Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is down to the 50 semifinalists. Today at 10:00 Eastern, they'll compete in the semifinals (broadcast on ESPN2), and then tonight at 8:00, they'll hold the finals (broadcast on ESPN). You can also follow an online streaming version at ESPN online, but to be honest, it's an extremely cumbersome process that I haven't yet gotten to work for me.

It probably speaks to the complexity of Mad Men that the same episode can be a highlight of the series for some and a lowlight for others. Sunday night's episode, "The Other Woman," instantly became a favorite of a lot of observers and writers, but for me, it was a rarity on Mad Men: a serious and profound misstep.

I would hope it's obvious that if you haven't seen Sunday's episode and plan to watch it, you should stop reading.

When you've seen a lot of movies where Toronto plays the part of New York, you come to appreciate location shooting. And on today's All Things Considered, you'll hear from the star of one of television's more ambitious series when it comes to location shooting: Route 66, which followed two guys around the country in a cool Corvette as they looked for a place to settle.

On this week's show, we start with endings — because we're ironic that way. Various shows have ended this spring, and we thought it was a good time to talk about how you wrap up a TV show, a book series, or whatever needs closure. The "visceral need for narrative closure"? We're on it. Whether it "satisfies you upon reflection"? We're on that, too.

This week, we got our first look at the trailer for The Great Gatsby, the Baz Luhrmann 3-D extravaganza starring Tobey Maguire as Nick, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, and Leonardo DiCaprio as ... well, you know. It will come out at Christmas, so that gives us more than six months to make semi-informed predictions about its quality.

Being named "Phillip Phillips" kind of makes Phillip Phillips sound like he was created like a Cabbage Patch Kid, and after his manufacture, someone said, "What should we call him?" And somebody else said, "Phillip!" And then the first person said, "Phillip what?" But by then, the well of creativity had run dry. "Phillip ... Phillips!"

A star is born.

Hulu isn't content being your source of Saturday Night Live clips and full episodes of Glee. Like Netflix, they have one eye on original content, and one of their recent announcements is that they're bringing you a movie review show — wait, an anti-movie-review show — called Spoilers, starring Kevin Smith (the writer-director behind Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, among others).

Saturday Night Live has always had a stealthily big heart. You can see it when the hosts people really like get hugs from everyone at the end of a show, and you can see it when people come back for guest appearances, and you've certainly seen it in some well-known moments in which the show says goodbye. That includes genuinely sad moments like the night Steve Martin hosted the show hours after Gilda Radner died, as well as considerably lighter fare like singing "So Long, Farewell" when Phil Hartman was leaving.

Dear Justin Bieber,

If you are at an event — in this case Sunday's Billboard Music Awards — where Gladys Knight is also, and she is dressed like this:

You are not meant to dress like this.

Sincerely yours,

Would Wear Pajamas To Work If They Let Me But They Don't Because Of Dignity DO YOU SEE HOW THAT WORKS?

On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, I am back from vacation and back at the table, and boy, was I glad to be there.

Babies! Babies babies! Pregnancy and babies! Babies and pregnancy! Strollers full of babies!

The New York Shakespeare Exchange says its goal is "to encourage an enthusiastic appreciation of classical theater and to expand the reach of the art form within new and existing audiences." More specifically, it's interested in the question of "what happens when contemporary culture is infused with Shakespearean poetry and themes in unexpected ways."

What, exactly, does that mean?

ABC unveiled its new fall shows yesterday as part of the ongoing circus/party/ad campaign that is the 2012 network upfronts.

It's rolling out three new dramas with completely different tones. Nashville, starring the enchanting Connie Britton as country singer Rayna James, whose long career is a little tricky in the age of crossover superstars like bitchy young thing Juliette Barnes (Hayden Pannettiere).

"What are the upfronts, exactly?"

People who write about television get this question a lot. And we're getting it a lot right now, because this is upfronts week for the major networks.

With The Avengers just opening in your local jillionplex, it seems like the right time to look ahead to summer movies and see what's on our radar, both good and bad. Dark Shadows, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World ... well, you'll hear them all.

The Avengers is getting a lot of mileage out of uniting the stars of several different films for one big, knock-down-drag-out superfilm in which there are so many people floating in from hither and yon that you would be forgiven for expecting a cameo from Plastic Man. (There isn't one.)

I am guessing that the majority of you do not own thoroughbred horses. In fact, that is the underlying assumption of this entire post, and to the degree it does not apply to you, I offer humblest apologies (your highness).

But this is the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, which I normally appreciate primarily for the way it causes everyone to momentarily forget everything they ever knew about what constitutes Too Much Hat.

The Dark Knight Rises is one of those films where so many bits and drops are constantly emerging that it's hard to find a particular moment in which rushing to judgment is any more or less appropriate than at any other time. But the appearance of a new trailer yesterday has set off another round of speculation, and who are we to decline to participate?

Director Garry Marshall has worked on so much popular comedy in his career — television like Happy Days and The Odd Couple, movies like Pretty Woman and Beaches — that something he's done has probably made you laugh. And now he's written a memoir called, fittingly, My Happy Days In Hollywood: A Memoir.

This week on Pop Culture Happy Hour, the old gang is back together to tackle a new comedy, just like the guest panel did last week: Last week, it was Girls; this week, it's the less fussed over Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. We'll talk about how we responded to her performance, the writing (from the guys behind the great In The Loop), and the depiction of politics.

Dance Party Friday at Channel 12 in Cincinnati was one of the first things I wrote about — not on official Monkey See, but when I was piloting it and you couldn't even see it. Basically, when there's no traffic news on the super-super-early local edition, they dance. Because they can. Here's an edition from back in 2008.

Sunday night's Mad Men took 20 minutes or so to reveal its structure. We watched Peggy Olson fight with her boyfriend, flame out at the Heinz presentation, take herself to the movies, smoke a joint with a stranger, hook up with him (after a fashion) in the dark, return to the office, hear the sad story of Michael Ginsburg, and then meet up with her boyfriend again. Only a mysterious, frantic phone call from Don suggested that there were pieces missing.

Lena Dunham's new series Girls debuts on HBO on April 15. Dunham, who got quite a bit of attention for being the star, director and writer of the 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture, fills the same three roles in this ensemble show about four young women in New York.

It's not easy being one of the last soaps standing, as Neda Ulaby reports on today's Morning Edition. For fans, the shuttering of iconic shows like All My Children and Guiding Light has upended routines that, for some, date back to childhood. When I was in high school, my soap of choice was Days Of Our Lives, which Neda says has changed a lot since that era — well, it's changed and it hasn't.

Kristin Chenoweth talks to Jacki Lyden on today's Weekends on All Things Considered, and if the only thing you got from the interview was Chenoweth warbling a bit of the first solo she ever did in church, it would be well worth it.

The Emmy-winning actress stars on ABC's new GCB, a sort of Desperate-Housewives-ish dishy, soapy comedy-drama premiering Sunday night at 10. She's come quite a long way since, as she explains, her father negotiated her first contract.

Tonight at 7:45 p.m., I'll be joined by Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, where we will live-blog the Grammy Awards.

You read every day about the horrors of online life: stalking, harassing, the appearance of embarrassing photos that sink one's job prospects, or just the general fact that people can be real jerks when they don't have to go back and clean up after themselves.

This is not that kind of story.