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<p>This makes me all the happy.</p>

This makes me all the happy.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Kevin Feige and Shane Black on making 'Iron Man 3' photo-real and building a better story

We talk to two of the primary architects of Tony Stark's fate in the new sequel

As much as I like his work, I've never had the opportunity to sit down with Shane Black to talk about film. I'm hoping that closer to the release of "Iron Man 3," we might find time for an actual interview, but I'll admit, part of the reason I was happy to do this particular round table was because Black was going to be part of it.

Kevin Feige, on the other hand, I feel fairly comfortable with after all the years of covering Marvel movies.  Having the two of them paired seemed like a nice way of making sure the conversation would be an easy one, and we dove right in when the two of them sat down, with people peppering Black with joking questions about the giant stuffed bunny rabbit glimpsed in the trailer and geeky questions about the use of the term "gauntlet" in some of the footage we saw.

Once we settled in, we asked Black about something that Robert Downey Jr. mentioned in his interview, that Black had been part of the "Iron Man" series before this thanks to Favreau and Downey reaching out to him on the first and second films.  "I don't think I contributed anything too terribly important," he said, "although Robert's been kind enough to cite it as being helpful."  It sounds like Black and Favreau had a great working relationship on this film, and that Black knows how easy it would have been for that to have been weird and uncomfortable with Favreau having previously called the shots on the series.  "Instead, he was the nicest guy in the world and was extremely beneficial… he's great."

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<p>Josh Ritter</p>

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter talks heartache, rebirth and new album 'The Beast In Its Tracks'

Singer-Songwriter holds nothing back on seventh album

When Josh Ritter’s marriage broke up, the singer-songwriter did what came naturally: he wrote about it.

But in the depths of his pain, the emotions were too raw to produce anything redeemable. “When the feelings ran highest, it was also the hardest time to write anything down. It wasn’t so much like a kind of telling about anything,” he says.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Steven&nbsp;Spielberg arriving at the Oscars in February</p>

Steven Spielberg arriving at the Oscars in February

Credit: AP Photo

From 'Lincoln' to Cannes to 'Napoleon,' Steven Spielberg is everywhere lately

The celebrated filmmaker is putting the pedal to the metal post-Oscars

Barely a week after his film "Lincoln" only managed two Oscars from 12 nominations and deferred to "Argo" on Best Picture honors, Steven Spielberg seems as ubiquitous as ever. Fresh off the Academy Awards he was announced as head of the jury for this year's Cannes Film Festival and he received a nice love letter in the New York Times last week pitting him as a sort of Godfather to Hollywood filmmakers.

"I think, for Steven, sometimes it’s the most fun to weigh in on someone else’s work when there are no consequences," "Jurassic Park" screenwriter and "Premium Rush" director David Koepp said in the piece. "He is free to just talk about the creative part."

But it doesn't end there. Recently Spielberg revealed that he is developing Stanley Kubrick's long-gestating and eventually abandoned Napoleon project as a mini-series. It was 12 years ago that Spielberg's vision of another long-gestating Kubrick project, "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence," landed to mixed reaction in 2001. I've written before about my own initial complex reaction that then grew to adoration, respect and, eventually, reverence over the years. I now consider it one of Spielberg's best films. There are those, however, who didn't quite get there, and so this news might be unsettling for them.

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<p>It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. hints at the future of Iron Man and working with Shane Black again

A fast and loose chat with Downey about the latest chapter in the mega-franchise

I've interviewed Robert Downey Jr. enough times now to know that the way it works is you give him a little question and you sit back and let that brain of his spin. The reason I can't imagine anyone else playing the Tony Stark we've seen in the Marvel movies so far is because that character is so closely tied to the qualities I've seen in the real Downey off-screen. In some weird way, the "Iron Man" films will eventually serve as a highly stylized form of autobiography, telling the story of Downey's enormous promise, his rocky years of self-destruction, and his eventual metamorphosis into the blockbuster-friendly charm machine that he's become.

We had twenty minutes with him.  There were four or five of us around the table.  When he strolled in, he had with him "The Box," his omnipresent collection of various vitamins and health supplements, and he looked healthy and happy.  We jumped right in, asking him if he had any hesitations or worries about playing the character for the fourth time.  "This is… the grab bag wish list of things we've always wanted to do and haven't had the chance," he said.  He had his own expectations for the sequel, and they were hefty, to say the least.  "[This] was supposed to answer all the questions for the audience, cure all my uncomfortable moments in the past playing this character, and get in every idea that fell by the wayside in the last three movies. Then we shot the movie and I feel like there’s still a number of other things we have to do."

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<p>I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Feige and Shane Black host an early peek at 'Iron Man 3'

Plus the brand-new trailer for the film makes its debut online

I have carefully constructed my life so that I do not have to brave the horrors of Los Angeles morning rush hour traffic very often, and on the rare occasions I am willing to do so, it had better be for something worthwhile.

For example, if someone were to offer me a chance to sit down on a late January morning with Robert Downey Jr, Shane Black, and Kevin Feige to talk about "Iron Man 3," that would be worth it.  I don't often do roundtables, but in a situation like this one, I know everyone else at the table and I know all three of the people we'll be interviewing, and I have a pretty good idea that it's going to be a relaxed and informative conversation.

The morning began with them taking us over to a screening room and showing us the Super Bowl spot (keep in mind this was a few weeks early), and then they tried to show us the new trailer for the film.

"Which new trailer?" you ask.  Well, that would be this new trailer...

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills': Should newly sober Kim be on the show?

Is the former child star too fragile for reality TV roughhousing?

During last night's episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," we got to experience what the very rich can do when they're in Paris. They can take cooking classes which may or may not involve sad little duck carcasses. They can shop in high end stores, take Segway tours of the city, jog by the Siene and basically have an indulgent, lovely holiday that's boring as hell to watch if you're not, say, getting an expensive purse, too. The lifestyles of the rich and boring weren't all that was on display, however. We also got to see Kim fall apart, which is becoming a regular feature of the show. It's also one that's getting more and more uncomfortable to see.

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor': Was AshLee telling the truth about Sean or not?

On 'The Women Tell All,' did one rejected woman reveal too much?

I usually look forward to The Women Tell All installment of "The Bachelor," though I'm not quite sure why. As much as ABC hypes the crap out of it, and as many times as Chris Harrison promises the most exciting/most stunning/most whatever moment ever, it's usually just some warmed over clips, some testy moments and much ado about not very much at all. As heated as things get during the season, by the time the women and the bachelor are trapped on a soundstage together for this episode, most of the fire has died down to a low simmer of resentment. The most hated woman is lightly chastised, then dismissed. The rejected flames get weepy, but say they're over it. Well, most of them do, anyway.

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<p>Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Let Me Go'

Carroll tries to get a new home, while Emma and Joey make creepy new friends
So, Joe Carroll is really good at the game he's playing.
 
I am not typically hung up on issues of plausibility in television, but this seems to me to be a particularly convoluted episode of "The Following" -- if also one that became again truly scary, from time to time. Joe's reach, and the power of his cult, apparently knows no bounds. In "Let Me Go" they manage to coerce the prison warden of a maximum security prison into releasing Joe, who shifts from uniformed prisoner to suited murderer in the span of a few moments. He makes short work of his lawyer Olivia, killing her in her own car after she transports him to safety, before running into a mall, rendezvousing with two of his compatriots, and escaping off the roof in a helicopter.
 
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"Downton Abbey"

 "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Look: A photo of Mary and Matthew's baby from season 4 of 'Downton Abbey'

As expected, Mary looks sad but glamorous in solid black

For those of you chomping at the bit to see the next season of "Downton Abbey" (and for those of you who are still slogging through season 3, SPOILER ALERT), here's a hint of what's to come thanks to a new photo. 

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<p>David Bowie's &quot;The Next Day&quot;</p>

David Bowie's "The Next Day"

Review: David Bowie, 'The Next Day'

66-year-old songwriter's first album in a decade

 

David Bowie, at first, presents his new album “The Next Day” as a dismantling of his earlier work. With an album design that literally puts a white box over the photo of Bowie’s face on the cover of his album “Heroes,” he turns fans’ “hero” into a blank slate,  The title “The Next Day” is a phrase from a script or the new chapter from a fiction, something one would say after “Reality” strikes. 
 
But it’s not all introspection and decomposition. It’s about moving around, as Bowie still dons different guises, playing a lot with being old and being young, being of this earth and not and all at once. And from song one, he sounds like he’s working hard, short of the times when he’s not having an outright blast with his dichotomies.
 
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<p>Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.</p>

Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.

Credit: IndieVest

How can a film starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pudi and Summer Glau sit on a shelf for two years?

Who killed 'The Knights Of Badassdom'? Wade Bradley, apparently

It's popular for writers to grumble about the development process, and I've certainly got plenty of horror stories, both mine and those of my friends, about things that were said or done during notes meetings. Honestly, though, if you're paying a writer, then that's an expected part of things, and it's something that good writers learn how to handle with grace and with wit.

The true enemy right now, especially as the old filmmaking model starts to disintegrate and new models seem to spring up almost weekly, is the shady world of international financing. The absolute worst notes meeting I've ever had doesn't begin to compare to the amoral, unethical, and downright criminal things I have personally observed during the financing part of making a film. One bad deal can haunt you for years, and trusting the wrong person to be part of the financing team can absolutely destroy not only your film, but you as a filmmaker.

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<p>A scene from Chad Hartigan's &quot;This is Martin&nbsp;Bonner&quot;</p>

A scene from Chad Hartigan's "This is Martin Bonner"

Credit: Monterey Media

Sundance announces NEXT WEEKEND film fest to showcase bold newcomer talent

Event is an extension of the NEXT section of the annual Sundance Film Festival

We were very proud around these parts back during the Sundance Film Festival as In Contention friend (and former contributor) Chad Hartigan won an award in the NEXT section over some stiff competition for his film "This is Martin Bonner." The film was picked up for distribution last week by Monterey Media, but while you'll have a chance to catch his work as a result of that deal, you might also have another opportunity at the Sundance Institute's Next Weekend Film Festival, should it be a part of the programming (and indeed, it ought to).

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