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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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<p>Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams are composing the music for Sunday's Oscar ceremony.</p>

Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams are composing the music for Sunday's Oscar ceremony.

Credit: LA Times/Rick Loomis

Round-up: Zimmer and Pharrell on scoring the Oscars

Also: Ways to fix the Oscars, and the art of the tux

For whatever reason, I didn't know that Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams were teaming up to write and arrange the musical accompaniment to Sunday's Oscar ceremony. (Is that partly why Zimmer withdrew himself from consideration for "Rango?") If this had happened in last year's "we're young and hip -- honest!" ceremony, you know we'd have been reminded of the N.E.R.D. beatsmith's involvement ad nauseum. As it stands, it comes as a pleasant surprise: while I somehow doubt these musical interludes will be as memorable as the pair suggest in this interview ("We're going crazy!" Zimmer boasts, showing off the synths and drum machines that will sit amid the traditional Oscar orchestra), it's a pleasingly inventive step for telecast -- and with the nixing of the Best Original Song performances, the only aural fix we'll get all evening. [LA Times]

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<p>Rainn Wilson, Catherine Tate and Dave Koechner in &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Rainn Wilson, Catherine Tate and Dave Koechner in "The Office."

Credit: NBC

The Morning Round-Up: '30 Rock' & 'The Office'

Liz celebrates Leap Day, while Jim tries to escape a seduction

Reviews of last night's "30 Rock" and "The Office" coming up just as soon as I write lyrics to the song the cantina band plays in "Star Wars"...

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<p>&quot;The Descendants,&quot; Michael Shannon and Michelle Williams are frontrunners for 2012 Independent Spirit Awards.</p>

"The Descendants," Michael Shannon and Michelle Williams are frontrunners for 2012 Independent Spirit Awards.

2012 Independent Spirit Awards Predictions: 'The Descendants,' Michael Shannon and ?

Can 'Drive' pull off a win?

Hollywood's alternative to the Academy Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, used to be the edgy, unexpected, fly by the seat of your pants awards show.  Over 25 years later, the Spirits have become much more established (shh, don't tell anyone) even if the show still takes place in a large tent on a parking lot right next to the beach in Santa Monica, CA. As the meaning and distribution of independent film has changed over the past 15 years or so the show's nominees have become more and more familiar to mainstream moviegoers. This past two year's best feature nominees, for instance, all were wide release films at some point in their theatrical lives.

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<p>Someone told me 'Wanderlust' was a comedy, but based on this, it appears to be a documentary about trying to balance modern schedules and a home life.</p>

Someone told me 'Wanderlust' was a comedy, but based on this, it appears to be a documentary about trying to balance modern schedules and a home life.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Rudd and Aniston in 'Wanderlust' features big laughs but a very thin plot

David Wain's latest lands a lot of jokes but doesn't stick

There are very few TV shows from the '90s that have had as big an impact on film comedy today as "The State," which is kind of amazing considering how much of a cult item that was when it was still on the air.  Almost everyone from that show has gone on to have a healthy career playing parts in comedies, both mainstream studio fare and edgier indie material.  David Wain has been able to carve out a career for himself starting with the well-liked "Wet Hot American Summer," and his last film, "Role Models," was a charming low-key gem.

One of the things that bugs me most in a comedy is that moment that occurs when the laughs stop and the plot kicks in, and "Wanderlust" is guilty of that in a big way.  It's a shame, too, because there's a lot of the film that is genuinely funny.  The film tells the story of George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), a married couple who are just taking the big step of buying their first apartment in New York City, and they manage to do so just as the bottom drops out of things.  When George loses his job and Linda can't sell her documentary, they begin to suspect they've got to come up with a plan B, and unfortunately, that involves George's psychotically competitive brother Rick (Ken Marino) in Atlanta.  As they're driving down to move in with him, they have to stop for the night, and that's how they find Elysium, a commune that's a holdover from the '60s.

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"Project Runway"

 "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime Television

Recap: 'Project Runway' - 'O! Say, Can You Sew?'

The designers are inspired by flags - but most of the results are unpatriotic

After many weeks of so-so designs, Kara got the boot last week -- not that everyone agreed with that decision. Austin declares to Kenley that Kara had more reason to be on the show than either Mila or Jerell. Though I suspect that Austin feels that way largely because he liked Kara, I can't really say I disagree. With a few notable exceptions, both Jerell and Mila have pumped out some pretty awful stuff. With only six designers left, it's a little shocking to realize more than a few of these All Stars are taste challenged. Sleep deprived and cranky, fine, but taste challenged? For shame! Then again, they can't all be Mondo, I suppose.  

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<p>'On Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service' pretty adequately sums up the general vibe of Daniel O'Malley's debut novel, 'The Rook'</p>

'On Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service' pretty adequately sums up the general vibe of Daniel O'Malley's debut novel, 'The Rook'

Credit: Hachette Book Group

One Thing I Love Today: 'The Rook' is smart contemporary spy fantasy, and wildly ambitious

For a first novel, 'The Rook' is awfully confident

Daniel O'Malley's debut novel covers some familiar ground, but the reason I'm picking it as today's OTILT is because it manages to wring something new from that familiar ground, and the result is an exciting fantasy thriller that mixes the modern espionage genre with the sort of magical world posited by the "Harry Potter" books.  It's an intriguing collision of genre, and it works far better than I would have guessed just from reading the synopsis.

From the very beginning, the book takes a fresh perspective to tell the story, with Myfanwy Thomas "waking up" inside her body, completely unaware of who she is or how she's gotten into the situation where she finds herself, surrounded by dead bodies in a park in London.  It's not quite a "Bourne Identity" situation, since the Myfanwy that wakes up is not the same person who was attacked, and she has to figure out how she ended up in this body.  Thankfully, the old Myfanwy (pronounced "Miffany," according to the narrator) knew that something cataclysmic was coming, and so she wrote herself a series of notes so her new inhabitant could pretend to be her and solve the mystery of how this identity exchange took place.

What she learns is that she is a Rook, and she works for an organization that handles any and all supernatural invasions or disturbances in England.  There are two Rooks in the organization, and a handful of other positions, and as many agendas in play as there are other employees.  The other Rook is a four-bodied identity named Gestalt, for example, and Myfanwy finds herself hard-pressed to maintain the illusion that she is this person who she never met.

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<p>Nick Offerman in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Nick Offerman in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' - 'Sweet Sixteen': Signs of overwork

Leslie struggles to balance her two jobs in the first disappointing episode in a long time

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as we talk minimum acceptable thread count for sheets...

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