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<p>Josh Brolin was in an unusually outgoing mood when we sat down to talk about his work in this weekend's new release, 'Gangster Squad'</p>

Josh Brolin was in an unusually outgoing mood when we sat down to talk about his work in this weekend's new release, 'Gangster Squad'

Credit: HitFix

Josh Brolin talks about throwing punches with Sean Penn in 'Gangster Squad'

Plus he threatens to report me to Penn over a comment

One of the most distinct memories I have involving Josh Brolin took place on the set of "Jonah Hex," where we interviewed him standing outside on a muggy New Orleans night, a few yards away from a swamp where there were alligators visibly checking us out.  Brolin's extensive prosthetic work in the film made it nearly impossible to understand him when he spoke, but he seemed delighted by the way it affected him.

Brolin strikes me as the kind of guy who loves to immerse himself in a role, losing himself in the little details.  I think the way he has evolved as a performer has been impressive, and it would have been impossible to guess back in the early days of "The Goonies" and "Thrashin'" that he would evolve into one of our most interesting leading men.  As I mentioned to him at the end of this interview, I value his presence in movies precisely because of the mileage that is so evident on him these days.  This is a guy who has lived, and who has built up his fair share of scar tissue.

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Peter and Walter in this week's "Fringe".

Peter and Walter in this week's "Fringe".

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'This Boy Must Live'

The table is set for the series finale.


If one cannot remember a life lived, does that life matter at all?
That’s not merely a fundamental philosophical problem that has haunted humanity for thousands of years. It’s also the core question for the last few seasons of “Fringe”. The schism that formed in the aftermath of Peter stepping into the Doomsday Device cleaved fandom in two. Some argued that the characters that developed in the new reality were closely enough aligned with the original iterations that the discrepancies actually gave depth to the show’s analysis of human behavior. Others felt their connections to those onscreen severed, with all new work needed to find a way to emotionally bond with these new versions. While I fall on the side of the latter group, neither side is “right” or “wrong”. There are never such clearly shaded sides when it comes to questions such as the ones that “Fringe”, at its best, puts forth.
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<p>More of this but in 3D?&nbsp; Bring it on, Summer 2014.</p>

More of this but in 3D?  Bring it on, Summer 2014.

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Jurassic Park 4' sets a 2014 release date but still has no director

Someone's got their work cut out for them

It has always been the goal of Universal and Amblin' to continue making "Jurassic Park" movies, and part of me wishes they would have greenlit the insane version that John Sayles and William Monahan wrote a few years back about a commando team of genetically-modified dinosaur/human hybrid creatures who were sent in to destroy South American drug cartels.

Alas, we have lost our opportunity to witness that particular strain of madness, and instead, there's another version that they've been developing, with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver scripting it.  That's one of those totally logical moves considering "Rise Of The Planet of The Apes" managed to salvage a property that Fox had been frustrated by for decades.

Universal seems confident that the latest draft of the script cracked whatever problems they've been having, because they just set a release date for the film of June 13, 2014.

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<p>Britney Spears</p>

Britney Spears

Credit: AP Photo

Confirmed: Britney Spears leaves 'X Factor' - What's next?

Is Las Vegas the next stop?

Britney Spears is officially out at “The X Factor,” y’all. This is, of course, not news to anyone who had followed the back and forth over the past few weeks: First came the rumors that Spears was fired, then came word that she was quitting.

Regardless of the how it went down, the result is the same: Spears can get back to her music. And signs are that she’s ready to double down. There are lots of rumors floating around about what's coming next, but our hope is that, as she's suggested, she will really focus on the music.  The last three albums have provided hits, but it's time for Spears to push a little bit. 

Whether it was her attempt to spin things her way or the reality or both, she already laid the foundation for folks last week when she tweeted that she was “really focused on my music right now.” 

Among the collaborators she’s working with on for her eighth studio album  are, Nate “Danja” Hills, and Hit-Boy. She’s worked with and Danja before, but this marks her first stint with Hit-Boy, who’s on a role fresh from his work with Kanye West and Jay-Z on “Ni***s in Paris” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle.”  As you know, she and are in the Top 10 right know on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Scream and Shout.”

Just as telling as her departure from “The X Factor” is Thursday’s news that she’s switched booking agencies, from William Morris Endeavor to Creative Artists Agency When an artist makes such a move, it can portend some shift, in that they want to get into a new area or expand their existing domain (Or in this case, she could just want a clean start after “The X Factor.) UPDATE:  Word just came down of Spears' split with fiance Jason Trawick, who had been an agent at WME. He'd left the agency more than a year ago, but that could the reason for the shift to CAA).

While there’s no word yet on a new Spears tour, she remains a touring machine. Her last tour in 2011, to support latest album “Femme Fatale,” grossed $37 million from 39 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore.
In her statement today confirming her exit, Spears reiterated the desire to focus on her music and that she missed touring. “I can’t wait to get back out there and do what I love most,” she says.

Is one of the possibilities a Las Vegas residency? TMZ reports she is in “serious talks” to ink a deal with one of the Caesars properties.

As Elton John and other acts have proved, an act can commit to a certain number of dates in Las Vegas per year and still have a very healthy touring slate around the rest of the country and world. Plus, if she’s looking for a quick way to replace the $15 million she reportedly received from “The X Factor,” look no further.

Before we’ve got her commuting from LA to LV, let’s have her focus on making good, solid music.  As I mentioned, "Blackout," "Circus" and "Femme Fatale"—the three albums since her 2007 breakdown— have all had strong moments, but haven’t been consistent.

What would happen if she really focused on digging deep and making an album that tried something new instead of just some new beats? I’m not suggesting she go acoustic or get too serious, but hearing basically the same sexual themes over slightly different beats and lyrics blaring out of the radio is getting tiresome. What's the last Spears hit  you could actually sing along to?   Maybe it’s time to focus a little more on the substance since it would appear she has some time on her hands.

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Listen: Destiny's Child's new song 'Nuclear' drops

Listen: Destiny's Child's new song 'Nuclear' drops

Pharrell produced this airy track

The term "nuclear" has a heaviness about it, but Destiny's Child's new song of the same name feels very much in the air.

As previously reported, the trio reunited for a fresh track for the first time in eight years, to pack an extra punch in with the release of their "Love Songs" hits compilation. "Nuclear" was produced by Pharrell Williams -- who is also helping on Beyonce's next solo album -- and the sound overall dips back into an early '90s R&B vibe, powered by high volts of tambourine.

It's a sweet and easy-listening tune, as Beyonce takes those runs in the refrain and Michelle Williams getting an even more angelic verse. It's not Song Of The Year by any stretch, due to lethargy, but it's pleasant hearing the Children back together.

According to Mashable (that's right: Mashable), Pharrell co-wrote "Nuclear" with Michelle, James Fauntleroy and Lonny Bereal.

Destiny's Child is on slate to take the stage with Beyonce during her solo career-driven halftime show at the Super Bowl, and they will tackle "Nuclear."

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<p>Emmanuelle Riva, Michael Haneke (center)&nbsp;and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of &quot;Amour&quot;</p>

Emmanuelle Riva, Michael Haneke (center) and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of "Amour"

Credit: Sony Classics

Nine double-dipping Oscar nominees have multiple shots on goal this year

And George Clooney broke a record, by the way

Another year, another set of Oscar nominees. And while all are lucky to be in the mix, some are twice as lucky. There are always a few double dippers each year, individuals recognized in multiple categories or, sometimes, twice in the same category. So who's in the club this time around?

Let's start with "Amour" director Michael Haneke, because you could actually make a case for him being a triple nominee this year. He was recognized individually in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories, but he will also be the one to accept the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film should "Amour" wind up victorious there. Alas, the nomination "officially" goes to the film's country of origin, Austria in this case, but the fact is Haneke is in a position to walk away with three trophies next month. No one else can say that this year.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Taylor Swift heads back into the studio

Does that mean 'Trouble' for One Direction's Harry Styles?

Give Taylor Swift credit for poking fun at her own reputation. The singer tweeted Thursday night that she’s returned to the recording studio and then added a warning...

“Back in the studio. Uh oh...,” Taylor tweeted.  Such news should have One Direction’s Harry Styles and Conor Kennedy quaking in their boots since they are her two latest paramours-- or whatever we want to call the rotating list of boys she’s churning through.

[More after the jump...]

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 102 -- Oscar nominations and the BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Oscar Talk: Ep. 102 -- Oscar nominations and the BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

First blush predicts on what will win as well

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

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<p>Antony Starr in &quot;Banshee.&quot;</p>

Antony Starr in "Banshee."

Credit: Cinemax

Review: Cinemax takes a step back with 'Banshee'

A crook impersonates a cop in a low-wattage pulp thriller

I like to say of "Strike Back" that the show is better than it needs to be. Given the Cinemax brand, all it really had to offer was guns and breasts and it was going to get some kind of audience, but the show goes a lot deeper than that, and is executed on a much higher level than I might have expected. And though the channel's second series, "Hunted," had some plotting issues, it also had ambition and atmosphere and strong performances.

"Banshee," on the other hand, feels exactly like what I pictured when I first heard that Cinemax was getting into the scripted drama game — and not just because its main character leaves prison and has sex with a naked woman within the pilot's first 90 seconds. It's pulp fiction, but hampered by its leading man's limitations and some odd choices along the way.

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<p>Ke$ha's C'Mon</p>

Ke$ha's C'Mon

Watch: Ke$ha and her furry friends wreak havoc in 'C'mon' video

Wayward waitress time travels back to the '70s

Ke$ha’s obviously never heard the rule about not getting into a car with strangers.

Luckily it all works out OK. There are no unicorns, but Ke$ha still manages to bring on the trippy fun in her video for “C’mon," her new single from "Warrior."

After quitting her job as a waitress as the “Awful House” dinner, she hops into a makeshift version of what looks like the Scoobymobile and time travels back to the ‘70s (or so it seems given the presence of an 8-Track player, the clothes and the headbands. But she’s not alone. She has all kinds of full-size furry animals, including a rabbit and an owl, with her. She rescues them from their homeless ways and somehow loses her pants along the way. But no worries, she doesn't need pants where she's going.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards.</p>

Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announce the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris PIzzello

Which HitFix Awards Pundit rules them all?

Bragging rights until Oscar night on the line...

For the first time since In Contention first teamed up with HitFix in October of 2011, Kris Tapley, Guy Lodge and I posted our Oscar nominations side by side for comparison's sake. There were a couple of easy takeaways.

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"Project Runway All Stars"

 "Project Runway All Stars"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway: All Stars' recap: 'Couture De France'

The final four head to Paris and the House of Valentino

Okay, guys, I'm bringing this to you a little late as I'm in the thick of TCA press tour madness, so hopefully this all makes sense. I'm a little worried Josh's dress might have been a hallucination of mine, but I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm really that sleep-deprived. 

The designers, who all address Carolyn with that singsongy voice usually reserved for mean schoolteachers, get some good news from the stick figure -- they're going to Paris! And they're getting a tour of the House of Valentino! And they're learning about couture for a couture challenge! And they get to buy fabric and Janssens & Janssens! And you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car! 

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