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<p>Martin Freeman in FX&#39;s &quot;Fargo&quot;</p>

Martin Freeman in FX's "Fargo"

Credit: FX

Interview: Martin Freeman compares 'Fargo' to 'Sherlock' on the set of the FX drama

'The Hobbit' star sits down for a five-minute chat

CALGARY - I've been on two Martin Freeman sets in the past year, so I'm prepared for his process. 

I can't tell you the details of what Freeman's Lester Nygaard is actually doing in the scene being filmed on this beautiful March day in the hills just outside of Downtown Calgary. "Fargo" is simultaneously shooting the seventh and eighth episodes of its 10-episode season and things are getting a wee bit climactic on the FX limited series. 

It's not spoiling much to say that Lester Nygaard is under pressure in this particular moment. Lester is under pressure for most of "Fargo," which draws inspiration, but very little plot, from the Coen Brothers' Oscar-winning film. From the beginning, Lester is a slightly-less-than-normal guy whose life is turned upside-down by a chance meeting with Billy Bob Thornton's appropriately malevolent Lorne Malvo. As befits what is now the "Fargo" franchise, this meeting leads to violence, murder, deceit, intrigue and frequent dark hilarity.

In the initial take of the scene, though, Freeman seems to be under no real pressure. It's a straight-forward and solid reading of a potentially emotional scene and, if you didn't know better, you'd think it was just fine. After a brief conversation with "Fargo" series creator Noah Hawley, Freeman settles in and although his scene partner delivers a performance that's nearly identical to the first take, Freeman's reading is now completely different. It's not just that the emotion has been dialed up, though. Emphasis has been put on a different assortment of words and without changing a breath of the dialogue, Freeman has shifted the heft of the scene. The camera and lighting set-ups change and, again, Freeman's co-star remains consistent -- And really good, don't get me wrong -- but Freeman again steps up the emotion and punches a different assortment of words, highlighting a different potential meaning. 

As I learned on the set of a different Freeman production last summer -- I'm not sure if I can say what it was, but it certainly wasn't "Sherlock" -- this is what the "Office" veteran does. He starts off with the basics, but builds with each take and tries to give directors as many choices as possible, tries to give himself as many choices as possible. After watching many actors on many sets, I can assure you that this isn't the case with everybody. Freeman is notable both for how responsive he is to direction, but also for the variations he imposes on himself.

While "Fargo" is a deep ensemble, with Freeman and Thornton joined by veterans like Keith Carradine, Bob Odenkirk and Adam Goldberg, as well as newcomer Allison Tolman, this is a long day for Freeman and, as I don't want to over-explain, this scene is intense and growing moreso with each take. 

As a result, though many of the "Fargo" stars are able to spare long stretches of time with a small pack of reporters visiting the set, Freeman's window is more limited. Between scenes, in the time technically set aside for lunch, he's able to carve out 30 minutes and there are five reporters. With a publicist closely monitoring a stopwatch, we each get five minutes with Freeman, who doesn't stay in character at all times, but does retain his slightly sing-song-y Minnesota accent.

It's like speed-dating I tell him as I sit down, wasting five of my seconds. 

"Only without the bell," he agrees, taking another five seconds.

Pleasantries dispatched, in this brief Q&A, Freeman discusses the initial draw of "Fargo," which premieres on April 15, both in terms of script and its limited nature. He talks about finding empathy and sympathy for a character who is something of a sad-sack. And he describes the on-set dynamic with the intriguingly eclectic cast.

Check out the speed-dating Martin Freeman interview below and stay tuned over the next week for "Fargo" interviews with Thornton, Tolman, Carradine, Hawley and a slew of others...

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Seth Rogen and Aidy Bryant

Seth Rogen and Aidy Bryant

Credit: NBC

Recap: Saturday Night Live with Seth Rogen and Ed Sheeran

The "Neighbors" star returns to host for the third time

It’s almost five years to the day that Seth Rogen last hosted “Saturday Night Live.” (Somewhat amusingly, his “Neighbors” co-star Zac Efron hosted the very next week.) Meanwhile, over the last five episodes, “SNL” itself has survived a rather rocky start to the post-Seth Meyers Era with a string of solid albeit non-classic episodes after the Jim Parsons-hosted debacle. Heading into its final break of the season, it will be interesting to see if the show ends on an upswing or downswing heading into the final stretch of this flawed yet fascinating season.

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"Frozen"
Credit: Disney

'Frozen' will mark its 10th week as the No. 1 album

Four albums debut in the Top 10

The soundtrack to “Frozen” will spend another week at No.1  on the Billboard 200 next week with no competitor coming within 100,000 of the Disney juggernaut.

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<p>This is Tom Selleck from last night&#39;s &quot;Blue Bloods,&quot; not that you&#39;d know if it came from a different episode.</p>

This is Tom Selleck from last night's "Blue Bloods," not that you'd know if it came from a different episode.

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Blue Bloods' leads CBS to Friday wins with 'Shark Tank' dropping

'Hannibal' and 'Hart of Dixie' add a few viewers

Fast National ratings for Friday, April 11, 2014.

With "Blue Bloods" delivering Friday's top scripted numbers and "Shark Tank" hitting a recent low, CBS dominated primetime overall and also moved up into a tie with ABC among young viewers.

FOX was a close third in the key demo thanks to the two-hour premiere of "Kitchen Nightmares," which didn't draw an especially huge overall audience, but easily exceeded the numbers for "Rake" and various comedies. FOX notes that "Kitchen Nightmares" was up 33 percent from its October 2012 premiere.

Among other notables, The CW's "Hart of Dixie" added viewers from last week, but delivered the same low demo number, while NBC's "Hannibal" did the same.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Morgan McLeod of &quot;Survivor: Cagaya&quot;</p>

Morgan McLeod of "Survivor: Cagaya"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Morgan McLeod talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

Ex-49ers cheerleader discusses her various 'Survivor' mistakes

Before we knew anything else about former cheerleader  and "Survivor: Cagayan" contestant Morgan McLeod, we knew that she was comfortable with her place on the Beauty tribe and that she was prepared to use her physical attributes to get what she wanted. 

Soon, though, LJ came to look at Morgan as a threat, because of a hot girl scorned and she became a target, stuck in a not-especially-successful alliance with the previously eliminated Brice. [Somehow I forgot that LJ picked Morgan for not-elimination in the very first seconds on the beach. I'd have asked about that if I remembered. Apologies!]

Morgan was never shy about saying what she thought of people. She called LJ old. She called Kass old and ugly. 

And it's a favor that was returned this week. Flip-flopping Kass compared Morgan to a useless old dog, while Tony said that because of Morgan's laziness, "you can't tell if she's a pillow or a person."

Morgan was never the biggest threat for... anything, but the members of the Brawn-y alliance decided that nobody would waste an Idol trying to save her. For her part, Morgan tried to defend herself by claiming that she would be a good and easily beatable person to take to the end. Morgan's argument didn't work and she was voted out.

In this week's "Survivor" exit interview, Morgan discusses her failures this season and owns up to how some of her catty comments looked. She also remains confused by Kass hated her so much and reveals what Kass told everybody she does for a living.

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>&quot;Birdman&quot;</p>

"Birdman"

Credit: Fox Searchlight

González Iñárritu's 'Birdman' with Michael Keaton gets a release date in the middle of Oscar season

Don't expect it to show up at Cannes but Telluride/Toronto is certainly possible

One of my most anticipated films of the year has to be Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman." Of course I love the auteur's work and will leap at the chance to check out anything new he might conjure, but I'm also pretty fascinated by the involvement of Michael Keaton in the film. Keaton seems to be wading slowly back into more consistent on-screen work these days; he has three films hitting theaters just this year.

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<p>Hugh Dancy as Will Graham on &quot;Hannibal.&quot;</p>

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham on "Hannibal."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Hannibal' - 'Yakimono'

Dr. Lecter's latest plan unfurls, and it's a doozy

A review of tonight's "Hannibal" coming up just as soon as my dog likes applesauce...

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'Afflicted' actors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse on what's wrong with monster movies

'Afflicted' actors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse on what's wrong with monster movies

Bad angles, scary pictures: Co-directors talk what makes found footage films work

With a title like "Afflicted," and the skin-crawling movie posters that have accompanied, there's no question a creature is coming.

But for "Afflicted" co-stars/co-directors Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, it's all about the timing and emotional expenditure to get to that first true scare in their horror film.

It was back in late 2013 that I talked to longtime friends and collaborators Lee and Prowse, as they took their small budget film to genre-loving Fantastic Fest in Austin. On film, they happen to also play filmmaking friends Derek and Cliff, who travel overseas and are suddenly sidelined by a newly contracted health condition.

It was just this past week the pair finally unleashed their found footage/documentary-style film into theaters, on a small enough scale that the film's greatest thrills and even its central creature have not been spoiled, to some degree.

Below, however, are some spoilers. Check out what Lee and Prowse had to say about their budget, the makeup, making found footage work and why vampires are still a lasting legend in the movie-making world.

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'Sharknado 2' wants fans to fork over $50,000 to film an extra scene

“Sharknado 2” wants fans to fork over $50,000 to film an extra scene
An Indiegogo page has been set up to raise the money to film the scene. And if fans don’t pay, the scene won’t be filmed.


Syfy orders space opera “The Expanse”
The thriller set 200 years in the future is based on the James S.A. Corey book series.


Discovery Channel will air a 5-night late-night talk show devoted to “Everest Live Jump”
"Everest: Live From Base Camp” will kick off Monday, May 5.


CBS boss Les Moonves made $66.9M last year
Also last year, CBS’ shareholders’ shares appreciated 67.5%.


Stephen Colbert vs Jimmy Fallon sets up the late-night music wars
Fallon will soon have a rival in the battle of can’t-miss musical moments in late-night TV. PLUS: Colbert has repeatedly shown his true self, recalling Colbert’s 2005 “Colbert Report” launch reviews.

Conan O’Brien: I’m going to spoil “Game of Thrones” to get people to watch the MTV Movie Awards
“I’ve … gotten a hold of the Game of Thrones episode that’s on that night,” Conan jokes. “So on the day before the awards, I’m going to get out as many spoilers as possible to kill the Game of Thrones experience for people. Then, out of either despair or rage, they’ll have to tune in to see the MTV Movie Awards.”


Watch Mila Kunis crack “That ‘70s Show” jokes with Ashton Kutcher on “Two and a Half Men”
Ashton and Mila jokes about their past on last night’s episode.


Daniel Tosh and Comedy Central pay their condolences to the PA who was killed by cops
John Winkler, 30, had only been working on the show and in L.A. for a brief time before his death on Monday.


Helen Slater joins “The Young and the Restless”
The former “Supergirl” will appear in at least five episodes next month.


Did Ben Savage get a nose job for “Girl Meets World”?
Savage’s nose looks totally different in the trailer for the Disney Channel spinoff.


“Full House’s” original Danny Tanner recalls being replaced by Bob Saget
Actor John Posey was in Mississippi when he got the bad Saget news from his agent.


“Dancing” double amputee Amy Purdy is a “natural superhero”
Purdy proudly embraces the word “fembot,” and as dance critic Sarah Kaufman writes of her prosthetic limbs: "Peeking out of her adorable gold-fringed cha-cha pants were gleaming metal rods leading to flesh-toned plastic feet, part Terminator, part department-store mannequin. Purdy’s bionic limbs give her a fascinating fembot-bombshell look.


"Late Night" writer was surprised to learn she’s the 1st black female hired to write for a network late-night show
Says Amber Ruffin, who originally auditioned for “SNL’s” black female casting call: ""It just never occurred to me that I might be the person that's, you know, some girl is like, 'Hooray, now I've got an even better shot at this. Thanks Amber! Don't mess it up.’"


“Veep” creator reveals his favorite insult from the show
Armando Iannucci says "the seven-foot mouth” from the season premiere cracks him up every time.


Why are TV daughters so hated?
From Paige on “The Americans” to “Homeland’s” Dana Brody, TV daughters seem to attract the ire of their audience.


Nick Offerman recreates a 1920 Norman Rockwell cover of Popular Science magazine
As the “Parks and Rec” star describes it on Twitter, "A Jackass on the cover of @PopSci as a guy who might could find his ass with both hands.” PLUS: Offerman on directing last night’s “Parks and Rec" surprise.


Peek inside Seth Meyers’ unusual-looking backstage area
From Meyers’ office to his dressing room and green rooms.


“Nurse Jackie” is back for Season 5, and it’s starting to feel tired
Edie Falco’s Showtime series feels like it’s in a holding pattern. PLUS: Peter Facinelli explains why he’s leaving.


“Californication” kicks off its final season showing its greatness and flaws
Much of this 7th season will feel like a rerun until Hank Moody’s story concludes. PLUS: “Californication’s” soundtrack drops Sunday, watch 6 seasons in 2 minutes, and what David Duchovny will miss about Hank.

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'Mad Men' was designed to self-destruct
Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' was designed to self-destruct

“Mad Men” was designed to self-destruct
“Now that the subtext is the text,” says Sean T. Collins, "now that 'Mad Men’s' storyline has caught up to the countercultural moment that would eventually lead to works like, well, 'Mad Men,' the show's original aesthetic appeal has been tossed out the window like so much suicide foreshadowing. If you were the kind of Don-bro able to turn off your brain and just enjoy early 'Mad Men' for its lush portrayal of a jocularly misogynist time when men were men, women were women, and everyone looked amazing (even if they smelled like ashtrays), brother, you're out of luck now.” PLUS: Play the “Mad Men” drinking game for Season 7, recalling 7 seasons of “Mad Men” promos, 14-year-old Kiernan Shipka poses for Vanity Fair, how “Mad Men’s” style evolved, ranking Don’s women, the final season will look stylistically ugly, and a refresher for where "Mad Men" left off.


Why it’s OK that “Mad Men” characters never change
"We’ve invested in them, and sometimes the dividends seem puny,” Matt Zoller Seitz says of the final season. "But still we watch. At least, we masochists who don’t care about likability or happy endings watch. It’s not a self-help guide. But there is some value in Mad Men’s spectacle of misbehavior. The show has nothing to teach us. It’s just being honest about the truths people discover and then disregard, and the lies they tell themselves, as history moves around them. They’re doing the best they can.”


“Mad Men” is simpler in Season 7, like its earlier seasons
"Everyone’s where we’ve always known them to be,” says Richard Lawson, "and in that vein, the season premiere plays as straightforwardly as this show gets. Which comes as both a disappointment and a relief. The past few seasons of Mad Men have been so laden with symbolism and metaphor and all kinds of allusions that it’s been hard to find the point.”


Jon Hamm is taken aback when “Mad Men” fans tell him they want to be Don Draper
"I’m like, 'You want to be a miserable drunk?,’” he says. "I don’t think you want to be anything like that guy. You want to be like the guy on a poster maybe but not the actual guy. The actual guy’s rotting from the inside out and has to pull it together.” PLUS: Hamm hopes that an 88-year-old Don Draper would still be alive, and at peace, and Vincent Kartheiser on splitting the seasons.


“Mad Men’s” season premiere feels as exhausted as the ‘60s
“Many of the characters are repeating themselves or pedaling in place, and the historic underlay that was once so piquant is now dreary: This season it’s the inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon,” says Alessandra Stanley. "That sagging of energy happens to any long-lasting series, but it’s oddly apt in the case of 'Mad Men,' because the show’s trajectory so closely follows the era it portrays.”


Matthew Weiner answers the question: Is “Mad Men” Peggy’s story?
"It's very interesting to me,” he tells Rolling Stone. "She's a very important character. She's introduced in the pilot as "the new girl," and is sort of there to bring the audience into this world. She's so important, and so much of Don's story and her story are told in parallel to each other. But the story derives from Don, for me, still. I mean, her growth has been incredible, and I love that she's become a symbol, in a way. Because I don't see her like that – she's a person and a character."

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Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams in "A Most Wanted Man."
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams in "A Most Wanted Man."
Credit: Roadside Attractions

'A Most Wanted Man' trailer showcases Philip Seymour Hoffman's final lead role

Anton Corbijn's excellent espionage drama opens on July 25

I still find it painful to talk or write about Philip Seymour Hoffman -- no celebrity passing in the last couple of years has hit me quite as hard as his, and I know that goes for many of us. So rewatching Anton Corbijn's "A Most Wanted Man" is going to be a strangely melancholy experience, not least because it's as strong a reminder as anything of what cinema has lost: as a rumpled German intelligence agent weary of post-9/11 paranoia, the actor gives one of his finest lead turns.

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Ingrid Michaelson

8 things you need to know about singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson

Her new album, 'Lights Out,' arrives April 15

Singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson first came to prominence seven years ago after “Grey’s Anatomy” used her song “Keep Breathing,” followed by Old Navy appropriating “The Way I Am” to sell sweaters during 2007’s holiday season.

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