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<p>A scene from the &quot;Downton Abbey&quot; finale</p>

A scene from the "Downton Abbey" finale

Credit: PBS

'Downton Abbey' finale recap: Season 3, Episode 7

Everything is mostly fine for the season finale until it isn't

It's been a long, difficult third season for "Downton Abbey," and it wasn't too much for any of us to hope that the show might cruise calmly into a happy ending with this, the seventh and last episode of the season. Of course, this would be the point in the recap where I tell the four of you who've been able to sidestep spoilers for this episode to watch first and then come back. I would hate to be the person to blow the twist in this one for you, simply because it must have taken great effort to block out the hints and full-blown revelations that have been everywhere short of the nutrition labels for Wheetabix. There might even be one there, if you read the fine print. 

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<p>Chris Pratt and Joel&nbsp;Edgerton in &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Argo,' 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Sugar Man,' 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad' win WGA Awards

Chalk up another for Ben Affleck's steamroller

Hey, you know that film "Argo?" It won another award. That's right, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has handed the film the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay over heavyweights such as "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook," and surely no one is shocked by this turn of events, right? I know everyone has been holding out expectation that respect for Tony Kushner might carry him and his brilliant work on through to a win there and at the Oscars, but that's just not been the tone of the season.

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<p>Danai Gurira as Michonne in &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

Danai Gurira as Michonne in "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'The Walking Dead' - 'Home'

While Rick and the Governor go wandering, Glen and Andrea try to keep things together

A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as you give me a specific answer to a specific question...

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<p>On &quot;Girls,&quot;&nbsp;Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Adam (Adam Driver)&nbsp;hang out.</p>

On "Girls," Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Adam (Adam Driver) hang out.

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Girls' - 'Boys'

Adam and Ray team up, Hannah gets an offer and Marnie realizes where she stands with Booth

A review of tonight's "Girls" coming up just as soon as my boyfriend is doing lights for Carly Rae Jepsen...

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<p>Not a bad place to build and unbuild sandcastles</p>

Not a bad place to build and unbuild sandcastles

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Premiere - 'Business in the Front, Party in the Back'

Eleven teams head to Bora Bora to start the race for a million
You know how I'm going to begin this "Amazing Race" premiere recap and I know how I'm going to begin this "Amazing Race" premiere recap. So we might as well do it together, eh?
 
All together now...
 
"Amazing Race" premiere episodes should NEVER be less than 90 minutes and should always, ideally, be two hours. 
 
Given that "The Amazing Race" has superior 18-49 numbers to "The Good Wife" and given that "The Good Wife" has comically low repeat numbers, surely it would behoove both "The Amazing Race" and CBS to set that particular regulation in stone.
 
There aren't any objections, are there? There are 22 contestants out there and they're engaged in lots of busy-work and even in two hours, it would be hard to give all of them personalities, but I find that hour-long "Amazing Race" premieres are almost impossible to recap, because I'm spending two-thirds of my time attempting to learn one superficial difference between otherwise similar teammates and almost no time deciding who I like or dislike and even less time than that getting emotionally invested in the results of the individual Leg.
 
And it's almost like the producers willingly sacrificed that latter aspect in Legs like Sunday's (February 17) premiere. Unless you are related to the team that was eliminated, either by blood or natural affinity to their shared profession, there isn't a chance that their departure will cause you even the slightest hint of disappointment. So Sunday was a basically affectless "Amazing Race" premiere, which I don't think needs to be the case. 
 
Of course, it can't just be an example of CBS telling the producers, "Look, we've got the space and we wouldn't mind the ratings, so give us a two-hour cut of this premiere." Sunday's Leg was not designed to be padded out over two hours. It featured only two-and-a-half challenges and the episode's key challenge was designed for HD splendor and adrenaline junkies, not for in-Race difficulty or potential character illustration. 
 
The "Race" producers would say that the design of the opening Leg was, indeed, designed for improved "Getting to know you" time. Starting with a Double Roadblock episode meant that all 22 Racers did something on Sunday's episode, while a single Roadblock and a Detour might leave one of the two Racers a cipher. That's not necessarily wrong. I understand. But one of the two Roadblocks just showcased screaming and falling. I learn very little about contestants from how well they scream and fall. 
 
But I guess when I think back on the Leg architecture for Sunday's episode, it could have been a very good in-season Leg. It only failed because it was a premiere and it only failed because it was only 43 minutes. 
 
Let's talk more about the premiere, including a first read on each of the teams, after the break... [Warning: Because I had a screener for this one, I was able to write it early and, in writing it early, I over-wrote. Apologies.]
 
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<p>Seamus McGarvey on the set of &quot;Anna Karenina&quot;</p>

Seamus McGarvey on the set of "Anna Karenina"

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support: Seamus McGarvey on shooting 'Anna Karenina' objectively and subjectively

Joe Wright's DP of choice picked up his second Oscar nomination to date last month

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey has worked with Joe Wright since a 25-year old Wright made the 1998 short film “The End.” Since then the British filmmaker has become one of his generation’s most notable directors and McGarvey has been along for the ride every step of the way.

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Christoph Waltz is Jesus H. Christ in 'SNL' spoof 'Djesus Uncrossed'

Christoph Waltz is Jesus H. Christ in 'SNL' spoof 'Djesus Uncrossed'

A.O. scott says 'It's a less violent version of 'Passion of the Christ''

The race for best supporting actor is still up in the air, but one nominee was doing his best Saturday night to demonstrate his versatility to moviegoers and any academy members up past their bed timees watching "SNL." "Django Unchained's" Christoph Waltz was pretty fantastic in his inaugural hosting gig and one of the show's most memorable bits found Waltz spoofing his two most memorable movies to date, "Django" and his Oscar-winning "Inglourious Basterds."  The skit, which was shot in pseduo Tarantino style, has Waltz playing none other than Jesus H. Christ (the H is silent) in - you guessed it - "Jesus Uncrossed." For more on Waltz's "SNL" hosting performance check out Ryan McGee's blow by blow recap.

And if you haven't seen Taran Killam's Brad Pitt impression, well, enjoy the embedded video below...


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<p>A scene from &quot;Les Mis&eacute;rables&quot;</p>

A scene from "Les Misérables"

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Les Misérables,' 'Brave,' 'Homeland' sound right to Cinema Audio Society

Is it clear sailing to a Best Sound Mixing Oscar for the musical?

Tom Hooper's musical adaptation "Les Misérables" picked up its first industry award win of the season (save the SAG prize to Anne Hathaway) tonight. It won the prize for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for live action motion pictures at the 49th annual Cinema Audio Society Awards. Production mixer Simon Hayes, re-recording mixers Andy Nelson and Mark Peterson, scoring mixer Jonathan Allen, ADR mixer Robert Edwards and foley mixer Pete Smith all shared in the prize, though it's just Hayes, Nelson and Paterson who are included in the film's Oscar nomination for Best Sound Mixing.

Which, speaking of the golden guy, this Best Picture-nominated musical would appear to have the prize all but sewn up now. After winning Best Sound at last weekend's BAFTA Awards and now this, the writing is just on the wall. I had a really good feeling about "Skyfall" at the Oscars, and it could still surprise in both sound categories there, honestly, but the fact is the Academy at large springs for a musical when there's one available: "Chicago," "Ray," "Dreamgirls," etc. And a Best Picture-nominated musical is all the more tempting.

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<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP

Music Power Rankings: Mumford & Sons, Adele and Justin Timberlake top the list

Why does Ted Nugent make the tally?

1. Mumford & Sons: The British quartet accomplishes something the likes of  Bruce Springsteen, the Beach Boys and R.E.M. have never done by winning the Grammy for album of the year. In doing so, “Babel” towers over all over albums next week on the Billboard 200.

2. Adele: She doesn’t even have to put out new music to win a Grammy... or any award. We just want her to promise she’ll attend and give a hilariously candid acceptance speech.

3. Justin Timberlake:
After a six year absence, he and Jay-Z will tour stadiums this summer. That’s a lot of sexy.

4. The 55th annual Grammy Awards:
The show couldn’t top last year’s numbers, but still managed to score the second highest ratings in 20 years. Better yet: no one had to die for it to happen.

5. Harlem Shake: "Gangnam Style" meet the "Harlem Shake."  The king is dead, long live the king.

6. Eric Church: The Academy of Country Music Awards voters show their religion: Eric Church tops all artists with seven nominations.

7. Beyonce: With help from such high-powered friends as Oprah, her “Life Is But A Dream” HBO documentary, directed by her, gets a rousing premiere.

8. Lady Gaga
: One of touring’s most powerful new acts of the last decade has to cancel 21 dates in order to have hip surgery. Maybe she should change her name to Lady Dowager  (seriously, speedy recovery, LG).

9. Justin Bieber:
His fans unleash their wrath on Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney after he says the Biebs doesn’t deserve a Grammy. Some of them even spelled "drop dead” correctly.

10. Ted Nugent: He attended the State of the Union address and doesn’t turn to stone in the presence of a man he’s called “evil.” What a pity.

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<p>&quot;Silver Linings Playbook&quot;</p>

"Silver Linings Playbook"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Argo,' 'Silver Linings,' 'Brave' and 'Breaking Bad' win ACE Eddie Awards

Affleck's film surges while Pixar prepares its sneak attack

It's been reiterated for months now that "Argo" and "Silver Linings Playbook" are the two films that are well-liked across the board in the Academy and the industry at large. Well, tonight, both films have triumphed at the America Cinema Editors's ACE Eddie Awards in the dramatic and comedic categories.

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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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