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<p>Surprise!&nbsp;We're still here!!!</p>

Surprise! We're still here!!!

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Dublin critics award Haneke, Phoenix, Riva and...'The Artist?'

Gareth Evans spotlighted for breakthrough work with 'The Raid: Redemption'

If you thought we had escaped the year of "The Artist," you were wrong. The Dublin Film Critics Circle has chosen Michel Hazanavicius's Best Picture winner as the year's best film, as it opened on those shores in 2012. It joins Michael Haneke, Joaquin Phoenix, Emmanuelle Riva and more for top honors this year. Check out the full list below (with curious ties throughout), and as always, keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>A&nbsp;zombie from &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

A zombie from "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

AMC renews 'The Walking Dead,' but showrunner Glen Mazzara departs

Second producer switch in two seasons comes over creative differences

AMC has renewed "The Walking Dead" for a fourth season, but the zombie drama will once again be making a change at showrunner, as Glen Mazzara will be leaving the series after post-production work concludes on season 3.

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<p>Alexandre Desplat</p>

Alexandre Desplat

Credit: AP Photo

Alexandre Desplat on working with Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck

Golden Globe-nominated composer and 'believing' in 'Rise of the Guardians'

At a recent reception for Alexandre Desplat at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel  to promote his “Rise Of The Guardian’s” score, the composer jokingly offered to validate my parking ticket. “Anything to get the gig,” he laughed. “I’m actually playing piano tonight in the ballroom.”

Even without supplying such additional services, the prolific Desplat is Incredibly in demand for his agile flair and ability to score virtually any genre. This year alone, he wrote music for an wide array of films, including “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rust and Bone” and the aforementioned “Rise Of The Guardians.” 

His past scores include “The King’s Speech,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Queen,” “The Tree of Life,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Parts 1 and 2.”

Desplat received his sixth Golden Globe nomination earlier this month for “Argo”; the work won the Satellite Award for best original score on Dec. 16.

At the DreamWorks Animation reception, I grabbed a few minutes with Desplat to talk about some of his work this year. We didn’t have time to cover “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Rust & Bone,” as he was also running the valet operation that night and needed to fetch Jeffrey Katzenberg his car. (Just kidding on that last part).

  Desplat wrote a staggering 82 minutes of music for the film, ranging from action themes to lullabies. He started with “Believe,” an enchanting piece inspired by a pivotal, emotional scene late in the picture. The movie centers around the “guardians” of our childhood, including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman, who protect children against dark forces, as long as the children still believe the icons are real.

“I just felt that the center of the film was about that dream and the belief and I should maybe start there, not start right away with the action,” he says. Desplat played the theme for director Peter Ramsey, who loved it, and its melody became an anchor.  “It started as the theme and then it became the thread which brings us all along the film until the song at the end.” Along with the movie’s screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire, Desplat wrote “Still Dream,” the end-title theme performed by Renee Fleming.’’

“Guardians” also features galloping action themes that I suggested to Desplat seemed to pay tribute to one of his heroes, John Williams. “You’re partly right, partly wrong,” he said. ‘I’m not paying homage. He’s just become part of our collective unconscious. John Williams’ music in the last 40 years has rejuvenated the style.” 

Desplat added that as much as he listened to such pioneering composers as Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann,  “[Jerry] Goldsmith and Williams were the famous composers when I as a teenager,” he says. “So alive and still very active and creating these incredible soundtracks, so I’m sure that had an impact on me. When you see a superhero flying, of course you think of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Superman.’”

His sweeping, imaginative score also hits a number of whimsical beats, similar to Carl Stalling’s work.  “The movie is very funny and very witty,” he says “I’d been watching Tex Avery a lot when I was young,” he says, bringing up not just Carl Stalling, but also Scott Bradley. “There’s a fun and a joy, like Spike Jones also used to have...This kind of crazy fantasy. When I wrote this score, I couldn’t not think about that and the need to write my love for this kind of music.”

“ARGO”: The Ben Affleck-directed drama reunited Desplat with one of the movie’s producers George Clooney, with whom he’d worked on “The Ides of March.”  For the film, which covers the 1979 Iranian Hostage crisis, Desplat deliberately stayed away from channeling the music of that era in his score since the film already incorporated so many of the fashions and other styles of that time.

“There was so much of that on screen that if I started doing the Wah-wah pedal and the ‘Shaft thing,’ it would have been too much,” he says. “My goal was to bring emotion and suspense and tension and make sure that you got the danger surrounding the hostages. That was my job. [Affleck and I] agreed very early also to bring some Middle Eastern flavor in front of you, which was also a foreign sound because at the time, world music was not that prominent.” 

: Desplat’s music for the story about the hunt and eventual capture of Osama Bin Laden  is kept to the bare minimum. Given the almost documentary feel of the picture and the inherent drama of the story,  director Kathryn Bigelow and Desplat wanted to avoid any hint of cliche.

“There was no way I should play the suspense,” Desplat says he and the director agreed. “We always kept repeating to each other, ‘’No score, no score..’ There should be music that should be another current to the film— always appearing—disappearing, without notice. It’s got to be like not painting on the canvas, but in the canvas itself.”

Desplat, who scored the film in three weeks,  wanted to create a musical palate that reflected the culture and the history of the region and of the conflict between the warring factions. “It’s it’s the story of two civilizations, two religions, two tribes trying to kill each other.  One attacked the other, there’s always one that starts the war and then the other strikes back and then it becomes ugly, and awful and disgusting and disturbing,” he said. “It’s not nice to see somebody being tortured even if he’s a bad guy. It’s monstrous and ugly.”

 Desplat had nothing but praise for the Oscar-winning director, calling Bigelow’s movie “a masterpiece...The  way she chose to have Jessica Chastain play a role and not some action woman. This tiny woman, so beautiful, such transparent skin, to play the girl who’s the most fierce and cunning of the whole bunch,” he says. “And she’s the one who really wants to kill or catch Bin Laden. Kathryn’s point of view is just amazing and I don’t know how many artists and directors would have had that strong point of view for the subject.”

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Credit: AP Photo

Ke$ha clarifies 'Die Young' remarks one more time

Singer believes in the song's message, despite the word choice

  Ke$ha continues to try to clarify her feelings about the lyrics for “Die Young,” her first single off “Warrior,” which was yanked from many radio stations following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings last week in Newtown, Conn.

Earlier this week, she tweeted that she was “forced”  to sing the lyrics. That tweet was quickly deleted.

She has now  attempted to further explain by issuing the following statement on her website: “After such a tragic event I was feeling a lot of emotion and sadness when I said I was forced to sing some of the lyrics to ‘Die Young.’ Forced is not the right word. I did have some concerns about the phrase “die young” in the chorus when we were writing the lyrics especially because so many of my fans are young and that’s one reason why I wrote so many versions of this song. But the point of the song is the importance of living every day to the fullest and staying young at heart, and these are things I truly believe.”

Note that she never says whether she voiced her “concerns” about the phrase ‘die young’ when she was recording them or just kept them to herself. Now that the song has come under increased scrutiny, she seems to be scrambling to disassociate herself with the lyrics. If she felt that strongly about it, maybe she should have spoken up a little more vociferously at the time. Let’s face it, Ke$ha hardly seems to be the type artist who has trouble expressing her opinions. Plus, she is listed as one of the song's co-writers (along with Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Cirkut and Natt Ruess), so we're not sure how she was "forced" to sing lyrics she may have written herself.

Regardless, it’s one of those strange, sad cases where a song/artist gets pulled into a situation that really has nothing to do with the song at all. Maybe now that she’s made nice to Dr. Luke, who signed her,  and anyone else she may have offended, we can put the focus back on where it should be.


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Oscar Talk: Ep. 100 -- Looking back, from 'Hurt Locker' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Oscar Talk: Ep. 100 -- Looking back, from 'Hurt Locker' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Also: Best Animated Feature and is it worth it to report on 'whisper campaigns?'

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>Wes Anderson on the set of &quot;Moonrise Kingdom&quot;</p>

Wes Anderson on the set of "Moonrise Kingdom"

Credit: Focus Features

Utah critics award 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Wes Anderson

Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence tie for Best Actress

The Utah Film Critics Association has announced its 2012 winners, and, big surprise, "Zero Dark Thirty" took top honors. But the group went in a couple of different directions elsewhere, tapping Dwight Henry for Best Supporting Actor, Wes Anderson for Best Director and "Indie Game: The Movie" for best doc. Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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"The Intouchables"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Nine foreign language finalists announced by Academy

Which five will make the cut?

The Academy has announced the nine finalists for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Seventy-one films were submitted from countries around the world.

High-profile snubs include "Barbara" from Germany, "Lore" from Australia, "Fill the Void" from Israel, "After Lucia" from Mexico and "Blancanieves" from Spain.

Check out the full list of finalists below. Guy will circle back later today with commentary on the list.

The nominees will be announced on January 10, 2013.

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<p>Anne Hathaway in &quot;The Devil Wears Prada.&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Roundup: Anne Hathaway to be honored by Costume Designers' Guild

Also: Foreign-language shortlist looms, and potential whisper-campaign victims

The Costume Designers' Guild, which will hold its 2012 award ceremony on February 19, has announced a list of honorary award winners that includes costume designers Judianna Makovsky (a three-time Oscar nominee previously rewarded by the Guild for "Pleasantville" and the first "Harry Potter" film) and Eduardo Castro, as well as TV producer Lorne Michaels. The biggest name being honored, however, is Anne Hathaway, who's likely to be well-practiced in accepting trophies by mid-February. She'll be receiving the Spotlight Award, and while I'm not sure what the criteria are, Hathaway makes sense as a thespian ambassador for the art of costume design, given how many of her roles, from "The Devil Wears Prada" to "Les Mis," have played with image and costume. Or perhaps the Guild simply wants a piece of the season's likely golden girl. [CDG]

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<p>I have a feeling Judd Apatow has a lot to smile about this weekend.</p>

I have a feeling Judd Apatow has a lot to smile about this weekend.

Credit: HitFix

Judd Apatow talks about secret eating and drug vacations in 'This Is 40'

The writer/director takes a frank look at the dynamics of his new movie

On the eve of the recent TV press day for "This Is 40," Judd Apatow sent out a plea to any journalists that happened to check his Twitter feed.

"Tomorrow is the This Is 40 press junket. Hey journalists - be the one who asks unique, thought provoking questions no one else asks. Please."

As it happened, I was the last person into the room on the day of the interviews.  That was the same day Paramount held their "Star Trek" press day, so there was a whole lot of running around and scrambling to make my times for everything.  When I sat down across from Judd, I asked him if everyone had taken up his challenge, and he sighed.  "Nope.  Same four questions all day.  'What's it like to see Paul Rudd make out with your wife?' 'How fun is it directing your kids?' Pressure's on, Drew.  Let's see what you've got."

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Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 from The Fien Print

Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 from The Fien Print

Sports docs, meth cooks, ad men and more top Dan Fienberg's list
Assuming you're even a semi-regular reader/listener, my Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 list probably isn't a mystery to you at this point.
My Top 10 list was part of HitFix's First Annual Critics' Poll and then Sepinwall & I went over both of our Top 10 lists in our Best of 2012 Podcast on Wednesday.
So you know my Top 10 and you've heard me discuss it, but you've never heard me do voiceover for my Top 10 list over the terrifically edited clips courtesy of our ace HitFix video team!
As I said on the podcast, No. 1-8 was pretty solid. I knew the eight shows that were guaranteed placement in my Top 10. The last two slots? Well, that's a bit more slippery. I'm absolutely happy with No. 9 and No. 10, because they're two of my favorite shows, but if No. 11-15 from my Second 10 had taken those slots? That would have been fine, too. In fact, the shows in my Second 10 are pretty near-great themselves and I'll post that list next week, probably. Hell, the shows in my "Honorable Mention" field that'll accompany my Second 10 are very good as well. 
I say this every year and it's always true: If anybody tries saying, "There's nothing good on TV" or "TV is crap" or "All there is on TV is bad reality," they're morons. I don't know if the top tier of scripted television is as good as the "Golden Age" folks like to talk about, but in terms of sheer volume of reasonable quality? I'm not sure things have ever been better.
A case-in-point would be my No. 3 show. Not only did it not make a single other Top 10 in the HitFix Critics' Poll, but I'd wager that 85 percent of my colleagues never watched a second of it and at least 40 percent of them didn't know it existed. And it's GREAT.
So give my Top 10 video a watch. I'm not listing the shows here in text form, but I'll do that when I post my Second 10, plus it's available on the site elsewhere. This post is for the video.
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<p>Rebel Wilson in a preview for the 2013 MTV Movie Awards.</p>

Rebel Wilson in a preview for the 2013 MTV Movie Awards.

Rebel Wilson is the host of the 2013 MTV Movie Awards

Teaser announcements airs during 'Jersey Shore' finale

It's almost Christmas, so it's obviously time to reveal the host for the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, right? Well, maybe not, but with "Jersey Shore" airing its final episode Thursday night MTV decided to use the larger than usual audience to promote next April's annual pseudo-awards event.  The bigger surprise was that the network made the inspired choice to tap Aussie Rebel Wilson as next year's host.

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<p>&quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot; winner Denise</p>

"Survivor: Philippines" winner Denise

Credit: CBS

Interview: Denise Stapley discusses her 'Survivor: Philippines' win

The Sole Survivor talks about her path to the 'Survivor' million
We've reached the end of the "Survivor: Philippines" exit interview road, which means we've reached the peak.
In the past three days, you've read my interview with popular 4th place finisher Malcolm Freberg, as well as the conversations with Mike Skupin and Lisa Whelchel, who made it to the Finals, but received only one vote apiece. 
That brings us to the million dollar winner, Denise Stapley. Calm, analytical, tough Denise, who made an alliance with Malcolm on Day One and chose exactly the right moment to separate from that alliance and stand on her own, received six of eight Jury votes to comfortably take the title of Sole Survivor. 
A sex therapist from Iowa, Denise was strong in challenges and masterfully read the competition in her confessional segments. And if she was sometimes just a wee bit too blunt when it came to taking down lesser players -- Sorry, Abi -- it made her look decisive compared to the wishy-washy Tandang duo she faced at the Jury.
In her exit interview, Denise discusses that Jury, including the harsh reactions from Malcolm and Jonathan Penner (who both voted for her anyway).  She also talks about the "Survivor" advantage that came from her profession, as well as the difficult journey from a struggling early tribe to victory.
Click through for the final "Survivor: Philippines" exit interview...

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