"The Walking Dead" is off to a sprinting start in its return to prime time.
The midseason return of AMC's zombie apocalypse drama scored the largest audience in series history, delivering 12.3 million viewers in the 9 p.m. Sunday premiere of the latter half of its third season. The previous record was 10.9 million from the third season launch Oct. 14.
The episode's 18-49 audience of 6.8 million viewers outdistanced several popular network series, including "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory," "Two and a Half Men" and "NCIS."
— Greg Braxton
ASC honors Bond's Deakins
Celebrated cinematographer Roger Deakins won the American Society of Cinematographers Awards' top prize Sunday night for his work on the new Bond movie, "Skyfall."
Deakins, known for his work on such films as "No Country for Old Men," "Revolutionary Road," and "The Big Lebowski" among many others, has 10 Oscar nominations — including one this year — but has never won the award. Can Deakins break through this year with "Skyfall"? As in the past, there has been no shortage of accolades coming Deakins' way, including an award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. The ASC win Sunday was his third from the group, following "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Man Who Wasn't There." They've also given Deakins a lifetime achievement award, so, clearly, they respect his talent.
This year, Deakins' nomination comes not on a collaboration with the Coens (five of his 10 Oscar nods have come from working with the brothers) or on an indie film, but on a blockbuster. Yet "Skyfall" comes with its own baggage. Bond movies have won a mere two Oscars over the years.
— Glenn Whipp
CW hits will have encores
The CW announced Monday it has given early pickups for next season to freshman superhero drama "Arrow" and veteran series "The Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural." That takes "Arrow" into a second season, while "The Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural" will enter their fifth and ninth seasons, respectively.
"We said last year that one of our goals was to establish building blocks to grow on, and now with our new hit 'Arrow' and fan favorite 'Supernatural' on Wednesday night, and the continued success of 'The Vampire Diaries' on Thursday, we've been able to do that," said network President Mark Pedowitz in a statement. "Not only do 'Arrow,' 'Supernatural' and 'The Vampire Diaries' perform well on-air, they're also extremely successful for us both digitally and socially. I'm thrilled to have all three shows returning to our schedule next season."
"Arrow" was a breakout hit for the network. The Wednesday drama, based on DC Comics' "Green Arrow," premiered in October to 4.1 million viewers — making it the CW's most-watched telecast of any show in three years and its most-watched premiere since "Vampire Diaries."
— Yvonne Villarreal
Postal Service still delivers
Synth-pop duo the Postal Service, whose only album, "Give Up," influenced a generation of bedroom producers with its catchy but complicated songs, on Monday morning released its first new music in 10 years. Called "A Tattered Line of String," the song features singer Ben Gibbard's typically infectious vocal melodies and programmer Jimmy Tamborello's dance-along rhythms. It arrives via the forthcoming 10th anniversary reissue of "Give Up," scheduled for April 9, and is one of two new tracks to be featured on the collection.
New music from the Postal Service has been a long time coming, and for fans of the band, the wait has been a bit tortuous as well. In addition to having to endure Andy Young's subpar quasi-tribute band Owl City, fans often faced Gibbard's stubborn refusal to return to synth-based music. Best known for his work with longtime band Death Cab for Cutie, he long dismissed the notion of new Postal Service material, even going so far as to suggest that he wasn't crazy about the process of making electronic music.
— Randall Roberts