<p>Francesca's torch is snuffed</p>

Francesca's torch is snuffed

Credit: CBS

Interview: Francesca Hogi talks 'Survivor: Caramoan'

What's it like being the first 'Survivor' contestant voted off first twice?
Baseball fans treasure Johnny Vander Meer's two consecutive no-hitters as one of the sport's great records. It's unbreakable. And what makes it unbreakable is that not only has no pitcher in major league history even come dangerously close to equalling the feat, but after you tie it, you'd then have to go another nine innings without giving up a hit to break the record. You could pitch two no-hitters, retire 26 batters to start the next game and give up a single and you'd still only have tied Vander Meer's record. Unbreakable.
In a way, Francesca Hogi is the Johnny Vander Meer of "Survivor." She's played twice and she's been eliminated first twice, an achievement she has exclusive claim to. Even if "Survivor" were to do the periodically discussed season made up only of first-out contestants (or at least one Tribe only of first-out contestants), that would just raise the possibility of somebody tying her. That person would then have to get brought back a third time and, let's face it, the contestants eliminated first on "Survivor" are only occasionally memorable. 
To her credit, Francesca was memorable when she went head-to-head with Phillip Sheppard on "Survivor: Redemption Island" and that interaction was memorable enough that "Survivor" wanted her back alongside Phillip on "Survivor: Caramoan," a second "Fans vs. Favorites" season.
The results were, for Francesca, oddly similar. Francesca's team of Favorites won their first challenge in Wednesday's (Feb. 13) premiere, but lost the first Immunity. Initially, Francesca seemed to be in a stable early alliance and made repeated comments to the camera insisting she wouldn't be voted out first again, vowing to even eat a rock if that's the way things went. 
Instead, it was Andrea worrying that Francesca's loyalties might be divided and joining forces to work with Phillip to vote her out first again. 
And that's how I found myself talking to the Johnny Vander Meer of "Survivor" this week... In her exit interview, Francesca discusses her [relative] satisfaction with her two one-and-done performances, her ongoing perception of Phillip and what she vows to eat if she returns to play a third time.
Click through...
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<p>Spotlight on the &quot;American Idol&quot; girls</p>

Spotlight on the "American Idol" girls

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Live-Blog - The Top 40 Revealed

The Women face their fate and then eight other men go home, or something

Happy Valentine's Day! 

I hope you're off doing something better and that this recap can save you an hour for romance...

Now let's get down to "American Idol" business...

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Bryan Singer says he'll be able to 'correct a few things' in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

Bryan Singer says he'll be able to 'correct a few things' in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

Does Singer view this as a reset? And who is Hoult psyched to meet?
RICHMOND, ENGLAND - Earlier this week, I was sitting in the drafty, damp, historically epic recesses of the Hampton Court Palace chatting with "Jack the Giant Slayer" director Bryan Singer and star Nicholas Holt.
Most of our conversations revolved, of course, around their upcoming 3D reimagining of the classic fairy tale, which opens on March 1 at theaters everywhere. But that doesn't mean that I didn't sneak in a question or two about Singer and Hoult's upcoming work on "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which will begin production in April and will hit theaters in 2014.
"This movie's gonna be not only quite epic, 'Days of Future Past,' but it also takes place in completely different times than the 'X Men' movies have taken place," Singer told me. "There'll be new technology, new things we haven't seen before in 'X-Men' films. Certain characters and certain story and certain drama that hasn't be done yet, so it's not so much sequel. It's more of its own kinda thing."
I like, however, Singer's reaction to my follow-up using the word "reset."
"I'll be able to correct a few things," he hints, with a smile.
As for Hoult, making his second appearance as Hank McCoy and Beast, he wouldn't give away details, but he admitted to excitement about getting to work with original "X Men" castmembers like Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen.
"As much as it felt like a real 'X Men' film last time, because we were all a new cast it almost felt like it didn't, whereas doing one with those guys is going to feel very much like..." he said, before adding that he's going to be like a big fanboy.
Check out the video above.
And stay tuned for more of my interviews from Hampton Court as we get closer to the "Jack the Giant Slayer" release date.
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<p>Andrea of &quot;Survivor: Caramoan&quot;</p>

Andrea of "Survivor: Caramoan"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' Premiere - 'She Annoys Me Greatly'

A second 'Fans versus Favorites' showdown begins with familiarity
Welcome to "Survivor: Caramoan." It takes three seconds for me to realize I can't tell the difference between a bushbaby and a spectral tarsier. Based on geography, I'm saying those were spectral tarsiers in the opening. Not that that has anything to do with anything. Oh gracious. What sort of wormhole did I just go down? Oy. Let's start over again, shall we?
Pre-credit introductions. Bearded Matt, already a pre-show favorite, calls this surreal. Shamar, an Iraq veteran, says that this game (or his competitors) will be lunchmeat. A blonde, I think it's Allie, says she knows enough about people to make it to the very end. A different, totally indistinguishable blonde, [Laura, I guess?] profiles that because Michael wears glasses, he's going to be a strategist. Michael thinks Laura looks too young to be out there. Or maybe he thinks that about Allie. Or possibly Hope. Come on! It's bad enough I can't tell spectral tarsiers from bushbabies, but differentiating between Hope, Laura and Allie may kill me. Fortunately, speaking of telling people apart, Jeff Probst is reminding us who each of the "favorites" is or was. I remember nothing about two or three of these people and I wouldn't call more than four or five of them "favorites." Adorable Andrea helpfully explains that the theme of this season is people who made big mistakes. But if that's the case, why is CBS calling it "Fans versus Favorites" as opposed to "Newbies versus Ooopsies" or something?
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Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich discuss forging 'Beautiful Creatures' chemistry

Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich discuss forging 'Beautiful Creatures' chemistry

The two young stars also chat about fate and destiny in their careers
The cast of "Beautiful Creatures" may be dotted with Oscar and Emmy and Tony winning actors, but at the film's center are a pair of young stars who you may not have heard of yet. Don't worry. You're gonna hear more about them.
Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich play the couple at the center of the young adult romance. He's Ethan, a motherless dreamer who wants nothing more than to escape his South Carolina hometown. She's Lena, a young witch -- Sorry, "caster" -- counting down the days til her true nature is revealed, dark or light.
For now, chances are good that unless you were a big fan of "Tetro," the best way to ID Ehrenreich for you is from that Natalie Portman Dior commercial. And while Englert has generated strong buzz for the indies "Ginger & Rosa" and "In Fear," it's still coolest to think of her as Jane Campion's daughter.
I sat down the two stars to talk about the challenges to forging their "Beautiful Creatures" chemistry on the fly after Ehrenreich was a late addition to the cast. And since "fate" and "destiny" play a major role in the movie, I asked about how those forces impacted their career choices. 
You can also check out my interviews with "Beautiful Creatures" co-stars Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
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<p>The Women take Hollywood!</p>

The Women take Hollywood!

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Live-Blog - Hollywood Round, Part 3

Finally the 'Idol' Women do Hollywood

I'll repeat this again for "American Idol" producers: I appreciate the need for occasional formula innovation, so you didn't do anything wrong by splitting Hollywood Week up into separate segments for Men and Women. 

Just don't do it again, OK? Consider this a failure, but don't be bothered or disturbed. Dust yourself off and figure out an another twist for next year. 

Because... I'm done with Hollywood. I did it last week. There were solos. There was Group Night and people whined and cried. And then there were more solos and the judges made their decisions. I took that journey. It wasn't entirely satisfying, because the men don't seem all that great this year and there were no women, but I went through that arc. Now I'm ready for what comes next. I'm not especially interested in deja vu sans man-parts. 

But... Here we go!

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 169

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 169

Dan and Alan talk 'Zero Hour,' 'Cult,' 'Scandal' and more


Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
I was out of the country on Monday and traveling back yesterday, so it's time for a delayed mid-week installment of The Firewall & Iceberg podcast. 
[As Sepinwall warns, there won't be a podcast next week. I'll probably remind y'all. But... yeah.]
By pushing a tiny bit of material from next week into this podcast, we got to discuss both of midseason's craziest [awful] new shows in "Zero Hour" and "Cult." We also discussed HBO's weekend Beyonce doc and answered a few questions, including one that let us talk for a long time about the current season of "Scandal." Oh and after taking a while off, we reinstated a favorite podcast segment: Why NBC Sucks Now.
Here's today's breakdown...
"Zero Hour" (00:01:10 - 00:13:40)
"Cult" (00:13:40 - 00:28:30)
"Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream" (00:28:30 - 00:36:25)
NBC's return to suckage (00:36:25 - 00:53:50)
Listener Mail - The Rise of "Scandal" (00:55:05 - 01:11:30)
Listener Mail - Who gets to end shows? (01:11:30 - 01:18:20)
Listener Mail - post-Super Bowl "Elementary" (01:18:25 - 01:24:30)

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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'Beautiful Creatures' star Jeremy Irons discusses Young Adult supernatural romance, skipping 'Twilight'

'Beautiful Creatures' star Jeremy Irons discusses Young Adult supernatural romance, skipping 'Twilight'

Will the 'Reversal of Fortune' Oscar winner stick with the genre?
Jeremy Irons has an Oscar and an Emmy and a Tony, but he's never seen any of the "Twilight" movies. That's not especially surprising, I suppose, but those are definitely four facts about Jeremy Irons.
I learned the "Twilight" info by asking Irons about his exposure to the Young Adult supernatural romance genre, which he becomes a part of with the release of "Beautiful Creatures." It turns out that Irons wasn't necessarily a fan of the genre before signing on to Richard LaGravenese's adaptation of  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel, but he was wooed by the script and by the opportunity to work with an all-star cast including Emma Thompson and Viola Davis.
In "Beautiful Creatures," Irons plays Macon Ravenwood, a seemingly ageless caster of astounding power, power he only occasionally feels the need to show off.
In a conversation last weekend, Irons discusses Macon's magical aptitude, his relationship with the film's young co-stars and he gets "offended" by my question about the "long" scenes he shares with his esteemed co-stars.
He also talks about whether or not he's going to be a fan of the genre going forward.
Full interview above.
You can also check out my interviews with "Beautiful Creatures" co-stars Emmy Rossum and Viola Davis.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
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Viola Davis discusses her reimagined 'Beautiful Creatures' role and doing 'Ender's Game' simultaneously

Viola Davis discusses her reimagined 'Beautiful Creatures' role and doing 'Ender's Game' simultaneously

'The Help' star didn't want to play another maid
When Viola Davis was initially cast as sassy, ultra-faithful South Carolina housekeeper Amma in "Beautiful Creatures," I initially had some concerns. Fortunately, so did Davis.
"I didn't want to be in a movie placed in 2013, in the South, where I was a character in servitude. I think that that needs to be redefined," Davis told me when we sat down last weekend.
Fortunately, the Amma in Richard LaGravenese's adaptation of  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel only has vestigial links to the original Amma and ultimately has much more in common with the book's Marian Ashcroft, though she's not exactly Marian either.
"I'm thankful it was a reimagining of a character," the two-time Oscar nominee told me.
When I was on the "Beautiful Creatures" set last summer, Davis wasn't able to talk to the small group of press, a product of a frenzied schedule that had her simultaneously going back and forth between production on "Beautiful Creatures" and "Ender's Game."
In our conversation, Davis remembers that frenzied production pace, discusses the pressures that either do or don't come from being the first actor cast on a movie and talks about going back to her own roots to play this new version of Amma.
Check out the full interview above, especially if you want to hear Viola Davis say "ginormous."
You can also watch my interview with "Beautiful Creatures" co-star Emmy Rossum and stick around over the next few days for a slew of additional interviews from the film.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
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'Beautiful Creatures' star Emmy Rossum discusses Ridley's new style, future

'Beautiful Creatures' star Emmy Rossum discusses Ridley's new style, future

'Shameless' star enjoyed playing the bad girl
In Richard LaGravenese's "Beautiful Creatures," Emmy Rossum's Ridley Duchannes captures the essence of the character from Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's bestselling YA novel, while making dramatic and effective external changes. 
Gone is the lollypop-sucking Lolita with the pink streaks in her hair and the cosplay wardrobe. Instead, the character has a still-sexy Old Hollywood glamour that makes the linkage between Ridley's dark caster powers as a man-luring siren and the fact that retro movie starlets were also called sirens. 
I sat down with Rossum last weekend and we discussed Ridley's big screen makeover and her inspirations, as well as a new scene that explores Ridley's Claiming, the moment she became a dark caster.
I was a bit less successful in getting Rossum to go along with my attempted thematic linkage between Ridley and Fiona, her character on Showtime's "Shameless." Not all reportorial tangents can be successful and I still insist this one makes sense.
Finally, Rossum seems excited about exploring Ridley's progression in potential sequels, though she gives away a plot point from the new book in Garcia and Stohl's saga. She does, however, offer a helpful "spoiler warning."
Check out the full interview above.
Stay tuned over the next week for more interests with the stars of "Beautiful Creatures," including Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
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