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<p>Don Mischer</p>

Don Mischer

Credit: AP Photo

Don Mischer to direct Oscars telecast

Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron choose telecast veteran

Don Mischer will direct the 85th Academy Awards telecast, it was announced today by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Mischer has directed the telecast several times before, including 2011's 83rd Oscars, which was largely critically reviled, due in part to James Franco's lethargic co-hosting job. Mischer was nominated for directing Emmys for the 2011 and 2012 shows.

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Watch: 'Glee' stars Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist introduce their new characters

Watch: 'Glee' stars Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist introduce their new characters

Who are Jake and Marley other than halves of a "Christmas Carol" character?
When last we left McKinley High School, it was Graduation Day and Ryan Murphy was sending a good chunk of his "Glee" cast packing, whether to "New York City" for regular ongoing adventures or off into the ether for periodic guest appearances.
 
But just because Finn and Puck and Quinn and Santana aren't necessarily going to be around full-time [nobody actually knows for sure] doesn't mean that "Glee" is going to become an intimidate chamber drama. No. Get ready to meet a slew of fresh characters, both in Lima and in the Rachel Berry-centric Big Apple scenes.
 
Earlier this week, I sat down with a few of the "Glee" new kids to talk about joining the musical-dramedy, which launches its fourth season on Thursday (September 13) night.
 
Up first? Jacob Artist and Melissa Benoist
 
It's theoretically possible that you might know Artist from "How To Rock," "Melissa & Joey" or the recent "Blue Lagoon: The Awakening," but chances are good that "Glee" will be the first time you've seen him. He plays Jake Puckerman and it takes very little time to realize that the Puckerman apple doesn't fall far from the Puckerman tree.
 
Benoist also has a small roster of guest roles, including episodes of "Homeland" and "The Good Wife," but she'll be making her first big splash as Marley, a gal with a gorgeous voice and a funny hat.
 
I chatted with Artist and Benoist about their characters, about hazing on the "Glee" set and about the strongly insinuated possibility that Jake and Marley -- Ryan Murphy's been reading his Charles Dickens -- are heading for a romantic collision.
 
Check out the video... And stay tuned for my interviews with Becca Tobin and Dean Geyer next week after you've met Kitty and Brody.
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<p>Nicki Minaj at the MTV&nbsp;VMAs</p>

Nicki Minaj at the MTV VMAs

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Nicki Minaj drops snotty new single 'The Boys' with Cassie

Female, and punk as hell

Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" was the graceful, bangin' balance between the pop and rap sides of her coin, a track with perfect peace with current top 40. Now with "The Boys," the Young Money artist yet again achieves that yin and yang, for urban radio. On top of that, we get a -- gasp -- feminine view into Minaj's songcraft.

After so many songs adopting the common male hip-hop vernacular, Minaj puts Roman aside for the moment to talk about "The Boys," featuring rising R&B vocalist Cassie. These hip-hop guys are "always spending all their money on love," an assertion that's notable for a couple of reasons. First, the chorus arrives on the heels rumors flying about Cassie and notable money-and-love lover Diddy.

Second, it's the counter-argument to "the boys" going broke because of their girlfriends: it's not the girls asking for money, it's the boys blowing it themselves. Kanye, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, crew boss Lil Wayne and others all have verses insisting on outfitting their women in the very brand names they endorse... or worse, call out the bitches, hoes and other pet names for "taking" rappers' cash for money for purses, shoes, whatever.

Third, it removes the female from general equation, and simply points the cashflow toward "love," here as a service rendered, or a simple commodity. "They want to touch it, taste it, see it, pet it, bone it, own it," the auto-tuned voice sings, defining "love" as less than a woman and more of an object. You know: money, cash, hoes, money, cash, chicks, what.

That sentiment goes hand-in-hand with the big, soupy-sweet hook of the chorus, which could also be read a couple of ways. "You get high / Love a bunch of girls / And then cry / on top of the world" may read with the last line as a quote "And then cry, 'On top of the world'" or it could simply be the rapper whining or crying when he's at the top of his game. Either way, "loving" a bunch of girls is the prerequisite to the rapper's successful business model.

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Watch: Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid explain how 'X Factor' Season 2 is different

Watch: Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid explain how 'X Factor' Season 2 is different

What the heck is Demi Lovato's "secret weapon"?
If you watched Wednesday (September 12) night's premiere, you're already away of the new look for "The X Factor."
 
You've seen the hostless backstage audition footage and the montages celebrating the surprisingly critical Britney Spears.
 
But few would question that Demi Lovato was the star of Wednesday's two-hour episode, particularly her sensitive treatment of bullied teen Jillian Jensen, an extended moment that produced tears aplenty. 
 
On Monday, I sat down with Lovato and returning judge L.A. Reid to discuss second season changes and the fresh feel to "X Factor."
 
Check out the interview (as well as my chat with Simon Cowell) and remember that "X Factor" is back on Wednesday night.
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<p>Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck in "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Making the case for 'Argo' and the zeitgeist

Ben Affleck's film assumes the early frontrunner position

Some months back I pondered the idea of the dissolving of TomKat -- and therefore, a flood of fresh Scientology headlines -- adding a little extra leverage to the cause (if you will) for "The Master" this awards season.

The zeitgeist, you see, is a funny thing. It's malleable in some ways. The world is always torn in a million different directions, strife, discovery, politics and the economy all having their day in some fashion. And if any movie were to take the abstract approach, "The Master" is certainly it. Now that many have seen the film, of course, the Scientology angle has been softened. But the idea of putting one's faith and fate in the hands of another -- government, religion, whatever -- is still, and always, relevant.

But sometimes things line up specifically. Sometimes one doesn't have to connect a lot of dots to present that, say, "Moneyball" tells a story of the difficult, painful process of change for the good around the idea that the sum of all parts is greater than one single entity, and that that reflects where we are as a country (even if that's 100% true). Sometimes, like with Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis film "Argo," the reflections are much more defined.

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<p>Jake Gyllenhaal in &quot;End of Watch,&quot; one of 12 films contending for the top prize at next month's LFF.</p>

Jake Gyllenhaal in "End of Watch," one of 12 films contending for the top prize at next month's LFF.

Credit: Open Road Films

London Film Festival beefs up its awards shortlists

More films in the running for prizes at the October catch-up fest

With Telluride and Venice behind us, and Toronto winding down, the first, and biggest, wave of the fall festival season is just about over -- but Fantastic Fest, the New York Film Festival and the London equivalent are all still lying in wait. With no major world premiere this year in the vein of previous coups like "Frost/Nixon" and "Fantastic Mr Fox," London won't be competing with the Big Apple (which boasts "Life of Pi" and "Flight") for media attention, but it remains one of the most useful greatest-hits festivals on the circuit.

I was too tangled up in Venice business last week to report on the unveiling of the London lineup, but it's a healthy blend of established festival hits, less celebrated discoveries and archive gems. 200-odd features are in the mix, around 40 of which I've already seen -- affording me plenty of room to explore the farther corners of the programme when my coverage begins next month.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye West and R. Kelly on 'To The World' from 'Cruel Summer'

Full album comes out Sept. 18

G.O.O.D. Music’s compilation, “Cruel Summer,” which drops as the season ends on Sept. 18, features label head Kanye West with a number of top artists including R. Kelly, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, 2 Chainz and The-Dream.

Snippets of the full album are on iTunes, but today we get a full version of opening track  “To The World,” performed by West and Kelly. The song is basically a big “F You,” albeit an often clever one,” to you and yours.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Florence + The Machine on &quot;Jimmy Fallon&quot;</p>

Florence + The Machine on "Jimmy Fallon"

Watch: Florence + The Machine perform a stately 'Spectrum' on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Group continues U.S. tour before heading into a year-long hiatus

Florence Welch, the namesake of Florence + The Machine, is known for her dramatic, over-the-top performances, but for her debut on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” last night, she and the band delivered a breathtakingly spare version of “Spectrum.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Missy Elliott's &quot;Triple Threat&quot;</p>

Missy Elliott's "Triple Threat"

Look: Missy Elliott reveals 'Triple Threat' cover art

When can you hear the full song?

Missy Elliott has got sports on her mind. Earlier this week, she released a snippet of “Ninth Inning.”  And now, she’s switched from baseball to basketball. She just revealed the cover to “Triple Threat,” another song on her forthcoming new album.

The cover features someone in a basketball jersey with her name emblazoned across the shoulders and the words, “Triple Threat” where the numbers would be. On the accompanying basketball are the words “feat. Timbaland.” The producer is also on “Ninth Inning.”

We’ll have to wait until Sept. 17 to hear the full songs. That’s when Elliott will host a Ustream listening session to play both songs in their entirety. She will also answer questions from fans about the new album. That sounds like when we’ll hear about a release date and album title.


 

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<p>Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Review: Nucky goes full gangster in 'Boardwalk Empire' season 3

Prohbition mob drama still great in individual moments, but hasn't taken the leap
"I'm a philanthropist now," Nucky Thompson insists in the third season premiere of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." (It returns Sunday night at 9.)
 
"You're a gangster, plain and simple," he's told.
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<p>Cover art for the album's first single, &quot;Your Body.&quot;</p>

Cover art for the album's first single, "Your Body."

Credit: RCA

Christina Aguilera reveals details about new album, 'Lotus'

See when you can watch a sneak peek of the 'Your Body' video

Christina Aguilera’s new album, “Lotus,”  will come out in November, according to “The Voice” judge, who took to Twitter Wednesday to reveal details.

Among the other nuggets the Grammy-winning singer revealed:

*The album, her first since 2010’s “Bionic,” is called “Lotus” because a lotus "represents an unbreakable flower that survives under the hardest conditions and still thrives.”

*The inspiration for the album was "self-expression and freedom," she tweeted. "The album represents a rebirth for me."

*First single, “Your Body,” which leaked a few weeks ago, will be available for purchase on Friday. The single sleeve for the Max Martin-produced song features Aguilera wrapped in a diaphanous pink sheer dress with her arms overhead and lots of blonde extensions.

*A snippet of the music video for “Your Body” will air on “The Voice” on Monday, Sept. 17.

*Aguilera is currently listening to M83 and Frank Ocean.

Aguilera is in her third season as a coach on “The Voice.” At a press conference last month, “The Voice” producer Mark Burnett acknowledged that she and the other coaches, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Cee Lo Green, may need to rotate out for a season to attend to their careers and touring, especially if the show continues to offer a fall and spring season.

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<p>The &quot;Guys with Kids.&quot;</p>

The "Guys with Kids."

Credit: NBC

Series premiere review: 'Guys with Kids' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of NBC's new sitcom?

I won't be writing reviews of every new fall show, but I did at least discuss "Guys with Kidswith Dan on today's podcast. We were not fans. For those of you who watched, what did you think? Were you happy to see Vanessa Huxtable back in an NBC family sitcom? Meadow Soprano doing lighter material? Cliff from "Bring It On" being all grown up? Anthony Anderson trying his hardest to earn the paycheck?

More importantly, do you find the idea of men having to take care of their own children as absolutely hi-larious as the "Guys with Kids" writers so obviously do? And will you watch again? Have at it.

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