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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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<p>Who is this mysterious figure, and what do they mean to the increasingly complex world of the 'How To Train Your Dragon' movies?</p>

Who is this mysterious figure, and what do they mean to the increasingly complex world of the 'How To Train Your Dragon' movies?

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Dreamworks Animation

The new trailer for 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' promises an epic mystery

So what is it with Dreamworks and long-lost parents?

First reaction: the new "How To Train Your Dragon 2" trailer looks great. I think this is going to be one of those situations where a first film was big but the sequel is GIGANTIC. I have a feeling kids are going to be ranting and raving and generally flipping out for this one, and on a big giant screen, I'll bet it looks amazing.

Second reaction: oh, so that's what it's about.

Third reaction: wait, what is it with Dreamworks and long-lost parents?

I thought "Kung-Fu Panda 2" took an interesting approach to dealing with the very real issues that arise with being adopted, particularly into a family that is in some significant external way different than your birth family. One of the few choices they made that really threw me was resolving the story the way they did and then adding on the post-credits scene where Po's real family is revealed suddenly to be alive. If sets up some big dynamics that the next film has to deal with, and i'm curious to see how they handle that. Here, though, we've got a different sort of parental reveal as Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) discovers an entire world he had no idea existed, and he reclaims something he thought he lost.

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"The Sing-Off"

 "The Sing-Off"

Credit: NBC

What do you think of 'The Sing-Off''s final four groups?

This double elimination was a tough one - but was it right?

In the crowded universe of singing competition reality TV shows, one of the most easy going and, yes, fun might be "The Sing-Off." The judges know what they're talking about and somehow manage to be nice without melting into useless marshmallows (we're looking at you, Paula Abdul, wherever you are). There's no voting from home, which means the best singers (as judged by people who know) win instead of the whole show devolving into a popularity contest. The host, Nick Lachey, appears to be neither overcaffeinated nor miserable. Even the competition itself seems friendly enough (at least there's a lot of hugging). But, this is a competition show like any other in that only one can win, and that means kicking people to the curb, week after week.

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<p>I wish I looked like this when I was sick. That would probably confuse everyone I know, though.</p>

I wish I looked like this when I was sick. That would probably confuse everyone I know, though.

Credit: HitFix

Christina Applegate on rediscovering Veronica Corningstone for 'Anchorman 2'

Turns out it wasn't as easy as slipping back into the outfits

Christina Applegate deserves credit for helping shape the character of Veronica Corningstone in the first "Anchorman." In the early drafts I read of the film, she was just as big a weirdo as any of the Action News team, and there was no real reason why her character ended up being the one to break the glass ceiling of San Diego local news.

Applegate was undervalued as a comic actor for the first leg of her career, no doubt because she was a blonde teenage girl and "Married: With Children" played up her hair-band-music-video-goddess appeal, but even on that show, she displayed positively deadly comic timing. Like Paul Rudd, she got reborn thanks to "Anchorman" showing off just how far out there she could push things, and in a film that was dominated by boys having a good time, she more than held her own.

When we spoke last weekend, she was both under the weather and missing her daughter, but I thought she was very frank when talking about how hard it was for her to get a handle on stepping back into the character for "Anchorman 2."

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<p>Gervase of &quot;Survivor: Blood vs. Water&quot;</p>

Gervase of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Gervase Peterson talks 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water'

'Survivor' original and 3rd Place finisher talks about his Final Jury shutout
On the very first "Survivor," Gervase Peterson was an early favorite, but he fell victim to the Pagonging of his original tribe after the Merge, becoming the third member of the original Jury.
After spending 30 days in "Survivor: Borneo," Gervase had to wait 13 years to get another shot at "Survivor" and he mostly made it count, forming a strong core alliance and working it all the way to end and the Final 3.
Of course, getting to the Final 3 only does limited good if you face a Jury and get shut out, which is what happened to Gervase on Sunday's "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" finale. The respect of the "Blood vs. Water" Jury largely went to the season's winner, Tyson, who was credited as the architect and driving force of a powerhouse three-person alliance.
That perhaps doesn't give Gervase credit for what was the season's biggest tangible power shift, as he turned his back on outside-of-the-game friend Aras and helped lead two straight votes that swayed the season.
In his exit interview, Gervase explains why he picked Tyson over Aras, how he knew that the Jury wasn't going his way and why he perfects Old School "Survivor" to New School. 
Click through for the fill Q&A...
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A&E suspends 'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson over his anti-gay comments

A&E suspends "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson over his anti-gay comments
Robertson has been placed "under hiatus from filming indefinitely," A&E said in a statement, adding: "We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series 'Duck Dynasty.'"

Marcia Cross is returning to TV in Fox's "Fatrick"
The former "Desperate Housewives" star will play the mom of formerly fat Patrick, a 30-something who's coming to terms of being formerly fat.

TBS orders "Jake & Amir," based on the CollegeHumor series
Ed Helms will produce the workplace comedy starring Amir Blumenfeld and Jake Hurwitz. Watch their CollegeHumor videos.

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<p>This season's &quot;X Factor&quot; Top 3.</p>

This season's "X Factor" Top 3.

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 3 Finale - Performances

Alex & Sierra, Jeffrey Gutt and Carlito Olivero perform for the last time

If you're curious, I missed last Thursday's "X Factor" results show due to a weird combination of traffic between Baton Rouge and Natchez, wifi at an antebellum hotel and Slingplayer suddenly deciding to require a new plugin that my Mac OS wasn't prepared to handle.

I wasn't able to do a recap and I chose not to watch the episode, but I did see that Restless Road was sent home, leaving a Final 3 of Alex & Sierra, Jeffrey Gutt and Carlito Olivero. I'm confused by the latter, but it's possible that Simon Cowell is pushing Carlito deeper and deeper into the show in hopes of liberating himself forever from "X Factor USA."

In any case, I'm back for this week's two episodes and then that'll hopefully be it for me and "X Factor." I've said this before, of course, and FOX sucked me back in with Alex & Sierra in the premiere. 

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Eminem and Rihanna's 'The Monster' remains the top song in the U.S.

Eminem and Rihanna's 'The Monster' remains the top song in the U.S.

Pitbull and Ke$ha are coming on strong

Eminem and Rihanna make it a second week at No. 1 with “The Monster” on the Billboard Hot 100, although another duo, Pitbull and Ke$ha remain hot on their trail with “Timber,” which holds at No. 2. “Timber” is also closing the gap between the two songs, which means it could overtake the top spot next week.

OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” stays at No. 3, but the rest of the top 5 gets a shake up as A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something” leaps 8-4 pushing Lorde’s “Royals” down 4-5, according to Billboard.

In slots 5-10, Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” moves 7-6, trading places with Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” Miley Cyrus’s ballad, “Wrecking Ball” falls 5-8, Passengers’ “Let Her Go” hangs on to its No. 9 spot, and One Direction’s “Story Of My Life” moves 11-10, moving back into the Top 10 after peaking at No. 6.

Beyond the Top 10, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J, gallops 36-22, followed closely by Lorde’s “Team,” which rises 32-23.


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<p>Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio celebrate the fact that they made a truly stupendous Martin Scorsese movie, and well they should.</p>

Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio celebrate the fact that they made a truly stupendous Martin Scorsese movie, and well they should.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Top Ten Films of 2013: Outer space, financial foul play, and broken hearts

From microbudgets to megablockbusters, we've had a great year of movies

One of the things I've come to expect in the fifteen years I've been making top ten lists online is that every year, someone will argue with me about what it actually means to pick ten films to represent a year. Are these the "best" films of the year? Are they my "favorite" films of the year? Is there a difference between the two things as far as I'm concerned? Should there be? What movies qualify? What movies don't?

Since we've introduced letter grades here on HitFix, it also introduces the variable that people believe any film I give the highest rating automatically has a place on my personal end of the year list. I disagree, and the reasons I disagree probably say a lot about the way I view the discussion of film in general. A letter grade is, to my mind, a way of saying how well it feels like the film accomplished its particular goals. But there are times I might find that over the course a year, a B+ film becomes something that I watch repeatedly, that connects for me on all sorts of personal levels, and so that film ends up in my top ten, while a beautifully executed film that impresses me across the board might slide further down just because it's not something I find myself revisiting, no matter how well it works. The end of the year is not about me telling you, authoritatively, that there are only ten films that we are allowed to treat with respect and any argument is wrong. That's ridiculous. This is a time to share thoughts on the things we love, the things that matter to us about movies, and if you get upset about my list, then I would suggest you are reading into it a purpose that simply isn't there.

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