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Three for three: Directors who have dominated the Best Picture race

Three for three: Directors who have dominated the Best Picture race

Which ones are looking to make good on the hat trick this year?

There are a handful of filmmakers looking for rare air this year. If "American Hustle," "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Nebraska" end up with Oscar nominations for Best Picture in January, then that means David O. Russell, the Coen brothers and Alexander Payne will enter the exclusive company of 11 other filmmakers who have directed three Best Picture nominees in a row. And next year, Bennett Miller will be looking to do the same with "Foxcatcher," which was recently rescheduled for a 2014 release.

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<p>Conner Chapman in &quot;The Selfish Giant.&quot;</p>

Conner Chapman in "The Selfish Giant."

Credit: Sundance Selects

Brit favorite 'The Selfish Giant,' foreign Oscar hopefuls take gold at AFI Fest

Prize winners remind us of the festival's international outlook

In terms of media coverage, the AFI Fest in Los Angeles is generally portrayed as yet another launchpad for big-name Oscar contenders in this crowded season -- headlines were dominated by the US premiere of "Saving Mr. Banks," the surprise package of "Lone Survivor" and so on. All that Hollywood-focused talk, however, tends to obscure what a fine selection of world and art house cinema the festival also showcases -- and it's this lower-profile part of the programme that comes to the fore when it's time for the jury and audience awards to be handed out.

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<p>Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope as Buttercup in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope as Buttercup in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Filibuster/Recall Vote'

Leslie fights to keep voters enfranchised, then waits for their results

"Parks and Recreation" came back from a short break with a double-feature tonight, and I have a review of both episodes coming up just as soon as I find some amazing new conflict-free paella recipes...

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<p>Selena Gomez</p>

Selena Gomez

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 3 - Double Elimination and Selena Gomez performs

Which two acts went home on the first Elimination Thursday?

Last week, "X Factor" screwed up the voting and treated viewers to 13 frenzied performances in an hour, thereby denying us a performance by one Ms. Selena Gomez.

This week, we'll try again on Selena Gomez.

We'll also see the return of Fifth Harmony.

And we're eliminating two acts and presumably getting the rankings for the other 10 acts.

Buckle up and join the live-blog!

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<p>Russell Crowe seems to be a wee bit wet in the first trailer for Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah'</p>

Russell Crowe seems to be a wee bit wet in the first trailer for Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Will Aronofsky's 'Noah' be the latest dream project to turn out as a nightmare?

Today's first trailer raises some big red flags

You will find few more passionate advocates for Darren Aronofsky's work online than me. One of the first times I was quoted in a campaign for a film was for "The Fountain," and I couldn't have been more excited about it. I knew that movie was a hard-sell, but I also felt like it was something special, and anything I could do to help was my genuine pleasure.

Both "The Wrestler" and "Black Swan" topped my list of the year's best films when they came out, and they felt like a huge step for Aronofsky, movies that tapped some nerve with people, more accessible than his earlier work but without any compromise. I have been eagerly anticipating whatever's next, and when "Noah" was announced, I was naturally curious to see what he might be putting together.

So please keep that in mind when I say that today's "Noah" trailer left me cold, and more than that, it worried me. It looked no different than most of the noisy blockbuster fare of the last decade, and there is a seriousness to the trailer that could easily turn into camp if tipped the wrong way. Then again, it's just a trailer and it's ridiculous to judge something based on two minutes of footage… right?

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<p>Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller at the AFI Film Fest premiere of &quot;The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.&quot;</p>

Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller at the AFI Film Fest premiere of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Credit: AP Photo/John Schearer

Contender Countdown: Oscar likes to party all the time

Busy Wednesday night in La-La land

If you were an Academy or guild member Wednesday night, you may have had a tough time determining your social schedule. There were at least four major events you could have attended tied to this year's awards season. Yes, the circuit is in full effect and it's just the second week of November.

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Harry Connick Jr. fires back at Mariah Carey for saying she 'hated' being on 'Idol'

Harry Connick Jr. fires back at Mariah Carey for saying she "hated" being on "Idol"
Connick tweeted: "@MariahCarey - Must've been hard to judge in hell. Idol XIII: Welcome to heaven! @JLo @KeithUrban @RyanSeacrest @AmericanIdol #idolXIII" Connick also tweeted that Mariah's "Satan" comment was directed at Keith Urban, not Nicki Minaj.

CBS News's website will livestream its 1963 coverage of JFK's assassination in real time will begin livestreaming starting at 1:40 pm ET on Nov. 22. CBS' entire coverage, with Walter Cronkite breaking in via CBS radio, is already on YouTube.

Has "The Daily Show" become a bigger launchpad than "SNL"?
The question has to be asked in the wake of John Oliver leaving for his own HBO comedy show.

FX developing "Rasputin"

The event series will look back at the peasant-turned-mystic who became a very influential advisor to Russia's imperial family in the early 20th century.

English professor creates a "Breaking Bad" class for his graduate students

Next semester, the State University of New York's "Breaking Down 'Breaking Bad'" will analyze the AMC series. "This is not just an interesting TV program," says professor Bruce Jackson. "'Breaking Bad' goes into narrative and human and social complexity as no TV program has before." PLUS: Aaron Paul will go on a "Breaking Bad" tour with a lucky fan, and Vince Gilligan earned $60,000 by speaking about "Breaking Bad" at University of Florida.

"The Simpsons" insults Italians
Italians were recently offended on social media when Kent Brockman described a school cheating scandal as "more corrupt than the Italian parliament."

Larry David not impressed with "Modern Seinfeld"
When read a tweet from the Modern Seinfeld Twitter account, David said,"that does not pass the funny test."

Alec Baldwin denies using a homophobic slur
The MSNBC star had another paparazzi incident today.

Is binge-watching a highbrow way of saying you're a couch potato?
Binge-watching is closely associated with high-quality television, but isn't binge-watching just as bad as being a couch potato? PLUS: There's a difference between binge-watching and being a couch potato.

Fox has realized that diversity is good for business
Diversity sessions at Fox has led to shows like "Sleepy Hollow" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," both of which have diverse casts.

"Grey's Anatomy" heads to the courtroom

Sara Ramirez previews tonight's Callie-centric episode that has her character dealing with a malpractice suit.

Is there a "Friday Night Lights" curse?

Michael B. Jordan, Gaius Charles and Jesse Plemons are doing well, but what about other kids from the NBC series?

NBC will co-produce a comedy with Canadian TV
"Working the Engels" follows a debt-ridden family who must cope after the father/breadwinner dies.

Jeff Probst: Seeing the effects of Typhoon Haiyan is "truly heartbreaking"
In raising money for relief efforts, Probst points out that he's spent eight months of the past two years shooting four seasons of "Survivor" in the Philippines.

"The Vampire Diaries" bringing back Klaus

Joseph Morgan will return to the CW drama for the first time since leaving for "The Originals." PLUS: "The Originals" has won the battle of the spinoffs.

"Modern Family" viewers are richest, "Bob's Burgers" are poorest
That's if you take into account the viewers' average median income in the 18-49 demo -- $81,000 for "Modern Family" and $48,000 for "Bob's Burgers."

George Lopez teams with CW on a Latina musical drama
"Star Crazy" will revolve around a young female singer who rises from poverty to fame.

"Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell": An appreciation
Why the FXX talk show may influence future generations of politically minded comedians.

Are we living in a Golden Age of TV or a Drought of Good TV?
Why these of questions can't be answered now, in the moment. They should be left for history.

Discovery Channel teams with Funny or Die on a show starring a strength and conditioning coach
Each episode will feature a different athlete, starting with the Honey Badger.

Can Howard Stern's radio show make a TV comeback?
With Howard TV dead, Stern's radio show doesn't have a TV presence for the first time in two decades. That means his long interview this week with Lady Gaga wasn't filmed for television.

Bellamy Young excited and terrified by a Mellie-centric "Scandal" episode

"I mean, it was like the greatest acting gift ever," she says. "It's so humbling to be trusted with a script like that, but also terrifying because you want to do a great job, because the script is so beautiful, and you want to carry their vision across the goal line." PLUS: Inside Olivia Pope's closet, and Kerry Washington sent "SNL" thank you cupcakes.

"The Goldbergs" star left a man hospitalized after running a red light after a night of shooting

Hayley Orrantia's accident two months ago resulted in her car crashing into another car, leaving a victim who's suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Singer Jill Scott: I was Maggie Siff's "costume mistress"
Scott recalls working with the "Sons of Anarchy" star at a Philadelphia theater company.

Is "Once Upon a Time" the worst at doing green screen?
The ABC drama and its spinoff don't seem adept at doing quality green-screening.

See the "Glee" stars with their Muppets

This week the cast of "Glee" is filming with their Muppet doppelgangers.

144 episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," ranked
No. 3 is "The Body."

"Parks and Rec" returns with an episode inspired by the Wendy Davis filibuster
The Texas legislator's 11-hour filibuster in June has led to Leslie Knope trying her own filibuster. PLUS: Ranking Tom's business ideas, Rashida Jones launches a jewelry line, and here's Amy Poehler & Rob Lowe today on his last day.

Julie Andrews: I'm glad Carrie Underwood is doing "The Sound of Music"
"I think it's great that it's being done again," she says, "but doing it live must be so daunting for Carrie."

Check out a young Rainn Wilson

"Farrah Fawcett Schrute."

"The Real World's" new "Exes' format begs many questions

First off, how did Bunim/Murray secure housing for all these housemates in a place like San Francisco, where housing is so scarce?

Will Jimmy Kimmel's China controversy affect Disney?

Disney already has big plans for China, including a theme park in Shanghai. PLUS: The Killers sing a special birthday song for Jimmy Kimmel, and is Kimmel jumping the shark?

Grumpy Cat visits "Sesame Street" for a face-off with Oscar the Grouch

What happens when two famous grouches have a grouch-off?

Nickelodeon renews "Paw Patrol"

The animated series will be back for a 26-episode 2nd season.

TNT's "Ground Floor" is a throwback to NBC's 90s comedies
The sitcom starring John C. McGinley and a bunch of "Pitch Perfect" stars is from '90s sitcom vets Bill Lawrence and Greg Malins. PLUS: The cast overcomes the "Upstairs, Downstairs" premise.

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<p>&quot;Prisoners&quot;&nbsp;could be a sleeper contender this year.</p>

"Prisoners" could be a sleeper contender this year.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Tech Support: Could Alfonso Cuarón join James Cameron on an exclusive list of editors?

Other contenders include 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' '12 Years a Slave' and 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

In recent years, the awards media has caught on to the relationship between the categories of Best Film Editing and Best Picture. Even films like "Argo" and "Crash," which did not win the Best Director Oscar, picked up the trophy for Best Film Editing. Every year, the vast majority of nominees in this category (sometimes even five out of five) are also cited in the top category.

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<p>Oh, look, there's JJ&nbsp;Abrams, and there's Kathleen Kennedy, and OH&nbsp;MY&nbsp;GOD&nbsp;IT'S&nbsp;R2-D2!</p>

Oh, look, there's JJ Abrams, and there's Kathleen Kennedy, and OH MY GOD IT'S R2-D2!

Credit: Bad Robot

Our first look at an old friend getting ready for 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

JJ Abrams gets our favorite droid ready for his close-up

Oh, look, it's R2-D2.

People talk about how strange it's going to be to see a "Star Wars" movie that has the Disney logo in front of it instead of the Fox logo, and I agree, that will be an adjustment. At some point, there will be more movies that look like that than don't, though, and the first six will be seen as the oddballs. That's just the nature of this sort of IP sale.

It will be far stranger for me when they make the first "Star Wars" film that doesn't have R2-D2 in it.

George Lucas backed off a bit from his initial idea about having R2-D2 and C-3PO be the only characters who would appear across the entire "Star Wars" saga, a sort of metallic Greek chorus that would observe everything that happened. I think one of the biggest mistakes of "The Phantom Menace" was tying C-3PO's origin to Anakin Skywalker. It's pointless, and it complicates things, makes the entire universe feel small. I think it's important that you show that at some point, R2-D2 had been to Tatooine and that he had some knowledge of Obi-Wan, but that was possible simply by having them land there at some point.

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<p>Anson Mount and Common of &quot;Hell on Wheels&quot;</p>

Anson Mount and Common of "Hell on Wheels"

Credit: AMC

AMC renews 'Hell on Wheels' for an expanded Season 4

Anson Mount/Common drama laughs in the face of Saturday nights
Normally, when a show has its renewal delayed and then rescinded and then the show is shipped off to Saturday nights, that's a sign that the show is playing out the string on the way to cancellation. 
It's very rare that not only does the show overcome those obstacles, but it thrives and goes from the bubble to a no-brainer renewal with a show of extra confidence.
Welcome to the strangeness of AMC's "Hell on Wheels."
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Haley Joel Osment and Yara Martinez

Haley Joel Osment and Yara Martinez

Haley Joel Osment, Yara Martinez talk 'Alpha House' politics

Yara admits the downside of making out with Mark Consuelos

You may miss Haley Joel Osment in the pilot of "Alpha House" (his character doesn't step from the shadows until we're a few episodes into the season), but he's sure to have an impact. As Shelby, an eager young reporter for the Reno Gazette assigned to cover Senator Laffer (Matt Malloy), he might be just doing his job -- or maybe looking for dirt to dig. Go ahead, say it -- Shelby just has a sixth sense about these things. 

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<p>Say goodbye to &quot;The Daily Show,&quot;&nbsp;John Oliver, now that you've signed to do an HBO&nbsp;series.</p>

Say goodbye to "The Daily Show," John Oliver, now that you've signed to do an HBO series.

Credit: Comedy Central

John Oliver leaves 'The Daily Show' for HBO series

After his summer run filling in for Jon Stewart, his own show was inevitable

Danger! Danger! John Oliver has parlayed his superb turn as fill-in host of "The Daily Show" into a new weekly topical comedy series for HBO.

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