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<p>Melanie Amaro</p>

Melanie Amaro

'The X Factor's' Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene head to Epic Records

Are Astro and Josh Krajcik next?

Can the first crop of “X Factor” finalists strike sales gold (or platinum) for Sony Music? The record company certainly hopes so as it moves into final stages of negotiations with at least four of the contestants.

Both winner Melanie Amaro and finalist Chris Rene are in discussions with Sony’s Epic imprint, which is run by “X Factor” judge Antonio “L.A.” Reid, according to The Hollywood Reporter.   However, Hits Daily Double says that Amaro’s deal is already done and that she will start in a Pepsi Super Bowl commercial in February as well.

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<p>The Weeknd, &quot;Echoes of Silence&quot;</p>

The Weeknd, "Echoes of Silence"

Today in mixtapes: Raekwon, The Weeknd, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, T.I.

Das Racist's Kool A.D. offers you a drink of palm wine

Hip-hop didn't take this week -- the week after New Year's -- off. Raekwon, The Weeknd, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, T.I. and Das Racist's Kool A.D. all have new material from mixtapes to offer this week, some of which comes in advance of full-length studio sets.

Das Racist had some heads bobbing and others being scratched in 2011 with their set "Relax" which, retrospectively, was not all that relaxing. Kool A.D. (Victor Vasquez), one-third of DR, has palm wine on the mind for his solo 'tape. "The Palm Wine Drinkard" takes its name and general ideas from an African novel; it involves 1) drinking and 2) adventures with a wizard while drinking. The titles "Titties Out," "Fun" and "Flying Thru the Air inna Airplane" should give you some funky ideas.

Download Kool A.D.'s "The Palm Wine Drinkard" here.

All three of Das Racist's members are plotting solo sets for 2012.

Wu-Tang's Raekwon, as expected, has something "Unexpected" for you, with features and help from 9th Wonder, Mobb Deep, Styles P and more.

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<p>Cobra Starship</p>

Cobra Starship

Credit: AP Photo

Cobra Starship and Mac Miller's 'Middle Finger' gets official release

Will a new dance be born?

“Middle Finger” may be the cheeriest song about flipping the bird ever released.

Fans of Mac Miller and Cobra Starship (and whatever that seemingly small overlapping intersection may be) will surely already be familiar with the downright jaunty, toe-tapper about throwing your middle fingers up, “to the sky-y-y-y” since the promotional track surfaced on the internet months ago.

Now, however, the song will get its proper release as an official single from Cobra Starship’s  2011 album, “Night Shades,” according to The Boombox. Available on iTunes starting yesterday, it goes to radio next week. 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Martin Scorsese will receive a BAFTA Fellowship, the British Academy's highest career honor, next month.</p>

Martin Scorsese will receive a BAFTA Fellowship, the British Academy's highest career honor, next month.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Martin Scorsese to receive BAFTA Fellowship

Will a career honor affect his chances of a BAFTA for 'Hugo?'

Rather like Meryl Streep, who has been racking up career honors of late, it's all but impossible to argue with any kind of lifetime achievement award for Martin Scorsese: in addition to his own deathless body of work, his efforts in the fields of film preservation and documentation make him one of the medium's greatest servants. So the news that he is to receive BAFTA's highest honor, the Fellowship, at the British Academy's awards ceremony next month is neither unexpected nor unwelcome.

I can't help wondering, however, why they've chosen to honor him in this way in a year when he will most likely be in the regular BAFTA race for "Hugo." On the one hand, BAFTA voters may feel that the Fellowship is a sufficient reward for one year, and feel disinclined to vote for him in competitive categories. If they don't, and Scorsese were to win Best Director and/or Best Film into the bargain, it could come across as overkill -- particularly given that the Fellowship is traditionally the last presentation of the BAFTA ceremony. Why not wait, and spread the love by picking a worthy luminary who isn't already getting honored in other departments this year? Just my take.

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<p>Yes, &quot;Bridesmaids&quot;&nbsp;is likely to keep the hope alive with a WGA nomination tomorrow.</p>

Yes, "Bridesmaids" is likely to keep the hope alive with a WGA nomination tomorrow.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Predicting the 2011 WGA nominees

Which scripts benefit in the wake of ineligibilities?

Tomorrow the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announces its narrative feature and documentary nominees. Something to remember is that a number of this year's Oscar-contending screenplays are ineligible for the award due to membership or signatory issues, meaning this is just an opportunity for other films that wouldn't normally have much room to get into the awards conversation.

The list of ineligibilities seems longer than normal this year. Or maybe it just seemed like there were more Oscar possibilities on that list than normal. In any case, you can count films like "The Artist," "Drive," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Shame," "My Week with Marilyn," "Rango," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and more out.

So what does that leave? Well, there are some options. But the ultimate list of nominees here won't do a whole lot to clear up the Oscar race, both as a result of the above and the fact that the Academy's writers branch can often stray from the expected path a bit.

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<p>Among the questions I&nbsp;intend to ask at press tour:&nbsp;why would&nbsp;&quot;Scandal&quot; boss Shonda Rhimes make Henry Ian Cusick ditch his Scottish accent for the show?</p>

Among the questions I intend to ask at press tour: why would "Scandal" boss Shonda Rhimes make Henry Ian Cusick ditch his Scottish accent for the show?

Credit: ABC

A couple hundred TV critics walk into a bar...

The Television Critics Association winter press tour starts today
It's that time of year again, TV fans, when the a couple of hundred TV critics and reporters from the U.S. and Canada descend on a single Los Angeles area hotel for the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
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<p>Oscar Isaac, Ryan Gosling and THAT jacket in &quot;Drive.&quot;</p>

Oscar Isaac, Ryan Gosling and THAT jacket in "Drive."

Credit: Film District

Round-up: What the movies wore in 2011

Also: The darkening of Keira Knightley and Kingsley's under-acting

I may have said this a few times before, but Clothes On Film is one of the smartest film blogs out there. Viewing and analyzing cinema from a sartorial perspective, Chris Laverty understands that there's more to great costume design than lavish corsets and hoop skirts, and his round-up of 2011's collected cinematic wardrobe is a case in point. Alongside appreciations of awards-bound threads from "Hugo" and "The Artist," Laverty is no less intrigued by the non-period work in such films as "Source Code" and "Drive": not only Ryan Gosling's already-iconic satin jacket, but his simple, dirty Henley tee, "reinvent[ing] the uniform of the protector." The Academy's costumers' branch could do worse than take a look at this piece for ideas. [Clothes on Film]

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<p>Zeek (Craig T. Nelson)&nbsp;visits his mother Blanche (Frances Sternhagen)&nbsp;on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) visits his mother Blanche (Frances Sternhagen) on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'Road Trip': Is it much further, Papa Zeek?

The Bravermans take a long drive together in one of the series' best episodes

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I give you some fuzzy dice and a switchblade...

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<p>&quot;Hugo&quot;&nbsp;was nominated in the period film category.</p>

"Hugo" was nominated in the period film category.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Art Directors Guild nominees include 'Anonymous,' 'Captain America' and 'Drive'

'The Adventures of Tintin' surprisingly in the mix, while 'War Horse' gets snubbed

The Art Directors Guild and the Costume Designers Guild separately make for two fun announcements during the awards season, because by dividing their nominations into three categories (period, fantasy and contemporary), they make room for films that might not otherwise share in the kudos spotlight.

The former announced its slate of nominees this evening, and the surprises were few and far between. I half expected "Hugo" to be chalked up as a fantasy film (it wasn't) in order to make way for some of the many other period films, among them "J. Edgar," "Midnight in Paris" (which also could have gone fantasy) and "War Horse."

Yes, Steven Spielberg's war epic was snubbed by the group, but oddly, his other effort, "The Adventures of Tintin," was chalked up in the fantasy film category. Elsewhere, I was pleased to see "Anonymous" get its due here, a stellar below-the-line showcase.

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"So You Think You Can Dance"

 "So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: Fox

'So You Think You Can Dance' will return without a results show - but is that so bad?

While voters will be impacted, the change also means less fluff

Via Twitter, producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe revealed this week that "So You Think You Can Dance" will be returning to Fox for a ninth season -- but this time, without a results show. "Fox [has] cancelled the results show so I have to change the format of #SYTYCD," he wrote. "At least we have [a ninth] season at the end of May."

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<p>Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in &quot;Drive.&quot;</p>

Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in "Drive."

Credit: FilmDistrict

‘Drive’ cruises back for a limited engagement

AMPAS gets a second chance to see Albert Brooks as a straight-up gangsta

FilmDistrict has announced plans to re-release “Drive” at the Arclight Hollywood for an exclusive one-week engagement, beginning this Friday, January 6th. Albert Brooks will be in attendance for a Q&A on opening night. Though “Drive” has received a significant number of nominations and wins throughout the precursor season (including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director BFCA nominations), Brooks’s Golden Globes nod solidifies him as the film’s strongest Oscar contender (despite a SAG snub).

It is not out of the realm of possibility, however, for Christopher Plummer to steal Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Beginners” (which would be a first-time win for a long and distinguished career). This is not to detract from the other deserving players on the field, it is simply to note that the Academy does take the overall picture into account when it comes time to cast their ballots.

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<p>Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco in &quot;Work It.&quot;</p>

Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco in "Work It."

Credit: ABC

'Work It' - 'Pilot': The crying game

What did everybody think of ABC's new cross-dressing comedy?

I posted my review of ABC's "Work Ityesterday, and Fienberg registered his own disgust this afternoon. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the gender-bending hijinks of the new ABC comedy? Is this more like "Some Like It Hot" or "He's My Girl"? Does Benjamin Koldyke strike you as a 21st century Tom Hanks? How about that nightclub set? And if you tuned in tonight, do you intend to ever watch it again? 

Have at it.

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