<p>Oscar hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin</p>

Oscar hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin

Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

TV Review: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards telecast

Predictable winners, strange pacing and so-so hosting led to a hit-and-miss Oscar telecast
It's hard to know why anybody would want to be the producer on the Academy Awards (or any other major award show, for that matter). You take over a bloated beast with too many entrenched elements, step into an unwinnable situation in which no matter how proudly you boast at your desire to change things or put a new stamp on the proceedings, one can safely assume that whatever you do differently will be chided and whatever you do the same will be mocked. It doesn't matter how unpredictable the awards happened to be, you're going to be accused of masterminding a predictable telecast. And so if you happen to get stuck with a show in which the winners are crushingly easy to anticipate? Well, you're doomed.
 
[Thoughts on the Oscar telecast after the break...]
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<p>&nbsp;Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley of 'The Vampire Diaries'</p>

 Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley of 'The Vampire Diaries'

Credit: The CW

'Vampire Diaries' team talks 'Twilight,' toplessness and Twitter at PaleyFest

Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder keep the Paley crowd squealing
On "Lost," Ian Somerhalder's Boone was so vain that Shannon referred to him as God's Friggin' Gift To Humanity, though more than a couple female viewers were inclined to agree, non-ironically. 
 
On Saturday (March 6) night, Somerhalder took the stage at the William S. Paley Television Festival to the sort of shrieks that normally greet boy band heartthrobs, movie vampires or European soccer players in their nations of origin. He was funny and charming on the Paley Panel and probably generated a quantity of swooning which, for most mere mortals, would have counted as a good night's work.
 
But on Saturday night, God's Friggin' Gift to Humanity appeared to actually be Paul Wesley, Somerhalder's co-star on The CW's "The Vampire Diaries." A veteran of seemingly countless short-lived shows and TV guest spots (mostly as Paul Wasilewski), Wesley received by far the night's loudest ovation before taking his seat. 
 
Then, after the moderator finished his questions and opened things up to the floor, the first person with the microphone was a woman wearing a Team Stefan (Wesley's character) shirt and mentioning, without hesitation, that her twitter handle is @PaulWesleyLover. She'd travelled all the way from North Carolina to attend the PaleyFest event and after getting only a semi-answer to her inquiry regarding whether or not Wesley gets nervous before love scenes ("I'm more nervous now," he replied), she got something better.
 
Paul Wesley jumped down off the stage, gave her a big hug, several kisses on the cheek and posed for a picture. God's Friggin Gift to Humanity, indeed.
 
"I know what the next questions are going to be," cracked Nina Dobrev, who plays Elena and Katherine, two women separated by decades, but consistently stuck between dueling brothers Stefan and Damon.
 
Contrary to Dobrev's expectations, there were no more stage-hopping intimacies for the remainder of the panel, which was highlighted by discussion of Twilight, Twitter and Toplessness.
 
Click through for a full report...
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<p>&nbsp;Cirie of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'</p>

 Cirie of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Cirie Fields talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Three-time 'Survivor' veteran talks alliance-building and why Coach may be a Hero
I'll admit it: When Cirie Fields finished in fourth in "Survivor: Panama," I felt like she'd stumbled into such a high position, either through luck or by flying under the radar. 
 
It was only watching Cirie again on "Suvivor: Micronesia" that it became clear that it wasn't a coincidence how frequently Cirie kept finding herself on the right side of every alliance, having her voice heard in every vote. She only advanced one place further in that season, coming in behind Parvati and Amanda, but it was suddenly easier to appreciate one of the better social players in the game's history.
 
Of course, by the time Cirie signed on for her third tour of "Survivor" duty, there wasn't much of a chance she'd be able to be underestimated for a third time. Indeed, that's why when Alpha Males Tom and Colby sensed a threat on Thursday (March 4) night's "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains," they immediately turned their attentions on Cirie and with the help of some opportunistic voting from JT, they took the potential puppetmaster out of the game.
 
HitFix caught up with Cirie on Friday morning to talk about her alliance-making difficulties this time around, the advantages of being underestimated and why she never considered herself a Hero.
 
Click through...
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<p>&nbsp;Eddie Izzard</p>

 Eddie Izzard

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Live-Blogging the 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards

Will Jeff Bridges and Mo'Nique take home hardware before Oscar Sunday?

With HitFix's awards guru Gregory Ellwood covering the Film Independent Spirit Awards from LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles, live-blogging responsibilities are all mine. Woot! Let the independent blogging begin...

8:01 p.m. PT Eddie Izzard begins the show by expressing disappointment in his initial round of applause. He also has *no* idea what the award show's name is. It's 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards. Allegedly.

8:03 p.m. Izzard goes off on a long ramble about how this is the 250th Film Independent Spirit Awards, something about the reason Ben Franklin's face is on a hundred dollar bill and how much the first indie movies cost. The audience is relatively quiet.

8:04 p.m. "Tonight is about love and envy, because as artists, we're all damaged people," he explains, promising that winners will be taken away to the orgy room, sponsored by Acura. He says that nominations plus time equal winners.

8:05 p.m. "Shame and fear, that's what we want to add to the proceedings," says Izzard, whose monologue is whizzing by *much* too quickly for the crowd at L.A. Live. He notes a new rule this evening: Winners get the trophy, but losers can also win the trophy, if the kill the winners. In fact, the awards themselves can be used as a weapon, but only by the winners. "I'm serious about this," Izzard cracks, before suggesting, only half-kidding, that he's lost them.

Some awards, perhaps, after the break...

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<p>&nbsp;Michael C. Hall and Julie Benz of 'Dexter'</p>

 Michael C. Hall and Julie Benz of 'Dexter'

Credit: Showtime

'Dexter' team discusses the finale shocker at PaleyFest

Michael C. Hall received a standing ovation from the Paley Festival crowd
The creative team behind Showtime's "Dexter" has only begun breaking story ideas for the killer drama's fifth season. 
 
Production won't begin until June and viewers won't see episodes until late summer/early fall.
 
That's an easy explanation for why Thursday (March 4) night's PaleyFest2010 panel for "Dexter" wasn't exactly awash in spoilers, or even coy hints of how the show is planning on following up on the shattering shocker that concluded the fourth season. It's a lot easier not to give anything away when you don't have anything to give away.
 
Fortunately, between that Season Four twist and star Michael C. Hall's cancer battle and Golden Globe win, there were plenty of things to entertain the packed house at the Saban Theater on Thursday.
 
[I'm going to put in a page break here, just in case you happen not to have seen "The Getaway," that rare game-changing finale that really will change the game for Dexter Morgan going forward... Seriously, spoilers ahoy...]
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<p>&nbsp;Dermot Mulroney</p>

 Dermot Mulroney

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 6

Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall talk 'Idol,' 'Lost' and 'Rockford Files' casting
Happy Wednesday, folks. It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast
 
Next week's podcast may end up being epic, as we discuss "The Pacific," "Justified," ESPN's "Winning Time," FOX's "Sons of Tucson" and more. 
 
This week? Still long, but in addition to our usual talking points -- "Idol," "Lost" and, to some degree, "The Office" -- we also talk "Big Love," "Life Unexpected" and, for the first time, pilot casting.
 
As part of our ongoing efforts to gradually improve this podcast and its availability, we now have a dedicated RSS feed -- Gracias, HitFix development staff! -- for this podcast.
 
So now you can take the feed -- http://www.hitfix.com/podcasts/fien-print.rss -- and you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. We're not in the iTunes store yet, because there are a few little tweaks that are being made, but hopefully we will be soon. Anyway, we think the feed is a big step towards added usability.
 
This week's podcast breakdown:
 
"American Idol" - 01:05 - 07:00
"Prime Suspect" and "Rockford Files" Casting - 07:05 - 18:00
"The Office" Baby Episode (no spoilers) 18:15 - 23:45
"The Marriage Ref" 23:50 - 27:30
"Big Love" 27:52 - 33:00
"Life Unexpected" 33:00 - 38:00 
"Lost" 38:00 - 48:00
 
And here's the podcast:
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<p>&nbsp;'Parenthood'</p>

 'Parenthood'

Credit: NBC

TV Review: NBC's 'Parenthood'

It's a welcome return to primetime for Lauren Graham, Peter Krause and more
I don't quite get what the value of the "Parenthood" brand is to NBC.
 
It's a name associated with a 21-year-old feature film hit starring Steve Martin and also with a 20-year-old small screen dud starring Ed Begley Jr. That is to say that the youngest members of the key 18-49 demographic don't even relate to "Parenthood" as a pop culture title of note.
 
And even for people who care that "Parenthood" was a relatively well-received movie, even picking up a pair of Oscar nominations, there isn't even all that much connecting the new NBC dramedy "Parenthood" to either of its predecessors.
 
The 1989 film and 1990 television versions of "Parenthood" focused on a Midwestern brood named the Buckmans. The 2010 TV show is centered around the Bravermans, whose residence in the Bay Area seems to negate what was regionally distinctive about the brand in the first place.
 
I'm just wondering out loud why NBC decided to sell "Parenthood" around an old and somewhat unconnected title, rather than marketing a relatively winning show with a strong creative team and a tremendous cast. This is certainly a story about parenthood, but it's also a story about brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, but you don't see NBC attempting to glom onto those connections as titles. I can't imagine many viewers signing on for "Parenthood" because they liked something else with the same title a long time in the past, but I assume focus groups told NBC a different story (probably the same story they believed on brands like "Knight Rider" and "Bionic Woman").
 
A fuller review of NBC's new "Parenthood" -- beyond just its title, I mean --  after the break.
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<p>&nbsp;Jerry Seinfeld laughs his way through 'The Marriage Ref'</p>

 Jerry Seinfeld laughs his way through 'The Marriage Ref'

Credit: NBC

TV Review: NBC's 'The Marriage Ref'

New Jerry Seinfeld-produced comedy already felt too long in its half-an-hour preview
After plodding through the 30 minute preview of "The Marriage Ref" on Sunday (Feb. 28) night, will I be tuning in again on Thursday to inflict a full hour upon myself?
 
Hmmm...
 
I believe I'm going to steal the words of Danielle, the wife whose hubby wanted to give a place of honor to the stuffed corpse of his beloved dog Fonzie:
 
"I really... I really... I really... I really... I... I can't... I can't... I can't... I can't... I cannot. I cannot. Cannot. Have this in my house. Oh my God. I can't. Oh."
 
Lest one think that "The Marriage Ref" is the worst thing NBC has aired in the 10 p.m. hour this season, it is not. However, there wasn't a single second of the half-hour of forced mirth that gave me any desire to return for future enlightenment.
 
[A wee bit more thought on "The Marriage Ref" after the break...]
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<p>&nbsp;Terry O'Quinn of 'Lost'</p>

 Terry O'Quinn of 'Lost'

Credit: ABC

'Lost' brings spoilers and mystery to the Paley Festival

Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and and company tease the upcoming finale at PaleyFest
The first time the "Lost" team attended the William S. Paley Television Festival was March 12, 2005.
 
I vaguely remember that night because I was covering that packed panel, held at the Director's Guild Theatre. 
 
One couple at the show's triumphant return to PaleyFest on Saturday (Feb. 27) night has an even better reason to remember that evening. They met standing in line for the 2005 event and, five years later, they're married.
 
After the audience emitted the requisite choruses of "Awwww!" and "Whooo!" "Lost" executive producer Carlton Cuse looked out at the woman and her husband and paused.
 
"I'm a little worried about what happens to you guys after May 23," he cracked. 
 
Cuse, who I'm pretty sure was the only "Lost" representative to sit on both Paley panels, was kidding. Or maybe he was two-thirds kidding. Or possibly he was dead serious, but if he wasn't speaking in jest, the "you guys" in question could either refer to the relatively newlyweds, or else to the nearly 1900 fans who filled the Saban Theater on Saturday, many of whom were lined up around the block hours before and many of whom tweeted every second of the festivities.
 
I'm a little worried what happens to *all* of us guys after May 23, when "Lost" poses its last questions, delivers its final answers and wraps up its narrative in what nobody expects to be a neat and orderly package. In the interim, though, the show delivered a lengthy and entertaining PaleyFest2010 Q&A for the eager faithful.
 
[A full-ish report on the "Lost" panel from PaleyFest2010 will be after the break. In true "Lost" fashion, there are spoilers, but I figure they're vague enough not to offend most readers...]
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<p>&nbsp;Randy Bailey of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'</p>

 Randy Bailey of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Randy Bailey talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Latest 'Survivor' bootee has harsh words for Boston Rob, Russell and Parvati
In this "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" season, should the first castaway evicted from the Villains tribe be considered the most villainous of all or the least villainous?
 
If it's the latter, then Thursday (February 25) night's Tribal Council only confirms what I've been saying about Randy Bailey since "Survivor: Gabon." Randy is surly and crotchety and terse and an assortment of other synonyms meaning the same thing, but he's not a Villain. 
 
He's just a prickly guy with high expectations for people around him and absolutely no filter when it comes to sharing that opinion, especially with the cameras rolling. In fact, most of the time, Randy's reaction to laziness, apathy and general listlessness from his fellow castaways is what I imagine my own reaction would be. 
 
So on Thursday's episode, the Villains voted Randy out for no good reason. It wasn't that they hated him or that he wasn't working around camp. He mostly got voted off because he wasn't Parvati and people like Russell and Boston Rob needed an excuse to keep the bikini-clad sylph around. 
 
But don't think Randy's bitter about it...
 
Oh, who are we kidding? Randy's plenty bitter, which makes his exit interview with HitFix all the more interesting, as he pulls no punches about Boston Rob, Parvati and the rest...
 
Click through...
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