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Thursday, Oct 18, 2012
Andre Braugher's brilliant portrayal of Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street changed the way viewers thought about the good cop-bad cop divide on TV.

When Homicide: Life on the Street first aired in 1993, police procedurals were still stuck in a Jack Webbesque world where bad cops were rare and the men in uniform couldn’t be questioned.


In the second season of the critically acclaimed drama, badass good cop Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) changed everything when he used the force of the badge to extract a false confession from an innocent man. Though the confession was later thrown out, the show revealed the tightrope police walk when searching for a suspect who is one of their own.


The episode remains as haunting today as it was when it first aired almost 20 years ago.


Interrogation, Pembleton Style


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Monday, Jul 23, 2012

Listening to other people’s accounts of festival experiences is rarely much fun. Why watch a film documenting Glastonbury 1993, then? Well, as 2012 is one of those years in which the grandaddy of UK festivals takes a break—as organiser Michael Eavis would have it, his cows need a rest—this is as good a summer as any to remind ourselves of what Glasto used to be, before it outgrew its hippy origins to become the regulated, BBC-approved event it is today.


Glastonbury the Movie in Flashback is a beguiling trip back into the early ‘90s, soundtracked by the Orb, the Verve and Stereo MCs, among many others. The original film, released in 1996, has now been remastered and recut by director Robin Mahoney. Whether you’ll enjoy it depends on your enthusiasm for the sounds of the period, as well as your level of tolerance for blissed-out ravers. At some point, though, there’s bound to be a performance that sears itself into your memory, and in the end, that’s what festivals—or festival movies—are all about. Wait, is that Porno For Pyros? Meet you by the dodgy kebab van…



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Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012
A look back at American Idol Season One’s most-loved contestants and what they're currently up to.

It may be hard to believe, but American Idol has been on air for a full decade. Debuting during the summer of 2002, the TV talent show became a surprise ratings hit, and almost single-handedly made FOX one of the top three television networks. Despite countless spin-offs and copycats (American Juniors, X Factor, Rock Star: INXS, Nashville Star, Can You Duet, The Voice, etc.), the original series still has a hold on pop culture even into its 11th season.


With its changing roster of celebrity guests and judges, one thing is clear: its all about the contestants. But what have all of those singers been up to lately? So, starting with season one, let’s look back at who made the top five and see what they’re doing now.


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Monday, Nov 28, 2011
The British music show -- and pop cultural trope -- celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Though it's been off British screens since 1987, a new BBC radio series has been charting its rich history.

The tunesmiths of Tin Pan Alley had an expression way back when: “the old grey whistle test”. If you played your song to the grey-clad doorman and he liked it, you had a hit on your hands. The people behind the long-running BBC music show of that name were proper musos—with all the baggage that entails—and the rather opaque title was exactly the kind of reference they’d appreciate. Whistle Test (or OGWT) may have disappeared from British screens in 1987 as a new wave of young pretenders took to the stage, but its lasting place in pop culture has been explored by a new BBC Radio 2 series. Each programme devotes a full hour to a year of the show’s history, featuring archive audio and new performances from relevant acts.


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Friday, Sep 9, 2011
Classic power chords launch a new station 30 years ago.

Ten different station IDs were created for MTV, but it was the fuzzy progression of power chords used for the station launch that became its iconic signature. Guitarist Ray Foote was on the road in North Carolina with his band, Control Group, when he was booked for his first commercial session. A classmate from Bennington College, Jonathon Elias, was given the task to write several musical cues for the new Warner Brothers channel along with his partner at the time, John Peterson. Elias had always liked the way Foote played guitar, so he invited him to the New York City recording session at RPM studios on 12th Street in Greenwich Village. Foote remembers walking into the professional studio in awe of all the latest equipment and hip vibe. He brought along his Vulcan guitar with a Marshall head, earning $200 for the day (which lasted well into the night).


“Nobody had any idea how big it was going to be,” says Foote, reflecting on the day. “It was just a little gig.” The first time he saw the moon man footage was on television with everyone else. Foote is the co-founder of Big Foote Music + Sound in New York City, specializing in branded music for all media.  The Vulcan guitar still hangs on the wall of his Union Square studios.



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