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Credit: AP Photo

5 Steps to a perfect Madonna Superbowl Halftime show

Plus, listen to her new song, 'Masterpiece'

As had been long rumored, Madonna is indeed performing at Super Bowl XLVI's half-time show Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. Both the NFL and superstar confirmed the Material Girl’s appearance Sunday night.

What do we know? We know that she is collaborating with a team from Cirque du Soleil, so we can expect some wildly inventive and weird acrobatics to keep everyone entertained. She’s also partnering with Moment Factory, a company that produces multimedia events in strange spaces, whether it be outdoors or between buildings.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 105: 'State of Play,' 'Appropriate Adult,' 'Bag of Bones' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 105: 'State of Play,' 'Appropriate Adult,' 'Bag of Bones' & more

Dan and Alan also answer listener mail about 'Dexter,' 'The Walking Dead' and episode titles


We were on the verge of devoting most of this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast to my irrational love of unheralded Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert (who has yet to play a game in the NBA, of course) when we put the call out on Twitter for extra listener mail questions, and you guys delivered. Combined with your terrific questions and some stronger material to review this week, it's a pretty eclectic podcast. So thanks!

The line-up: 

"State of Play" (02:15 - 09:30)
"Appropriate Adult" (09:30 - 16:55)
"Bag of Bones" (17:35 - 27:40)
Listener Mail: The "Dexter" Twist (28:15 - 37:55)
Listener Mail: Old Cast, New Show (38:00 - 43:30)
Listener Mail: Episode Titles (43:35 - 47:45)
Listener Mail: "Saturday Night Live" (47:50 - 56:30)
Listener Mail: "Boardwalk" history (56:45 - 01:01:20)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at and/or if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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Kelly Ripa

 Kelly Ripa

Credit: AP Photo

Does Kelly Ripa need a permanent co-host on "Live! with Kelly"?

Stars like Jerry Seinfeld have stepped in for Regis, but should any of them stick around?

So, the long goodbye is over. Regis has been gone for two weeks and Kelly Ripa has settled into a (sort of) solo gig on the renamed "Live! with Kelly." I say sort of because Ripa has been joined by stand-in co-hosts comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry O'Connell, Neil Patrick Harris and, most recently, "Dancing with the Stars" pro Derek Hough -- and there are likely many more to come, as there's been no deadline for when a permanent co-host will be announced. While each of these co-hosts has been successful to varying degrees, what's been notable is how smoothly Ripa has stepped into the Regis chair.

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<p>Andy Serkis on the set of &quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot;</p>

Andy Serkis on the set of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Apes' and 'Tintin' star Andy Serkis on performance capture's place in awards season

The steward of the form has his say on the FYC circuit

Andy Serkis is in the middle of nowhere. Quite literally. He's at the base of Mt. Cook in New Zealand's Southern Alps filming second unit material on Peter Jackson's heavily anticipated film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and cell service is a luxury.

Last Thursday, in fact, the actor accepted the Tech Pioneer Award from the Whistler Film Festival via Skype. But it wasn't so easy. He was in a helicopter, landed in a field in a remote farming community, found the house of someone who knew someone who knew someone on the crew and set up a laptop in the living room to call in.

This morning -- amid a number of dropped calls, natch -- I talked to him ostensibly for an upcoming Tech Support interview regarding the visual effects of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "The Adventures of Tintin" (each of which feature Serkis in performance capture roles). But it seemed like a good opportunity to get his thoughts on the technology's place in the awards season while I was at it.

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<p>The ensemble of Lars von Trier's &quot;Melancholia,&quot; which took top honors at Saturday's European Film Awards.</p>

The ensemble of Lars von Trier's "Melancholia," which took top honors at Saturday's European Film Awards.

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Lars von Trier maintains his silence at European Film Awards

'Melancholia' wins top award, while Brits rule the acting races

Apologies for being a little slow this weekend in getting to the European Film Award results -- which Gregory Ellwood listed over on his blog. It was a busy day, and by the time I remembered them, the British Independent Film Awards swallowed up my evening.

Still, it seems we were not the only people with other things on our mind: apparently, most of the major winners couldn't be bothered to turn up to what this first-hand report suggests was a pretty shoddy ceremony. In the case of Lars von Trier -- whose film "Melancholia," as expected, won the Best European Film award -- that was to be expected. Having publicly taken a vow of silence a few months ago in the wake of further official admonishment for his controversial Nazi-related comments at Cannes in May, he proved as good as his word, sending his wife to collect the award on his behalf. Lucky woman.

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<p>From &quot;The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo&quot; poster: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara</p>

From "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" poster: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara

Credit: Columbia

Listen: 6 cuts from Trent Reznor's 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' soundtrack

Nine Inch Nails mastermind released complete tracklist, sells it the only way he knows how

Any excuse to type the words "Academy Award winner Trent Reznor" is a good one, so with that, there may be another chance to give the guy an honor: the Nine Inch Nails frontman has finished constructing his score to forthcoming flick "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross, and now he's giving some of it away.

Check out the beautiful album artwork.

I'll write more about the sound once I've actually seen the film, but this moody, dynamic sampler is enough to know that there's a lot going on here. The lush six-track teaser can be downloaded for free, through Reznor's NullCo site, with pre-orders for the usual purchases, like a digi download, a deluxe and standard CD. The best part of all that, is the album is actually three CDs long, for the price of about one.

Click here for your free sampler.

The digital set will hit on Dec. 9, this Friday. The physical merchandise arrives week of release, when David Fincher's film drops on Dec. 21.

Reznor and Fincher worked together on last year's "The Social Network," which earned Reznor and Ross an Oscar for Original Score.

The "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" tracklist is as follows:

    1. Immigrant Song
    2. She Reminds Me Of You
    3. People Lie All The Time
    4. Pinned And Mounted
    5. Perihelion
    6. What If We Could?
    7. With The Flies
    8. Hidden In Snow
    9. A Thousand Details
    10. One Particular Moment
    11. I Can't Take It Anymore
    12. How Brittle The Bones
    13. Please Take Your Hand Away

    14. Cut Into Pieces
    15. The Splinter
    16. An Itch
    17. Hypomania
    18. Under The Midnight Sun
    19. Aphelion
    20. You're Here
    21. The Same As The Others
    22. A Pause For Reflection
    23. While Waiting
    24. The Seconds Drag
    25. Later Into The Night
    26. Parallel Timeline With Alternate Outcome

    27. Another Way Of Caring
    28. A Viable Construct
    29. Revealed In The Thaw
    30. Millennia
    31. We Could Wait Forever
    32. Oraculum
    33. Great Bird Of Prey
    34. The Heretics
    35. A Pair Of Doves
    36. Infiltrator
    37. The Sound Of Forgetting
    38. Of Secrets
    39. Is Your Love Strong Enough?

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<p>Tanya (Jane Adams)&nbsp;and Ray (Thomas Jane) plot a way to get their money back on &quot;Hung.&quot;</p>

Tanya (Jane Adams) and Ray (Thomas Jane) plot a way to get their money back on "Hung."

Credit: HBO

Pimpin' ain't easy: Thoughts on 'Hung' season 3

Ray and Tanya found success, but ended up with... cows?

While the show that HBO aired right before it last night is understandably getting more attention today, "Hung" did air its third season finale, and having written about the premiere a few months ago, I wanted to swoop back in (if only to satisfy the 12 of you who commented last time) with a few thoughts on the season as a whole, coming up just as soon as my "Dark Side of the Moon" sparks a bidding war...

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Make your case and win!
Make your case and win!
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contest: Win a 'Super 8' DVD

Make your case for the film's Oscar worthiness

We're closing in on the holiday season, so what better time to start up our contest circuit? The swag is coming fast and furious and I need to unload it before it takes over my dining room table like a fungus. #humblebrag

Paramount Pictures has been giving it the old college try on bringing "Super 8" back around and situating it in or near the awards conversation. The film -- which you'll recall wasn't exactly a high mark for me this year -- was beloved by many and I imagine a number of readers would like a crack at some free goodies. So let's give this a whirl.

I have two DVD copies of "Super 8" to give away. So if you want one, help Paramount make its case for the film in the awards season. In 100 words or less, explain why the film is, to you, one of the year's finest and why it deserves serious Oscar consideration. The two answers that come closest to making me consider the implications of the argument (since, alas, no argument is likely to outright convince me) get the spoils.

Deadline is Wednesday at noon, PT, and I'll note the winners in the comments section here. Now... Go!

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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Nicki Minaj's tough-talking 'Roman' takes on Moscow in new song

A 'teaser' track has emerged in promoting 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded'

Nicki Minaj's rabid, firey hater-man persona Roman is back -- rather, "Reloaded" -- and with this new teaser track, its obvious "Moscow" makes him meaner.

"Roman in Moscow" is the first glimpse into Minaj's forthcoming sophomore set, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," which hopefully alludes to many more rap songs (rather than urban pop) than "Pink Friday" the First had.

Shape-shifting Nicki says the word "bitch" 22 times in this track, with at least a couple of them hurled at Lil Kim, who has spent the last year deciding between sh***ing or getting off the pot.

"Bitch, I’m thicker than a midget / Yeah I’m crazy, just a smidgen / Motherf*ck me, get my wumble / And some Kimmy for my knuckle... Yeah I golf, putt too / Swallow balls; nuts toooooooo."

What's interesting is that Nicki has explained that her alter-ego Roman is explicitly gay, a classification to which, really, no mainstream rappers have ascribed. While artists like Lil Wayne and Kanye West bluster for women and men to "suck it" or "kiss my a**hole," that invite is strictly an aggressive assault to gay old Roman. The juxtaposition is sexual one.

And her threat is an ambiguous one, as Barbie talks down to just about everybody, an equal opportunity trash-talker.

The high end on those fakey strings and the beat is almost overwhelming, but the speedy flow and the fun are what keep this thing afloat. It's a good teaser, because I look forward to more.

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<p>&quot;Margin&nbsp;Call&quot;&nbsp;is making a splash on VOD this season at a time when standing out is key.</p>

"Margin Call" is making a splash on VOD this season at a time when standing out is key.

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Off the Carpet: Contenders hope to stand out against big spending and buzz-heavy pics

Does the 'Moneyball' way translate to Oscar campaigning?

Tying Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" to the times has been a bit of a dubious game of connect the dots to me all season long. Much as I love the film (which walked away with two key prizes at last week's New York Film Critics Circle awards vote). I respect that there are universal truths therein, but I think thrusting the faux gravitas of zeitgeist onto it is a stretch.

Nevertheless, I think the film does speak to a more specific and, for our purposes, applicable idea: awards season campaign spending.

Reading through Patrick Goldstein's recent column at the Los Angeles Times calling for a luxury tax on studios that spend over a pre-determined cap (good idea), it got me thinking of what it takes to stand out in an Oscar season, the creativity involved, and indeed, the creative spending. Not everyone can be the New York Yankees this time of year, but with the right brain trust, anyone can be the Oakland Athletics.

The thing about Oscar season is that it's not about getting people to like your movie. It's about getting people to watch your movie. Anne and I are always talking on Oscar Talk about the intimidating pile of screeners that accumulates on voters' shelves every year. Everyone is going to watch "War Horse," "The Artist," "The Help" -- movies everyone is talking about. The trick is getting people to put your movie into the player, too.

So you get creative.

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<p>Peter Weller, seen here leading a singalong of 'Take Me Out To The  Ballgame' at a recent Detroit Tigers game, will appear in a key role in  the new 'Star Trek' sequel</p>

Peter Weller, seen here leading a singalong of 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' at a recent Detroit Tigers game, will appear in a key role in the new 'Star Trek' sequel

Credit: AP Photo/Duane Burleson

'Robocop' star Peter Weller joins the 'Star Trek' sequel cast

Buckaroo Banzai certainly brings SF credibility to the table

I always loved the way an actor could show up in more than one role in the "Star Trek" universe, and it looks like Peter Weller is going to pull the same trick now as he steps up to play a major role in the new "Star Trek" sequel.

He previously showed up in a two-episode guest role for "Star Trek: Enterprise," which of course is just part of his science-fiction resume.  He is most famous for being the original (and in my world, only) Robocop, but he's also appeared on shows like "Odyssey 5" and in films like "Leviathan" or "Screamers" or, most wonderfully, "Buckaroo Banzai."

Little by little, we're starting to see the shape of this new cast, and I like it.  I'm excited to see Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto pick up the characters again, surrounded by that cast including Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, and John Cho, and I think it's obviously very important who you play them off of now that they're a crew.

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<p>&quot;Kung Fu Panda 2&quot;&nbsp;led the way with 11 nominations.</p>

"Kung Fu Panda 2" led the way with 11 nominations.

Credit: DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks dominates Annie nods with 'Kung Fu Panda 2' and 'Puss in Boots'

'Rango' and 'Rio' not far behind as Pixar joins the party again

The 39th annual Annie Award nominees have been announced this morning, and as usual, DreamWorks Animation had a really strong showing. The studio's one-two punch of "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots" led the field with 11 and nine nominations respectively.

DreamWorks has been mobilizing as of late behind the scenes, bringing on awards publicists outside of the in-house Paramount team. The thinking is that the studio has a big slate, what with home-grown productions like "The Adventures of Tintin" and "Rango" to work with as it is, and no one wants the focus split too much. That's doubly important considering that, even in a five-nominee year, it'll be tough for DreamWorks to get both of its films in.

"The Adventures of Tintin" managed to be nominated for Best Animated Feature, but as I've been mentioning all season, I anticipated the film would be qualified as animation for the Oscars to avoid a stink, but I don't expect the animation branch to nominate it in the final analysis. We'll see if that happens.

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