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<p>&nbsp;Brad&nbsp;Pitt holds his Desert Palm Award for Best Actor.</p>

 Brad Pitt holds his Desert Palm Award for Best Actor.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Michelle Williams and more turn out for Palm Springs awards gala

Gary Oldman is probably smoking out of his award right about now

I've never attended the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala. It's a key stop along the Oscar trail this time of year, very competitive with the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The two duke it out for honorees, one reticent to honor talent that the other has chalked up for an award. Which is obviously silly. But it seemed time to give it a go.

The evening was a nice enough one. Good whiskey, tasty spare ribs, yummy dessert. But the heathens at my table nearly tore it. I don't quite know what their business was there, but it appeared that most were friends of one of the festival's sponsors. Fine, fair enough, bring your friends. But maybe chastise them for gloating over snapping photos of Angelina Jolie in the bathroom? Earlier I heard another conniving over "getting my picture with George [Clooney]." Ugh.

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<p>Laura Slade Wiggins of &quot;Shameless&quot;</p>
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Laura Slade Wiggins of "Shameless"

Credit: Showtime

HitFix Interview: Laura Slade Wiggins talks 'Shameless'

'Shameless' co-star talks about playing Showtime's sex-addicted teen
While going through audio files for the recently started January Television Critics Association press tour, I stumbled upon a brief interview I did back at July's press tour with "Shameless" co-star Laura Slade Wiggins.
 
"Shameless" was early in production on its second season when we spoke, meaning that I couldn't ask specific questions about where things were heading, but Wiggins' Karen had a plenty eventful first season.
 
We were introduced to Karen as the sunny daughter of Joan Cusack's Sheila, but as the season progressed, we realized that what appeared to just be a sexual fetish triggered by math and physics instruction was actually part of a full-blown and increasingly self-destructive addiction that led to a truly unfortunate webcam encounter with William H. Macy's Frank. As with the rest of the "Shameless" cast, Wiggins was asked to walk the line between dark comedy and wounded pathos, sometimes within the same scenes, a  blending of tones that had already confused Emmy voters, who unveiled their nominations shortly before this conversation.
 
I now know that Season 2 brings more of the same for Karen, as she tries to tame her sexual demons in the appropriately dysfunctional "Shameless" ways.
 
Click through for the interview...
 
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<p>&quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; host Charles Barkley</p>
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"Saturday Night Live" host Charles Barkley

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Charles Barkley and Kelly Clarkson

Could the Round Mound of Rebound and the first Idol start 2012 off right?
Tonight marks the third time that Charles Barkley has hosted “Saturday Night Live.” I completely forgot that he initially hosted the show in 1993 until doing a little digging in preparation for tonight’s recap. I remember his 2010 appearance well, albeit unkindly. So I’m slightly dreading his presence tonight in this, the first “SNL” of 2012. It doesn’t help my confidence that he spent seemingly half of today inside NBC’s “Football Night in America” studio plugging his appearance rather than working on his sketches. He’s a larger-than-life personality outside of this show, but seems to shrink in this particular spotlight. Oh well. If nothing else, the original “American Idol” herself Kelly Clarkson may brighten tonight’s proceedings.
 
As per usual, only one way to find out. I grade each sketch, you get mad, and then we all move on with our lives. Deal? Deal.
 
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Andy Cohen

 Andy Cohen

Credit: Bravo

Bravo's Andy Cohen talks about 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' suicide

The producer/talk show host admits there were 'many discussions' about Armstrong

While Andy Cohen was on hand at press tour to discuss his Bravo late night talk show, "Watch What Happens: Live," expanding to five nights a week (Sun. through Thurs.) this week, but it came as no surprise that questions about the recent suicide of Russell Armstrong, husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong, came up during a panel.

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<p>&nbsp;Norah Jones and her Little Willies bandmates</p>

 Norah Jones and her Little Willies bandmates

Credit: Parlaphone

Album Review: The Little Willies featuring Norah Jones soar on sophomore set

Torch and twang combine with great musicianship on 'For The Good Times'

It has taken the Little Willies six years to follow up its self-titled debut with “For The Good Times,” but the quintet, fronted by Norah Jones, has only improved with age.

The band name is, of course, a slightly naughty moniker, but the official explanation is that it comes from the members’ unabashed adoration for all things Willie Nelson, and his compadres...And let’s face it, the Little Merles wouldn’t have provided the same giggle value.

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Suze Orman

 Suze Orman

Credit: OWN

Suze Orman talks about her new show and the death of the American dream

With 'America's Money Class,' Orman wants to save your finances

In debt? If so, you're not alone -- according to US News and World Report, 70 percent of Americans feel your pain. While debtors aren't her only target audience, Suze Orman is hoping to slap some common sense into viewers about handling money with her new show, "America's Money Class with Suze Orman" (premieres Mon. Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. ET). During a conference call with reporters, the tough love financial expert talked about the death of the American dream, the shrinking middle class and why she's hopeful that she can make viewers face their fears about money.

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Jeff Lewis, "Interior Therapy"
Jeff Lewis, "Interior Therapy"
Credit: Bravo

'Interior Therapy' star Jeff Lewis no longer flipping out, talks housing crash

The newly minted interior decorator admits 'getting knocked down' paid off

The housing bust had a direct impact on "Flipping Out" star Jeffrey Lewis, who found his business -- and the theme of his Bravo show -- disappearing along with potential buyers."There were times when I thought, why is this happening to me? And sometimes it takes years to figure out the lesson. But getting knocked down was one of the best things to ever happen to me," Lewis admitted during a press tour panel discussion. 

Enter "Interior Therapy," Lewis' new show debuting later this year. Now working as an interior designer, Lewis and assistant Jenni Pulos move in with couples who need home decoration help, usually revolving around personal dilemmas ranging from hoarding to merging belongings following a marriage. "I don't think I could have done this show five years ago," Lewis said. "With [house flipping] it was really about my own taste and my own design. I did what I wanted to do, and if someone didn't like it there were four people lined up to buy the house anyway. Now I can really get into clients' heads and put together a design that would suit their tastes and needs, not just mine." 

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<p><span style="color: rgb(62, 62, 62); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: left; background-color: rgb(253, 253, 253); ">Kirsten Dunst in &quot;Melancholia,&quot; which won Best Picture and Best Actress from the National Society of Film Critics.&nbsp;</span></p>

Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia," which won Best Picture and Best Actress from the National Society of Film Critics. 

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

'Melancholia,' Dunst and Pitt among National Society of Film Critics winners

'Tree of Life' close runner-up for Best Picture, takes Best Director

God love the National Society of Film Critics. More often than not, you can count on them to go their own way on the precursor trail -- and they did so in defiant fashion today, becoming the first major critics' group to single out Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" as the year's best, handing star Kirsten Dunst the Best Actress prize into the bargain. (It's Dunst's first win since her Cannes trophy, and not a moment too soon; look out for my interview with her on Monday.) It's the second time the group has stood up for von Trier in this way -- 15 years ago, they gave "Breaking the Waves" the same two awards.

As if to underline their independence from the Oscar conversation, their runner-up picks were also decidedly dark horses: "The Tree of Life" (which lost the Best Picture race by a single point, but won Best Director and Best Cinematography to make up for it) and "A Separation," which won the foreign-language race by a landslide and also took its second major critics' prize in the Best Screenplay category. (The LA Critics reached the same conclusion last month -- could the Academy's writers' branch take notice?)

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<p>&nbsp;'Melancholia'</p>

 'Melancholia'

National Society of Film Critics picks Lars Von Trier's 'Melancholia'

Kirsten Dunst and Brad Pitt nab acting awards

"Melancholia," Lars Von Trier's allegorical film about the end of the world, was named best picture by the influential National Society of Film Critics, beating out "Tree of Life" and Iran's "A Separation." 

The film's star, Kirsten Dunst, also walked away with the title of Best Actress, handily defeating "Poetry's" Yun Jung-Hee and awards magnet Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"). Brad Pitt won the Best Actor award, for his work in "Moneyball" and "Tree of Life."

"Drive's" Albert Brooks was named in the Best Supporting Actor section for his sinister, against-type turn, while Jessica Chastain was honored for her roles in "Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." Best Director went to "Tree of Life" helmer Terrence Malick. 

Last year, the NSFC (which includes critics from major publications all over the U.S.) chose "The Social Network" as the top film, with "The Hurt Locker" getting the honor in 2009. 

Here’s the full list of this year's winners:

 

BEST ACTOR
*1. Brad Pitt – 35 (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
2. Gary Oldman – 22 (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
3. Jean Dujardin – 19 (The Artist)

BEST ACTRESS
*1. Kirsten Dunst – 39 (Melancholia)
2. Yun Jung-hee – 25 (Poetry)
3. Meryl Streep – 20 (The Iron Lady)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
*1. Albert Brooks – 38 (Drive)
2. Christopher Plummer – 24 (Beginners)
3. Patton Oswalt – 19 (Young Adult)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
*1. Jessica Chastain – 30 (The Tree Of Life, Take Shelter, The Help)
2. Jeannie Berlin – 19 (Margaret)
3. Shailene Woodley – 17 (The Descendants)

BEST PICTURE
*1. Melancholia – 29 (Lars von Trier)
2. The Tree Of Life – 28 (Terrence Malick)
3. A Separation – 20 (Asghar Farhadi)

BEST DIRECTOR
*1. Terrence Malick – 31 (The Tree Of Life)
2. Martin Scorsese – 29 (Hugo)
3. Lars von Trier – 23 (Melancholia)

BEST NONFICTION
*1. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams – 35 (Werner Herzog)
2. The Interrupters – 26 (Steve James)
3. Into The Abyss – 18 (Werner Herzog)

BEST SCREENPLAY
*1. A Separation – 39 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Moneyball – 22 (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin)
3. Midnight In Paris – 16 (Woody Allen)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
*1. A Separation – 67 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Mysteries Of Lisbon – 28 (Raoul Ruiz)
3. Le Havre – 22 (Aki Kaurismäki)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
*1. The Tree Of Life – 76 (Emanuel Lubezki)
2. Melancholia – 41 (Manuel Alberto Claro)
3. Hugo – 33 (Robert Richardson)

EXPERIMENTAL
Ken Jacobs, Seeking The Monkey King

FILM HERITAGE

1. BAMcinématek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective with all titles shown on 16 mm. or 35 mm. film.
2. Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of George Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon.”
3. New York’s Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.
4. Flicker Alley for their box set Landmarks Of Early Soviet Film.
5. Criterion Collecton for its 2-disc DVD package The Complete Jean Vigo.

 

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"Bethenny Ever After"

 "Bethenny Ever After"

Credit: Bravo

Press Tour: Bethenny Frankel talks marriage trouble, Jill Zarin squabble

The former 'Real Housewives' star wants to show "honest" reality

Bethenny Frankel may have sold her Skinny Girl cocktails brand for $120 million last year, but the former "Real Housewives of New York" star isn't relaxing with her newfound wealth. Her Bravo series "Bethenny Ever After" will be returning for a third season, and the self-made woman discussed her decision to come back to the airwaves during a press tour panel. "I have a relationship with Bravo and we've been working together for years, and there were some things I still wanted to say to my fans," she said. "It's certainly not about the paycheck. It's about the message." Frankel maintained that, while "in reality TV, [reality] isn't always the case," honesty is her only policy. "It's about showing people what's really going on, warts and all."

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<p>Nick Offerman wrote an upcoming &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot;&nbsp;episode.</p>

Nick Offerman wrote an upcoming "Parks and Recreation" episode.

Credit: NBC

Interview: Nick Offerman on writing a 'Parks and Recreation' script

Which of Ron Swanson's co-workers did he most enjoy writing for?
At NBC's press tour party last night, I ran into Nick Offerman from "Parks and Recreation," who mentioned that he had written an upcoming episode for the show (the 18th out of 22 for the season). Given that Offerman, like Ron Effing Swanson, seems to be superhumanly competent at everything else, the idea of him writing a script for the show intrigued me. So we talked for a few minutes about how this happened, his writing experience, his secret dreams for writing Ron Swanson, and which other character he most enjoyed writing for.
 
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<p>That's our Billy.</p>

That's our Billy.

Watch: Funny or Die uses Megan Fox to bring Billy Crystal back to Oscar

Has everyone forgotten about Eddie Murphy already?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences teamed up with Funny or Die to create the first promo for this year's 84th Academy Awards which debuted today online.  Not surprisingly, it centers on the search for this year's host, the legendary Billy Crystal. 

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