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<p>Andre 3000</p>

Andre 3000

Outkast and At The Drive-In: No new albums in the works

Andrew 3000 and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez are surprisingly candid

I don't want to read another story about how and if an "Arrested Development" movie is going to be made. I'll purposely avoid reports on another, "rumored" Smiths reunion. Some news just needs to be put to bed, and only brought back up if there's something solid to go on.

This is why I appreciate Andre 3000 and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez' recent candor about "new projects" from their respective bands, OutKast and At The Drive-In.

The former told GQ that, contrary to "talk on the Internet," there isn't another record from him and 'mate Big Boi.

"I have to say that as of now, there are no plans for another OutKast album," he said, adding that he is plotting another solo album and has been concentrating on collaborations (like those with Beyonce on "Party" and with Damon Albarn and James Murphy on "DoYaThing).

"There's a lot of music on the horizon. I've been living off the excitement of new artists. I've been privileged to have these new artists kind of reach out and grab back and say, 'Hey, Andre, we want you on this song'," he said. "So these new artists have kind of been keeping me alive. I've just really been feeding off of that and this year I think I'm planning to do a solo project. I don't know when it will come out, but hopefully it'll come out this year .As far as OutKast, I really don't know if or when that will happen.

Rodriguez-Lopez is busy promoting The Mars Volta's next album "Nocturniquet," but also the reformation of ATDI for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and for Spain's Benicassim Festival. He told Karrang! magazine* that getting back together with ATDI was strictly for nostalgia ($$$), and that the group wasn't going to pursue making new material.

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<p>Best Actor rivals Jean Dujardin and George Clooney at the Oscar nominees' luncheon earlier this month.</p>

Best Actor rivals Jean Dujardin and George Clooney at the Oscar nominees' luncheon earlier this month.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Punching out: Final Oscar predictions

The top races may be a done deal, but plenty of question marks remain

Not to get all Donald Rumsfeld about it, but considering how many pundits are approaching Sunday's ceremony with an air of blasé resignation, there are still an awful lot of known unknowns in this year's Academy Awards race -- more, I'd venture, than there usually are at this eleventh-hour stage in the game. A presumed weight of predictability has held down the nomination list for several weeks now, dulling speculation and analysis... yet when you actually sit down to cast final predictions in all 24 categories for whatever pool you're playing in, you find yourself pausing, or even stalling, for thought far more often than you thought you might.

Of course, the blind spots in this year's race aren't where most observers would like them to be. Yes, Best Picture for "The Artist" is a done deal, and honestly, has been so for the better part of the season -- to such a degree that even picking an alternative for my final predictions list proved as difficult as it is surely futile. When the runners-up in a marathon aren't even visible from the winners' position, it can be hard to distinguish between them.

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<p>&nbsp;Sacha Baron Cohen as 'The Dictator'</p>

 Sacha Baron Cohen as 'The Dictator'

Sacha Baron Cohen responds to Oscar ban as 'The Dictator'

Says Hilary Swank won't give a refund as his date

Please rise. The not-so-honorable Admiral General Aladeen has a message for the Oscars.

Controversy-magnet Sacha Baron Cohen couldn't ask for a better chance to promote his new film "The Dictator," in which he plays the Middle Eastern tyrant Aladeen, dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya. When the Academy Awards so rudely revoked Cohen's ticket to the Oscars, the British comedian took to the interwebs to issue this statement, in-character.



As he did with Ali G, Borat, and Bruno, Cohen is taking the method approach to his Aladeen character, and the dictator's controversial political views, which may have scared off the Academy in the first place, are in full view in the funny clip above. 

In the video, Aladeen refers to the Acad as the "Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Zionists," complains about the organization's failure to recognize such Wadiya-submitted films as "When Harry Kidnapped Sally" and "Planet of the Rapes," and hilariously reveals that he's friendly with director Brett Ratner (another Hollywood player shut out of this year's Oscars for using his big mouth). Aladeen also makes reference to Hilary Swank's recent political gaffe in attending the 2011 birthday party for Chechen president Razman Kadryov (accused of multiple human rights violations). Cohen's dictator claims he paid the Oscar-winning actress $2 million to be his date at Sunday's ceremony, and now she won't refund his money.

Oscar Host Billy Crystal also gets a shout out, and it will be interesting to see how he responds in his monologue. 

"The Dictator," also starring Kevin Corrigan, J.B. Smoove, Megan Fox, Ben Kingsley, Anna Faris and John C. Reilly, opens May 11.

The Oscars air live on ABC this Sunday at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT.

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<p>Could John&nbsp;Williams be an Oscar spoiler on&nbsp;Sunday?</p>

Could John Williams be an Oscar spoiler on Sunday?

Credit: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

John Williams wins five awards from International Film Music critics

'The Rum Diary,' 'Super 8' and 'Drive' also honored

The International Film Music Critics Association has offered up the final precursor awards announcement of the season as we head into the weekend, which will bring the Independent Spirit Awards and, finally, the Oscars.

John Williams had a great day, it turns out. The famed composer netted seven nominations two weeks ago and won in five of those categories, proving, in case you didn't know, that film music critics really like John WIlliams.

His work on Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" earned awards for Film Score of the Year, Best Original Score for a Drama Film and Film Music Composition of the Year for the track "The Homecoming," while "The Adventures of Tintin" won in the animated field. And just for good measure, Williams grabbed the Film Composer of the Year honor, too.

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"Doomsday Preppers"

 "Doomsday Preppers"

Credit: NatGeo

Watch: 'Doomsday Preppers' bring on the cray-cray with tomahawks

There's nothing wrong with being prepared, but is this too far?

I get it. The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and it's not beyond the scope of reason to be prepared for hungry marauders to come banging on your door, demanding what you've got. If you've seen the traffic on the 405, that day may be coming soon, like next weekend. But it's still a little unsettling to watch "Doomsday Preppers" (premiering Tues. Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. on Nat Geo) as some people prepare for the worst by, say, teaching their kids how to toss a tomahawk into someone's skull. Buying some canned goods, fine, but this seems a bit much, really. Still, I wouldn't mind picking up a few tips from prepper Michael Patrick Douglas, as a bird call-based alarm system seems very eco-friendly and almost peaceful, except for the running to get your tomahawks part. Watch Douglas in action below. 

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<p>&nbsp;Carrie Underwood</p>

 Carrie Underwood

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Carrie Underwood has a few words of warning on 'Good Girl'

Former 'American Idol' champ belts it out on new single

The sassy Carrie Underwood is back. We last heard her lamenting faded love with Brad Paisley on their duet, “Remind Me,” but here she is taking no prisoners.

On “Good Girl,” the first single from her forthcoming untitled fourth studio album out May 1, hand claps and a rock guitar usher in Underwood’s warning to a girl that the man she thinks is a catch is a cad. It’s a fun, uptempo song that’s full of shimmies and shudders: “Better back away honey, you don’t know where he’s been,” she cautions. Heartbreak looms, even if the pretty young thing can’t see it.

[More after the jump...]

 

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<p>Louis CK</p>

Louis CK

Credit: AP Photo

Louis CK, The Roots and the Afghan Whigs lead U.S. All Tomorrow's Parties fest

Jersey City hosting indie fest for a second year, with the Make-Up, Jose Gonzalez and more

The U.S. version of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival is fully emphasizing their comedy programming with one major headliner this year: Louis C.K.

The ATP event -- dubbed I'll Be Your Mirror USA 2012 in full -- features the legendary comedian sharing the marquee with newly reunited The Afghan Whigs, "Jimmy Fallon" house band and vet hip-hop troupe The Roots, reformed Dischord post-rockers The Make-Up, Jose Gonzalez and the Dirty Three.

ATP USA, founded in 2008, returns to Jersey City, N.J. for a second year, running over the weekend of Sept. 21-23. Pre-sale for weekend passes has already begun, while general onsale for single-day and weekend passes starts on Monday (Feb. 27). More info on ticket-buying can be had here.

Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs was curator for part of the line-up and, while rock remains the running theme of the fest, his selections were pretty diverse. Louis CK, Dulli's own band and the Roots made his cut; Gonzalez -- who I interviewed last year about returning to solo songwriting -- will be likely performing lots of new material. Acts like Gutter Twins member Lanegan, Sharon Van Etten and the Dirty Three all have new albums from 2012 to work off of; the Dirtbombs will be playing their soul and Motown covers set "Ultraglide in Black" (2001) in its entirety. Soul will certainly be the them of Charles Bradley's spot.

The Make-Up have reformed especially for I'll Be Your Mirror; Louis CK makes very, very rare festival appearances these days. The Criterion Collection will be in charge of the movie programming again this year.

See you in the Mirror.

Chosen By Greg Dulli:

The Afghan Whigs
Louis C.K.
The Roots
Jose Gonzalez
Mark Lanegan Band
Dirty Three
The Antlers
The Dirtbombs performing "Ultraglide In Black"
Scrawl
Sharon Van Etten
Emeralds
Vetiver
Quintron And Miss Pussycat
Charles Bradley And The Extraordinaires
Dj Questlove
Reigning Sound
+ More To Be Confirmed

Chosen By ATP:

The Make-Up (Reforming for I'll Be Your Mirror)
Hot Snakes
The Magic Band
Autolux
Thee Oh Sees
Factory Floor
Death Grips
I Break Horses
+ More To Be Confirmed

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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Nicki Minaj comes out guns blazing on new song, 'Roman Reloaded'

Title tune references Grammys and features an X-rated Lil Wayne rap

Nicki Minaj may have announced that the title of her new album would be “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded”  months ago, but it’s clear that the title track was just recorded.

Want to know just how fresh the tune is? The full-on rap song (forget about any of the pop/electro featured on the yummy “Starships”) references her Feb. 12 performance on the Grammys:  “You mad cause I’m at the Grammys with the Vatican” she says about about 50 seconds in.  The production is hard-core with a  militant beat throughout the mid-tempo track and a fuzzy hum in the background to heighten the anxiety.

She’s taking “reloaded” quite seriously as we hear the spinning of a gun barrel several times as threatens to “Columbine these hos.” That’s an unfortunate use of turning the tragic event into a verb, first off, and as a reference point.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Steven Soderbergh at the 2001 Oscars</p>

Steven Soderbergh at the 2001 Oscars

Credit: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

My favorite Oscar win: Steven Soderbergh for 'Traffic'

On final approach, we look back at some of Oscar’s finer moments

Roth’s column three days ago, recognizing the Academy’s genius in awarding Kevin Kline’s performance in “A Fish Called Wanda” made me reflect on many of the great Oscar surprises since then.

Unfortunately, this process also made me realize that I’m usually not pleased when the Academy throws us a curveball. Indeed, since Kline’s extraordinary victory in 1988, there have been surprisingly few Oscar upsets I’ve found satisfying.

This is not to say there are not exceptions to this. Tilda Swinton becoming an Oscar winner for her utter intensity in “Michael Clayton,” for instance, will always remain a highlight of the 2007 show for me. The Academy’s recognizing the future classic status of “The Usual Suspects” by rewarding Kevin Spacey and Christopher McQuarrie is another finer moment. Three 6 Mafia’s joyous reaction to deservedly winning for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” will be something I’ll never forget.

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<p>Demi&aacute;n Bichir in &quot;A&nbsp;Better Life&quot;</p>

Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Actor

Demián Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt square off

(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)

On Sunday, five of our leading men will don their tuxes and walk down the red carpet at the top of their profession. Earlier this awards season, it seemed as though this would be a battle between two A-list movie stars. Since then, however, a silent Frenchman has proven himself very adept at charming everyone in sight, and will be difficult to beat.

After predictable nominations for leading turns in three Best Picture nominees, the Academy threw us some curveballs in this category. It ignored another movie star with an Oscary-role in a maligned film directed by a legend, and an up-and-coming British actor who topped off an incredible year with a tremendously acclaimed, if controversial, performance. Instead, we find in the final five a Mexican actor, who has rarely acted in English, in a small message film, and a British stalwart whose nomination-less status had become infamous.

The nominees are…

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Listen: Justin Bieber joins Far East Movement's new 'Live My Life'

Listen: Justin Bieber joins Far East Movement's new 'Live My Life'

With all the subtelty of a G6

I warned you yesterday about the imminent arrival of two Justin Bieber singles. This is one of them.

The 17-year-old singer is all over the hook on Far East Movement's new "Live My Life," produced by RedOne It sounds like one long radio station bumper.

"Live My Life" will be available to digital retail starting Feb. 28, with a "Party Rock" remix by LMFAO's Redfoo on the way.

Far East Movement, who made their mark with "Like a G6," have a new album on the way: "Dirty Bass." It will feature "Live My Life" plus "Jello," which made its bow earlier this month. Producers like Bangladesh, Dallas Austin, the Stereotypes and Cherry Cherry Boom Boom will feature.

A music video for this single will be shot in the coming weeks. I'm sure it will be... arty.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 83 -- Final Oscar predictions in all categories!

Oscar Talk: Ep. 83 -- Final Oscar predictions in all categories!

Which four fields cause dissent?

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

It's all come down to this. Pencils down, the music has stopped, find a chair, etc. The Academy Awards are a mere two days away and we're entering Oscar weekend. Before you know it, it'll all be a memory. So let's see what's on the docket today…

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