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RIP 'Stephen Colbert,' 1997-2014
Credit: Comedy Central

RIP 'Stephen Colbert,' 1997-2014

Colbert is easily comparable to Mark Twain

RIP “Stephen Colbert," 1997-2014
"The American political scene has lost one of its towering characters with the untimely demise of Stephen Colbert,” Rolling Stone says in its obituary for the character that departs tonight. "He was 50. Feared by many, hated by some, watched by all, Colbert leaves an uncertain legacy for the media he revolutionized and the culture he altered. Without him on TV four nights a week, there is a truth-shaped hole in our national political discourse.”


Colbert is easily comparable to Mark Twain
"What compares to 'The Colbert Report' in the history of American entertainment and humor,” says Hank Stuever, "in which the material and the society that it lampooned were so intertwined? The work of Mark Twain easily comes to mind (another case of a talented writer and cultural commentator inhabiting a fully realized persona at just the right moment), and, to a lesser degree, so does the work of Will Rogers. Both men are inextricably identified with the kind of America they  lived in and the kind of technology it invented — from telegraph wires and a burgeoning print media industry to the eventual wonders of radio and film.” PLUS: “Truthiness” was one of the best “Colbert” moments, Colbert paying tribute to his mom was another great moment, we’re losing one of TV’s greatest characters, he was the most inspired political activist of the 21st century, “Cheating Death With Dr. Stephen Colbert, D.F.A.” was one of late-night’s funniest bits, analyzing Colbert’s introductory phrases, watch the ultimate “Colbert” supercut, Colbert’s most genius moments, 11 times the fake Colbert did something real, Colbert was late-night’s most passionate book nerd, remembering Colbert’s most awkward interviews, Colbert’s genius was apparent in the 1st episode, Colbert’s 10-best “Better Know a District” segments, Colbert’s best musical moments, here's ranking every “Colbert” bit, recalling Colbert’s real-life controversies, 13 Colbert cameos you might have missed, why “Colbert’s” interviews are irreplaceable, and relive the 10 most iconic moments from each year.


4 Colbert “enemies” bid him farewell
Suey Park, Google, Jimmy Fallon and “Crappy” Canton, Georgia Mayor Gene Hobgood react to Colbert’s departure. Says Google: “We respect Stephen and his show very much. It’s always hard to know the true measure of a man—and we’ve certainly had our differences—but we can say without an inch of a doubt, he’s reached new heights in comedy.” PLUS: Colbert’s 12 biggest adversaries.


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'Birdman' and genre love from Las Vegas film critics

'Birdman' and genre love from Las Vegas film critics

'Boyhood' shut out again?

The Las Vegas Film Critics Society is the latest regional critics group to unveil award winners for 2014. It was "Birdman" that came away the biggest hit with seven awards, including Best Picture. And for the second time today, a critics group has totally shut Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" out. I'm beginning to wonder if that's a reaction to widespread acclaim, but maybe not; after all, it's #2 on the Las Vegas critics' top 10 list. Just an interesting note.

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Characters and Conflicts: 10 best movies of 2014

Characters and Conflicts: 10 best movies of 2014

And another 10 worth considering

A top 10 list is a such a subjective quandary. It should speak to the consensus of cinematic quality to a degree, but it also needs to reflect the films that moved you personally. A great piece of cinema can entertain and it can inform, but as art you need to feel something from it. It needs to haunt you. It needs to stick with you. Therefore, in theory, the list should be the films that immediately come to mind when you ponder the last 12 months. As a critic, it's a reflection of your taste at the time. There is no justification; it's an opinion. Simple as that.

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Whoopi Goldberg & Rosie O’Donnell get into a 'View' shouting match over racism

Whoopi Goldberg & Rosie O’Donnell get into a 'View' shouting match over racism

Stephen Colbert literally jumped the shark last night

Whoopi Goldberg & Rosie O’Donnell get into a “View” shouting match over racism
Watch as their backstage feud rumors emerge to the forefront after guest co-host Laverne Cox said she believes that "is racist when black folks are followed around stores and profiled.”


Stephen Colbert literally jumped the shark last night
“The Colbert Report’s” penultimate episode began with Colbert jumping over “The Shark.” PLUS: Steve Carell tweets "thank you" to “national treasure” Colbert.


Charlie Sheen says he hasn't been asked to return to “Two and a Half Men”
Despite Ashton Kutcher dropping hints, Sheen says: "I've heard not the best news but whatever. Things in this business change overnight.”


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Roger Deakins looks back on 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and the days of cinema alchemy

Roger Deakins looks back on 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and the days of cinema alchemy

The master cinematographer considers the film his best work ever

It seemed this year that if any artist was due for the retrospective treatment, it was "Unbroken" cinematographer Roger Deakins. While I of course did not address all of the 50-plus films he has shot throughout his illustrious career during a recent extended interview, I settled on a few in particular that I think represent a nice cross-section of his work. Each of them — "Nineteen Eighty-Four," "Sid and Nancy," "Barton Fink," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Kundun," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "The Village" — will get their own space in the next few days.

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True Story
Credit: Fox Searchlight

Jonah Hill and James Franco go serious in ’True Story' trailer

The film will premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Jonah Hill and James Franco are both part of Judd Apatow’s comedy crew, together taking lowbrow to new heights (depths?) over the last decade. But they’re also Academy Award nominees; Hill being a two-timer, earning props for "Moneyball" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," and Franco earning a nod for his leading work in "127 Hours." So why don’t they ever act like it when they’re together? Well, now they do, thanks to the cold-as-ice, non-fiction drama "True Story."

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Stop the presses: 'Boyhood' shut out by a critics group

Stop the presses: 'Boyhood' shut out by a critics group

'Birdman' rises to the occasion and Jessica Chastain gets some hardware

The Utah Film Critics Association has spoken up with its list of superlatives this year and "Birdman" came out on top, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay honors. Jessica Chastain made for a nice change of pace in the supporting actress category, and guess what film was passed over entirely? "Boyhood."

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<p>Sadie Calvano of &quot;Mom&quot;</p>

Sadie Calvano of "Mom"

Credit: CBS

Interview: 'Mom' star Sadie Calvano discusses CBS' dramatic comedy

Therapy brings up some dark secrets in Thursday's episode

It's time for your weekly reminder: CBS' "Mom" is taking creative risks that no other comedy on TV, especially no other multi-cam comedy on network TV, is even considering.

After tackling drug addiction, teen pregnancy, cancer and an assortment of other maladies and discomforts last season and delving into depression and economic hardship so far in Season 2, "Mom" delves into some of its darkest terrain with Monday's episode, "Free Therapy and a Dead Lady's Yard Sale," in which, as the title suggests, a group therapy session leads Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) to tell an acting-out Violet (Sadie Calvano) some distressing truths about her father. Long stretches of the episode play out in almost purely dramatic mode with nary a punchline.

But, as always seems to be the case on "Mom," if ever things get too somber, there's a corpse that "looked like a bean-bag chair in a nightgown," or an acerbic cut-down from the deservingly Emmy-toasted Janney. 

That Janney and Faris have been able to sell the tonal rainbow that is "Mom" hasn't been a surprise. They were always the anchors for this Chuck Lorre show. The big surprise, especially since midseason last year and into this fall, has been Calvano, a 17-year-old actress whose most prominent credit before this was apparently "Melissa & Joey."

Last season, Calvano's Violet had to deal with comedic subplots -- Flatulence at prom is an issue if you're pregnant, apparently -- but also with the tough to decision to give up her baby to an adoptive couple. This season, things have gotten far murkier and I've been pretty reliably impressed by how effective Calvano has been in the raw, emotional moments.

Ahead of this week's admirable episode, I got on the phone with Calvano to discuss the challenges of "Mom," including how much she was prepared for when she signed on. We discussed the different on-set atmospheres for dramatic scenes versus comedy, as well as the influence of her two co-stars.

Check out the full Q&A below and check out "Mom" on Thursdays at 8:30 on CBS.

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Kiefer Sutherland thinks he's done with '24'

Kiefer Sutherland thinks he's done with '24'

Sarah Silverman to star in an HBO comedy pilot

Kiefer Sutherland thinks he's done with “24"
In an interview with the UK’s Telegraph, Sutherland was asked if he had moved on from the Jack Bauer role: “Me, I don’t see going back to it,” he says. "We had set out to do 12 episodes to end the show and deal with some of the past history of the show. It was also an irresistible opportunity to go shoot in England. So for all of those reasons it made sense to do that last season.”


Sarah Silverman to star in an HBO comedy pilot
The project from the creator of "Secret Diary of a Call Girl” will star Silverman in "a comic look at a pathologically honest woman having a modern mid-life crisis.”


Jerry Seinfeld takes Jimmy Fallon boating
For the season finale of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Fallon got to ride in Seinfeld’s truck and boat.


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<p>The &quot;Survivor: San Juan Del Sur&quot; Top 4</p>

The "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" Top 4

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur' finale leads CBS to easy Wednesday wins

'Hell's Kitchen' finale, 'The Sing-Off' can't compete

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

The two-hour finale and hour-long reunion show for "Survivor: San Juan del Sur" led CBS to an easy Wednesday sweet in all measures.

FOX's "Hell's Kitchen" finale and NBC's Michael Buble special and "The Sing-Off" were no competition for "Survivor," nor were The CW's "The 100" and a "Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown" special, though both did OK numbers for The CW.

On to Wednesday's ratings...

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<p>Serial host/producer Sarah Koenig</p>

Serial host/producer Sarah Koenig

The 'Serial' season finale: Whodunnit? And does the end matter?

Podcast's conclusion bumps up against the limitations of non-fiction

Many thoughts on the season 1 finale of "Serial" coming up just as soon as I use Mail Kimp...

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Craig Ferguson grills 'Late Late Show' successor James Corden
Credit: CBS

Craig Ferguson grills 'Late Late Show' successor James Corden

Stephen Colbert holds a yard sale

Craig Ferguson grills “Late Late Show” successor James Corden
“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Ferguson, adding: “Got any plans?” To which Corden responded: "Not as many as I should have, really.” PLUS: Ferguson and Corden say goodbye.


Stephen Colbert holds a yard sale
Colbert recently invited the public to buy his “Colbert Report” memorabilia. PLUS: Explore the “Colbert” set on Google Streetview.


“Survivor's" 30th season will be "Worlds Apart" with 3 tribes
“It’s White Collar vs. Blue Collar vs. No Collar,” says Jeff Probst of "Survivor: Worlds Apart." “White Collars are the people who typically in life are educated, might work in an office, wear a suit—they make the rules. Blue Collar—the heart of America. They typically work outdoors. They might wear a uniform. They work with their hands. They follow the rules. And the No Collars are the people who break the rules. They don’t go by convention. They don’t care about the status quo.”


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