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<p>Is this &quot;Argo&quot;&nbsp;image foreshadowing John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck celebrating in tuxes on Oscar Sunday?</p>

Is this "Argo" image foreshadowing John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck celebrating in tuxes on Oscar Sunday?

Credit: Warner Bros.

Contender Countdown: 'Argo' is on the lookout for frontrunner killers

And who are the darkhorses to crash the 10?

Yes, Oscar faithful, we're back. It's time to play another round of contenders vs. pretenders in the always entertaining awards season game.  Are you excited yet? (On second thought, don't answer that.)

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<p>Pink</p>

Pink

Credit: aP Photo

Pink sets 2013 North American tour dates

Is 'The Truth About Love' tour coming to your city?

Pink, whose new album “The Truth About Love” dropped today,” will tour behind the new set starting next year.

The North American arena outing, promoted by Live Nation and presented by Covergirl, will start Feb. 13 in Phoenix at U.S. Airways Center and conclude at Boston’s TD Garden on March 28.

Tickets go on sale to the general public starting Sept. 29.

Read our album review here.

February 13, 2013    Phoenix, AZ        U.S. Airways Center       
February 15, 2013    Las Vegas, NV        Mandalay Bay Events Center   
February 16, 2013    Los Angeles, CA    STAPLES Center     
February 18, 2013    San Jose, CA        HP Pavilion at San Jose      
February 21, 2013    Houston, TX        Toyota Center           
February 22, 2013    Dallas, TX        American Airlines Center   
February 24, 2013    Orlando    , FL        Amway Center           
February 25, 2013    Fort Lauderdale, FL    BB&T Center           
February 27, 2013    Tampa, FL         Tampa Bay Times Forum   
March 1, 2013        Atlanta, GA        Philips Arena           
March 2, 2013        Nashville, TN        Bridgestone Arena       
March 5, 2013        Detroit, MI        The Palace of Auburn Hills  
March 6, 2013        Columbus, OH        Schottenstein Center       
March 8, 2013        Louisville, KY        KFC Yum! Center       
March 09, 2013        Chicago, IL        United Center           
March 11, 2013        Toronto, ON        Air Canada Centre     
March 12, 2013        Montreal, QC        Bell Centre           
March 14, 2013        Washington DC        Verizon Center           
March 16, 2013        Charlotte, NC        Time Warner Cable Arena   
March 17, 2013        Philadelphia, PA    Wells Fargo Center       
March 19, 2013         Saint Paul, MN        Xcel Energy Center      
March 23, 2013        East Rutherford, NJ    Izod Center          
March 25, 2013        Uniondale, NY        Nassau Coliseum       
March 27, 2013        Uncasville, CT        Mohegan Sun Arena      
March 28, 2013        Boston, MA          TD Garden           



 

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<p>&nbsp;Missy Elliott</p>

 Missy Elliott

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Missy Elliott drops two new tracks, '9th Inning' and 'Triple Threat'

Do she and Timbaland continue their winning ways?

Missy Elliott, who will release her first album in seven years later this year, gave a preview of what to expect last night when she dropped two new tracks, “9th Inning” and “Triple Threat.” Both are produced by her longtime collaborator Timbaland.

“Triple Threat,” the first of the two tracks on the embed below, starts as a much harder rap, but, like “9th Inning,”  has a strong musical bed that includes strings. This winding, insinuating rhythm features a tribute to Pimp C as Timbaland plays around with his rap from Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin,” in between rapping about his and Elliott’s dominance — “250 million” sold, he brags.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Can Christina Hendricks break the &quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;acting oh-fer?</p>

Can Christina Hendricks break the "Mad Men" acting oh-fer?

Credit: AMC

Emmys 2012 Predictions: Outstanding Supporting Actress for Comedy & Drama

Can 'Mad Men' finally get an acting trophy? And will the late Kathryn Joosten win once more?

Dan and I are continuing our Emmy picks for who should and will win in the major categories with a look at the fields for supporting actress in a comedy and a drama.

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<p>The 85th Academy&nbsp;Awards will be Sunday,&nbsp;February 24</p>

The 85th Academy Awards will be Sunday, February 24

Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

Academy moves Oscar nominations even earlier to January 10

Electronic balloting also introduced

The Academy has announced key dates in the timeline for this year's Oscars. We already knew the 85th Academy Awards were set for Sunday, February 24. Previously nominations for the Oscars were set for Tuesday, January 15, but the latest release has moved that date five days earlier to January 10. This is still nice for Sundance-goers who won't have to worry about covering the announcement while at the fest, which runs January 17 - 27. But it's also the first time they'll be announced before the Golden Globes are held (on January 13).

Polls for nominations will close on January 3, while voting begins for the second phase of the circuit on February 8, meaning there is nearly an entire month between the nominations announcement and the opening of the polls. That's a pretty long time. Usually it's no more than two weeks or so. How will that time be used for marketing purposes? That's a lot of days to fill, and a lot of time for the discussion to shift in interesting ways -- unless, of course, we're met with an undeniable this season, which is always possible.

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<p>&nbsp;Carly Rae Jepsen</p>

 Carly Rae Jepsen

Credit: AP Photo

Album Review: Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Kiss' smacks of sweet, pop romance

Owl City and Justin Bieber add flavors to the mix

No matter what she accomplishes in her career, Carly Rae Jepsen’s defining hit will always be “Call Me Maybe.”

Fans of that charming ditty, which ruled the airwaves this summer, will find plenty to like on Jepsen’s full-length, major-label debut, “Kiss,” out today. Although there is nothing here that surpasses that spiky ear worm, a few songs give the smash a run for its money on the well-crafted, if formulaic, 12-song collection.

Jepsen incorporates parts of other pop dance divas from today and yore, such are Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, and Robyn, but she recalls no one so much as 80s’ pop sparkler Debbie Gibson with her pleasing, sweet voice and limited range.

She may be 26, but Jepsen keeps all the material on “Kiss” uniformly squeaky clean enough for her pre-teen and tween audience.  Most of the lyrics address the delights and disasters between boys and girls. She’s either crushing hard, deliriously in love, jealous, breaking up or heartbroken. It’s the cotton candy version of romance that fills teen diaries and runs its course in 3-minute pop songs. High drama can ensue from a misconstrued glance or misunderstood word. There’s a naive innocence that pervades all of “Kiss” and an undying optimism that after the tears have been shed, another boyfriend —with a dimpled smile and shiny hair — will emerge.

On “This Kiss,” Jepsen can’t stop thinking about a forbidden lip lock. On “Tiny Little Bows,” she longs to “be holding hands/dancing really slow.”  About as risque as “This Kiss” gets is on “Tonight I’m Getting Over You,” when she bemoans, “we’re not lovers, but more than friends.”

The temperature of emotions switches throughout, although the tempo uniformly remains the same for virtually every track, set within strict, current Top 40 parameters of a bouncy synthetic dance beat that occasionally breaks into electro-pop.

The exceptions are the guitar-based, swoon-worthy “Beautiful,” a duet with Justin Bieber and the piano-ballad “Your Heart Is A Muscle,” which builds to a mid-tempo plea for her beau to keep working at loving her (and developing his heart muscle).

“Beautiful” continues on the trajectory of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.”   “What makes you so beautiful is you don’t know how beautiful you are to me,” Jepsen and Bieber sing together, their voices sweetly wrapping around each other. Her other notable duet partner on “Kiss” is Owl City on their current perky hit, “Good Time.”

Not that she’s necessarily expected to be a spokeswoman for her generation, but there are times when her boy dependence gets to be a bit much. On the irresistibly peppy  “Guitar String/Wedding Ring,”  her boyfriend leaves and she’s feels like she’s nobody without him. She longs for him to come back  “If you cut a piece of guitar string/I would wear it like it’s a wedding ring...When you’re near/I feel the best/I’m somebody/I’m somebody.” Oh Carly....

However, the lyrics are fairly disposal on “Kiss” unless you’re a 13-year old girl, in which case they most likely play out like every after-school conversations with your girlfriends where your current crush’s latest comment is parsed syllable by syllable for hidden meaning. The winners here are the upbeat rhythms on such songs like “Hurt So Good” or “Good Time” that embed themselves in the ears of pop fans of all ages.  


 

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Watch: Mary Murphy discusses the 'So You Think You Can Dance' season

Watch: Mary Murphy discusses the 'So You Think You Can Dance' season

Murphy explains why Cyrus earned his place in the finale
FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" wraps up its ninth season on Tuesday (September 18) night with a pair of winners.
 
Either Cyrus or Chehon will be named America's Favorite Male Dancer and either Tiffany or Eliana will be crowned as America's Favorite Female Dancer.
 
Last Monday, I sat down with excitable "So You Think You Can Dance" judge Mary Murphy to discuss the season and the Final 4. 
 
Our conversation came before last Tuesday night's performance episode and Nigel Lythgoe's controversial decision to publicly tell Cyrus that he wouldn't be voting for him due to his relative lack of formal proficiency when compared to Chehon.
 
In the interview, Murphy and I talk extensively about the difference between "favorite" and "best" dancer and she explains her own perspective on what Cyrus has achieved this season.
 

Check it out... 

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<p>Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in &quot;The Intouchables.&quot;</p>

Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in "The Intouchables."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

France selects box office smash 'The Intouchables' for the foreign Oscar race

The Weinsteins' feelgood comedy could be a formidable challenger for the award

Those of you who have been assuming Michael Haneke's "Amour" is in an unassailable position for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shouldn't be feeling quite so confident after this morning's news of the newest entrant in the race.

The French submission is always awaited more keenly than most at this stage: with 37 nods to date, France is the most-nominated country in the category's history, even if they haven't actually taken the gold in 20 years. It's for this reason that, in any given year, the French entry tends to be regarded as a frontrunner by default -- whether they've chosen particularly wisely or not. 

Their selection committee has made some daring choices in the past: think back to 2007, when they forsook what might have been a relatively easy nomination for "La Vie en Rose" to put forth the Iranian Revolution animation "Persepolis" instead. (They didn't even crack the January shortlist.) This year, however, they have put commerce ahead of art with a strictly strategic choice: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's feelgood box-office smash "The Intouchables."

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<p>Hugh&nbsp;Jackman has been confirmed as the only lead campaign for the film.</p>

Hugh Jackman has been confirmed as the only lead campaign for the film.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Universal moves Tom Hooper's 'Les Misérables' to December 25

The film is set to go up against 'Django Unchained' at the box office

When Warner Bros. shuffled "The Great Gatsby" on to 2013, there was an opportunity for another holiday bow on December 25 opposite "Django Unchained." I had been wondering if any of the big latter-year films were going to jump on it but it started to seem like everyone was comfortable, until today, when Universal announced that it would be pushing Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" two weeks to that date.

Meanwhile, one wonders whether the film could end up with the date all to itself (at least as far as films of this sort go). I keep wondering whether "Django Unchained," which was still shooting up until last month, will be ready in time. It surely has to be, given the revenue potential (and necessity) for The Weinstein Company. But with Quentin Tarantino working with a new editor -- Fred Raskin -- after the untimely passing of long-time collaborator Sally Menke, it might not be as fluid as usual. Of course, Raskin worked alongside Menke on the "Kill Bill" films, so he's not totally fresh, but you never can tell how these things will go.

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Paul Thomas Anderson at a Toronto Film Festival press conference for "The Master"
Paul Thomas Anderson at a Toronto Film Festival press conference for "The Master"
Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu

How the internet gave 'The Master' its title

Fans may have had a big hand in dubbing Paul Thomas Anderson's latest

The pre-release strategy for "The Master" was interesting. Unique, I guess is the word. The marketing side of this business is driven by the typical, but sometimes filmmakers chafe at having their work pitched in the usual ways. So you get someone like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson who says, "Nope, we're gonna do THIS."

As far as screenings have been concerned, Anderson has clearly been all about getting it to fans first. We broke the news last month about the film's first public screening following a special showing of "The Shining" in Santa Monica, and that tactic was employed multiple times thereafter with pop-ups in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Austin, etc. And in most cases, fans were getting a look at the movie before the press.

Well, Anderson's love affair with his flock stretches even further than that and their connection with "The Master" might be deeper than they even realize. It turns out, Paul Thomas Anderson's fans may have had a significant hand in giving the film its title.

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<p>&quot;Last Resort,&quot;&nbsp;with Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman and Robert Patrick, as this critic's favorite fall pilot.</p>

"Last Resort," with Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman and Robert Patrick, as this critic's favorite fall pilot.

Credit: ABC

Fall TV 2012: The best, the worst and a lot in between

Some strong shows at the top in 'Last Resort' and 'Nashville,' and then many question marks

It's that time again, folks: fall TV is here.

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<p>John C. Reilly may lend his voice to 'Wreck-It Ralph,' but it's Henry Jackman who's been charged with giving the film its sonic identity.</p>

John C. Reilly may lend his voice to 'Wreck-It Ralph,' but it's Henry Jackman who's been charged with giving the film its sonic identity.

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

A quick trip to the 'Wreck-It Ralph' scoring stage hits all the right notes

Henry Jackman heads up an interesting musical roster on Disney's next animated feature

This past Saturday night, I took my youngest son Allen to a birthday party thrown by one of the regular listeners of our podcast.  I've gotten to know the guy a bit on Twitter, and we have a number of mutual friends.  The party is now cemented in the memory of Allen as a highlight of his life because Brian, the host, is a collector of old stand-up arcade video games, and he had at least 30 of them turned on and ready to play.  We spent the first half-hour or so trying them all out, and Allen played "Burger Time," "Tempest," "Q*Bert," and that great old school "Star Wars" game before he finally settled on his new favorite thing in the world, four player "Gauntlet."

While kids may not know some of the characters from the '80s video games immediately, I have a feeling "Wreck-It Ralph" is going to play to gamers of every age equally well.  It seems to have been carefully constructed to not only illustrate the various ways gaming has evolved over the years, but to also work on a story level that doesn't require you to have any direct knowledge of games to understand what it is that Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) wants from his life.

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