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Best Director Oscar contenders include Eastwood, Jolie, Nolan and more

Best Director Oscar contenders include Eastwood, Jolie, Nolan and more

Could two women make the line-up for the first time ever?

For the first time in probably, well, ever, the Best Director category has a real shot at featuring two female nominees. It goes without saying how much that would mean, but it's early days and let's not get ahead of ourselves, all of that.

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Hulu orders Billy Eichner comedy 'Difficult People' from producer Amy Poehler
Credit: Funny or Die

Hulu orders Billy Eichner comedy 'Difficult People' from producer Amy Poehler

Dave Chappelle wants to guest on every TV show -- and have sex with Olivia Pope

Hulu orders Billy Eichner comedy “Difficult People” from producer Amy Poehler
Eichner and his "Billy on the Street” head writer Julie Klausner originally filmed their pilot about a pair of difficult friends for USA.

“Peter Pan Live!” changes the “Ugg-a-Wugg” song so it won’t offend Native Americans
After consulting with a Native American consultant, the “Peter Pan Live!” has changed “Ugg-a-Wugg” to “True Blood Brothers” and removed any phrases like “the brave noble red skin” from the lyrics.

Dave Chappelle wants to guest on every TV show -- and have sex with Olivia Pope
The comedian tells GQ in his first extensive interview in years: “For one year, I want to do this thing where I guest-star on as many television shows as I possibly can. I’d be a zombie in 'The Walking Dead.' A corpse on ‘CSI.' I’d be the first black guy to f–k Olivia Pope on 'Scandal.’” — though Olivia has had a black boyfriend.

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J.K. Simmons
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

J.K. Simmons to receive Palm Springs Film Festival’s Spotlight Award

The 'Whiplash' actor is a likely contender for Best Supporting Actor

A successful, vibrant career as a character doesn’t always translate to awards. Take J.K. Simmons, who hasn’t received many accolades over his 20-plus year career, while being one of the most reliably energized performers working today. He’s appeared in multiple films for the Coen Brothers, Jason Reitman, Woody Allen, and anchored Sam Raimi’s "Spider-Man" trilogy. He’s no stranger to television, where he’s done everything HBO’s "OZ" to recent sitcom "Growing Up Fisher" to Nickelodeon’s "Legend of Korra." He’s even validated video games with his talent, voicing characters in "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3" and "Portal 2." 

Casting Simmons in "Whiplash," as the vicious jazz band instructor Fletcher, was as much a gift to director Damien Chazelle and his fans as it likely was to the hard-working thespian. When handed a meaty role, Simmons sinks his teeth in as deep as they go.

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Review: Jennifer Lawrence remains the beating heart of intense 'Mockingjay Part 1'
Credit: Lionsgate

Review: Jennifer Lawrence remains the beating heart of intense 'Mockingjay Part 1'

Could they really pull this whole thing off?

As much as "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" is about anything, it is about Jennifer Lawrence.

I don't mean that it's about Katniss Everdeen, the character she's playing, either. Sure, Katniss is once again front and center as we see the aftermath now of what happened at the end of the Quarter Quell games in "Catching Fire," with Katniss poised to be the face of the revolution. But when I say this is a film about Jennifer Lawrence, I mean it's about her fame, the pressure that she's under to make this franchise work because of what it means to Lionsgate, and the way she continually manages to deliver moments that feel authentic, whether they are or not, even under the unforgiving microscope of fame.

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Fox remaking 'Luther' with Idris Elba serving as exec producer
Credit: BBC

Fox remaking 'Luther' with Idris Elba serving as exec producer

'State of Affairs' has NBC's 2nd-best drama premiere in 2 years

Fox remaking “Luther” with Idris Elba serving as exec producer
Elba and "Luther" creator Neil Cross are on board for the remake of the BBC psychological detective series, which has run three seasons from 2010 through 2013. But Elba isn’t expected to star in the American remake.

Jimmy Fallon replaces U2 with a Bono impression, plus Jim Carrey and a Jeff Daniels puppet
“The Tonight Show” host had some heavy hitters on his first of five nights replacing the Irish rockers. PLUS: Allison Williams teaches Fallon to fly like Peter Pan.

“State of Affairs” has NBC's 2nd-best drama premiere in 2 years
The Katherine Heigl drama benefitted last night from "The Voice" lead-in.

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<p>Monday&#39;s &quot;Scorpion&quot;</p>

Monday's "Scorpion"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'State of Affairs' can't match 'Blacklist' as NBC splits Monday

'Scorpion' is Monday's most-watched scripted show

Fast National ratings for Monday, November 17, 2014.

The series premiere of "State of Affairs" fell short of the normal numbers for "The Blacklist," but the Katherine Heigl drama still helped NBC win Monday night in the key demographic, though it lost to "Castle" as part of ABC's overall sweep.

Most of the other Monday originals were pretty steady, with a tiny uptick for FOX's "Gotham" and for CBS' "2 Broke Girls" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

ABC had the Monday Night Football preemption in both -- Nashville and Pittsburgh -- markets, so expect some adjustments.

On to the numbers...

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Fantastic Mr. Foxcatcher
Credit: Fox Searchlight

The 'Fantastic Mr. Foxcatcher' trailer: Steve Carell stars in terrifying Whack-bat drama

Bennett Miller’s Oscar hopeful lines up perfectly with Wes Anderson stop-motion

"Dude, you know the movie 'Foxcatcher'?"
"Yeah, I know Foxcatcher. We saw it yesterday."
"OK, you know how there weren’t any real foxes in it?"
"Yeah, Steve Carell’s farm was called 'Foxcatcher.'"
"Right, but what if there were?"
"What if there were what?"
"What if there were foxes."
"What if Foxcatcher had foxes in it?"
"Yeah, or… if Foxcatcher were about foxes."
"'Foxcatcher' starring foxes?"
"And a foxcatcher."
"That’s stu—…get me to the Internet."

And that, friends, is how YouTube comedy videos are born.

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Hugh Jackman
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Hugh Jackman to belt his way through P.T. Barnum biopic 'Greatest Showman on Earth'

Movie musical takes shape for summer shoot

Rare: Movie musicals. Very rare: Original movie musicals. Basically non-existent: Original, live-action movie musicals. What was once the bread and butter of Hollywood’s studio system is basically the ambler-encased mosquito in "Jurassic Park." If anyone could revive that dino DNA into a brand new behemoth, it’s Hugh Jackman. He’ll do just that next summer, when he begins shooting the long-gestating "Greatest Showman on Earth."

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<p>Katherine Heigl in State of Affairs</p>

Katherine Heigl in State of Affairs

Credit: NBC

Series premiere talkback: 'State of Affairs' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of Katherine Heigl's return to TV?

I posted my review of "State of Affairs" this morning. Now it's your turn. For those of you who tuned in tonight, what did you think? Watered-down "Homeland," or its own exciting thing? Were you happy to have Katherine Heigl back on TV, or did this seem like a bad fit for her? Were you interested in the inner workings of what the briefers do? Do you care about what happened to Charleston's fiance? Are you having issues with the name Charleston Tucker? And will you watch again?

Have at it.

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Sleepy Hollow - Mama
Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Sleepy Hollow' - No one ever talks about their 'Mama' issues

Tarrytown is in desperate need of a building inspection.

When we last left our heroes, the Scooby gang had just broken up again. Katrina was going back undercover as Abraham/Death’s Stockholm Syndrome girlfriend while Ichabod and Abbie continued the kabuki dance of pretending they don’t want to bone each other.

Also, I started helming the good ship Crawley — because Hawley and Ichabod are totally secretly pining for each other.

Did Katrina manage to murder that demon baby? Will the show keep enabling my new OTP? Let’s find out in tonight’s episode, “Mama.”


Through the power of dream visions, we are transported to foggy Victorian London and/or ancient Roman ruins. Abbie is disoriented — which is strange because you’d think she’d be used to the dream sequence cold open by now — but she's drawn to a disturbing singsong voice. “You Are My Sunshine” has never sounded creepier than right now, emanating from the monk robes of Abbie Mills’ dead mother.

Abbie is jolted awake just before we get a good look inside the robe. Which is probably for the best because never in the history of mankind has anything benevolent been inside a grim reaper cowl. Away from the vision Purgatory with her mother, Abbie can focus on mundane activities. Like quietly making fun of Ichabod Crane’s inability to open a pill bottle. 

Child and Revolutionary-proof caps. 

At some point Ichabod has come down with the crud, but he’s doing his level best to push through. Abbie is having none of it and tucks him in with a red plaid blanket and an admonishment to get some sleep. Then she’s off to go be a cop because Reyes needs her. Ichabod is put out but seriously, it is poor form to show up for work sick. Especially when you aren’t technically getting paid, so you have all the sick days in the world. 

P.S. Ichabod’s “I am sick, pity me” scarf is quite fetching.

Ever since the sting operation on the “satanic cult,” Reyes has backed off Abbie’s case. Apparently shutting down a group that is testing demon baby parasite via poison gets you brownie points with the skeptical, hard-ass police chief. Reyes even extends the most macabre olive branch ever: there have been three suicides in as many nights at Tarrytown. Reyes wants Abbie to investigate what’s really going on, even going so far as to say Mills’ personal connection to the tragedy might give her the edge. Also, if Reyes had assigned the case to someone else, she knows — correctly — that Abbie would’ve hounded her about it.

With Ichabod out of commission, Abbie calls in the reserves. Jenny has joined the party! If the Scooby gang was a fantasy party, what roles would they have? Abbie is the Red Mage, Jenny the Fighter, Ichabod the Scholar, Hawley the Thief, and Katrina the White Mage, yeah?

Anyway, Jenny agreed to help because she knows Tarrytown better than anyone. What with being involuntarily committed on and off for most of her adult life. As she explains that Tarrytown is a building full of pain and fear, the point is driven home by the “welcoming committee.” One of the patients — Walt — creepy lurches towards the sisters and gurgles incoherently before being led away by a nurse. Surely that’s the last we’ve seen of those characters and they’ll not reappear later in this episode in pivotal roles!

The ladies head directly to Captain Irving for information on the suicide victims. Irving only knew one of them — Nelson — a dude who suffered from paranoid delusions but had been on his meds and organizing prayer circles and generally acting like a man who wanted to live. Irving is also sure to mention he did not kill those people. The good Captain is still in control of his actions, if not his soul.

Sometime later, the sisters are sitting in front of an overwhelming number of monitors, each split into smaller monitors. They’re pouring over the Tarrytown surveillance footage, but unless they have ADHD I’m not sure how they’re focused on anything. Besides, don’t they know the names of the suicide victims and where they died? Why not just use the cameras from their bedrooms? Is it because it wouldn’t look like a cool CSI sequence? Be honest, that’s the reason.

In a moment of revelation decades in the making, Jenny admits that she once snuck into Tarrytown to visit their mom when she was a kid. Which means either Jenny was a break-in prodigy or psychiatric facilities are disconcertingly lax on security, despite having more cameras than a government black site. Jenny says her last memory of Mrs. Mills is of orderlies dragging her away while she screamed and freaked out. To add insult to injury, baby Jenny is even holding flowers while watching this scene in slack-jawed terror.

Abbie responds with a confession of her own. She always worried she’d end up crazy like their mom. And when Jenny ended up in Tarrytown, Abbie knew it was only a matter of time before the crazy genetics came home to roost. She’s determined to figure out what’s going on at Tarrytown because Abbie hopes it will help her understand why she was chosen to be a Witness.

There are leaps of faith and then there is blind, desperate groping for meaning. Your milage may vary as to which of the two Abbie’s hope is.

Sibling bonding over shared childhood trauma out of the way, the ladies finally realize cameras are room specific. Honing in on Nelson’s room around the time of the murder, they completely overlook that budget Nurse Ratchet from earlier was the last person to see him alive. Instead they focus on their dead mom’s ghost in the corner because neither of them have ever heard of a red herring.

Come on Jenny. You’re more genre savvy than this.

Okay, maybe Jenny is more savvy than I gave her credit for, because she went off to get the footage analyzed instead of taking it on faith that her crazy demon-hunted mother is back from the dead. Abbie is stuck babysitting a perplexed and still sickly Ichabod while this is going down. Crane is displeased by the lack of instantaneous results from his eucalyptus huffing. But that doesn’t stop him from pointing out to Abbie that of course none of the pills Tarrytown gave Mrs. Mills worked because Abbie’s mom wasn’t actually delusional.

The creepy shit she was seeing was real.

Suddenly, a flashback. The baby Mills sisters return home to a mother who is frazzled and clutching a baby doll. Mrs. Mills isn’t wearing a tin foil hat, but she HAS put yellowed newspaper over all the windows, which is only one step down on the “paranoid shut-in” barometer. However, her mantra to the girls of “Eyes open, Head up, Trust no one” is just good stranger danger advice. Most girls have heard a variation on this from their mothers. Only we’re looking out for potential assaulters and the Mills were on the look out for demons. 

Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Adult Abbie muses on why her mother’s ghost has returned now, after 15 years, to start killing Tarrytown patients. Her query is cut short by the arrival of my favorite person — Southern Gentleman Aquaman! Hawley comes bearing gifts: medicine, food, and books for research from the cabin.

Awwww, you guys. Hawley came to doctor an ailing Ichabod. CRAWLEY LIVES!

SGA also brought Matzah ball soup. At first Crane is dubious but quickly comes around to the strange yet delicious Jewish recipe. Hawley Jewish? Also, how cute is it that Ichabod tries to hide how pleased he is that SGA brought him soup? The fanfiction practically writes itself.

Sustained by the soup brought by his crush, Ichabod whips out Washington’s map — does he keep it next to his heart or something? — and posits a theory. Tarrytown is build on a leyline. Perhaps with Moloch returned to this mortal plane, he is somehow compelling Mrs. Mills to kill in order to torture Abbie and Jenny.

Sure, why not?

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Fired “Today” boss reportedly invoked 'Survivor' in creating a backbiting workplace
Credit: NBC

Fired “Today” boss reportedly invoked 'Survivor' in creating a backbiting workplace

Survey finds little support for a Bill Cosby NBC comedy

Fired “Today” boss reportedly invoked “Survivor” in creating a backbiting workplace
Staffers were asked which producers should be “voted off the island,” according to The Wrap. That’s one of the reasons why Jamie Horowitz, a hotshot producer from ESPN, was ousted just 78 days into his tenure. According to The Wrap, "Horowitz alienated the entire morning show staff–talent and producers–by telling certain people one thing and others an entirely different thing about issues relating to the show; in some cases, he told producers and talent their colleagues were talking about them behind their backs."

Survey finds little support for a Bill Cosby NBC comedy
About 72% of a survey of 1,000 people by Variety thought a sitcom comeback was a bad idea.

“Mike & Molly” will replace “The Millers” on Mondays
Last year, “Mike & Molly” replaced the canceled “We Are Men.” This year, it’s “The Millers."

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<p>Harvey Dent on Gotham</p>

Harvey Dent on Gotham

Credit: FOX

Review: 'Gotham' - 'Harvey Dent'

Nicholas D'Agosto plays the future Two-Face, while Gordon and Bullock chase a serial bomber

A review of tonight's "Gotham" coming up just as soon as someone mugs me with a diving board...

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