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<p>&quot;American Idol&quot;</p>
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"American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' - Performance Challenge - Live-Blog

The contestants head to Las Vegas and do something for two hours

I have no idea what Thursday (Feb. 16) night's "American Idol" is that it needs to be two hours.

When did it become necessary to spend 10 hours on Hollywood Week, "American Idol"?

Live-blogging begins after the break. It's just my way of staying sane...

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<p>Rihanna and Chris Brown from 2008</p>

Rihanna and Chris Brown from 2008

Credit: AP Photo

Report: Chris Brown appearing on Rihanna's 'Birthday Cake' remix

Rapper has allegedly recorded two verses for the 'Talk That Talk' track

Chris Brown will reportedly be the guest artist on a remix of Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake,” a very short, sexually provocative song on “Talk That Talk.”

There had been speculation that he might show up on the track after Kosine from the production unit Da Interz told MTV that the cameo on the song is “gonna shock the world.” Today, Miss Info of New York radio station Hot97 added that Brown will also be in the video. He has reportedly recorded both a singing verse and a rap verse for the elongated version of the salacious tune. We have reached out to Rihanna’s representative to try to confirm.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Missy Elliott in 2010</p>

Missy Elliott in 2010

Missy Elliott really is back: Listen to Busta Rhymes remix with Chris Brown and Lil Wayne

Speedy 'Why Stop Now' will have you up on your 'tippy toes'

Get up "on your tippy toes" or "sit down in yo' seat": Missy Elliott is back, and she can still throw down.

I was wiping my eyes like a dream-state a couple weeks ago when Timbaland said he was working with the Original Misdemeanor, and he and she would be releasing solo albums concurrently this summer. Now I'm rubbing my ears.

Busta Rhymes' "Why Stop Now" got a remix reuniting the "Look at Me Now" personnel, with Chris Brown rawr-rawring the hook, Lil Wanye batting around .200 as per usual, Busta providing evidence that his gains on age have no inverse impact on the speed with which he can spit. He's still a name that can attract a rhymer like Miss. And, oh Missy.

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<p>&nbsp;Kraftwerk</p>

 Kraftwerk

Credit: Kraftwerk.com

Kraftwerk announce New York museum residency

German electronic pioneers will play all of their albums live

German trend-setters Kraftwerk have always put as much effort in their visual presentation as they have in their music, and New York's fancy MoMA is heralding the electronic group's innovations with a rare residency that will celebrate Kraftwerk's 30+ year history.

The museum is promising an "exploration of the sonic and visual experiments" of the iconic group, as they perform their entire catalogue over eight nights in the Museum's Marron Atrium. Each show will include a live performance and "3-D visualization" of one of Kraftwerk's studio albums.

With their cerebral, hypnotic live show, which eschews most human movement in favor of synchronized lights, post-modern imagery and cold, metallic electronic instruments, is well-suited for a museum setting. 

The Dusseldorf group have never been known for being road warriors, and last hit the U.S. in 2008, after founding member Florian Schneider exited the band. On a personal note, seeing them at Coachella in 2004 was a revelatory experience, whereas their subsequent '08 performance at the same festival felt flat and uninspired (which may have been due to the Schneider factor, or the move from the more intimate dance tent to the massive main stage). The only original member at the NYC shows will be leader Ralf Hutter. 

In typically chilly fashion, the series is called Kraftwerk Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.

"Kraftwerk is an influential force not only in music, but also in visual culture," Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA's chief curator at large, said in a release. "Through their experimentation with how images and sound are shaped by the latest recording and visualisation tools, they have anticipated the impact of technology on everyday life, and have captured the human condition in an era of rapidly changing mobility and telecommunication."

They've certainly helped inspire everyone from Daft Punk to LCD Soundsystem, David Bowie to Big Black and Coldplay to Kanye, and Kraftwerk's minimalist melodies continue to influence electronic musicians allover the Computer World

Here are the MoMA dates:

Tuesday, April 10 – Autobahn (1974)

Wednesday, April 11 – Radio-Activity (1975)

Thursday, April 12 – Trans Europe Express (1977)

Friday, April 13 – The Man-Machine (1978)

Saturday April 14 – Computer World (1981)

Sunday, April 15 – Techno Pop (1986)

Monday, April 16 – The Mix (1991)

Tuesday, April 17 – Tour de France (2003)


Tickets - a steal at $25 - go on sale February 22. Kraftwerk will also play the Ultra Music Festival in Miami on March 23.

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<p>Melissa Leo in &quot;Francine.&quot;</p>

Melissa Leo in "Francine."

Credit: Pigeon Projects/Washington Square Films

Berlinale Diary: 'Jayne Mansfield's Car,' 'Francine'

Billy Bob Thornton and Melissa Leo show off their eccentric sides in U.S. indies

BERLIN - Rarely the first port of call for mainstream prestige fare or the loftiest international auteurs, the Berlinale has, after an indifferent start, started showing off the alternative depths of its programming in the last few days: one week in, I’ve seen a handful of outstanding films from directors whose presence in, say, the Cannes competition would prompt befuddled ‘who-dat?’ questioning from casual arthouse patrons, but whose actual films would pass muster in even the starriest lineup.

The Competition, inevitably spotty given the givens, has nonetheless more than lived up to the standard set last year by the likes of “A Separation” and “The Turin Horse,” even if its highlights can’t necessarily be promised the same level of crossover success. I’ve been particularly wowed by a trio of European titles – Miguel Gomes’s “Tabu,” Ursula Meier’s “Sister” and Christian Petzold’s “Barbara” – for which Thierry Fremaux would be champing at the bit if they happened to be directed instead by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Dardenne Brothers and Michael Haneke, respectively. (I’m planning a joint piece on all three, but don’t wish to rush my thoughts on any of them.)

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"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: CW

Interview: Daniel Gillies from 'Vampire Diaries' talks Elijah's next step

The New Zealand native admits he'd like to see the 'Breaking Bad' version of 'Diaries'
You might not recognize Daniel Gillies in a knitted cap and relaxed street wear as the elegant and sophisticated Elijah of "The Vampire Diaries," and he knows it. "I look like a New Zealand woodsman or something," Gillies joked during a recent group interview. Gillies talked to reporters about whether or not Elijah actually drank the blood-infused champagne that would bind him to his siblings in last week's episode, which Original he's most loyal to, and the show Gillies himself would like to model an "adult" "Diaries" after.
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<p>Emmanuel&nbsp;Lubezki on the set of &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

Emmanuel Lubezki on the set of "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Tech Support Interview: Emmanuel Lubezki on capturing the moment in 'The Tree of Life'

The cinematographer says working with Malick has changed his life

"I learned that everything I knew, I had to get rid of it," cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki says when prompted to recall his collaborations with director Terrence Malick and, particularly, the work done five years ago on "The Tree of Life" (which finally hit theaters in May of 2011). The celebrated lenser has nearly run the table on precursor awards this season, most recently adding an ASC win to his list of laurels. An Oscar nomination in tow, he is considered the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar next Sunday.

But the experience of working on a Malick film is drastically different than the goings-on of a typical film set. And a photographer's work, much like an actor's, is collaborative at the start, but ultimately an element to be manipulated to the director's will. Fans of Malick wouldn't have it any other way, because the end result is often something so unique, at the very least. But while some on a crew or cast might chafe at having their ego squashed like that, Lubezki finds it liberating and educational.

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<p>&nbsp;Whitney Houston</p>

 Whitney Houston

Credit: AP Photo

Whitney Houston and Madonna surge on Billboard's Hot 100

Kelly Clarkson makes it two in a row at the top with 'Stronger'

As crass as it sounds, death has a way of igniting sales for an artist. As we’ve all too recently seen with Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, her Feb. 11 passing is doing the same for Whitney Houston.

Houston's albums surged back up the Billboard 200. Not surprisingly,  her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You” also zooms back onto the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 7. The song spent 14 weeks at No. 1 in 1992.  Two other Houston hits, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “Greatest Love of All” came back onto the big chart as well at No. 35 and No. 41 respectively, according to Billboard.

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<p>Jason Isaacs in &quot;Awake.&quot;</p>

Jason Isaacs in "Awake."

Credit: NBC

NBC gives 'Awake' an early-rising preview

Jason Isaacs drama's pilot available weeks before its broadcast debut

For the second time in about a month, NBC has decided to make the entire pilot episode for one of its new dramas available through non-traditional means weeks in advance of its broadcast debut. In mid-January, it was "Smash." Now, it's "Awake," which won't air on NBC until Thursday, March 1 at 10 p.m., but is up on NBC.com, Hulu (as embedded below) and at least some cable On Demand systems. (Though it is not, as of this writing, up on iTunes the way the "Smash" pilot was.) 

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<p>&quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;alum will be appearing on &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;sometime later this season.</p>

"Breaking Bad" alum will be appearing on "Community" sometime later this season.

Credit: NBC

'Community' gets 'Breaking Bad' alum Giancarlo Esposito to guest star

What plan does the former Gus Fring have in mind for the study group?

I'll have the latest installment in my Why I Miss "Community" series up tonight at 8 (hint: there's a song involved), but while we still wait for news on when and where the Greendale gang will be making their return to NBC, I have a bit of news about one of the episodes we will eventually get to see, someday, somewhere.

As first reported by Vulture's Joe Adalian, the show has cast Giancarlo Esposito — aka Gustavo "The Chicken Man" Fring from the last few seasons of "Breaking Bad" — in an upcoming episode.

The show is, understandably, trying to keep details tight about the story Esposito is involved in, but I can tell you that he plays Gilbert, a long-time employee of Pierce's late, very racist father Cornelius Hawthorne, and that he presents Pierce and the rest of the study group with a challenge related to Cornelius' inheritance.

Esposito (who's also made some guest appearances this year on "Once Upon a Time") joins a very interesting guest star roster this season that's already featured Michael Kenneth Williams, John Goodman and (as himself) Luis Guzman.

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<p>Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu and Ziggy Modeliste</p>

Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu and Ziggy Modeliste

Credit: HitFix

Mark Ronson and Erykah Badu talk 'Gumbo' and creation for 'Re:Generation'

The music documentary shows music built from the ground up

“Searching for a satellite signal.” That’s how Erykah Badu describes her writing process as she was penning lyrics for “Gumbo,” the tune written by Mark Ronson, Meters’ drummer extraordinaire Ziggy Modeliste and others  for “Re:Generation.”  

The film, which opens Feb. 16 in a limited run, takes five top DJ/producers—Ronson, DJ Premier, newly-minted Grammy winner  Skrillex, Pretty Lights  and The Crystal Method— and pairs them with artists from another genre to create something new. In the case of Ronson, he paired with jazz artists to come up with a new track. Skrillex partnered with The Doors. The tracks were created within days and really threw the musicians into the fire quickly.

In each case, the idea was to break down barriers. For Ronson, traveling to New Orleans to create the jazz track, was a great experience, especially getting to create with Modeliste. “Zigaboo laid the blueprint for all of us. The beats that he played are pretty much the DNA and back bone of hip hop.”   Endearlingly,  in the clip below, both Modeliste and Badu admit that they had the jitters on stretching themselves this way and making sure that they were able to please Ronson.

 

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<p>A scene from &quot;Hell and Back Again&quot;</p>

A scene from "Hell and Back Again"

Credit: New Video

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Documentary Feature

'Hell and Back Again,' 'If a Tree Falls,' 'Paradise Lost 3,' 'Pina' and 'Undefeated' square off

(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)

I have no idea what's going to win the Best Documentary Feature category. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I might as well get that out of the way right at the top. And I've even seen each film twice. It's a rare year that sees such solid arguments in favor of each and every nominee of the bunch. That's not to say that, personally speaking, each nominee is award-worthy, but I could just see the Academy's doc voters falling for any of them.

It was a typical year where the narrow-down process was concerned. Controversy indeed met the list of finalists that dropped in November, which snubbed critics' favorites "Senna" and "The Interrupters" (the latest smack in the face of filmmaker Steve James), while yet another Werner Herzog entry was ignored completely. Nevertheless, there is a wide cross-section of issues represented here, and that's never a bad thing.

The nominees are…

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