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'The Book Thief' tries to escape its Oscar bait trappings
Credit: 20th Century Fox

'The Book Thief' tries to escape its Oscar bait trappings

Geoffrey Rush and more discuss the popular novel's influence

20th Century Fox's "The Book Thief" opens in limited release today and it's landed with something of a thud. Reviews are very mixed (and that might be kind) and there's little pre-release buzz about the film. That being said, this was always a tough sell for Fox. The film's biggest names are Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, the movie did not make a splash at any of the major fall festivals (it debuted at Mill Valley) and feels more like an Oscar bait movie than it probably should, being based on a popular novel by Markus Zusak set in Germany during WWII. That period is almost the definition of an Oscar bait movie these days.

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<p>Matthew McConaughey</p>

Matthew McConaughey

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Matthew McConaughey's campaign keeps rolling with Palm Springs honor

The 'Dallas Buyers Club' star will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award

The Palm Springs Film Festival calls it the Desert Palm Achievement Award -- but that's really just code for Star Sure To Get An Oscar Nomination Award. Every year, they tap an actor and an actress hot on the awards trail for the honor: recent recipients include Naomi Watts for "The Impossible," Bradley Cooper for "Silver Linings Playbook," Michelle Williams for "My Week With Marilyn" and Brad Pitt for "Moneyball." (In 2010, they neatly foreshadowed the eventual Oscar champs, picking Colin Firth and Natalie Portman. Indeed, of the last 10 recipients, the only one who failed to secure an Oscar nod afterwards was Marion Cotillard. (R.I.P. "Nine.") Who is this year's first buzz-heavy recipient, then? Matthew McConaughey.

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"Scandal"

 "Scandal"

Credit: ABC

Listen: CulturePop No. 32 - 'Thor,' 'Scandal,' Lady Gaga, Eminem

Melinda and I argue about Kat Dennings, too

We waited until the last minute to fire up the podcast-making magic machine this week (otherwise known as GarageBand), but we're squeaking in under the wire. If you're thinking about seeing "Thor" but aren't a comic book fan you might want to hear what Melinda and I had to say about the movie (though if you are a comic book fan, there are many, many other reviews you'll find more relevant). We talked about a lot of other stuff, though, like Eminem, Lady Gaga, "Killing Kennedy" and "Scandal." This week we didn't have a guest and we hardly knew what to do with ourselves, but we had fun. We hope you will, too. Keep reading for the rundown: 

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<p>Chris Hemsworth in &quot;Thor: The Dark World.&quot;</p>

Chris Hemsworth in "Thor: The Dark World."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Thor: The Dark World'

It's hammer time, as Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston return

Though I'm not terribly invested in the Marvel universe, and am definitely feeling the effects of superhero fatigue, I found myself looking forward to "Thor: The Dark World." I was unexpectedly charmed by the literate sweep and dippy comedy of Kenneth Branagh's franchise-starter two years ago, and a London set visit last year got me intrigued by the promised expansion of its story world. So I was disappointed to find the follow-up a more turgid, less cohesive offering, with the much-vaunted "darkness" translating mostly to digital murk, with less room for the cast to play -- and Tom Hiddleston's invaluable Loki confined to a box for far too long.

But that's me. Others have been far more tickled, while Drew McWeeny was guardedly favorable. So, over to you: it's been out internationally for over a week now, and hit US screens today, so share your thoughts if/when you've seen it, and be sure to vote in the poll below.  

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Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac face off in first image from 'intense' thriller 'Mojave'
Credit: Atlas Entertainment

Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac face off in first image from 'intense' thriller 'Mojave'

New thriller from Oscar winner William Monahan being shopped at AFM

Even from a continent's distance, the American Film Market, which began on Wednesday and continues until next Friday, tends to make me aware of a number of films that I previously had no idea were even at the germination stage, much less wrapped and ready to go. One such film is "Mojave," the second directorial effort from William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "The Departed."

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<p>&quot;Ernest and Celestine&quot;</p>

"Ernest and Celestine"

Credit: GKIDS

Forest Whitaker and Nick Offerman lend their voices to Oscar hopeful 'Ernest and Celestine'

Paul Giamatti and Lauren Bacall also join the French charmer

It's not often that an actor has three different films to support in the Oscar race, and in three different capacities to boot -- but Forest Whitaker is a busy guy. The 52-year-old actor, an Oscar winner seven years ago for "The Last King of Scotland," is chasing a second Best Actor nod for his quiet turn in "Lee Daniels' The Butler." Meanwhile, as a producer of "Fruitvale Station," he's chasing a less likely nomination in the Best Picture category. And now he has a horse -- or, to be more accurate, a bear -- in the Best Animated Feature race, as he leads the English-language voice cast of GKIDS' delightful art house hopeful "Ernest and Celestine."

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'Glee' ties its worst-ever ratings with Katy Perry/Lady Gaga tribute


"Glee" ties its worst-ever ratings with Katy Perry/Lady Gaga tribute
About four million watched last night's episode, which included the debut of Adam Lambert. PLUS: "The Voice" boosts NBC's Thursday comedies.


Syfy may get a show tied to Richard Branson's 1st commercial spaceflight
In addition to airing the space flight live on "Today," NBC Universal is trying to figure out how to have all its cable channels involved. There will also be a primetime special the night before the launch.


Can you watch "Scandal" by only reading Twitter?
Yes you can!


Kate Mulgrew to write her memoir

The star of shows from "Star Trek Voyager" to "Orange is the New Black" will recall her life as an unmarried mother who gave her daughter up for adoption as she started her career.


"Ender's Game" may get a TV spinoff

Lionsgate may bring the franchise to television after less-than-stellar box office results.


Whoopi Goldberg, who's never been asked to host "SNL," isn't surprised by diversity controversy

"Look!" she says. "These folks are 15 years late on this question. 'Saturday Night Live' has looked like this for 15, 16 years. I don't understand? Why is everyone up in arms? Didn’t anybody see it before? Clearly not!"


BBC America has a week's worth of "Doctor Who" specials planned for 50th anniversary
They'll include a retrospective on Matt Smith and a film chronicling the show's evolution.


Chuck Lorre uses "Mom" vanity card to slam freeway construction workers

The sitcom honcho is unhappy with the progress on the 405.


"The Neighbors" visits "Shark Tank"
The ABC shows are crossing over on tonight's "Neighbors" episode when Debbie presents her brand-new invention to the "Shark Tank" judges.


Jon Hamm goes commando on the "Mad Men " set
Hamm again has opted not to wear underwear.


"Keeping Up with the Kardashians" star Scott Disick's mom dies
Disick, the boyfriend of Kourteney Kardashian, is mourning the loss of his mother, Bonnie, who died last week.

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<p>Selena Gomez</p>

Selena Gomez

Credit: AP Photo

Selena Gomez responds to Lorde's attack on 'Come and Get It'

Who's right in this war of words between the two young stars?

We’ve got a new beef in the music industry and this time it’s between two very unlikely suspects: Lorde and Selena Gomez.

As you may recall, in late September,  Lorde called out Gomez for the lyrics in her hit, “Come And Get It,” saying Gomez was anti-feminist for recording a song that leaves her passively waiting for her man to come and get it.

“I’m a feminist, and the theme of her song is, ‘When you’re ready come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed this way,” said the then-16-year old Lorde in a radio interview. She also called Taylor Swift a bad role model because she’s “too flawless.”

Gomez has now responded to Lorde in an interview with Flaunt. She doesn’t so much defend her song, which she didn’t write,  as politely tell Lorde that cutting down your fellow sisters is the ultimate anti-feminist act: “That’s not feminism,” she says. “[Lorde is] not supporting other women. That’s my honest opinion, that’s what I would say to her if I saw her.” Selena Gomez says she’s a fan of Lorde. “I actually covered her song in all of my shows that I’ve done so far. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue that.”

In one corner we had a teenager who has seen a meteoric rise to fame in a matter of months who is happy to shoot off her mouth when asked and in the other we have a 21-year old who grew up on TV and in the public eye and is more used to the politics one plays in the entertainment industry. 

I wasn’t a fan of Gomez’s song—but not because of the passive lyrics, more because I don’t think it’s a good tune— but I remember being a teenage girl and wanting to flex your muscles with all your might before you really understand what you’re engaging in, so I certainly see where Lorde is coming from. Although if she listened to some of Gomez's other songs, she'd find Gomez takes a stronger and more active position in a number of them. Plus, a song reflects a particular mood, a moment in time, that's fleeting. It's best not to take some of these things so seriously.

Gomez’s response is measured, but she’s also right. In the truest sense, feminism means supporting other women. It’s not blind support and it doesn’t mean you’re always rooting for your fellow females no matter what they say, but there are ways to level your criticisms in a way that still shows you know we’re all in this together.

Who’s side are you on?

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<p>Laura Boneham of &quot;Survivor: Blood vs. Water&quot;</p>

Laura Boneham of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Laura Boneham talks 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water'

Why did Rupert's wife tell Vytas he was going home?
As one of the most popular (and perhaps unpopular) players in "Survivor" history, Rupert Boneham left some pretty big shoes for wife Laura to fill when, on the first first morning of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," he elected to take her place on Redemption Island.
 
In a somewhat arbitrary vote, the Newbies sent Laura to Redemption, while Rupert's self-sacrifice sent Laura to play with a group of Returnees, many of whom had established relationships either from prior seasons or from the much-discussed "Survivor" Reunion Circuit.
 
In that light, Laura had a solid "Survivor" season, making it to the eve of the Merge and appearing to be an asset in challenges (sometimes) and camp-life for her tribe. Still, it was a rookie mistake that did her in, as Laura alienated her all-girl alliance by telling master-manipulator Vytas that he was being voted out next. What Laura viewed as a sign of respect and honest was interpreted as strategic weakness by her alliance and she was blindsided.
 
In her exit interview, Laura Boneham discusses the decision to be up-front with Vytas, her emotional growth on "Survivor" and understanding her husband's compulsion to keep returning to the game.
 
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<p>From L to R:&nbsp;Colin Farrell, B.J. Novak, Richard Sherman, Emma Thompson, a blurry Tom Hanks, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and director John Lee Hancock pose for photos at a reception before the AFI Film Fest Opening Gala of &quot;Saving Mr. Banks.&quot;</p>

From L to R: Colin Farrell, B.J. Novak, Richard Sherman, Emma Thompson, a blurry Tom Hanks, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and director John Lee Hancock pose for photos at a reception before the AFI Film Fest Opening Gala of "Saving Mr. Banks."

Credit: HitFix

Tom Hanks on pitching Emma Thompson a grand slam in 'Saving Mr. Banks'

Awards player opens AFI Film Fest 2013

HOLLYWOOD — The American Film Institute kicked off the 2013 AFI Film Fest on Thursday night with the North American premiere of John Lee Hancock's "Saving Mr. Banks" at the TCL Chinese Theater. Hancock noted during the screening's introduction that the entire event felt a tad like deja vu. Not only had "Mary Poppins," a classic film that is a key element of the movie's plot, held its world premiere at the Chinese, but "Banks" re-staged that premiere for its own ending about a year ago. Needless to say, the Walt Disney Company may own the El Capitan Theater across the street, but "Banks'" Hollywood debut proved the Chinese has special place in the studio's history.

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<p>Thursday's &quot;The Big Bang Theory&quot;</p>

Thursday's "The Big Bang Theory"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Big Bang Theory' leads Thursday while 'The Voice' clobbers 'X Factor'

'Sean' and 'Parenthood' get nice bumps for NBC
Fast National ratings for Thursday, November 7, 2013.
 
As usual, "The Big Bang Theory" was Thursday's top show in all measures and, as usual, it lifted CBS to primetime wins in most measures, even though the network lost young viewers with each half-hour.
 
Thursday offered a slew of mixed results.
 
If you want positives, an out-of-schedule hour of "The Voice" did low ratings by the NBC hit's standards, but it also gave a huge boost to "Sean Saves The World," as well as a smaller boost to "The Michael J. Fox Show" and "Parenthood," as NBC's entire Thursday lineup made it over the four million viewer plateau. [NBC had the Thursday Night Football game in Washington, so there could be some slippage.]
 
"The Voice" also sent FOX's frantic 13-performance "The X Factor" to series lows for a regular episode, as "Glee" was forced to improve upon its lead-in the 9 p.m. hour.
 
And as bad as that "Voice" number was, it still beat ABC's "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," which dipped below a 1.0 in the key demo and cost ABC the night among young viewers.
 
On to the numbers...
 
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NBC will air the first-ever commercial spaceflight on 'Today'


NBC will air the first-ever commercial spaceflight on "Today"
The Peacock has reached a deal with Virgin Galactic to show Sir Richard Branson and his two children traveling into space next year on Virgin's SpaceShipTwo.


Was Sharon Osbourne's anti-"View" comments a publicity stunt?
"The Talk" sure got a lot of attention from Osbourne telling "The View" ladies to go "f*ck themselves."


CBS correspondent apologizes for "60 Minutes" "mistake" on Benghazi
Lara Logan was sorry that she touted a British security officer who, it turns out, may not have been truthful in his recollection of his involvement in the Benghazi incident.


"Doctor Who's" 50th-anniversary special's air date and time revealed

The special will air simultaneously around the world on Nov. 23 at 2:50 pm ET, or 11:50 am PT.


"The Greatest Event in Television History" spoofs "Too Close to Comfort"
Compare the original with Adam Scott's version.


Watch a preview of "Psych'" musical episode

It's Astoundashing!


"Arrested Development's" reunion on "Actor's Studio" was missing several key players
Where were David Cross, Michael Cera and Tony Hale?


Letterman takes a selfie
See Dave's face up close.

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