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<p>It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. hints at the future of Iron Man and working with Shane Black again

A fast and loose chat with Downey about the latest chapter in the mega-franchise

I've interviewed Robert Downey Jr. enough times now to know that the way it works is you give him a little question and you sit back and let that brain of his spin. The reason I can't imagine anyone else playing the Tony Stark we've seen in the Marvel movies so far is because that character is so closely tied to the qualities I've seen in the real Downey off-screen. In some weird way, the "Iron Man" films will eventually serve as a highly stylized form of autobiography, telling the story of Downey's enormous promise, his rocky years of self-destruction, and his eventual metamorphosis into the blockbuster-friendly charm machine that he's become.

We had twenty minutes with him.  There were four or five of us around the table.  When he strolled in, he had with him "The Box," his omnipresent collection of various vitamins and health supplements, and he looked healthy and happy.  We jumped right in, asking him if he had any hesitations or worries about playing the character for the fourth time.  "This is… the grab bag wish list of things we've always wanted to do and haven't had the chance," he said.  He had his own expectations for the sequel, and they were hefty, to say the least.  "[This] was supposed to answer all the questions for the audience, cure all my uncomfortable moments in the past playing this character, and get in every idea that fell by the wayside in the last three movies. Then we shot the movie and I feel like there’s still a number of other things we have to do."

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<p>I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Feige and Shane Black host an early peek at 'Iron Man 3'

Plus the brand-new trailer for the film makes its debut online

I have carefully constructed my life so that I do not have to brave the horrors of Los Angeles morning rush hour traffic very often, and on the rare occasions I am willing to do so, it had better be for something worthwhile.

For example, if someone were to offer me a chance to sit down on a late January morning with Robert Downey Jr, Shane Black, and Kevin Feige to talk about "Iron Man 3," that would be worth it.  I don't often do roundtables, but in a situation like this one, I know everyone else at the table and I know all three of the people we'll be interviewing, and I have a pretty good idea that it's going to be a relaxed and informative conversation.

The morning began with them taking us over to a screening room and showing us the Super Bowl spot (keep in mind this was a few weeks early), and then they tried to show us the new trailer for the film.

"Which new trailer?" you ask.  Well, that would be this new trailer...

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills': Should newly sober Kim be on the show?

Is the former child star too fragile for reality TV roughhousing?

During last night's episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," we got to experience what the very rich can do when they're in Paris. They can take cooking classes which may or may not involve sad little duck carcasses. They can shop in high end stores, take Segway tours of the city, jog by the Siene and basically have an indulgent, lovely holiday that's boring as hell to watch if you're not, say, getting an expensive purse, too. The lifestyles of the rich and boring weren't all that was on display, however. We also got to see Kim fall apart, which is becoming a regular feature of the show. It's also one that's getting more and more uncomfortable to see.

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor': Was AshLee telling the truth about Sean or not?

On 'The Women Tell All,' did one rejected woman reveal too much?

I usually look forward to The Women Tell All installment of "The Bachelor," though I'm not quite sure why. As much as ABC hypes the crap out of it, and as many times as Chris Harrison promises the most exciting/most stunning/most whatever moment ever, it's usually just some warmed over clips, some testy moments and much ado about not very much at all. As heated as things get during the season, by the time the women and the bachelor are trapped on a soundstage together for this episode, most of the fire has died down to a low simmer of resentment. The most hated woman is lightly chastised, then dismissed. The rejected flames get weepy, but say they're over it. Well, most of them do, anyway.

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<p>Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Let Me Go'

Carroll tries to get a new home, while Emma and Joey make creepy new friends
So, Joe Carroll is really good at the game he's playing.
 
I am not typically hung up on issues of plausibility in television, but this seems to me to be a particularly convoluted episode of "The Following" -- if also one that became again truly scary, from time to time. Joe's reach, and the power of his cult, apparently knows no bounds. In "Let Me Go" they manage to coerce the prison warden of a maximum security prison into releasing Joe, who shifts from uniformed prisoner to suited murderer in the span of a few moments. He makes short work of his lawyer Olivia, killing her in her own car after she transports him to safety, before running into a mall, rendezvousing with two of his compatriots, and escaping off the roof in a helicopter.
 
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"Downton Abbey"

 "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Look: A photo of Mary and Matthew's baby from season 4 of 'Downton Abbey'

As expected, Mary looks sad but glamorous in solid black

For those of you chomping at the bit to see the next season of "Downton Abbey" (and for those of you who are still slogging through season 3, SPOILER ALERT), here's a hint of what's to come thanks to a new photo. 

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<p>David Bowie's &quot;The Next Day&quot;</p>

David Bowie's "The Next Day"

Review: David Bowie, 'The Next Day'

66-year-old songwriter's first album in a decade

 

David Bowie, at first, presents his new album “The Next Day” as a dismantling of his earlier work. With an album design that literally puts a white box over the photo of Bowie’s face on the cover of his album “Heroes,” he turns fans’ “hero” into a blank slate,  The title “The Next Day” is a phrase from a script or the new chapter from a fiction, something one would say after “Reality” strikes. 
 
But it’s not all introspection and decomposition. It’s about moving around, as Bowie still dons different guises, playing a lot with being old and being young, being of this earth and not and all at once. And from song one, he sounds like he’s working hard, short of the times when he’s not having an outright blast with his dichotomies.
 
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<p>Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.</p>

Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.

Credit: IndieVest

How can a film starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pudi and Summer Glau sit on a shelf for two years?

Who killed 'The Knights Of Badassdom'? Wade Bradley, apparently

It's popular for writers to grumble about the development process, and I've certainly got plenty of horror stories, both mine and those of my friends, about things that were said or done during notes meetings. Honestly, though, if you're paying a writer, then that's an expected part of things, and it's something that good writers learn how to handle with grace and with wit.

The true enemy right now, especially as the old filmmaking model starts to disintegrate and new models seem to spring up almost weekly, is the shady world of international financing. The absolute worst notes meeting I've ever had doesn't begin to compare to the amoral, unethical, and downright criminal things I have personally observed during the financing part of making a film. One bad deal can haunt you for years, and trusting the wrong person to be part of the financing team can absolutely destroy not only your film, but you as a filmmaker.

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<p>A scene from Chad Hartigan's &quot;This is Martin&nbsp;Bonner&quot;</p>

A scene from Chad Hartigan's "This is Martin Bonner"

Credit: Monterey Media

Sundance announces NEXT WEEKEND film fest to showcase bold newcomer talent

Event is an extension of the NEXT section of the annual Sundance Film Festival

We were very proud around these parts back during the Sundance Film Festival as In Contention friend (and former contributor) Chad Hartigan won an award in the NEXT section over some stiff competition for his film "This is Martin Bonner." The film was picked up for distribution last week by Monterey Media, but while you'll have a chance to catch his work as a result of that deal, you might also have another opportunity at the Sundance Institute's Next Weekend Film Festival, should it be a part of the programming (and indeed, it ought to).

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'Once Upon a Time' creators debunk spinoff rumors, say they're 'heads of the Sebastian Stan Fan Club'

'Once Upon a Time' creators debunk spinoff rumors, say they're 'heads of the Sebastian Stan Fan Club'

Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis talk Mad Hatter speculation
[This video contains a spoiler for the "Once Upon a Time" episode that aired on February 17.]
 
When news broke two weeks ago that the creators of "Once Upon a Time" were mulling a possible spinoff built around the Mad Hatter character, only without original actor Sebastian Stan, there was minor tumult amongst the show's passionate fans.
 
"Once Upon a Time" creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are "Lost" veterans, so they know the advantages and disadvantages of a passionate audience all too well.
 
When I talked with the guys on the PaleyFest red carpet on Sunday, they accentuated the positives that come from having viewers always trying to guess your every move. But when it comes to the Mad Hatter spinoff, they emphasized a common point.
 
"It was very premature. To be honest, it was the two of us in our laboratory, but in today's world, whatever's in your laboratory gets out. We don't have plans to recast anyone and spinoff is premature," Kitsis says.
 
In the conversation, posted above, Kitsis and Horowitz hint a bit more about what they were cooking up on that laboratory, but they take great pains to share their appreciation for the busy Sebastian Stan.
 
"We love Sebastian," Kitsis raves. "If we could make him a regular, I would fly anywhere [in] the world to do it. We knew when we got him that he had movie after movie and everyone loved him."
 
More spinoff talk and Sebastian Stan love above, plus a big hint regarding the arcing of the second "Once Upon a Time" season.
 
Check it out!
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<p>James Franco and Michelle Williams make some magic together in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'</p>

James Franco and Michelle Williams make some magic together in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Review: 'Oz The Great and Powerful' should please Raimi fans and Oz fans in equal measure

Despite a miscast lead, the film offers a lovely fantasy fable

Based on the billion-dollar worldwide box-office, I felt very alone when I despised Disney's "Alice In Wonderland" a few years ago.  The entire thing just made my skin crawl, and it seemed to me to demonstrate a near-total misunderstanding of Lewis Carrol's work.  When the first trailers started to arrive for Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great And Powerful," which opens this week, it looked like more of the same to me.  I love Raimi, but everything about this one had me worried when I walked into the theater.

Turns out there was nothing to worry about.

While it certainly fits neatly into the generic blockbuster mold that it seems like every studio uses these days, there's enough genuine wonder to make this work where "Alice" failed, and it honors the world that Frank L. Baum first created instead of trying to rebuild it into something it's not.  "Oz The Great and Powerful" is the story of a Wizard who does not exist, and the collision of four characters who all need or want him to exist for different reasons.  This collision leads to a collusion, an agreement that this symbol is more important than the truth, and this shared lie, this "Wizard Of Oz," manages to change everything as a result.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 171

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 171

Dan and Alan talk 'Enlightened' and 'Bunheads' finales and much more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
This was going to be a relatively short podcast, since there are no new shows or notable premieres this week. 
 
Instead, it became a strangely long podcast, as we talked about the finales of "Enlightened" and "Bunheads," caught up with "The Americans," "Shameless" and "The Mindy Project," did Dan's Reality Roundup and answered some mail.
 
Today's breakdown:
Slow Week (00:00:30 - 00:08:00)
"The Americans" (00:08:05 - 00:17:05)
"Shameless" (00:17:05 - 00:28:35)
"The Mindy Project" (00:28:40 - 00:37:50)
Midseason Struggles (00:37:55 - 00:47:25)
Listener Mail - Uneven Shows like "Suburgatory" (00:47:30 - 00:56:45)
Listener Mail - "Top Chef," leading into Dan's Reality Roundup - (01:02:10 - 01:22:25)
"Enlightened" finale - (01:22:50 - 01:36:50)
"Bunheads" finale - (01:36:50 - 01:47:40)
 

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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