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<p>Jason Schwartzman as Richard Sherman in&nbsp;&quot;Saving Mr. Banks&quot;</p>

Jason Schwartzman as Richard Sherman in "Saving Mr. Banks"

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Interview: Composer Richard Sherman on 'Saving Mr. Banks'

What did he really think about P.L. Travers and Walt Disney?

Richard Sherman and his late brother Robert wrote some of the most beloved songs in movie musicals, including “Trust in Me” from “The Jungle Book,”  “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from the musical of the same name, the theme to “Winnie The Pooh,” and “Bedknobs & Broomsticks’” “The Age of Not Believing.”  But it is for their work on “Mary Poppins” that they are most remembered through such songs as the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Feed The Birds.”

“Saving Mr. Banks,” which opens wide Friday (20), tells the true story of how Walt Disney spent 20 years trying to woo “Mary Poppins” book author P.L. Travers into signing over the rights to create a movie about the beloved nanny. More specifically, the film deals with a two-week period in 1961 during which The Sherman Brothers (played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak), writer Don DeGradi, and British author Travers struggled to come up with a story line for the film that would meet her approval.

“Those two weeks I would hate to go through again,” Sherman, 85, says. Even though he loved “Mary Poppins,”  working with Travers was even worse than it appears in “Saving Mr. Banks,” he says. “Mrs. Travers was very, very difficult.”

He adds that neither he nor his brother knew anything of her backstory that the movie lays out: that she was raised in Australia as Helen Gough and that she spent much of her young life dealing with her charming, yet alcoholic, father.

In addition to handling the taciturn, stubborn Travers, the Shermans, Disney, and DeGradi had to deal with the fact that her book didn’t have much of a plot. “When we first read the books, we thought ‘There’s no story here. We have to tell the story,” he says. “There’s a reason Mary Poppins comes. It’s because it’s an unsettled household. The father’s paying no attention and the mother is off with the suffragette movement. This is stuff we trumped up.”

Disney loved the plot twists that the Shermans help devise, as well as their songs for “Mary Poppins,” but he was often spare with his compliments to their faces. “He never said anything was great,” Sherman says. “Behind our back, he’d say he loved our songs, but [to us], he’d say, ‘That’ll work.’ That was his praise. That’s what he said to everybody.”

Sherman, who worked as a consultant on “Saving Mr. Banks,”  told screenwriter Kelly Marcel such nuances, which found their way into the script and then into Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Disney. Of the fact that his brother, Travers, DaGradi, and Disney have all passed, leaving him the only one with first-hand knowledge of the story, Sherman ruefully says, “I’m the last one standing.”

For Sherman and his brother, Disney “was like a second father. We both loved him.” In fact, he quickly rises to Disney’s defense when reminded that Disney’s legacy has been tarnished by accusations of racism and anti-semitism. “Let me tell you something, a lot of people talk about Walt in negative ways. There was nothing negative about Walt Disney,” he says. “He was dedicated to doing great things. He reached for the stars all the time. He was a wonderful, wonderful boss.”

“Mary Poppins” blew the Sherman Brothers’ careers wide open. They became staff writers as Disney and worked on dozens of projects for both the Mouse and other studios over the decades. Sherman continues to write, often feeling his brother’s spirit with him. But he often thinks back to “Mary Poppins.” “It meant so much to us,” he says. “We knew this would be the doorway to our success as songwriters because we had been writing songs and had a couple of hits, but nothing huge. This was a huge thing for us.” 
 

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<p>Hugh Dancy and the rest of the &quot;Hannibal&quot;&nbsp;gang will be back in February.</p>

Hugh Dancy and the rest of the "Hannibal" gang will be back in February.

Credit: NBC

NBC's 'Hannibal' to return in February

Season 2 of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal Lecter reboot will air on Fridays

Bryan Fuller and David Slade's "Hannibal" was one of my very favorite series of 2013, an imaginative and visually stunning reboot of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham that managed to shake off all the dust that had accumulated around the characters over several decades, film adaptations and imitators. But it was also a very low-rated show that was renewed by NBC largely because it's an international co-production that costs less than their other dramas.

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<p>We've seen Ted Mosby propose to the Mother, but we probably won't see their first meeting til the end of March.</p>

We've seen Ted Mosby propose to the Mother, but we probably won't see their first meeting til the end of March.

Credit: CBS

'How I Met Your Mother' series finale to air in March

Earlier finale means fewer repeats before the end, and a chance for CBS to settle next year's schedule

After asking "How I Met Your Mother" fans to wait nine seasons for the moment where Ted Mosby comes face-to-face with the woman of his dreams, CBS won't try to stretch that ninth season all the way until May, instead airing the one-hour series finale on March 31.

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'How I Met Your Mother's' final episode airs March 31


"How I Met Your Mother's" final episode airs March 31
The long-running CBS comedy is bowing out early with a one-hour finale, followed by the series premiere of "Friends with Better Lives." On April 14, "2 Broke Girls" will assume the 8 o'clock Monday timeslot.


Hawaii to host a 10-year anniversary "Lost" event in 2014

Details are sketchy, but "Lost 2014: The 10-Year Fan Gathering" is scheduled for Sept. 20-22 in Oahu. "Lost" premiered on Sept. 22, 2004.


Hoda & Kathie Lee will host a New Year's Eve special on NBC

"A Toast to 2013" is set for 8 pm on Dec. 31.


Adam Scott promises a "live birth" for the "Parks and Rec" season finale
"It's going to be a lot like 'The Sound of Music' with some sort of mammal or reptile giving birth and/or hatching from a reptile or amphibian or insect egg—we haven't worked out all the details," he says.

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Barbara Walters wins the night with her final 'Most Fascinating People' special


Barbara Walters wins the night with her final "Most Fascinating People" special
The special -- which named Hillary Clinton No. 1 "most fascinating" person of 2013 -- also featured the "Duck Dynasty" clan, excluding Phil Robertson, who instead went duck hunting.


Matt Smith will be naked in "Doctor Who" Christmas special
The BBC has released two pics of The Doctor in the buff.


Watch the trailer for "Salem"
WGN America's first scripted series, set in 17th century Massachusetts, is from Brannon Braga and stars Shane West, Ashley Madekewe, Seth Gabel and Xander Berkeley.


Fox renews "MasterChef Junior"
The kids' competition will be back for Season 2.


See Sacha Baron Cohen revive his Ali G character for FXX
Cohen yesterday filmed NSFW intros for FXX's "Ali G: Rezurection" with bikini babes in a hot tub.


"Suburgatory" returns with animated opening credits
Watch the Jan. 15 opening inspired by Etsy paper dolls.


Amber Portwood tells Dr. Phil: I was high the entire time on "Teen Mom"
"This is actually my first time on stage sober, so I'm really nervous," she says. "Every time you see me on that show, I am high."

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Jennifer Lawrence

 Jennifer Lawrence

Credit: AP Exchange

Does Jennifer Lawrence have it right about fat shaming?

The Oscar winner gave Barbara Walters her opinion, but is she right?

What's so great about Jennifer Lawrence? Everything, duh. This week, we saw the Oscar winner as her usual unvarnished, unrehearsed self in a sit-down for ABC's "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013." Because Walters' modus operandi seems to be trying to make celebrities cry or scream, the topic of weight had to be addressed. Guess what? J-Law had some opinions. 

"Why is humiliating people funny?" she wondered. "And I get it, I do it too. We all do it."

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Introducing the inaugural HitFix Oscar Power List

Introducing the inaugural HitFix Oscar Power List

Counting down the brokers, artists and strategists crucial to this time of year

Have you ever wondered who the power players really are on the awards circuit and how they stack up this time of year? Are you curious to dive deep on the industry side of things to discover just how that element of the Hollywood machinery operates? Then HitFix's inaugural Oscar Power List is right up your alley.

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Cybill Shepherd is coming to 'Trophy Wife'


Cybill Shepherd is coming to "Trophy Wife"

She'll play Malin Akerman's "wild mother."


Phil Robertson's "Duck Dynasty" suspension is not a First Amendment issue
A&E is not the government, as James Poniewozik points out: "Losing your job for saying something that embarrasses your private employer–even if that is a media outlet–is not a free speech issue. It is not a First Amendment issue. It may be dumb, it may be justified, but it is not a constitutional violation," he says. PLUS: "IStandwithPhil" website petition drive launches.


"24" adds Judy Davis
She'll play a "fierce German arms dealer" on "24: Live Another Day."


Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" logo recalls "The Honeymooners"
The classic New York sitcom also used the moon as a backdrop.


Michael Buble easily beats Celine Dion in battle of network Christmas specials
Buble's 3rd annual special grabbed five million viewers.


Daft Punk will play the Grammys
The French electronic duo hasn't performed on TV since the 2008 Grammys.


"Sesame Street" meets "Sex and the City"

Watch Kim Cattrall's "fabulous" visit.


Hulu spoofs "House of Cards"

Tyler Labine's "Deadbeat" has created a parody of the Netflix drama's trailer.


Conan visits the American Girl Store

Watch Conan O'Brien hang with a little doll. PLUS: Jennifer Lawrence shares her butt plug story with Conan.

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<p>Miley Cyrus fascinates Barbara Walters</p>

Miley Cyrus fascinates Barbara Walters

Credit: ABC

TV Ratings: Barbara Walters' 'Most Fascinating People' leads ABC on a sluggish Wednesday

'Sing-Off' tops 'The X Factor' once again
Fast National ratings for Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
 
Viewers weren't hugely fascinated by ABC's broadcast of "Barbara Walters: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013," but they were at least vaguely interested, as the special was a sluggish Wednesday's top show in most key measures, leading the network to ratings wins.
 
Without any assist from "The Voice," NBC's "The Sing-Off" slipped somewhat, but still beat "The X Factor" and outdid NBC's latest Michael Buble Christmas special, which was in line with last year's weak performance. And speaking of specials that never draw big ratings, at some point CBS' has to cut ties with the "Home For The Holidays" series, which has positive aspirations, but draws astoundingly low ratings every year, falling even lower this year.
 
Meanwhile, The CW finally got OK numbers for an IHeart Radio special, as the "Jingle Ball 2013" telecast outdrew the network's various album release specials.
 
On to the numbers...
 
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<p>Keri Russell on &quot;The Americans,&quot; Emmy Rossum on &quot;Shameless&quot; and Gwendoline Christie on &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Keri Russell on "The Americans," Emmy Rossum on "Shameless" and Gwendoline Christie on "Game of Thrones."

Credit: FX/Showtime/HBO

TV Top 25 of 2013

A year so deep that even a top 20 (or 25) leaves some great things out
As usual, earlier this month we ran a video with my picks for the 10 best shows of the year. (And I was part of our Second Annual HitFix Television Critics Poll.) And now, as usual, it’s time for my written list of those 10, plus the 10 shows that finished just behind it…
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Roundup: Palm Springs hails Meryl Streep as an Icon
Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: Palm Springs hails Meryl Streep as an Icon

Also: Variety's Directors to Watch, and who's out to get Lana del Rey?

As notices for "August: Osage County" continue to cool, Meryl Streep's beginning to look the most vulnerable of the presumed Best Actress frontrunners -- but she's still Meryl Streep, so awards will keep coming her way regardless. The latest comes from the Palm Springs Film Festival, which will present her with the Icon Award at the awards gala on December 4. The prize, first given to Michael Douglas, is effectively a career achievement award, though festival chairman Howard Metzner's statement focuses specifically on her "Oscar-worthy" work in "August." Incidentally, Streep's co-star Julia Roberts will receive the Spotlight Award. [PSIFF]

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'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments: An 'irreconcilable problem' for A&E


"Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments: An "irreconcilable problem" for A&E
On the one hand, A&E doesn't want to offend people who would be offended by Robertson's comments, whether they're gay or not. On the other hand, as James Poniewozik points out, "once you take any kind of action on that, you've got the opposite problem — with deeply religious viewers who like the Robertsons for their faith. They're going to see it as you punishing him for saying out loud what he believes, and maybe for what they themselves believe, and what they believe is the word of God. You’re punishing him, in their eyes, for being one of them." PLUS: Fox News hosts and Sarah Palin defend Robertson, and Robertson released a statement saying: "I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me."


Kristen Johnston is "almost completely unable to move" due to a rare autoimmune disorder
The former "Third Rock From the Sun" explained on Facebook: ""I've been really, really sick since early Sept. Full body muscle weakness to the extent that just walking difficult, stairs impossible and I even need a neck brace to hold my head up."


Simon Cowell confirms Demi Lovato is done with "The X Factor"

Cowell says Lovato's tour next year conflicted with the Fox reality show. "She and I have had our ups and downs but now consider her a true friend, he added. "The door will always be open. And thank you Demi."


Man dies during an Australian trip his wife won on "Ellen"
Brandon McGraw, a U.S. Marine, was in Australia with his wife when he died in a parachuting accident over the weekend.


"Elementary" casts Paul Sorvino and "The Sopranos'" Vincent Curatola
They'll guest as feuding mob bosses.


Jay Leno on CNN would mean he and Conan O'Brien would be working for the same company, Time Warner
Is Leno too costly for CNN? And would Time Warner want to shell out big bucks for a late-night show opposite its TBS late-night star, Conan.


Claim: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" promotes bullying, exclusion
"Perhaps I am wrong, but this strikes me as a terrible, terrible lesson for kids," Michael Schaffer says of the children's classic. "At the very basic level, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' presents a fairly grim, Hobbesian vision of society: If you want to be accepted, you have to prove your economic utility—which, in the case of magical flying reindeer, appears to only involve the annual sleigh-pull."


"First Night 2013 with Jamie Kennedy" won't happen again this New Year's Eve
Orange County station KDOC confirms it won't resurrect last year's trainwreck.


"Chelsea Lately" star Heather McDonald may become a"Real Housewives"

McDonald has recently been spotted with the ladies of "The Real Housewives of Orange County."


Why did Netflix remove most "SNL" episodes?
Does "Saturday Night Live's" deal with Yahoo! mean fewer episodes on Netflix?


A pair of college professors release a book about becoming "Supernatural Fangirls"
A psychologist and a professor of British literature explain their "Fangasm" over the CW series: "Why 'Supernatural'? Solid writing, an intricate mythology, scary monsters both literal and metaphorical. A story of love, loyalty, and family. An emotionally intense relationship between the main characters that generates enough chemistry to power a small city. Two very hot actors. Wasn’t that enough?


Finn Hudson's "Glee" mom joins "The Fosters"

Romy Rosemont will become a recurring guest star in the spring.


Check out "Justified" pics of Michael Rapaport and David Koechner
Alicia Witt is also part of Season 4.


Coming soon: "Sons of Anarchy" action figures
A toy company is also making "SOA" plush toys, key rings and bobbleheads.


Howard Stern dresses in drag for his Christmas card
The "America's Got Talent" judge is sitting on his wife dressed as Santa's lap.

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