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<p>Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn in &quot;Scandal.&quot;</p>

Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn in "Scandal."

Credit: ABC

Review: 'Scandal' - 'Nobody Likes Babies'

The reinvented Shonda Rhimes drama wraps up its first major arc in fine fashion

When "Scandal" debuted last spring, I wasn't sure what to make of it, beyond recognizing that Kerry Washington had the goods to carry a series and Shonda Rhimes had fashioned an excellent role for her.

This season, though, Rhimes has kicked the show up to another level by ditching the Crisis of the Week procedural format in favor of reinventing "Scandal" as a gonzo hybrid of conspiracy thriller and high-stakes soap opera, involving election rigging, a presidential assassination attempt, a failed internal White House coup, and all sorts of other crazy shenanigans. It's ludicrous on virtually every level; it's also an enormous amount of fun, thanks to the writing and the performances.(*)

(*) The series has also benefited from ditching the charming but redundant Henry Ian Cusick and beefing up Josh Malina's role as a good guy who's righteously focused on bringing down Olivia.

Rhimes treated the season's first 13 episodes as one big arc, which culminated tonight with a whole bunch of revelations, shifted allegiances, and dastardly conduct. "Nobody Likes Babies" was a particularly strong showcase for Jeff Perry and Bellamy Young, and it resolved almost everything from this arc while setting up some interesting new conflicts for whatever comes next.

I'm talking to Rhimes sometime next week about how she reinvented the show for the better, but I wanted to mark the end of this first arc, and see what those of you who've been watching all along felt about how things wrapped up. We'll see if Rhimes can find a way to top this, but for now, bravo.

What did everybody else think?

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"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

'The Vampire Diaries' recap: 'Into the Wild'

Professor Shane leads the gang on a quest for Silas

If you thought all the mass killing and double-crossing and flip-flopping leading to our Scooby gang finally getting down to the nitty gritty of unearthing Silas, well, there's more where that came from. Tonight's episode is about all the many, many moving parts of this plot, and honestly, it's enough to make your head hurt. I can't decide whether Professor Shane is an evil genius or just confused, because if it's the latter? Can't blame him a bit. 

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<p>Zhang Ziyi in &quot;The Grandmaster.&quot;</p>

Zhang Ziyi in "The Grandmaster."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Wong Kar-wai's long-awaited 'The Grandmaster' opens Berlin on a conflicted note

Typically gorgeous but narratively choppy martial arts epic fails to fly

BERLIN - The waiting, as noted philosopher Thomas Earl Petty once said, is the hardest part. Just as some of Terrence Malick's languorously produced films premiered as near-mirages, to the point that the mere fact of their existence had to be absorbed before the critical conversation could begin in earnest, it's difficult to consider Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster" without its extensively delayed arrival having some effect on one's gut response.

In the moment, heated anticipation can turn a merely good film into a masterpiece, a mere misfire into a disaster. "The Grandmaster," a predictably picturesque but surprisingly unconfident foray into would-be lusty commercial movie-making for the singular arthouse stylist of "Chungking Express" and "In the Mood for Love," goes to neither of these extremes, but its missteps are doubly dismaying for the knowledge that Wong deliberated over them so long.

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<p>Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Ann's Decision'

Ann wants a baby, April wants to be more like Leslie, and the guys get food poisoning

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I stand trial for counterfeiting Euros...

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<p>Jim Rash and Joel McHale in &quot;Community.&quot;</p>

Jim Rash and Joel McHale in "Community."

Credit: NBC

Season premiere review: 'Community' - 'History 101'

Dean Pelton hosts his own 'Hunger Games' as the study group returns for senior year

"Community" is back for a new season. I published my review of the start of the post-Dan Harmon era this morning, and I have specific thoughts on the premiere coming up just as soon as you waive the tomfoolery prerequisite...

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<p>Avicii</p>

Avicii

Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Images

Grammy Awards 2013: Handicapping Best Dance Recording

Why is Al Walser up against Skrillex and Avicii?

As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at Best Dance Recording.

Best Dance Recording nominees:
“Levels,” Avicii
“Let’s Go,” Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo
“Bangarang,” Skrillex
“Don’t Your Worry Child,” Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
“I Can’t Live Without You,” Al Walser


WHO’S MISSING:
Anything by David Guetta. The dance screening committee may now consider him too pop for inclusion in this category, which is pretty hard core, despite some of the songs having expanded beyond their initial dance home.

THE PLAYERS:
You can be forgiven if you saw Al Walser’s name and went, “Huh?” Like last year when an unknown named Linda Chorney was nominated in the Americana category, Walser, an EDM producer from Liechtenstein, simply knew how to game the system by lobbying Grammy voters through Grammy’s in-house social network, Grammy365. Otherwise, this is a very solid slate.

THE ODDS: Swedish House Mafia has been at this longer than Avicii, Calvin Harris and Skrillex, but that may not count for anything in an industry that wants to reward the new innovators. Plus, “Don’t You Worry Child” probably became a pop hit a little too late in the voting process to affect dance dilettantes voting in this category.  “Levels” was massive for Avicii from colleges to clubs to radio, but Skrillex seemed omnipresent this year and was the face of dubstep.

THE WINNER: “Bangarang,” Skrillex

Previous predictions:

Record of the Year
Best Urban Contemporary Album

Song of the Year
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Best Rock Song
Best R&B Performance
Best Pop Vocal Album
Best New Artist
 

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<p>&quot;Paul's Not Home&quot;</p>

"Paul's Not Home"

Credit: Third Man

Jack White at work on new solo album and drops track with Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes

Label man an axe-wielder already 20 songs in to a 'Blunderbuss' follow-up

Surprising no one, Jack White says that he's already knees deep into making a new solo album, the follow-up to 2012's "Blunderbuss."

Talking to BBC 6 Music, the Third Man Records founder and current Grammy nominee said “I’m writing a lot of songs for another record… I have over 20 tracks I’m working on right now.”

America will be hearing a bit more from White this coming weekend, as he hits the stage for the 2013 Grammy Awards in support of his three nods at this year's ceremony, including Album of the Year.

White also revealed in his interview this week that 25,000 blues tracks originally released on Document Records are going to be remastered and reissued on Third Man Records. That's a lot of tracks, maybe even more than he's produced in the last two years. BAH-ZING.

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<p>Let's pretend that Famke Janssen showed up for the interview featured on this week's podcast dressed exactly like this, because that would be awesome.</p>

Let's pretend that Famke Janssen showed up for the interview featured on this week's podcast dressed exactly like this, because that would be awesome.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Motion/Captured Podcast goes in-depth on 'Star Wars' and 'Django Unchained'

Plus we talk to Famke Janssen about being typecast and playing bad

This is a long episode of the podcast.  It sort of had to be.

Consider this: Scott Swan and I met when we were in high school.  We moved to Los Angeles in 1990.  For much of the time since then, we have worked together daily, sometimes for up to ten or twelve hours.  It is safe to say that there is no other person who I have had more conversations with other than, perhaps, my parents, and even then, I think Scott may still be the winner in terms of sheer hours logged.

I'd wager that about 85% of that time spent talking to Scott had something to do with "Star Wars."

Even so, because of the way things work these days, when the news that JJ Abrams is directing "Star Wars" broke, I was on my way home from Sundance.  I was at the airport.  I wrote about it that night.  I've written about it since then.  But for one reason or another, I hadn't spoken to Scott about it.  Not in e-mail.  Not by text.  Not on the phone.  Not at all.  And I realized that if we were going to talk about it, we should do it for the podcast.

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<p>Elton John on &quot;Chelsea Lately&quot;</p>

Elton John on "Chelsea Lately"

Credit: E!

Elton John guesting on new Queens Of The Stone Age album, because why not

Sound City man sits down with another great on 'Chelsea Lately'

Dave Grohl not only wielded his fame for good for doc "Sound City," but he has also been able to wrangle more music stars for his "Chelsea Lately" takeover this week, last night's guest Elton John included.

The "Rocket Man" singer sat down with the Foo Fighters frontman to confirm something nobody expected: that he would be featured on the forthcoming Queens of the Stoneage album.

"Recently Elton and I recorded something together, something people wouldn’t imagine the two of us doing together," Grohl started. Imagination... yes. That's what this takes.

Grohl, Trent Reznor, the Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Mark Lanegan and Brody Dalle (of the Distillers, and also Homme's wife) are lined up to guest on the new QOTSA set as well, with release and title TBA. Grohl had that rock band's frontman Josh Homme on hand for "Sound City," and the two collaborated with Trent Reznor for a new song "Mantra."

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<p>Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy will co-direct 'Tammy,' which they co-wrote based on a character that McCarthy created.</p>

Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy will co-direct 'Tammy,' which they co-wrote based on a character that McCarthy created.

Credit: AP Photo/Invision/Todd Williamson

Melissa McCarthy signs to co-direct Shirley MacLaine road comedy 'Tammy'

She also co-wrote the film that she'll star in with the comedy legend

How funny.  As I was writing my piece about "Identity Thief," looking at how a movie like that happens in the wake of a comedy breakthrough like the one Melissa McCarthy had on "Bridesmaids," machinery was in motion to set up a deal that is essential if McCarthy hopes to have any control over her fate.

"Tammy" is a film that will very much demonstrate what voice McCarthy hopes to have as a creator as well as an actor.  She's set to co-direct the film with Ben Falcone, her husband and creative partner.  It was a project that McCarthy helped set up with New Line last year, and she's set to star in it playing a character she created, and she and Falcone co-wrote the script.  It's about a woman who is laid off from a job at Hardee's.  When she learns that her husband is having an affair, she grabs her alcoholic foul-mouthed grandmother and hits the road with her for a comic road trip.  Shirley MacLaine is evidently in talks to play the grandmother, and I think they can cut a pretty convincing trailer of the two of them trading full-tilt R-rated barbs.  It's the sort of casting that goes a long way to getting something a greenlight.

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<p>Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in &quot;Argo.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in "Argo."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Contender Countdown: 'Argo' vs. 'Lincoln' to the bitter end?

Pundits are heading Ben Affleck's way, but are Academy voters?

Well the Oscar pundits have spoken again and - surprise - it appears a number of our peers are jumping on the "Argo" bandwagon.  

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<p>Roman Coppola poses for a portrait at the 2013 Oscar Nominee Luncheon</p>

Roman Coppola poses for a portrait at the 2013 Oscar Nominee Luncheon

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Roman Coppola on collaborating with Wes Anderson on 'Moonrise Kingdom'

The Oscar nominee calls their process 'practical' and 'matter of fact'

It was a series of circumstances that led to Roman Coppola's working relationship with director Wes Anderson. Filmmaker Kit Carson first introduced the two after being involved with Anderson's short film (and soon-to-be feature) "Bottle Rocket." Coppola really liked the film but doesn't recall whether there was necessarily any spark of a future collaboration in there. It was just the beginnings of an aesthetic appreciation.

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