Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Taylor Kitsch, hungry for creative control, directs a new short film

"The Normal Heart" New York Screening - Arrivals

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Taylor Kitsch attends the New York premiere of "The Normal Heart" at Ziegfeld Theater on May 12, 2014 in New York City.

Taylor Kitsch — the shaggy-haired, hunky actor who, at 33 years old, has already generated a career of questionable highs and lows — has a new project, a short film that he hopes will take your mind off his recent big-screen flops.

You may know Kitsch, if you know him at all, as Tim Riggins on the critically acclaimed but belatedly watched TV show "Friday Night Lights."

Or if you're a fan of sci-fi films, you may recall him from two spectacular 2012 box office bombs: "Battleship" and "John Carter." Both films cost well over $200 million to make and tens of millions more to market, but sold only a fraction of that amount in tickets. When they failed, their studios — Universal and Disney respectively — had to take embarrassing and costly write-downs.

Recently, Kitsch has gone smaller and more highbrow with his screen work, appearing alongside Mark Ruffalo in the HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer's Pulitzer Prize-winning AIDS drama "The Normal Heart."

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Mayor Garcetti wins Stanley Cup bet; de Blasio has to sing 'I Love LA' on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

Eric Garcetti

Photo by victoriabernal via Flickr Creative Commons

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio put something major on the line over the Stanley Cup: The power of song. Despite Garcetti's known love for showtunes, the singer, thanks to the L.A. Kings' victory, will be de Blasio.

If New York had won, Garcetti would have had to sing "New York, New York" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," but instead, de Blasio has to deliver the Randy Newman classic, "I Love L.A.," on an upcoming episode of "Kimmel." Garcetti's also scheduled to appear on that episode to rub it in a little.

RELATED: Los Angeles, New York City mayors wager over NHL Stanley Cup final

The mayors had previously traded barbs with quotes from their cities' songs. "Start spreading the news, it’s been over 20 years since the Stanley Cup has found its home in New York City, and we look forward to it making its way here," de Blasio said, while Garcetti took a shot with "Looks like another perfect day — for the Kings to take home the Stanley Cup. From the west side to the east side, the Kings will reign."

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'22 Jump Street' directors wanted a sequel that's actually good

Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "22 Jump Street" - Arrivals

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Actors Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill attend the Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "22 Jump Street" at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2014 in Westwood.

It’s extremely unlikely that Hollywood will abandon its addiction to sequels and remakes anytime soon — but just because the movie business is obsessed with regurgitation doesn’t mean the resulting productions have to be as cynical as the thinking behind them.

Critics say the two big sequels opening this weekend — “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “22 Jump Street” — are not only among the best big-studio movies of the year so far, but also might be better than the first films in their franchises.

RELATED: Filmweek: 22 Jump Street, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Rover and more

22 Jump Street trailer

“22 Jump Street” was directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The pair have a knack for taking what sound like Hollywood’s most recognizably marketing-driven ideas and creating movies that are both well-reviewed (“22 Jump Street” has a Rotten Tomatoes average of 84 percent) and hugely popular (“The Lego Movie" grossed $462 million worldwide and "21 Jump Street" took in $201 million around the globe).

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World Cup 2014: Where's the Great American Soccer Movie?

Disney

A screencap from Disney's "Air Bud: World Pup."

Soccer is a genuine universal sport and the passion of its fans is indisputable. Yet for all of its popularity, rabid supporters, stunning athleticism and movie-star-esque players like Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham,  Hollywood has failed to make a single great soccer movie.

  • There are fantastic and Oscar-winning boxing films: “Rocky” and “Raging Bull.”
  • If you lean toward baseball, you’ve got “Field of Dreams,” “The Natural” and “Bull Durham.”
  • Hockey has “Slap Shot” and “Miracle.”
  • There are even landmark movies about high school basketball (“Hoosiers”), long distance running (“Chariots of Fire”), billiards (“The Hustler”), cycling (“Breaking Away”) and, in a classic comedy, golf (“Caddyshack”).

But when the focus is soccer, the movie business hasn’t been able to make a critically acclaimed film that is also a hit with moviegoers.

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New Grammys rules include allowing samples in Song of the Year

56th GRAMMY Awards - Show

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Musicians Kirk Hammett of Metallica (L) and Lang Lang perform onstage during the 56th Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Jan. 26, 2014 in Los Angeles.

The Recording Academy announced a number of rules changes for future Grammy Awards on Thursday, including allowing samples to be used in songs included in songwriting categories like Song of the Year.

"This year's changes to our Awards process are thoughtful, inclusive, and reflective of the current musical landscape," said Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow in a statement.

The addition of sampling is a sign of the changing face of music, with samples included in a variety of genres — the Grammys had previously only allowed samples in the best rap song category. The Academy's Bill Freimuth tells KPCC that he thinks it will have an impact on some of the major Grammys categories.

"What I think the change is going to do, is eliminate a lot of the head-scratching as to why some very big, popular recordings, songs, were not showing up in the nominations," Freimuth said. "For something like Song of the Year or Best R&B, or Best Rock Song …  our ballot will feel a little bit more complete because all of these will now be included."

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