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<p>The &quot;Gossip Girl&quot; finale</p>

The "Gossip Girl" finale

Credit: The CW

'Gossip Girl' finale reveals Gossip Girl and the Upper East Side future

Did you enjoy the big surprise? And all of the cameos?
"Gossip Girl," which concluded its six-season run on The CW on Monday (December 17) night, was never a great show. I'm not sure if it ever was a particularly good show. But for much of its 121 episode run, it was a stylish, entertaining guilty pleasure that offered enough moments of cleverness to compensate for (but never excuse) some astonishingly icky sexual politics.
 
Titled "New York, I Love You XOXO," Monday's finale mostly steered away from the key plotlines in what has been a largely dismal concluding season.  
 
Dreadful relationships were discarded or severed or ignored. Twisty revenge schemes were deemed irrelevant or accelerated or ignored. And romantic stumbling blocks were removed with characteristic gracelessness or ignored.
 
The result? An mostly amusing finale that answered a few questions, tied up arcs in neat bows and featured enough cameos and guest stars to please and distract and placate most fans. 
 
Did they finally give Chuck Bass a monkey? 
 
No. 
 
But other than that, I guess I got what I wanted out of the "Gossip Girl" finale, namely a free Monday hour on my DVR and the identity of the enigmatic Gossip Girl.
 
Click through for some brief thoughts on the "Gossip Girl" finale. I don't write about this show very often, but I've never missed an episode, so I might as well say farewell... With spoilers, duh.
 
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<p>Joseph Kosinski seems open to the idea of making a third 'TRON' film</p>

Joseph Kosinski seems open to the idea of making a third 'TRON' film

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Joseph Kosinski talks about 'Tron 3' plans and 'Star Wars' rumors

The director of next year's 'Oblivion' dicusses future plans both real and imagined

Joseph Kosinski is a promising filmmaker, and it certainly appears that he'll have plenty of chances to prove himself in the coming years.  His science-fiction thriller "Oblivion" opens in the spring, and the first trailer, featuring Tom Cruise, just made its appearance online last week.

That film was co-written by Michael Arndt, who also wrote "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Toy Story 3" and who quite notably was hired to write "Star Wars - Episode VII," so perhaps it was only natural that there would be some rumors about Kosinski being the likely candidate to direct that film.  After all, pretty much anyone who's ever directed anything involving special effects is going to be rumored to be the director by the time Disney and Lucasfilm eventually make their official announcement, and Kosinski is already in Disney's good graces.

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<p>Josh Gad as Skip in &quot;1600 Penn.&quot;</p>

Josh Gad as Skip in "1600 Penn."

Credit: NBC

'1600 Penn' - 'Putting Out Fires'

What did everybody think of the new NBC comedy?

I posted my review of NBC's "1600 Pennover the weekend. Now it's your turn. What did everybody else think of the new NBC sitcom? Were you happy to see Bill Pullman playing POTUS again? Is this a better vehicle for Jenna Elfman than that CBS sitcom whose title my brain is incapable of remembering, even after I've looked it up? Was Josh Gad's too much like Chris Farley, or did you like that about Skip? And will you watch more when it returns on January 10? (FWIW, I enjoyed the two later episodes more than the pilot.) 

Have at it.

 

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Nicholas David's fiery performance tonight on "The Voice".

Nicholas David's fiery performance tonight on "The Voice".

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Top 3 Perform

The last three contestants make their final case to the voting public.
Partially because high beings are potentially punishing us, but primarily because NBC wants to milk ratings as long as humanly possible, we have three and a half more hours of “The Voice” to get through before crowning a winner. Look for a big bag of delaying tricks to be unleashed over the night two nights: Guest performers! Old contestants! Casts of upcoming NBC shows! A lengthy debate over the merits of the “Homeland” finale between Christina Aguilera and her fan! Anything’s possible, except a tight, focused end to this season.
 
Going into tonight, it seems like Cassadee Pope is in the driver’s seat, with Nicholas David and Terry McDermott trying to play catch-up. That makes the song choices tonight key. All Cassadee has to do is “not screw up tremendously” and it seems like she’s the one to beat. But David and McDermott have pulled off surprising performances all season, so if they find just the right interpretation of just the right song, there’s certainly a chance for an upset tomorrow night.
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<p>Alicia Keys in the &quot;Brand New Me&quot;&nbsp;music video.</p>

Alicia Keys in the "Brand New Me" music video.

Credit: RCA

Watch: Alicia Keys and her changing hairdo in 'Brand New Me' video

She's her own woman and don't you forget it

Alicia Keys has had enough of you telling her what to do.

In the video clip for “Brand New Me,” Keys, sporting a full, curly hair-do, as opposed to the sleek bob she’s been seen in recently, walks around a stage singing the song about finding herself and empowerment.

Her sense of self discovery is none too subtle. As she walks along some props, she sits down alongside a klieg light that turns on as she sings to it. Then she looks into a mirror at the Brand New Alicia. She pulls off the wig her handler has insisted she wear at the beginning of the video.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Besides, we all know what the new film will be about, right?&nbsp; Big robots and Bayhem, pure and simple.</p>

Besides, we all know what the new film will be about, right?  Big robots and Bayhem, pure and simple.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Michael Bay responds to an alleged 'Transformers 4' script leak as Mark Wahlberg promises change

What direction will the director and the star push the franchise for the new film?

I'm not sure if any of you bothered reading the details about the allegedly leaked script for "Transformers 4" over the weekend, but I tried.  I say "tried" because about halfway through a summary of the supposed document, my brain crawled out of my head, horrified and furious, and attacked me to try and exact some revenge.

I am used to the idea that the "Transformers" mythology is completely incomprehensible, but even by the standards set by the totally deranged second film in the series, the synopsis that several people printed as real today is nonsense.  That reads as pure fan fiction, nerdy on a level that would make Michael Bay's skin crawl.  My guess, not knowing for sure what screenwriter Ehren Kruger and Bay are up to, is that they're going to try to reach out to an audience more akin to fans of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, leaving behind the wacky family stuff from the first three films.  He's working with Mark Wahlberg this time, who he just directed in "Pain and Gain," and simply by switching the focus from Shia LeBeouf to Wahlberg as the lead, he's clearly indicating that this is more of a traditional action movie approach.

But let's pretend we don't know any of that.  Bay says the script people are talking about has nothing to do with his film at all.  Here's his official statement:

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 161

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 161

Dan and Alan talk 'Dexter' and 'Homeland' finales and the Baseball Hall of Fame

The

 
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. It's time for the first of this week's two installments of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Somehow this ended up being a long podcast. I'm not sure how that happened. But it should have many easily skippable segments. For example, you may not care about my thoughts on a slew of CW shows Alan doesn't watch. Skip that segment! Or you may not have seen last night's finales for "Homeland" & "Dexter." Skip that segment! And odds are REALLY good that you don't care about our journey through the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, or why Alan's love affair with the Knicks has been rekindled! Skip that!
 
If you don't skip anything, this podcast is a robust 1:43, but I'm sure you can trim a lot from that.
 
And stay tuned later this week for our Best of 2012 Podcast.
 
Here's today's breakdown:
"1600 Penn" (00:01:10 - 00:14:20)
Dan's CW Roundup (00:14:25 - 00:30:35)
"Dexter" (00:30:55 - 00:45:10)
"Homeland" (00:45:10 - 01:17:00)
Sports Talk - Baseball Hall of Fame (01:17:30 - 01:36:15)
Sports Talk - Alan Loves the Knicks (01:36:20 - 01:43:10)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at 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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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 161: '1600 Penn,' CW catch-up and 'Dexter' & 'Homeland' finales

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 161: '1600 Penn,' CW catch-up and 'Dexter' & 'Homeland' finales

Dan brings Alan up to speed on 'Gossip Girl,' 'Arrow' and company

The

Time for an almost absurdly long episode of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, the first of two this week. We'll get to discussing our favorite shows of 2012 later in the week, but in the meantime, Dan and I reviewed NBC's "1600 Penn," Dan caught me up on recent developments on the CW, we talked about the Showtime finales and then did a long sports segment discussing both the Baseball Hall of Fame and my inability to walk away from a team.

The line-up: 

"1600 Penn" (00:01:10 - 00:14:20)
Dan's CW Roundup (00:14:25 - 00:30:35)
"Dexter" (00:30:55 - 00:45:10)
"Homeland" (00:45:10 - 01:17:00)
Sports Talk - Baseball Hall of Fame (01:17:30 - 01:36:15)
Sports Talk - Alan Loves the Knicks (01:36:20 - 01:43:10)
  As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>The xx</p>

The xx

Listen: The xx cover Wham!'s 'Last Christmas'

Watch a documentary on the British troupe

This Christmas just got a little bit colder. The xx recorded a chilly take of Wham!'s mega-holiday hit "Last Christmas" for BBC 1, with all its vocalists taking turns.

Romy Madley Croft has always had a "ballpark" singing voice, where she doesn't always hit the ascribed note, but it's in the ballpark and it's ever on-base. It works here, a more sultry style than the matter-of-fact as the original had been. Would love to see their take on feathered hair.

Meanwhile, the xx continue to promote their latest album "Coexist" with latest single "Chained" and with a new short film series. The "Coexist Series" can be seen via YouTube, and features an intimate version of "Fiction." Check some of that out below.

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Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters ranks as 2012's top tours
Credit: AP Photo/Alexander Demianchuk, Pool

Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters ranks as 2012's top tours

Just how much did Madge rake in from the MDNA tour?

Madonna stirred up plenty of controversy on the MDNA tour by bearing arms and baring body parts in 2012, but it turns out she also brought in a ton of cold hard cash.

Her MDNA outing grossed $228.4 million to make it the top-grossing tour of 2012, according to Billboard. The tally come from 72 shows, all of which, according to Billboard, were sell out.

Coming in at No. 2 is Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. They grossed $199.4 million, also from 72 shows.  Springsteen’s ticket price was considerably lower than Madge’s: His 72 shows drew 2.165 million people, compared with the Material Girl’s 1.63 million.

Rock relics continued to rule the top 10:  Roger Waters’ tour, also with 72 shows (we’re sensing a theme here) comes in at No. 3 with a gross of $186.5 million.

Proving that his legacy goes on and on even after his death,  “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil” claims the No. 4 slot with a tally of $147.3 million, based on 183 shows reporting.

Coldplay rounds out the top 5 with $147.2 million from 67 shows. That should tied them over nicely during the band’s recently announced hiatus.

One has to go to No. 6 to find an act that first started releasing music in this millennium. Lady Gaga’s 65 sell-outs register at No. 6 with a gross of $124.9 million.

That’s the end of the $100 million club. Coming in at No. 7 are Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s Brother of the Sun tour, which shone brightly enough to raise $96.4 million from only 23 shows (they were all stadiums).
Van Halen’s thwarted reunion tour ended with a slate of cancellations due to band burn-out (or any other reason you want to believe), but it still managed to gross $54.4 million from 46 shows to come in at No. 8.  Coming in at No. 9 is Jay-Z and Kanye West’s The Throne tour with $46.9 million from 31 shows. And rounding out the top 10 is Andre Rieu, the Dutch composer/violinist who is astonishingly popular throughout the world even though you’re probably never heard of him. He brought in $46.8 million from 99 shows.

To see the list of the Top 25 tours, ranked by Billboard, go here.
 

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<p>John Goodman and Alan Arkin in &quot;Argo.&quot;</p>

John Goodman and Alan Arkin in "Argo."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Argo' tops with Southeastern Film Critics

Yet more honors for Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence

The Southeastern Film Critics' Association have thrown their favorites in the mix, and there remains a pleasing lack of consensus between these groups in the Best Picture department. "Argo" notches up another win here, also taking wins for Best Director and Screenplay. Oscar favorites Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence add to their already groaning trophy cabinets, while the most distinctive prize in the list is the Gene Wyatt Award for the film that "best embodies the spirit of the South." The handily-titled "Beasts of the Southern Wild" beat "Bernie" to the punch, though I wonder how many votes "The Paperboy" got. Full list of winners after the jump; check out everything else at The Circuit.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs to release new album in Spring 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs to release new album in Spring 2013

Wait's over: New songs in concert?

This Spring, the Yeah Yeah Yeah will be releasing their first album in four years, the follow-up to "It's Blitz!"

The band made the announcement via Twitter, posting an Instagram of a mysterious figure in neon colors.

“DNA upgrades, spontaneous evolution and NEW YEAH YEAH YEAHS RECORD ARRIVING SPRING 2013! finally," read the post.

DNA upgrades may mean the band members just got better at what they do. Or paid a scientist to allow them to glow in the dark. Spontaneous evolution may have to do with what collaborations or combinations happened in the studio, or that Karen O learned to fly, as humans always intended. No other details are known.

However, it IS known that the YYYs played a new song called "Despair" during a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert at a tiny venue in Brooklyn earlier this month.

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