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<p>Marg Helgenberger and Ted Danson on &quot;CSI.&quot;</p>

Marg Helgenberger and Ted Danson on "CSI."

Credit: CBS

'CSI' - '73 Seconds': Ted Danson takes charge

Nick meets the new night shift boss, who fits right in

I'm not much a fan of CBS' crime procedurals (most of which are fine for what they're doing but not my area of interest). I am a big fan, however, of Mr. Ted Danson. What to do, then, when Danson becomes the new "CSIleading man? Well, at the very least I could take time to watch his first two episodes as new night shift supervisor D.B. Russell, and to be impressed - but not particularly surprised - at how easily he fit into the vibe of the show(*), played off of George Eads and Marg Helgenberger, etc. 

(*) And, specifically, how quickly he and the writing for his character were able to bring back the slightly offbeat comic quality from the show's early days with William Petersen. That sense of humor, as well as the insistence on always treating the Vegas CSIs as nerds, no matter how attractive they were, were two huge elements that elevated the original over the spin-offs. Glad to have that back.

All in all, I thought "73 Seconds" was a very good introduction for Danson/Russell. But then, I haven't been a regular "CSI" viewer for a very long time. For those of you who are fans, how'd you feel about the new guy? I know the Laurence Fishburne era got mixed reactions; did this seem like a step up to you? And is there anyone who might start watching the show (or return to the show after an absence) just for Danson? 

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<p>Freddie (Ben Whishaw)&nbsp;on &quot;The Hour.&quot;</p>

Freddie (Ben Whishaw) on "The Hour."

Credit: BBC

'The Hour' - 'Episode 6': Shut it down

Tensions mount as Freddie and Bel decide to challenge the government

"The Hour" wrapped up its first season tonight, and I have a few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I put on a fake mustache...

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Lady Gaga, bringing a little weirdness to 'Good Morning America' in May
Lady Gaga, bringing a little weirdness to 'Good Morning America' in May
Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Watch: Lady Gaga flop around in 'Yuyi,' third clip for 'You and I'

Her mermaid character is going places...with a little help

This time when Lady Gaga  sings “This time I’m not leaving without you,” in the latest video for “You and I,” she really means it. Because she can’t!

In the third Haus of U clip for “You and I,” Gaga appears as Yuyi, the mermaid who first surfaced in the official clip for the song.  Therefore, motility on land is somewhat limited to flopping around, as she does in and under a director’s chair here, or being carried around. As you recall, Lady Gaga has been releasing additional short black and white clips, filmed in Nebraska, to boost the song. While beautifully shot, they’re low-concept affairs. The first of the five, “Nymph,” featured Lady Gaga in lingerie dancing to the song. In last week’s installment, “Bride,” she was working a “Bride of Frankenstein” theme.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>&quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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"The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Premiere Live-Blog

Whatever Simon Cowell's new concoction is, let's find out together...

OK, kids... It's time for "The X Factor." There's been so much darned hype for this one that a premiere live-blog seemed appropriate...

So let's go!

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<p>Sean Penn in &quot;This Must Be The Place.&quot;</p>

Sean Penn in "This Must Be The Place."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Is Sean Penn crashing the best actor race?

Weinstein Company picks up 'This Must Be The Place'

After his public comments about the editing of "The Tree of Life," we're still unsure if Sean Penn will appear at any future SAG screening or, now, Academy member screenings of the critic's favorite, but his other film from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival has finally found a home. HitFix can confirm The Weinstein Company has picked up U.S. distribution for Paolo Sorrentino's "This Must Be The Place."

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<p>Events like last year's red carpet home video release party for &quot;The Social&nbsp;Network&quot;&nbsp;that ostensibly serve as Oscar campaign stops weren't addressed, but freedom of movement elsewhere means they won't be as necessary.</p>

Events like last year's red carpet home video release party for "The Social Network" that ostensibly serve as Oscar campaign stops weren't addressed, but freedom of movement elsewhere means they won't be as necessary.

What the Academy's new campaign rules and regulations really mean

Oscar strategists, start licking your chops

The Academy today dropped via press release its annual list of rule clarifications and changes regarding campaigning procedures, but while most are acknowledging the adjustments to post-nominations events and gatherings (like, say, blatant campaigning via private parties with AMPAS guest lists hosted for contending talent -- no longer permitted), my colleague Greg Ellwood has drilled down and noted probably the biggest bombshell of all in the announcement.

Before the nominations are revealed, it looks to be open season.

Greg quotes from the press release as follows: "Prior to the nominations announcement (January 24, 2012), there are no restrictions on screening events to which Academy members may be invited. These events may include the live participation of individuals involved with the film (Q&A panel discussions, etc.) as well as receptions with food and beverage."

What he surmises from this is that studios "can clearly go after just Academy voters if they want and, moreover, can drop having to participate in third party screening series such as the Variety or Envelope staples." This all may seem like the kind of ink you gloss over while following an Oscar race, but these changes could -- and likely will -- substantially impact the season.

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<p>Don't worry Melissa. &nbsp;There is no ban on personal &quot;for your consideration&quot; ads. &nbsp;</p>

Don't worry Melissa.  There is no ban on personal "for your consideration" ads.  

New rules: Academy gets serious over Oscar parties, screenings and social media

Parties are dead as super-screenings are the new thing

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the official rules for "promotion of films eligible for the 84th Academy Awards" (i.e., Oscar campaigning) today and there were some interesting changes.

It was expected the Academy would crack down on some of the events that skewer the line between Oscar promotion and, say, home video or theatrical release promotion (such as Sony Picture's "The Social Network" home video event last year), but that didn't happen.  Instead, the Academy set some clarifications and opened filmmaker access to some screenings for nominated pictures in a big, big way.

As noted in the AMPAS release, "Prior to the nominations announcement (January 24, 2012), there are no restrictions on screening events to which Academy members may be invited. These events may include the live participation of individuals involved with the film (Q&A panel discussions, etc.) as well as receptions with food and beverage. After the nominations have been announced, Academy members may continue be invited to screenings that have filmmaker participation elements but receptions are not permitted. While there is no restriction on the total number of screenings of a particular movie, no one individual from the film can participate in more than two panel discussions. Previously, Academy members could not be invited to any screening event that included live participation of the filmmaker(s) or a reception either before or after the nominations had been announced."

The fact that studios can now hold their own screening events not under the guise of guild screenings or by third parties is pretty substantial.  They can clearly go after just Academy voters if they want and, moreover, can drop having to participate in third party screening series such as the Variety or Envelope staples (ouch).  Chances are they won't, but those series are certainly no longer mandatory to try and get at voters.  Additionally, the "no restrictions" part of the screening events is quite extraordinary.  Does that mean DreamWorks can hold an Academy screening of "War Horse" at the Walt Disney Concert Hall?  Can The Weinstein Company have an Academy screening of "The Iron Lady" at the United Nations in New York? Could a studio buyout the Landmark or the Arclight for a week before nominations for non-stop Q&A's and screenings for their potential films?  According the new rules, yes, yes they can...if the studios want to spend that money.

Oh, me. Oh, my.

The other distinction here is that studios can now use talent more effectively to help lock down a win during the post nomination period.  Whether that will help secure a win in the major categories remains to be seen.  Most voters have seen all the films already and as we've learned over the past two years, scandals or controversy ("The Hurt Locker" producer, Melissa "Consider This" Leo) have had little effect on the final results because most members send in their ballots within the first two weeks.  However, if the studios are smart, they could use these screening events to push some of the secondary categories where the overall membership may not have as passionate a pick in mind such as cinematography, original score, costumes, make-up, editing, etc.  Considering "talent" can only appear at two screening Q&A's this might be the smartest use of their time.  You can be sure though, that the first two weeks of final campaigning will be packed with events in theaters as large as possible to get as many members in as possible. 

The Academy is still allowing for digital downloads and screeners, but you can are argue by opening the floodgates for special screenings they will encourage members to view the contenders in the manner which they were intended, on the big screen.

Oh, but if you aren't having a screening or in the Oscar club, well, that's the bad news.   As noted in their press release, "Additionally, after nominations are announced and until final polls close, members may not be invited to or attend any non-screening event that promotes or honors a nominated movie or individual nominee. Nominees themselves are also prohibited from attending such events. Academy-sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by the various guilds, critics groups and other organizations are exempt."  The "other organizations" is where the Academy gives themselves an "out," but this is meant to cut down on private circuit parties held by members at member homes to push a candidate.

Additionally, the AMPAS made some noise on the social media front effectively banning negative campaigning on such platforms.  This is a bit odd since it's hard to find any studio who blatantly campaigned against another studio's nominees on twitter or facebook, but it may be a warning over negative tactics overall. Here's their exact wording from the official rules: "Ads, mailings, websites, social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) or any other forms of public communication by anyone directly associated with an eligible film attempting to promote a particular film or achievement by casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement will not be tolerated. In particular, any tactic that singles out "the competition" by name or title is expressly forbidden. Academy members that violate this Rule 16 will be subject to a one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations, and expulsion for any subsequent violations."

The "any other forms of public communication" is the kicker here and no doubt has a very broad definition.  Watch your E-mails members.

This pundit's favorite rule, and one I believe the Academy will be very sensitive this year, is #14, "Telephone Lobbying."  It's been banned for sometime, but with the stakes so high with the new 5% rule to land a best picture nominations, it's going to be hard for some members, campaigners and filmmakers to control themselves.  

In any event, if Wolfgang Puck catering hasn't gone public, they might consider doing so now.  They are going to be much busier than normal this season.

A full list of this year's rules are available here.

For year round entertainment commentary and award season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.



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<p>Axl Rose</p>

Axl Rose

Guns N' Roses touring the U.S. for the first time in five years

Thirty-date arena tour starts in Orlando in October

Guns N’ Roses will play its first full U.S. tour in five years starting Oct. 28 in Orlando. A few dates had been announced here and there, but today we got confirmation of the cities (and some venues) on the arena tour.

The line-up is Axl Rose, guitarist DJ Ashba, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, bassist Tommy Stinson, guitarist Richard Fortus, guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, keyboardist Chris Pitman and drummer Frank Ferrer.

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<p>Emily VanCamp of ABC's &quot;Revenge&quot;</p>
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Emily VanCamp of ABC's "Revenge"

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'Revenge'

Revenge, it turns out, is not a dish best served dull
In the classic "Simpsons" episode "Day of the Jackanapes," Sideshow Bob is released from prison with only one thing in mind: Revenge [in this case, against Krusty for erasing all of the tapes from their classic shows together].
Sideshow Bob is monomaniacal and in one scene, he plunks himself down on a TV studio catwalk and observes, "Ah, the catwalk. The perfect vantage point... for revenge."
He then pulls out a bag of savory snacks and opines, "Ah, kettle chips. The perfect side dish... for revenge."
Finally, as a brainwashed Bart moves in the direction of Krusty with a bomb strapped to his chest, Sideshow Bob caps the joke. 
"Well, Krusty, this is your Waterloo. Soon, you'll be Napoleon Blown-apart," he says. A crew member objects, but Bob adds, "It was the perfect pun... for revenge."
In its perpetual and near-infinite wisdom, "The Simpsons" was poking fun at the convention that when fictional characters determine that it's time for revenge, they almost never go out and just get revenge. Instead, they talk about it endlessly and portentously. They won't freaking shut up about their need for revenge. And finally, you're all, "Oh my God. Just get your revenge already!"
"Day of the Jackanapes" and kettle chips came to mind several times while I watched the first two episodes of ABC's new drama "Revenge," in which the main character spends so much time talking about her need for revenge that an "Oh my God. Just get your revenge already!" reaction is almost inevitable. And while the character does, indeed, slowly begin to get said revenge, it's an almost joyless endeavor. 
Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but there's a difference between "cold" and "emotionless and dull," a distinction "Revenge" is unable to make in the early going.
Click through for a full review...
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<p>There's more than one way to cook a... thing</p>

There's more than one way to cook a... thing

Watch: Gory mayhem in red band trailer for "The Thing" prequel

Mucho mas monster

If you missed it on IGN, here's the gory-fun graphic red band trailer for "The Thing" which reveals lots more of the monster effects and, honestly, way too many plot details as far as who gets eaten, smooshed, penetrated, etc.


On the other hand, if you've been curious as to the look of the effects in the film, and do not mind a few details about how each character gets assimilated, check it out.

I say "each character" because this is a prequel to the original John Carpenter "Thing", and in that movie they make a reference to no one surviving the events that came before? I may be mistaken, or they may choose to alter the reality of the first film. All's fair in love and remakes… er prequels.

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<p>Steve Buscemi in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Review: HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire' returns for season 2

Many great moments, but perhaps still not a wholly-great series

Early in the new season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" (the premiere is Sunday night at 9) aspiring crime lord Jimmy Darmody is told by his father, "You'll be judged by what you succeed at, boy, not what you attempt."
Few dramas on television attempt as many things as "Boardwalk Empire" does on a weekly basis. Fellow HBO show "Game of Thrones" feels like the only other current drama that has the same scope. "Boardwalk" not only has to recreate the Atlantic City of the 1920s, but toggle back and forth between the boardwalk, Chicago, Manhattan, Philadelphia and even the White House. It's both a crime story and a political story - and suggests that, more often than not throughout history, those are the same thing - with a sprawling cast of characters, some real and some fictional, and all with his or her own inner life and agenda. And it strives to pack every frame with details that evoke the sights, feel and sound of Prohibition-era America.

Judge "Boardwalk" on what it attempts, and it's extraordinary. Judge it on what it succeeds at, and it's still a very good show - and often great - but one that still seems to be figuring itself out a bit in year two.

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"The Rachel Zoe Project"

 "The Rachel Zoe Project"

Credit: Bravo

Quick Look: 'The Rachel Zoe Project' - Is she really serious or what?

The fashionista is about to pop, but she doesn't seem ready for the process

While I was watching the latest episode of "The Rachel Zoe Project," I found myself wrestling with a question. Not "will Jeremiah last?" or "will Rodger go to Vegas?" or any of the other minor, obvious plot points being tossed at us by the show.

My question? Is Rachel Zoe being serious?

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