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<p>Taylor Swift performing this week in London</p>

Taylor Swift performing this week in London

Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Taylor Swift's 'Red' and Ne-Yo's 'R.E.D.' battle it out on next week's Billboard 200

Aerosmith and Third Day also crack the Top 10

Taylor Swift will make it three weeks at No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200 with sales of up to 225,000 for "Red."

That means it will outsell the No. 2 title, “Now That’s What I Call Music 44,” by more than 2-to-1, with that compilation set to top out at 100,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

“Now 44” is joined by three other debuts: “Music From Another Dimension” from Aerosmith, the band’s first album of new material in more than a decade, comes in at No. 3 with sales of 70,000. Ne-Yo’s’s “R.E.D.” sneaks into the top 5 at 60,000 (making two different albums titled "Red" in the top 5). Third Day’s “Miracle” cracks the top 10 with 30,000 units sold.

Filling in the rest of Top 10, Rod Stewart’s holiday album, “Merry Christmas Baby,”  is No. 4, while Jason Aldean’s former No. 1, “Night Train,” is No. 6. Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” falls two spots to No. 7, while Meek Mill’s “Dreams And Nightmares” and Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” are in a dead heat for No. 8 with both projected to sell between 35,000 and 40,000.



 

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<p>It should be interesting to see who they bring back for 'Episode VII'</p>

It should be interesting to see who they bring back for 'Episode VII'

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm confirms Michael Arndt as 'Star Wars' writer and new details on directors emerge

Lucasfilm seems awfully chatty this time around

Well, that was quick.

My guess at this point is that we'll hear the name of the director making "Episode VII" before the end of November.  If Lucasfilm and Disney were willing to announce the hiring of Michael Arndt today, then it's obviously been in the works for a while, and they are most likely further along in the process than anyone guessed.

Star Wars.com posted another video today with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy, and they evidently plan to post a new video every week.  I think it's interesting to see how different their approach to talking to the audience is this time around than it was when they were gearing up for the prequel trilogy.

Since we now know that Michael Arndt is writing "Episode VII" and that he's already written treatments for the trilogy, the big question is who will direct, and Kathleen Kennedy talks at length about what attributes they're going to be looking for in a director.  It should be no surprise that "enthusiasm for the series" is the most important thing.  Kennedy is correct, of course, that there is a whole generation of filmmakers working today who were drawn to film in the first place by "Star Wars," and I don't think they'll have any trouble finding people who are interested in playing in this universe.

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<p>John Noble of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>

John Noble of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There '

The show's season-long scavenger hunt slows things down to a crawl at an inopportune time
There’s a tendency to overanalyze episodes of television shows as they approach their announced end dates. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s one that’s coincided with the rise of online analysis of shows on a weekly basis. Even when a show like “M*A*S*H” ended, there simply weren’t the forums available for widespread, multidirectional analysis, no matter how many fans watched that finale. So on one level, it’s unfair to judge tonight’s episode of “Fringe” based on the fact that only seven more will ever air. On the other hand, “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There” would be a middling episode of “Fringe” at best were it not placed at this time in the show’s run. As is? It’s a borderline travesty.
 
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<p>George Clooney, seen here accepting an award for Being Generally Awesome, could star in Brad Bird's science-fiction film '1952'</p>

George Clooney, seen here accepting an award for Being Generally Awesome, could star in Brad Bird's science-fiction film '1952'

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello/Invision

George Clooney may star in Brad Bird's UFO movie '1952'

With story details still closely guarded, this is an intriguing package

It's interesting that when people started listing A-list filmmakers they'd want to see tackle the next "Star Wars" film, Brad Bird's name came up more than almost any other.  I've had faith in Bird's abilities as a storyteller for years, and as soon as I saw a rough cut of "Iron Giant," I was ready to declare the guy a national treasure.  It wasn't until he made the jump to live-action filmmaking with "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' that he was suddenly at the top of every fanboy's wish list for pretty much every genre film in development.

I'm excited to see him develop original material, though, because I think he's got a strong voice and he's got a deeply-rooted love of genre.  He's exactly the sort of guy we should be supporting in the creation of new properties instead of just dumping the familiar on him over and over.  Sure, he'd make a great "Star Wars" movie, but I'd rather see whatever "1952" is from him instead.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare'.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare'."

Credit: Gracie Films

10 films advance to Oscar shortlist for Best Animated Short

And they range from Disney's 'Paperman' to a Maggie Simpson adventure

The Oscars may seem some way off still, but the short film categories are already getting down to business. A couple of weeks ago, we got the official, er, shortlist for Best Documentary Short; now, Best Animated Short is the next category to whittle down the playing field.

Ten titles have advanced to the second voting stage, selected by the Academy's Short Film and Feature Animation Reviewing Committee from a pool of 56 entries. Interestingly, the press release states that three to five of the 10 will be nominated, though there haven't been fewer than five nominees in the category since 2000.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Lincoln&quot;</p>

A scene from "Lincoln"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Lincoln'

Steven Spielberg's look at the 16th President hits theaters today

One of the most buzzed films of the Oscar season hits theaters today after having its "official" bow at AFI Fest last night. The film comes into the season with huge expectations and, by most accounts -- including, most definitely, my own -- it rises to them. But I don't expect the film will land so well with everyone, so I'll be curious to hear what others think. When you get around to it, do let us know your take in the comments section below. And as always, feel free to rate it above.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 95 -- Everyone's predicting, 'Lincoln' and 'Skyfall' land

Oscar Talk: Ep. 95 -- Everyone's predicting, 'Lincoln' and 'Skyfall' land

Also: Digging into Best Cinematography

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

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<p>Daniel&nbsp;Craig in &quot;Skyfall&quot;</p>

Daniel Craig in "Skyfall"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Skyfall'

50 years of Bond comes to this

I'm kind of hoping I can get to the theater while I'm in LA this week to see Sam Mendes' "Skyfall" again, which I quite liked. Guy was mostly positive on it, too. I'd particularly like to take it in on IMAX to soak in those beautiful Roger Deakins images. With much talk after the film opened early overseas (mopping up at the box office), it landed on these shores yesterday. So I'm very curious to know what our readers might think of it. If you get around to seeing it, come on back here and tell us what you thought. And as always, feel free to rate it above.

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<p>From Soundgarden's &quot;Been Away Too Long&quot;</p>

From Soundgarden's "Been Away Too Long"

Watch: Soundgarden's chilling 'Been Away Too Long'; announces 2013 tour dates

Clip right in line with 'King Animal' cover art

For Soundgarden fans, the rock band has, indeed, "Been Away Too Long." Thankfully, the group has unleashed an uneasy music video for that track to ease their mind.

The impressive clip is almost entirely in slow-motion, with a mental patient making her way through a ward that's between "Session 9" and "Shutter Island." The wintry setting also hosts German shepherds and gas-masked military guards and she flees through a maze of snow and skulls. It's actually pretty awesome, her attempt to escape and the shattering finale. The creepy director-genius Josh Graham helmed; the art director has also worked with Neurosis, so that makes some sense.

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<p>Daniel Craig at the BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards on Wednesday.</p>

Daniel Craig at the BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards on Wednesday.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Day-Lewis, Craig, Tarantino honored at Britannia Awards

The BAFTA/LA event will be broadcast on Sunday

With Alan Cumming hosting, Matt Stone and Trey Parker on the winners list and Daniel Day-Lewis taking the stage with an Eastwooding routine, BAFTA/LA's Britannia Awards sound considerably more fun than their parent organization's February ceremony across the pond. Then again, that's often the case with awards shows the general public doesn't really know about -- though they'll have a chance to see for themselves when the ceremony is broadcast this Sunday on BBC America.

The Britannia Awards, which have been held by the British Academy's Los Angeles outcrop since 1989, aren't a competitive ceremony, but rather a celebration of a selected handful of individuals -- usually mostly British, though not this year -- deemed to have enriched the medium. It's not an award tied to specific films, though they often alight on artists who already have a clear presence in the awards season.

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<p>Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in &quot;A Royal Affair,&quot; Denmark's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar</p>

Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in "A Royal Affair," Denmark's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Roundup: Oscar hopeful 'A Royal Affair' wins big at AFI Fest

Also: THR's actors' roundtable, and Virginia loves 'Lincoln'

The AFI Fest closed last night with the "world premiere" (even if the NYFF let the cat out of the bag weeks ago) of "Lincoln," but not before handing out some awards. And the big winner was... well, Scandinavia. Swedish immigrant drama "Eat Sleep Die" took the Grand Jury Prize, and the superb Danish thriller "A Hijacking" (see my Variety review) took the Audience Award in the New Auteurs section, but the big winner from an Oscar perspective was Denmark's foreign-language submission "A Royal Affair," which underlined its serious contender status by taking the World Cinema Audience Award. Not many were paying attention when it won two prizes at Berlin in February, but this smart historical romance has grown in stature ever since. It wasn't the only foreign Oscar hopeful to take a gong: Kenya's first-ever entry, "Nairobi Half Life" was also rewarded. [AFI Fest

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<p>Luke Pasqualino as a young William Adama in &quot;Battlestar Galactica:&nbsp;Blood &amp;&nbsp;Chrome.&quot;</p>

Luke Pasqualino as a young William Adama in "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome."

Credit: Syfy

'Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome' goes back to Adama's rookie days

Prequel series pilot makes its debut on YouTube

The night that Sci Fi executives screened the "Battlestar Galactica" finale for critics and VIPs, we were told two things: 1)The channel's name was changing to Syfy, which was pronounced the same, spelled in a more goofy manner, but which, we all assumed, would be trademarkable in a way that "Sci Fi" was not; and 2)With the end of "BSG," The Channel About To Be Formerly Known As Sci Fi was also shifting away from the spaceships and other hard science fiction trappings in favor of more earthbound shows like "Warehouse 13" that would be the slightly weird second cousin to what was airing on USA.

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