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<p>Jaymes and James of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Jaymes and James of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Fishy Kiss'

The teams head to Amsterdam where a Double U-Turn looms
Sunday (November 25) night's episode of "The Amazing Race" was simultaneously very simple and yet very complicated, wasn't it?
 
None of the tasks completed during the episode were especially difficult, but there were definitely a lot of them. We had a Roadblock and a Detour and a Fast-Forward, plus there was a Double U-Turn. And then, as if that weren't enough, we got several layers of travel drama. 
 
There was such a myriad-assortment of busy-ness that there were three or four majority contributing factors to the week's elimination, even though none of them had to do with success or failure at any challenge. 
 
The result was that this was a third straight week in which "The Amazing Race" delivered a strong episode, despite major structural problems. 
 
Then again, when was the last time "The Amazing Race" delivered three straight episodes of this caliber? 
 
It's been a while, so I guess I won't quibble.
 
[On to the recap after the break. Apologies if any of this is scattered. I'm on an 11-hour flight returning from a vacation and it's already two or three in the morning in my head...]
 
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<p>Jessica Chastain in &quot;Zero Dark Thirty.&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Mark Boal calls 'Zero Dark Thirty' a story of a 'Western woman who defeated al-Qaeda'

Jessica Chastain and Kathryn Bigelow on the riveting new thriller

WEST HOLLYWOOD - "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's follow up to her Oscar-winning thriller "The Hurt Locker," made its formal screening debut in both New York and Los Angeles on Sunday, but the West Coast audience had the pleasure of a formal discussion with the director and some of her cast members immediately following.

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<p>In the &quot;Trem&eacute;&quot;&nbsp;season finale, LaDonna (Khandi Alexander)&nbsp;and Davis (Steve Zahn)&nbsp;meet for the first time.</p>

In the "Tremé" season finale, LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) and Davis (Steve Zahn) meet for the first time.

Credit: HBO

Season finale review: 'Tremé' - 'Tipitina'

A benefit for LaDonna brings most of our cast of characters together

A review of the "Tremé" season finale coming up just as soon as I like metal and sea shanties...

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<p>Morena Baccarin in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Morena Baccarin in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Homeland' - 'Two Hats'

Brody resurfaces, and Saul looks into Quinn

A quick review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I find a pay phone...

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<p>On &quot;The Walking Dead,&quot;&nbsp;Michonne gives Rick, Oscar and Daryl a tour.</p>

On "The Walking Dead," Michonne gives Rick, Oscar and Daryl a tour.

Credit: AMC

Review: 'The Walking Dead' - 'When the Dead Come Knocking'

Michonne makes new friends, while Glenn is reacquainted with an old one

A quick review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as I telecommute...

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<p>Dunn (Erik LaRay Harvey)&nbsp;and Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams)&nbsp;in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Dunn (Erik LaRay Harvey) and Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams) in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Two Imposters'

Nucky goes on the run and Gillian gets some houseguests

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I have to ask for your phone number...

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<p>Jessica Chastain in &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty' tells it straight, to varying effect

Will the 'Hurt Locker' director be back for Oscar seconds?

When Kathryn Bigelow walked away with honors for Best Picture and Best Director at the 2009 Academy Awards, she was the little guy. The narrative was David vs. Goliath as James Cameron's "Avatar" was the big dog on campus, the money-guzzler, "the future." This year things are a little different.

"Zero Dark Thirty" arrives amid a cloud of secrecy. Columbia Pictures -- and Bigelow and Mark Boal -- have been very careful about what is and isn't known about the film, which details the near-decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. Even the particulars of Jessica Chastain's character had been held somewhat close to the chest. But enough peek-a-boo.

The film is as clinical as they come, a 160-minute procedural. It details Chastain's "Maya," what may be a slight composite but is in all likelihood "Jen," the woman recently heralded by the member of Seal Team Six who wrote a book about the final raid on Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. She came into the CIA young, entered the Bin Laden case early and did nothing else until he was confirmed dead.

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Grammy predictions for best new artist

Grammy predictions for best new artist

Will Carly Rae Jepsen face fun., Frank Ocean or One Direction?

The Grammy nominations will be announced on Dec. 5. One of the most hotly contested races is always for best new artist.  Some years, the Grammys have gotten it right and picked acts who went on to have long careers. Other years, they’ve made regrettable choices: Starland Vocal Band or A Taste Of Honey anyone? To be eligible, an artist must have released at least one album, but cannot have released more than three. The eligibility period runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30, which means such hot artists as Meek Mill are not eligible since debut album came out after Sept. 30. Artists cannot have previously won a Grammy.  

See if we included your favorite new act:

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<p>Larry Hagman in his &quot;Dallas&quot;&nbsp;glory days as J.R. Ewing.</p>

Larry Hagman in his "Dallas" glory days as J.R. Ewing.

Credit: CBS

Remembering the late, great Larry Hagman

A star twice over on 'I Dream of Jeannie' and 'Dallas'

Larry Hagman, who died of cancer Friday at 81, was a giant, and not just because the Stetson he wore in his most iconic role added a good six inches to an already long frame. J.R. Ewing is one of the all-time great TV villains, the defining character of the quintessential drama of the Greed Is Good 1980s.  

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<p>Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson co-star in the disastrous 'Hitchcock,' set during the making of 'Psycho'</p>

Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson co-star in the disastrous 'Hitchcock,' set during the making of 'Psycho'

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review: 'Hitchcock' fails on almost every level as drama and biography

Only someone who hates the filmmaker would endorse this mess

Just as Fox made it easy for people to mainline James Bond movies in the lead-up to the release of "Skyfall" by putting out that beautiful Bond 50 box set, Universal has made it easy for people to take a crash course in Alfred Hitchcock by releasing their retrospective box of his films on Blu-ray.  Unfortunately, the Bond 50 box set put "Skyfall" in a perfect context to be enjoyed, but comparing even the least of Hitchcock's films to Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock" isn't going to do this new film any favors.

If you'd asked me for my reaction to "Hitchcock" as I walked out of the theater, it would have been mildly negative, but the more I've thought about it, the less I like it.  Gervasi was the director of the wonderful documentary "Anvil: The Story Of Anvil," and as a screenwriter, he's responsible for Spielberg's "The Terminal" and a small indie called "Henry's Crime," which I didn't see.  I liked "Anvil" so much that I've been curious to see what he could do as a director with a great script.  And now, the wait continues.

I've read Stephen Rebello's book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho,' and it's a well-written, well-researched look at the director and the production of one of his most famous films, but Rebello's book doesn't really feel like a story that demands to be told as a film.  It wasn't the most demanding process in Hitchcock's career, nor is it a film that reveals Hitchcock's own inner life to the degree that, say, "Vertigo" does.  So why tell this story as a film?  And if you are going to tell it, why lie about so much of what actually occurred if you can't even come up with a compelling drama with your falsehoods?

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<p>Larry Hagman may be gone, but he leaves behind a well-loved body of work.</p>

Larry Hagman may be gone, but he leaves behind a well-loved body of work.

Credit: TNT

TV's infamous J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, has passed away at 81

Not many actors are able to stay as relevant for as long

Larry Hagman will always be identified with the indelible roles he played on "I Dream Of Jeannie" and both iterations of the series "Dallas," but as we mark the occasion of his passing tonight, let's remember that he was a gifted comic and dramatic actor who had a long and robust career on both the big and small screens.  Born into a show business family (his mother was Mary Martin, a huge star in her day), he endured in a way that few performers ever do.

For my money, his finest work ever was in the Blake Edwards comedy "S.O.B.," and that's the film I'll be throwing on later tonight in honor of him.  It's a blistering Hollywood satire, and Hagman plays a disgusting version of a Hollywood executive, the type of person I'm guessing he had plenty of experience with over the years.  Hagman seemed to be most at home in his work when playing people whose personal moral compasses were somehow poorly calibrated, and maybe that's why he became a pop culture sensation starring as J.R. Ewing on "Dallas."  He enjoyed the work so much that it spilled over to the way audiences would watch him.

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<p>Hugh Jackman performs &quot;What Have I Done?&quot; in &quot;Les Mis&eacute;rables,&quot; one of many moments that brought a round of applause in this afternoon's screening.</p>

Hugh Jackman performs "What Have I Done?" in "Les Misérables," one of many moments that brought a round of applause in this afternoon's screening.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tom Hooper unveils 'Les Misérables' to over-the-moon, theater-loving NYC audience

The crowd of guild and Academy members (and press) ate it up with a spoon

NEW YORK -- "Happy Thanksgiving," director Tom Hooper said by way of introduction to an Alice Tully Hall packed with guild and Academy members this afternoon. He was on hand to present his latest film, an adaptation of the musical "Les Misérables," his first effort since the Oscar-winning "The King's Speech" two years ago and one of the awards season's most anticipated titles.

The film had screened for Screen Actors Guild Nominating Committee members earlier in the morning, but Hooper nevertheless made the crowd feel special with a little white lie. "In case you feel you're slow to the party, you are the first audience to see the film," he said. "We finished it at 2am yesterday."

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