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<p>Lena Dunham on the set of HBO's &quot;Girls.&quot;</p>

Lena Dunham on the set of HBO's "Girls."

Credit: HBO

Interview: 'Girls' producers Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner

The 'Tiny Furniture' director talks about her comedy of sexual misadventure in Brooklyn
When I first sat down to watch HBO's new comedy series "Girls," I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't at that point seen the movie "Tiny Furniture," which, like "Girls," was written by, directed by and starring Lena Dunham. The actors were mostly unknowns, and though Judd Apatow was attached as a producer, I assumed with his feature career he wasn't going to be nearly as hands-on as he was with "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared" a decade ago.
But the series — in which Dunham plays Hannah Horvath, a wannabe writer struggling with work, sex, friendship and money in Brooklyn — wowed me from the start. I'll have a review closer to the premiere (next Sunday at 10:30), but by the time I was done with the first three episodes I knew I wanted to talk to Dunham, and with her showrunning partner Jenni Konner, whose career started as a writer on "Undeclared."
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<p>And the winner for 'Best Newly Minted Movie Star Who Is So In-Demand That It Takes Two Studios To Schedule Her These Days' is...</p>

And the winner for 'Best Newly Minted Movie Star Who Is So In-Demand That It Takes Two Studios To Schedule Her These Days' is...

Credit: Lionsgate

Jennifer Lawrence gets start dates for 'Hunger Games' and 'X-Men' sequels

Two studios go to-to-toe and then... co-operate?

If I were a betting man, I'd bet that Gary Ross does end up making the second film in the "Hunger Games" series.

Whoever ends up directing the film, it's going to have to shoot this fall, and that means the heat is on for Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Slumdog Millionaire," to get the script in shape.  If Ross does return, he and Suzanne Collins are going to take a crack at it again as well, and that's going to take a little time.  They've got to be working at a gallop right now.

And now that the schedule is set for "Catching Fire," Fox is able to claim a January start date for a sequel to "X-Men: First Class," once again directed by Mathew Vaughn.  And just like that, Jennifer Lawrence is sort of officially a movie star.

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<p>Mike of &quot;Survivor: One World&quot;</p>
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Mike of "Survivor: One World"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Michael Jefferson talks 'Survivor: One World'

The latest castoff discusses the strategic choices around his blindside
Michael Jefferson was blindsided because Troy Robertson got played.
As "Survivor" exit causality goes, this is a simple one to break down.
On Wednesday's (April 4) episode, Kim played Iago to Troy's Othello and whispered in his ear that Mike was out to get him and it would be better to vote Mike out now before his scheming had the chance to yield fruit.
It was just that simple. The newly insecure Troy turned on his former alliance-mate and because he never bothered to do any primary source fact-checking on Kim's claim, he joined the plot to vote Mike out. 
Mike, it turns out, didn't especially like Troy, but he also wasn't anxious to deplete the number of remaining "Survivor" men. Oh well. 
[Note: Because of timing issues this week, I had to conduct this email via email. I'm very glad that even that was able to work out, because I'm a completist. However, there are places here where in an actual interview, I'd have asked follow-up questions, which didn't get to happen here. You probably wouldn't have noticed.]
Click through for the full interview...
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<p>&nbsp;Nicki Minaj</p>
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 Nicki Minaj

Credit: John Minchillo/AP

Nicki Minaj's 'Roman Reloaded' shoots straight for the top of the Billboard 200

How far does Madonna's 'MDNA' fall on next week's album chart?

The rotation at the top of the Billboard 200 continues as Nicki Minaj prepares to assume the top spot next week with “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.” That will make six different titles at No. 1 in the past six weeks.

Minaj’s sophomore set looks good for sales of up to 235,000, which will lead it to handily come in above Adele’s “21,” which will bounce back up to No. 2 with sales of up to 165,000, according to Hits Daily Double. Three other titles look good to bow in the top 10: Rascal Flatts’ “Changed” will move up to 120,000 copies for No. 3, while gospel artist Marvin Sapp’s “I Win” will likely come in at No. 7 with up to 50,000 sold.

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<p>Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet are back in theaters in 'Titanic,' and this time, it's in 3D</p>

Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet are back in theaters in 'Titanic,' and this time, it's in 3D

Credit: Paramount/20th Century Fox

The Weekend Watch: 'Titanic' sets sail again and 'Zoo' comes home

A new column helps you cut through the clutter and make the most of your weekend

You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video.  Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.


There are certainly new movies to see this weekend.  I'm not sure I'd really recommend "American Reunion," but I have a feeling you know already if it's something you'd enjoy or not.  It is, in every way, an "American Pie" film.  I did not make it to an early screening of Whit Stillman's "Damsels In Distress," but I'll be catching up with it ASAP.  I've also got "We Have A Pope" here in the house, and I'll be seeing that this weekend at some point.  Morgan Spurlock's "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope," a documentary about geek culture and what draws people to San Diego in record numbers every year now, also opens in limited release, and it's worth seeing.  For my money, though, these are the three films in theaters this weekend most worth your attention:

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<p>Seth Gabel of &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>
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Seth Gabel of "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Everything In Its Right Place'

Why tonight's episode was the best of the season, and why that is such a tragedy
Olivia Dunham has recently found herself unable to remember the events of her life since David Robert Jones’ cortiphexan injections helped awaken her to her past reality. In semi-related news, I found myself in the curious position tonight of no longer really remembering what happened on “Fringe” before Peter fused the two worlds together. And honestly? I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. On one level it was almost definitely a good thing: “Everything In Its Right Place” had problems but definitely stood out as one of the season’s strongest entries. But it’s also one of the strongest entries precisely because I no longer find myself wondering when things will return to normal. While that might be music to some of your ears, it sounds like Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” to mine.
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Credit: Joel Ryan/AP

Watch: Drake and Rihanna try to thaw their feelings in 'Take Care' video

Frozen hearts can sometimes learn to love again

Talk about an ice age. Drake and Rihanna’s clip for “Take Care” is visit to the frozen tundra of your heart.

The two characters want to take care of each other, but are too scared to let themselves be  vulnerable.  In the strikingly shot, primarily black and white clip, a minimalist aesthetic that matches the starkness of the loneliness both Drake and Rihanna feel perfectly matches the tone.  There is a buffalo, bird and fish thrown in for good measure, as well as beautiful nature footage of a snow-covered landscape.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Brendan Benson</p>

Brendan Benson

Credit: Jo McCaughey

Interview: Brendan Benson on his new 'World,' his own label and the Raconteurs

EXCLUSIVE: Singer-songwriter helping release Raconteurs 7" on Jack White's Third Man Records

“I’m tired of the underdog mentality. I’m older and I am not cool.“

Hey, Brendan Benson has done his time. He’s been making solo albums for more than a dozen years, and already spent his years drinking too late, touring too hard, handing his royalties over to labels that have dropped him, or folded, or in one-offs deals. He’s married now, has a two-year-old kid and – in a new change of scenery – has his own label. Which is sort of like having a kid, he said.
His new album, “What Kind of World” (out April 21), is his first set for Readymade, which is now putting out other artists like The Lost Brothers, Young Hines, Leah Mason and Cory Chisel, all artists Benson has also produced. His Readymade label and publishing partners -- Thirty Tigers, Downtown Music Publishing, Terrorbird, Big Hassle, Hard Boiled Inc., Toolshed, and Music Alternatives -- also seem ready to tangle, themselves “underdogs” on a completely independent mission.
This new period in his career feels like the time he made “Lapalco,” from 2002.
“I started out thinking I wasn’t sure if I had a label anymore, which proved to be the case halfway through. The other part of it was not even know if I wanted to continue in the music business,” he explained, now further into the bowels of the music business. “People thought I was in a rut, and Virgin kept me on two or three years, telling me, ‘We don’t hear a chorus.’ That was a f*cking hard time in my life… I was left liberated and wandering.”
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<p>&nbsp;Willie Nelson</p>

 Willie Nelson

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Willie Nelson covers Pearl Jam's 'Just Breathe'

How does it compare to his version of Coldplay's 'The Scientist?'

Willie Nelson can seldom do wrong in our book. Today, he released his cover of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” which is featured on his May 15 album, “Heroes” (listen here, via Rolling Stone).  We already heard his interpretation of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” on a Chipotle commercial during the Super Bowl.

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<p>&nbsp;Nicki Minaj</p>

 Nicki Minaj

Watch: Nicki Minaj sleepwalks through 'Starships' performance on 'Today'

She debuts new song, 'Right By Your Side'

It is very clear that Nicki Minaj is not a morning person. Just watch this tremendously lethargic lip-synching performance of her top 10 hit “Starships” on this morning’s “Today” show. She is totally phoning it in. Quite honestly, it’s almost as bad as Britney Spears’ horrible MTV Video Music Awards performance from a few years ago and the outfit is nearly as unflattering.

“Is that too much for early in the morning, you guys?,” she asks as she moves around with the clunky moves of a really rusty aerobics instructor.  The answer is a resounding yes, for Minaj, if no one else.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and Big Sean's showing 'Mercy'

G.O.O.D. Music kicks off on Good Friday... are you excited for more?

Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and Big Sean all showed up for the first-showing of "G.O.O.D. Music," Ye's label collection of original tracks from its artists. "Mercy" is a taking-turns kind of tune, as you'd expect, but of course Kanye made sure to write in a little something special for himself.

Listen to the song at Kanye West's website (re-done for very high resolution screens, apparently).

The straight-forward beat gives way to an Other World dark dance, led by a rip from the "Scarface" score. There's no guns or drugs here, though, with exception to his mention of "Molly," the same substance name-drop that put Madonna in time out, albeit briefly, a couple weeks ago.

After another weird diversion into suicide (which figured prominently into his "Power" single), Yeezy's all sorts of chest-puffery: "I step in the Def Jam building like I'm the sh*t / tell them give me $50 million or I'm going to quit / Most rappers taste level ain't even at my waist level / Turn up the bass level till it's at your face level." Good to know that his ability to divulge his talents has a price tag.

Meanwhile, 2 Chainz ups his profile with a verse that follows in the same vein. But it was Big Sean who opened up the door on this decent track, putting his "swerve" on the sort of rhymes he loves the best: extolling the virtues of strip clubs and their inhabitants.

The song, overall, isn't much of a conversation piece, but a conversation starter. The "G.O.O.D. Music" comp is guaranteed to be bursting with big names, let's just hope they're not all showing up, on every track, all at once.

No word yet if there will be new track every single Friday, but Ye has never been shy about that gimmick.

Yesterday, his track with DJ Khaled, "Theraflu," also broke out. Check out The Beat Goes On's thoughts on that here.


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<p>David Simon.</p>

David Simon.

Credit: AP

Interview: David Simon doesn't want to tell you how to watch 'The Wire'

Though he'd probably still prefer you get to the end of a season before passing judgment

As you know if you've been reading me for more than five seconds, I think "The Wire" is the best drama to ever air on television. I'm also an enormous fan of the rest of David Simon's oeuvre, all the way from his book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," all the way up through "Tremé," which will be back on HBO this fall.

But I was very disheartened to read yesterday's New York Times interview with Simon, in which he seemed to suggest there was a right and a wrong way to watch his shows, and he disapproved of anyone doing it the wrong way. This passage seemed particularly contentious, to both myself and a lot of people I follow in Twitter, be they fellow TV critics or other TV showrunners who are fans of "The Wire."
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