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<p>Jennifer Hudson</p>

Jennifer Hudson

Watch: 'Smash's' Jennifer Hudson belts new song 'I Can't Let Go'

Singer channels Whitney Houston on new track

While there will never be another Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson has proven to be the closest heir apparent among the current crop of female divas. She has a voice that just won’t quit and an emotional fervor that she brings to each song without ever appearing overwrought.

Watch the below clip from “Smash” as her character, Veronica “Ronnie” Moore sings “I Can’t Let Go,” a power ballad written by “Smash’s” composers/executive producers Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman. Hudson, rooted in one spot, is riveting.  It feels like a sure bet for an Emmy nod

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys</p>

Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys

Credit: Katie Hasty

Black Keys head into studio for new album and book tour with Flaming Lips

Band taking the summer off

The Black Keys will be heading into the studio this week, to start work on the follow-up to 2011's "El Camino." Maybe Wayne Coyne can be involved: the Flaming Lips will be playing a handful of shows with the 'Keys in a co-headlining tour this spring.

In an interview with MOJO, the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach said that they plan to complete a new set by early spring. "We're going to start making the new album in the second week of January and we're hoping to have it done by some time in March," he said [via NME]. "The record isn't written yet, we'll do it when we get into the studio. This is when we both work best, when we're dying to make an album. All of our records take place in the studio, in that we make stuff up while we're there."

Of course, Auerbach now runs his own studio, Easy Eye, based in Nashville, so keep an eye out for him and drummer Patrick Carney. It was back in October that Carney told CBS Local that the duo is hoping to release it this year, with Danger Mouse back behind the decks. "[An album] is definitely gonna happen in 2013. It’s just a matter of how long it takes us to make the album and deciding when we want to get back on the road."

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<p>&quot;The&nbsp;Hobbit:&nbsp;An Unexpected Journey&quot;</p>

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'The Hobbit,' 'Avengers' and 'Life of Pi' lead Visual Effects Society nominations

Four of the Academy's bake-off finalists shut out

Last week the visual effects branch of the Academy held its annual bake-off. The seven films in competition were "The Amazing Spider-Man," "The Avengers," "Cloud Atlas," "The Dark Knight Rises," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "John Carter," "Life of Pi," "Prometheus," "Skyfall" and "Snow White and the Huntsman." Of those 10, "Cloud Atlas," "John Carter," "Skyfall" and "Snow White and the Huntsman" were shut out of today's Visual Effects Society nominations. So take that as you will for Oscar prospects.

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<p>John&nbsp;Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben&nbsp;Affleck in &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Online Film Critics Society goes with 'Argo,' PTA

Day-Lewis, Chastain, Hoffman and Hathaway make good again

The Online Film Critics have jumped on the increasingly-strong "Argo" bandwagon and handed the film its Best Picture prize for 2012. Paul Thomas Anderson nabbed Best Director after his film, "The Master," led the way with nominations. Philip Seymour Hoffman was also recognized for his work in the film. Daniel Day-Lewis and Jessica Chastain won top acting honors and Anne Hathaway picked up yet another prize for her performance in "Les Misérables." Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of it all at The Circuit.

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<p>On &quot;Happy Endings,&quot;&nbsp;something about Jane's friend seems awfully familiar.</p>

On "Happy Endings," something about Jane's friend seems awfully familiar.

Credit: ABC

Morning TV Round-Up: 'Bob's Burgers' & 'Happy Endings'

Leg waxing, laser tag and bird autopsies?

Press tour eats into a lot of my TV-watching and reviewing time (much of what I write this week, review-wise, will be of shows I screened before I came to tour), but I did manage to catch last night's episodes of "Bob's Burgers" and "Happy Endings," and have a few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I mount a dead fly from my windowsill production of "Pippin"...

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<p>Chris Pine in &quot;Jack Ryan&quot;</p>

Chris Pine in "Jack Ryan"

Credit: Paramount

Set Visit Preview: Kenneth Branagh and Chris Pine are rebooting 'Jack Ryan'

Kevin Costner notes why Pine is perfect for the Tom Clancy hero
LONDON - If franchise rebooting were hip-hop, Jack Ryan would be the Sugar Hill Gang -- maybe not the first on the block, but certainly far enough ahead of the curve to look cool.
 
Tom Clancy's dogged CIA analyst, whose rise in the literary series would take him all the way to the White House, was played by a svelte Alec Baldwin in "Hunt For Red October," became Harrison Ford for a couple '90s hits and then was embodied by Ben Affleck in "Sum of All Fears."
 
It's early October in London and Jack Ryan is being rebirthed for a new generation under the careful watch of director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, as well as producer Mace Neufeld, who has had a hand in each of the franchise's previous incarnations.
 
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<p>Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in &quot;Justified.&quot; </p>

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in "Justified."

Credit: FX

Review: In 'Justified' season 4, Raylan Givens investigates a mystery

An Arlo Givens-related cold case ties together the FX drama's new season
FX treats its hit “American Horror Story” not as an ongoing drama series but a collection of miniseries, all operating under the same title, and often using the same actors, but as different characters, in different settings, exploring different corners of the horror universe.
 
FX’s “Justified,” which returns tomorrow night at 10, is clearly not an “American Horror Story”-style anthology. The hero is always Timothy Olyphant as 21st century gunslinger Raylan Givens, the setting is always the cities and hollers of Kentucky, and there’s now an enormous cast of characters who continue along with Raylan.
 
Yet watching the first two episodes of “Justified” season 4, I couldn’t help feeling like “Justified” showrunner Graham Yost is using an approach to each season that’s a distant cousin to what’s happening over at “American Horror Story.” “Justified” will always be a show about the fastest gun east of the Mississippi, but each year the show reinvents itself in the kinds of stories it tells about Raylan and friends.
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<p>Alicia Vikander in &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;</p>

Alicia Vikander in "Anna Karenina."

Elizabeth Olsen and Alicia Vikander feature on BAFTA's female-heavy Rising Star list

'Life of Pi' newcomer Suraj Sharma is the lone male nominee

The BAFTA Rising Star Award, the one prize subjected to a public vote at the UK's answer to the Oscars, can be a frustrating business. More often than not, it pits a host of gifted young actors against one contender with a higher profile among Britain's youthful texting masses, rendering the competition a bit flat -- and the outcome often a bit iffy. Noel Clarke over Michael Fassbender? Adam Deacon over anyone? We may routinely complain about awards bodies' decisions, but it still beats hearing the people sing.

This year, however, the BAFTA jury charged with compiling the nominees appears to have safeguarded against that problem with a discerning, evenly matched shortlist of names, most of whom will be unfamiliar to multiplex crowds.

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<p>Lea Seydoux in &quot;Sister.&quot;</p>

Lea Seydoux in "Sister."

Credit: Adopt Films

Roundup: Is the foreign-language category still broken?

Also: Haneke out of home awards, and an Oscar for the director of 'Contraband?'

The Best Foreign Language Film race so far has proceeded with a minimum of the usual controversy: most countries' selections were met with approval, and the Academy's eventual shortlist is a credible one. Still, dissatisfaction lingers, whether it's with the overwhelmingly European slant of this year's shortlist, or the one-film-per-country rule. Mark Olsen speaks to the directors and distributors of this year's shortlisted films to get their take on the fundamentally flawed award. Jeff Lipsky, head of "Sister" distributor Adopt Films has this to say: "The category is called best foreign language film, not best foreign language film as selected by an overly politicized committee in every nation of the world." (He also describes the widespread presumption that "Amour" is going to win an "inexplicable manifest avalanche.") [LA Times

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<p>Emma Stone at last year's Academy Awards ceremony.</p>

Emma Stone at last year's Academy Awards ceremony.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane to announce Oscar nominees

A break from the usual tradition - should we expect some banter?

I'm not aware of this news breaking in any other format, so I guess it fell to Seth MacFarlane's Twitter feed to announce that he and Emma Stone will be announcing the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards at 5am PST on Thursday.

This marks a break from tradition in a few ways. As long I've been watching the Oscars, it has been the president of the Academy who has delivered the crack-of-dawn news, joined by a former Oscar winner or nominee. (Recently, Jennifer Lawrence, Mo'Nique, Anne Hathaway and Forest Whitaker have all had the bleary-eyed pleasure.)

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<p>Godzilla's last major film appearance was in 'Godzilla:&nbsp;Final Wars,' but he's revving up for a return that should hit theaters next year.</p>

Godzilla's last major film appearance was in 'Godzilla: Final Wars,' but he's revving up for a return that should hit theaters next year.

Credit: Toho Films

Exclusive: 'Godzilla' loses two producers but gains a start date

Legendary's take on the classic character is getting ready to start production

It looks like Godzilla's path of destruction en route to a start date for the Legendary Pictures update of the classic Toho monster has claimed two new victims, as producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee depart the project this week.

Both Lin and Lee are major production partners for Warner Bros, and I'm sure they're both plenty busy with other upcoming films.  Lin, for example, is a producer on the "Lego" movie that is in production now, he's part of the ongoing "Sherlock Holmes" series, and he's attached to remakes of Stephen King's "It" and the anime series "Death Note," both in development.  Most importantly, he's part of the team working to figure out "Justice League."  Lee is partnered with Lin on "Death Note" and "It," and he's currently busy with plenty other projects like the "Oldboy" remake, the "Poltergeist" update, a sequel to "The Woman In Black," and a brand new "Battle Royale."

Recently, there was an event on the studio lot where director Gareth Edwards put together a show-and-tell in one of the stages on the Warner lot to walk the studio through his vision of the film, and it went well enough that the studio now seems committed to a March start date for the film.

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<p>Katharine McPhee in &quot;Smash.&quot;</p>

Katharine McPhee in "Smash."

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: 'Smash' producers discuss season 2 revamp

New actors! A new musical! 'Bigger'! 'Younger'!

At NBC's executive press tour session this morning, network chairman Bob Greenblatt referred to "Smash" as "an unqualified success." When I asked him to qualify the success of a show that replaced its creator with a new showrunner, got rid of several castmembers, hired several new ones, is changing the stories and otherwise undergoing a significant creative revamp, Greenblatt insisted, "I can't qualify unqualified success."

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