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<p>&quot;Into the Woods&quot;</p>

"Into the Woods"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Check out zero songs and Johnny Depp's arm in the 'Into the Woods' teaser trailer

This is pretty much the definition of an appetizer

Disney has finally offered up something to tease Rob Marshall's upcoming adaptation of "Into the Woods" beyond that ubiquitous Meryl Streep still, and that's definitely the word here: "tease." By the time Johnny Depp's title card flashes on screen, all you get is the wolf's arm slithering past a tree. No music, no singing, just a handful of iconic reminders of what characters come together for this story.

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Lorde tapped to curate  'Mockingjay - Part 1'  soundtrack
Credit: AP Photo/Summit Entertainment

Lorde tapped to curate 'Mockingjay - Part 1' soundtrack

She will also provide the first single

Lorde and Katniss: it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?   The New Zealand superstar has been picked to curate the soundtrack for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.” Additionally, she will have the lead single from the set.

Lorde continues in the tradition of other strong females snagging the kick off single from the previous editions’ soundtracks: As Billboard notes, Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars had the T Bone Burnett-produced, Grammy-winning  “Safe And Sound” from “Hunger Games.” Christina Aguilera’s “We Remain” was on “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

“Mockingjay” director Francis Lawrence noted in a statement that Lorde was already fully aware of the “Mockingjay’s” characters— she is a teenage girl after all.  That knowledge “not only [has] enabled her to create a song of her own that completely captures the film’s essence, but her insight and passion for our project make her the perfect creative force to assemble the other songs on our soundtrack.”

This marks the first time that an artist on a “Hunger Games” soundtrack has also curated the album. “The cast and story are an inspiration for all musicians participating and, as someone with cinematic leanings, being privy to a different creative process has been a unique experience,” Lorde said in a statement.

“Mockingjay—Part 1” opens in theaters Nov. 21, 2014. No word on when fans can expect Lorde’s single or the soundtrack.


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<p>&quot;Penn &amp; Teller: Fool Us&quot;</p>

"Penn & Teller: Fool Us"

Credit: The CW

TV Ratings: 'Extant' ties 'Taxi Brooklyn,' 'Penn & Teller' works Wednesday magic

NBC rules Wednesday overall, splits the key demo with CBS

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

A move to a new time period didn't hurt "Extant" among young viewers, but it didn't help the Halle Berry drama overall. CBS stayed second overall for Wednesday night behind NBC, but "Big Brother" helped the network tie for the primetime lead in the key demo.

Interestingly, the night's most notable result came not on The Big Four, but on The CW, which got a rather impressive premiere for "Penn & Teller: Fool Us," which delivered the network's best non-"Whose Line" ratings of the summer.

And yes, you'll have to wait until the afternoon (or later) for "Sharknado 2: The Second One" figures. Sorry.

On to the numbers...

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Chris Pratt: NBC admonished me for flashing Amy Poehler on 'Parks and Rec'

Chris Pratt: NBC admonished me for flashing Amy Poehler on “Parks and Rec"
“The reaction was awesome,” he says of the look on her face on Season 2 when Poehler opened the door and he was completely naked.

ABC made a “Shondaland Thursday” video featuring Shonda Rhimes and her 3 leading ladies
Watch Rhimes sit down with Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis.

Showtime to launch “Ray Donovan” webisodes
Titled "Behind the Fix,” the webisodes debuting Sunday will show how tasks are completed for Ray.

Jimmy Kimmel got Warren G to read President Warren G. Harding’s intimate love letters
The Library of Congress recently released the former president’s letters to his mistress.

Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan battled sharks on “Sharknado 2”
In fact, “Live with Kelly and Michael” and producer Gelman were featured prominently on “The Second One" - PLUS: Here are all the cameos from “Sharknado 2.”

Netflix unveils the trailer for “BoJack Horseman”
Will Arnett voices the character of the legendary star of the ‘90s sitcom “Horsin’ Around.”

Watch the premiere of “Garfunkel and Oates”
IFC has posted a full episode of the new show from musical comedy duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci.

Eric McCormack stars in “Will & Will”
Check out the “Will & Grace” spinoff he shot for Jimmy Kimmel.

See the new “SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water” movie trailer
SpongeBob and friends are literally out of water in their 2nd movie.

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Zach on "Big Brother 16"

Recap: 'Big Brother' Wednesday - Our 7 Burning Questions

We have seven questions about the game at hand. The biggest one: Is it even possible for a girl to win this season?

Some of our questions about "Big Brother 16" are truly unanswerable. For instance: Do Julie Chen and Les Moonves joke in their monstrous bed about what a crybaby creep Caleb is? Or: Is Jocasta outfitted by Brooks Brothers? And most importantly: How can Frankie be 31-years-old and thrilled about receiving a Justin Bieber album? I'll leave the FBI or NASA to understand that one.

Wednesday's episode was a so-so hour that mostly confirmed what we'd already guessed: Frankie would find a way to remove either Jocasta or Victoria from the block and replace that person with Amber. Hayden, in fact, won the power of veto in a highly libidinous cowboy-themed challenge (We'll get to it in a moment), and Frankie seized that opportunity to replace Victoria with the totally blindsided Amber. Poor girl. If you weren't calling her Leona LEWZER before, now you have an official reason. Girl will be bleeding love right out the door tomorrow unless she finds a miraculous reason to get everyone to vote out Jocasta. Doesn't seem possible to me, kids. Imagine being asked to vote Jocasta out of your life. You couldn't! You need to keep at least one friend around who talks in tongues, and that friend should be Jocasta. That's an obvious survival tip. 

After Wednesday night's silly hour (which culminated in Zach's pathetic "argument" with Amber that wasn't even juicy enough to earn Team America their milk money), we had seven questions we wanted answered. Here they are.

1. Did we just witness the most sexually suggestive game in "Big Brother" history?

Was anyone else clutching their pearls (and their favorite pair of chaps) during the veto challenge? I was positively scandalized watching Hayden, Christine, Donny, HoH Frankie, and potential evictees Jocasta and Victoria ride a fake horse like horny coeds on a spring break dare at Saddle Ranch. There was a lot of... pelvic pulsing? Hip swiveling? Er, y'know: SIMULATED SEX-HAVING. I have to give Frankie credit for riding with one arm soaring in the air. That's how all the great cowboys ride -- or at least the one in Madonna's "Don't Tell Me" video, who counts as the only cowboy I've ever really seen. Tell the rain not to drop, Frankie! 

2. Why/how on Earth does Caleb think he's running the house?

We don't have enough time to discuss all the ways in which Caleb is the worst person in the house, but the ordeal can basically be summed up as such: When he follows around Amber, I am scared for Amber. He is a man possessed by "love," a.k.a. furious entitlement disguised as affection, and he is chilling. This week he inspired me to kick over a plant when he referred to himself as "the king of the house" who allegedly controls the game. Uh, what? Huh? Look, I know when you're stuck in the BB house for weeks, you're entitled to get a little bit delusional -- but in what way could Caleb possibly justify the idea that he runs the house? Does he think he was responsible for Brittany's elimination? Or... anybody's elimination? Or... anything? What is he thinking? What isn't he thinking? Why aren't we thinking of arresting him immediately after he leaves the house? 

3. So, Zankie. Is that bond satisfying for either party?

Say what you will about Frankie's phony screen presence or Zach's arrogant attitude, but I don't think I've ever seen a relationship between two guys on reality TV quite like Zankie. They're seemingly attracted to one another and they're raring to discuss that bond in explicit detail -- but they're not willing to actually consummate because 1) "Big Brother" is a perverted goldfish bowl for the universe to ogle, 2) They're not actually dating, and 3) Zach is not actually gay. But there's chemistry there, somehow? They're like a living episode of pseudo-gay fanfiction. We think we understand their characters, but a gigantic sexy force is threatening to take over their bond. Frankie told us that he's waiting for Zach to make a move, and Zach tells us he'd make a move if only he were gay. I don't really know why they don't at least make out, but in case nothing ever happens between them, we can write naughty Tumblr posts imagining what it'll be like. Maybe then it'll finally come true? I feel like we're only 2-3 episodes away from a little Zankie-panky

4. Is Christine actually screwed?

For weeks we've been noticing that Christine is situated ideally in the game. She's ensconced within protective alliances and no one had quite noticed (until the past couple of episodes) that she was a savvy but somewhat ineffectual player. Sometimes sly, unthreatening social skills can propel a player far in the game (Andy Herren, anyone?), but I'm wondering if Christine has too many friendships too early. Zach threw a tantrum establishing her as the weak player in his alliance, but is that a damning enough allegation to stick? I question and re-question Christine's chances in this competition so often. She doesn't seem like she'll make it as far as Frankie and Derrick (the two obvious frontrunners at this moment, at least to me), but I can't see her being eliminated immediately either. Christine! You and your IMAX-sized glasses confound me again. 

5. Is Victoria a functioning organism with a respiratory system and means of obtaining food?

Remember when Victoria participated in the veto competition? It was almost like she was a contestant on the CBS series "Big Brother." She even tried throwing us a soundbite: "Everyone thinks I'm a princess in this house. But I'm a warrior princess." Nice try, production, but there is no way Victoria is aware enough of the universe/anything to make a reference to Lucy Lawless. She was fed that line, which means Victoria is capable of being fed like a functioning organism. Victoria lives! But as what? My guess: a spore with a MAC counter gift certificate. 

6. Could Zach be any worse at starting fake arguments?

I don't know why Zach was so quick to fabricate a fight just because Frankie asked him to do it (in the name of Team America, secretly), but his display of "hostility" towards Amber after she'd been nominated was pretty random. And she didn't even flinch, which is probably a sign that the entire house is fed up with Zach's volcanic outbursts. I want him to be a great game player, but he's mostly just a bizarre one. For now.

7. Is it lame to say I enjoy seeing all these women get booted?

The strangest problem with "Big Brother 16" is that -- with the possible exception of Christine, who at least develops gameplay tactics for herself -- there are no interesting female players left this season. Nicole, Amber, Jocasta, and the mysteriously tall spore known as Victoria offer nothing to shake up house dynamics or even compete with the prevailing alliance. This is the polar opposite of last season when Amanda, Helen, and even Aaryn could wheedle everybody for at least a few episodes. This year we're waiting for the gals to crumble like Stilton as self-satisfied dudes power on through. I have to say: I'm OK with the male domination. If the male players are unanimously more interesting (and I do think that's the case), they should be the ones competing. Hell, Donny is a better player than all of the remaining women. That is remarkable considering Donny is a kindly old prospector with innocent Beanie Baby eyes.

This brings me to my final question, which I'll leave open to you: Is it even possible for a woman to win "Big Brother" this year?

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10 questions we still have for Marvel and Warner Bros. after Comic-Con

10 questions we still have for Marvel and Warner Bros. after Comic-Con

We don't mean to be greedy but seriously fellas

Fanboys have gotten slightly greedy.  The core audience that have powered movie franchises for Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. (DC) as well as TV shows such as "Arrow" are much more sophisticated than they were a decade ago.  Obviously, the internet and social media has done an excellent job powering the hype machine to almost uncontrollable levels.  Therefore, it's no surprise that at events like Comic-Con its hard for risk adverse studios to not disappoint on some level.

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'Big Bang Theory’s' Thursday table read canceled

“Big Bang Theory’s” Thursday table read canceled
Production on Season 8 has been postponed for a 2nd day due to contract negotiations.

Brian Williams reports on his daughter’s “Peter Pan Live” casting on “NBC Nightly News”
"Family members confirm that she's been rehearsing for this role since the age of three and they look forward to seeing her fly,” Williams said of daughter Allison’s casting.

Sharknadoes cause PTSD, and 9 other lessons from “Sharknado 2”
“Sharknado 2: The Second One” also taught us that Matt Lauer is the 3rd most-important character. PLUS: ASPCA creates a “Barknado,” and “Sharknado 2” had no business being this much fun.

“Stalker” adds Warren Kole
“The Following” vet will reunite with Kevin Williamson on the CBS drama.

AMC Networks in talks to buy a 50% stake in BBC America
BBC America is currently owned by BBC Worldwide, the for-profit arm of the BBC.

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TV Review: 'Sharknado 2: The Second One' offers more polish, slightly less charm
Credit: Syfy

TV Review: 'Sharknado 2: The Second One' offers more polish, slightly less charm

Ian Ziering and Tara Reid return, with a slew of cameos

I know I've thought it and said it and probably even written it, but there's something vaguely condescending about the notion that the "Sharknado" franchise is somehow review-proof or review-immune or however you'd prefer to view it. 

Just because something is designed to be a guilty pleasure doesn't mean that it can't achieve its goals with more or less craft.

And just because something isn't necessarily meant to be taken seriously doesn't mean that those aspirations can't be achieved with more or less success.

Because the desire to be taken seriously or viewed as legitimate is hardly an argument to be reviewed or acknowledged in the case of utter ineptitude. 

For example, look at CBS' "Under the Dome." It has a literary pedigree, some respectable creative auspices, a cast of familiar TV faces, a position of some prominence in CBS' lineup and a reputation as a summertime success, even if that reputation hasn't been supported by recent ratings.

And "Under the Dome" is awful. It's as inert and inept a show as there is on TV, a showcase for shoddy effects, leaden pacing, dead-ended plotting and a slew of performances that run the full gamut from wooden to petrified wooden. 

No matter the patina of frivolity that coats Wednesday's (July 30) premiere of "Sharknado 2: The Second One," there's almost no level on which this Syfy original movie is inferior.  

Unlike "Under the Dome," "Sharknado 2" has a sense of playfulness that infuses its variably successful effects shots, its sometimes stumbling momentum and its unflagging commitment to delivering ridiculously audacious set-pieces. And unlike "Under the Dome," every one of the actors on-screen in "Sharknado" clearly wants to be there and even if that's because they're aware they couldn't be doing anything else, why is that so bad? 

This isn't to say that "Sharknado 2" is some great piece of made-for-TV art. In improving its empirical quality, the sequel has absolutely lost some of its ephemeral charm. But it's absolutely a thing that is capable of being evaluated objectively, as more than just an "It is what it is" or an "If you liked the first one you'll like this one" level.

So let's do that, eh?

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Dave Bautista on his daily transformation into Drax for 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
Credit: HitFix

Dave Bautista on his daily transformation into Drax for 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'

One of the movie's biggest surprises is a soft-spoken giant

If there is any cast member in "Guardians Of The Galaxy" whose work can be categorized as a genuine surprise, it's Dave Bautista.

I've actually spoken to him before this film, when we talked about his work in "The Man With The Iron Fists," and he struck me there as a very thoughtful guy who has this warmth that may not be immediately apparent when his primary job is to beat the hell out of opponents in the wrestling ring.

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<p>Emmanuel Lubezki on the set of &quot;Children of Men&quot;</p>

Emmanuel Lubezki on the set of "Children of Men"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Variety jumps into the deep end of crafts coverage and it's about time

New 'Artisans' initiative is a long time coming

As one person put it to me, "It's nice to have a trade covering, you know, the trades, because we haven't really had that in some time." Indeed, it's fantastic to see our colleagues at Variety dig in and represent the industry as they are with the newly branded "Artisans" initiative, and it's a long, long time coming. It is and has been an underreported element of the business, but I've happily seen that slowly shift in the decade we've been diligently, sometimes obsessively, covering below-the-line here at In Contention.

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'Sharknado 2' is already a huge success regardless of ratings
Credit: Syfy

'Sharknado 2' is already a huge success regardless of ratings

“Sharknado 2” is already a huge success regardless of ratings
Tonight’s sequel was made for next to nothing, and all the free promotion — from the media to companies like Subway — guarantees that “The Second One” won’t be a failure. PLUS: The New Yorker goes behind the scenes, the sequel is even more cheap and boringly bogus, play the “Sharknado 2” drinking game, it is too packed with cameos, the problem is “Sharknado 2” is trying to spoof the original, it’s as good as the first one, “Sharknado 2” writer promises a “surprisingly heartfelt” sequel, “So it's a tornado full of sharks?,” asks 88-year-old congressman, “Sharknado 2” is so bad, it’s bad, will “Sharknado 2” will give Tara Reid staying power, and the real “Sharknado 2” fear is of missing out on a big event.

How CBS got New York to give Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” $16 million in tax breaks
"We had to get a little more creative in the incentives to keep them here," says a spokesman for Empire State Development, noting that Los Angeles, New Orleans and Connecticut were all trying to woo “The Late Show.”

11 things to watch tonight instead of “Sharknado 2”
“Swimming with Sharks” is also on tonight.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” books Jenny Slate
She’ll play a mob mistress in the season premiere, reuniting with former “SNL” co-star Andy Samberg.

Watch Seth Meyers’ 1st Emmys promo
The Emmy host tried to bring “Breaking Bad” blue meth and a “Game of Thrones” sword through the TSA.

Infographic: Here are “The Walking Dead’s” most talked-about characters
Turns out The Governor was more talked about than Rick Grimes.

“Downton Abbey” takes over "Harry Potter’s” Hogwarts
The ITV drama is filming this week in the grand residence of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.

What happens to canceled TV shows’ Twitter accounts?
So many dead TV shows had Twitter accounts, it’s like a social media graveyard.

Readers of TV adaptations need to let it go
Regarding the “Game of Thrones” controversy, James Poniewozik says, “In the end, the book is the book. The show is the show. I’m glad to accept that I’m going to get different things from one than from the other–and if one of them ends up sucking, it doesn’t diminish the other. It’s just one more reason that it’s a good thing to own both a TV set and a bookcase."

Lena Dunham talks to Fred Armisen about once working as an “SNL” extra
She couldn’t stop giggling while Armisen filmed a digital short.

Nick’s “Bachelorette” “made love” comment reversed yet reinforced gender roles
As Willa Paskin points out, "Nick, operating under the auspices of hurt, sexual naïveté, and a dash of hubris, does not believe that Andi, the good, classy girl he loves, could have been sexually comfortable and voracious enough to have really good sex with someone— him!—if he was not 'the one.' No woman who has ever appeared on The Bachelor suffers from this delusion. By bringing up the sex, Nick is also upholding the specific gender roles of The Bachelor, in which men basically get to decide what is kosher.” PLUS: Fox News host calls Andi a "slut."

Who is “Supernatural” bringing back next season?
Several past guest stars will return in Season 10.

Burbank burger stand gives discounts if you order in the voice or a TV character
Order as  Scooby-Doo, and get 10% off.

Watch Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Jack McBrayer at Comic-Con
They were promoting their new Adult Swim series.

Maksim: Kirstie Alley and I don’t speak anymore
The “Dancing” alum says: "Now that I'm associating with other people, that (she said) she can't be associated with, I am no longer to be spoken with."

“HIMYM’s” Ashley Williams is pregnant
The actress, whose Jim Gaffigan pilot was just picked up yesterday by TV Land, is expecting her first child this fall.

“Penn & Teller: Fool Us” premieres tonight on CW
The game show will reward magicians who stump the famous duo.

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“The Wire" creator David Simon’s HBO miniseries casts Catherine Keener and Oscar Isaac

“The Wire" creator David Simon’s HBO miniseries casts Catherine Keener and Oscar Isaac
Simon is returning to HBO with “Show Me a Hero,” a Paul Haggis-directed six-hour miniseries based on Lisa Belkin’s 1999 non-fiction book about the fight for housing desegregation in the late ‘80s.

Bella Thorne to appear on “CSI"
The Disney star will become the prime suspect in a murder.

“Nashville” nabs Laura Benanti
The “Go On” alum will play an up-and-coming country star who befriends Rayna.

A warrant has been issued for Columbus Short’s arrest
The former “Scandal” star was a no-show for this morning’s domestic violence hearing. PLUS: “Scandal” books Kelen Coleman from “The McCarthys."

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