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Amy Adams in "The FIghter"

Amy Adams in David O.Russell's "The Fighter."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Amy Adams is the big surprise in legit Oscar contender 'The Fighter'

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg also shine in David O. Russell's commercial comeback

David O. Russell's "The Fighter" made its debut as a not-so secret screening as part of AFI Fest 2010 tonight and the awards season contender came out swinging.  Playing incredibly well to the packed Mann Grauman's Chinese Theater audience, the Paramount and Relativity Media picture proved it has the chance to be a big crowd pleaser and substantial box office hit.  Oh, and as suspected, it's a legitimate Oscar player.

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<p>Mariah Carey's &quot;Merry Christmas II You.&quot; Because her first one was &quot;Merry Christmas.&quot; Get it?</p>

Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas II You." Because her first one was "Merry Christmas." Get it?

Credit: Island

New Christmas Albums for 2010: 'Glee,' Mariah, Lady Antebellum, Susan Boyle

Did you know Jessica Simpson, Indigo Girls and Wilson Phillips have something new for the holidays?

Another year, another slew of Christmas and holiday-themed albums. This year brings the “gift” of internet sensation Susan Boyle for a second time, while TV stars like “American Idol’s” Katharine McPhee, the cast from “Glee” and featured crooners from “The Sing Off” have their own crop.

Look for unusual takes on classics from ilk like Pink Martini and 11 Acorn Lane, and for Mariah Carey trying to top her own classic material.

Most Adult Contemporary and Adult Album stations that flip to Christmas music start around Thanksgiving: see if you can name songs from these artists as they come on.
“Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album” – Last Christmas, the shiny-faced kids from “Glee” brought us, well, “Last Christmas.” Considering the cast has released some of the best-selling songs this year from its second season, it only makes sense they cash in on some Christmas spirit. That previous song is on there, as is a k.d. lang-enhance “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and takes on classics from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to “god Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Several of these songs will be featured in – you guessed it – the “Glee” Christmas episode, to air on Dec. 5.
Mariah Carey, “Merry Christmas II You” – One of the singing diva’s biggest and most enduring tracks of all time is “All I Want For Christmas,” so we don’t blame her for trying to top it. With a different version of it. There’s a nicer, slower-burning version on here, plus four other originals co-penned by newly preggers Carey. “Oh Santa!” has been pushed as the single, with some traditional carols and cold-weather tunes buttressing it. There’s even a cute Vince Guiraldi “Charlie Brown Christmas” medley thrown in. Think more contemporary R&B than the sizzling Carey of late.
Susan Boyle, “The Gift” – This “Britain’s Got Talent” viral star made it onto airwaves and into stockings with her serene take on “Silent Night” last year. This year, she’s got a whole album devoted to inspirational and holiday tunes. It’s kind of rinky-dink, antiqued takes on the usual classics, with covers of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” thrown on there because why the hell not.
Jackie Evancho, “O Holy Night” -- To call Evancho a soprano is a little bit of a farce; guys, she's ten years old. She came to fame similarly to Boyle’s entry, that is, she was a mini-star on “America’s Got Talent,” back in August (she also released an album last year). “Night” sounds just how the cover looks.
The Priests, “Noel” – Your mom is gonna love this, and I don’t mean that entirely facetiously. The Priests are an opera/classical “crossover” like her pretend boyfriend Josh Groban only, like, three dudes. And their takes on these carols are actually very inspired and easy to listen to, with exception “Little Drummer Boy,” which is hilariously crafted after the Bing Crosby and David Bowie version.
Bryn Terfel, “Bryn’s Christmas” – Wagner, Mozart… “White Christmas.” This classical baritone is used to playing the villain in his operas, but gets tender for the holidays with only a couple tracks in German.
Pink Martini, “Joy to the World” – This is one big “duh” for a Christmas music matchup, as this jazz and pop music mini-big-band does it up classically and campy in eight different languages, with help from J-Pop star Saori Yuki and Ari Shapiro from NPR (?!). And the CD looks like a dang Christmas card, so cute. This reminds me – why hasn’t Nouvelle Vague or Brazilian Girls jumped on the Christmas Choo-choo?
Annie Lennox, “A Christmas Cornucopia” – Like Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox can’t help but to bad-ass up anything she touches, and has done so for decades. Her tenor-alto brings little jagged edges to songs like “Angels We Have Heard on High” and other, streaming on her site. And, hey, just today, Lennox premiered her video for “God Rest Ye Maerry Gentlemen,” which looks like an old-timey moving Christmas card.
Jessica Simpson, “Happy Christmas” – This is Simpson’s second try at a successful Christmas set, with 2004’s “Rejoyce: The Christmas Album” barely ringing any bells with its glitzy takes on holiday favorites. Willie Nelson shows up to help out on “Merry Christmas Baby,” the Simpson camp trying to further the impression she’s a country artist. Even if you don’t get the record, she’ll be unavoidable at this year’s televised Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony on NBC and at Macy’s stores everywhere.
“The Sing Off: Harmonies for the Holidays” – The second season of this NBC singing competition show starts in the first week of December, and thus comes with it a full set of all 10 competing groups taking on, y’know, harmonies. Get it? Thks for the mmrs, Straight No Chaser.
11 Acorn Lane, “Happy Holy Days” – There’s a lot of instruments on here. And a lot of styles. It’s very modern, and kind of a mess. But it’s a good change of pace if you’re tired of Bing, Manheim Steamroller and the rest.
The Puppini Sisters, “Christmas with the Puppini Sisters” This is just plain cute.
Wilson Phillips, “Christmas in Harmony” – In some ways, this is just as much a kids’ Christmas Album. Very straightforward, upbeat, high-register, Christmas-lovin’ smiley-ness. Opening track “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” could sell some Walmart crap or some Radioshack stuff.
Train, “Shake Up Christmas” [Single] – Speaking of selling of stuff, this will be touting Coca-cola all season long.
Katharine McPhee, “Christmas Is the Time… (To Say I Love You)” – Thank you, Katharine McPhee for keeping it classy. This collection is mostly piano-led, with only a few modern flourishes on tracks like the title song and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.”
Shelby Lynne, “Merry Christmas” – Sorry, Jessica, here’s where a taste of real country comes in handy. Lynne’s trill and some upright bass makes for a celebration.
Indigo Girls, “Holly Happy Days” - Amy Ray and Emily Saliers gracefully include a Hanukkah song and three originals in this 12-song recording, which is signature Indigo Girls top to finish. Another set that could have used “Harmony” in the title.
 “Now That’s What I Call Christmas 4” – The mix of the usual pop artists (Britney, Rihanna, Lady Gaga) with the old classics (Frank, Bing, Elvis). Some new, mostly old, only if you’ve run out of your own ideas for a mix.
Lady Antebellum, “A Merry Little Christmas” [EP] – This year’s hottest country group put out this six-song set out exclusively via Target, and included one original “On This Winter’s Night” in the group. And wouldn’t you know? “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is on there too.
Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Sorry, “Glee,” Take 6 has been doing the vocal group thing for way longer. And “The Sing Off” better watch its tail. This Christian group gets creative, though it may be more cerebral than celebratory.
Celtic Thunder, “Celtic Thunder Christmas” – Yet another TV-bolstered, jazz-inflected vocal group, though this Irish group tackles more secular Christmas tunes than sacred. And, yes, they added a chick for “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
Aliqua, “All I Want” – Aaaaand this one’s all-female. This is far more choral-based than Glee club, but expect smooth takes with orchestral backings.
The Irreconcilables, “Merry Ex-Mas: Holiday Songs for the Divorced and Soon to Be” – “Frosty My Ex-Wife,” “Santa Claus Is Foolin’ Around,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas (My True Love Took From Me).” Sounds just how you think something like this would sound.


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<p>Jax (Charlie Hunnam)&nbsp;has some questions for an old friend on &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;</p>

Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has some questions for an old friend on "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Firinne': Sins of the Sons

As the Sons' time in Belfast approaches its end, is that story finally taking on life?

A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I store my kids' baby teeth in a wall safe...

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<p>Channing Tatum may be joining the cast of '21 Jump Street' this spring.</p>

Channing Tatum may be joining the cast of '21 Jump Street' this spring.

Credit: AP Photo

Channing Tatum may join Jonah Hill for '21 Jump Street'

Comedy update of old show getting closer to production

"21 Jump Street" was a very silly show.

Oh, I know they had their share of "very special" episodes, but the whole thing about undercover cops working the high school beat was ridiculous, and '80s TV in general was just plain crazy for the most part.

The first time Jonah Hill mentioned to me that he was going to work on a new movie version of the show, I thought he was crazy.  But then he explained his take a bit, and then they hired Michael Bacall, the screenwriter for "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," and then Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who co-directed the very funny and better-than-it-should-be "Cloudy With The Chance of Meatballs," were hired to direct the film, and then I actually read a draft of the script, and, well…

… I think "21 Jump Street" might be sort of awesome.

Deadline is reporting tonight that Channing Tatum is in negotiations to be Jonah Hill's partner in the film.  That means Hill will be playing Schmidt, and Tatum will play Jenko.  In the opening of the draft I read, the two of them are working undercover together and get called out by the drug dealers they're trying to bust for being too young.  They're miserable because of how youthful they look, and it screws up their work.  Finally, their boss gives them one last chance, assigning them to the team working out of 21 Jump Street.

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<p>Kyle Massey performing on Monday's 'Dancing with the Stars'</p>

Kyle Massey performing on Monday's 'Dancing with the Stars'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Results - Down to the Final 4

Another fan favorite bites the dust

It’s elimination night, which is never fun, but I am very curious to see who’s going to the semifinals, or more importantly, who’s not. I’ve got to think Bristol or Kurt has gone as far as he or she can, but you never know. They don’t call Bristol bulletproof for nothing. Although I don’t know what anyone calls Kurt. Maybe Big Football Player, but that isn’t really relevant to how many votes he gets.


[Tuesday's (Nov. 9) "Dancing with the Stars" results after the break...]
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<p>Chord Overstreet and Dianna Agron of 'Glee'</p>

Chord Overstreet and Dianna Agron of 'Glee'

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Never Been Kissed'

As Puck settled back in to school, Kurt meets someone unexpected while scouting competition for Regionals.

Just when I think “Glee” can’t confuse me anymore than it already has, along comes “Never Been Kissed” to introduce a whole new level of…well, whatever that was. It sure looked like an hour of television, but it played more like a combination of wish fulfillment coupled with audience punishment. Look: there are a lot of different subsets in the overall “Glee” audience. The show doesn’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for me may not be right for some. But no matter which of the different strokes you subscribe, I can’t imagine any of you actually liked tonight’s episode.

And quite frankly, that’s a painful thing to say. I have no problem bashing the show when it’s bad, and a lot of Season 2 falls under that category. But previous misfires didn’t contain a topic that is actually important, one vital especially in light of recent events. Although it probably was filmed long before Tyler Clementi’s suicide and the rise of the “It Gets Better” campaign, the issue of bullying is one that demands not only more attention, but also a level of sensitivity that “Glee” rarely, but occasionally, demonstrates.

Having that topic in a Kurt-centric episode had the potential for actually pushing past the mere mindless entertainment into something actually vital. Auto-tuned performances? Fine and dandy. An episode that promoted understanding, compassion, and tolerance in between the singing/dancing? Even better. Not every episode of “Glee” has to address something socially relevant, but if it chooses to actually address it, then it has a responsibility to treat that topic humanely and with great sensitivity.

What we got instead was fantasy on one hand and complete hypocrisy on the other.

[Full recap of Tuesday's (Nov. 9) "Glee" after the break...]

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<p>Gabriel Byrne and Debra Winger on &quot;In Treatment.&quot;</p>

Gabriel Byrne and Debra Winger on "In Treatment."

Credit: HBO/Paul Schiraldi

'In Treatment': Week three in review

Several sessions end abruptly, as Paul takes the patients in directions they don't want to go

Once again, we're reviewing all four episodes of "In Treatment" this week in one chunk, with my thoughts on each session coming up just as soon as I like PBS and soup...

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<p>Marcus Dupree, today.</p>

Marcus Dupree, today.

Credit: ESPN

'30 for 30' - 'The Best That Never Was': Where have you gone, Marcus Dupree?

Jonathan Hock tells the heck out of the story of the college fooball shooting star

A week after arguably the weakest "30 for 30" film yet, we got one of the series' strongest installments with "The Best That Never Was." A few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I give you my power of attorney...

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<p>Lee Eun-yi (Jeon Do-yeon) is an unsuspecting temptation for the master of the house in the harrowing Korean drama 'The Housemaid'</p>

Lee Eun-yi (Jeon Do-yeon) is an unsuspecting temptation for the master of the house in the harrowing Korean drama 'The Housemaid'

Credit: IFC Films

AFI Fest: 'Housemaid' and 'Bedeviled' reinforce image of Korean films as brutal and beautiful

Two very different films about what happens when you cross a Korean

If there is any one thing that international cinema has taught me, it is this:  do not piss off a Korean.

Obviously, the new Korean cinema has contributed many things to film, and there's certainly not just one type of movie that they make, but there's no arguing that the revenge film seems to have become a specialty for the industry.  One of the best films I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival this year was "I Saw The Devil," a meticulously built story of one secret agent determined to pay back a serial killer for what he did to the agent's fiancee.  It's a brutal ride, but there's an emotional charge that comes from watching someone right a wrong on film.  At their most primal, these are movies that empower the viewer because we watch characters act out the complex emotions that many of us are forced to swallow in our daily lives.

"The Housemaid" is a remake of a '60s film, and I'm glad I haven't seen the original because it meant that the new one played as a fresh experience for me.  Both Toronto and Fantastic Fest booked the film so that the original and the remake played as double-headers, but I never managed to work it into my schedule at either fest as a back-to-back.  I would imagine that's a brutal experience to sit through, because just one version of the story nearly exhausted me.  I didn't expect this from the director of "The President's Last Bang," either.  And while I know many of you might immediately key in on the word "brutal" and treat that as a reason to avoid the film, I think there's enormous merit in a film that can cast a cold light on the darker aspects of how we behave with one another.

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<p>Robert De Niro is joining some pretty select company by receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award.</p>

Robert De Niro is joining some pretty select company by receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Watch: Robert De Niro will receive the Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille Award

Plus: 'Tron Legacy' goes to Dubai and more

Robert De Niro is the latest recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's life time achievement award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The actor, filmmaker and film festival pioneer will be saluted during the 68th Golden Globes Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011.  For the second year in a row, the Globes will be broadcast live at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST on NBC.

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<p>Charlie Hunnam of 'Sons of Anarchy'</p>

Charlie Hunnam of 'Sons of Anarchy'

Credit: FX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 45

Dan and Alan talk 'Conan,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Burn Notice' and more



Happy Tuesday, Boys and Girls. It's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast time!
We delayed this week's podcast by a day so that we could discuss Conan O'Brien's TBS show with the benefit of having seen at least one episode of "Conan."
So we talk "Conan," the return of USA's "Burn Notice" and, after I spent the whole weekend catching up on "Sons of Anarchy," we talk about the third season struggles of that FX show.
We also answer reader mail questions about good and bad accent work and good and bad TV series pacing.
The breakdown:
The premiere of "Conan" -- 01:40 - 11:15
The return of "Burn Notice" -- 11:20 - 16:20
Reader Mail (accents and pacing) -- 16:30 - 32:25
"Sons of Anarchy" -- 32:30 - 49:20

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]

And here's the podcast...
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<p>Conan O'Brien and Jack White on &quot;Conan.&quot;</p>

Conan O'Brien and Jack White on "Conan."

Credit: TBS

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 45: 'Conan,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Burn Notice' & more

Alan and Dan talk about Conan's first show, the frustrating pacing of 'Sons' season three, and more


Because Conan O'Brien's TBS debut was by far the biggest TV event of the week, Dan and I decided to delay this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast by a day so we'd be able to discuss it after we'd seen it, rather than spend more time speculating. So we talked about that, looked ahead to Thursday's return of "Burn Notice" and, because Dan finally caught up on "Sons of Anarchy" over the weekend, got to discuss some of the problems with season three. And thanks to reader mail, Dan got to extol the virtues of "The Vampire Diaries" to me. The rundown:

The premiere of "Conan" -- 01:40 - 11:15
The return of "Burn Notice" -- 11:20 - 16:20
Reader Mail (accents and pacing) -- 16:30 - 32:25
"Sons of Anarchy" -- 32:30 - 49:20

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us at and/or if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.

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