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<p>Paul Williams, profiled so memorably in 'Paul Williams Still Alive' this year, is collaborating with Guilermo Del Toro, who we will now refer to from now on as 'The Happiest Mexican On Earth'</p>

Paul Williams, profiled so memorably in 'Paul Williams Still Alive' this year, is collaborating with Guilermo Del Toro, who we will now refer to from now on as 'The Happiest Mexican On Earth'

Credit: Abramorama Films

Guillermo Del Toro and Paul Williams join forces for a 'Pan's Labyrinth' musical

I may die of joy just from typing that headline

It does not remotely surprise me that Guillermo Del Toro is finally working with Paul Williams.

The idea of turning "Pan's Labyrinth" into a stage musical is intriguing.  It's a lush dark fantasy world, and I would imagine it gives the production team some great opportunities to build a gorgeous world on the stage.  It also deals with sweeping emotional arcs, and when you're creating a musical, I think the bigger the emotions, the better the piece.

Gustavo Santoallala is the composer of, among other scores, "The Motorcycle Diaries," one of my personal favorite scores of the last ten years.  I've played that soundtrack hundreds and hundreds of times while working, and I think he's got a very fresh and interesting musical voice.  His music with Williams writing lyrics sounds to me like an incredible marriage of talent.  Williams, of course, is known for his work with the Carpenters, his songs for "The Muppet Movie," and the absolutely incredible score for Brian De Palma's "Phantom Of The Paradise."

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Jessica Lange in "American Horror Story"

 Jessica Lange in "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

Jessica Lange says with 'American Horror Story' she has 'nothing left to lose'

The Oscar winner admits this season is 'darker than anyone anticipated'

As the tortured (and sometimes torturous) Sister Jude on "American Horror Story," Jessica Lange has had to grapple with a Nazi, a serial killer and the devil herself this season. But as tough as it's been, it looks like things are only going to get worse -- and not better. Lange talked to journalists in a conference call about what's up for her character, whether or not she'll be back for season three, and why she never knows what's next for her character -- and that's just fine. 

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"Duck Dynasty"

 "Duck Dynasty"

Credit: A&E

'Duck Dynasty' hits network record with a whopping 6.5 million viewers

The show about a family who makes duck calls scores big with a season finale
"Duck Dynasty" was a ratings juggernaut Wednesday night, when the show's one-hour season finale became the network’s most-watched telecast of all time among all key demos, including total viewers, adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54. Whoever said a series about a family who makes duck calls and has some very unsexy menfolk rocking ZZ Top facial hair couldn't be a hit?
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<p>Anne Hathaway will break your heart. Period.</p>

Anne Hathaway will break your heart. Period.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Long-awaited film version of 'Les Miserables' delivers huge emotion

While not everything works, there is real beauty and power to the film

Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg certainly did not need for a film adaptation of "Les Miserables" to happen to validate the work.  After all, this is one of the most successful stage productions of all time, omnipresent for over over two decades, beloved and still relevant.  There was a point in Hollywood history where any successful stage musical was automatically brought to the screen in the most lavish possible fashion, but that hasn't been true for many years now.  Musicals, like Westerns, are increasingly rare, and Hollywood is no longer turning out performers who are automatically at home singing and dancing in front of the camera.  For Tom Hooper, following up "The King's Speech" was going to be tough no matter what, and I'll give him credit for ambition.  He called his shot and swung for a home run, and while he didn't knock it out of the park, the material itself is so strong, and the film's cast is so game, that it doesn't matter.

The script by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, James Fenton and William Nicholson is very faithful to the original stage production, which plays almost as a highlights reel of Victor Hugo's novel.  There is a sort of runaway train quality to the narrative, and the film maintains that same breakneck pace from the visually arresting opening moments to the final haunting moments. There is a feeling at times that things move so quickly and with such unrelenting pace that it's hard to catch your breath, hard to let yourself fully experience a beat emotionally, but that's the production itself.  It's just inherent to how they've told the story.  And while there are certainly things about the film that make full use of the difference between stage and screen, this still feels like a fairly intimately scaled story considering the time span it covers and the huge cast of characters involved.

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"Anna Karenina"

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support: Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer on a 'risky' world in 'Anna Karenina'

The production designer and set decorator are Oscar frontrunners

Is all the world a stage? Well, in Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” the stage became the medium through which the director retold Leo Tolstoy’s classic story. An unusual choice fraught with risks? To be sure. An extraordinary amount of potential? Equally certain. But production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer were tasked with helping Wright’s vision come to fruition. We recently spoke to the duo about their work on the film.

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<p>Piney Gir</p>

Piney Gir

Premiere: Piney Gir's 'Outta Sight' music video will hold you tight

Jingle bells and 'Mystery Date'

Jingle Bells, holding tight to the one you love, singing puppets: no, it's not another lousy Christmas song, it's Piney Gir's "Outta Sight."

The Kansas-born (holler) pop songwriter assembled a team of sock puppets for her take on "Mystery Date," the video backdrop to unabashedly catchy "Outta Sight" from her album "Geronimo!" The track's strengths lie in her lyrical simplicity, a realness in that sweet voice, rounded out with bright arrangement power.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 98 -- Chewing on NYFCC, NBR and 'The Hobbit'

Oscar Talk: Ep. 98 -- Chewing on NYFCC, NBR and 'The Hobbit'

Also: The doc shortlist and recapping the Governors Awards

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>On &quot;30 Rock,&quot;&nbsp;Jack (Alec Baldwin)&nbsp;gets some help from Kermit the Frog (Steve Whitmire).</p>

On "30 Rock," Jack (Alec Baldwin) gets some help from Kermit the Frog (Steve Whitmire).

Credit: NBC

Review: '30 Rock' - 'My Whole Life Is Thunder'

Jack' mother returns, and Liz and Jenna feud again

A quick review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I'm a nymphomaniac virgin widow with a hotel room and a latex allergy...

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<p>Ana Moreira in &quot;Tabu.&quot;</p>

Ana Moreira in "Tabu."

Credit: Adopt Films

Beautiful US trailer for critics' darling 'Tabu'

Adopt Films begin rolling out the Portuguese marvel on December 26

With Top 10 season upon us, I'm slowly beginning to whittle down a year's worth of viewing into some sort of order. And while I have a lot to see before I can actually finalize my list -- my screening diary for the next week is a veritable pileup of supposed awards fare, nearly as dense as a festival schedule -- I'll need to see an improbable amount of four-star films between then and now for "Tabu" not to land in its upper reaches.

Since the Berlinale 10 months ago, you've heard me badgering on about Portuguese director Miguel Gomes's semi-silent wonder -- part postmodern comedy, part rapturous colonial-era love story -- with a range of artistic reference points that ranges from F.W. Murnau to Phil Spector. I'm far from alone in my enthusiasm: it landed at #2 on Sight & Sound's Best of 2012 critics' poll last weekend. It hits US screens in a few weeks, but I only recently latched onto this US trailer from Adopt Films (in which, I'm chuffed to say, I'm one of the critics quoted.)

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<p>Matthew McConaughey in &quot;Magic Mike.&quot;</p>

Matthew McConaughey in "Magic Mike."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: Soderbergh's plea for 'bananas' McConaughey, and other campaign oddities

Also: Critics split on 'Les Mis,' and stage elite pick their film directors of 2012

Today's most enjoyable Oscar-related feature comes from Steve Pond, who has rounded up a selection of the more notable and/or quirky campaign maneuvers from the season thus far, from curious merchandise (a "Lincoln" cookbook, haggis crisps for "Brave") to an Academy rule violation by shortlisted doc "The Invisible War." My favorite, though, is a typewritten letter to BFCA voters from the campaign-averse Steven Soderbergh on behalf of Matthew McConaughey: "I'm breaking my longstanding embargo regarding pleas for recognition... we found [his performance] to be completely bananas in the best sense of the word. As he says in the film, 'The moon is just a chip shot away!'" Now one for for Channing Tatum, please. [The Wrap]  

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Lea Michele on 'Glee'

Lea Michele on 'Glee'

Credit: Fox

'Glee' recap: 'Swan Song'

New challenges for New Directions

"Let's just enjoy this week and look forward to our big comeback next year." - Finn

I've reached a point with "Glee" where even when I enjoy a lot of things about an episode -- as I did with "Swan Song" -- it doesn't matter. The recent string of unbearable episodes has completely severed my connection to the show (a connection that survived through Season 2 and Season 3), possibly for good.

It'll take a lot more than a halfway decent episode to bring it back, and I just don't see that happening given the current state of the show.

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<p>The gang was all there at the New York premiere of &quot;The Hobbit:&nbsp;An&nbsp;Unexpected Journey&quot;</p>

The gang was all there at the New York premiere of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman talk forging a new path for 'The Hobbit' at New York premiere

Are you ready for three more years?

NEW YORK -- Warner Bros. spared no expense tonight ringing in the arrival of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with a New York premiere and an ornate after-party at Guastavino's on the east side. The space's "soaring granite arches and catalan vaulted tiled ceiling," to steal from its own PR, served as a perfect palette for Middle Earth-inspired wares. Wooden tables decked with candelabras and other similar decor offered a comfortable dose of Hobbiton as Jackson, stars Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen, "Argo" director Ben Affleck, actors Patrick Stewart, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler and many more filled the room to capacity.

The toast, of course, is to Jackson's accomplishment, the first in a new, sure-to-be-expansive trilogy of films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's intro to "The Lord of the Rings." And hopes are rightly high that the film will land just right with fanbases both old and new to send this one soaring at the box office. But while the film's aesthetic and feel certainly hearkens back to the franchise Jackson launched in the early aughts, there were attempts at mining a new identity, and much of that was inherent in the enterprise.

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