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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Is Brandi being honest or libelous on 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills'?

The women discuss what's okay to reveal to the cameras - and what's not

After last week's blow-out on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," this week's episode was positively cuddly by comparison. Kyle has a dinner party, Faye Resnick (whom I don't know beyond her involvement in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and decorating Kyle's dining room, and I'm really not sure which gig most offends my sensibilities) tells Brandi she was cruel to Adrienne, and Brandi leaves. The end. Adrienne never even shows up to said party, not wanting to be face-to-face with Brandi. I guess there's only so many screaming arguments a housewife is contractually required to dive into per season, and Brandi has probably already over delivered. 

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<p>Denis Lavant in &quot;Holy Motors.&quot;</p>

Denis Lavant in "Holy Motors."

Credit: Indomina Releasing

Toronto critics favor 'The Master,' Lavant, Weisz

2012 Toronto Film Critics Association Awards

As you'd expect from a city boasting one of the world's major film festivals, the Toronto Film Critics Association is one of the most discerning and unconventional groups on the block, and so they've again proved with their 2012 picks. Continuing its recent mini-run of critics' prizes, "The Master" takes another Best Picture prize, also nabbing Best Director, Screenplay and Supporting Actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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<p>Sam Riley on &quot;On the Road.&quot;</p>

Sam Riley on "On the Road."

Credit: IFC Films

Roundup: The adaptations that filmed the 'unfilmable'

Also: A.O. Scott declares 'Amour,' and Jeunet's 'Life of Pi'

I'm not sure of Steve Pond's assertion that the adapted screenplay race is significantly "more crowded and competitive" than the original one this year, but I do like his point that judging adaptations can entail a different set of considerations than with originals (one reason I think the Academy gets it right, where many other awards don't, with separate categories). This year's crop, he suggests, "should be judged the same way diving competitions are: with one score for how artful the film is, the other for the degree of difficulty." With several films this year taking on source material once widely tagged with the "unfilmable" label, from "Cloud Atlas" to "On the Road" to "Lie of Pi," Pond talks to the screenwriters who gave the lie to that curious adjective. [The Wrap

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<p>Despite some early qualms on my part, I&nbsp;have to admit Tom Cruise does a hell of a job as 'Jack Reacher'</p>

Despite some early qualms on my part, I have to admit Tom Cruise does a hell of a job as 'Jack Reacher'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Tom Cruise and Chris McQuarrie make 'Jack Reacher' a compelling pulp hero

It may not be the exact adaptation of the Lee Childs character I'd want, but it's slick, savvy fun

Christopher McQuarrie's sole film as writer/director is a jet-black little piece of neo-noir called "The Way Of The Gun."  While it wasn't a hit when it came out, it certainly had its fans, and I was among them.  I liked the uncompromising sensibility of it, the way it seemed unafraid to be horribly nasty, and the streamlined narrative style.  McQuarrie was first established by his script for "The Usual Suspects," of course, and he's remained a frequent collaborator of Bryan Singer, working on both "Jack The Giant Slayer" and "Valkyrie."

Tom Cruise is also a fan of McQuarrie's work, with the writer contributing to "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "All You Need Is Kill," and the most-likely-cancelled "Top Gun 2," and now McQuarrie has finally directed his second film, and he and Cruise have struck paydirt here.  I will admit that I was incredibly skeptical of Cruise for the title role in "Jack Reacher," but I am won over by the film itself, and I feel like this is a really canny way of bringing the work of Lee Child to life.

For those unfamiliar with the seventeen novels featuring the character so far, he is a very calculated creation, a pulp hero that appeals to a sort of hyper-masculine ideal.  In the books, Reacher is a 6'5" muscle-bound ape of a guy who happens to be incredibly intelligent, a keen investigator who retired from active duty in the Army to wander America.  He stumbles into trouble and, like Travis McGee, a sort of "knight errant" chromosome forces him to right any wrongs he stumbles across.  He can't help himself.  He just isn't wired to allow the strong to victimize the weak as long as there's something he can do about it.  He has no luggage, no home, no ties to anything.  He has a bank account where his social security checks are deposited automatically, and he stays on the move constantly.

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<p>The one and only Barbara Streisand.</p>

The one and only Barbara Streisand.

Four minutes with Barbra Streisand (oh, and Seth Rogen too)

A brief interview with one of the most iconic figures of the 20th Century

There are only four times in my life when I've been truly nervous to interview someone "famous." One of those moments actually happened last week.

As a journalist, it's your job not to be intimidated or starstruck by talent. Give the subject a hint that you don't have your wits about you and chances are you'll likely end up with a very crappy story.  Thankfully, video interviews can be edited around fumbling questions and awkward moments.  Even if they are all really  all in your head.

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<p>Malcolm Freberg of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Malcolm Freberg of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Malcolm Freberg talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

Popular fourth place finisher discusses his relationship with Denise and more
Malcolm Freberg may not have won "Survivor: Philippines." That crown went to his alliance-mate Denise.
He also may not have won the audience-voted Player of the Game prize with its cash award. That went to Lisa Whelchel, the former child star who flipped on Malcolm at the Final 4, knowing she couldn't beat him.
Malcolm did, however, win something far less valuable, at least in the short term: The 25-year-old bartender from Hermosa Beach ended the "Survivor: Philippines" season as probably the installment's most respected and best liked player. 
In his "Survivor" run, Malcolm proved to be physically capable, strategically adroit and excelled at puzzles. All the ladies wanted to flirt with him, all of the alpha males wanted to hang out with him and the "Survivor" producers knew that Malcolm was good for a quotable confessional whenever the camera was pointed in his direction. This is the sort of winning-but-not-winning combination that has led to extended open contracts in the "Survivor" family, as one could easily compare Malcolm to such three-time players as Colby or Ozzy.
The Colby comparisons came up in my recaps this season as Malcolm made an early bond with Denise, who seemed destined to become his Tina as they went deeper and deeper into the game. It's a concern that Malcolm admits that he felt as well.
In his exit interview, Malcolm talks about overcoming his horrible original tribe, his frustrations on the jury and his certainty that regardless of what people said at the Reunion show, he'd have beaten Denise if they'd been in the finals together. Oh and, like me, Malcolm remains unhappy with the ball-balancing final Immunity.
Click through for the full conversation...
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Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver II, M.D.

Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver II, M.D. speaks to reporters during a news conference, Dec. 15, 2012

Credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Television coverage of Newtown poses questions but no answers

The media tries to explain the inexplicable to ill effect

I thought twice about posting this. After all, the non-stop media coverage of the mass murders in Newtown on Friday has made it clear that, despite many people yammering away on our television screens, few are saying anything of note. It's hard to fathom what anyone can say about this, a crime beyond reason, but every network has their pundits and reporters working overtime to find angles, offer advice, snag high-profile interviews. It is what we have come to expect during times like these. 

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<p>The &quot;Gossip Girl&quot; finale</p>

The "Gossip Girl" finale

Credit: The CW

'Gossip Girl' finale reveals Gossip Girl and the Upper East Side future

Did you enjoy the big surprise? And all of the cameos?
"Gossip Girl," which concluded its six-season run on The CW on Monday (December 17) night, was never a great show. I'm not sure if it ever was a particularly good show. But for much of its 121 episode run, it was a stylish, entertaining guilty pleasure that offered enough moments of cleverness to compensate for (but never excuse) some astonishingly icky sexual politics.
Titled "New York, I Love You XOXO," Monday's finale mostly steered away from the key plotlines in what has been a largely dismal concluding season.  
Dreadful relationships were discarded or severed or ignored. Twisty revenge schemes were deemed irrelevant or accelerated or ignored. And romantic stumbling blocks were removed with characteristic gracelessness or ignored.
The result? An mostly amusing finale that answered a few questions, tied up arcs in neat bows and featured enough cameos and guest stars to please and distract and placate most fans. 
Did they finally give Chuck Bass a monkey? 
But other than that, I guess I got what I wanted out of the "Gossip Girl" finale, namely a free Monday hour on my DVR and the identity of the enigmatic Gossip Girl.
Click through for some brief thoughts on the "Gossip Girl" finale. I don't write about this show very often, but I've never missed an episode, so I might as well say farewell... With spoilers, duh.
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<p>Joseph Kosinski seems open to the idea of making a third 'TRON' film</p>

Joseph Kosinski seems open to the idea of making a third 'TRON' film

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Joseph Kosinski talks about 'Tron 3' plans and 'Star Wars' rumors

The director of next year's 'Oblivion' dicusses future plans both real and imagined

Joseph Kosinski is a promising filmmaker, and it certainly appears that he'll have plenty of chances to prove himself in the coming years.  His science-fiction thriller "Oblivion" opens in the spring, and the first trailer, featuring Tom Cruise, just made its appearance online last week.

That film was co-written by Michael Arndt, who also wrote "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Toy Story 3" and who quite notably was hired to write "Star Wars - Episode VII," so perhaps it was only natural that there would be some rumors about Kosinski being the likely candidate to direct that film.  After all, pretty much anyone who's ever directed anything involving special effects is going to be rumored to be the director by the time Disney and Lucasfilm eventually make their official announcement, and Kosinski is already in Disney's good graces.

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<p>Josh Gad as Skip in &quot;1600 Penn.&quot;</p>

Josh Gad as Skip in "1600 Penn."

Credit: NBC

'1600 Penn' - 'Putting Out Fires'

What did everybody think of the new NBC comedy?

I posted my review of NBC's "1600 Pennover the weekend. Now it's your turn. What did everybody else think of the new NBC sitcom? Were you happy to see Bill Pullman playing POTUS again? Is this a better vehicle for Jenna Elfman than that CBS sitcom whose title my brain is incapable of remembering, even after I've looked it up? Was Josh Gad's too much like Chris Farley, or did you like that about Skip? And will you watch more when it returns on January 10? (FWIW, I enjoyed the two later episodes more than the pilot.) 

Have at it.


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Nicholas David's fiery performance tonight on "The Voice".

Nicholas David's fiery performance tonight on "The Voice".

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Top 3 Perform

The last three contestants make their final case to the voting public.
Partially because high beings are potentially punishing us, but primarily because NBC wants to milk ratings as long as humanly possible, we have three and a half more hours of “The Voice” to get through before crowning a winner. Look for a big bag of delaying tricks to be unleashed over the night two nights: Guest performers! Old contestants! Casts of upcoming NBC shows! A lengthy debate over the merits of the “Homeland” finale between Christina Aguilera and her fan! Anything’s possible, except a tight, focused end to this season.
Going into tonight, it seems like Cassadee Pope is in the driver’s seat, with Nicholas David and Terry McDermott trying to play catch-up. That makes the song choices tonight key. All Cassadee has to do is “not screw up tremendously” and it seems like she’s the one to beat. But David and McDermott have pulled off surprising performances all season, so if they find just the right interpretation of just the right song, there’s certainly a chance for an upset tomorrow night.
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<p>Alicia Keys in the &quot;Brand New Me&quot;&nbsp;music video.</p>

Alicia Keys in the "Brand New Me" music video.

Credit: RCA

Watch: Alicia Keys and her changing hairdo in 'Brand New Me' video

She's her own woman and don't you forget it

Alicia Keys has had enough of you telling her what to do.

In the video clip for “Brand New Me,” Keys, sporting a full, curly hair-do, as opposed to the sleek bob she’s been seen in recently, walks around a stage singing the song about finding herself and empowerment.

Her sense of self discovery is none too subtle. As she walks along some props, she sits down alongside a klieg light that turns on as she sings to it. Then she looks into a mirror at the Brand New Alicia. She pulls off the wig her handler has insisted she wear at the beginning of the video.

[More after the jump...]

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