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<p>Jeff Zucker.</p>

Jeff Zucker.

Credit: AP

Can ex-NBC boss Jeff Zucker make CNN into must-see TV news?

The man responsible for super-sizing and 'The Jay Leno Show' takes over the cable news giant

The Jeff Zucker era at NBC was a never-ending fountain of both comedy (though not the successful kind) and tragedy, as the former "Today" producer inherited the aging but still strong foundation of Must-See TV and proceeded to turn the network into the biggest joke in the business. He never tried to hide his disdain for the entertainment business and tried to succeed not through developing great programs to take the torch from "Friends" and "ER," but rather through gimmicks like super-sizing or Jay Leno five nights a week in primetime. He once famously said that NBC's focus was now "managing for (profit) margins," and not ratings. I can't speak to the bottom line, but it was clear that Zucker and his various underlings weren't doing a hot job of getting ratings.

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<p>Michael Jackson</p>

Michael Jackson

Happy Birthday 'Thriller!': 5 Ways Michael Jackson's set changed everything

His masterpiece turns 30 on Nov. 30

Nov. 30th marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the best selling studio album in the United States.

Not only was the album a blockbuster that forever sealed Jackson’s fate as one of the most legendary pop artists of all time, it changed the music industry in ways that are still being felt today, three decades later.

Here’s five ways that “Thriller” forever altered the pop landscape:

1. “Thriller” was the first blockbuster title to release seven songs as singles to radio. Until “Thriller,” labels usually put out three or four singles and then the artist went back into the studio to work on the next album. While seven singles is still a stretch for most artists, many superstars routinely go five or six singles deep on an album.

2. “Thriller” was the first major release to come out around the world simultaneously. Previously, release dates were often staggered to accommodate an act’s ability to be in the marketplace for promotional activities when the album came out.  Now, it’s the industry standard for a star with any kind of global reach to have his or her album out worldwide at the same time. In fact, now it’s common for the U.S. release date to move from its usual Tuesday standard release date to Monday to match the release date used by much of the rest of the world. Rihanna and Taylor Swift just did it with their chart toppers.

3. “Thriller” was one of the first albums to release simultaneous singles to different radio formats. After  “The Girl Is Mine” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Epic put out “Billie Jean” to the pop stations and while it was still climbing the charts, pushed “Beat It” to rock radio.

4. “Billie Jean” became the first video by a black superstar artist to be played on MTV (the channel had minimally played videos from a handful of black artists, such as Joan Armatrading). Epic’s parent, CBS, claims they had to threaten to yank all its artists off a then-18 month-old MTV if the channel didn’t play Jackson’s video. MTV says they were always going to play “Billie Jean.” Regardless of which side you believe, Jackson busted through any color barrier at MTV, altering the cable outlet’s programming for good.

5. After breaking down walls with the “Billie Jean” video, MTV and Jackson were close allies. When it came time to debut the 14-minute video for “Thriller,” which MTV paid $1 million for exclusive airing rights, the music channel aired the clip at five designated times per day. It thereby created the first “destination viewing” for a video clip.

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<p>Christopher Nolan on the set of &quot;The&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Knight&nbsp;Rises&quot;</p>

Christopher Nolan on the set of "The Dark Knight Rises"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Nolan talks Bond, Heath Ledger and his 'Dark Knight' trilogy at Lincoln Center

An intimate discussion focused on his seven-year journey with the Caped Crusader

NEW YORK -- "The Dark Knight Rises" director Christopher Nolan stopped by the Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater Wednesday night for one of the Film Society's "An Evening with…" events. Scott Foundas moderated the discussion, which didn't focus on Nolan's full career, but rather, his experience with the character of Batman across a trilogy of films that has changed the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking and, indeed, the awards race itself.

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<p>Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander in &quot;A&nbsp;Royal Affair&quot;</p>

Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander in "A Royal Affair"

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Tech Support: 'Anna Karenina,' 'Snow White and the Huntsman' and 'A Royal Affair' feature in Best Costume Design

Other contenders include 'Lincoln,' 'Les Misérables' and 'The Master'

Oscar night is known for its glamor. “Who are you wearing” becomes a popular question to ask nominees as they make their way down the red carpet. But on screen, clothes do more than make actors look good. They certainly do that, but they also tell us something about the characters who wear them. They reveal things, telling the story visually like every other element of a production.

More than any other category, period pieces tend to dominate here. In many years, all five titles could have been classified as period. While there is usually room for one or occasionally even two fantasy nominees, such titles are not as welcome here as in, say, Best Production Design. Moreover, contemporary films tend to be cited no more than a few times a decade. Indeed, no such film was nominated between 1994 and 2006! Within this realm of “period,” clothes which are foreign and/or exotic are especially welcome, as is royalty.

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<p>Mindy Kaling in &quot;The Mindy Project.&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling in "The Mindy Project."

Credit: ABC

Morning TV Round-Up: 'Suburgatory' & 'The Mindy Project'

'Suburgatory' follows one of its best episodes with one of its worst, while 'Mindy' goes to high school

It's morning round-up time, with quick reviews of last night's "Suburgatory" and Tuesday's "The Mindy Project" coming up just as soon as I read a novelization of the film "Iron Man" for the Gwyneth Paltrow scenes...

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<p>Ben Affleck on the cover of next month's Entertainment Weekly.</p>

Ben Affleck on the cover of next month's Entertainment Weekly.

Credit: EW

Roundup: Ben Affleck is EW's Entertainer of the Year

Also: Matthew Vaughn to (possibly) direct 'Star Wars', and early 'Hobbit' reax

After "Les Mis" premiered last week, a lot of pundits -- including our own Kris Tapley -- installed the film as the Best Picture frontrunner, but I'm not so keen to jump the "Argo" ship. The potential Oscar narrative for Ben Affleck is an attractive one for his Academy peers, and he's sure to receive a lot of honors and accolades over the next few weeks -- beginning with the handy publicity boost of Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year title. I'd have bet on Jennifer Lawrence taking that one, but this is a reminder of just how well-regarded Affleck is in showbiz circles: "Argo" producer George Clooney, naturally, leads the cheers in the magazine's tribute to him. Lawrence is also featured in the issue, of course, alongside Anne Hathaway, Seth MacFarlane and Channing Tatum, all of whom have enjoyed similarly bang-up years. [EW]

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<p>CeeLo Green and the Muppets</p>

CeeLo Green and the Muppets

Credit: AP Photo

Rockefeller Tree Lighting: 7 magical (and weird) musical moments

Mariah Carey, CeeLo Green, Il Volo, Rod Stewart and all the gold trimming

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center tonight became illuminated, and as per usual, the occasion couldn't pass without a little fanfare. Scotty McCreery, Mariah Carey, Victoria Justice and more brought music to thousands of people for thousands of little lights in New York, and live on television.

Below are some stand-outs, for all the various reasons entertainers stand out.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey does not do long sleeves. She does fur stoles, and if not, then evening gloves with sequined short sleeves. And she goes in twice, in a pre-taped segment for her classic "All I Want For Christmas" (gorgeous) and for "Christmas Time Is In The Air Again" (ah, that old relic). She is forever fabulous.
 
CeeLo Green
 
Aside from the unintended hilarity calling CeeLo's holiday song "All I Need Is Love" an “original,” checking the Muppets sing "Mahna Mahna" always feels so right. Furthermore, as the "rap" verse ascends, so does a creature from Green's nethers: Pepe the King Prawn delivers in more than one, awkward way.
 
Il Volo
 
In case you were wondering if writers ever sat at their desk at the TV company, wrote the words “taking the world by storm” for copy and then gave it to someone to say on-air, they do, and Al Roker executed. Il Volo is a small collection of Gap Italia models and they delivered an affected "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," biting their lips, whooshing hair, dipping their face in order to excrete designer eyewear and cosmetic dental work. And then I passed out, I don't remember anything else.
 
 
"The Voice" singer has the Spirit. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is simple and pure, with no need for gold trimmings. 
 
Rod Stewart
 
As a distraction from Rod using the mic stand as a crutch during "Let It Snow," here is a mind-blowing photo of him and CeeLo together.
 
 
There's a skinny tie under there. Johnny Lydon is somewhere, upset.
 
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and he looks like Tony Bennett. This charming pre-taped segment was a gentle reminder that, to Tony Bennett, all of life must be a comedy. He’s got that jolly look, and grins like an old dog, and he’s like “I’m comin’ to town, yeah!” and you're like "Yeah!"
 
Trace Adkins

If trace Adkins ran toward me at a high velocity wearing that fur and that scowl on his face, I’d run for the nearest treeline. But the magic of "We Three Kings" is the equal parts scary and mysterious and uplifting and heaven-toward. Adkins' appearance is a metaphorical representation of the song itself (muse the enigma of pedal steel with nobody sitting at it).
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<p>Malcolm and Abi of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Malcolm and Abi of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'Hell Hath Frozen Over'

With her back against the fall, could Abi become a warrior?
Pre-credit sequence. I'm not going to miss Pete [an uninteresting exit interview]. Will anybody from Dangrayne? Abi will! It's The Morning After and she's whining about the "brutality" of Tribal Council. She declares that their behavior towards her wasn't "cute." [Monkey!] Denise says that Abi's next to go, unless she "miraculously" wins Immunity, but since she wanted to introduce that possibility, she might as well tell us who would be the next target in the event of said miracle. That'd be Jonathan Penner. That's what we so often call "foreshadowing," kids. 
 
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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: '50's Food Flashback'

It's a retro challenge - with a crushing double elimination

Remember the fighting we saw at the end of last week? How everyone hated Dallas John for bagging on Kuniko? Yeah, that wasn't all of it. Of course the show saved a little bit of crazy to kick things off this week, and just to confirm, everyone really, really hate Dallas John. And he's pissed about it! As far as he's concerned, "Josh was a redneck and CJ was playing me." Um, what does that have to do for calling Kuniko just short of an idiot? But wait! Dallas John has one sole defender -- Stefan. I think Stefan's just relieved someone else is the villain this season. 

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<p>From &quot;Ice Age&quot;</p>

From "Ice Age"

Watch: How to Destroy Angels' 'Ice Age' video by John Hillcoat

Trent Reznor and Co. are ready for the Apocalypse

If that Mayan Calendar really does predict The End, Trent Reznor's band How To Destroy Angels is ready for whatever. You can tell they see it coming, because singer Mariqueen Maandig looks to the ocean when she sings "ocean."

The band -- rounded out by Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan -- goes predictably dour for Califone rip "Ice Age," the clip directed by "Lawless" helmer John Hillcoat. There's some beautiful long shots of Maandig and a palate to die for. I like the doves. "An Omen" indeed.

The band's EP "An Omen" is already out and they've promised a full-length for 2013.

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"American Horror Story"

 "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story' recap: 'Dark Cousin'

The angel of death drops by, and Sister Mary Eunice is not amused

Is anyone else having nightmares after watching this show? Anyone? Well, if you are so unlucky as to have the opening credits playing in a nightmarish loop in your head, take heart. Tonight's episode is relatively low on gore (it's hard to top those Shelley episodes), so that should be some small comfort. As luck has it, the angel of death (who pops up almost immediately and is played with understated grace by Frances Conroy) has a strangely calming influence on this episode. Yes, she tends to appear when people are contemplating suicide or are hurtling toward high speed car accidents, but in her modest black suit and kick-ass black wings, she makes the Big Sleep seem no more troubling than closing your eyes and leaning in for a kiss. Of course, when you're stuck at Briarcliff, the angel of death probably isn't all that scary at all.

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<p>Britney Spears vamps in the official music video for &quot;Scream and Shout.&quot;</p>

Britney Spears vamps in the official music video for "Scream and Shout."

Credit: Interscope Records

Watch: Will.I.Am and Britney Spears video for 'Scream & Shout'

Let it all out to a fab looking Spears

There’s no there there, but that doesn’t mean everyone won’t be talking about the new video by Will.I.Am and Britney Spears for “Scream & Shout.”

The futuristic, minimalistic clip is a cheap-looking affair that displays no chemistry between the two (they only appear together in what looks like a photoshopped scene). This is less of a collaboration than some not-so-clever cut-and-paste job.

[More after the jump...]

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