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Christoph Waltz and Fred Armisen on "Saturday Night Live"

Christoph Waltz and Fred Armisen on "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Christoph Waltz and Alabama Shakes

How will the "Django Unchained" star fare in Studio 8H?

Let’s face it, “Saturday Night Live” fans: 2013 hasn’t been kind to the show. We’ve had three not-really-that-good-at-all shows thus far, with the pieces never really coming together to produce a solid, nevermind stand-out, episode. Will Christoph Waltz be the unlikely savior? I say “unlikely” not because he isn’t talented, but because I’m sure there are a lot of people tuning in tonight. Those reading this recap will probably know of his recent roles in “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained”, but the average viewer more familiar with the oeuvre of last week’s host Justin Bieber? Hard to say.

Then again, the idea of choosing a host based on skill rather than fame is one I applaud. In every major role in an American film (yes, even including “The Green Hornet”), Waltz has brought a comedic edge to his intense performances. For him to end up a great host wouldn’t surprise me in the least, just as it wouldn’t surprise me to see musical guests Alabama Shakes tear the roof off of Studio 8H when they perform tonight. The law of averages states we’re in for a good show tonight. Then again, maybe “SNL” will just troll me and have Waltz play a character named “Ryan” in the latest installment of “The Californians”.
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'Beautiful Creatures' director Richard LaGravenese talks male protagonists, magic and sequels

'Beautiful Creatures' director Richard LaGravenese talks male protagonists, magic and sequels

The 'Fisher King' scribe's latest directing effort is now in theaters
An Oscar nominee for writing "The Fisher King," Richard LaGravenese has cultivated an ongoing reputation as a go-to source for cultivated adaptations of that the uncultivated might call "chick-lit," ranging from "The Horse Whisperer" to "The Bridges of Madison County" to "Water for Elephants." [We would never put LaGravenese in a "chick lit" corner, since "Beloved" and "The Little Princess" are clearly much more than that.]
With the new teen supernatural romance "Beautiful Creatures," LaGravenese is working with material which might -- again, this would only be a gross generalization -- be thought to skew more toward female viewers, but Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel stands out in the genre because not only does it have a male protagonist (Alden Ehrenreich's Ethan), but the story is told from his point of view.
In our conversation a couple weeks back, LaGravenese talked about the difference that comes from a male hero and, in specific, a mortal male hero. LaGravenese, who wrote and directed "Beautiful Creatures," also discusses his approach to the magical subject matter, which involved keeping even the most unreal of elements somewhat grounded.
Based on the early box office for "Beautiful Creatures," a sequel doesn't immediately seem to be in the offing, but LaGravenese sounded eager to stick with the franchise for potential adaptations of Garcia and Stohl's later novels.
Check out the full interview above...
You can also check out my interviews with "Beautiful Creatures" co-stars Jeremy IronsViola Davis and Emmy Rossum and stars Alice Englert & Alden Ehrenreich.
"Beautiful Creatures" is now in theaters.
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Credit: CBS

Reality TV Roundup: The latest on 'Survivor,' 'Real Housewives' and more

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch any competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 

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<p>Ang Lee accepting a BAFTA honor for one of his colleagues at the 2013 BAFTA&nbsp;Awards.</p>

Ang Lee accepting a BAFTA honor for one of his colleagues at the 2013 BAFTA Awards.

Credit: AP Photo

Ang Lee's remarkable journey with 'Life of Pi' is coming ashore Oscar Sunday

Still the most underreported success story of the season

When Ang Lee first read Yann Martel' "Life of Pi" he didn't think it was a movie let alone a global blockbuster.  Speaking to the Oscar-winning director of such classics as "The Ice Storm," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" back in November 2012 before "Pi" hit theaters Lee was, as always, incredibly honest about his creative process.

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<p>Chilean actress Paulina Garcia is the Best Actress favorite for &quot;Gloria.&quot;</p>

Chilean actress Paulina Garcia is the Best Actress favorite for "Gloria."

Credit: Funny Balloons

Romania's 'Child's Pose' takes Golden Bear at Berlin, David Gordon Green gets Best Director

Danis Tanovic takes Grand Jury Prize, 'Gloria' star Paulina Garcia is Best Actress

I saw fewer Competition films than usual at this year's Berlin Film Festival, having drawn much of my viewing schedule around other sections of the vast programme -- after all, with almost 200 feature films jostling for your attention, you simply have to accept that you're going to end up missing a lot of worthwhile stuff. And so it is that I must make the admission that no Berlinale journalist ever wants to make: I haven't seen the winner of the Golden Bear.

I had a feeling that missing Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer's film "Child's Pose," about a wealthy, fiercely driven mother playing the system to wrangle her adult son out of a murder charge, was going to haunt me one way or another -- one of the few Competition films to generate across-the-board critical approval, it seemed at the very least a strong Best Actress contender for Romanian veteran Luminita Gheorghiu. I'd missed the screening to catch up with another Competition buzz title, "Gloria" -- which, as it turned out, won Best Actress instead -- and never found a suitable gap in my diary for the Romanian film. Festival scheduling is like Jenga that way. 

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<p>Thomas Newman at the BAFTA&nbsp;Awards last weekend</p>

Thomas Newman at the BAFTA Awards last weekend

Credit: Jonathan Short/Invision/AP

Tech Support: Thomas Newman on 'Skyfall' and the everyday challenges of a film composer

Could the film be a double winner for music on Oscar night?

Film music composer Thomas Newman landed his 11th Oscar nomination to date last month, for his original contributions to "Skyfall." It's the latest in a long line of Academy mentions both in the song and score categories for two decades for him, but despite the strong showing, he has yet to wrangle one of the trophies for himself.

Last weekend he won his second BAFTA Award to date (on just three nominations from the group throughout his career). And, along with "Skyfall" colleague Roger Deakins, he is putting a little bit of pressure on the presumed frontrunners in his category.

A handful of those Oscar nominations along the way have come for Sam Mendes films, including the director's latest. Mendes likes to showcase Newman's work in his films, being very detailed with his sound mixers about how he wants it to shine, and that was a particular note on "Skyfall." This was, after all, the new chapter of a franchise that has music woven into the fabric of its very identity.

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<p>Kelly Reilly and Denzel Washington in &quot;Flight.&quot;</p>

Kelly Reilly and Denzel Washington in "Flight."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Writing - Original Screenplay

'Amour,' 'Django Unchained,' 'Flight,' 'Moonrise Kingdom' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' square off

(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)

Best Original Screenplay is perhaps my favorite of all Oscar categories, and I know I'm not alone in that. So often it has been a sanctuary for adventurous, important and, yes, original films that are just a little too fresh to triumph in the top categories: it's thanks to this award, after all, that the likes of "Pulp Fiction," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Chinatown," "Talk to Her," "The Red Balloon" and, of course, "Citizen Kane" all get to call themselves Oscar winners.

While for the last three years, the category has housed the eventual Best PIcture winner, Best Original Screenplay is back on outsider duty this year. While the adapted category will be breathlessly scrutinized for Best Picture signals, none of the frontrunners here are likely to triumph in the top race. It's still an equally competitive category -- and, despite many pundits' odd assertions that it was a "thin" field, was far more contested than its counterpart at the nominations stage, where at least two slots remained consistently in flux between an array of mainstream and independent outliers.

The nominees are...

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<p>Francesca's torch is snuffed</p>

Francesca's torch is snuffed

Credit: CBS

Interview: Francesca Hogi talks 'Survivor: Caramoan'

What's it like being the first 'Survivor' contestant voted off first twice?
Baseball fans treasure Johnny Vander Meer's two consecutive no-hitters as one of the sport's great records. It's unbreakable. And what makes it unbreakable is that not only has no pitcher in major league history even come dangerously close to equalling the feat, but after you tie it, you'd then have to go another nine innings without giving up a hit to break the record. You could pitch two no-hitters, retire 26 batters to start the next game and give up a single and you'd still only have tied Vander Meer's record. Unbreakable.
In a way, Francesca Hogi is the Johnny Vander Meer of "Survivor." She's played twice and she's been eliminated first twice, an achievement she has exclusive claim to. Even if "Survivor" were to do the periodically discussed season made up only of first-out contestants (or at least one Tribe only of first-out contestants), that would just raise the possibility of somebody tying her. That person would then have to get brought back a third time and, let's face it, the contestants eliminated first on "Survivor" are only occasionally memorable. 
To her credit, Francesca was memorable when she went head-to-head with Phillip Sheppard on "Survivor: Redemption Island" and that interaction was memorable enough that "Survivor" wanted her back alongside Phillip on "Survivor: Caramoan," a second "Fans vs. Favorites" season.
The results were, for Francesca, oddly similar. Francesca's team of Favorites won their first challenge in Wednesday's (Feb. 13) premiere, but lost the first Immunity. Initially, Francesca seemed to be in a stable early alliance and made repeated comments to the camera insisting she wouldn't be voted out first again, vowing to even eat a rock if that's the way things went. 
Instead, it was Andrea worrying that Francesca's loyalties might be divided and joining forces to work with Phillip to vote her out first again. 
And that's how I found myself talking to the Johnny Vander Meer of "Survivor" this week... In her exit interview, Francesca discusses her [relative] satisfaction with her two one-and-done performances, her ongoing perception of Phillip and what she vows to eat if she returns to play a third time.
Click through...
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<p>Mumford &amp; Sons</p>

Mumford & Sons

Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP

Mumford & Sons ride Grammy victory back to No. 1 on Billboard 200

Who else gets a nice Grammy bounce?

Talk about a Grammy bump... Mumford & Son’s “Babel,” which was crowned album of the year during Feb. 10’s Grammy Awards, soars back to the top of the charts next week with estimated sales of 150,000-160,000 copies.

The effects were felt by the band immediately following the Grammy broadcast as the album rose from 7-4 on the Billboard 200 this week and then back to No. 1 next week.

A number of other Grammy participants also see increases. The “2013 Grammy Nominees” CD threatens to hit the 100,000 mark as it likely rises to No. 2, according to Hits Daily Double.

Bruno Mars, who performed “Locked Out Of Heaven,” sees his album, “Unorthodox Jukebox” climb back to No. 3, while Taylor Swift, who opened the show, sees “Red” sell up to 75,000, and move up to No. 4 after falling out of the Top 10 this week.

This week’s No. 1 album, Josh Groban’s “All That Echoes,” probably falls to No. 5, although it and “Now 45” are both on target to sell between 60,000-70,000, so it could be No. 6.

Andrea Bocelli’s “Passione” looks good for No. 7, although fun.’s “Some Nights” may snag that spot, leaving “Passione” to fall to No. 8. Pink’s “The Truth About Love” looks good for No. 9, while the Lumineers, who also performed on the show, will see its self-titled album hold steady at No. 10.

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<p>Phillip Phillips</p>

Phillip Phillips

Stroll through time with Phillip Phillips in his new 'Gone, Gone, Gone' video

Should-be hit will ring Mumfords fans' bells

As I wrote in my review of his debut album, Phillip Phillips has more than a few things in common with Mumford & Sons -- which is to say, his song "Gone, Gone, Gone" should soon be a certifiable hit, or someone's not doing their job.

"Babel" took home the Grammy for Album of the Year earlier this week, and the charm of that album is in its universality and earnestness, rife with gang vocals, rockets into the four-on-the-floor with the choruses, rolling acoustics whether on guitars or banjos... Phillips' "Gone" arrives with perfect timing, as its video presents goosebumps-inducing home footage of families who are not yours, effecting in the same way military-themed commercials for phones or chocolate or Wal-Mart hit that sentimental spot.

Phillips takes his viewer on a stroll at sunset, on your way to a bonfire. Super-8 and scratchy frames blow through his promises of being there when you're down, laying next to you and helping you up and stuff. It's generic and it's generically uplifting.

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Listen: Usher and Diplo combine again for 'Go Missin''

From the makers of 'Climax': An abduction love story

Ladies, keep track of your drink, keep your purse zipped up and help to prevent a prevalent crime: Usher wants to steal your heart, by kidnapping you from the dance floor.

The singing superstar has reteamed with recent Grammy nominee Diplo -- who is half of the reason why "Climax" is so climactic -- and released "Go Missin'," which appears suggestively as a way to stick it your man if he's done you wrong.

Usher's voice sails comfortably in that saucy range, but it's the big booming bass that makes this track as foreboding (and forbidden!) as it is. Clicks and hisses and what sounds like an alarm warns ye who ventures to the club solo: Usher wants to take care of you, falsetto ("oh!") style.

"Go Missin'" arrived in the twilight of Valentine's Day, so even if you didn't have a sweetheart to celebrate with yesterday, an abduction may be in order*.

What do you think of this suggestive electronica-meets-R&B jam?

*Not really, do not abduct girls, its rude and against the law

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<p>Tyler, The Creator</p>

Tyler, The Creator

Tyler, the Creator's new video 'Domo 23': The 10 Best Moments

'Bimmer' also gets a bedtime debut, plus a Frank Ocean sighting

Tyler, the Creator is hard at work on his next solo album, "Wolf," and released two new songs and one long video in promoting it.

Below is the clip for smack-talker "Domo 23" as well as bedtime story (no, not the kid kind) "Bimmer," both of which prominently feature the Odd Future rapper. OFWGKTA cohorts like Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean and manager Christian Clancy also make cameos as well in the Mexican slash Sumo wrestling clip.

Check out the video, check it again, and look at my list of the best 10 moments from the video.

"Wolf" is due on April 2nd through the Odd Future record label.

:06 The lip mumbling, pre-ring interview with Domo

:28 A penis banner

:52 Zombie hipster girl arm candies + malaise

1:20: "I ate one roach and I made a lot of money."

2:09 After hell-raising for the last couple of years and raising ire from rape jokes, "fag" jokes and general race-baiting, Tyler looks the listener square in the face and says "no homo." The same reference Chris Brown used in his long, academic considerations of Odd Future's Frank Ocean coming out of the closet. "Too soon?" Blam.

2:19 Who hasn't thought of smoking a joint in-ring?

2:40 Those triplets. My God.

3:23 Ref gets down

4:06 "I'm the king of the world" Titanic riff in slow-motion.

4:28 Thanks to our Creator: a the song comparing a lady-lover to a car sticks to a strict 1-minute marker.

Bonus: Frank Ocean singing all over "Bimmer."

Thanks for all the spit, guys.

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