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<p>Robert Redford, Keri&nbsp;Putnam and John Cooper at this morning's Sundance press conference</p>

Robert Redford, Keri Putnam and John Cooper at this morning's Sundance press conference

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Robert Redford and company look back on 'Beasts' success as Sundance gets underway

Benh Zeitlin's Oscar nominee is an example of why the fest exists, Redford says

PARK CITY - A year ago this week an unassuming indie called "Beasts of the Southern Wild" came to Park City looking for an intimate audience here at the very least, a distribution deal and therefore a chance at a wider audience at the very most. Certainly things like Oscar nominations were way off the radar, and yet, a week ago, the film landed major nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and, perhaps the most surprising nomination of the year, Best Director.

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<p>&quot;Interior.Leather.Bar&quot; is just one film expected to increase the sexual quotient at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.</p>

"Interior.Leather.Bar" is just one film expected to increase the sexual quotient at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

10 predictions for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Bonus: It won't be snowing this year

 PARK CITY - The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is only hours away from kicking off with four premieres tonight: the documentary mystery "Who is Dayani Cristal?", U.S. dramatic competition entry "May in the Summer," "Crystal Fairy" with Michael Cera and the music doc "Twenty Feet from Stardom" (oh yeah, and "Shorts Program 1").  The early buzz is all about James Franco and his two sex movies ("Interior.Leather.Bar." and "Kink"), but by Saturday night the conversation will likely have shifted to the "big surprise" and hot acquisition targets. With that in mind, here are 10 predictions for the next week of festival going in Park City.

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

Ben Affleck in "Argo."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Gay & Lesbian Critics go for 'Argo'

Day-Lewis and Hathaway add to their haul, and 'The Paperboy' isn't forgotten

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics' Association, who announced their nominees last week, distinguished themselves with some idiosyncratic categories, handing indie relationship drama "Keep the Lights On" their Best LGBT Film award, and sharing their "Campy Flick" prize between "Magic Mike" (which isn't particularly campy) and "The Paperboy" (which very much is). In the top categories, however, they fell in line behind season-long favorites, opting for "Argo" as the year's best film, and further decorating the trophy cabinets of Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway. Full list of film winners after the jump; everything else at The Circuit.

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<p>Mia Wasikowska stars as India, a young girl who finds herself in a terrible bind in Park Chan-wook's 'Stoker,' which is about to debut at the Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Mia Wasikowska stars as India, a young girl who finds herself in a terrible bind in Park Chan-wook's 'Stoker,' which is about to debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Exclusive: Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode in new 'Stoker' images

A new peek at Park Chan-wook's new film on the eve of its Sundance premiere

One of the films I watched over the Christmas holiday was Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow Of A Doubt." I watched it because I was in the midst of watching several Alfred Hitchock titles recently released on Blu-ray, I watched it because it's a great movie that I hadn't seen in many years, and I watched it because I suspect it is the spiritual godfather of Park Chan-wook's first American film, "Stoker," which I'll be seeing in just a few days here at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

If you're not familiar with "Shadow Of A Doubt," it tells the story of a bright young woman named Charlie (Teresa Wright) who is excited when her beloved Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) comes to stay with her family.  When she begins to suspect that her uncle may be a killer on the run from the law, the film turns into an exercise in tension.  "Stoker," written by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson, tells the story of a young woman named India (Mia Wasikowska) whose father dies.  An Uncle Charlie she never knew about shows up, played by Matthew Goode, and moves in with India and her mother (Nicole Kidman), and the first trailer made it look like it also turns into an exercise in tension.

Obviously the lesson here is that you can never ever trust an Uncle Charlie, no matter what.

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<p>Ed Sheeran</p>

Ed Sheeran

Credit: AP Photo

Ed Sheeran prepping new album while on Taylor Swift's tour

Will the pair sing "Everything Has Changed" together?

Ed Sheeran is still riding high on his hit, “The A-Team,” with “Lego House” in the wings, but he already has his next album in mind.

The British singer/songwriter, who will hit the road with Taylor Swift this spring, tells Billboard that he has already written 26 songs for the next record. “I’ve got another nine months on the road to keep writing as well so the record’s definitely on his way.” He predicts a February 2014 release date. He expects to record on the road as well.

Sheeran, who co-wrote “Everything Has Changed” with Swift for her current album, “Red,” will be the opening act for Swift for her outing, which begins March 13 in Omaha, Neb.

He says the song, which they wrote on a trampoline, “was pretty much 100% her idea in the first place. I did what I could to help, but she definitely knows what she’s doing.” They'll have plenty of time to write together while on tour, so maybe a Sheeran/Swift compostion will show up on his new album.

As for his follow-up to “+,” Sheeran says to expect a slighter maturer sound. “Most of the first record was written when I was 17, 18, at the time, and I’m 21 now. So I’ve definitely evolved in the way I write songs and the way I perform. The whole mindspace. So it’s going to be a little more developed.”


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<p>&quot;The Hunger Games&quot; is nominated in the fantasy category at the Costume Designers' Guild Awards.</p>

"The Hunger Games" is nominated in the fantasy category at the Costume Designers' Guild Awards.

Credit: Lionsgate

'Skyfall,' 'Hunger Games' and others join Oscar nominees on Costume Designers Guild list

Guild has separate categories for period, fantasy and contemporary work

Traditionally the last of the guilds to announce their nominations, the Costume Designers' Guild stuck to their guns this year, meaning they unveiled their nominees a week after the Academy's unusually early reveal. The order may be reversed, but the degree of overlap seems to be unaffected, as all five Oscar nominees for Best Costume Design made the CDG's larger list, which includes 15 films across period, fantasy and contemporary categories.

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<p>Will the gang from &quot;It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia&quot;&nbsp;be at the center of an FX&nbsp;spin-off channel?</p>

Will the gang from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" be at the center of an FX spin-off channel?

Credit: FX

FX x FX = Twice as good? Or half?

Reports say cable channel will split its comedy and drama series across two different channels

When it comes to original programming, FX is one of the most consistent, entertaining channels in all of television. But will two FX channels be better than one?

According to several published reports (like this one in Broadcasting & Cable), Fox Networks is on the verge of changing its Fox Soccer channel into an FX spin-off network, tentatively titled FXX, with a focus on both comedy and a slightly younger audience to differentiate itself from FX.

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<p>Metallica's James Hetfield</p>

Metallica's James Hetfield

Credit: AP Photo

Metallica documentary-drama 'Through the Never' due in August

Dane DeHaan starring in concert-led 3D feature, with a 're-opening' of Picturehouse

Metallica's 3D film will not only be a documentary, but part-drama as well. Dane DeHaan ("Lawless," "Chronicle") will be co-starring beside the metal band in "Metallica Through the Never," due August 9,  as "a young band crew member who is sent out on an urgent mission while the band is playing a rousing live set in front of a sold-out crowd and unexpectedly finds his world turned completely upside down."

As previously reported, Nimród Antal ("Kontroll") is at the helm of the film, which is named for one of the legendary crew's songs (below). The concert footage was shot in August at a Metallica show in Vancouver, and it will get released via Picturehouse, the movie distributor that has described the "Never" release as a "re-opening" of its doors.

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<p>Blake Shelton</p>

Blake Shelton

Credit: NBC

Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney have new albums this spring

They join Tim McGraw for a male country star motherlode

It’s turning into a banner year for releases from male country superstars.

Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton will join Tim McGraw with new albums out over the next few months.

Chesney’s new set is still untitled, but will be released on April 30.  He’ll begin touring behind it, or actually, in front of it, on March 16 in Tampa on the “No Shoes Nation” tour.

Blake Shelton will take some time off from “The Voice”  this summer for the "Ten Times Crazier" tour, but first, he’ll have a new album as well. The album is still untitled and the release date has only been narrowed down to “this spring,” according to his label. However, the first single, “Sure Be Cool If You Did,” is already climbing the country charts and is his fastest rising single so far.

McGraw's album, "Two Lanes of Freedom," comes out Feb. 19.

Shelton’s tour will start after the next season of “The Voice” concludes. It will kick off July 19 in Virginia Beach, Va. at the Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach amphitheater (that rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it).

Below are tour dates for Shelton. Easton Corbin and Jana Kramer will open.  For Chesney’s tour dates, go here, and for McGraw’s tour, which was announced earlier this week, go here.


7/19     Virginia Beach, VA             Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach

7/20     Bristow, VA                           Jiffy Lube Live

7/21     Wantagh, NY                       Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

7/26     St. Louis, MO                       Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

7/27     Noblesville, IN                     Klipsch Music Center

7/28     Cincinnati, OH                     Riverbend Music Center

8/1       Cuyahoga Falls, OH           Blossom Music Center

8/2       Burgettstown, PA                First Niagara Pavilion

8/3       Tinley Park, IL                      First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

8/9       Raleigh, NC                         Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion

8/10     Camden, NJ                         Susquehanna Bank Center

8/11     Bethel, NY                            Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

8/29     Atlanta, GA                           Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood

8/30     Tampa, FL                            1-800-ASK GARY Amphitheatre

8/31     West Palm Beach, FL         Cruzan Amphitheatre

9/5       Holmdel, NJ                          PNC Bank Arts Center

9/6       Hartford, CT                          Comcast Theatre

9/7       Mansfield, MA                      Comcast Center

9/12     St. Paul, MN                         Xcel Energy Center

9/13     Milwaukee, WI                     Bradley Center

9/14     Auburn Hills, MI                  The Palace of Auburn Hills

9/19     Charleston, WV                   Charleston Civic Center

9/20     Columbus, OH                     Nationwide Arena

9/21     Lexington, KY                      Rupp Arena

9/26     Charlottesville, VA              John Paul Jones Arena

9/27     Knoxville, TN                       Thompson-Boling Arena

9/28     Nashville, TN                       Bridgestone Arena

10/3     Kansas City, MO                 Sprint Center

10/4     Tulsa, OK                              BOK Arena

10/5     Wichita, KS                          INTRUST Bank Arena          


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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: AP Photo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Restaurant Wars'

Kristen and Sheldon duke it out

It's time for Restaurant Wars! As Stefan says, this challenge is always a bleep show, and almost immediately I get the impression this episode will be no different than previous seasons. Stefan and Josh know nothing about Sheldon's Filipino cuisine, and Kristen has to put up with Josie. This is, I think, the greater disadvantage. 

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<p>Sure, I could have found and printed a picture of what Jessica Chastain is looking at in this scene in 'Mama,' but what fun would that be?</p>

Sure, I could have found and printed a picture of what Jessica Chastain is looking at in this scene in 'Mama,' but what fun would that be?

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Del Toro-produced 'Mama' features a heartbroken monster and some serious mood

A sad and somber ghost story features strong design and performances

One thing becomes clear if you watch the horror films that Guillermo Del Toro is involved in:  more often than not, he sympathizes with the monsters more than any of the "regular" humans who appear in the films.  No doubt that was one of the things that drew him to "Mama," a project that began as a short film and that is now a full-length feature starring Jessica Chastain, opening in theaters everywhere on Friday.  While the titular specter is creepy and at times very threatening, there is a sadness that ultimately defines who or what "Mama" really is, and that seems more important than the scares.

It's an interesting choice considering how often modern horror films seem to exist merely to service cheap shock gags, but Del Toro is nothing if not a lover of the classic tropes of the genre.  His movie "The Devil's Backbone" is a good example of a ghost story that has more on its mind than just SCARE SCARE SCARE SCARE, and his movie "Pan's Labyrinth" may include monsters and supernatural landscapes, but it's hardly an empty thrill ride.  And while Del Toro is not the primary author of "Mama," his name is certainly being used prominently to help sell this to the public because Universal believes (correctly, I suspect) that Del Toro has managed to define a certain kind of horror that he is associated with.  I didn't love "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark," but I think it's another solid example of the sensibility that Del Toro responds to in other filmmakers.  In that case, he and Matthew Robbins wrote a script that Troy Nixey ended up directing, and you can definitely feel his influence in the film's DNA.

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"American Idol"

 "American Idol"

Credit: Fox

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Premiere Blog - New York Auditions

Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban join the judges' table

First off, Dan is fine. He was planning to be with all of you today, but alas, it was not to be. He called me shortly after he landed in Park City, Utah (where he's on deck to cover Sundance) and asked me to pinch hit, as the wi-fi there was on the fritz. There are very few things that can keep Dan from his appointed rounds (he's like a postal carrier that way), but an inability to actually file a story will take any reporter down at the knees. To complicate matters, I was in Santa Clarita visiting the set of "Vegas" at the time, so I'm also coming to the party a little late (thus, the lack of live blogging). My apologies in advance if this seems a little harried because, well... it is. So let's get on with the show!

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