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Nelson Mandela dies: ESPN preempts programming to pay tribute

Nelson Mandela dies: ESPN preempts programming to pay tribute

After news broke of Mandela's death at age 95, ESPN moved signature program "Pardon the Interruption" to ESPN2 so ESPN could cover Mandela's death from a sports perspective. ESPN also had Bob Ley delve into Mandela's legacy.

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<p>&quot;Pacific Rim&quot;</p>

"Pacific Rim"

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Man of Steel' grounded by Best Visual Effects Oscar bake-off list

You will believe a man...can't fly to the Oscars

Sorry, it's a little ridiculous that "Man of Steel" — I don't care WHAT you think of the film otherwise — was left off the Academy's list of seven bake-off finalists for Best Visual Effects. But these things are often about politics, and I imagine there was plenty of that at play here.

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<p>Right now, all over LA, agents are trying to convince their clients that they really wouldn't mind wearing this get-up for six months in mid-2014.</p>

Right now, all over LA, agents are trying to convince their clients that they really wouldn't mind wearing this get-up for six months in mid-2014.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Bryan Singer announces 'X-Men: Apocalypse' will hit theaters in 2016

What does this mean for the series as a whole?

Fox wasn't kidding when they announced their plans to ramp up production on the various "X-Men" films.

Right now, Bryan Singer is hard at work finishing "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," and even so, he took a moment to Tweet this morning that we can also look forward to "X-Men: Apocalypse" in 2016.

Several sites are reporting a May 27, 2016 date for the film, although that wasn't part of Singer's Tweet. If that's true, then I'm curious what it means for James Mangold's "Wolverine" sequel. Would they try to get that done between the two "X-Men" movies, or will they now try to get Jeff Wadlow's "X-Force" up and running for 2015 instead and give Mangold time to aim for a 2017 release?

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<p>Shia LaBeouf in &quot;Nymphomaniac.&quot;</p>

Shia LaBeouf in "Nymphomaniac."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Brace yourself, America: 'Nyphomaniac' coming your way for Easter

Magnolia confirms US release dates for Lars von Trier's two-part sex epic
Okay, so we still have Christmas to deal with, but in the unlikely event that you've already been making plans for your Easter weekend next April, you may want to adjust them. Hunting for chocolate eggs? Check. Going to church? Check. Baking hot cross buns? Check. Watching the conclusion of a Lars von Trier sex epic? Check.

Yes, Magnolia Pictures has at last confirmed the US release dates for both halves of "Nymphomaniac," and it all comes to a head, so to speak, on Good Friday, April 18 -- when Part Two will be set free into theaters. Part One, meanwhile, precedes it by nearly a month, hitting screens on March 21.

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<p>AAAAAHHH!&nbsp;WHAT&nbsp;DID&nbsp;YOU&nbsp;DO&nbsp;WITH&nbsp;MARTIN'S&nbsp;BEARD, YOU&nbsp;MONSTERS?!?!</p>


Credit: Tappeluft Pictures

The Sundance 2014 Midnights line-up includes Nazi zombies, cooties, and New Zealand vampires

It looks like a particularly fun 30th anniversary program

The 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival will once again see Team HitFix descending on the slopes of Park City to cover everything and anything about the event that we can.

As usual, I call dibs on the Midnight line-up. While I don't always love the programming in practice, I love it in theory, and I've had some amazing viewing experiences over the last few years thanks to the Midnights. I'd say there's a pretty strong chance something from the 2012 Midnights line-up might make an appearance on my best of the year list this year, and it wouldn't be the first time.

So what we expect this year? Well, Tommy Wirkola is back with a sequel to "Dead Snow," which seems fitting. After all, I saw and reviewed the first "Dead Snow" at the festival. Wirkola, who went on to direct "Hansel & Gretel: Vampire Hunters," has a chance here to join that club of horror directors who make sequels that are more fun than the originals, and I hope he pulls it off. After all… Nazi zombies in the snow… that should be fun, right? All I know is "Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead" sounds like it could be a blast, especially with the wildly random addition of the always great Martin Starr to the cast.

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"My Crazy Obsession"

 "My Crazy Obsession"

Credit: TLC

See one woman's 'Crazy Obsession' for gingerbread

It's the holiday spirit run amok on the TLC show

A lot of people get a little nutty about Christmas. Then there's Tamera, the latest loon we meet on "My Crazy Obsession: Christmas Collection 2" (Sat. Dec. 7 at 9:00 p.m. ET on TLC). She's not just Christmas-obsessed; she's fixated on gingerbread. How fixated?  

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Dianna Agron is on board for 'Glee's' 100th episode

Dianna Agron is on board for "Glee's" 100th episode

Agron, who was conspicuously absent from the Cory Monteith tribute episode is "IN" for the "Glee" 100th, Ryan Murphy tweeted.

"SNL's" Nasim Pedrad and Elliott Gould rejoin "Mulaney"
The Fox comedy project starring former "SNL" writer John Mulaney is retaining Pedrad and Gould, who were in the original NBC pilot.

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<p>Dave Bowie</p>

Dave Bowie

David Bowie goes back in time for new video, 'I'd Rather Be High': Watch

WW2 footage tells the story of a reluctant soldier

While David Bowie’s “The Next Day” hasn’t delivered any traditional hits, he has kept his first studio album in 10 years in the spotlight since its release in March by steadily releasing videos from the project,

Each mini-movie has had its own theme and they’ve ranged from the intriguing narrative of  “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” with Tilda Swinton or much more low key, like the $12.99 video for  “Love is Lost.” They've all been artsy, but accessible.

Late last night he released the clip for “I’d Rather Be High (Venetian Mix).”

The song, one of the jauntier musical tracks from “The Next Day,” is actually a strident anti-war song from the perspective of  a 17-year old who enlists in the war only to realize he’s way over his head.  Director Tom Hingston takes the WW2 lyrics and juxtaposes them against footage of WW2 soldiers and different scenes from the era to create a  deceptively uplifting video about wanting to be high instead of fight, or as Bowie sings: “I’d rather be high, I’d rather be flying, I’d rather be dead or out of my head than training these guns on those men in the sand.”

Hingston runs the images through some grainy filters and throws in some black and white altered images of Bowie in the clip that creates a stirring overall work.

The song was also used in a Louis Vuitton commercial featuring Bowie, which takes the song in a totally different direction.

Which clip do you like better? 

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<p>Lana Del Rey</p>

Lana Del Rey

Watch Lana Del Rey as a stripper-poet-saint in 'Tropico'

It's not as crazy as it sounds
At last night's premiere of "Tropico," Lana Del Rey announced that the short film is the final project for her 2012 breakthrough album "Born To Die" and that she'll release follow-up record "Ultraviolence" sometime next year. The new album title comes the book-turned-film "A Clockwork Orange," one of few references missing from the symbolism overload of "Tropico." Watch it here or below.
"Tropico" opens in the Garden of Eden with Del Rey as Eve and model Shaun Ross as Adam, plus Jesus, John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and a unicorn. It quickly turns into a music video for "Body Electric," which fits the original sin theme pretty well. Once Del Rey bites into the apple though, all hell breaks loose and we fast-forward to a dystopian Los Angeles where she's working as a stripper and Ross is a convenient store clerk. 
Before "Gods and Monsters" begins, Del Rey rips off some great poets -- including Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg -- and whispers their words (and a few of her own) as scenes reveal that she's a lousy pole dancer, Ross is a criminal and they're hanging in the Latino gang crowd. That's about as much of a narrative as we get. 
Redemption arrives in the final scene as Del Rey and Ross cruise into a golden field in a sea green Bel Air, with John Wayne reciting a speech about America. Naturally, the song "Bel Air" kicks in and we watch as the couple becomes transformed from black-clothed sinners to white-wearing saints. Wayne serenades them into heaven with the classic "Always on My Mind."
Director Anthony Mandler's work is really the star of the film -- especially in the shots of L.A. and the finale -- so if you don't like Del Rey's music, at least watch it on mute.
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Walmart ads will sing 'Sound of Music' songs during tonight's live musical

Walmart ads will sing "Sound of Music" songs during tonight's live musical
The ads will feature a family of 12 children doing activities while singing songs from the musical.

"Breaking Bad" and Netflix score big in Writers Guild Award nominations
Netflix's decision to submit "Orange is the New Black" as a comedy paid off as the video company earned five nominations between "Orange" and "House of Cards."

Pam Grier eyes an action TV series
Entertainment One is working with Grier on a domestic terrorism drama project.

"Sex Sent Me to the ER" coming to Discovery Fit & Health
The four-part January special will have physicians and patients recounting "jaw-dropping" stories of sexual injuries.

President Obama jokes he'd like to host "SportsCenter" when he retires
"At least I know what I want to do when I retire … host ESPN 'SportsCenter's' Top 10 list," the president quipped to Disney CEO Robert Iger, who oversees ESPN.

Esquire Network orders "Friday Night Tykes"
The reality show will document 8- and 9-year-old football players in San Antonio.

Amy Robach will work on "GMA" while she undergoes chemotherapy

This morning, she said, "now I'm feeling really good. Physically, I'm doing remarkably well, but mentally, it's another challenge."

Check out HBO's black and white stylized "True Detective" poster
"Touch Darkness and Darkness Touches You Back."

Ryan Murphy talks Kathy Bates' stunning "American Horror Story" scene
The follow-up to last night's episode, he says, is "one of my favorite things we've ever done."

"Downton Abbey's" Carson plays a dark Santa for a Greenpeace ad
Watch Jim Carter's interpretation of Santa Claus.

"Orphan Black" Season 2: What to expect

Here's the first image from the new season.

Gordon Ramsay takes on the Swedish Chef
Watch an all-new "Muppisode" featuring the "Hell's Kitchen star, along with Beaker and Sweetums.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the trailer for his new "HitRECord on TV" show
The half-hour Pivot variety show premieres on Jan. 18.

Keri Russell separates from her husband

"The Americans" star, who was burglarized yesterday, is making news again with her separation. Russell has two children with her husband of nearly seven years, Shane Deary.

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<p>It's a good time to be Benedict Cumberbatch.</p>

It's a good time to be Benedict Cumberbatch.

Credit: HitFix

Benedict Cumberbatch on bringing Smaug to life for the latest installment of 'The Hobbit'

The way he learned he got the part is pretty great

Benedict Cumberbatch is having one of those moments that actors dream of, where they are suddenly not only acclaimed for their work, but given opportunity to play a wide range of roles in material that they genuinely love. "Sherlock" may have been the thing that finally made him wildly in-demand, but he's been building towards this moment for a little while now, and he seems to be cherishing it now that it's arrived.

I don't remember him from "Fortysomething" or "Nathan Barley," but I must have seen him in them. Same with "Starter For 10" or "Amazing Grace." It was "Atonement" when I finally remember seeing him and taking note of his work. Then came "Sherlock," and he was suddenly launched into the awareness of filmmakers and audiences alike. I remember reading how Stephen Moffat was casting both "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock" at the same time, and he really debated what to do with Matt Smith and Cumberbatch and the two roles because he could see merit in both versions of the casting.

Can you imagine what would have happened if he'd just had them switch when it was time to regenerate the Doctor? Smith takes over as Sherlock, Cumberbatch takes over as the Doctor, and the Internet breaks. Right?

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<p>Laura Prepon and Taylor Schilling in &quot;Orange Is the New Black,&quot;&nbsp;which got 3 WGA&nbsp;nominations.</p>

Laura Prepon and Taylor Schilling in "Orange Is the New Black," which got 3 WGA nominations.

Credit: Netflix

'Breaking Bad,' Netflix hit it big with WGA nominations

By submitting 'Orange Is the New Black' as a comedy, Netflix got 5 nominations

This was, as I've written about several times — and will be writing a lot more in the coming weeks as we publish various Best of 2013 lists — an insanely good, and deep, year for scripted television. "Breaking Bad" went out with an amazing final season. Netflix entered the original scripted series game. So did Sundance, and History, and others. There's so much good TV right now that any kind of Top 10 list, or set of awards nominations — like today's announcement of the Writers Guild of America TV nominees for 2013 — will inevitably omit an awful lot of great material, and will lean on the specific preferences of the individuals or groups making the picks. I'm going to be curious to see the results for our second annual HitFix TV Critics Poll (here's last year's), which will be published later this month, and I'm also interested to see how the Golden Globes and the various Hollywood guilds like the WGA (all of whom attach their TV awards to their movie ones) pick and choose among all the possibilities.

I've got the full WGA list at the bottom of this post, but let's start with some specific observations:

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