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<p>The cover of Van Halen's &quot;A Different Kind of Truth&quot;</p>
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The cover of Van Halen's "A Different Kind of Truth"

Album Review: Van Halen's 'A Different Kind of Truth'

Do Eddie Van Halen and Diamond Dave still have it?

Van Halen’s first new studio album with David Lee Roth in 28 years is named “A Different Kind of Truth,” but the Feb. 7 release could have just as easily been called “I Will Not Go Quietly”  “Truth” is a heavy slab of rock delivered on a concrete pillow.

As fans already know, most of the riffs/ideas for the new tunes are from never-finished songs of yore:  “She’s The Woman” is from a tune originally demoed in the ‘70s, while obsessive fans instantly noted the similarity between first single “Tattoo” and “Down In Flames,” a 1977 song played live, but never released on an album.  Roth told the Los Angeles Times that the band sought to link its past with its present by taking the most promising chunks of coal from four decades ago and polishing them into diamonds. 

 

[More after the jump...]

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

A scene from "Hugo"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Hugo,' 'Harry Potter' and 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' take Art Directors Guild honors

Dante Ferretti wins his first-ever prize from the group and the Oscarcast gets some love, too

This evening, honors for the 16th annual Art Directors Guild Awards were handed out. But before we get to those, a brief history lesson on Oscar/guild correlations.

Last year "Alice in Wonderland" won the Academy Award but lost in the ADG's fantasy category to "Inception" (which, I have to say, should have walked away with the Oscar). Then there were two years of matching up with "Avatar" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" winning in their respective categories.

In 2007, "There Will Be Blood" beat out eventual Oscar winner "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" in the ADG's period category, while in 2006, "Pan's Labyrinth" won the ADG fantasy award as a precursor to its Oscar. Prior to that, the guild actually combined period and fantasy productions in one category.

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<p>Channing Tatum and Bon Iver prepare for 'Saturday Night Live'</p>
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Channing Tatum and Bon Iver prepare for 'Saturday Night Live'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Channing Tatum and Bon Iver

'SNL' kicks off February sweeps with the star of 'The Vow' trying to bring the funny
First off: a big thanks to Myles McNutt for taking over the recap of a fairly entertaining Daniel Radcliffe-hosted “Saturday Night Live” last month. As such, it’s felt like an extremely long time since last I covered the show here at HitFix. Hopefully that means that I’m as well-rested as the cast/crew of the show is after an extended hiatus. Up tonight: Channing Tatum, a name I will type out as “Carol Channing” at least once tonight. Tatum’s not exactly known for his comedic chops. Or, um, acting chops, if one gets right down to brass tacks. But he’s here to pimp one or more of the approximately 438 movies that he’s inthis year. Along for the ride on the musical front: indie darlings Bon Iver. (I looked it up: apparently “Bon Iver” is NOT a name of a dude in the band. Can you tell I have a lot of history with this band? Yeah.)
 
Anyways, we’re back to the usual shenanigans here tonight: I’ll watch each sketch and grade it as it happens. This week, I’ll single out sketches that would have been improved had recently departed cast member Paul Brittain still remained on the show. Was it something I said, Paul? I loved Lord Wyndemere. Now I’ll never hear him ask for sweets again. 2012 already stinks as a year.
 
Anyways, onto the recap!
 
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<p>Madonna</p>
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Madonna

Credit: Morry Gash/AP

Music Power Rankings: Madonna, Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert rule

Lana Del Rey and Adele make the list too

1) Madonna: Madge saves the world (for more than four minutes) as promotion for “MDNA” goes on high alert via radio waves, TV waves, and outdoor billboards. First day pre-orders for “MDNA” send the album to No. 1 on iTunes in 35 countries. And we haven’t even gotten to the Super Bowl.

2) Bono:
As if he weren’t rich enough, his stake in Facebook is likely to earn him $1billion in the social network’s  IPO.  Yeah, we said B as in Bono and Billionaire.

3) Adam Lambert: An erroneous report that he’s replacing Freddie Mercury in Queen is enough to spin the internet out of control. It’s nice to know that should his solo career ever fade away, he always has rock royalty to fall back on.
 
[More after the jump...]

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<p>&quot;Rango&quot;&nbsp;won four awards, including Best Animated Feature</p>

"Rango" won four awards, including Best Animated Feature

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Rango' wins big at the 39th Annie Awards

'Kung Fu Panda 2' wins for direction while 'Puss in Boots' goes home empty-handed

The 39th annual Annie Awards were held this evening at UCLA's Royce Hall in West Los Angeles. You'll recall "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots" led the nominations and both were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

It was "Rango," though, that had the big night (and will surely take the Oscar later this month). The film won four awards, including Best Animated Feature. It did, however, lose Best Director to "Kung Fu Panda 2" helmer Jennifer Yuh Nelson (whose film won one other award, for production design).

It's interesting to note an upset in the animated short category as the indie "Adam and Dog" beat out contenders from Pixar, Disney and the National Film Board of Canada (the latter having two nominees in the Oscar short category, both of which were in contention here).

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<p>&nbsp;M.I.A. has a posse</p>

 M.I.A. has a posse

Today in New Music Videos: M.I.A., Miike Snow and Neon Indian

Take a ride with a crazy stuntwoman, 18th century aliens or a buxom 'toon

Three left-of-center, electronic-influenced acts -- M.I.A., Miike Snow and Neon Indian -- invite us into their imaginations with visually striking new videos. 

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<p>Max Von&nbsp;Sydow (left)&nbsp;and director Stephen&nbsp;Daldry on the set of &quot;Extremely&nbsp;Loud &amp;&nbsp;Incredibly&nbsp;Close&quot;</p>

Max Von Sydow (left) and director Stephen Daldry on the set of "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Extremely Loud' star Max Von Sydow talks inhabiting the silent Renter in this new featurette

Does Warner Bros. smell a window of opportunity?

Yesterday I sat down with "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" star and Oscar nominee Max Von Sydow for about a half hour to talk about this and that but mostly his and his film's surprising Academy goodwill. Warner Bros. has him in town for a few days for some TV here, some radio there, plenty of interview opportunities and a fair share of post-screening Q&As. Perhaps they smell a window of opportunity.

As I've noted here and elsewhere, Christopher Plummer may be lighting up the circuit as of late, but having his old "Dreamscape" and "Emotional Arithmetic" co-star in the category makes things a lot more interesting. Given the number of parallels between the two and equal arguments for being due a statue, I wouldn't call this race sewn up. Then again, it's tough to build momentum this late in the game and Plummer has been a full-steam locomotive for a number of months now.

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<p>Ann Curry interviewing Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill on &quot;The Today Show.&quot;</p>

Ann Curry interviewing Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill on "The Today Show."

Credit: AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer

Could this be Brad Pitt’s year after all?

The actor is gearing up his campaign with daytime and late night rounds as an air of uncertainty settles over the Best Actor race

Several months ago it seemed as though this may be Brad Pitt’s year. For some, he's a movie star who happens to know how to act. To others he is a talented character actor who happens to be a remarkably good-looking movie star. Pitt himself will often say that he has learned his craft over the course of a 20-year career peppered with hits and misses, but he has become known for his humility as well as his willingness to take chances and go against the grain of what could have been a one- or two-note body of work.

For a time in the precursor season, it appeared as though he may be nominated for “The Tree of Life” as well as “Moneyball.” Each would offer particular PR challenges. Neither necessarily represents a no-brainer Oscar win (great historical figure, person facing life-altering trauma or, as Ricky Gervais taught us in “Extras,” a Nazi or a nun). But “Moneyball” is also a film that is notably devoid of the bells and whistles of the traditional “sports movie.” There is no great triumph, no moment of cathartic victory in a neatly wrapped package of money and accolades. What the film does offer is a look at how and why we define ourselves and others as we do, as well as an exploration of a thinking man’s way through a system that is inherently inequitable.

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<p>The cover of Lana Del Rey's &quot;Born to Die&quot;</p>
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The cover of Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die"

Can Adele hold off Lana Del Rey to make it 19 weeks atop the Billboard 200?

Who sees the highest debut in his 77 years?

Next week’s Billboard 200 will likely see the debut of a controversial newcomer at No. 2 and a legendary singer, who, at 77, land the highest bow of his career. And, oh yeah, some chick named Adele.

That’s right, Adele’s “21” grabs another week at No. 1 by a wide margin, marking its 19th non-consecutive week at the summit. This week, it tied with Garth Brooks’ “Ropin’ The Wind.”  The title is slated to sell between 100,000 and 110,000 next week.  It’s running full-steam ahead to tie the record for the most weeks at No. 1 in the 20-year SoundScan era with the “Titanic” soundtrack, which spent 20 weeks at No. 1.

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<p>For many younger viewers, Ben Gazzara will be remembered mainly from his role in 'The Big Lebowski,' but his impact on the art of film acting was enormous and stretched all the way back to the '50s.</p>

For many younger viewers, Ben Gazzara will be remembered mainly from his role in 'The Big Lebowski,' but his impact on the art of film acting was enormous and stretched all the way back to the '50s.

Credit: Universal Home Video

Cassavetes regular and 'Lebowski' star Ben Gazzara dies at age 81 in NYC

One of the great character actors is gone

Ben Gazzara was never the top box-office draw of the year.  He was never the guy every studio was dying to be in business with so he would headline blockbuster after blockbuster.  He was never the guy directors cast if they wanted the ladies to line up out the door.  But for filmmakers who wanted an actor with a quiet magnetism and an emotional weight that could not be faked, Gazzara was a treasure, and he made everything he touched more honest simply by virtue of who he was.

81 years old is hardly young, but even so, it seems unfair to lose a guy who was still working consistently and who still had that same fire that made him such a gift in so many of his roles.  It's hard for actors of a certain age to find quality material, but a guy like Gazzara had a way of taking a fairly thin role and making it count simply because he counted.  He was real in a way that many Hollywood types never are, no matter how many roles they play.  It is little wonder that as many of his films were European as American, because he was drawn to small stories, human stories, films where he was allowed to show some nuance and some soul.

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<p>Jasika Nicole of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>
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Jasika Nicole of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Making Angels'

A strong episode for Jasika Nicole, but she can't overcome the season's fundamental flaws
One of the fun parts about watching a long-running show on television is when a secondary, or even tertiary, character gets a chance to step into the foreground. As a “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fan, I loved watching an episode centered around Xander or Willow. (Not Dawn though. Blergh.) So when I heard that tonight’s “Fringe” episode, “Making Angels,” would be Astrid-centric, I did a little Snoopy dance. Jasika Nicole has done a lot of great work in a rather thankless role, and I have been in a large chorus calling for her screen time for Astrid. As much as John Noble and Joshua Jackson get credit for their onscreen chemistry, the connection between Walter and Astrid has often been equally as wonderful.
 
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<p>&quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;&nbsp;stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal.</p>

"Sons of Anarchy" stars Charlie Hunnam and Katey Sagal.

Credit: FX

FX renews 'Sons of Anarchy' through season 6

Kurt Sutter extends his deal on the motorcycle club drama for three more years

FX has extended its deal for "Sons of Anarchy" through the show's sixth season, while creator Kurt Sutter has extended his own deal through what everyone assumes will be the show's seventh and final year. 

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