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"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: CW

Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'Homecoming'

Damon and Elena put their plan to kill Klaus into action

 So, last week we learned a lot about our Originals, and I suspect we're going to learn a lot more, as tonight is the midseason finale and we won't be getting any new blood until January 5. As last week set up a battle royale between Klaus and Mikael, this could be one hell of a showdown. Or it could be an epic fail, not for the show, but for Elena, Mikael and Damon. Whatever plan they've put into place, you can be sure Klaus won't stumble easily into any trap they set. Part of me honestly hopes he doesn't, really. Klaus has been a great foil for the Salvatores and a villain with a dark and twisted humanity that renders him both sympathetic (Daddy-who-wasn't-his-Daddy never loved him) and terrifying (betray him and you're dead -- even if you're dear old Mom). Of course, the fact that Elena is surrounded by allies who could flip flop at any moment makes me think tonight will have more than a few twists and turns.

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<p>Jamie Bell at the 2011 AFI&nbsp;Fest and the North American premiere of &quot;The Adventures of Tintin&quot;</p>

Jamie Bell at the 2011 AFI Fest and the North American premiere of "The Adventures of Tintin"

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Steven Spielberg's 'The Adventures of Tintin' is handily one of the year's best films

The performance capture adventure puts a bow on the 25th annual AFI Fest

Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" closed out AFI Fest this evening, a real coup for the festival and for Paramount Pictures (who are still well over a month away from release stateside). And the film is a dazzling experience, full of Spielberg's trademark cinematic energy. It's his best film in nearly a decade (since "Minority Report," at least).

The film was reviewed in this space by Guy upon its UK release (being one of precious few Hollywood films that manage to hit the marketplace outside the US first), and I agree with his assessment. (I'm also happy he didn't fall in with some other UK critics who seemed to have their knives out for the film overseas; I expect it to land more comfortably on these shores.)

For me, this film put a smile on my face and kept it there. It's Spielberg invigorated, the performance-capture and animation process allowing him to do things with the camera that he had only dreamed of, conjuring angles and set-pieces that surely have existed only in his head for decades but now have the freedom to run wild on the screen.

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"Project Accessory"

 "Project Accessory"

Credit: Lifetime Television

Recap: 'Project Accessory' - 'Bling It On'

It's a bodysuit challenge that ends in a double elimination

Welcome to another week of "Project Acc…zzzzzzzz." Huh? Oh, I'm sorry, "Project Accessory," which, though very similar to its parent "Project Runway," has none of the verve or excitement of the original, kind of like an ugly kid whose dad is a rock star. And no, I am not taking a swipe at guest judge Kelly Osbourne. Anyway, "Project Accessory" suffers from personality-free designers (with the exception of cray-cray Nicolina), polite judging (wow, do I miss Michael Kors) and boring challenges. We can only hope future episodes find that zing. And oh, the other thing? No Tim Gunn. Why bother, Lifetime?

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<p>Adam Scott on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>
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Adam Scott on "Parks and Recreation."


Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' - 'The Treaty': Are we having fun yet?

Leslie and Ben go crazy on each other during a model U.N., and Ron tries to rehire Tom

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I make geo-political problem-solving my bitch...

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<p>A scene from Belgian foreign-language Oscar entry &quot;Bullhead.&quot;</p>

A scene from Belgian foreign-language Oscar entry "Bullhead."

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Belgian Oscar entry 'Bullhead' among AFI Fest award winners

Fellow foreign-language hopeful 'Attenberg' also takes a prize

The AFI Fest may chiefly get press for its starry gala premieres of Hollywood heavyweights like "J. Edgar" and "The Adventures of Tintin," but it's no less invested in showcasing far smaller works from the fringe and foreign sectors that could use the festival exposure -- and it's this aspect of the event that is reflected in their jury and audience awards, which shine a light on up-and-coming talents that could use the exposure.

Still, glancing down the list of winners announced earlier today, a few titles are familiar -- particularly to those who have been following the submissions process for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Indeed, the one multiple prizewinner at AFI is Belgium's candidate for the award, Michaël R. Roskam's "Bullhead." A reputedly tough-minded study of masculinity in the unlikely context of illegal cattle breeding (I haven't seen it, but Drew McWeeny wrote a glowing review recently), the film took the audience award in the New Auteurs section, seeing off formidable competition including widely-admired Cannes titles "Snowtown," "Michael" and "Oslo, August 31st." 

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<p>Brian Baumgartner and Ed Helms on &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Brian Baumgartner and Ed Helms on "The Office."

Credit: NBC

'The Office' - 'Pam's Replacement': Are you hot?

A flagging season shows a few signs of life

Typical. The day I publish a piece about my disappointment with the post-Steve Carell version of "The Office" - along with a post-script about how I don't see a point to weekly reviews anymore - the show presents the episode I've enjoyed the most so far this season. A few quick thoughts on why coming up just as soon as I write something nasty on your Facebook wall... 

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<p>Kirsten Dunst has never seemed happier than she is when discussing her new film 'Melancholia,' which is strange considering the depressing subject matter.</p>

Kirsten Dunst has never seemed happier than she is when discussing her new film 'Melancholia,' which is strange considering the depressing subject matter.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Kirsten Dunst seems very happy to discuss 'Melancholia'

From Mary Jane to the end of the world, Dunst has finally grown up

In yet another milestone on the very strange road to adulthood my two sons are walking, they were witness to an exceptionally chipper Kirsten Dunst talking about her "boobies" as we settled in for a quick conversation last weekend about her new film "Melancholia."

This was a very busy morning for us.  I was also doing interviews for "The Muppets" at the same hotel, so I had both of my sons with me.  Toshi actually did one of those interviews, and you'll see that here next week sometime.  They've both come to junkets with me before, and they know that they have to sit quietly when I'm doing the actual interview.  As fans of Spider-Man, they are aware of Dunst from the covers of the movies they're not old enough to watch yet, and they knew that she used to be Spider-Man's girlfriend.

When we were just sitting down, I complimented Dunst on her work in "Melancholia," and she thanked me, then asked what the boys were doing with me.  I explained about "The Muppets," and she got interested immediately, asking them how they liked the film and asking me if they got the movie right.  She then asked the boys if they had seen "Melancholia" with me, and laughed when they both said no.

"Well, that's good.  They haven't seen my boobies, then."

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<p>&quot;Everybody chill out. I&nbsp;got this.&quot;</p>

"Everybody chill out. I got this."

Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

AMPAS president Tom Sherak has his say on Oscargate

The catch phrase at the Academy is (as Ford Prefect would say): “Don’t panic.”

It was a whirlwind week for Oscar. Between Brett Ratner’s hasty resignation as the Oscarcast producer followed immediately by Eddie Murphy bowing out of his hosting duties and Brian Grazer stepping in to join forces with Don Mischer to rescue the show, the Academy has barely had time to catch its breath, much less take proper notice of the @MuppetOscars campaign on Twitter. This afternoon’s announcement that Billy Crystal will host the 2012 Academy Awards effectively dashed any remaining “Rainbow Connection” Oscar remix dreams.

In the wake of Oscargate, Academy president Tom Sherak has stepped forward to assure Hollywood (and the Oscar viewing audience at large) that everything is thoroughly under control. “If this happened in January, I would be hiding under my desk,” he told Deadline in one of a number of interviews today. “Look what has happened. We are actually two and a half weeks ahead of where we were last year, in terms of naming a host.”

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<p>Chris Rene performing on Wednesday night's &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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Chris Rene performing on Wednesday night's "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Results Live-Blog - Down to the Top 10

Who would be the season's second act sent home by America and the judges?

One of America's "X Factor" Bottom Two picks last week was a no-brainer and one was a tiny bit strange.

That means it's still too early to be entirely confident in predicting which acts America is going to shun and which performers viewers will embrace.

And that means that there could be some drama in Thursday (November 10) night's results show. 

Click through...

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<p>Depending on your tolerance for 'Star Wars' nerdery, you'll either love this week's episode or you'll wish you had a way to use hyperspace to escape.</p>

Depending on your tolerance for 'Star Wars' nerdery, you'll either love this week's episode or you'll wish you had a way to use hyperspace to escape.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Listen: A special all-'Star Wars' edition of the Motion/Captured Podcast

Oh, okay, we digress a little, so it's 'Star Wars' and 'Bellflower'

It's a weird one this week.

One of the first things that brought Scott Swan and I together as friends was our shared affection for all things "Star Wars." When we first met, "Return Of The Jedi" was only two and a half years old, and both of us were still operating under the impression that there would be more sequels, and that they would come fairly quickly.

Now here we are in the year 2011, a full six years after the release of the final prequel, and I've just finished sharing the films with my kids for the first time.  It seems hard to believe, since in some ways, it feels like it's just been a blink of the eye since the first time Scott and I sat there, arguing over the merits or the demerits of the films, and it sort of feels like our entire friendship has been one long conversation about the films and their creator, George Lucas.

We were asked by many of you to do an all-"Star Wars" podcast, and the result is perhaps the loosest and most inside conversation we've ever published as a podcast.  This is Scott and I late on Sunday night, just shooting the breeze, the conversation wandering from point to point, all of it somehow loosely related to "Star Wars."  If you're looking for something professional and well-organized, this ain't it.  But if you want to hear two old friends picking up the same topic for the 10,000th time, this is it, and it's a real glimpse at the nerd DNA we have in common.

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Cheryl Burke and Rob Kardashian on "Dancing with the Stars"

 Cheryl Burke and Rob Kardashian on "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Cheryl Burke's rules for ruling 'Dancing with the Stars'

Rob Kardashian's dance partner doesn't get the show's judging, either

Cheryl Burke, the 27-year-old "Dancing with the Stars" pro who just may be more of a household name than her "celebrity" partner Rob Kardashian, will be hoofing her way into the semifinals Monday (Mon. at 8:00 ET on ABC). I had the chance to ask the dancer/author/actress/samba maniac about how she's gotten this far and her plan to land another mirror ball trophy to add to her collection.

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Old friends
Old friends
Credit: AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Billy Crystal steps in for Eddie Murphy to host this year's Oscar telecast

The 84th annual ceremony will be his ninth stab at the emcee gig

Okay, so like I said, I imagine it went something like this: "Let's make this easy on everyone. Let's get Billy Crystal in here and let's forget this whole mess ever happened." Sorry, Muppets.

Billy Crystal has been tapped as the host of this year's Oscar telecast. I'm fine with it. What was the last one he did? 2003? And he's been itching to get back into that seat. So I'm happy for him. And I'm happy this whole thing was settled so quickly. I wish the show the best moving forward and I have no doubt it'll be a fun and classy event.

It all started with a Tweet (which could have easily been a joke, but that doesn't stop the desperate world of online journalists from single-sourcing and running with it). But that news was eventually confirmed by the Academy to numerous sources, including HitFix. So Billy's our guy.

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