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How Steve Jobs and Apple changed the music industry and the world
Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

How Steve Jobs and Apple changed the music industry and the world

My time with the wizard

When Steve Jobs officially stepped down several weeks ago, one pundit compared him to Thomas Edison. Another compared him to Albert Einstein.

I’m not sure about either comparison. Edison is probably more accurate. But if by doing so they wanted to imply that Jobs, who died today at 56, was a visionary who radically and permanently changed the world (not just culture), that is inarguably correct.

Since I mainly cover music here at Hitfix, I’m going to concentrate solely on how he and Apple changed the music business by creating iTunes and take you back to when Apple first birthed the download service.

In addition to being a master of design, ingenuity and business, Jobs was also a master of timing.  In 2001, Napster and Kazaa were killing the music industry and Jobs rode in, on what looked like a gorgeous white horse at the time, to save the day. He began wooing labels and promising that if they would come along with him, he would guarantee that together, they could monetize digital downloads.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Steve Jobs unveils the new MacBook Air in 2008.</p>

Steve Jobs unveils the new MacBook Air in 2008.

Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Steve Jobs changed the film industry forever

The Apple founder leaves a legacy unmatched

I literally posted that "Finding Nemo" item this afternoon just as the news hit that Steve Jobs had finally lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Spooky, that. Jobs backed Pixar early on, going back to 1986 when he bought the company (then called The Graphics Group) from LucasFilm. After failing to really catch a headwind as a high-end graphics hardware developer, the company partnered with Walt Disney Pictures and the rest was history.

But that's just how Jobs brought us one of the most critically and financially successful film studios of all time. His legacy and his influence on the film industry stretches far beyond that and will be felt for years to come through the countless innovations he made in the world of computing, going all the way back to the development of the world's first personal computer in 1984. The iMac, iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad (which Francis Ford Coppola was using to edit his experimental film "Twixt" in real time at Comic-Con), the impact of these devices on the film business is considerable to say the least.

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Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn"
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn"
Credit: The Weinstein Company

Michelle Williams takes on Marilyn Monroe in the first trailer for 'My Week with Marilyn'

Is she lined up for an Oscar nomination?

Simon Curtis's "My Week with Marilyn" is set to play the New York Film Festival later this week. I've been hearing this and that from those who have gotten a look. Nothing earth-shattering to report. One person told me Michelle Williams's performance as Marilyn Monroe was "the kind of that gets nominated but never wins," but the first trailer for the film certainly makes a considerable case for her. We'll have to see if there's a strong enough film built around it. For now, check out the trailer at Yahoo! Movies or watch an embed after the jump.

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<p>Paula Abdul of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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Paula Abdul of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - 'Boot Camp #1' Live-Blog

What the heck is 'X Factor' Boot Camp? Let's find out!

What is Boot Camp? And how is it different from Hollywood Week on "American Idol"? 

I guess there's only one way to find out...

Click through for my live-blog of Wednesday (October 5) night's "The X Factor"...

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The long wait for Marlin and Dory's great animated adventure in HD appears to be over.
The long wait for Marlin and Dory's great animated adventure in HD appears to be over.
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Pixar's 'Finding Nemo' finally coming to Blu-ray

The film is the final Pixar title to make the HD transition

Yesterday Walt Disney Pictures announced the planned theatrical 3D release of a slew of their staples, including "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and Pixar's "Finding Nemo" and "Monsters, Inc." The knee-jerk from most was the cynical notion that the success of "The Lion King 3D" caused this gluttonous cash grab, but the truth is, it was a cash grab long before people began lining up to relive the Elton John magic. These conversions were ordered and in the pipeline already.

I'm particularly interested in "Finding Nemo" in this equation, because that film and "The Little Mermaid" are the two from the list that don't have Blu-ray releases yet. I feel like I've been waiting forever to see an HD release for "Finding Nemo," for my money the best Pixar film, one of the top 10 films of the decade and potentially the most beautifully animated film of the genre. But I'm hoping the planned September 14, 2012 release of the 3D version doesn't mean the disc will drop a few weeks later (much like "The Lion King" did yesterday after a two-week theatrical engagement).

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"Gene Simmons Family Jewels"

 "Gene Simmons Family Jewels"

Credit: A&E

Gene pops the question on 'Gene Simmons Family Jewels' but the answer isn't so easy

We know they got hitched, but their problems may not be resolved

Before the premiere of "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" (Tues. 9 p.m. on A&E), I was concerned that last season's emotional rollercoaster would amble to a dull, TV-friendly finish. We already know Simmons and longtime girlfriend Shannon Tweed tied the knot on October 1, so it seemed pretty safe to assume that all of the problems that had plagued Tweed (Simmons' serial infidelity, his inability to communicate, his workaholism) have been neatly shoved under the rug, never to be addressed again.

But to Tweed's credit, Simmons didn't get off so easily on the show's season debut. He may have gotten a yes and she did, in fact, take the enormous engagement ring he offered her, but she wasn't letting him use marriage as a get out of jail free card. "Who'd want to marry an a------ like you?" Tweed asks, letting Simmons think he'll be flying home alone to pack his things before sobbing, "I would, I would." Clearly, this isn't going to be so easy. 

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<p>Ben Stiller and Matthew Broderick are two of the stars of 'Tower Heist,' which will hit VOD&nbsp;in Atlanta and Portland three weeks after it is released in theaters.</p>

Ben Stiller and Matthew Broderick are two of the stars of 'Tower Heist,' which will hit VOD in Atlanta and Portland three weeks after it is released in theaters.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Universal tests VOD market with 'Tower Heist' home debut three weeks after release

Will Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy be the test that finally changes things?

The theatrical model I grew up with is dead.

Sure, theatrical release is still the first stop for studio films, for the most case, but the window between when something plays in a theater and when it arrives at home is shrinking rapidly, and today, Universal Pictures unveiled a startling plan to bring the big-budget comedy "Tower Heist" to VOD a mere three weeks after it hits theirs on November 4.

They're going to be testing the idea in Portland, OR and in Atlanta, GA, and it's got a steep ticket price.  $59.99 is more than any typical PPV movie charges, but it's not typical in any way.  If this does work, it could change the way studios handle big-ticket releases, and I would bet they'll telescope the release dates even more.  If they can get people to pay $60 a pop to sit at home and watch a big new release, why not do it on opening weekend?  Why not go ahead and start at day one?

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A scene from Nuri Bilge Ceylan's &quot;Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,&quot; Turkey's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar</p>
A scene from Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," Turkey's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

Credit: The Cinema Guild

59 films vying for foreign-language Oscar

Turkey's 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' chief among last-minute submissions

Sorry I've been slow in getting to this -- the deadline for foreign-language Oscar submissions was two days ago, though stray films often sneak in a little late, so perhaps it's worth waiting a bit. Still, it looks like our list of entries is complete -- and at 59 films, it's down considerably from the last couple of years, when as many as 67 titles were put forward for consideration.

Of the 10 or so films entered since my last update in this category, one stands comfortably ahead of the rest in terms of its profile. Turkey surprised no one by submitting the latest acclaimed film from their most internationally celebrated auteur: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," which shared the Grand Prix with the Dardennes' "The Kid With a Bike" at Cannes back in May.

It's the third time a Ceylan film has gone before the Academy. The first, 2002's "Distant," made no headway, but his last film, "Three Monkeys," cracked the nine-film pre-nomination shortlist in 2008. If he's to go one better and land Turkey its first ever nod in the category, I suspect he'll be counting on the grace of the Academy's executive committee: remarkable and critically beloved though it is, this dense, languid 160-minute procedural drama isn't the definition of a crowd-pleaser. Still, I think it's exactly the kind of challenging, significant auteur statement the committee was designed to save, so don't be surprised if it crops up in the January shortlist.

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Willow Smith combines with Nicki Minaj for new single 'Fireball'

Will Smith's 10-year-old daughter tries even harder to grow up

A song like "Fireball" requires an acute and extreme suspension of disbelief. The track is by 10-year-old Willow Smith. And she is the fireball of the party.

Listen to the song here.

The spawn of Will Smith has put out two singles prior to this. "Whip My Hair" made it to No. 9 because and despite its easy targeting for what's wrong with pop lyricism. "21st Century Girl" was a careful study on the inflections of Rihanna, with a video like a pantomime of the same Bajan singer. It only made it to No. 99.

So in terms of fireballing parties, Smith is only one for two. Not so with Nicki Minaj, who features on the track with G-rated braggadocio and indistinguishable gender and social commentary like, "[Willow,] Your daddy keep[s] you in designer [clothes]." Minaj, undoubtedly, was also on to add "legitimacy" to the track.

One problem with propping up children as pop stars is that they sound like children. Is Willow rapping about the kind of party with balloons and a bouncy castle? Or is she in a private booth with Minaj and vodka and mixers? Or somewhere in between?

I wouldn't harp on the problem of "legitimacy" and "authenticity" in this instance so much if its adoption won't rely so heavily on these elements. If you're gonna borrow the synths and drop lazy breaks from the rap radio archive between Smith's borrowed vocal styles (including those from Minaj), it had better be a barn-burner to be adopted wide-scale.

And the Stoopid Robots beat is. Combined with the hook, its like "Hollaback Girl" meeting "Yeah X3," but with a pint-sized voice reporting that she's gonna burn it all. What a world.

Willow Smith has yet to announce details concerning a full-length album. She is signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation spin-off StarRoc.

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Listen: Kelly Clarkson's new track, 'What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)'

Singer turns philosophical on thumping tune

It turns out that “What Doesn’t Kill You” makes you want to dance...and stronger. At least in Kelly Clarkson’s case.

The first “American Idol” winner officially released the track today after it leaked onto the internet last week.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” is an up-tempo, driving pop thumper with a  dance bent. We’re sure some awesome dance remixes are to come. Once again, in a familiar theme for Clarkson, a boy has done her wrong, but instead of crumbling, she has risen from the ashes of the relationship stronger. I am woman, hear me roar.

[More after the jump...]

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Taking questions for 10/7 Oscar Talk

Taking questions for 10/7 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and Anne and I will address as many as possible. Make 'em good!

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<p>Ethan &amp; Jenna of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Ethan & Jenna of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Ethan & Jenna talk 'The Amazing Race'

Two 'Survivor' winners discuss their Race undoing
The most heavily promoted team on this season of "The Amazing Race" didn't enjoy a particularly long run.
Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca, both winners of CBS' "Survivor," intended to use their previous reality experiences in this Emmy-winning race around the world, but instead they fell victim to a series of missteps in Indonesia.
On last week's episode, it appeared that a misplaced clue and then a failure to properly read another clue doomed Jenna & Ethan in the show's first-ever Double Elimination episode. 
But was that actually the way things went down? What really caused Jenna & Ethan to be the co-first team sent home on "The Amazing Race"? And what do they think of equalizers and Non-Elimination Legs and Twitter saves? 
Click through for my full "Amazing Race" exit interview with the ever-candid Jenna and Ethan...
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