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<p>Chris Hemsworth and&nbsp;Daniel Br&uuml;hl in &quot;Rush&quot;</p>

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl in "Rush"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Ron Howard's 'Rush' could shift into high gear this Oscar season

People are really responding to this biopic of F1 stars Niki Lauda and James Hunt

Ron Howard's "Rush" has occupied some prime real estate throughout our Contenders section for a number of weeks. Lots of "but racing movies don't register" and "it looks too commercial" or whatever greeted the suggestion that it could be an Oscar player. There's been a reason we've had a lot of faith in it: people love this movie. And today, Variety's Peter Debruge has posted a cartwheel-turning rave up one side and down the other.

I caught the film just before the Telluride Film Festival and had high hopes. I've been hearing stellar things about this one for a while now, particularly Daniel Brühl's performance. So maybe expectation was too high, but it felt like something was missing for me. Peter Morgan's script awkwardly makes its way through a story of rivalry and friendship between Formula One racing stars Niki Lauda (Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and it doesn't quite hit the high marks it apparently thinks it hits. But it's not like the film is a big miss or anything. There's a lot to appreciate here and I think it will continue to gather fans, perhaps on the way to major Oscar recognition.

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<p>Winona Ryder and Michael Cera are just two of the people who made appearances on this season of 'Drunk History'</p>

Winona Ryder and Michael Cera are just two of the people who made appearances on this season of 'Drunk History'

Credit: Comedy Central

If you're not watching Comedy Central's 'Drunk History,' you're doing it wrong

Derek Waters seems to have created a perfect comedy series

Normally I leave the TV coverage to the more-than-capable care of Dan Fienberg, Alan Sepinwall, and Liane Starr, but today I feel obligated to make special mention of a show that I think has been crushing it, week in and week out.

After all, isn't that the point of having a platform like this? When I see "Drunk History" on Comedy Central getting better week after week, I want to make sure people are tuning in so I can get more episodes in the future. I was familiar with the short films that Derek Waters created for the website "Funny or Die," and I think it's a fiendishly simple premise for a recurrent comedy piece. The idea, if you haven't seen the show, is exactly what it sounds like. Waters asks funny people to explain a historical incident while they are busy getting as drunk as they can possibly be.

At the same time, we see a recreation by actors in costume, and when they speak, they are perfectly in-synch with the storyteller, complete with drunken hesitation, belching, vomiting and more. And watching actors play that dialogue, perfectly timed, I think it's incredibly funny, a beautiful next level to a joke that is already funny.

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James Franco roast doubles Roseanne's ratings but doesn't come close to Charlie Sheen's record

James Franco roast doubles Roseanne's ratings but doesn't come close to Charlie Sheen's record
About 3.1 million watched last night's roast, including many young males. But it was less than half of the 6.4 million the Sheen roast attracted.

Watch 15 seasons of Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" in 5 minutes
Check out this Comedy Central compilation.

Lady Gaga may pull double duty on "SNL" this season
She's poised to host and serve as musical guest for the first time.

"Game of Thrones" recasts The Mountain
Icelandic actor Hafthor Julius Bjornsson will take over the role originated by Conan Stevens in Season 1.

Jason Priestley joins "CSI's" 300th episode
The former "Beverly Hills 90210" star will play a casino mogul.

"One Life to Live" suspends production
Prospect won't make future episodes of "One Life to Live" until a lawsuit with ABC is resolved.

"American Horror Story" releases a creepy "Coven" poster
Three mouths, one snake.

Kelly Ripa debuts a new hairstyle

A bob!

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"Little Couple"

 "Little Couple"

Credit: TLC

Exclusive clip: 'Little Couple' mom gets 'so weird it's awesome' surprise

Try not to say awww, we dare you

What's cuter than the "Little Couple" on TLC? Not stinking much. In case you're not sure whether or not to watch the non-stop adorableness of it all tonight, here's an exclusive clip to help you make up your mind. In the episode (airing Tues., Sept. 3 at 10:00 p.m. ET), Jen doesn't seem to be having the best Mother's Day ever -- until she is. There are cupcakes and there is itty bitty Will, just in case you want to choke on how sweet this is.  

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"American Horror Story: Coven"

 "American Horror Story: Coven"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story: Coven': The first poster is released

What do you think?

Can't wait for "American Horror Story: Coven"? Well, you will have to hold it together until Oct. 9, but until then? Here's the first poster! And it looks female-centric, spooky and very "AHS," don't you think?

What do you think? Will you be watching?

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 199

Dan and Alan talk 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Luther,' 'Breaking Bad' and more


Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls! It's time for a busy installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. 
We've had a couple slow weeks with nothing to review and no real news to discuss, but this week's podcast is back to being busy.
We've got reviews of the new seasons of "Luther," "Boardwalk Empire" and the premieres of FXX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "The League," as well as our normal discussion of "Breaking Bad." We also talked a bit about the new "American Idol" judging panel, just because.
And we revealed our last Summer Pilot ReWatch option, which will tie that particular project up in a nice bow.
Today's breakdown:
New "Idol" Judges (00:01:05 - 00:10:30)
"Luther" (00:10:30 - 00:22:00)
FXX's Launch (00:22:05 - 00:41:00)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:41:00 - 01:02:20)
"Breaking Bad" (01:02:45 - 01:28:00)
The last Summer Pilot ReWatch (01:28:00 - 01:30:40)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.



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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 199: FXX, 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Luther' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss the new 'American Idol' judging panel and the latest 'Breaking Bad'


We're past Labor Day, which means the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast is about to get very busy again as we start talking about fall premieres. On this week's show, Dan and I discuss the return of Luther to BBC America and "Boardwalk Empire" to HBO, the new "American Idol" judging panel, the FX spin-off network FXX and the latest "Breaking Bad." We also announce our final pilot rewatch of the summer.

The rundown:

New "Idol" Judges (00:01:05 - 00:10:30)
"Luther" (00:10:30 - 00:22:00)
FXX's Launch (00:22:05 - 00:41:00)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:41:00 - 01:02:20)
"Breaking Bad" (01:02:45 - 01:28:00)
The last Summer Pilot ReWatch (01:28:00 - 01:30:40)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>He must be a director. Look at his beard.</p>

He must be a director. Look at his beard.

Credit: Comedy Central

Jon Stewart will bring 'Rosewater' footage to Toronto Film Festival's market

Buyers are about to get their first peek at the 'Daily Show' anchor's debut feature

Early tomorrow afternoon, I'll be on a plane on my way to Toronto for Toronto International Film Festival, the fifth time since joining HitFix. One of the things I love most about this job is being able to attend festivals I've been hearing about and reading about for years, and one of the festivals I love most is the one that happens in the first part of September each year.

Sundance is all about the weather. South By Southwest is all about the crowds. Cannes is all about the mystique. Fantastic Fest is all about the social side of being a film fan. And then there's Toronto… and honestly, for me, Toronto is the one that is all about the movies. So many movies. Hundreds more than anyone could even begin to see in the nine days that the festival runs.

It's easy for me to forget that Toronto also has an international film market that is part of the festival. At Cannes, the commerce is right up front, and you can't visit the festival without taking at least one stroll around the insane carnival atmosphere of the marketplace. I have never even considered attending the one at Toronto, but I may see just how far my press badge will let me go in trying to catch a glimpse when Jon Stewart shows footage to international buyers for the first time.

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<p>Justin Bieber at the Billboard Music Awards</p>

Justin Bieber at the Billboard Music Awards

Credit: AP Photo

3 On 3: Will Justin Bieber's 'Believe' concert documentary be a hit or flop?

HitFix's experts weigh in on the teen star's future and his need for an older audience

Justin Bieber has yet another concert documentary on the way, as it was announced over the weekend that new "Believe" will be shopped during the Toronto Film Festival later this month.

"Believe" --  titled after Bieber's platinum-selling album -- will be released by Open Road Films, on the heels of highly successful "Never Say Never" documentary from 2011. Director Jon M. Chu, who also shot "Never Say Never" will helm "Believe."

Below, three HitFix entertainment experts Melinda Newman, Gregory Ellwood and Katie Hasty sound off on three questions on Bieber and the doc. Will you be seeing "Believe" when it hits theaters? Sound off by voting in the poll below.

1. Is there still an audience for a Justin Bieber concert doc?

Melinda Newman: Absolutely. The Biebs has 44 million Twitter followers, more than any other creature in the Twitterverse. Even if only a tiny portion of the Beliebers show up for opening weekend, “Believe” will be a success. They haven't all switched their loyalties to One Direction.  His 2010 doc, “Never Say Never,” just missed joining the $100 million club. Bieber’s appeal has waned, but his 15 minutes aren’t over yet. The bigger question is how will this doc advance the story from “Never Said Never” since the same director, Jon M. Chu, seems to be tracing much of the same territory in the concert/behind-the-scenes doc.

Gregory Ellwood: Depending on the budget, maybe?  It's notable Paramount, who produced "Never Say Never," is not behind "Believe." Sure, they were burned with the "Katy Perry 3D: Part of Me," but "Never Say Never" made $73 million. Why wouldn't they jump at the chance for a sequel?  Instead, mini-major Open Road will release in the U.S. Not a major studio, but Open Road. The industry and Bieber fans should have much lower expectations this time around.

Katie Hasty:  Yes. There are still so many fans who want to see Justin Bieber graduate from teen idol to grown-up pop star, and this concert doc may be the message and the vantage point they’ll happily push, even if it’s the last time. During this “Believe” tour and promoting his album, Bieber tried very (very) hard to showcase the kind of dancer he can be, jumped behind different instruments and guested with a variety of artists who could amplify his talents as a star any pop lover could embrace. Fans would rather have a new album, but as a performer, this doc could be an easy stop-gap measure. Y’know, like an acoustic album.

2. Is this part of a concentrated effort to deal with Bieber backlash?

Newman: No doubt, but it’s a misguided one. Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, believes there’s a “witch hunt” going on against Bieber. That notion seems a bit reductive and paranoid: There have always been backlashes to teen idols and their haircuts and Bieber is no exception, but it’s hard to believe that people are actually gunning for the young star. Still, there’s no denying that Bieber’s star seems to have dimmed lately, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because he’s between album cycles or his era is coming to an end. The bigger point is that films of this kind are for the die-hard fans— they aren’t meant to make new converts— so with the “Believe” tour having recently concluded (and grossing $94 million, by the way), there was probably no shortage of footage to get out there and to help build the story for the next album, and chapter, of Bieber’s career.

Ellwood: Absolutely. And it's way to obvious a move. Bieber is on the verge of entering Chris Brown territory with the gossip rags. He can't escape controversy and unlike contemporaries Miley Cyrus, Demi Lomato and ex Selena Gomez his fan base may be starting to lose interest.  An artist controlled "documentary" will allow Bieber and his management to try and refocus his image on his music and not his personal life.  At this point, however, it may just be too late.

Hasty: Totally. Bieber, a 19-year-old, has gotten guff for essentially acting like a 19-year-old kid. Which, let’s be honest, is still fairly insufferable and threatens to worsen with each Grammy snub, each tabloid headline and each paparazzi scuffle. The best revenge is living well, and in Bieber’s case, performing well: if he shows up in his film and at premieres like a professional who keeps his nose clean, it could help his imaging as he transitions into his 20-somethings.

3. Two years ago many were saying that Bieber would be around for the long run.  Do you still believe that?

No, simply because the shelf life for any teen idol is depressingly short and we can count on two hands those who have made the transition to adult artist (including Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson). It’s hard to tell if his latest antics have simply been growing pains or if he’s committing self sabotage and he's ready to move on. Regardless,  Braun keeps referring to Bieber’s next song cycle as “music journal”  and that the release plan will be different than for a traditional album. Much more than how the new project is  delivered, the music for the next album will show whether there is a game plan beyond teen idol for the 19-year old Bieber.

Ellwood: Looking like a "no." Bieber may have had some crossover success with "Boyfriend" and  "Beauty and the Beat" (meaning: people over 18 bought it or thought it was cool enough to dance to), but 2013 has been a PR disaster.  Oh, and did we mention the "Believe" album sold less than his Christmas album the year before? If he can't dominate the charts like he did previously, the fall may come very, very fast.

Hasty: Justin Bieber needs to tread lightly. It won’t be his talent that holds him back, but his responses to criticism and to fame.  People aren’t sending your singles to No. 1? Make a better single. Haters booing you at an awards show? Thank your fans and win the rest over at a later date. You’re getting wasted on your weekends and racing your car? Don’t let people see you, and dial it back. Fame means giving up on a childhood or burning out on the thing that brought fame to begin with. Bieber can play the long game if he earns it beyond having a couple of hit records when he had every privilege as a youngster, the new kid, dance chops and a pretty face.

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'True Blood' will end after next season

"True Blood" will end after next season
HBO announced today that Season 7, airing in 2014, will be the final season for the vampire series.

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'Under the Dome's' ratings grow after blackout ends

"Under the Dome's" ratings grow after blackout ends
The CBS drama saw a four-week high last night, the first since the end of the CBS-Time Warner dispute.

Philadelphia Phillies star Chase Utley answers Mac's "It's Always Sunny" letter -- 4 years later
"From a Philadelphia youngster named Mac."

Jimmy Fallon tonight unveils his brand-new "Late Night" studio, which looks like the old one
"Late Night" re-created Fallon's studio across the hall -- in the studio previously occupied by Conan and Letterman's "Late Night" -- so that Fallon's old studio could be expanded for when he launches "The Tonight Show."

Miley Cyrus says her controversial VMAs performance made history
"Madonna's done it," she says. "Britney's done it. Every VMA performance, that's what you're looking for; you're wanting to make history."

CBS goes black and white to mark the 50th anniversary of the 30-minute nightly newscast
The "CBS Evening News" shift from 15 to 30 minutes led to all the network newscasts expanding to 30 minutes.

Matt Damon & Michael Douglas will present together at the Emmys
The "Behind The Candelabra" co-stars are the first presenters named.

PaleyFest spins off a New York edition for NYC shows

The Oct. 2 - 6 event will include shows like "Boardwalk Empire," "Orange is the New Black" and "The Americans."

Watch Bill Hader as "The President of Hollywood"
Hader assumed a different character for the James Franco roast. PLUS: Andy Samberg insults everybody.

Rachel Zoe is pregnant again
The Bravo star confirms she's expecting her 2nd child.

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'Idol' confirms Harry Connick Jr. and J.Lo as judges, Randy Jackson as mentor

"Idol" confirms Harry Connick Jr. and J.Lo as judges, Randy Jackson as mentor

Fox is hailing the Season 13 cast as its "Dream Team."

LeBron James developing a comedy for Starz
The NBA superstar is teaming with Mike O'Malley on "Survivor's Remorse," which follows two cousins who find success after making it out of Philly's toughest neighborhood.

Katie Couric gets engaged
Couric is set to wed her boyfriend of two years, banker John Molner.

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