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<p>Bilbo Baggins prepares to sneak away in the dead of night in a scene from 'The Hobbit:&nbsp;An Unexpected Journey'</p>

Bilbo Baggins prepares to sneak away in the dead of night in a scene from 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

Review: Is 'very good' good enough for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'?

Peter Jackson's return to Middle-Earth frustrates at times, transports at others

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey" is an above-average fantasy film, a dense piece of entertainment that packs more visual wonder into its two-and-three-quarter hour run than seems possible.  It is a very good movie.  I say that upfront because any discussion about what does or doesn't work about the movie is going make some people very angry since they've been waiting to see it since 2003.  If a careful appraisal of the films flaws (and there are many) is upsetting to a fan who wants perfection from what they'll see in theaters later this month, then please just skim down and read the positive things I have to say, then go see it for yourself.

When I reviewed "Fellowship Of The Ring," it is safe to say that I lost my ever-lovin' mind for it.

I remain a huge fan of not only that film, but of every combination of footage consisting of "The 'Lord Of The Rings' Trilogy. The theatrical films, the extended editions, the DVD sets, the Blu-ray editions, an upgrade every time.  I think it is a major accomplishment in the history of fantastic filmmaking, drawing on horror, science-fiction, fantasy, and even historical dramas in terms of how it was crafted and paced and designed and executed.  Peter Jackson tried something that no one else had ever done on that scale, and he pulled it off with aplomb.

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Cassadee Pope of NBC's "The Voice".

Cassadee Pope of NBC's "The Voice".

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Top 6 Perform

Each contestant performs twice for the right to make it to the Final Four.

We’re down to the final six contestants on “The Voice”, and we’re at the point at which overall fan bases might start determining who stays and who goes from this point on. Those still in the competition have had ample time by now to establish a body of work by which to be judged, and there’s little stylistic overlap between the remaining competitors at this point. Unless a certain singer really goes out of his or her way to show something new tonight, we can make some strong assumptions about who will be in the Final Four.

 
But I’ll share those assumptions at the end of tonight’s final two-hour installment of the season. (The next two Mondays will be one-hour affairs.) With only six left, look for those still standing to make multiple appearances onstage tonight. I’d imagine we’ll see a combination of solo and group numbers to ensure we don’t witness 120 minutes of Christina Milian reading tweets.
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<p>Daniel Craig in &quot;Skyfall.&quot;</p>

Daniel Craig in "Skyfall."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Satellite Award noms run the gamut from 'Silver Linings Playbook' to 'Skyfall'

'Les Mis' leads with 10 nods, but misses out in directing and writing races

Amid today's mad rush of awards activity, we almost forgot to mention the Satellite Award nominations. I confess I've never been sure entirely sure what these awards represent -- they're voted for by a group called the International Press Academy, but my knowledge ends there -- but they've been cheerfully going their own way for 17 years now, annually coming up with one of the season's more entertaining, eclectic nomination lists.

This year is no exception. Amid the predictable spread of mentions for the likes of "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" -- "Les Mis" leads with 10 nods, though director Tom Hooper was left out -- are wildcard Best Picture nods for "Skyfall" and "The Sessions." More interesting still are crossover nominations for some pretty out-there foreign fare.

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<p>Guillermo Del Toro accepted a special award at the Eyegore Awards this September, and anyone who knows what those are is probably excited to hear he's making a haunted house movie next.</p>

Guillermo Del Toro accepted a special award at the Eyegore Awards this September, and anyone who knows what those are is probably excited to hear he's making a haunted house movie next.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello/Invision

Guillermo Del Toro brings haunted house movie 'Scarlet Peak' back to life

A long-dormant project may be his next film as a director

Guillermo Del Toro's building a haunted house, and I can't wait to move in.

One of the most fertile collaborations of Guillermo's entire career is the work he's done with Matthew Robbins as co-screenwriters.  There is something perversely funny about the notion that "Mimic" is the one thing that they co-wrote that has made it to the screen so far, because that is the least of the work they've done as a team.  They wrote a script called "Montecristo" that is a dark, wicked retelling of "The Count Of Monte Cristo" that floored me when I first read it, and their adaptation of "At The Mountains Of Madness" is a veritable master's class of how to create a sense of creeping dread on the page.

If you're unfamiliar with Robbins, he's been around for a while.  He wrote with Hal Barwood for a while in the '70s on films like "The Sugarland Express" and "Close Encounters," and he wrote and directed "Corvette Summer," "The Legend Of Billie Jean," "*batteries not included," and his best film, "Dragonslayer."  He and Guillermo have a great chemistry on the page, and anytime they set up a new project, it is an exciting prospect.

In this case, Legendary Pictures is picking up a project in turnaround from Universal, who may still end up co-funding the film, and it looks like "Crimson Peak" may well be the next film Guillermo directs, with hopes that they'll kick off production in early 2014.  In the meantime, Lucinda Coxon is going to take a run at the script with input from Del Toro.  I reached out to him today to ask for a little context, and here's what he said:

We wrote it "hush-hush" as a spec in and around 2006.  Universal acquired it by a big spec sum. It was to be my "next"  and then HELLBOY came through and then HOBBIT.   I have been keeping it close to my heart and vest and, fortunately, the interwebs never quite spoke about it.  But when I came out of Hobbit and said I was intending to resurrect a project of yore this and Montecristo were alongside with ATMOM the things I pushed for.

I hope that at some point, "Montecristo" ends up getting made, and of course I'm still praying someone gives them the money to make "At The Mountains Of Madness," but knowing that Guillermo plans to make a Gothic haunted house movie in the near future is more than enough to excite me.  And the best thing about this entire story is that Guillermo is obviously having a great experience with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, and the other fine folks at Legendary Pictures.  I would love for this to finally be the deep-pocketed home he has needed his whole career.

In the meantime, of course, he's got "Pacific Rim" coming out next summer, and his animated take on "Pinocchio," also co-written with Robbins, is in production as well.

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<p>Vince and the East Dillon Lions on &quot;Friday Night Lights,&quot;&nbsp;one of the shows in my book &quot;The Revolution Was Televised.&quot;</p>

Vince and the East Dillon Lions on "Friday Night Lights," one of the shows in my book "The Revolution Was Televised."

Credit: NBC

Still more 'The Revolution Was Televised' link-blogging

The New York Times, Bill Simmons, Matt Seitz and more weigh in on the book

Once again, time for links to recent reviews and interviews about my book, "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever." (The last batch of links is here.) As always, you can find lots more information about the book at AlanSepinwall.com, and buy it in paperback, for Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.

In terms of new reviews, the book is now officially part of The Paper of Record, since Michiko Kakutani at The New York Times liked it. Rich Heldenfels from The Akron Beacon-Journal was also a fan.

In terms of interviews, I reunited with my old partner Matt Zoller Seitz for an epic (10 pages) conversation about the book, the shows in it, and the era that made them possible. And today I made my first appearance in a while on The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons to talk about the book (which was semi-inspired by a previous Simmons podcast with Chris Connelly), "Homeland," and more. 

Glad to see the reaction has been so positive so far. As always, if you have questions, feel free to add them to the comments here or shoot me an email.

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Watch a video teaser for Beyonce's HBO documentary

Hair.

Beyonce's documentary and directorial debut on HBO may not have a name yet, but the excitement builds nonetheless.

The network has released a "special tease" video for the film, which debuts on Feb. 16. From the looks and sounds of it -- the title TBA -- Beyonce's doc is mostly about fear and hair.

"HBO has a history of pushing every boundary with class and authenticity," Beyonce said in a recent statement. "Some of my favorite shows are on HBO, so I am excited that my film will be part of its bold programming. This film was so personal to me, it had to have the right home."

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<p>Ryan Adams</p>

Ryan Adams

Listen: Ryan Adams 'Shines' for Judd Apatow's 'This Is 40' soundtrack

Reworked tune has a live performance sheen

Ryan Adams' "Ashes & Fire" had a lot less production sheen on it than, say, "Easy Tiger." Well, consider his redux of "Shine Through the Dark" to have an even smaller amount of futzing.

The song has been reworked to fit into Judd Apatow's new film "This Is 40," and according to EW, you can expect to see and hear a little more from Adams in "40" than just a line in end credits.

"Shine Through the Dark" -- a live recording -- is another good reason why you'd want to live your life inside of pedal steel, with it's harumphs and sighs lining the sides of this uptempo tune. The track was originally recorded and released for "Live From Nowhere Near You: Volume 2," a charity comp released last year.

Listen to the new "Shine Through the Dark" here.

Fiona Apple's contribution to "This Is 40," "Dull Tool," has been leaked on and off. Keep your ears peeled.

Here is the tracklist for the "This is 40" soundtrack:

1. I’m Your Angel – Yoko Ono
2. Always Judging – Norah Jones
3. What Do You Like? – Graham Parker with Punch Brothers
4. Sick Of You – Lindsey Buckingham
5. Rewrite – Paul Simon
6. Shine Through The Dark (Live) – Ryan Adams
7. Lunch Box Odd Sox – Paul McCartney
8. Brother & Sister – Lindsey Buckingham Featuring Norah Jones
9. Theme 1 (Debbie & Oliver) – Jon Brion
10. Watch The Moon Come Down – Graham Parker & The Rumour
11. Days That We Die – Loudon Wainwright
12. She Acts Like You – Lindsey Buckingham
13. Dull Tool – Fiona Apple
14. Lucky Now (Live) – Ryan Adams
15. I Got You – Wilco
16. Live & Die – The Avett Brothers

Bonus track (digital only):

17. Protection (Live) – Graham Parker & The Rumour

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Listen: Bruno Mars breaks your heart with 'When I Was Your Man'
Credit: Atlantic Records

Listen: Bruno Mars breaks your heart with 'When I Was Your Man'

It's too late to turn back now

When Bruno Mars called his debut album “Doo Wops and Hooligans,” it was clear this was a young artist with a strong sense of the musical history that had gone before him.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The poster for &quot;Sound City&quot;</p>

The poster for "Sound City"

Dave Grohl's 'Sound City' documentary heading to Sundance

'History of the Eagles' headed to Park City, too

In about six weeks, all the mysteries of Dave Grohl's "Sound City" documentary will be revealed, as it premieres at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The Foo Fighters frontman is taking his directorial debut to Park City, Utah for the event running Jan. 17-27. 

The film chronicles the good times had at Sound City Studios, the Van Nuys, Calif., recording palace, its history, and "then explores the human element of music in an age of technology, and features performances of new music created exclusively for the film." Acts like Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, Guns 'N Roses, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails and Metallica have all recorded at Sound City; Grohl's previous, tiny little band Nirvana also laid down their album "Nevermind" there.

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<p>I wonder if they pinched him for speeding.</p>

I wonder if they pinched him for speeding.

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

New 'Man Of Steel' poster sees Superman in handcuffs

A Facebook contest earns fans a sneak peek at a striking new image

I'll say this for the new "Man Of Steel" poster… it's a very different image than I would expect to see on a Superman poster, and that's a good thing.

Zack Snyder recently said that the trailer that is arriving in theaters in front of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is going to be "crazy," and I believe him.  More than anything, I want "Man Of Steel" to shake up the very idea of what a Superman film has been in the past.

Considering just how significant "Superman: The Movie" was to the history of superhero films, you have to acknowledge the bad influence it had as well as the good.  Yes, there is a lovely lead performance by Reeve.  Yes, the second one had very menacing villain characters.  Yes, the John Williams score is one of the best of the genre.  There are things Donner did right that are still being mimicked by directors now.  But the campy tone with the villains, the nonsensical nature of the plots… those things are also still resonating through the new superhero films being made. 

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<p>A scene from &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

A scene from "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tech Support: Greig Fraser on shooting the dead of night in 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Freshly awarded by the NYFCC, the DP discusses the 'guerrilla' feel of the production

One of the callbacks critics are noting vis a vis Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" is Alan J. Pakula's 1976 political thriller "All the President's Men." Both films detail the minutiae of following a process to an end and how that end impacts the psyche of a nation, never shying away from inherent narrative bogging, unfussy in their visual vocabulary. It's no surprise, then, that cinematographer Greig Fraser, who shot "Zero Dark Thirty" for Bigelow, finds such minutiae fascinating.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 159

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 159

Dan and Alan talk 'Walking Dead,' 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Boy Meets World'

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
Not much is new this week, but it's still a busy week on The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. In addition to reviewing a new 30 For 30 doc, talking about the finales of "The Walking Dead" and "Boardwalk Empire" and unpacking a frustrating episode of "Homeland," we also answered four pieces of Listener Mail, including our much-anticipated discussion of "Girl Meets World." You're welcome!
 
Oh and as we mentioned in the podcast, this week's opening music is "Tell Me," the first song on the new album by Numbers and Letters, fronted by HitFix's Katie Hasty. Woot! Download the song here.
 
And here's today's breakdown:
"You Don't Know Bo" (00:01:15 - 00:10:10)
Listener Mail - Young performers and the Emmys (00:10:30 - 00:21:15)
Listener Mail - "Girl Meets World" (00:21:15 - 00:32:30)
Listener Mail - "Under the Dome" (00:32:40 - 00:37:10)
Listener Mail - Slow-playing cancellations (00:37:15 - 00:44:15)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:44:30 - 00:59:20)
"The Walking Dead" (00:59:20 - 01:09:58)
"Homeland" (01:10:00 - 00:1:24:15)
 

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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