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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' premiere leads Thursday, while 'Crazy Ones' dominates 'Michael J. Fox'

'Parks and Rec' and 'Glee' return fairly weak
Fast National ratings for Thursday, September 26, 2013.
NBC's big swing with "The Michael J. Fox Show" failed to change the Thursday pecking order as "The Big Bang Theory" remained dominant and helped lift "The Crazy Ones" to a big debut and CBS to easy Thursday wins.
In a TV landscape in which most shows are returning below previous premiere levels, "Big Bang Theory" was up in most measures from last fall, albeit below several winter episodes from last season. 
That doesn't mean that "The Michael J. Fox Show" was a disaster for NBC, since it improved on a weak premiere for "Parks and Recreation" and showed no half-hour drop for the two-hour launch. And "Parenthood" came in above the numbers for most of what NBC aired its 10 p.m. Thursday death slot last year.
Meanwhile, ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" premiere was down from last year but sturdy, and FOX's "The X Factor" continued its slightly unexpected trending of week-to-week growth despite stiffer competition.
On to the numbers…
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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt in &quot;Don Jon.&quot;</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Don Jon."

Credit: Relativity Media

Tell us what you thought of 'Don Jon'

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut opens in limited release today

It's pistols at dawn in the HitFix critical fraternity today. Well, not really, but we can offer you two opposing reviews of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut, the sex comedy "Don Jon." Reviewing out of Sundance (back when the film was called "Don Jon's Addiction"), I was less than impressed, complaining that the film "[settles] on a laddish archness that undermines the seriousness of the addiction in question." (I didn't warm to it on a second look, though Scarlett Johansson's firecracker performance as a feisty Jersey girl burned even brighter. As I wrote recently, a Best Supporting Actress campaign would not be undeserved.) Drew McWeeny, on the other hand, was wowed at South by Southwest, calling it "sharply written, sharply performed [and] one hell of a debut." Which one of us do you agree with, or do you fall somewhere in between? Share your thoughts when you've seen the film, and be sure to vote in the poll below. 

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<p>James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in &quot;Enough Said.&quot;</p>

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Enough Said."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Roundup: The 'real' start of the Oscar race

Also: Tom Sherak's new appointment, and when Kerry met Cicely

Mark Harris has been pretty vocal in expressing his disdain for the Oscar buzz that emerged from the echo chamber that is the Toronto Film Festival. Instead, he claims that the awards race really started last week, when audiences were actually able to see two of the awards hopefuls that emerged from the fall festival circuit: Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said" and Ron Howard's "Rush." (Of course, by that rationale, you may argue that the Oscar race runs all year round.) Anyway, while it's "Rush" that has enjoyed far more advance buzz, it's Holofcener's quiet indie, Harris argues, that emerged victorious in the real world, winning on the critical and commercial front. Will voters see it? "In the case of Rush, it's Hollywood that tells the world, 'This is an Academy movie'," he writes. "In the case of Enough Said, it's the world that has to tell Hollywood." [Grantland]

The Academy has made some changes to the voting system in the animated race -- Steve Pond examines the specifics. [The Wrap

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<p>Stephen Merchant in &quot;Hello Ladies.&quot;</p>

Stephen Merchant in "Hello Ladies."

Credit: HBO

Review: Stephen Merchant flies solo with HBO's 'Hello Ladies'

'The Office' co-creator's new show is funnier than Ricky Gervais', but unpleasant

When you work with the right partner — especially one whose skills and interests don't completely overlap with yours — you can do more than make yourself twice as good. If it's the right match, you can be exponentially as good as you'd be on your own. The problem, of course, in working with a partner who likes to do different things than you is that the partnership may not last, and then you see how the sum of your individual parts matches up with the former whole.

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<p>Yep. That's the face I'd make, too. That thing is freeeeeeeeeeeaky.</p>

Yep. That's the face I'd make, too. That thing is freeeeeeeeeeeaky.

Credit: Sony Animation Studios

Review: 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2' is funny but confused about what it's saying

Does a message matter in a crazy comedy for kids?

Thematically confused, but possessed of a manic comic energy that is hard to deny, "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2" is a case of a sequel that will likely please many, but that falls short of the original nonetheless.

The original "Cloudy" was a bit of a miracle, a very loose adaptation of a sweet children's book that cranked up the funny and ended up working as a totally different thing than the book. The father-son story grounded the film with a nice sense of heart, but it was packed with almost non-stop jokes by Chris Miller and Phil Lord and their excellent story team. While Miller and Lord are busy finishing "The LEGO Movie" right now, Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn have stepped up to direct the sequel, and it maintains much of the energy that made the first film fun.

Still, it raises the question of how important it is that a film present a singular message, because it feels to me like "Cloudy 2" is deeply confused in many ways. The script by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja certainly seems unfettered in terms of invention, but they set up some things that it feels like they don't fully explore. In particular, the questions it raises about scientific curiosity versus scientific responsibility are never answered, or if they are, the answers are far from considered.

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<p>The new &quot;Amazing Race&quot; cast</p>

The new "Amazing Race" cast

Credit: CBS

Interview: Co-creator Elise Doganieri discusses The State of 'The Amazing Race'

Emmy winner talks Non-Elimination Legs, Double U-Turns, Vietnam and much more
Back in June, I trekked down to Palos Verdes, wherever that is, to take part in a junket for the new "Amazing Race" season, conducted just days before the teams headed off on their race around the world.
I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my conversations with the different teams -- at the very least, I have lots of dramatic irony-laden quotes to toss back at the teams when they're eliminated -- but I also got to chat with both executive producer Elise Doganieri and host Phil Keoghan. 
Both interviews were fun for me because I had a long time with both "Amazing Race" veterans and if you're a reader of my regular weekly recaps, you'll note that I was able to ask about an awful lot of the issues that are weekly bees in my bonnet through any given season.
This interview with Doganieri, for example, includes discussion about the planning of Non-Elimination Legs, the rise in alliance-building in recent seasons, the controversy over the show's trip to Vietnam last year and, my personal favorite bugaboo: The structure of Double U-Turns.
Doganieri also teases some of this season's locations and talks about the potential for another All-Stars season in the future.
Click through for the full conversation...
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"American Horror Story: Coven"

 "American Horror Story: Coven"

Credit: FX

Watch: 'American Horror Story: Coven''s opening titles

Take in the voodoo goodness

We'll be seeing this at the start of every episode soon enough, but there's something special about the first time, isn't thee? The main titles for "American Horror Story: Coven" have been released, and they're just as creepy and unsettling as you'd expect. 

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<p>Steve Carell in &quot;Foxcatcher&quot;</p>

Steve Carell in "Foxcatcher"

Credit: Sony Classics

Bennett Miller's 'Foxcatcher' moves out of the Oscar race to 2014


If you want a press release to land somewhat quietly, drop it at 10:00pm ET. And not that the news of "Foxcatcher" didn't cause plenty of commotion a few hours ago, but it was obviously a willful decision from Sony Classics to let the news out when they did. I've been in screenings all day and just now got back to my desk to assess all of this, but the news is this: Bennett Miller's latest is officially a 2014 release.

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<p>Meryl Streep ventures 'Into the Woods' as the Witch who wishes to  reverse a curse so that her beauty may be restored.</p>

Meryl Streep ventures 'Into the Woods' as the Witch who wishes to reverse a curse so that her beauty may be restored.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

First 'Into The Woods' image reveals Meryl Streep as The Witch

Production is underway in London for a December 2014 release

Right now, construction is underway at Shepperton Studios outside London for the film adaptation of "Into The Woods," the long-running musical hit by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, and with the film due in theaters for the holiday season in 2014, they're already starting the promotional push.

Meryl Streep is set to play The Witch in the film, one of the central roles in the piece, and Disney sent over the first photo of her in costume today. If you're not familiar with the musical, The Witch lives next door to The Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt), who are desperate to have a child. The Witch has cursed them, though, so they will never have a child unless they help her find the ingredients that she requires for a spell that will restore her former beauty. She sends them on a quest to find "the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold."

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<p>Olivia Wilde's been having a very good year on film, and seemed excited to discuss her work in Ron Howard's new film 'Rush'</p>

Olivia Wilde's been having a very good year on film, and seemed excited to discuss her work in Ron Howard's new film 'Rush'

Credit: HitFix

Olivia Wilde on why her character is attracted to danger in 'Rush'

Plus she discusses the difficulty of researching her role

One of the things that defines the men of "Rush" is the way they relate to the women in their lives.

Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) is reluctant to open his life to Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara), but once he does, it's obvious that she is important to him, and she changes the way he thinks about life and death for the first time. James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), on the other hand, may love the idea of being married to Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), a famous model who looks great on his arm, but he isn't wired to put anyone else's wants or needs before his own.

When I sat down with Wilde in Toronto to talk about the film, she was excited to discuss how she researched Miller, who wasn't really much of a public figure. It was a different time, and people were actually able to have private lives even if they worked in a field like modeling. It made it hard for her to track down much material about Miller, but she was able to at least tap into the way it would feel to be married to someone who risked their life every time they went out the door.

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"Grey's Anatomy"

 "Grey's Anatomy"

Credit: ABC

'Grey's Anatomy' recap: The storm leaves tragedy in its wake

The fatality in the season premiere may not be the one you expect

The storm that hit Grey Sloan Memorial (sorry, but it will always be Seattle Grace to me) at the end of last season was a doozy, and of course we had a nail-biter of a cliffhanger. Dr. Webber decided to go into the basement to check on the status of the generator and ended up getting electrocuted. This officially makes working for this hospital only slightly less dangerous than working on an Alaskan crab boat. 

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Tina Fey addresses her Emmy wardrobe malfunction in chat with Jimmy Fallon

Tina Fey addresses her Emmy wardrobe malfunction in chat with Jimmy Fallon
"I don't think it's that bad," she said as she showed a new photo from Sunday night. PLUS: Watch Fey's new "SNL" promos with Arcade Fire.

Larry King is back on TV, as Keith Olbermann's ESPN2 fill-in

King will sit in on "Olbermann" next Tuesday through Thursday as Olbermann covers Major League Baseball.

Why Walter White can't put his money in a Swiss bank account, or the Cayman Islands

Even "offshore" banks will demand to know who you earned your money -- and they're not going to take drug money.

10 things "Breaking Bad" got wrong
Pure meth isn't blue, hydrofluoric acid would not eat through a bathtub and Gus' Chliean accent was terrible. PLUS: Vince Gilligan reveals his next project on "Conan," AMC selling finale ads for $250,000 for 30 seconds, how Landry became Todd, Aaron Paul raises $1.8M for his wife's charity, "Lydia Rodarte-Quayle" explains her surname, cast members reveal which props they stole, and what if "Breaking Bad" had choose your own adventure books?

"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." coming out with official merchandise
T-shirts, posters and other items will soon be available.

Amber Tamblyn is making her "Men" debut on "Joan of Arcadia's" 10th anniversary
The new "Two and a Half Men" star didn't know her CBS drama premiered 10 years ago tonight. PLUS: Tamblyn is still getting the hang of sitcoms.

In defense of Gordon Ramsay

Why the nasty TV chef is not the devil.

Charisma Carpenter headed to "Blue Bloods"

The "Buffy" alum will play Donnie Wahlberg's ex-fling.

Ex-"Idol" Bo Bice is trying to raise money on Kickstarter
The runner-up to Carrie Underwood is trying to raise $35,000 to fund a CD and art book.

Titus Welliver signs on for an Amazon pilot

The "Lost" alum will play an LAPD homicide detective in "Bosch."

"Kendra" had a minor stroke
Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett's stroke came after her car accident earlier this year.

"GMA" wins the TV season for the 1st time in 20 years

"Good Morning America" was up 9% over last season.

Fox teases "The Following"

Season 2 begins in January.

"Parenthood": What to expect in Season 5
Jason Katims talks about the new time slot and what will happen to the Bravermans.

"Elementary" keeps getting Sherlock Holmes right
Tonight's premiere sets of a strong 2nd season. PLUS: "Elementary" boss on Season 2.

Jessica Capshaw feels safe in her 5th season on "Grey's Anatomy"
"This is actually my fifth series regular year and there's a very nice feeling about it," she says. "It feels safe. I feel taken care of. I know that between the writers and Shonda (Rhimes), nothing is off limits to talk about and the stories will go down and things change."

How "Big Bang Theory" evolved
The CBS sitcom wasn't originally critically acclaimed. PLUS: What to expect this season, meet "Big Bang's" science advisor, and Chuck Lorre reveals his "Big Bang" Emmy speech.

"The Walking Dead" webisodes return Oct. 1

There will be three new installments this year.

Michelle Obama gave the "Downton Abbey" cast a private tour of the White House
The first lady is a big fan of the PBS series.

Remembering "Simpsons" message board
The "Simpsons" newsgroup was very influential with its detailed reviews, recaps and other minutiae.

How to speak Dothraki
Here's a tutorial on the "Game of Thrones" language.

"The Crazy Ones" was only made for Robin Williams fans
If you're not a fan of his comedy, don't watch. PLUS: "Crazy Ones" feels too safe, Williams talks about his return to TV after 30 years, and where did Sarah Michelle Gellar's career go wrong?

"The Michael J. Fox Show's" promising pilot is followed by 2 episodes of disappointment
The pilot focuses on Fox going back to work after years off due to his Parkinson's. But in Episode 2, Fox's show becomes "a mundane, dated-feeling family comedy that feels like it's missing its laugh track," says James Poniewozik. PLUS: "Fox" is old-fashioned but not very original, the show feels like a long PSA, and the pilot works because it's great to see Fox on TV again.

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