<p>Emily Bett Rickards</p>

Emily Bett Rickards

'Arrow' star Emily Bett Rickards weighs in on Felicity's Jewishness

The time wasn't right, sadly, to teach Rickards the hora

On Saturday (March 14) afternoon's PaleyFest 2015 purple carpet for The CW's "Arrow" and "The Flash," I was content to let a dozen other reporters ask Emily Bett Rickards about Felicity Smoak's romantic choices between Oliver Queen and Ray Palmer, about her advanced and evolving hacking skills and about whether things are becoming crowded in the Arrow Cave.

For me, this was the best possible time to ask Rickards about my personal favorite part of Felicity Smoak's backstory, specifically the character's Jewishness, which has been referenced in four or five lines through two seasons, as well as through the character's menorah, which had a place of honor at her workplace desk.

[If you stop to think about it, Felicity has been far more demonstrably Jewish than the characters on ABC's "The Goldbergs." I find this interesting.]

I was able to chat with Rickards about her increased interest in Felicity's Jewishness, as well as the "Arrow" writer -- Beth Schwartz, if you're curious -- who has been Judaism Svengali. 

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<p>Tobias Menzies</p>

Tobias Menzies

'Outlander' star Tobias Menzies on Black Jack: 'The Devil's sexy, isn't he?'

Two-role star talks about the catharsis of Black Jack and Frank's big midseason finale

On "Outlander," Tobias Menzies plays a pair of very different characters. Frank Randall is dogged and dependable. Black Jack Randall is, as Menzies puts it, "a study in sadism."

Black Jack is a nasty piece of work, but in certain corners of the internet, there are great affection for him.

"I completely understand it," Menzies told me on the PaleyFest 2015 purple carpet for "Outlander." "Yeah. Of course. The Devil's sexy, isn't he?"

Menzies explained, "I try and understand him as much as I can, make him as three-dimensional, as rooted in the life he's lead. I think he's a product of that war and that time, rather than just sorta randomly evil."

Plus, it's just liberating to play the bad guy.

"You get to say and do all of the things that you're not allowed to do in your own life and that is absolutely cathartic and enjoyable. There's a relish about it," Menzies laughed.

But our carpet conversation wasn't only about Black Jack. Menzies excitedly talked about the "Outlander" midseason finale "Both Sides Now," in which he got to experience some 1945 Frank Randall moments that aren't in Diana Gabaldon's book.

Check out the full interview above. Also check out my interview with Sam Heughan and my chat with Caitriona Balfe.

"Outlander returns to Starz on April 4.

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<p>Nina of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Nina of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Nina Poersch talks 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

Latest bootee discusses her hearing challenges and the challenges of the theme

All you need to know about the "Survivor: Worlds Apart" White/Blue/No Collar twist can be summed up in Nina Poersch's reaction to initially finding herself on the No Collar tribe.

"I thought in my head, 'Holy crap. I am on the wrong tribe,'" Nina told me in her "Survivor" exit interview. "I am not and have never considered myself to be a No Collar person. You might look at my lifestyle right now and think that, but that’s not me. That’s never been me."

By that standard, we probably shouldn't be surprised that Nina's "Survivor" run was a brief one, with the only surprise being that she escaped one vote for her No Collar tribe. 

Not only was Nina a spiritual outlier on her tribe, but she also was quickly on the outs with what last week's bootee Vince called The Barbie Block, a young alliance featuring Jenn, Hali and Joe. Did that trio dislike Nina because she's deaf or because she wasn't free-spirited enough or because she was older? Probably a little of each.

As Nina is quick to note, she made have disclosed her deafness to her tribe, but she has cochlear implants and hears fairly well. Other than asking me to repeat a couple questions, Nina's exit interview was entirely business-as-usual over the phone, as she discussed her distance from her tribe, especially with Joe, who announced he had special understanding of her deafness, but then squeezed her out in a key challenge.

Click through for the full Q&A, minus only a little trimming of the couple repeated questions: 

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<p>Jane Lynch of &quot;Glee&quot;</p>

Jane Lynch of "Glee"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'Amazing Race,' 'Blue Bloods' and a basketball boost lead CBS Friday

'Glee' gets a tiny pre-finale boost for FOX

Fast National ratings for Friday, March 13, 2015.

CBS swept the primetime hours overall in all measures and also won two of three hours among young viewers to lead Friday, preliminarily. 

Why is it only "preliminarily"? Because basketball preemptions on the East Coast were almost certainly responsible for a big bump for "The Amazing Race," among other CBS offerings. While CBS will still win Friday overall no matter how the numbers shake out, it wouldn't be surprising to see "Shark Tank"-fueled ABC rise to its normal top position among young viewers.

Among other Friday notables, FOX's "Glee" rose a bit in advance of next week's series finale.

On to the preliminary-and-likely-to-change numbers...

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<p>Sam Heughan</p>

Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan is pleased 'Outlander' April premiere gets inside Jamie's head

'Outlander' star talks about Jamie's youth and his bearded disguise

When "Outlander" returns from its lengthy midseason hiatus on April 4, viewers will immediately hear something very different, specifically Sam Heughan's voice.

Through eight episodes, Caitriona Balfe's Claire has had the narration, just as Diana Gabaldon's entire book is from Claire's perspective. But with the episode titled "The Reckoning," Jamie Fraser has the voice-over, which meant a big change for Heughan.

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<p>Rochelle on Friday&#39;s &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Rochelle on Friday's "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'The Great Amazing Nasty Race'

The teams head to Bangkok for egg-eating, pool-shooting and more

I liked a lot of Friday (March 13) night's episode of "The Amazing Race," but maybe I didn't like it as an episode of "The Amazing Race," if you know what I mean.


I really did find myself getting a kick out of all of the bickering couples, but I may just have been amused by how silly they made this season's twist/theme look.

I enjoyed some of the things the pairs were getting to do, even though they didn't feel like "Amazing Race" kinds of things to do.

And I found myself really rooting for the team that went home, even though I never felt for a second like they had any chance of cheating their fate again...

More after the break...

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<p>Caitriona Balfe</p>

Caitriona Balfe

'Outlander' star Caitriona Balfe on 'The Wedding,' TV sex and female directors

Key 'Outlander' episode was supposed to be real and behind-the-scenes talent helped

On Thursday (March 12) night, I took a position on a PaleyFest 2015 purple carpet for "Outlander," a carpet on which questions had to occasionally be restated after being drowned out by squeals emanating from all corners of the Dolby Theater.

I'm not even sure the squeals were for, since stars Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies, executive producer Ronald D. Moore and author Diana Gabaldon were all walking the carpet.

We were able to chat with all five of the available principals on the Starz time-traveling romance. 

I talked about spanking with Gabaldon, the joys of playing evil with Menzies and with Heughan about the midseason return, which features a Jamie Fraser voiceover.

As carpet time gets brief, sometimes you only have a minute or two with talent and with Caitriona Balfe, we were told to take two questions. 

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<p>Sunday&#39;s &quot;The Last Man on Earth&quot;</p>

Sunday's "The Last Man on Earth"

Credit: FOX

HitFix First Look: Is a 'Last Man on Earth' Love Triangle forming?

How will Phil and Carol respond to January Jones' new arrival?

I'm really looking forward to this Sunday's "Last Man on Earth," which will be the first episode to air that wasn't send to critics before the premiere.

So I gave "Last Man on Earth" an enthusiastic A- grade based on the first three half-hours, but I've also been waiting for around a month to get the resolution to last week's cliffhanger introducing January Jones as another reminder of why the show wasn't called "Last Person on Earth."

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<p>Thursday&#39;s &quot;The Big Bang Theory&quot;</p>

Thursday's "The Big Bang Theory"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'American Crime,' 'American Idol' stumble as CBS leads Thursday

'The Slap' shift fails to boost NBC

Fast National ratings for Thursday, March 12, 2015.

It was a bad day for America, as "American Crime" and "American Idol" both slipped and allowed CBS to cruise to primetime victories in most measures on Thursday.

The double-dose of "American Idol" at least lifted FOX to second place overall for the night, while the "American Crime" dip completed ABC's slip from regular key demo victories to second on the night. ["Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" were both down as well, so "American Crime" shouldn't get all of the blame here.]

Meanwhile, NBC's newly juggled schedule got no benefits as a "Dateline" special couldn't boost "Blacklist" and "The Slap" proved even less effective in the 10 p.m. hour than the now-departed "Allegiance."

On to the numbers...

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<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Season 14 Top 12</p>

The "American Idol" Season 14 Top 12

Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 14 - Top 12 Performances and an Elimination

Plus, FOX tries to bring some 'Empire' juice to 'Idol'

Sorry about the delay, kids.

I had to be doing PaleyFest 2015 red carpet coverage for Starz's "Outlander," so I was talking about wedding nights and spankings and I missed doing my normal Eastern Time "American Idol" live-blog. 

And, in fact, I got home nearly 20 minutes into the Pacific Time airing of "Idol."

So let's play a game and see how quickly I'm able to catch up with the live broadcast...

Follow through for my full recap of Thursday's (March 12) Top 12 performances and the first solo elimination of the season.

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