t blow that much money on one party…would they? After all, that would just be foolish and irresponsible.

And while we’re on the subject of fiscal responsibility, we have a suggestion for them…

The music business would turn profitable tomorrow if they got rid of backup dancers

If you include Muse’s uprisers, there were nearly 80 people who served as dancers, or fire breathers, or as something other than a musician or a singer, in the various performances from last night’s show. That can’t be cheap, and really, what do they add? If anything, they’re a telltale sign that said performer doesn’t really have much to offer in a live setting. We have an idea that will save them millions: The labels should adopt a policy similar to the one that the airline industry uses to fleece its customers, and bill their artists for using dancers. And not even in a ‘we’ll take it out of your royalties’ way; actually make the artists pay cash out of their pockets for the dancers. Boom, they disappear just like that. Tours get cheaper, everyone makes more money. Just a thought.

Justin Bieber might be the real deal

For a kid who’s about to turn 17, Justin Bieber is remarkably well composed. He can sing, of that there is no doubt, but last night he showed just how comfortable he was as a performer while maintaining some modesty at the same time. The last time we saw someone cover so much ground, it was Justin Timberlake, and we all saw how he turned out. Someone’s gotta give that kid a new haircut, though. He looks like a lesbian.

Even the Recording Academy knows that no one cares who wins these awards

In three and a half hours, they gave away 11 Grammys, or roughly one every 19 minutes. The rest were done in advance. Sorry, Black Keys, but you won’t have the chance to thank your wives and managers for their support on air. They’ll have to settle for a phone call or a text message, like a sucker. Geez, even the sound editors for movies get to thank their wives on national television.

Jimmy Stafford, Patrick Monahan and Scott Underwood of the band Train hold their award for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for “Hey, Soul Sister” at the 53rd Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 13, 2011. UPI/Phil McCarten

If Train wins a Grammy, and nobody cares, did they still win?

If you wear sunglasses indoors, and you’re not Jack Nicholson, you just look like a douche

Granted, we knew this already, but man, were there a lot of Corey Harts in attendance last night. Our quick list of the guilty: Donnie Wahlberg, Lenny Kravitz, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, will.i.am, Usher, LL Cool J, and Bruno Mars. Unless you’re high, take the damn glasses off.

Katy Perry doesn’t use Auto-Tune live

That might sound like an insult, but to be honest, it was kind of refreshing to see Perry, um, let it all hang out, especially after the blockbuster tribute to Aretha Franklin that opened the show (more on that later). Watching her last night was like watching the internal struggle of a pop star who loves being ogled but craves respect. Don’t be surprised if her next record is decidedly more serious.

Why doesn’t anybody take me seriously?

Arcade Fire knew they were going to win Album of the Year

How else were they so prepared to jump back on stage and play another song? Because they knew they’d have to. The producers will probably argue that they asked all Album of the Year nominees to be prepared to perform another number, but Jesus, their instruments were already up there. Also, did you notice that they didn’t give out a single Grammy to someone who wasn’t in attendance? Not a single ‘such and such artist wasn’t able to be here tonight, so we accept this on their behalf’ speech. Did anyone show up not knowing whether they were going to win or lose? We’re betting against it.

Muppets make everything better

Usher may have had the busiest performance, but the best performance of the evening, bar none, was Cee Lo Green dueting with Gwyneth Paltrow – side note to Paltrow: you’re beautiful, but the low-cut dress makes you look like you’re trying too hard, and lose the heels – performing the brilliantly titled “The Song Otherwise Known as ‘Forget You’” with a bunch of muppets. THAT’S how you put on a TV performance, people.


Photo credit: Kevin Winter, Getty

Christina Aguilera is physically incapable of just singing the damn song

If you put her in a “Saw”-type device, where she inched closer and closer to death for every melisma-drenched vocal run she sang, she’d be the quickest death in the series’ history. There’s no question that she has pipes, and that tribute to Aretha Franklin was superb (and wow, check out Jennifer Hudson), but enough with the histrionics, already. We get it, you can sing. Now just sing the fucking song, instead of singing around it.

Songwriting is greatly undervalued in today’s musical climate

While we’re disappointed that “Fuck You” didn’t win Record of the Year or Song of the Year, we’ll grant the academy that Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” is a damn good tune. Several of the other winners, however, seemed to have won because of the overall package, not the song they’re singing. Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” and “Nothin’ on You,” B.o.B.’s duet with Bruno Mars, are both grossly underwritten, with an air of calculation that makes our nostrils flare. The Janelle Monae song was a little better – and while it’s great to see Motown make a comeback in the pop realm, it should have happened two years ago when Raphael Saadiq released The Way I See It – but even it had more spirit than substance. And don’t get us started on that goddamn Train song.

Laugh all you want at Babs performing “Evergreen” and showing that she’s lost some power, but “Evergreen” is a song. People will remember that one 30 years from now. No one, however, will remember “Nothin’ on You.”

Some other observations:

John Mayer wants to be Johnny Depp
Mick Jagger hasn’t eaten in 20 years
Ricky Martin is color blind. Or possibly just blind
Bob Dylan would sound better if Tom Waits sang on his behalf. Think about that one for a second. Yes, it’s that bad.

  

A Chat with Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena (“Outsourced”)

The publicity train for “Outsourced” keeps rolling on, and I have no problem catching it whenever I have the option to do so. Even though I’d already talked to Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena during the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour, I hadn’t talked to them together, so when NBC offered them up as part of the satellite tour for the show, I said, “Sign me up.” Now, granted, I thought I was going to be getting a video clip of their side of the conversation, and I didn’t, which is kind of a bummer, but the guys’ ability to ad-lib and bounce off each other is in great evidence here, so I’m still glad I took the time to chat with them again.

Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena: Hi, Will!

Bullz-Eye: Hey, guys , how’s it going?

DB: (Suspiciously) Say, didn’t I just talk to you the other night?

PC: (Laughs) Good to talk to you again!

BE: Well, you guys are making your 10:30 PM debut with an episode filled with Bollywood dance numbers, singing, guitar playing…the perfect opening salvo for the new timeslot.

DB: Absolutely. We’re entering with a bang. And a sitar.

PC: And a tabla, too!

BE: So, now, was this huge episode by design, or was it already in the works before you got word of the move?

PC: Well, I had a little bit of creative input, and it was very nice, because I said, “Anisha can kind of sing, and her character’s so quiet, anyway, so we might as well give her a little bit of something to do.” But primarily it was more for me to showcase my t-shirt making ability for my fans. The Guptees. Our album will be dropping later this spring, by the way. It’s called Hey, Hey, We’re the Guptees.

DB: By the way, none of this is true. He just made up all of that.

PC: No, no, no.

DB: Uh, yeah. (Laughs) We were going to do a big musical episode, and we kind of wanted to start off the new timeslot with a splash, and…you’ll see what a deep bench we have, talent-wise, because Anisha can really sing, and Parv…does what he does.

PC: He’s just a little sore because I did not use any of his original choreography.

DB: (Growling) Yeah.

PC: I decided to go with Fred Tallaksen, who is a big choreographer here in LA. He choreographed two of Madonna’s tours.

DB: (Sarcastically) Oooooooh, Madonna! Who’s Madonna?

PC: (Dismissively) All right, Diedrich, sorry she’s not Lady Gaga…

BE: So there are worse places to be than following “30 Rock.” Are you guys pleased to be part of NBC’s great 3-hour comedy experiment?

PC: Yeah, it’s going to be awesome: comedy night done right all night.

DB: (In awe) That’s so good!

PC: Thank you. I came up with that, too, so it’s nice to know that I’m gaining a little bit more traction in marketing and branding.

DB: Oh, yeah, he’s very good at that. He’s like Madonna.

PC: Lady Gaga, I thought, was your favorite. You can’t have both.

DB: No, that’s true. But they’re basically the same person.

PC: No, Diedrich. No, they are not.

BE: Diedrich, your fellow cast members seem to have been mildly surprised to discover what a consummate professional you are. Have you always taken your comedy seriously?

DB: No. I don’t take it seriously at all, and I think that’s very helpful. I don’t learn my lines or know any of the cast members’ names. Or anyone, really. I just come in and I do what I do, which is offend everyone as much as I possibly can. And then I leave after I’ve slapped most of the cast.

PC: He’s called me many different names.

DB: Who are you, anyway?

PC: On set, he’s called me Parvaish, Gupta, Bara, Rajel, and a bunch of others.

DB: And sometimes I just say, “Hey, you, get me a cup of coffee.”

PC: And I do.

DB: Yeah. He does.

PC: Because I was taught to respect my elders.

DB: (Bursts out laughing)

BE: Parvesh, Rizwan Manji said that you once took a video of the inside of his nose. Do you have directorial aspirations or just an odd nasal fetish?

PC: No, actually, I do have… (Takes a deep breath) Being a director is one aspect that I’m very good at. I do also do, like, the crevices of the human body. In between the toes is going to be my next visual. For all of those who like feet, I’ll be video-taping Rebecca (Hazlewood’s) and Anisha (Nagarajan’s) toes. So that is a definite niche market.

DB: Oh, yeah. ‘Cause it’s Anisha.

PC: (Bursts out laughing) It’s the niche of Anisha!

BE: Speaking of Anisha, she’s of the belief that Gupta has been slapped by just about every character on the show. What do you think it is about him that brings out physical violence in others?

PC: You know, I like to think of it as a mirror that’s held up to everybody. Gupta really just wants you to be the best, and sometimes people aren’t ready for it.

DB: This is something that the writers took from real life. We like to beat up Parv as much as we possibly can. I was just chasing him around a little earlier, before the interview started. I didn’t catch him, so I’m hoping that when we cut I can catch him and just slap him around. It’s kind of a thing: the writers pay attention to our real lives. That’s what’s exciting about the show.

PC: Apparently, it’s something like, “If you catch him, you get to slap him around a couple of times.”

DB: That’s right. It’s kind of a game. Now, the crew’s taken it on, because, you know, we love our crew, so they’ve started to beat up Parv, too.

PC: But it’s also helping me, because I was 225 pounds before.

DB: He’s lost a lot of weight. A whole other Parv, basically.

PC: It’s true. I’m down to 210. So something’s working.

DB: It’s really exciting. For all of us. Although he is faster now. But, you know, we’ve all lost weight. We’re all coming down together.

PC: I’d like to think that the fat has converted to muscle. It’s all right here in my thighs.

DB: Right. (A beat) You can think that.

BE: Lastly, what can we expect from the rest of the season? Or at least for the next couple of episodes, anyway?

PC: Oh, you have a big episode.

DB: I have a big episode coming up where Charlie finds out that Tanya and Todd are dating, and it breaks his heart. And he kills somebody.

PC: So I’d like to start saying my goodbyes to everyone. It’s been really fun being on national television.

DB: Oh, way to let it out of the bag. I guess you’ve got the scoop, Will: we kill Gupta.

PC: Yes, but since this is India, I am reincarnated the next episode. And, you know, we don’t lose a beat.

DB: He’s like a phoenix. He rises from the ashes again and again and again.

PC: Yes. (A beat) Actually, I like to think of myself as a cat.

DB: Of course you do.

  

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