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<p>The 85th Academy&nbsp;Awards will be Sunday,&nbsp;February 24</p>

The 85th Academy Awards will be Sunday, February 24

Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

Academy moves Oscar nominations even earlier to January 10

Electronic balloting also introduced

The Academy has announced key dates in the timeline for this year's Oscars. We already knew the 85th Academy Awards were set for Sunday, February 24. Previously nominations for the Oscars were set for Tuesday, January 15, but the latest release has moved that date five days earlier to January 10. This is still nice for Sundance-goers who won't have to worry about covering the announcement while at the fest, which runs January 17 - 27. But it's also the first time they'll be announced before the Golden Globes are held (on January 13).

Polls for nominations will close on January 3, while voting begins for the second phase of the circuit on February 8, meaning there is nearly an entire month between the nominations announcement and the opening of the polls. That's a pretty long time. Usually it's no more than two weeks or so. How will that time be used for marketing purposes? That's a lot of days to fill, and a lot of time for the discussion to shift in interesting ways -- unless, of course, we're met with an undeniable this season, which is always possible.

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<p>&nbsp;Carly Rae Jepsen</p>

 Carly Rae Jepsen

Credit: AP Photo

Album Review: Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Kiss' smacks of sweet, pop romance

Owl City and Justin Bieber add flavors to the mix

No matter what she accomplishes in her career, Carly Rae Jepsen’s defining hit will always be “Call Me Maybe.”

Fans of that charming ditty, which ruled the airwaves this summer, will find plenty to like on Jepsen’s full-length, major-label debut, “Kiss,” out today. Although there is nothing here that surpasses that spiky ear worm, a few songs give the smash a run for its money on the well-crafted, if formulaic, 12-song collection.

Jepsen incorporates parts of other pop dance divas from today and yore, such are Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, and Robyn, but she recalls no one so much as 80s’ pop sparkler Debbie Gibson with her pleasing, sweet voice and limited range.

She may be 26, but Jepsen keeps all the material on “Kiss” uniformly squeaky clean enough for her pre-teen and tween audience.  Most of the lyrics address the delights and disasters between boys and girls. She’s either crushing hard, deliriously in love, jealous, breaking up or heartbroken. It’s the cotton candy version of romance that fills teen diaries and runs its course in 3-minute pop songs. High drama can ensue from a misconstrued glance or misunderstood word. There’s a naive innocence that pervades all of “Kiss” and an undying optimism that after the tears have been shed, another boyfriend —with a dimpled smile and shiny hair — will emerge.

On “This Kiss,” Jepsen can’t stop thinking about a forbidden lip lock. On “Tiny Little Bows,” she longs to “be holding hands/dancing really slow.”  About as risque as “This Kiss” gets is on “Tonight I’m Getting Over You,” when she bemoans, “we’re not lovers, but more than friends.”

The temperature of emotions switches throughout, although the tempo uniformly remains the same for virtually every track, set within strict, current Top 40 parameters of a bouncy synthetic dance beat that occasionally breaks into electro-pop.

The exceptions are the guitar-based, swoon-worthy “Beautiful,” a duet with Justin Bieber and the piano-ballad “Your Heart Is A Muscle,” which builds to a mid-tempo plea for her beau to keep working at loving her (and developing his heart muscle).

“Beautiful” continues on the trajectory of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.”   “What makes you so beautiful is you don’t know how beautiful you are to me,” Jepsen and Bieber sing together, their voices sweetly wrapping around each other. Her other notable duet partner on “Kiss” is Owl City on their current perky hit, “Good Time.”

Not that she’s necessarily expected to be a spokeswoman for her generation, but there are times when her boy dependence gets to be a bit much. On the irresistibly peppy  “Guitar String/Wedding Ring,”  her boyfriend leaves and she’s feels like she’s nobody without him. She longs for him to come back  “If you cut a piece of guitar string/I would wear it like it’s a wedding ring...When you’re near/I feel the best/I’m somebody/I’m somebody.” Oh Carly....

However, the lyrics are fairly disposal on “Kiss” unless you’re a 13-year old girl, in which case they most likely play out like every after-school conversations with your girlfriends where your current crush’s latest comment is parsed syllable by syllable for hidden meaning. The winners here are the upbeat rhythms on such songs like “Hurt So Good” or “Good Time” that embed themselves in the ears of pop fans of all ages.  


 

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Watch: Mary Murphy discusses the 'So You Think You Can Dance' season

Watch: Mary Murphy discusses the 'So You Think You Can Dance' season

Murphy explains why Cyrus earned his place in the finale
FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" wraps up its ninth season on Tuesday (September 18) night with a pair of winners.
 
Either Cyrus or Chehon will be named America's Favorite Male Dancer and either Tiffany or Eliana will be crowned as America's Favorite Female Dancer.
 
Last Monday, I sat down with excitable "So You Think You Can Dance" judge Mary Murphy to discuss the season and the Final 4. 
 
Our conversation came before last Tuesday night's performance episode and Nigel Lythgoe's controversial decision to publicly tell Cyrus that he wouldn't be voting for him due to his relative lack of formal proficiency when compared to Chehon.
 
In the interview, Murphy and I talk extensively about the difference between "favorite" and "best" dancer and she explains her own perspective on what Cyrus has achieved this season.
 

Check it out... 

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<p>Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in &quot;The Intouchables.&quot;</p>

Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet in "The Intouchables."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

France selects box office smash 'The Intouchables' for the foreign Oscar race

The Weinsteins' feelgood comedy could be a formidable challenger for the award

Those of you who have been assuming Michael Haneke's "Amour" is in an unassailable position for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shouldn't be feeling quite so confident after this morning's news of the newest entrant in the race.

The French submission is always awaited more keenly than most at this stage: with 37 nods to date, France is the most-nominated country in the category's history, even if they haven't actually taken the gold in 20 years. It's for this reason that, in any given year, the French entry tends to be regarded as a frontrunner by default -- whether they've chosen particularly wisely or not. 

Their selection committee has made some daring choices in the past: think back to 2007, when they forsook what might have been a relatively easy nomination for "La Vie en Rose" to put forth the Iranian Revolution animation "Persepolis" instead. (They didn't even crack the January shortlist.) This year, however, they have put commerce ahead of art with a strictly strategic choice: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's feelgood box-office smash "The Intouchables."

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<p>Hugh&nbsp;Jackman has been confirmed as the only lead campaign for the film.</p>

Hugh Jackman has been confirmed as the only lead campaign for the film.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Universal moves Tom Hooper's 'Les Misérables' to December 25

The film is set to go up against 'Django Unchained' at the box office

When Warner Bros. shuffled "The Great Gatsby" on to 2013, there was an opportunity for another holiday bow on December 25 opposite "Django Unchained." I had been wondering if any of the big latter-year films were going to jump on it but it started to seem like everyone was comfortable, until today, when Universal announced that it would be pushing Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" two weeks to that date.

Meanwhile, one wonders whether the film could end up with the date all to itself (at least as far as films of this sort go). I keep wondering whether "Django Unchained," which was still shooting up until last month, will be ready in time. It surely has to be, given the revenue potential (and necessity) for The Weinstein Company. But with Quentin Tarantino working with a new editor -- Fred Raskin -- after the untimely passing of long-time collaborator Sally Menke, it might not be as fluid as usual. Of course, Raskin worked alongside Menke on the "Kill Bill" films, so he's not totally fresh, but you never can tell how these things will go.

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Paul Thomas Anderson at a Toronto Film Festival press conference for "The Master"
Paul Thomas Anderson at a Toronto Film Festival press conference for "The Master"
Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu

How the internet gave 'The Master' its title

Fans may have had a big hand in dubbing Paul Thomas Anderson's latest

The pre-release strategy for "The Master" was interesting. Unique, I guess is the word. The marketing side of this business is driven by the typical, but sometimes filmmakers chafe at having their work pitched in the usual ways. So you get someone like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson who says, "Nope, we're gonna do THIS."

As far as screenings have been concerned, Anderson has clearly been all about getting it to fans first. We broke the news last month about the film's first public screening following a special showing of "The Shining" in Santa Monica, and that tactic was employed multiple times thereafter with pop-ups in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Austin, etc. And in most cases, fans were getting a look at the movie before the press.

Well, Anderson's love affair with his flock stretches even further than that and their connection with "The Master" might be deeper than they even realize. It turns out, Paul Thomas Anderson's fans may have had a significant hand in giving the film its title.

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<p>&quot;Last Resort,&quot;&nbsp;with Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman and Robert Patrick, as this critic's favorite fall pilot.</p>

"Last Resort," with Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman and Robert Patrick, as this critic's favorite fall pilot.

Credit: ABC

Fall TV 2012: The best, the worst and a lot in between

Some strong shows at the top in 'Last Resort' and 'Nashville,' and then many question marks

It's that time again, folks: fall TV is here.

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<p>John C. Reilly may lend his voice to 'Wreck-It Ralph,' but it's Henry Jackman who's been charged with giving the film its sonic identity.</p>

John C. Reilly may lend his voice to 'Wreck-It Ralph,' but it's Henry Jackman who's been charged with giving the film its sonic identity.

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

A quick trip to the 'Wreck-It Ralph' scoring stage hits all the right notes

Henry Jackman heads up an interesting musical roster on Disney's next animated feature

This past Saturday night, I took my youngest son Allen to a birthday party thrown by one of the regular listeners of our podcast.  I've gotten to know the guy a bit on Twitter, and we have a number of mutual friends.  The party is now cemented in the memory of Allen as a highlight of his life because Brian, the host, is a collector of old stand-up arcade video games, and he had at least 30 of them turned on and ready to play.  We spent the first half-hour or so trying them all out, and Allen played "Burger Time," "Tempest," "Q*Bert," and that great old school "Star Wars" game before he finally settled on his new favorite thing in the world, four player "Gauntlet."

While kids may not know some of the characters from the '80s video games immediately, I have a feeling "Wreck-It Ralph" is going to play to gamers of every age equally well.  It seems to have been carefully constructed to not only illustrate the various ways gaming has evolved over the years, but to also work on a story level that doesn't require you to have any direct knowledge of games to understand what it is that Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) wants from his life.

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From 'Park Avenue' to 'Vegas' - The Best and Worst New TV Shows of Fall 2012

From 'Park Avenue' to 'Vegas' - The Best and Worst New TV Shows of Fall 2012

Which new shows are worth watching and which should be destroyed?
Normally I do separate "Best" and "Worst" galleries for the various new fall TV shows, but this year I just squished 15 notable shows together into a single gallery.
 
"Why?" you might ask.
 
First off, I do it for you, dear readers. This way, you're only clicking through 15 pictures, rather than 20. Aren't I conscientious? 
 
But more to the point, I think that combining my Best & Worst galleries is reflective of the degree of ambivalence I feel towards most of this year's new shows. I doubt that I'm going to have the time to write many full reviews this season. I don't have the time and I feel pretty awful about that fact. As you know, there's nothing I enjoy so much as writing 2000 words to say, "Meh." If, however, I were to be reviewing these new shows, there isn't a single one that would get an "A" or "A-" or even a "B+" grade from me. I like "Vegas" and "Nashville" and "Last Resort" and "Ben and Kate," I have reservations on each. Last year, there were four or five "A-" or "B+" pilots.
 
I have less reticence to call out the bad pilots, but other than "Beauty and the Beast," I'm not sure I could rank them. There's a lot of bad. 
 
And then there's a pile of so-so that this gallery is ignoring. So don't ask me where "Revolution," "Animal Practice," "Made in Jersey" and a couple other shows are. I might regret not coming down definitively on the "Good" or "Bad" side after a week or two, but for now, I'll just shrug.
 
Check out the gallery!
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<p>Thanks to &quot;The Voice,&quot; a woman who looks like this finally has a chance to make it in entertainment!</p>

Thanks to "The Voice," a woman who looks like this finally has a chance to make it in entertainment!

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Wednesday - Blind Auditions, Part 4

The second week of 'The Voice' begins with more spinning chairs

Today, “The Voice” announced that Usher and Shakira will be taking the temporary place of CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera during the show’s next cycle. It’s a smart choice on the show’s part. Whereas the comings and goings of hosts on “American Idol” and “The X Factor” tend to overwhelm the show itself, building a deep roster of judges that can be mixed and matched each cycle seems like a smart way to not only keep the show fresh but also keep the coaches happy. If artists know they can drop in and out depending on their album/tour/celebrity status, wouldn’t they be more willing to sign on? Why buy a chair when you can rent one? With this move, “The Voice” turns into the X-Men of reality singing competitions, able to consistently change its lineup while keeping the core identity intact.

With that in mind, let’s kick off tonight’s running diary. As always, all times are EST. And no, I won’t make X-Men references all night. (Oh wait. I probably will.) As always, if the prepackaged sob story that accompanies a contestant is too dull, I reserve the right to come up with my own instead. Comic book writers re-con stuff all the time. Why can’t I?

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<p>JD&nbsp;Pardo and Billy Burke in &quot;Revolution.&quot;</p>

JD Pardo and Billy Burke in "Revolution."

Credit: NBC

Series premiere review: 'Revolution' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of the new NBC drama?

I posted my review of NBC's "Revolution" over the weekend. Now it's your turn. (Or, it is for those of you who didn't already watch it online and comment in the initial review.) For those of you who just saw it, what did you think? Did this power-less world seem intriguing or boring to you? Do you want to know more about where all the electricity went? Did you feel this was a better post-Fring role for Giancarlo Esposito than his "Once Upon a Time" gig? Did you like the swordfight? Do any of the teenage characters do anything for you? And will you be watching again next week? 

Have at it.

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<p>Andy Serkis will be back to give Caesar a soul again, but it looks like they may need a new director for 'Dawn of The Planet of The Apes'</p>

Andy Serkis will be back to give Caesar a soul again, but it looks like they may need a new director for 'Dawn of The Planet of The Apes'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Rupert Wyatt may drop out of directing 'Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes'

And if he does, he may be shooting his own career in the foot

Rupert Wyatt might want to take a breath and rethink things before he officially leaves the director's chair on "Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes."

Wyatt is very talented, no doubt about it.  His first film, "The Escapist," is stylish and full of good performances, and he managed to turn "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" into an unlikely hit even under enormous pressure from the studio.  The Fox development system is hard to navigate even for filmmakers who have made dozens of movies, but for someone like Wyatt, especially on a franchise as overall important to a studio's long-term strategy as the "Apes" series is for Fox.

It's important to remember how many major missteps they made over the years trying to get the series off the ground again.  There was Tim Burton's nigh-unwatchable attempt in 2001, and before that, over a decade of revolving-door development with directors like James Cameron and Oliver Stone taking a shot at the material.  Considering the way the original film series essentially helped to create the modern movie franchise model, it was pretty much a given that Fox would want to eventually get back into the business of making the movies.

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