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<p>Michael B. Jordan in &quot;Fruitvale Station.&quot;</p>

Michael B. Jordan in "Fruitvale Station."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: The illusion of diversity in the Oscar race

Also: Darren Aronofsky bows down to 'Gravity' and dark days at Paramount

There has already been a lot written about race in these initial stages of the Oscar season, and there will be plenty more to come -- even if early projections of an 80% black Best Actor field seem increasingly unlikely to pan out. Kia Makarechi writes that he's glad the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba and Forest Whitaker are in the awards conversation, but believes the supposed diversity of this year's race is merely an illusion: "These roles have to be played by black actors ... we'll know when Hollywood casting directors and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences view people of color as deserving of equal opportunities to shine when a black man in the role of a fictional caring father, son, teacher, student, doctor, author or otherwise non-racially coded character is nominated for and wins Best Actor." [Huffington Post]

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<p>Liza Lapira, Rebel Wilson and Lauren Ash in &quot;Super Fun Night.&quot;</p>

Liza Lapira, Rebel Wilson and Lauren Ash in "Super Fun Night."

Credit: ABC

Fall TV Reviews: 'Super Fun Night,' 'Ironside,' 'The Millers' & more

Not much to get excited about the week after the fall season's official beginning

Not that this has been a great overall fall for new series, but pretty much every rookie of note — from the genuinely good ("Masters of Sex") to the uneven but promising ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD") to the mediocre shows that do one thing very well ("The Blacklist") — have already debuted over the last couple of weeks. What's left over for this week are the runts of this unimpressive litter, none worthy of a full-length review, but which we can discuss briefly before they debut:

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<p>Never forget.</p>

Never forget.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Simon Kinberg has been announced as a new writer for Fox's 'Fantastic Four' film

How close is Fox to pulling the trigger on this one?

 Okay, so I finally figured it out. "Simon Kinberg" isn't actually a single person. It's a collective of people who are able to crank out massive amounts of work at any given moment. He's part of the team of writers working on "Star Wars," he's a jack-of-all-trades on "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," he just had "Elysium" in theaters, and now he's also writing "Fantastic Four" while he produces Mark Millar's "Kindergarten Heroes."

Is that correct?

Is that seriously what is happening?

Holy cow, see what I mean? No way one guy's doing all of that at the same time.

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Sandra Bullock and George Clooney take 'Gravity' to New York

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney take 'Gravity' to New York

Oh, and Emma Watson and Katie Holmes were invited too

Hey, boys and girls, it's time for another movie marketing lesson from your friends at HitFix.

What do you do when you have a film that mostly appeals to men, but you want to make sure you get the attention of younger women? It's really important those women go with their boyfriends on Friday and Saturday night, because that means their boyfriends will definitely go. Well, when your cast is limited to just two, cough, older, cough, actors, there isn't much you can do. Sure, rave reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8 100 grades so far on Metacritic) and amazing footage are selling it pretty damn well, but it's opening week. The pressure is on! Someone in the studio is no doubt saying, "How can we liven things up a bit down the homestretch? I mean, yeah, the movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, but how do we make some noise on, y'know, those gossip sites (Sandra can't do this on her own!)?"*

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<p>Britney says you betta...</p>

Britney says you betta...

Watch: Britney Spears is a kitten with a whip in 'Work Bitch' video

Her hair extensions do excellent acting

Well, that’s certainly an interesting product placement: a woman uses a Beats Pill as a ball gag.  Yes, with approximately 29,895 or so shots of Britney Spears in her new video for “Work Bitch,”  the image of an extra is the one that I took away.  In part because it’s one of the more creative, if not repellant, ways I’ve seen a blatant product placement in a video and, quite frankly, it’s the most interesting thing in the video.

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<p>It's not officially an episode of 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.i.E.L.D.' until Agent Ward kicks someone in the face.</p>

It's not officially an episode of 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.i.E.L.D.' until Agent Ward kicks someone in the face.

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' starts to come into focus in its second week

Plus what larger connections to the Marvel Universe happened this week?

Last week, Alan Sepinwall wrote about the premiere episode of Marvel's first foray into weekly television, but tonight, he passes the torch to me. I'm going to be writing the recaps for the series each week here on HitFix, and I'm curious to see if this becomes can't-miss television for me the way previous Whedon shows have been.

The pilot episode probably had more expectations placed on it than any other TV show in recent memory, at least from the fans who you would expect to be the target audience. I'm not sure exactly what anyone else expected from a Marvel TV show, but looking at the first episode, it's about what I thought it would be. The stories have to be smaller scale than the things we've seen in the movies so far, and it's a procedural, so they need to try to create self-contained plots that drive the show while they parcel out bits and pieces of information for the larger mythology.

I liked the gadgetry in the first episode, and I think the cast is solid. Brett Dalton's got the sort of character to play that is going to be hard to make interesting, only because someone has to be the straight man while everyone else gets to be quirky or eccentric. I'm curious to see how they fill in the backstory for Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), and I already enjoy the chemistry for Fitz/Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge).

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Tommy Flanagan and Charlie Hunnam in 'Sons of Anarchy'

Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) is concerned about Jax (Charlie Hunnam) on "Sons of Anarchy"

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' recap: 'Wolfsangel' ups the body count

Multiple deaths aren't enough to justify another flabby 90-minute episode

Everything that happens in this week's "Sons of Anarchy" could've been condensed into a pretty solid hour of TV. So why did "Wolfsangel" have to be yet another unnecessarily bloated 90 minute episode?

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<p>On &quot;New Girl,&quot;&nbsp;Nick (Jake Johnson)&nbsp;suffers some undeserved abuse from Cece (Hannah Simone) while Jess (Zooey Deschanel)&nbsp;looks on.</p>

On "New Girl," Nick (Jake Johnson) suffers some undeserved abuse from Cece (Hannah Simone) while Jess (Zooey Deschanel) looks on.

Credit: FOX

Evening TV Round-Up: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' New Girl' & 'The Mindy Project'

Jake goes in a slump, the truth about Schmidt comes out and Mindy and Casey hit a snag

It's evening round-up time, with quick reviews of tonight's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" coming up just as soon as I pump my fists too hard at a Weird Al concert...

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Best Actor 2014: Oscar contenders include Christian Bale, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey

Best Actor 2014: Oscar contenders include Christian Bale, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey

Could this be the most competitive lineup in years?

If we've said it once we've said it a hundred times: the Best Actor Oscar race is crowded this year. And that's really putting it lightly. The amount of contenders that would be shoo-ins in any other year is unfortunate, really, because someone is going to come up with the short straw, and it won't be pretty.

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Kevin James making a sitcom comeback


Kevin James making a sitcom comeback
The former "King of Queens" star has signed on a 10/90 Charlie Sheen-type sitcom deal that would have him star in a sitcom for 10 episodes. And if a ratings threshold is met, 90 more episodes will be automatically picked up.


NBC cancels "Camp"
The Rachel Griffiths summer drama won't be back for a 2nd season.

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<p>Simon Cowell&nbsp;</p>

Simon Cowell 

Credit: FOX

'X Factor' judges Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato tease Four-Chair Challenge, One Direction visit and more

How has Simon Cowell responded to this season's ratings?
I'm really intrigued by the Four-Chair Challenge, which starts on "The X Factor" this week.
 
Given the amount of skepticism I've been known to heap upon the FOX singing competition, that could perhaps cause you optimism as well. 
 
Thus far, "X Factor" and FOX promotions haven't done a great job of explaining this structural evolution for the Wednesday/Thursday show, which may explain why Simon Cowell and the network hosted a small group of reporters on Monday (September 30) afternoon to try teasing the Four-Chair Challenge.
 
Let me try to explain it a bit better than the teasers have done: Currently, all four judges/mentors have 10 remaining contestants in their respective categories. Starting on Wednesday, the process begins to winnow down to four per category. On the stage, there will be four seats or "chairs," if you will. One by one, the singers in each category will perform and their respective coach/mentor/judge will have to decide whether or not to give one of the chairs to a singer. For a while, it's pretty low-key. Yes or No. Easy peasy. But once all four chairs are filled, things get fun. As the four contestants sit in their chairs, briefly feeling comfortable with their positions, they have to watch as another contestant performs just feet away and their coach then has to give the "Yes" or "No" votes. If it's a "Yes," they have to execute a Switch, booting one of the singers from their chairs. It's like musical chairs or a Yankee Swap, only with young people sensing their dreams are about to get shattered instead of prettily wrapped presents.
 
Cowell explains that the Four-Chair Challenge was transplanted from "X Factor: Holland" and while he acknowledged that it's "possibly the worst title in the world," the results have the potential to be wonderfully sadistic and also entertaining. There's pressure on the performers in the spotlight. There's pressure on the judges. There's pressure on the squirming contestants in the "Yes" chairs, who are experiencing a really unpleasant roller-coaster. And this is all happening in front of a loud and vocal audience trying to sway the contestants and also (with some success) the judges. And it's an audience that includes the parents and family members of the contestants, loved ones with the potential to take heartbreak with even less grace than the singers themselves. Throw in pauses more pregnant than Catherine Zeta-Jones at the 2003 Oscars and you get a recipe to add suspense where none existed previously.
 
Indeed, the biggest thing working in favor of the Four-Chair Challenge is that it isn't really replacing anything of value. These next few episodes are taking the place of those forgettable installments in which the judges and a hand-picked celebrity friend sat in or around houses that may or may not have actually been theirs and listened to the singers perform in environments with dreadful acoustics and then made arbitrary decisions that featured little drama at all. Even if the entirety of the Four-Chair Challenge fails to live up to the 20 minutes I saw last night, it will still be an improvement over Judges' Houses.
 
After the presentation, I was able to grab a few minutes with Simon Cowell and also with Demi Lovato to discuss the Four-Chair Challenge and also to talk about the show's ratings, the inevitable One Direction appearance and more.
 
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<p>I'm not sure how they expect this to cross over to an older audience, but then again, maybe that's not the point.</p>

I'm not sure how they expect this to cross over to an older audience, but then again, maybe that's not the point.

Credit: Millarworld

Fox signs on to develop Mark Millar's 'Kindergarten Heroes' as a family-friendly franchise

Carter Blanchard has been tapped to write it

"Family friendly" and "Mark Millar" are not normally used in the same sentence.

Even so, it appears that 20th Century Fox is planning to give it a shot with "Kindergarten Heroes," a new movie that Carter Blanchard just signed on to write with Simon Kinberg producing. The book does not appear to actually exist yet, and the only artwork I could find for it online is what looks like the front of a book, but I can't find any listing anywhere that would indicate that you actually buy that book.

Selling unpublished material before it hits the stand is nothing new for Millar. I thought it was very interesting when I was on the set of "Kick-Ass" and some of the issues existed only as rough artwork and some story notes. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman's script actually fed back into the way Millar was thinking, and that cross-traffic is one of the things that made that so much fun for all involved.

As a producer, Kinberg is a busy man these days. He's one of the guys in the mix for the new wave of "Star Wars" films that will kick off with "Episode VII," presumably arriving in theaters in December of 2015. He just produced "Elysium," and he's right there in the midst of things for "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" as well.

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