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<p>The cover of Damien Bona and Mason Wiley's book &quot;Inside Oscar.&quot;</p>

The cover of Damien Bona and Mason Wiley's book "Inside Oscar."

Credit: Ballantine Books

Round-up: Paying tribute to Damien Bona

Also: Farewell to paper Oscar ballots, and rechristening the Kodak

It's a regrettable sign of awards-season distractedness that I didn't learn until yesterday that Damien Bona, patron saint of Oscar geeks, passed away last week. If his name isn't familiar to you, his book "Inside Oscar" -- co-authored with Mason Wiley -- should be: the most comprehensive and entertaining history of the Academy Awards yet written, it's an essential tome to which the entire curious sport of awards analysis owes its existence. As a kid, I checked out the local library's copy so many times they practically kept it aside for me. Upon eventually discovering a copy in a secondhand bookshop (ah, pre-internet life!), I wore it down until the spine cracked; Scotch-taped back into place, it still sits on my shelf. Sasha Stone knew Bona, and her heartfelt farewell, with input from Mark Harris and Susan Wloszczyna, is a lovely read. [Awards Daily]

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<p>David Lee Roth with Eddie Van Halen in the background during a New York City performance on Jan. 5.</p>

David Lee Roth with Eddie Van Halen in the background during a New York City performance on Jan. 5.

Credit: AP Photo/Charles Sykes

Live Review: Van Halen turns it up during Los Angeles private show

Have they still got what it takes?

As Van Halen drew “She’s The Woman” —a tune on the quartet’s Feb. 7 album, “A Different Kind of Truth”—to a close during the group’s secret show Wednesday night on the Henson Studios lot in Los Angeles, Eddie Van Halen crossed behind David Lee Roth so the two ended up face to face when the song came to its cold stop.

Standing only a few feet apart, they looked at each other and both broke into wide, maniacal grins, so obviously delighted to be back on stage and in front of an adoring audience.

And so it went for much of the hour-long show. As rough and ragtag as some spots were, there was never a moment when it felt like the band, rounded out by Van Halen’s son Wolfgang on bass and his brother Alex Van Halen on drums, was phoning it in. For all the drama and demons that have chased the group during its fractured  40 years off stage, the state of the Van Halen union felt strong when they stood on stage together.

[More after the jump...]

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"Top Chef"

 "Top Chef"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'Top Chef' - 'Bike, Borrow & Steal'

PeeWee Herman gives the chefs bikes - and one tough lunch challenge

Oh, this should be a fun challenge -- Pee-wee Herman is in the house! No, he's no Charlize Theron, but I suspect the chefs will have to bring a sense of humor to their food, and that's never a bad thing. Just as long as they don't make entrees that taste like a melted Baskin-Robbins cake or anything. Humor should not be synonymous with diabetic shock. 

The Quickfire Challenge will require the chefs to make pancakes, the favorite food of our guest judge, in 20 minutes. The guest judge will be, of course, Pee-wee. He wants happy, fun, tasty pancakes. And the winner gets $5,000. So bring out the fun and happy, minions! 

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<p>The original controversial teaser poster for &quot;The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo&quot; </p>

The original controversial teaser poster for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Sex scares: ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ will not be released in India

Meanwhile it opens in Japan with limited censorship

Five Oscar nominations (for cinematography, editing, sound editing, sound mixing and Best Actress Rooney Mara) will likely serve to provide David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with a nice little publicity boost as it heads into the final stages of its international roll out. The citizens of India, however, will not have the opportunity to see the film in theaters.

The Guardian reports that Sony Pictures has cancelled the scheduled February 10 release date after India's Central Board of Film Certification insisted that 5 scenes be pulled from Fincher’s cut. Both the director and the studio refused to make the adjustments, opting to abandon the open altogether.

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Adele and Kelly Clarkson duke it out for the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100
Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Adele and Kelly Clarkson duke it out for the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100

Which artist is 'Stronger?'

Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” is strong enough to hold off Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” for the top spot on the Billboard 100, although Clarkson’s song is gaining momentum.

This marks “Fire’s” second week at No. 1, as Adele’s “21,” which features “Fire,” spends its 18th non-consecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

“Stronger” leaps 8-2 on the Hot 100, as well as climbs 3-1 on the Digital Songs chart. It is the "American Idol" winner's second No. 1 on the digital chart, following “My Life Would Suck Without You," according to Billboard.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>According to FOX, these people appear on Wednesday's &quot;American Idol.&quot; One of them is named Britnee Kellogg. Keep an eye out for her!</p>
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According to FOX, these people appear on Wednesday's "American Idol." One of them is named Britnee Kellogg. Keep an eye out for her!

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Portland Auditions - Live-Blog

What would our judges find in Oregon? Talent, we hope!

It's been a big week of news stemming from a FOX singing competition show. Of course, that news has all involved "The Ex Factor" and its revolving door of talent, which has put "American Idol" in the odd position of being under-discussed and under-the-radar. 

Has "American Idol" become FOX's neglected underdog?

Probably not. But maybe "American Idol" will find some underdog singing talent in Portland. 

Click through for the full recap...

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<p>R. Kelly</p>

R. Kelly

Listen: R. Kelly wants to 'Share My Love' with you, in advance of new album

Kells is prepared to populate, disco-style

After today's sad announcement on the passing of Don Cornelius, it's hard not to hear any other news without that shading on it.

But this is a celebratory piece. Because R. Kelly's back, and he's disco, and it's a very specific nod to an era during which Cornelius reigned. Applause all around.

Kells' newest offering is "Share My Love," a track sent to radio today, steeped in 1970s soul and the R&B crooner's plan to help "populate" this big blue earth. It's a lot of familiar instrumentation from his last album, 2010's "Love Letter," with its groovy bassline and warm, flirty guitar, laced with twinkling keys and a humming, sensual orchestra.

Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton successfully did the feel-good thing last year, so it's great to see that smiling, sexy sex is still popular in 2012.

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<p>The official U.S. poster for &quot;Monseiur Lazhar.&quot;</p>

The official U.S. poster for "Monseiur Lazhar."

Credit: Music Box

Exclusive: The U.S. poster for Oscar nominated 'Monsieur Lazhar'

Could the foreign language film nominee be an upset winner?

If you're looking for an upset contender in your local Oscar pool (or HitFix's Oscar pool where you can win $300 worth of movie tickets) you might look no further than best foreign language film. 

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<p>Don Cornelius</p>
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Don Cornelius

Credit: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

An Appreciation: Looking back on 'Soul Train' and Don Cornelius

A southern, surburban, white kid's reflections

As a suburban white kid in Raleigh, N.C., I grew up on “American Bandstand,” but when I wanted to feel cool, I’d watch “Soul Train.” Not only was the opening, which involved an animated train coming ‘round the tracks simultaneously iconic and goofy (we all imitated the “Soooooouuulllll Train” announcer, who tried to replicate a train whistle),  the dancing was amazing and the musical guests were often sublime.

So it was with great sadness that I woke up today to hear of "Soul Train" founder/host Don Cornelius’s passing, which early reports are indicating was a suicide.  It always seems especially poignant when someone who brought so much happiness to others’ lives can’t find the same in his own.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are set to rock SXSW&nbsp;in the very funny '21 Jump Street'</p>

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are set to rock SXSW in the very funny '21 Jump Street'

Credit: Sony Pictures

SXSW announces its full feature line-up for 2012 including '21 Jump Street'

We look at each section and pick some early stand-outs

Since joining HitFix, my film year has been defined by the festivals I attend, and of all those festivals, the one that continues to evolve and grow the most is SXSW.  I can't wait for this year's, and I felt that way even before I saw this year's full line-up of features.

One of the things I love about the festival is the way they embrace both the lowest of low-fi films as well as big mainstream Hollywood fare, and somehow, they all seem to fit together thanks to the way the programming comes together each year.  I can't think of any other festival that would have made "Macgruber" a centerpiece film, and they're also the same place that featured both "Kill List" and "Attack The Block" at midnight.  They have diverse taste, and they are inclusive in a way few festivals manage.

Also… it's Austin.  And I loves me some Austin.

This year's line-up looks fantastic, so why don't we take a look at it, section by section?  As we go through, I'm going to bold the titles that I'm planning to see at this point, keeping in mind that the easiest way to make the Festival Gods laugh at you is making a plan of any kind.  I'll also have some wrap-up thoughts at the end of the piece, especially regarding some of the titles I've already seen.

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<p>Katy Perry</p>

Katy Perry

Credit: AP Photo

Katy Perry joins list of performers for Grammys and MusiCares

Is Perry in talks to star in a 3D documentary?

Katy Perry has been added to the list of nominated performers who will appear on the Feb. 12 Grammy Awards. She joins previously announced performers Adele, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, Glen Campbell with the Band Perry and Blake Shelton; Coldplay and Rihanna; Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars, Paul McCartney, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift.

Among the newly-announced presenters are Dierks Bentley, Drake, Miranda Lambert and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Additionally, the Recording Academy released the slew of artists who will honor Paul McCartney two nights prior to the Grammy Awards at the annual MusiCares  Person of the Year dinner. Comedian Eddie Izzard will host the evening, which will feature performances from Tony Bennett, Foo Fighters, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, James Taylor, Neil Young with Crazy Horse, and Sir Paul himself. Also on the bill will be the cast of the Beatles’ “Love”/Cirque Du Soleil show, Duane Eddy, Diana Krall, Alison Krauss and Union Station and Sergio Mendes.

Given Krall’s involvement and that Tommy LiPuma is the evening’s musical director, chances are McCartney will be performing material from his Feb. 7 album of standards, “Kisses on the Bottom” (Krall and LiPuma co-produced the set).

McCartney will also perform on the Grammys on Feb. 12. Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich told Billboard that McCartney will perform “My Valentine,” one of the two originals on “Kisses.”

In other Katy Perry news, the singer is in discussions with Paramount and Imagine Entertainment to create a 3D film based on her career, similar to “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

 

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<p>Michael Fassbender in &quot;Shame,&quot; nominated for four Evening Standard Film Awards.</p>

Michael Fassbender in "Shame," nominated for four Evening Standard Film Awards.

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Shame' and 'Tyrannosaur' top nominees for Evening Standard Awards

'Tinker, Tailor' maintains its solid UK awards presence

This is rather old news, so forgive the tardiness -- but since the Evening Standard Film Awards released both a longlist and a shortlist last year, when this year's nominees appeared, I assumed they were still going to be whittled down before Monday's ceremony. As it turns out, that was the final nomination list -- and that's just as well, because it's a good crop.

The Evening Standard Awards are limited to British films and talent (British actors in international films are eligible, though it's been a sufficiently strong year for local film that only one nominee falls into that bracket). Determined by a jury of eight leading UK critics (not all of them from paper that gives the ceremony its name), they are one of the more established fixtures on what's becoming a sizeable list of British precursor events.

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