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<p>The new HBO series 'Girls' by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow will be showcased as part of this year's SXSW Film&nbsp;Festival in Austin, TX.</p>

The new HBO series 'Girls' by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow will be showcased as part of this year's SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX.

Credit: HBO

SXSW announces 'Cabin In The Woods' for opening night

Plus Lena Dunham live in person with Judd Apatow and 'Girls'

This is exciting.

SXSW has announced their opening night film for this year, and it's a doozy.  I'm allowed to say that I've seen it already, and that anyone who is in the audience for the Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard horror experiment "Cabin In The Woods" that night is in for a treat.

And I mean it when I call it an experiment.  This is one of the year's wildest rides, and I can't wait to be able to talk about it when the festival finally arrives.

Add to that the idea that Judd Apatow's coming with Lena Dunham, and that seems like the perfect combination to describe the identity that SXSW has carved out for itself, as a place where Hollywood and indie co-mingle quite comfortably.

Here's the information that SXSW sent over this morning:

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Watch: Geoff Stults talks 'The Finder'

How is his new character like Magnum meets Fletch?
After its introduction last spring as a backdoor pilot in an episode of "Bones," FOX's "The Finder" has undergone a bit of an overhaul, with new characters and new dynamics.
 
One thing that remains in place is Geoff Stults, tapping into a rarely utilized goofball vein to play preternaturally gifted war vet Walter. It's not that the "Happy Town" and "October Road" veteran had never done comedy before, but there's a welcome looseness to Stults' "Finder" performance.
 
Some of that looseness pops up in the interview I did with Stults back in September, in which we talk about his "Magnum meets Fletch" interpretation of the title character, the changes from the original pilot and working opposite an even taller co-star in Michael Clarke Duncan.
 
"The Finder" premieres on Thursday (Jan. 12) night on FOX. 
 
Check out the interview...
 
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<p>Kenneth&nbsp;Lonergan (right) directs Matt&nbsp;Damon and Anna Paquin on the set of &quot;Margaret.&quot;</p>

Kenneth Lonergan (right) directs Matt Damon and Anna Paquin on the set of "Margaret."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Interview: Kenneth Lonergan on looking past your own horizon and the 'miracle' of Team 'Margaret'

The writer/director finally speaks at length about his embattled labor of love

Some years back a young Kenneth Lonergan visited Italy, his first trip to a country where English wasn't the predominant language. He experienced a powerful bit of self-awareness. "My God," he thought. "These people have been here the whole time I've been alive."

It's one of those moments that is more striking than it sounds, particularly for a writer curious about the world and how people respond to it, are affected by it and, most importantly, are ignorant to it. Having always been interested in other people's points of view, the size of the world and the limitations of his own experiences with it, it was a seminal moment for the writer/director, one that tucked itself away in the recesses of his mind until it was called upon to flavor his latest effort, "Margaret."

The film, which has seen an embattled legal and post-production history, tells the story of a young woman's own watershed moment of epiphany, when suddenly the world seemed to expand beyond the borders of her privileged Manhattan life.

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<p>Jack Nicholson gave one of his very best performances as Jake Gittes, an LA private eye in trouble right up to his nose in the classic film 'Chinatown,' finally arriving on Blu-ray in April.</p>

Jack Nicholson gave one of his very best performances as Jake Gittes, an LA private eye in trouble right up to his nose in the classic film 'Chinatown,' finally arriving on Blu-ray in April.

Credit: Paramount Home Video

'Chinatown' Blu-ray will feature commentary by Robert Towne and David Fincher

Plus more filmmakers discuss their love for the film in other special features

"Chinatown" is one of those movies that changes every time I return to it, each time giving it some space after I see it.  It is a slippery classic that represents a gorgeous collision between the studio hypergloss of the '40s and the New Truth cinema of the '70s, a European's heartfelt struggle to understand the city where his chosen medium thrived and took root.  I adore "Chinatown," both as a script that refuses to compromise in the way it unveils its sad, damaged heart and as a perfectly-pitched tribute to the LA noir fiction I love so much.  It's impeccably performed, beautifully photographed, and about as good an example of what happens when everything clicks just right on a movie as I can name.

And it is finally, finally, finally coming to Blu-ray.

Like Universal, Paramount is celebrating it's 100th year this year, and I think releasing one of the finest films the studio has ever made on the finest home video format that's been made so far is a pretty nice way of celebrating the year.  And if the only thing the disc contained was a perfectly restored high-definition print, I'd be all about that.  I would happily pick one up.

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<p>Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in &quot;Jane Eyre,&quot; shortlisted today for the USC Scripter Award.</p>

Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in "Jane Eyre," shortlisted today for the USC Scripter Award.

Credit: Focus Features

'Tinker, Tailor,' 'Jane Eyre' nominated for USC Scripter Award

'The Descendants,' 'Moneyball' also in the mix, 'The Help,' 'Dragon Tattoo' omitted

Earlier this week, I singled out Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor's artful adapted screenplay for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" as one of the 10 on-the-bubble contenders we'd most like to see show up in the Oscar race. The week before, I sang the praises of Moira Buffini's subtly innovative adaptation of "Jane Eyre" in my screenplay-themed First-Half FYC column.

So you can imagine that I'm pretty chuffed to see both these outstanding efforts show up in the list of nominees for the USC Scripter Award, a prize for literary adaptations that honors both the screenwriter and the author of the source material.

The Scripter's literary focus means it can't be compared directly to the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, which obviously considers adaptations from other media, but there's often a significant overlap between their nominees.

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<p>Shailene Woodley, George Clooney and Amara Miller in &quot;The Descendants.&quot;</p>

Shailene Woodley, George Clooney and Amara Miller in "The Descendants."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Round-up: 'Descendants' doesn't want to lose on a technicality

Also: People's Choice winners and Paul Thomas Anderson's IMAX ambitions

When it comes to the Best Picture race, it's fair to say that below-the-line support from the crafts branches can be a bit of a deal-breaker: you have to go all the way back to "Ordinary People" in 1980 to find a film that won the top prize after receiving no technical nominations whatsoever. Fox Searchlight is aware of that, as well as the fact that nobody's really singing the praises of "The Descendants" in any technical capacity. Their plan of action: a featurette focusing specifically on the film's cinematography and editing, exclusively debuted on Scott Feinberg's site. (The score -- thankfully, if you ask me -- is ineligible.) It's a clever attempt to cover a blind spot, but they'll likely have a tough time convincing branch voters in either category. [THR]

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<p>&quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother&quot;&nbsp;creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas appeared at press tour yesterday.</p>

"How I Met Your Mother" creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas appeared at press tour yesterday.

Credit: CBS

Press Tour: 'How I Met Your Mother' creators have a plan for series finale

Thomas and Bays talk about the Mother, Robin and Barney and what to do in case of more renewals

PASADENA - "We feel like jerks. We get asked that question a lot"

This was "How I Met Your Mother" co-creator Craig Thomas, addressing a handful of critics and reporters (including me) at a press tour lunch with co-creator Carter Bays. The question in particular was a familiar one about whether they'll introduce Ted to the Mother at the end of the series or make her a character much sooner(*), but "HIMYM" is structured in such a way that there are many questions the duo can't answer, even as they repeatedly apologize for their inability to do so.

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<p>Dan Byrd guest-starred with Jane Levy on &quot;Suburgatory.&quot;</p>
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Dan Byrd guest-starred with Jane Levy on "Suburgatory."


Credit: ABC

The Morning Round-Up: 'Suburgatory' & 'Happy Endings'

Undercover cops, shady Chinese restaurants, and lots of 'The Wire' jokes

As I've said, being at press tour limits my ability to keep up with current TV, both because I'm covering the tour round the clock and because I don't have a DVR here. But I had a chance to see last night's "Suburgatory" and "Happy Endings" and have a few thoughts on them - after which you all can use this to comment on any of the Wednesday comedies (even "Whitney") - coming up just as soon as I share a birthday with Hitler and Carmen Electra...

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<p>On &quot;Rob,&quot;&nbsp;Rob Schneider and new wife Claudia Bassols talk to his new father-in-law Cheech Marin.</p>

On "Rob," Rob Schneider and new wife Claudia Bassols talk to his new father-in-law Cheech Marin.

Credit: CBS

Review: Rob Schneider in CBS' terrible 'Rob'

'SNL' alum marries into a Mexican-American family in lame new sitcom
Of his generation of "SNL" stars, Rob Schneider's post-show career has certainly been helped by being friends with the others. (In particular, Adam Sander, who has produced most of Schenider's movies.) But there's also a complete lack of shame - a willingness to try any concept, no matter how dumb(*), and to make himself look as ridiculous as possible in doing it - that's helped him get jobs that actors with more self-consciousness might have passed on.
 
(*) Schneider was victim of one of the more devastating "South Park" career assessments ever, in an episode where the boys kept seeing trailers for terrible-looking Schneider movies where he turned into a stapler, a carrot and, eventually, Kenny. One of the last trailers abandoned any pretense of intelligence and had a gibberish narration, including the title "Da Derp Dee Derp Da Teetley Derpee Derpee Dumb."
 
And while Schneider has to participate in a few mortifying moments on his new CBS sitcom "Rob" (tonight at 8:30 p.m.) - notably a scene where he's involved in consecutive misunderstandings involving shrine desecration, masturbation and rape - for the most part it's a less ridiculous vehicle for him than most.
 
It's not good, mind you. If anything, it suggests Schneider is probably better off playing an animal, a teenage girl, or a stapler.
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<p>A scene from Steve James's &quot;The Interrupters.&quot;</p>

A scene from Steve James's "The Interrupters."

Credit: The Cinema Guild

Steve James's Oscar-snubbed 'The Interrupters' wins big with Cinema Eye Honors

Oscar hopefuls 'Buck' and 'Pina' also honored, 'Project Nim' goes home empty-handed

It's amazing how fleetingly causes can come and go in the awards race. Upon its release in the summer, "The Interrupters" -- a complex, clear-eyed study of inner-city violence in Chicago, from "Hoop Dreams" director Steve James -- was lavished with critical praise, hailed as one of the year's best films, and a cinch to snag the Oscar nod owed James by the Academy, if not the outright frontrunner. (17 years on, the unaccountable non-nomination of "Hoop Dreams" still smarts.)

With predictably frustrating perversity -- and an apparent impulse to torment James -- the Academy promptly left it off their 15-title longlist for the documentary Oscar, prompting widespread critical outrage that a film this strong could be carelessly slighted. Yet in the two months since that uproar, the critics haven't exactly come through for the film, either: the only win it's clocked up has been, in a show of hometown pride, from the Chicago critics' circle. Most nominee lists acros the circuit have left it off altogether, as lesser works like "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Project Nim" rack up the precursors. (Even the International Documentary Association blanked the film entirely.)

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<p>&nbsp;Andy Serkis shooting an emotional scene as Caesar in his motion-capture suit in &quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes.&quot;</p>

 Andy Serkis shooting an emotional scene as Caesar in his motion-capture suit in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Exclusive: Andy Serkis' emotional goodbye as Caesar in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'

A frank conversation with the underdog best supporting actor candidate

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of moderating a conversation with Andy Serkis, director Rupert Wyatt and supervising sound supervisors Chuck Michael and John Larsen about their work bringing Caesar to live in the critically acclaimed "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."  The evening was part of 20th Century Fox's campaign to land Serkis a best supporting actor nomination for his role as Caesar, an ape with extreme intelligence who falls victim to the prejudices and fears of man.  If Serkis finds himself among the five nominees announced a week from Tuesday, it will make history as the first motion-capture performance recognized by the Academy (let alone any major awards organization). Can he surprise the pundits?  Co-star James Franco, who played Caesar's adoptive human father Will, certainly thinks so.

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"Top Chef"

 "Top Chef"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'Top Chef' - 'Restaurant Wars'

It's boys vs. girls during the most grueling challenge of the season

We're down to an even split of guys versus girls, which isn't so surprising. What is surprising, however, is that Beverly hasn't been beaten up, melted by the hateful, laser-like stares of her teammates or otherwise taken out of commission. While she seems to be a talented chef and a good-natured gal, for some reason there's always someone around who loathes her with a white-hot passion. This week, that duty is shared by Lindsay and Sarah, who only succeed in making themselves look like the mean, ugly stepsisters in "Cinderella," but without the big ball gowns. But let's get to the food. 

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