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<p>The new trailer for Laika's 'The Boxtrolls' offers a peek at just how gorgeous the art of stop-motion animation really is.</p>

The new trailer for Laika's 'The Boxtrolls' offers a peek at just how gorgeous the art of stop-motion animation really is.

Credit: Focus Features

'The Boxtrolls' trailer is an ode to the magic of stop-motion animation

The studio that made 'Corlaine' and 'ParaNorman' is keeping the art form alive

At this point, I've visited enough sets that there is a sameness to it that has managed to rob the experience of some of its magic. Not all, but some. Sure, I can appreciate amazing craftsmanship and I love watching actors work, especially when something wonderful is happening between them, but there's no real mystery to it at this point.

On the other hand, when I visited the London sets for "The Corpse Bride" and got to spend a few days wandering around the amazing sets they built for the film, it was remarkable. Looking at the way they built everything by hand, looking at the amazing builds they did for the characters, I felt like I was looking at real magic. Watching these things come to life, one frame at a time, I learned once again to believe that there is a miracle that happens in animation. The same was true when I went up to Seattle to visit Laika Studios when they were working on "Coraline." Every single item, every single costume, every single thing that appeared in every single frame, all of it made right there in-house, all of it extraordinary.

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<p>Julianne Moore in Legendary Pictures' &quot;Seventh Son&quot; which Universal will now release in 2015.</p>

Julianne Moore in Legendary Pictures' "Seventh Son" which Universal will now release in 2015.

Credit: Legendary Pictures

Universal moves 'Warcraft' to 2016 as 'Seventh Son' goes on the shelf

Don't pay attention to these dates, really

Any publicity expert will tell you that if you need to announce bad news, the best day to do it is when no one is paying attention.  That's often why Hollywood studios and networks time cancellations, firings, er, "transitions" and negative news late Friday afternoon or evening Los Angeles time. East Coast media and investors are out partying the night away and their West Coast equivalents are likely on their way out of the office. It's no surprise then, that Universal Pictures revealed some big release date changes on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving when most people are traveling home for the holiday weekend.


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<p>Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner in &quot;Frances Ha.&quot;</p>

Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner in "Frances Ha."

Credit: IFC Films

The Long Shot: Independents' day

Have the Indie Spirit Awards outgrown their own purpose?

The avalanche of advance speculation, live Twitterage and post-game analysis that surrounded yesterday's announcement of the Independent Spirit Award nominees was indicative, perhaps, of the way the internet has amped up every stop on the ever-expanding awards trail -- however minor its real-world presence -- to event status. But it also proved that the Spirits are no longer as small, nor as off-the-beaten-track, as their calculatedly modest presentation would have you believe.They haven't been for a while: for better or worse, they're now considered as valuable (if, by their very nature, not as all-encompassing) an Oscar bellwether as any of the glitzier Globe or Guild events on the circuit.

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Discovery Channel will celebrate Thanksgiving with Punkin Chunkin'

Discovery Channel will celebrate Thanksgiving with "Punkin Chunkin'"

"MythBusters" stars Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci will host a competition in which engineers chunk pumpkins.

Why Brian Griffin was so valuable to "Family Guy"
The family dog was "the most three-dimensional, complex character – the only character whose humor was self-deprecating," says Kevin Wong, adding he was "the only character whose humor called attention to small, human hypocrisies rather than settling for broad, easy laughs. Brian specialized in guilt-ridden 'cringe' humor, and he pushed the show into its most interesting comedic territory."

Kirk Acevedo joins "12 Monkeys"
The "Fringe" vet will play Aaron Stanford's closest friend in the apocalyptic future.

"Homeland's" Brody storyline was inspired by "The French Connection II"
"We looked at Gene Hackman's performance in the second French Connection movie, which was incredible and somehow very personal — that's what we wanted Brody to go through," says exec producer Alex Gansa.

Carrie Underwood is getting hate tweets over "The Sound of Music"
"I get hate tweets and stuff like, 'You're not Julie Andrews!'" she tells Entertainment Weekly. "I know I'm not Julie. Nobody is and I would never pretend that I was … I know my place."

"Walking Dead" boss: This year's conflict is different from last year
Scott M. Gimple defends the Rick vs. The Governor storyline.

BBC America picks up Season 2 of "Atlantis"

The cable channel had just begun airing Season 1 of the BBC co-production.

Presenting TV's worst-ever Thanksgivings
From "Dexter" to "HIMYM," here's a reminder of how miserable Thanksgiving could be. PLUS: Ranking the "Friends" Thanksgivings.

"Breaking Bad's" Saul Goodman creator: "I've been hanging around in courtrooms lately"
How much will "Better Call Saul" take place in a courtroom? Peter Gould won't say, but he's been spending time lately in courtrooms. PLUS: Giant "Breaking Bad" graffiti wall unveiled in Britain to promote the DVDs.

Marge Simpson models history's most iconic dresses
Check out Marge in outfits worn by Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

Lea Michele unveils her solo album cover

Check out "Cannonball."

Seth Meyers and his "MADtv" brother Josh "conquer" Amsterdam
The Meyers brothers are featured on tonight's episode of "The Getaway."

"Treme" returns for its 5-episode final run
The HBO series sticks to the same formula for its final season. PLUS: Did striving for authenticity hurt "Treme"?

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Best and Worst of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Best and Worst of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

It's great, but not let's get crazy here

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" torched the box office last weekend and has already grossed over $186 million. That was pretty much expected based on the franchise's fan base and the strength of the first film in the franchise, 2012's "The Hunger Games."  What had to be a happy surprise to Lionsgate and director Francis Lawrence were some of the glowing reviews the film has received.  Some pundits even throwing out that "Catching Fire" is so good it's the best sequel since "Empire Strikes Back."  OK, the HitFix team thinks it's a really good flick, but let's not get crazy here people.  "Catching Fire" isn't destined to make most critic's best of year lists.  Obviously, "Catching Fire" isn't aiming for Oscars (or maybe it is?), but as pure old-fashioned cinematic entertainment it features more than enough obvious highlights and lowlights to wax on. And, yes, we can't wait for "Mockingjay, Pt. 1" either.

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<p>Forest Whitaker plays the patriarch of a broken family in the new Kasi Lemmons adaptation of the Langston Hughes classic 'Black Nativity'</p>

Forest Whitaker plays the patriarch of a broken family in the new Kasi Lemmons adaptation of the Langston Hughes classic 'Black Nativity'

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review: 'Black Nativity' turns a traditional pageant into a holiday family drama

As adaptations go, this one's a complete reinvention

Langston Hughes is a modern giant, a significant artist who worked as a poet and a playwright and whose work was an important part of this country's understanding of the black experience. One of his most enduring creations was "The Black Nativity," a re-imagined musical take on the traditional Nativity pageant, complete with music and dance, and it is still being performed all over the world today. Adapting it to film would seem like a strange proposition, but writer/director Kasi Lemmons approached it as an opportunity, not a challenge, and the result is an earnest, heartfelt family drama that is overwrought at times, deeply felt at others, but which certainly feels like one of the more unique things I've seen in a theater this year.

Watching no trailers for something can create the most interesting reactions in a theater. While I was aware of the basic background of the Langston Hughes production, I didn't realize Lemmons had built an entirely new story around it, or that she had made a full-blown musical. The moment the main character, Langston (Jacob Latimore), begins to sing about his experience as a young black man growing up without a father in Baltimore, I realized this wasn't going to be what I expected. Instead, Lemmons built a story that she sets the Nativity into as a sort of central point, an event that brings her characters to an epiphany. Her film is much more about the way people either do or don't live the message of the Nativity in their own lives and their own communities.

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Credit: Universal Music Group

Lorde's 'Royals' remains the No. 1 song in the country

But Eminem's 'Monster' is gaining speed

What do Lorde, Debby Boone, Ashanti, Carly Rae Jepsen and Ke$ha have in common?

All five females took their debut single to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for at least nine weeks. Lorde accomplishes the feat with “Royals” this week, keeping Eminem’s “Monster” at bay, narrowly, for at least one more week. The New Zealander’s breakthrough hit also logs its 13th week atop Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart.

Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” holds at No. 3, while OneRepublic scoots up two to No. 4 with “Counting Stars” to give the Ryan Tedder-led band its second Top 5 hit. “Stars” pushes Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” 4-5.

Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” rises 7-6, Katy Perry’s “Roar” falls 5-7 as follow-up single “Unconditionally” hold at No. 16, according to Billboard.

Following their performance of the song on Sunday night’s “American Music Awards,” Pitbull’s “Timber,” featuring Ke$ha climbs 10-8. Drake’s “Hold On, Were Going Home,” featuring Majid Jordan, falls 8-9. The only newbie in the top 10 belongs to Passenger, whose sensitive ballad “Let Her Go” moves 11-10.

Just below the Top 10, two tracks from One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” strike big: “Diana” bows at No. 11, while the title track comes in at No. 12.

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"The Originals"

 "The Originals"

Credit: The CW

'The Originals': Was all the Klaus-Marcel battle build-up worth it?

The two rivals face off, but the result is nasty, brutal and very short

I was looking forward to the much-anticipated face-off between Marcel and Klaus on "The Originals" (Tues. at 8:00 p.m. on the CW) last night. While the two vampires and former friends brought different assets to the table, that didn't necessarily mean it wasn't a fair fight. Klaus is an Original (so he can't be killed) and a hybrid (so he's even more powerful than a vampire). Marcel is just a regular vampire, but he has an army of fellow vampires, plus a pocket witch (Davina) on his side. This was going to be a long, drawn-out battle to the death, right? 

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'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' is bouncing back


After many weeks of declining numbers, ratings have actually gone up the past two weeks. PLUS: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was last night's highest-rated program.

The TV chef's ex-husband accused her of abusing cocaine every day for a decade. Yet ABC says the accusations won't have an impact on Season 2 of the ABC reality competition because it's already been filmed.

Producers are dubbing the promotion the "Glee 100th Gleeks Choice: You Vote. We Remix."
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 212 - All 'Breaking Bad' Edition

Dan and Alan discuss 'Breaking Bad,' welcoming a special guest


Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls. As promised, it's time for our All "Breaking Bad" Edition of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
And, as promised, even though we posted our first Firewall & Iceberg Video Show yesterday, we're keeping the podcast alive.
If we're being honest, this week's Firewall & Iceberg is a bit of a technical nightmare, particularly in the segment with our Very Special Guest, which was supposed to be longer, but ended up being truncated because Skype kept crashing and at a certain point, we decided it was better to reach a closing point, rather than wasting his time any further. 
Apologies for the technical problems and for what may be a slightly shorter podcast than we wanted. We've got lots more "Breaking Bad" questions from you and maybe we'll sprinkle them into future ordinary podcasts, randomly. 
Today's breakdown:
"Breaking Bad" (00:00:00 - 00:54:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.


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<p>&quot;The Best Man Holiday&quot; will be one of the films included at the BFCA's Celebration of Black Cinema.</p>

"The Best Man Holiday" will be one of the films included at the BFCA's Celebration of Black Cinema.

Credit: Universal Pictures

From 'Best Man Holiday' to 'The Butler,' BFCA hails a banner year for black film

Their 'Celebration of Black Cinema' evening is set for January 7

The Broadcast Film Critics' Association is hardly the first group or individual to note that this has been remarkable year for black filmmakers and black-themed films. Ever since "Lee Daniels' The Butler" emerged as a surprise box-office sleeper in the summer, followed shortly afterward by the triumphant festival debut of "12 Years a Slave" -- both films consolidating the Sundance success of Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" in January -- the shorthand narrative of 2013 as "the year of black cinema" has been cemented in the media, and inevitably bled into the awards race.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 212: 'Breaking Bad'

Dan, Alan and a very special guest discuss odds and ends from the life of the AMC drama


Yesterday saw the premiere of the first Firewall & Iceberg video show. As promised, though, the podcast isn't going away. And, as promised, this week's is the long-awaited all-"Breaking Bad" show. It ran a little shorter than planned, due to massive technical difficulties during the segment with our special guest, but it's nearly an hour of your questions and our answers, plus discussion of the overall greatness of the series and where it might fit into the Pantheon now that it's done. 

And as mentioned on the video show yesterday, we have a new email address for questions for both versions: So fire away, folks, as I suspect we'll need a bunch of good questions next week, as we shift into the dog days at the end of the calendar year.

The very simple rundown:

"Breaking Bad" (00:00:00 - 00:54:00)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

There's also now a complete archive of all the podcasts to date.

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