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'The Sing-Off' falls flat

3 hours ago

At the start of NBC's "The Sing-Off," Nick Lachey called it "a very special edition" of the a capella singing competition, which had the subtitle "Holiday Special." Those were both very nice ways of saying that NBC cut the show: from the 11 hours, seven episodes, and 10 groups last year to two hours, one episode, and six groups this year. Also, the prize was cut in half to $50,000, and the show lost last year's fun face-off performances between the bottom two teams. Along with all that, it lost a lot of what made it such a terrific series. Most significantly, judge Ben Folds was gone, replaced by Patrick Stump because Ben Folds was on tour and apparently NBC couldn't figure out how to reschedule the show to film with its true star. Stump couldn't figure out how to judge, either. While returning judges Jewel and Shawn Stockman gave specific feedback, identifying individuals' strengths and sometimes weaknesses, »


- Andy Dehnart

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Kristen Wiig says she was 'terrified' to shoot Ridley Scott's 'The Martian'

5 hours ago

Kristen Wiig is taking the road less traveled, and after a bumpy start, it's starting to show signs of life.  Most former "Saturday Night Live" standouts either head to Hollywood to make as many studio comedies as they can or try to fashion a comedy series on TV. Wiig exploded — and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay — in Paul Fieg's blockbuster "Bridesmaids," but for the most part she's been exploring her range in indies such as "Girl Most Likely," "Hateship Loveship" and "Welcome to Me." Whether or not it's a deliberate strategy, it's paid off with Craig Johnson's "The Skeleton Twins." The dramedy reunited Wiig with her former "SNL" co-star Bill Hader as siblings who, after years of semi-estrangement, need each other more than ever. The duo earned raves for their performances, but neither has made a significant mark on the awards season this year. The good »


- Gregory Ellwood

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Recap: 'Survivor: San Juan Del Sur' Finale - The Winner Is...

5 hours ago

Pre-credit sequence. Poor Jaclyn is all alone and there's a scary creature in the trees. "You've gotta do what you've gotta do," Natalie tells Jaclyn, who also praises her fellow castaways for their acting and being fake. "I'm loyal to a fault in my life," Missy replies. Natalie and Jaclyn get into a shouting match about who does or doesn't know Jon. Jaclyn is particularly angry, which I guess makes sense. This, of course, is exactly what Natalie wanted, because she wants people to be wary about aligning with Jaclyn. She knows it'll take effort to maintain her ties to Missy and Baylor in the short term. "You've gotta put in work if you want to win this," Natalie says. 3-and-2. It's the morning of Day 36 and Baylor and Missy are talking about their shared dream of being in the Final 3. Baylor's currently still planning on going to the »


- Daniel Fienberg

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'The Interview' and North Korea: What do we lose if we let fear win over art?

8 hours ago

We are watching precedent unfold in front of us right now, and I'm afraid we're doing it wrong. Fear is driving a major studio to pull a film from release before it has even opened, and fear had every major theater chain ready to drop the film if the studio hadn't backed down. This cannot be the way we make decisions. My first major job was working for AMC Theaters, starting as an usher, then working my way up through pretty much every position I could hold at a local theater. I worked concessions, I sold tickets, I trained as a projectionist, I built up prints, and by the time I graduated high school, I had become an assistant manager. When I took my first trip up to Florida State University's campus to prepare for my attendance in the fall of '88, it was the early days of the controversy »


- Drew McWeeny

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Sony hack: Sorkin back at it, slams 'easily distracted members of the American press'

9 hours ago

The Sony hack story is going to keep unfolding and there will be no shortage of opinions and takeaways. Writer Aaron Sorkin already took aim at the media for its behavior in the early days of the dust-up, sentiments echoed by "Nightcrawler" writer/director Dan Gilroy, whose film is very much about ethical slippage in journalism. Well, the "Newsroom" creator and "Social Network" screenwriter fired back yet again today after news broke that North Korea was, according to the FBI, "centrally involved" in the hack. To wit: Today the U.S. succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech by a group of North Korean terrorists who threatened to kill moviegoers in order to stop the release of a movie. The wishes of the terrorists were fulfilled in part by easily distracted members of the American press who chose gossip and schadenfreude-fueled reporting over »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Hollywood Celebs React to 'Interview' Dump: You're Letting the Terrorists Win

9 hours ago

Unless you're dead, you probably know that Sony Pictures has officially pulled the theatrical release of "The Interview" following threats of terrorist action by the Sony hackers (who, according to a number of media outlets including the New York Times, have been linked to the North Korean government). Needless to say, America isn't happy about this and Hollywood especially isn't happy about this, judging by responses from a number of entertainment luminaries on Twitter. Below you can find a roundup of snap reactions to this complex, unprecedented situation by Tinseltown's elite. Judd Apatow: I think it is disgraceful that these theaters are not showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now? — Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) December 17, 2014 Jimmy Kimmel: . @JuddApatow I agree wholeheartedly. An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent. — Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) December 17, 2014 Rob Lowe: Wow. »


- Chris Eggertsen

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'Nightcrawler' director Dan Gilroy calls out media behavior in the wake of Sony hack

10 hours ago

At this point we're pretty far along on the Sony hack story. But a number of morally and ethically suspect pieces were published a week ago and, of course, news organizations rationalized their behavior. Since then, things have taken a darker turn with terrorist threats and the decision, first by theater owners and then by a corporate giant, to bow to those whims. But before all that started happening, I got "Nightcrawler" writer and director Dan Gilroy on the phone earlier this week to talk about the media's role and responsibilities when something like that arises. Reporters devouring a hacked carcass, scavenging for ratings under the thin guise of integrity — I was, to say the least, quite reminded of his film. "'Nightcrawler' does come across as an indictment," Gilroy says, "but the indictment I'm trying to make isn't so specific to stringers or even the world of the »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Chris Pratt just wants to take a nice 'Jurassic World' photo, but Velociraptor is a ham

11 hours ago

The more we get to know about upcoming requel (reboot+sequel) “Jurassic World,” the more it looks like Chris Pratt’s character has a working relationship with a herd of Clever Girls™. The most recent and damning evidence? This photo, released by director Colin Trevorrow. Straight from the editing room: Image Credit: Twitter Does this or does this not look like the poster to a buddy cop movie, with Pratt playing the straight man? He just wants to get the job done, but no. Clever Girl™ has to turn everything into a melodramatic production. They were only supposed to Investigate the crime scene, not eat the evidence! Or, maybe this is a date? Perhaps one of the Clever Girls™ is getting married!! Find out whether man and velociraptor have learned to work in tandem, or the girls are just biding their time to double-cross Pratt on June 12, 2015. »


- Donna Dickens

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Following terrorist threat, Sony officially cancels 'The Interview' release

11 hours ago

I imagine you've been paying attention since yesterday as theater chain after theater chain has opted out (with Sony's blessing) of showing the Seth Rogen/James Franco film "The Interview" in the wake of terrorist threats. With major chains like AMC and Regal joining others like Arclight, Bow Tie and Cinemark, perhaps the studio was left with little choice but to pull the film from release. Some might argue, though, that a day-and-date VOD release would be a good way of getting a film out there that clearly someone (supposedly) wants suppressed, but for now, Sony has simply decided not to move forward with the Christmas Day release. Read the official statement below. In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film "The Interview," we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Angelina Jolie says the Coen brothers brought a lack of sentimentality to 'Unbroken'

11 hours ago

Hollywood — "Unbroken" is Angelina Jolie's second directorial effort to date, but she bit off a whole lot more than she expected to chew. The production became a huge undertaking, particularly at the script stage when a number of various elements could have been included from the epic life of Louis Zamperini. So it was as important as ever to do a lot of heavy lifting on the page. I sat down with Jolie last week to discuss those particulars, taking a risk on unknowns in the film's central roles and how Sidney Lumet's "The Hill" informed the look of the film. Read through the back and forth below for that and other tidbits. And check out our recent video interview at the top of this post for even more. "Unbroken" opens Christmas Day. *** HitFix: Before we jump in here, I just wanted to say I'm glad to see »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Think you can't learn 'Lord of the Rings' mythology in 4 minutes? Think Again!

12 hours ago

Before you head out this weekend to see the final chapter of “The Hobbit,” brush up on your Middle Earth mythology. Because what was once a knowledge set learned in secret, lest you face brutal teasing, is now a feather in your geeky cap. In case you aren’t familiar, Cgp Grey is a YouTuber who specializes in taking extremely complex things and breaking them down into easily digestible graphics. Go check him out.   »

- Donna Dickens

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'Dear White People,' 'Selma' lead 15th annual Black Reel Awards nominations

14 hours ago

The Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (Faaaf) announced its nominees for the 15th Annual Black Reel Awards Wednesday morning. Justin Simien's "Dear White People" and Ava DuVernay's "Selma" led the way with 10 nominations each. They were joined by "Belle," "Beyond the Lights" and "Top Five" in the organization's best picture category. Check out the full list of nominees below. Winners will be announced on Feb. 22, 2015. And learn more about what's going on this season at The Circuit. Motion Picture Outstanding Motion Picture "Belle" "Beyond the Lights" "Dear White People" "Selma" "Top Five" Outstanding Actor Chadwick Boseman, "Get on Up" David Oyelowo, "Selma" Nate Parker, "Beyond the Lights" Chris Rock, "Top Five" Denzel Washington, "The Equalizer" Outstanding Actress Rosario Dawson, "Top Five" Gugu Mbatha-Raw, "Belle" Gugu Mbatha-Raw, "Beyond the Lights" Tessa Thompson, "Dear White People" Quvenzhané Wallis, "Annie" Outstanding Supporting Actor Nelsan Ellis, "Get On Up" David Oyelowo, »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Funny Or Die Imagines the Perfect Ending to 'Serial'

14 hours ago

We're all wondering how the hell the first season of the NPR podcast "Serial" is going to end. Will we come any closer to learning whether Adnan Syed did, in fact, kill his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee? Will Sarah Koenig come out and admit she has no new information? Will Best Buy parking lots ever regain their innocence? This Funny Or Die imagining of the end of "Serial" is priceless. Michaela Watkins is a perfect Sarah Koenig. Everyone at MailChimp is terribly impressed.  Of course, the only way NPR listeners will like the ending of "Serial" is if the killer turns out to be gluten. »


- Louis Virtel

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Dublin critics award 'Boyhood,' 'Frank,' Jake Gyllenhaal and Marion Cotillard

14 hours ago

Critics in the UK obviously aren't immune to the charms of "Boyhood," as the film did well with the London Film Critics Circle. Now the Dublin Film Critics Circle has named it the year's best across the channel. The group also revealed its long lists throughout the categories, giving you some insight into which films were in the running. (Personal shout-out to my friends who made the documentary "Showrunners," which got a little love on the documentary list.) Check out the full list of winners below and watch it all unfold at The Circuit. Top 10 Films 1. "Boyhood" 2. "Under the Skin" 3. "Ida" 4. "The Lego Movie" 5. "12 Years a Slave" 6. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 7. "Two Days, One Night" 8. (Tie) "Her,""Leviathan" 9. "The Wolf of Wall Street" 10. (Tie) "Blue Ruin" and "The Lunch Box" Best Director 1. Richard Linklater, "Boyhood" 2. Jonathan Glazer, "Under the Skin" 3. Pawel Pawlikowski, "Ida" 4. Spike Jonze, "Her" 5. Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 6. Andrey Zvyagintsev, »


- Kristopher Tapley

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11 cartoon Christmas specials you forgot existed until now

14 hours ago

There are a lot of traditions that come along with the holidays. Eating too much, spending too much, drinking too much, saying too much to that family member you hate once drunk, decorating too much. Anything that ends with us hating ourselves come New Year’s? We are all over it like ornament glitter on Goddamn Everything.  For decades, one tradition that has taken root is gathering around the light of the television to watch Christmas specials. As such, certain ones have risen to the top of our frenetic desire to Christmas Harder. Anything claymation from the 1960s (Rudolph, Frosty, Santa Claus), the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and somehow the California Raisins are among the most instantly recognized animated holiday shows. But they’re far from the only ones. Below, I’ve collected several of the more obscure bursts of nostalgia available for your pleasure on YouTube. Sadly, both The »


- Donna Dickens

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Austin critics love 'Boyhood,' single out 'Joe' star Gary Poulter

15 hours ago

Yeah, the Austin Film Critics Association naturally dug the Austin-set "Boyhood," and yeah, they showed a lot of love for "Nightcrawler." But the single coolest thing they did Wednesday in their awards announcement was single out "Joe" star Gary Poulter, a homeless local non-actor who tragically died after completing work on the David Gordon Green film but who delivered one of the most startling performances of the year. He belongs on any supporting actor ballot, in my humble opinion. Check out the full list of winners below, and as ever: The Circuit. Best Film "Boyhood" Best Director Richard Linklater, "Boyhood" Best Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, "Nightcrawler" Best Actress Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl" Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash" Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood" Best Adapted Screenplay "Gone Girl" Best Original Screenplay "Nightcrawler" Best Cinematography "Birdman" Best Score "Birdman" Best Animated Film "The Lego Movie" Best Foreign Language Film "Force Majeure »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Katherine Waterston on navigating the controlled chaos of 'Inherent Vice'

15 hours ago

My first impression of Katherine Waterston in person was surprise at just how tall she is. I stand 6'2", and when we were introduced, we were eye-to-eye. It was the night of the New York Film Festival premiere of "Inherent Vice," and we were at the after-party at Tavern On The Green. My review had gone up already, and by the time I made it to the party, several of the people involved in the film had seen the review. That included Waterston, who seemed excited to finally be able to discuss the movie with people, and thrilled that people seemed to like it. While we spoke, I was also introduced to her father, the iconic character actor Sam Waterston, and he couldn't have seemed more proud of her work in the film. Since that night, I've spoken with her two more times about the film. The first was a »


- Drew McWeeny

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Joss Whedon on creating his beautiful monster for 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'

16 hours ago

Shepperton Studios, Middlesex - Joss Whedon looked tired. And not just a little tired, either. He looked weary, deep down in his bones tired. He looked like he was ready to just fall down where he was and sleep for a week. I've seen a number of other directors in this state and it's always when they're near the end of production on one of these mega-movies. The pressure that's on these guys in enormous, and for Whedon, following up one of the biggest films of all time can't be easy. We sat in a small group facing Whedon in the Tony Stark lab, part of the Avengers Tower set, and asked him what his primary goal was walking into the sequel. "On the first one, I was a raggedy man when I made that film. It did take a lot out of me. Going in this time, I was like… »


- Drew McWeeny

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TV Ratings: 'Voice' finale, 'NCIS' dominate Tuesday

16 hours ago

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, December 16, 2014. The latest season finale was, predictably, far below last December's finale and a hair below last May's finale among young viewers, but still helped NBC rule Tuesday in the key demo. "NCIS," however, dominated its hour overall and helped CBS comfortably win in total viewers. CBS' overall win was boosted by a weak performance from NBC's "Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas" special, but hindered by relatively low numbers for "NCIS: New Orleans" an "Person of Interest." The season finale for "MasterChef Junior" was up a bit week-to-week. On to the numbers... Among adults 18-49, NBC averaged a 2.6 rating for Tuesday night, tops in the key demographic. CBS was second with a 1.8 key demo rating, followed by the 1.2 key demo ratings for ABC and Fox. The CW averaged a 0.5 key demo rating for the night. Overall, though, CBS averaged an estimated 13.33 million viewers and an 8.4 rating/14 share for Tuesday primetime, »


- Daniel Fienberg

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'Willy Wonka,' 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'Big Lebowski' added to National Film Registry

18 hours ago

Each year, the Library of Congress selects 25 films to be named to the National Film Registry, a proclamation of commitment to preserving the chosen pictures for all time. They can be big studio pictures or experimental short films, goofball comedies or poetic meditations on life. The National Film Registery "showcases the extraordinary diversity of America’s film heritage and the disparate strands making it so vibrant" and by preserving the films, the Library of Congress hopes to "a crucial element of American creativity, culture and history.” This year’s selections span the period 1913 to 2004 and include a number of films you’re familiar with. Unless you’ve never heard of "Saving Private Ryan," "The Big Lebowski," “Rosemary’s Baby” or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Highlights from the list include the aforementioned film, Arthur Penn’s Western "Little Big Man," John Lasseter’s 1986 animated film, “Luxo Jr.," 1953’s “House of Wax, »


- Matt Patches

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