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Tech Support: Visual effects Oscar race features apes, raccoons and 'Interstellar'

Tech Support: Visual effects Oscar race features apes, raccoons and 'Interstellar'

Can Paramount bring 'Noah' back around for some below-the-line love this year?

The Best Visual Effects is often the place where the Academy recognizes what it is frequently accused of avoiding elsewhere: mainstream spectacle. Blockbusters reign in this category, at least at the nomination stage, with fantasy films, franchises and other money-makers always featuring prominently. The branch also has its specific fetishes, at least historically (talking animals immediately jumps to mind), though, in recent years, it has seemingly been all 3D, all the time.

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<p>George Clooney in &quot;Tomorrowland&quot;</p>

George Clooney in "Tomorrowland"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

George Clooney invites you to a 'miraculous place' in first 'Tomorrowland' trailer

The film hits theaters next summer

I haven't been following Brad Bird's "Tomorrowland" too closely and I imagine that's how they want it. The air of mystery has been maintained throughout, but audiences at New York Comic-Con got a peek Thursday afternoon, and now so can you.

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<p>The Affair</p>

The Affair

Credit: Showtime

Review: Showtime's complicated, engrossing 'The Affair'

Do we want to watch Dominic West cheat on Maura Tierney? For one episode, at least, yes.

"I was a happy man back then," Noah  explains. "Was proud of my family. My first book had just come out. Everything I'd promised myself I would achieve as a young man, I'd done it."

"But?" he's asked.

And Noah replies, "That's the thing: There is no 'but.' When I look back, I can't tell you why it happened."

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ABC to air 'Star Wars Rebels' with special visit from Darth Vader voiced by James Earl Jones
Credit: Lucasfilm

ABC to air 'Star Wars Rebels' with special visit from Darth Vader voiced by James Earl Jones

Amazon renews 'Transparent' for Season 2

ABC will air “Star Wars Rebels” with a special visit from Darth Vader, as voiced by James Earl Jones
ABC’s special airing Oct. 26 of Disney XD's "Star Wars Rebels: Spark Of Rebellion” movie will contain a bonus scene featuring Darth Vader. “We wanted to do something special for the ABC broadcast,” says exec producer Dave Filoni. “We’ve added a scene which gives audiences insight into the Inquisitor and includes a cameo by Darth Vader.”

Amazon renews “Transparent” for Season 2
Amazon wouldn’t release viewing figures, but they were apparently enough to warrant renewal.

“South Park” mocked Spin magazine this week for being outraged over last week’s episode
After last week’s episode aired, Spin writer Brennan Carey expressed outrage that Stan’s dad dressed as Lorde (“Has Lorde ever really done anything all that worthy of drawing the cartoon creators' ire?,” he wrote). So in this week’s episode, “South Park” was visited by Spin reporter "Brandon Carlile” who was investigating whether Lorde was in fact a 45-year-old man.

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<p>Wednesday&#39;s &quot;Arrow&quot;</p>

Wednesday's "Arrow"

Credit: The CW

TV Ratings: 'Arrow' returns up, 'Black-ish' rises, 'Stalker' falls on Wednesday

ABC takes the night in the key demo while CBS leads overall

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

Week-to-week gains for the third episode of "Black-ish," a rarity in today's TV landscape, helped ABC eke out a slim key demo victory on Wednesday night. And although it slipped from its premiere, "Stalker" still helped CBS cruise to overall victory.

Although the drop for "Stalker" probably could have been worse -- its "Criminal Minds" lead-in also slipped -- the freshman drama went from tying last year's "CSI" launch in its premiere to follow below the former time period occupant.

Wednesday also saw a drop below The Mulaney Line for FOX's troubled "Red Band Society," as well as tiny dips for all three NBC dramas.

"Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" rose a hair for CBS, while "Modern Family" was up in viewers but down in the key demo.

Over on The CW, "Arrow" got off to a fine start for its third season, up from both last year's premiere and last year's finale, maybe the most interesting piece of the network's Wednesday was the nearly 2.1 million viewers who caught an encore of "The Flash," an encore audience that comfortably topped audience for "The Vampire Diaries" or "The Originals."

Let's get down to the Fast Nationals...

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Patti Smith talks 'Noah' original song 'Mercy Is' and still feeling intimidated

Patti Smith talks 'Noah' original song 'Mercy Is' and still feeling intimidated

The punk rock legend reflects on film, lullabies and Old Testament sadness

Patti Smith loves movies. A few days before we chatted about her Best Original Song contender "Mercy Is" from Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," Smith and her friend Ralph Fiennes took in two screenings at the currently running New York Film Festival: Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner" followed by Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice." The double feature was "quite a juxtaposition," she says with a laugh (Smith enjoyed both films). And it's her taste for movie-going that landed her a job writing the haunting melody that underscores Aronofsky's film. The two first met when they bumped into each other at the Venice Film Festival, catching one another at films and chatting between screenings. Three years later, their off-the-cuff conversation is now an Oscar-eligible single.

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Credit: CW

Season premiere review: 'Arrow' - 'The Calm'

Oliver has to fight his greatest fear, and its... himself?

A review of last night's "Arrow" season premiere coming up just as soon as all my data is replaced by audio files of porcupine flatulence...

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Credit: Amazon

Amazon renews 'Transparent' for season 2

Jeffrey Tambor and friends will be back in 2015

Amazon has ordered a second season of "Transparent," its critically-acclaimed dramedy in which Jeffrey Tambor begins a late-in-life gender transition.

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The Humbling
Credit: Millenium Entertainment

Al Pacino is a talentless has-been in first trailer for 'The Humbling'

Can smooching Greta Gerwig save his soul?

The first trailer for Barry Levinson's "The Humbling" teases so much that could — should? — go right. There's Levinson, whose never let his eclectic career hit an easy groove; There's star Al Pacino, a legend everyone's gunning for no matter how many "Righteous Kill"-like duds come along; There's the esteemed Philip Roth providing source material with Buck Henry adapting; And there's Greta Gerwig, one of the strongest young actresses in the business. Throwing Dianne Wiest, Charles Grodin, and Dan Hedaya on top is like a sundae with three cherries.

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<p>Kevin Rankin of &quot;Gracepoint&quot;</p>

Kevin Rankin of "Gracepoint"

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'Gracepoint' co-star Kevin Rankin on diversified roles from 'Undeclared' on

Would he ever want to play English-accented Herc in a British 'Friday Night Lights'?

VICTORIA, BC. It's early May on Vancouver Island and rain has temporarily trapped Kevin Rankin in a makeshift press tent just inland at Island View Beach Regional Park.

With several of his co-stars in rotation being interviewed, Rankin ends up sitting next to the heat lamp, which means sitting next to me for what turns out to be an in-depth conversation about both his work on FOX's "Broadchurch" and his eclectic and varied career. 

With his turns as rascally and resilient Herc on "Friday Night Lights" and gloriously unprepared-for-authority RA Lucien on "Undeclared," Rankin has the rare honor of having been part of multiple shows that earned the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast Summer ReWatch treatment. [Three, if you include "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," though his one-episode appearance came after the season featured in the podcast.]

Rankin has also had runs on shows including "Breaking Bad," "Six Feet Under," "Big Love" and "Justified," when he wasn't terrorizing the President in "White House Down" or assisting Matthew McConaughey to his Oscar in "Dallas Buyers Club."

On "Gracepoint," a FOX remake of the British "Broadchurch," Rankin plays Rev. Coates, a man of the cloth trying to steer a small town through its collective grief at the murder of a young boy. Is Coates just a shepherd caring for his flock, or does he have a personal agenda?

For an actor who has moved back and forth between hero-adjacent good guys and villain-adjacent henchman, it's a role that could absolutely go either way.

We covered a lot of Rankin's career in our 20-minute chat. Clad in a buttoned up brown cardigan, Rankin talked about his attempts to diversify his resume to prevent typecasting and how that has led to myriad responses when people recognize him in public. We talked about the pleasures of doing brief guest spots on established shows, but also the value in being with a show from the ground floor. And Rankin discussed the advantages and frustrations of kicking the wheels on being a network procedural regular. 

I think this is an interesting glimpse into the progress of a hard-working character actor.

The second "Gracepoint" episode airs tonight on FOX. The full Kevin Rankin Q&A is below...

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Jon Stewart as 'Meet the Press' host would’ve been a terrible idea — unless 'Daily Show' was on Sunday
Credit: Comedy Central

Jon Stewart as 'Meet the Press' host would’ve been a terrible idea — unless 'Daily Show' was on Sunday

Will UP TV ever resume showing '7th Heaven' reruns?

Jon Stewart as “Meet the Press” host would’ve been a terrible idea — unless he did “The Daily Show” on Sunday
Jon Stewart is "a supplement, a commentator, throwing stinkbombs in from the outside,” says James Poniewozik. "To put him in that Beltway-priest, neutral-insider role would have been a joke, and not the ha-ha kind. On the other hand, if NBC were hiring Stewart to replace not just David Gregory, but the idea of 'Meet the Press' itself–to create, if not a copy, 'The Daily Show,' a seriously funny issues show with a point of view and an adversarial attitude that would roast not just the guests, but the culture of Washington–now that could have been something.” PLUS: Jon Stewart is a terrible interviewer who would’ve been a terrible host, Stewart’s agent wouldn’t deny the "Meet the Press' report, and Chuck Todd reacts to the news of his job almost going to Stewart.

Will UP TV ever resume showing “7th Heaven” reruns?
"Too early to say,” says UP’s president and CEO, Charley Humbard, of the Stephen Collin's sexual abuse scandal. He says when it’s time to make a decision, the network will "weigh in on three things: what are the allegations of the case, what do viewers want, and what do they think?” PLUS: LAPD talks about its 2012 investigation into a claim Collins abused a relative, Collins called then-17-year-old Jessica Biel's racy photoshoot "child pornography," and divorce documents reveal Collins' TV salary — $7,682 for “Scandal."

Shonda Rhimes has a "no as*holes" policy: "There are no Heigls in this situation”
In her Hollywood Reporter profile, Rhimes says she’s learned to avoid people like Katherine Heigl on set.” I don't put up with bullsh*t or nasty people. I don't have time for it,” she says. PLUS: Rhimes says “Buffy” helped her rediscover TV.

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Lone Bellow bring down the house in 'Then Came the Morning'

Lone Bellow bring down the house in 'Then Came the Morning'

Grip the air, point a lot, break it down: The National's Aaron Dessner produces next set

Raise you hands, break it down. The Lone Bellow are back with a new song, and it may take you to a holy, bright place.

"Then Came The Morning" is the first new song to arrive from the roots-rock troupe's next album, due some time in 2015. It'll be the trio's second set, and it's produced by another Brooklyn cohort -- The National's Aaron Dessner.

The single is available now via iTunes, and will be a 7" release come Record Store Day's Black Friday promotion this November.

Lone Bellow were on the HitFix slate to be one of the biggest breakouts this year. It's working. Catch them on the road, dates below.

Here are the Lone Bellow's tour dates:

Oct 9 - Aladdin Theater - Portland, OR
Oct 10 - Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA
Oct 11 - Wow Hall - Eugene, OR
Oct 13 - The State Room - Salt Lake City, WA
Oct 14 - Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO
Nov 2 - The Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC
Nov 4 - Visulite Theatre - Charlotte, NC
Nov 5 - Haw River Ballroom - Saxapahaw,, NC
Nov 6 - Georgia Theatre - Athens, GA
Nov 8 - SCADShow - Atlanta, GA
Nov 1- Ponte Vedra Concert Hall - Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Nov 11 - Starz Center - Tampa, FL
Nov 12 - Cox Capitol Theatre - Macon, GA
Nov 14 - Proud Larry's - Oxford, MS
Nov 15 - Thirsty Hippo - Hattiesburg, MS
Nov 16 - Spanish Moon - Baton Rouge, LA
Nov 18 - The Kessler Theater - Dallas, TX
Nov 19 - The Parish - Austin, TX
Nov 20 - Fitzgerald's Downstairs - Houston, TX
Dec 6 - Modlin Center For The Arts - Richmond, VA
Dec 7 - Harvester Performance Center - Rocky Mount, VA
Dec 9 - 20th Century Theater - Cincinnati, OH
Dec 11 - The Canopy Club - Urbana, IL
Dec 12 - Thoughton Opera House - Stoughton, WI
Dec 13 - Shakespeare's Lower Level - Kalamazoo, MI
Dec 14 - The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI
Dec 15 - Music Box Supper Club - Cleveland, OH
Jan 17 - Cayamo Cruise 2014- Miami to St. Barts to St. Croix - Miami, FL

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