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<p>Garth Brooks and George Strait in 2009</p>

Garth Brooks and George Strait in 2009

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

ACM producers spill secrets about the April 7 country awards show

What will Taylor Swift perform? Blake Shelton? Brad Paisley?

Artist pairings will dominate the 48th annual  Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air April 7 on CBS live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, according to executive producer R.A. Clark, ACM CEO Bob Romeo, and CBS exec Jack Sussman, who held a conference call with reporters today.

Among the artist mash-ups to look for and other highlights:

*The show will kick off with Blake Shelton’s upbeat “Boys ‘Round Here.” "The Voice" mentor will be joined by his ACM co-host Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow and Lambert’s two partners in Pistol Annies.

*Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Taylor Swift will perform McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care”

*Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes, and Dierks Bentley will play Paisley’s humorous “Outstanding in Our Field.”

*Stevie Wonder will join Hunter Hayes on one of the legendary R&B artist’s No. 1 hits.

*The producers also spilled the beans on Garth Brooks and George Strait’s first-time ever performance together: Each will perform one of his own hits and then will join together to perform one of the superstars’ hits together. While the producers wouldn’t give specifics, don’t be surprised if the joint song is “Unwound,” Strait’s 1981 hit that a then-teenage Brooks has always credited with making him decide to sing country music. Additionally, per Brooks’ suggestion, the ACM Entertainer of the Decade award, which both Brooks and Strait have won, will be retitled the Dick Clark Entertainer of the Decade Award. The performance, which is billed as a tribute to Dick Clark, will be introduced by Reba McEntire, former ACM host and another Entertainer of the Decade winner.

*Kelly Clarkson will perform “Don’t Rush,” but it’s still to be decided if she will duet with Vince Gill, as she does on the single, or with another artist.

*The chemistry between Shelton, who co-hosted with McEntire the past few years, and his buddy Bryan should result in some colorful moments. The pair has even earned the nickname/hashtag  #bluke.  “Anything can happen,” said Romeo. “I’m so thankful we have a five-second delay.”  Sussman added, “Their personalities is what will drive the tone and tenor of the show.”

The ACMs dipped 6% in the ratings last year, but generally grabs around 13 million viewers for the ceremony.  For its 2015  50th anniversary, the show will move to Dallas’s Cowboy Stadium, but will return to Las Vegas for 2016.


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<p>Chris Brown in &quot;Fine China&quot;</p>

Chris Brown in "Fine China"

Watch: Chris Brown's new song 'Fine China' is Michael Jackson meeting racial conflict

Does it court controversy more than it raises MJ from the dead?

Chris Brown has released the sights and sounds of his new single "Fine China" and in it he seems to purposefully conjure images of Michael Jackson... and starts interracial dating warfare of the future.

Brown has intimated more and more he'd like to foray into film and acting, and "Fine China" is a video that showcases a plot at the very least. It opens with a beautiful girl at war with her father, who does not wish for her to date Brown. (Because what father would.) Brown pulls up to her house in a ridiculous car and she runs out to him, ready for a night on the town.

It then diverges into a mix of "Smooth Criminal" and "Bad," hats, leather, studs, lights and all. Brown and his bros dance for his giggling lady love before an Asian gang shows up, first to a martial-arts-dance-battle, and then they're out for blood, with futuristic guns, more ridiculous cars and dunnn dunn duuuuunnnnnn... the girl's father leading the charge. The mafia is met with Brown's gang outside, everybody's guns locked and stocked, and it ends with a "To Be Continued..." vibe.

Now for subtext: François Chau plays the intimidating father, essentially the same hardass, controlling Asian Father role as his character in "21 & Over."

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<p>Guillermo Del Toro was all smiles as he talked about the journey to bring 'Pacific Rim' to life</p>

Guillermo Del Toro was all smiles as he talked about the journey to bring 'Pacific Rim' to life

Credit: HitFix

Guillermo Del Toro talks about bringing the world of 'Pacific Rim' to life

An exclusive WonderCon interview with one of our favorite geeks on Earth

By far, the best part of my Saturday at WonderCon was standing on the stage and watching the faces of the crowd as they got their first look at the special presentation reel that Warner Bros. brought for "Pacific Rim."

By now, you've probably read accounts of it. I wasn't able to take my sons to WonderCon, mainly because I couldn't figure out how to let them see "Pacific Rim" without them also seeing the footage from "The Conjuring," which would pretty much freak both of them out permanently. Warner Bros. helped me make sure the kids saw the footage, though, and by the time they saw a robot dragging an oil tanker down the street then using it like a baseball bat, they were pretty much out of their minds with excitement. What made Saturday great was seeing grown adults responding with that exact same unfiltered glee.

After we walked off-stage, Guillermo and I stepped into one of the few quiet spots in the entire auditorium and we talked for a few more minutes about the movie and about where he is right now in the process.

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<p>The Cure</p>

The Cure

The Cure, Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, NIN top Lollapalooza 2013 headliners

Vampire Weekend, The Killers and Kendrick Lamar also on Chicago fest bill

Mumford & Sons, The Cure, The Killers, Phoenix, and Nine Inch Nails are among the acts that will play Lollapalooza 2013.

The Aug. 2-4 fest, which takes place at Chicago’s Grant Park, will also include a reunited The Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, New Order, Queens of the Stone Age, The Lumineers, Kendrick Lamar and The National.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Peggy Siegal</p>

Peggy Siegal

Credit: AP Photo

Peggy Siegal on Oscar's build: Hathaway's Valentino snub, Clooney's Dujardin revenge

If you have a little more room for last year's Oscar season...

I read publicity maven Peggy Siegal's Oscar weekend diary at The Huffington Post with the expected mixture of fascination and disgust. You find yourself smiling at the gluttony of Hollywood during awards season until you don't, as the cup of excess runneth over. And Siegal's diary is a perfect record of all that superficiality.

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<p>TBS&nbsp;has extended Conan O'Brien's talk show through November 2015.</p>

TBS has extended Conan O'Brien's talk show through November 2015.

Credit: TBS

TBS renews Conan O'Brien talk show through 2015

'Conan' has drifted into the background of the late night wars, but O'Brien and company get to keep making it

In all the shuffling going on right now in late night talk, Conan O'Brien has become something of a forgotten man. Jon Stewart's taking the summer off to direct a movie. Jimmy Kimmel's in a new timeslot. NBC is preparing to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon, and already speculation has turned to whether CBS will eventually replace David Letterman with Craig Ferguson or try to bring someone in from the outside.

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of Atlanta' recap: Are you Team Kenya or Team Porsha?

Porsha wouldn't dress in character, but was Kenya justified in kicking her out?

Sure, some not-so-important things happen during the season finale of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Phaedra and Kandi test tasers for Phaedra's new product line of pain-inducing electrical equipment (Phaedra Sparks? Well-played, Phaedra). Kordell and Porsha go to therapy (we may have to touch on that later). But really, this episode is all about Kenya's super fabulous, extra special, one-of-a-kind coming out gala. You know, the one we've been hearing about for weeks because Kenya can't stop talking about it. It's not just a gala, mind you. It's meant to make regular galas look like really crappy kiddie parties that don't even have bouncy houses or cupcakes. No, this is the gala to end all galas, the "Star Wars" of galas, the frozen hot chocolate of galas, the most exciting thing to happen in Atlanta since the airport. And peaches. And Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles. We should all just be grateful we can be a part of it through the magic of television. 

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<p>Andrew Lincoln as Rick in &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Andrew Lincoln as Rick in "The Walking Dead." 

Credit: AMC

Season finale review: 'The Walking Dead' - 'Welcome to the Tombs'

The Governor's forces converge on the prison, while Andrea and Milton get a room

A review of "The Walking Dead" season finale coming up just as soon as I know how the safety works...

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<p>Caroline is good at working the pole on &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Caroline is good at working the pole on "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Be Safe and Don't Hit a Cow'

Welcome to Africa... Goats and donkeys.
Darnit, "The Amazing Race." Why can't you keep momentum going? 
Last week's episode sucked, but you came back with a new episode immediately.
This week's episode was really solid, so naturally "The Amazing Race" is taking next Sunday off in favor of one of the 75 country music award shows I'm basically convinced are elaborate charades to help Taylor Swift feel better about her various breakups. 
To that, I can only say, "Boo."
But regarding tonight's episode? An agreeable, "Yay." Sunday's episode featured some amusing and photogenic nature, some interesting and difficult tasks, some previously unexplored travel miscues, minimal cultural myopia and racism and a reasonably exciting conclusion. When folks say that I judge "The Amazing Race" by too high a standard, I say, "Not true." And this can be a good illustration for a solid, engaging episode of "The Amazing Race."
More after the break. Then I'll take a week off. Except for all of the other things I do.
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<p>Kit Harington as Jon Snow in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Season premiere review: 'Game of Thrones' - 'Valar Dohaeris'

It's back to Westeros... and beyond the Wall... and across the Shivering Sea for season 3

"Game of Thrones" is back. I offered a general review of the start of the season on Thursday, and I have specific thoughts on the season premiere, "Valar Dohaeris," coming up just as soon as I drink with the harlots...

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'Game of Thrones' star Isaac Hempstead-Wright discusses hanging with and from Hodor

'Game of Thrones' star Isaac Hempstead-Wright discusses hanging with and from Hodor

Bran finds a new form of transportation this season
Try not to pay too much attention to it, but Isaac Hemsptead-Wright is growing. 
Perhaps more than his "Game of Thrones" siblings Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, Hempstead-Wright has become markedly larger than the wee Bran we watched gambol along the rooftops of Winterfell in the series premiere. Bran does very little gamboling these days, what with his Lannister-induced paralysis, so that means we can't be distracted by his growth when he's standing alongside other characters, but it also means that he's spent a lot of time strapped to the back of Kristian Nairn's Hodor, which'll cause extra problems if/when they're the same height. 
Unavoidably, I brought up the issue with Hempstead-Wright on the recent "Game of Thrones" premiere red carpet in Hollywood. Fortunately, the young actor explains that he goes from Westeros Baby Bjorn to being carted via cart for most of the show's upcoming third season. On Hodor's behalf, we all say, "Whew."
Check out the full interview above with Hempstead-Wright teasing the new season. Check out the full interview above. And you should also check out my red carpet interviews with George R.R. MartinRose LeslieNikolaj Coster-WaldauOona ChaplinNatalia Tena and John Bradley.
Plus, I have a longer -- text only, sorry -- interview with Natalie Dormer
"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO on Sunday, March 31.


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<p>Natalie Dormer and Jack Gleeson of &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;</p>

Natalie Dormer and Jack Gleeson of "Game of Thrones"

Credit: HBO

Interview: 'Game of Thrones' co-star Natalie Dormer discusses her Margaery Tyrell

How is this new aspiring queen different from Anne Boleyn?
Over the past couple weeks, I've been posting my interviews from the "Game of Thrones" red carpet premiere in Hollywood. At the event, I got a couple minutes with many of the show's stars, but the actor I was most disappointed to miss may have been Natalie Dormer. 
The British actress, who I first noticed in "Casanova" and playing Anne Boleyn on the first two seasons of "The Tudors," is giving what I think is one of the most interesting performances in the deep "Game of Thrones" ensemble. 
Dormer's Margaery Tyrell is surprising partially because she has almost nothing in common with the child-bride introduced in the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels. As Dormer plays her, Margaery has an interesting and pragmatic understanding of the game that gives the HBO drama its title. She knows what she has to do to secure her position in Westeros and she's prepared to do it, whether it meant accommodating Renly's secretive sexual orientation or Joffrey's not-so-secretive ickiness. And as the new season begins, Margaery is showcasing a different, even more complicated, side with the help of her feisty grandmother the Queen of Thorns, played by Dame Diana Rigg. 
Having missed her on the red carpet, I got on the phone last week for a longer conversation with deeply invested and fiercely thoughtful actress. 
The full Q&A is after the break. It contains information, but I wouldn't think to call any of it "spoilers." 
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