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<p>Matt Davis of &quot;Cult&quot;</p>

Matt Davis of "Cult"

Credit: The CW

TV Review: The CW's 'Cult' is yet another unsuccessfully crazy midseason drama

Matt Davis and Jessica Lucas blandly investigate a very meta mystery
Don't look now, but TV networks are about to learn the wrong lessons about wackiness. 
 
If you measure your wackiness -- or "nuttiness" or "lunacy" or whatever -- by quantity, rather than quality, we're in a Golden Age of Goofiness this midseason. 
 
NBC's "Do No Harm" had a dude experiencing dissociative identity disorder at regularly partitioned daily intervals, a very expensive sex doll and a sneering psychotic warning a small child with a stuffed animal that monkeys have been known to eat their young.
 
That was wacky.
 
ABC's "Zero Hour," with its Nazis, Rosicrucians, demon babies, doppelgangers, underground clockmakers and ice-bound submarines, made "Do No Harm" look milquetoast and rational.
 
Of course, "Do No Harm" was cancelled after only two airings, which is what happens if you premiere with the lowest in-season numbers for any drama in the history of network television.
 
And although "Zero Hour" launched last week to more robust ratings than "Do No Harm," it was still the worst start for an in-season ABC drama series, again, in history. Figure in an inevitable Week 2 plunge and the clock is ticking for "Zero Hour." [Yes. I hate myself for that.]
 
[Due to its modicum of superficial prestige, I've exempted FOX's dreadful "The Following" from my survey of midseason wackiness, though its sadistic shower threesomes, rudimentary literary analysis and gasoline-wielding Romantic poets are more than enough to qualify. "The Following" also warrants temporary exemption because of its initial success for FOX, though ratings have settled more into the "qualified hit" range than "breakout smash."]
 
It would be wrong to say that "Do No Harm" and "Zero Hour" weren't relatively large swings by NBC and ABC, but they were also relatively large misses. I'll continue to insist that the version of "Do No Harm" that aired was much cleaner and saner than the pilot that NBC initially sent to series, but "saner" is short of a compliment (and may even be an insult in this context). And I'll also continue to insist that "Zero Hour" nearly delivered enough craziness to compensate for its overall awfulness, but "nearly" is short of a compliment as well. That's two strikes.
 
The third strike for balls-to-the-wall wackiness premieres on Tuesday (February 19) on The CW. Airing after the soothingly conventional and programmatic quirkiness of "Hart of Dixie" -- those things sound like criticisms, but "Hart of Dixie" has become an admirable plate of comfort food in its second season -- "Cult" has almost no chance of success, though thanks to "The L.A. Complex," The CW has an astoundingly low bar for in-season record lows and I wouldn't expect it to fail that badly. But even before it fails with audiences, "Cult" fails creatively. An ill-conceived, poorly scripted, woodenly acted mess, "Cult" is watchably crazy, but that's the highest praise I can give it. 
 
When "Cult" joins "Do No Harm" and "Zero Hour" on the quickly-forgotten scrap-heap, I fear networks will decide this is a sign that audiences hate wackiness, as opposed to a sign that audiences are able to sniff out when wacky shows are bad. "Lost" was a wacky show. "The Walking Dead" is a wacky show. Heck, this season's greatest rags-to-riches network success story is the second season of "Scandal" and there are few shows on network TV wackier than "Scandal." Blame these midseason failures for being dreadful, not for being difficult-to-categorize or creatively unhinged. 
 
"Do No Harm," "Zero Hour" and now "Cult" are examples of shows that are wacky without any grounding, that attempt to string viewers along with unmoored weirdness rather than compelling characters or grounded drama. I'm sure there are versions of all three shows that would have been more successful and a version of all three shows that might have been good (probably different versions). These shows failed because they were bad. I'd still rather have "Do No Harm," "Zero Hour" and "Cult" than "Formulaic CBS Procedural X." Better to try something big and fail spectacularly than to try nothing and still probably fail. 
 
And that was my brief-ish manifesto on failed wackiness. The actual review of "Cult" is after the break.
 
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<p>Cover art for &quot;The&nbsp;Master&quot;&nbsp;Blu-ray</p>

Cover art for "The Master" Blu-ray

Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Win a copy of 'The Master' on Blu-ray!

Paul Thomas Anderson's film hits shelves next week

Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" is still in the conversation at the end of the season because the actors stuck up for it in three key races. But the masterful 70mm effort will live on beyond this year, of course, as everything Anderson has put out into the world has.

My journey with the film has been an interesting one. I knew when I emerged from the Ziegfeld Theatre premiere here in New York that it wasn't going to be a Best Picture nominee. I also knew that didn't matter one bit because there was something lurking in that big, bold mixture that was speaking to me. A handful of revisits solidified it for me as one of the 10 best films of 2012.

While we wait to see if any of its actors has a shot at shocking the world on Oscar night, the film will be making it's way to the home market a week from today and we have an opportunity for you to win a copy of the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD for yourself. We have two copies, in fact. It's been a while since we've run a contest so let's remedy that!

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<p>Samantha Barks, the one &quot;Les Mis&quot; principal to have played her role on stage.</p>

Samantha Barks, the one "Les Mis" principal to have played her role on stage.

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Les Mis' returns to the Great White Way

On the heels of its screen success, the musical is set for a 2014 Broadway run

Good news for younger Broadway geeks who never got to see "Les Misérables" before it disappeared from New York stages in 2007, and have had their appetites whetted by Tom Hooper's film: the blockbuster musical is returning to the Great White Way next year. The 25th anniversary touring production that's been touring the US for a while now will settlle into a Broadway theater in spring 2014, a development presumably facilitated by the film's popularity. (Dates, venues and casting have yet to specified.)

On London's West End, where "Les Mis" is now in the 28th year of its run, the show has never stopped being a hot ticket -- albeit for tourists more than anyone else -- but apparently even its routinely robust box office has intensified since the film's release. Even Londoners are going to see it, I'm told, which probably hasn't happened in significant numbers since the 1980s.

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<p>'Inside Llewyn Davis'</p>

'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Credit: CBS Films

Coen Brothers' music drama 'Inside Llewyn Davis' picked up by CBS

Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake star

The Coen brothers' upcoming music drama "Inside Llewyn Davis," starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, will be hitting screens later this year, as CBS Films has close a deal to acquire the North American rights distribution rights.

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"Body of Proof"

"Body of Proof" 

Credit: ABC

Interview: Dana Delany and Mark Valley talk big changes to 'Body of Proof'

The two new stars of the revamped series

After a ten-month absence, "Body of Proof" returns to ABC tonight (10:00 p.m. ET), but fans of the show may be in for some surprises. After the series saw a ratings surge for the second season's final three episodes, (which were driven by a ticking clock and higher stakes), the show was renewed with the proviso that it emphasize what was ratings gold -- and lose what didn't deliver.

That meant retooling the show from the ground up. Of course, that also meant cast and executive changes. While stars Dana Delany and Jeri Ryan return, Sonja Sohn, Nicholas Bishop and John Carroll Lynch will not. Plus, writer/executive producer Evan Katz ("24") and Mark Valley ("Boston Legal") joined the show. Valley, who will play Detective Tommy Sullivan, is the latest romantic interest for Delany's prickly Megan Hunt. I spoke to Valley and Delany at TCAs this winter, and discovered that the two already have banter well in place. Plus, there were some changes to the show Delany was excited about -- as well as some she wasn't. 

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<p>Chris Brown</p>

Chris Brown

Credit: AP Photo

Chris Brown turns to Timbaland and Diplo for sixth studio set

Like Rihanna, he's on the album-a-year plan

Chris Brown has recruited Timbaland, Danja and Diplo to work on his sixth studio album, which will come out later this year.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Best Picture nominee Ben Affleck and Best Adapted Screenplay nominee Chris Terrio on the set of &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Best Picture nominee Ben Affleck and Best Adapted Screenplay nominee Chris Terrio on the set of "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Oscars: HitFix's interviews with the nominees

Revisit their thoughts on the films that brought them here

As we push on through the final week of the 2012-2013 film awards season, here's a look back at our chats with the lucky artists who heard their names called on January 10.

We ended up talking to an even 50 Oscar nominees throughout the season, with every single feature category represented. Some came before the nominations were announced, some came after, when this or that person was bathing in the afterglow of the recognition.

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<p>Mumford &amp; Sons</p>

Mumford & Sons

Credit: AP Photo

Mumford & Sons, Paul McCartney, Bjork and Tom Petty headlining 2013 Bonnaroo

R. Kelly, Wu-Tang Clan, the National, Kendrick Lamar and more headed to Tennessee fest

Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mumford & Sons, Bjork and R. Kelly are headlining the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this year, marking a lineup that has hedged a little bit away from the fest's jam-oriented roots.

Organizers announced the complete lineup today during an hour-long press conference by "Weird Al" Yankovic, who's also headed to Manchester, Tenn. for the four-day event, which runs June 13-16.

Other big names to join the bill are The National, the reunited Wu-Tang Clan, David Byrne and St. Vincent, Immaculate Noise favorite Kendrick Lamar, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Of Monsters and Men, Nas, ZZ Top, Cat Power, Jim James from My Morning Jacket and more.

Early bird tickets already sold out, but general onsale begins on Saturday (Feb. 23) at noon EST. Like years previous, only 4-day tickets can be bought, no single-days.

It's good seeing names like McCartney and Petty on festival bills like these: normally, we'd see such veteran artists only do headlining tours or one-offs. It looks like Bonnaroo is interested in full catalog artists instead of long-termers who merely have a new album to promote. McCartney puts on a damn fine show, with more than three hours of legwork ahead of him with each date, so I'm curious how long his slot will be at the festival. Not bad for a septuagenarian.

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<p>Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z perform at the Grammys.</p>

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z perform at the Grammys.

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z headline London's Wireless Festival

When will the U.S. stadium dates be announced?

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z will headline this summer’s ninth annual Wireless Festival held at London’s Olympic Park , July 12-13.

Timberlake will headline on July 12 and Jay-Z on July 13, though we have sneaking suspicion there will be some crossover at each other’s gigs.  Also on the July 12 are Snoop Dogg, Trey Songz, John Legend, Miguel and Frank Ocean. Appearing on July 13 are Emile Sande, Rita Ora, Kendrick Lamar, DJ Fresh, Calvin and Harris, and Miguel, who, so far, is the only artist pulling double duty.

Tickets for on sale Feb. 22. For more information, go here.

Timberlake and Jay-Z are also planning some stateside action. As we reported last week, the pair are putting together a U.S. stadium tour that will likely be around a dozen dates.  Timberlake’s new album, “The 20/20 Experience,” comes out March 19 .

 

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<p>&quot;Django Unchained&quot;</p>

"Django Unchained"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Sound Editing

'Argo,' 'Django Unchained,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Skyfall' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' square off

(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)

Along with Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing might be one of the toughest races to call on Oscar night. The ultimate line-up was a 3/5 match-up with Best Sound Mixing, which isn't uncommon. And the presence of so many Best Picture players is becoming less and less unique as well. But this year in particular, it would seem the race could go a number of ways.

What's worse, the Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Awards did very little to clear things up, splitting its wins between the top two contenders. And nevertheless, the sound editors' choices won't necessarily equal the Academy's. The Best Picture frontrunner is right there in this category, tempting votes from those who will want to see it show up strong on Oscar night.

The nominees are…

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"The Real Housewives of Orange County"

 "The Real Housewives of Orange County"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Orange County' set for 8th season this spring

An heiress will be joining the cast of crazy women

Can you stand it? No, really, can you? "The Real Housewives of Orange County" will be returning for an eighth season on Monday, April 1 (8:00 p.m. on Bravo). Returning Housewives Vicki Gunvalson, Tamra Barney, Gretchen Rossi, Alexis Bellino and Heather Dubrow are joined by new castmember, heiress Lydia McLaughlin. Also, after leaving the show four seasons ago, original Housewife Lauri Peterson will make a "surprising return." Click here for a sneak peek at the show.  

If you can't bring yourself to watch the video, here's a rundown of what's ahead: 

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Denzel Washington, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Robert De Niro are all looking for their third Oscar.
Denzel Washington, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Robert De Niro are all looking for their third Oscar.
Credit: Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/The Weinstein Company

Meet the Academy's exclusive club of three-time acting Oscar winners

Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro, Sally Field and Denzel Washington hope to join

As "Lincoln" star Daniel Day-Lewis has dominated the precursor film awards circuit thus far, he has quickly become one of the no-brainer bets on Oscar night this Sunday. His presumed victory would bring him a third Best Actor Oscar after he won previously for 1989's "My Left Foot" and 2007's "There Will Be Blood."

There are precious few actors to have won as many prizes from the Academy in their time. There have been five, in fact. And it will be their illustrious company the actor will be joining upon gracing the stage at the Academy Awards. In fact, this looks to be the second year in a row the club takes on a new member.

But Day-Lewis isn't alone in that quest. "Silver Linings Playbook" star Robert De Niro hasn't been in the Oscar hunt since 1991's "Cape Fear," but he's back in a big way this year. He's been everywhere in phase two, campaigned within an inch of his life. And it may yet pay off. He won Best Supporting Actor in 1974 for "The Godfather Part II" and Best Actor in 1980 for "Raging Bull." So, odd as it sounds, David O. Russell would follow in the shoes of Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese as directors to lead De Niro to an Oscar if it were to happen.

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