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<p>Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson as they appear in &quot;Hitchcock.&quot;</p>

Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson as they appear in "Hitchcock."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

See Anthony Hopkins strut (okay, waddle) his stuff in first 'Hitchcock' trailer

Fox Searchlight is releasing the Hollywood portrait in prime Oscar season

"Hitchcock"  is the late arrival in this year's Oscar race, yanked forward from Fox Searchlight's 2013 slate into a prime-bait November slot. Does that mean they think they've got something genuinely special on their hands --, or just easy fodder for acting nominations, given the Academy's recent weakness for famous people playing other famous people?

A newly unveiled trailer doesn't do much to answer the question, though it does confirm what early marketing materials suggested: that "Anvil!" director Sacha Gervasi's film -- not a formal biopic, despite what the bland title promises, but a study of the making of "Psycho" -- is taking a comedic approach to the material. Given Hitchcock's own playful sene of humor, that seems the right approach to take... though let's hope the film has a black edge to it, and isn't just a puffball in the "My Week With Marilyn" vein.

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<p>The aesthetically challenged cast of &quot;Chicago Fire&quot;</p>

The aesthetically challenged cast of "Chicago Fire"

Credit: NBC

Interview: 'Chicago Fire' creators Derek Haas and Michael Brandt talk serialization, 'Rescue Me' and more

'Wanted' writers explain why this isn't a fire-of-the-week drama
NBC's "Chicago Fire" is being promoted as the new drama from Dick Wolf, but the firefighter saga doesn't necessarily feel like what some viewers might expect from the "Law & Order" guru.
 
While there have certainly been exceptions, Wolf's more successful shows have pioneered a procedural structure in which strong actors have played frequently interchangeable characters, about whom audiences have learned very little. 
 
"Chicago Fire," at least in its early going, is more about the men and women of Firehouse 51 than their professional emergencies. The concentration is on the ensemble -- featuring Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Lauren German, Monica Raymund, Eamonn Walker, David Eigenberg and more -- rather than weekly infernos.
 
Much of that is certainly attributable to the approach taken by "Chicago Fire" creators Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, making their first foray onto the small screen in the midst of a feature career that includes the exceptional remake of "3:10 to Yuma" as well as the blockbuster adaptation of "Wanted."
 
I had a long chat with Haas and Brandt and, to be frank, I got a little myopic regarding the show's narrative approach and focused on that to the exception of a slew of other questions. So this interview goes into great depth on character-driven storytelling versus procedural storytelling, but maybe not as much depth on the rest of the series, which premieres on Wednesday night on NBC.
 
We also covered reshoots to the pilot, inevitable "Rescue Me" comparisons and... more about serialized, character-driven storytelling.
 
Check it out...
 
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<p>On &quot;The Mindy Project,&quot;&nbsp;Amar'e Stoudemire hangs with Mindy Kaling.</p>

On "The Mindy Project," Amar'e Stoudemire hangs with Mindy Kaling.

Credit: FOX

The Morning Round-Up: 'New Girl' & 'The Mindy Project' reviews

It's a night for thirtysomethings to hang with twentysomethings

It's morning round-up time, with quick reviews of last night's episodes of "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," coming up just as soon as I spend $49.95 on a subscription to an inaccurate, real-time actuarial service...

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<p>Keira Knightley, Quvenzhan&eacute; Wallis and Marion Cotillard, three of the names vying for Best Actress this year.</p>

Keira Knightley, Quvenzhané Wallis and Marion Cotillard, three of the names vying for Best Actress this year.

Credit: Focus Features/Fox Searchlight/Sony Pictures Classics

Best Actress 2013: Potential nominees from Keira Knightley to Quvenzhané Wallis

Surveying the year's leading ladies as the season commences

It's an annual (if not always accurate) complaint: the Best Actress category is so much weaker than its male counterpart. Even when that does seem to be the case, however, that statement doesn't paint the full picture. Every year, there's an abundance of rich, challenging female lead performances to be found -- just not always in the kind of film Academy members are generally willing to consider. Blame them to some extent, but also blame Hollywood for ensuring that so many gifted actresses have to look to the indie and arthouse fringes for opportunities to shine.

Earlier this year, pundits suggested that the Best Actress field was looking even thinner than usual. As we crawl closer to awards season, picking up festival discoveries and critical favorites along the way, it's looking increasingly competitive -- with only one name, I'd venture, assured a spot on the ballot. Thanks to the trend described in the above paragraph, it's a varied an unusual field, with frontrunners ranging from a red-hot Hollywood ingenue to an 8-year-old amateur to not one, but two, marvelous French-language Cannes sensations. Check out the gallery below as we weigh up their individual pros and cons. You can also keep up with the ups and downs of this race at In Contention's Best Actress Contenders page.   

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<p>Marion Cotillard in &quot;Rust and Bone.&quot;</p>

Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Roundup: Marion Cotillard to be honored at Gotham Awards

Also: 59 world premieres at Rome, and a taste of the 'Skyfall' score

In what will be a handy boost to her Best Actress Oscar campaign for "Rust and Bone," French star Marion Cotillard will receive a career tribute at next month's IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards, traditionally the first stop on the awards calendar. Also due to receive non-competitive honors at the ceremony are Matt Damon, David O. Russell and Participant Media chairman Jeff Skoll. The ceremony takes place a little over a week after Cotillard's film lands in US theaters. Joana Vicente, director of the IFP, stated: "Marion Cotillard is not only a delight to watch, she is one of the most talented women working in cinema around the world today. Her acting choices are always challenging and rewarding, and her performances show that she is a truly skilled artist, totally dedicated to her craft. We are so honored to present this Tribute to a woman of her magnitude.” Here's hoping the Academy agrees. [Filmmaker]   

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<p>Craig T. Nelson and Sam Jaeger in &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Craig T. Nelson and Sam Jaeger in "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parenthood' - 'There's Something I Need To Tell You'

Adam and Kristina begin letting the rest of the family in on their secret

A review of tonight's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I retire with a .147 batting average...

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"Nashville"

 "Nashville"

Credit: ABC

Review: Whether or not you like country 'Nashville' hits all the right notes

Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and great writing will draw you in

For the record: my appreciation of country music doesn't extend much beyond Johnny Cash. Combined with my hazy memories of the 1975 Robert Altman film "Nashville," which I remembered as being muddled (though I'm told it requires repeated viewings), I wasn't hugely excited about the ABC series "Nashville." Like the film, there would be politics (always a crapshoot in television dramas), singing (country singing, natch), a huge cast of characters and lots of soap. But anything with Connie Britton and Powers Boothe (and written by "Thelma & Louise" scribe Callie Khouri) was worth a shot I supposed, albeit reluctantly.

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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' has a tough double elimination

One unlucky couple gets stuck with a Bollywood routine next week

 So, it's time for our double elimination. Is this really necessary? I think that the producers of the show have determined that the all-stars season just isn't exciting enough for some reason, so they need to throw a hella lot of spaghetti at the wall. A double elimination! Paula Abdul! Puppies! Okay, no puppies. Yet. But honestly, there's only so much drama I can take, ABC.

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<p>Amy and Daniel of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Amy and Daniel of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Amy & Daniel talk 'The Amazing Race'

What went wrong with the Indonesian cab?
Teams have made it all the way to the end of "The Amazing Race" only to have their million dollar prize yanked from their hands by less-than-intrepid cab drivers, so maybe we shouldn't feel too sorry for Amy Purdy and Daniel Gale.
 
After all, Amy & Daniel's "Amazing Race" run lasted all of two episodes.
 
In the season premiere, the competitive snowboarder (and double amputee) and her boyfriend (the executive director of an adaptive action sports organization) had the a big advantage heading to the Pit Stop, but opted to help a rival team find a clue, only to have that team catch and pass them in the home stretch. 
 
That act of altruism -- possibly misplaced in a race -- failed to yield any Race Karma, when Sunday's episode say Amy & Daniel take a disastrously ill-directed cab ride in Indonesia. As their driver repeatedly failed to find the location of the Detour, Amy & Daniel fell all the way from second to 10th and they were eliminated from the Race.
 
Yes, they lasted only two episodes, but it was hard not to feel sympathy for a pair that seemed strong, inspirational and generally good-natured. 
 
In this week's "Amazing Race" exit interview, Amy & Daniel discuss their doomed cab ride, including their attempts to correct their course. They also talk about the thought process behind assisting Abbie & Ryan in the opening Leg.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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<p>Tom Hanks is one of the stars of the ambitious 'Cloud Atlas,' which we discussed with the trio of directors who helped bring it to life.</p>

Tom Hanks is one of the stars of the ambitious 'Cloud Atlas,' which we discussed with the trio of directors who helped bring it to life.

Credit: Warner Bros.

An epic interview with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer: From 'Cloud Atlas' to 'Jupiter Ascending'

A huge interview with the trio of filmmakers behind the most ambitious film of the fall

I feel like a guy who has been hunting Bigfoot for a decade who finally, absolutely, completely has proven the existence of Bigfoot, and beyond that, was shocked to realize that Bigfoot is pretty much just a smart, funny couple of science-fiction nerds from Chicago.

After all, at the start of 2012, Andy and Lana Wachowski were a complete mystery to me. They are currently more high-profile and front and center than ever before as they prepare to try to open their most invigorating gamble so far, "Cloud Atlas," which they co-directed, co-wrote, and co-edited with "Run Lola Run" director Tom Tykwer. They raised the money independently and are releasing the film through Warner Bros. on October 26th in the US following a premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in early September and a secret screening at Fantastic Fest at the end of the month.

So right now, that mystery is not nearly as much of a mystery as it used to be, and in the course of that happening, I've gotten a chance to talk about the new film, their previous work, and even what we can expect from "Jupiter Ascending," their next science-fiction film. I have, in essence, come face to face with Bigfoot and gotten every answer I might have wanted and then some.

People should listen when these guys are excited about something they've made. I think "The Matrix" remains one of the great pure pop movies ever, a huge punch landed dead center, and I respect the way they built out the world they created in games, sequels, and animation. I've written about those movies and about "Speed Racer" and "V For Vendetta," and during all of that, they managed to stay fairly low-profile. The work speaks for itself, and the Wachowskis were just names on the screen to the vast majority of their audience.

Like anyone who is familiar with their work, I knew certain things about them. Obviously, there are the films which I've seen, and I've read many of their unproduced screenplays like "Carnivore" and "Plastic Man" and "Assassins," which was radically different on the page than it was onscreen, and even before they had one of their scripts produced, I just plain liked their writing. I read a lot of screenplays, and they've always been entertaining as a read, no matter what the subject. It's a case of voice being more important than the story being told.

On the personal side, I knew that they were intensely private and notoriously press-shy, and I had to guess that at least part of that was because of Lana Wachowski's gender transition over the last decade. Looking at how some of the press has handled any and every mention of the two of them during this process, I understood why they would make the decision to simply avoid doing press of any kind, and at the same time, furious that the actions of the worst of the press kept other people from just being able to have a conversation with the filmmakers about the work itself.

When I was at the Cannes festival this past May, I caught wind of some buyers-only screenings of "Cloud Atlas," and I did everything I could short of fist-fighting a security guard to get in to see the movie early. While I had to leave France disappointed, my efforts were not unnoticed, and in June, I was asked to come see "Cloud Atlas," which was pretty much locked as a cut, although not mixed at that point.

At that point, after seeing what they'd done, I redoubled my efforts and I sent a long, impassioned e-mail to the studio making my case. This is a big film, full of big ideas and big performances, and I felt like there was a real conversation to be had here if they were at all open to it. I didn't hear anything for months, and I was starting to suspect it would be business as usual this time around.

Then at the start of the festival, just after I touched down in Toronto, I got the official word. A general time and a specific place.

Finally. Bigfoot would pose for a photo, and all I had to do was show up with my camera.

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Theo Rossi, Charlie Hunnam, David Labrava and Tommy Flanagan in 'Sons of Anarchy'

Theo Rossi, Charlie Hunnam, David Labrava and Tommy Flanagan in 'Sons of Anarchy'

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' recap: 'Orca Shrugged' goes to extremes

From a very special guest star to a violent attack, just another week in Charming

Gemma: "Not a lot of grey in this life sweetheart. Extremes become average."
Tara: "I'm not sure I find that comforting."
Gemma: "You're not supposed to."

"Sons of Anarchy" certainly went to extremes this week. From a jaw-dropping bit of stunt casting so ridiculous you had to love it, to a tragic burst of violence too predictable by half, "Orca Shrugged" wasn't lacking in big events. But the problem of making a show that lives on extremes is that those extremes can become average. And while this episode was an improvement over last week, it still wasn't anything special.

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<p>The calm before the Battle for Melanie and Caitlin on Tuesday's &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

The calm before the Battle for Melanie and Caitlin on Tuesday's "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Tuesday - The Battles Premiere, Part 2

Several showcase Battles mark the second night of singing conflict
Last night saw the first series of Battle Rounds that involved “The Steal,” and it certainly made this phase of “The Voice” more enjoyable than in past seasons. If that twist does nothing except set up a potential finale involving Trevin Hunte and Amanda Brown, then this addition has done its job. Without that twist, we’d have a sour taste in our mouths after CeeLo Green chose Hunte. Instead? We have a ready-made storyline that can potentially carry into the final moments of the season. If you think producers won’t do everything humanly possible to keep those two around, you’re crazy. That’s not to say the show will be rigged. But keeping these two as far apart as long as possible will only create buzz around the possible rematch down the line.
 
But for now, we must continue through the Battle Rounds themselves. We have only seen six of the thirty-two battles that will unfold over the next few weeks, and six steals are still in play. Let’s see what Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine have planned for their teams in tonight’s one-hour installment. Let’s get tonight’s live blog going. As always, I’ll be jotting down my thoughts in real time.
 
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