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<p>David Yates directed four 'Harry Potter' films and has his pick of projects at this point. &nbsp;OF&nbsp;COURSE&nbsp;he's smiling like that.</p>

David Yates directed four 'Harry Potter' films and has his pick of projects at this point.  OF COURSE he's smiling like that.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Director David Yates talks about steering the 'Potter' franchise home

We chat with the man who directed more Potter films than anyone else

My favorite thing about that photo of Yates, taken as the sun was going down in Orlando at the end of a long day spent at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, is the way the silhouette behind him isn't a backdrop.  Those are the actual spires of Hogwarts, part of the incredibly effective illusion created when you're actually there in person.

When you visit Islands of Adventure, the park is divided into different "worlds," and it's designed so that when you stand in each one, it's all you can see, and you're meant to be immersed in those worlds.  The theme park aspects of the Los Angeles Universal park have always felt like an afterthought to me, wedged into the corners of a working studio property, but the Orlando park is a proper theme park, and you can tell it has been carefully designed and executed to give guests a very particular experience.

With The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, they've built it so that when you walk into Hogsmeade, it immediately feels like you've stepped into the world of the movies, and the effect is very impressive.  There are familiar shops and restaurants all around you, and you can eat at The Leaky Cauldron or go shopping at Mr. Olivander's Wand Shop as you work your way past the stands selling Butterbeer or the twin dragon roller coasters, Hogwarts stands above all of it, a fantastic example of real-life forced perspective in environmental design.

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<p>Andrew Bird</p>

Andrew Bird

Watch: Andrew Bird announces new album, 'Break It Yourself'

A tour date ticket earns you lots of free stuff

For as soothing as Andrew Bird's music can be, the title to his next effort is delightfully aggressive. The Chicago bard's next effort "Break It Yourself" will be out on March 6 next year through Mom + Pop.

And it will presumably have some singing on it. Bird's last effort was the score and soundtrack for Jonathan Segal-directed "Norman," which was mostly instrumental. There was also "Useless Creatures," the 2010 all-instrumental companion set to his last traditional studio set "Noble Creatures," out in 2009.

And if you've seen "The Muppets" this past month, then you heard his whistling workmanship in the "Whistling Caruso" bit.

Below is a short teaser for the set, his second for Mom + Pop. That label has done a helluva job adding established artists to its roster -- those who've paved their own way label-less (Ingrid Michaelson) or have earned their keep through previous label deals (Metric).

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"Modern Family"

 "Modern Family"

Credit: ABC

A round-up of holiday programming to take you through the New Year

Holiday programming didn't end with 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
Maybe you're feeling the holiday spirit, or maybe you just want to avoid looking at carolers and Santa Claus when you remote-surf, but television programmers have embraced all things holiday-themed (especially and specifically Christmas themed, more on that below) this year. Here's a list that, hopefully, tells you where to find all things holiday on your television this year. 
 
What you will likely notice is the dearth of Hanukkah-themed programming this year. This isn't for lack of effort, mind you -- I simply have come up empty-handed. If you've managed to find "Eight Crazy Nights" (note: it is available on DVD), "The Hebrew Hammer" (not for children, mind you), "The Rugrats Hanukkah Special," or anything else that fits the bill (or covers Kwanzaa, which is Dec. 26 - Jan. 1), please feel free to comment below. 
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<p>Rupert Grint could retire right now if he wanted to and life comfortably for the rest of his life.&nbsp; OF&nbsp;COURSE&nbsp;he is smiling like that.</p>

Rupert Grint could retire right now if he wanted to and life comfortably for the rest of his life.  OF COURSE he is smiling like that.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Rupert Grint discusses the end of all things 'Potter'

We sit down with the former Ron Weasley at Universal's Orlando park

A few weeks ago, I flew to Orlando to visit Harry Potter.

To be fair, I went to visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, part of the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park, and to participate in the press day for the release of the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" Blu-ray release.  When I was invited, I had no idea who would be there, but I wanted to go and participate in what may well be the last major press event for the Potter series.

Oddly, I've never interviewed anyone associated with the Potter series during the entire run of the thing.  Since 2001, I've been an observer, and that's been fine.  At Ain't It Cool, Quint was the Potter superfreak, and I didn't feel like there was any reason to fight him on it.  And here at HitFix, it's been a matter of timing that's led to other people going to London for various Potter set visits and press days.

It's been okay, though, because it's one of those things that was fun to watch as a finished product all the way through.  I saw the Potter series the same way the public did, and because I never walked through the sets, never sat down with the cast, never really peeked behind the curtain.  Hogwarts is just as substantial to me as it was to any other viewer.

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Gary Oldman as potty-mouthed Rastafarian gangster Drexl Spivey in Tony Scott's "True Romance"
Gary Oldman as potty-mouthed Rastafarian gangster Drexl Spivey in Tony Scott's "True Romance"
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 Gary Oldman performances

With 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' heading to theaters, we pick actor's best work

Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" might seem like it's been on the way for some time at this point in the season, considering an early-September world premiere, followed shortly by a UK theatrical release. But nearly three months later, the film is making its way to domestic theaters this weekend and everyone here will finally get a load of another Gary Oldman performance in a long line of versatile, chameleonic portrayals.

The occasion seemed an obvious one for dedicating an installment of The Lists to the actor's work. Indeed, this was the first list I jotted down as a must when preparing the season's coverage a few months ago; Oldman is easily one of my favorite actors, an impeccable performer who has managed to do something fresh with every new endeavor.

Roger Ebert once wrote of Oldman that "like a few gifted actors, he is able to re-invent himself for every role." If you can believe it, that was in his May 1987 review of Stephen Frears' "Prick Up Your Ears." And Oldman has proved the point over and over again in the years since.

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<p>When you see this image, how can you not think of Harry Nilsson's &quot;Jump Into the Film?&quot;&nbsp;Or the Rolling Stones' &quot;Monkey Man?&quot;</p>

When you see this image, how can you not think of Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Film?" Or the Rolling Stones' "Monkey Man?"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Scorsese to be honored with BFCA's music in film award

Also: Reznor releases 35 minutes of 'Tattoo' score and Rudin/Denby gets a parody

Last year the Broadcast Film Critics Organization initiated a new award, the Music + Film Award, which went to Quentin Tarantino. The honor is meant to recognize filmmakers who have heightened the impact of films through the use of source or original music. Tarantino was a decent enough inaugural winner, but when you think of this kind of thing, how can you think of anyone other than Scorsese? The list of iconic scenes he has set to popular music is endless, and the synthesis of the two has been a hallmark of his work since day one. So good on the BFCA for going there this year. It's an obvious pick, but a brilliant one, nevertheless. Humble suggestion for next year's recipient: Cameron Crowe. [The Odds]

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<p>David Morrissey and John Simm in &quot;State of Play.&quot;</p>

David Morrissey and John Simm in "State of Play."

Credit: BBC

Review: BBC America's 'State of Play' the best repeat you'll see all month

John Simm, Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald shine in 2003 journalism/political thriller
In the late '90s, NBC launched an ad campaign to try to boost the image, and viewership numbers, for repeats, by boasting, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!" At the time, I soundly mocked the slogan, as was my moral obligation as a television critic.
 
Today, though, the idea seems much less bogus. We live in an age where there's more original programming - and good programming, at that - than even a professional TV watcher can ever hope to get to. And we live in an age where there are so many ways to see shows, past and present, that no one's limited solely to watching what's on right now. (Whenever you hear a bell ring, it means that someone is watching season 1 of "The Wire" for the first time on DVD.)
 
Tomorrow night at 10, BBC America presents a good case in point by rerunning "State of Play," a miniseries from 2003 (it first aired in America in early 2004) about a group of newspaper reporters who get caught up in a wide-reaching political conspiracy.
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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' - "Malibu Beach Party from Hell'

All hell breaks loose when Taylor faces off with Camille's best friend

Welcome to tonight's very special "Taylor loses her damn mind" episode! But we have to build up to the full-bore craziness that breaks out at Brandi's ill-conceived beach party ("I thought I'd get all the girls together! In a small space! With lots of alcohol! It'll be FUN!). I mean, you can't just dive into this kind of mental breakdown without some build up. And "RHoBH" is nothing if not good at the slow burn. Still, strap on your straight jackets; it's going to be a bumpy ride to Crazy Town.

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<p>Michael Fassbender as Brandon in &quot;Shame.&quot; </p>

Michael Fassbender as Brandon in "Shame."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

There is no ‘Shame’ in NC-17 according to this weekend’s box office

Fox continues to focus on Fassbender’s performance and the the film's rating

Poor punnery aside, some may say that this weekend’s box office returns indicate that “Shame” has overcome the stigma of its NC-17 rating, but it feels far more likely that Fox Searchlight made the right decision by rolling into the wave rather than fighting it. The studio embraced the rating, using it as a distinguisher, something to pull the film out from the pack. Journalists have utilized it as a talking point in interviews and editorial pieces about the film and the structure of the ratings system. I raised a question about the validity of the NC-17 rating in a piece last month and spoke with actress Carey Mulligan about her take on the decision during our interview.

Despite indications that the rating may damage "Shame," NC-17 in all likelihood has worked as a spotlight on a film that otherwise may have needed to fight for the attention of a viewership inundated with the end-of-the-year rush of weightier, adult-themed films.

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<p>Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey&nbsp;Oswald in Oliver Stone's &quot;JFK&quot;</p>

Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone's "JFK"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Gary Oldman on investigating, and becoming, Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone's 'JFK'

The actor enjoyed a unique researching experience on the film, this year celebrating its 20th anniversary

Fifteen minutes really isn't enough time with a guy like Gary Oldman. I'm sorry, not for me. Only a douche bag would complain about ANY time with Gary Oldman, of course. I'm aware of the navel-gazing. But someone that good, that many times out, and in that many different ways just kind of demands a laundry list of queries per film.

I didn't get to do that. Fine, okay. The task at hand is discussing Oldman's nuanced, awards-flirting performance in Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," but I had to give myself some excuse to venture out. So I tried to tie it in.

The thing about Oldman -- which I'll get in to more in depth in my full interview later in the week -- is how much he has stood out despite being a part of so many esteemed ensembles. The roll call of actors he's worked with is massive, but just consider the casts of "State of Grace," "JFK," "True Romance," "Basquiat," "The Contender," "Hannibal," select entries in the "Harry Potter" franchise and Christopher Nolan's successful Batman triolgy. And yet he's always more of a cog in the wheel, whereas in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," he's fronting such an ensemble.

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<p>Robin (Cobie Smulders)&nbsp;enjoys some un-maternal pursuits on &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Robin (Cobie Smulders) enjoys some un-maternal pursuits on "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

'How I Met Your Mother': How she met your father?

A great Cobie Smulders showcase is undercut by unncessary narrative trickery

A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I earn the right to put the Vikings helmet on Baby Jesus...

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<p>If he did end up playing Khan, I would hope Benicio would wear that hat.</p>

If he did end up playing Khan, I would hope Benicio would wear that hat.

Credit: AP Photo/Javier Galeano

Benicio Del Toro is out, but reports still have Khan in 'Star Trek 2'

How many 'Star Trek' stories can we run in a row?

Ahhh, the fine art of rumormongering.

Over the weekend, we got involved in a bit of a friendly back and forth with Latino Review over "Star Trek 2," or whatever the film's finally going to be called.  They published the news that Benicio Del Toro was playing Khan Noonien Singh in the new sequel that is set to start shooting just after the start of the year, and we contacted JJ Abrams directly to ask him to comment.  "Not true," he said.

Now it seems that Del Toro dropped out of negotiations to star in the film last Wednesday, and according to Vulture, Abrams is now looking to cast someone else as Khan.  They claim they have a very highly-placed source and that, like Latino Review, they're hearing Khan is indeed the bad guy.

Technically, if negotiations broke down on Wednesday, then when I asked Abrams if Del Toro was playing the part on Friday, his "not true" is accurate no matter what the part is.  After all, he didn't send a giant response detailing who is or isn't the bad guy he's using in the film, so he could very well have been playing by the rules, answering the question he was asked while volunteering nothing else.

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