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2013 Best Director Contenders: From Ben Affleck to Robert Zemeckis

2013 Best Director Contenders: From Ben Affleck to Robert Zemeckis

A varied field of filmmakers makes the push for Oscar recognition this year

Moving right along through the season's major Oscar categories, we come today to the Best Director field. A wide and varied field of contenders is represented, from intimate dramas to CGI blockbusters and everything in between.

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<p>President Barack Obama, NJ&nbsp;Gov. Chris Christie and local officials discuss the relief efforts in Sandy-struck New Jersey on Wednesday, Oct. 31.</p>

President Barack Obama, NJ Gov. Chris Christie and local officials discuss the relief efforts in Sandy-struck New Jersey on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Contender Countdown: A sprint after Hurricane Sandy and the Election

is it just a three-way race?

"Is it over yet?" 

Usually, that's a common refrain you hear during awards season at the beginning of February after countless pseudo awards shows, screenings, cocktail parties, interviews and film festivals.  Instead, it seems to be the nation's collective mindset about the upcoming presidential election.  Since the conventions at the end of August, the nation's attention has been distracted or bombarded by election coverage, debates and commercials.  And while few of the latter even air in Los Angeles, the movie industry is spending just as much time checking the latest poll results as a soccer mom in Kansas might be. Compound the last few months with three highly rated debates and 72 hours of Hurricane Sandy coverage (and concern) and you'll understand why it sort of feels like this year's Oscar race has been in a bit of a holding pattern.

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<p>A scene from Wednesday's &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

A scene from Wednesday's "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'Not the Only Actor On This Island'

Would secrets and lies be revealed after a Merge?
Pre-credit sequence. Team Jeff Kent returns to Kalabaw camp. "Denise, we have to give you a break from this Tribal nonsense," Penner tells the Matsing exile, who has been at every Tribal Council this season and has begun to suspect she may be cursed. Jeff Kent's figuring Penner is going to help him out eventually, which is why he went against Katie at the last vote. "Thanks guys, for not voting with her," says Penner, who was surprised that anybody had voted against him. Penner had briefly forgotten that people in "Survivor" lie, but now he's got his eyes and ears open. "I'd be ridiculously stupid not to," he says.
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Credit: ABC

'Nashville' recap: 'We Live in Two Different Worlds'

Juliette finds out how much a bottle of nail polish will really cost her

So, as we know from the promos that have been plastered all over ABC, this episode will focus on Juliette's undoing. Last week we saw her steal a bottle of nail polish, and now the video of that self-destructive moment has gone viral. Let the fallout begin! I have to wonder what it's going to take for Juliette to recover from this screw-up, especially since we know that in real life she's hardly to sweet country princess she pretends to be. Maybe she can save some puppies from drowning during a natural disaster or something. 

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"American Horror Story"

 "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story' recap: 'Nor'easter'

Dr. Arden and Shelly have a horrifying encounter and Bloody Face gets a twist

Well, that didn't take long. Just three episodes in, and the second season of "American Horror Story" (Wed. 10:00 p.m.) has started to give me nightmares. Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with the creepy timing of tonight's episode. The asylum is hit by a monster storm, and the episode is called, yes, "Nor'easter." Which is, by the way, part of the weather system that created Frankenstorm Sandy (the other part was pure hurricane). It would probably be especially spooky for some people in New York and New Jersey, but their power's still out.

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<p>Luke, Leia and Han may belong to Disney now, but their earlier adventures are still trapped in a tractor beam by 20th Century Fox.</p>

Luke, Leia and Han may belong to Disney now, but their earlier adventures are still trapped in a tractor beam by 20th Century Fox.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Don't expect to see the original editions of 'Star Wars' on Blu-ray any time soon

The Disney/Lucasfilm has people excited, but for the wrong reasons

One of the first reactions yesterday across the Internet was rejoicing about the Disney/Lucasfilm deal because fans immediately assumed that Disney would make all their dreams come true of a Blu-ray release for the unaltered original 1977 version of "A New Hope."

Well, don't hold your breath.

Home video rights are a tricky thing, and in this case, fans can be forgiven for their immediate assumption.  After all, Disney bought Lucasfilm, right?  The problem is that there are existent deals in place concerning the first six films and the "Clone Wars" television series that aren't going to suddenly change just because of this sale.  Those obligations are going to be playing themselves out for several years to come.

In the case of the "Star Wars" movies, the earliest Disney would have a chance to release anything would be in the year 2020, and even then, they aren't going to have the rights to "A New Hope," which remain with Fox permanently.  Now, sure, companies can work out deals to release movies that other studios made.  The new James Bond box set, for example, is a Fox release even though MGM is the studio that has made those movies and Sony is currently releasing the new titles.  And the Alfred Hitchcock box that just came out from Universal features several Paramount and MGM titles as well.  It's certainly not unheard of, and I'm sure Disney would love to work it out.

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<p>Betcha you're missing Steve Jones right now</p>

Betcha you're missing Steve Jones right now

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Performances - The Top 16

Plus, Mario Lopez and Khloe Odom Kardashian make their hosting debuts

It's been six weeks and 12 episodes worth of Auditions and Boot Camp and Judges' Houses and all of the various preliminary steps, but "The X Factor" is finally ready to bring on the live performances.

Wednesday (October 31) night's episode features performances from the Top 16, which inexplicably isn't being treated as the "finals." No, we're going to have Wednesday's performances and then eliminations on Thursday and *that* group of contestants -- 12 individuals/groups -- will be the Finalists. Why does "12" scream "Finalists" and "16" says "Random Intermediate Grouping"? I have no idea. You'd have to take it up with FOX or Simon Cowell.

In any case, click through for my usual "X Factor" recap, including performance reviews, plus any brilliant additions courtesy of new hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian Odom...

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<p>Jessica Chastain in &quot;Zero Dark Thirty.&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Long Shot: A hazy shade of winter

Should the annual December glut of prestige fare be discouraged?

Spot question: What do the last seven winners of the Best Picture Oscar all have in common? Chances are you won't find many narrative, practical or technical common points between the lot of them, but there is this: none of them were first released Stateside in December. Yes, “The Artist” and “The King's Speech” only narrowly count by virtue of their limited Thanksgiving releases, but the point is that they, too, got in just ahead of the traditional Christmastime glut of prestige fare that has become inseparable from Oscar season.

In every year since the last-minute sneak attack by “Million Dollar Baby” in the 2004 season, the overstuffed Christmas stocking that is the December release calendar has produced contenders and nominees aplenty – as well as the high-profile misfires that are an equally inevitable part of the season. But when it comes to actually choosing their favorite of favorites, the Academy has recently proved that its collective memory can extend at least a little beyond the eggnog fog.

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<p>Beyonce and Miguel</p>

Beyonce and Miguel

Credit: Instagram

Beyonce hits the studio with Miguel

Dreams come true, folks

Hey, it's not just that Miguel has put out what is possibly one of the best R&B albums this year. But his hard work (and those VOCALS, oh the vocals) have caught more than just my and 64,999 other album buyers' attentions.

Miguel Tweeted and Instagrammed a photo of himself standing next to a smiling Beyonce yesterday. The two appear to be in the studio -- and considering Miguel has penned for acts like Usher before and earned Grammy nominations for his performances, dude's got the chops to work with one of the most popular female singers today.

The songwriter/producer has apparently been writing for a whole crop of Virgos this month, according to his Tweet (Beyonce's b-day was on Sept. 4): 

Beyonce is on tap to perform during the Super Bowl Halftime Show in February, and you can bet your bottom dollar that she'll be promoting something new at that time. If Ryan Tedder is to be believed, Bey's got two "projects" in the works. Now that she dropped from Clint Eastwood's "A Star Is Born" reboot, some time has been freed up for other projects, including a documentary about her own life. Diane Warren is also proclaimed to be writing tunes for the superstar.

Miguel released "Kaleidoscope Dream" in late September.

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<p>Maroon 5</p>

Maroon 5

Credit: AP Photo

Maroon 5's 'One More Night' makes it seven weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100

Rihanna sets another milestone this week

Maroon 5 gets a Halloween treat as “One More Night” logs its seventh week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. That means the trick is on Psy, whose “Gangnam Style” is locked at No. 2 for six weeks.

It’s looking tough for “Style” to ascend to the top spot as “Night” continues to gain in airplay, while “Style” is starting to lose it. However, “Style” has digital sales and streaming on its side: it outranks “Night” in both.

Also holding its place is fun.’s “Some Nights” which hangs out at No. 3. Ke$ha’s “Die Young lifts one spot to No. 4 and Rihanna’s “Diamonds” shimmies and shines up three places to No. 5.

“Diamonds” is Rihanna’s 16th Top 5 hit. Only four women, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston, have logged more Top 5 hits than she, according to Billboard.

Rounding out the Top 10, Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” featuring Big Sean stays at No. 6. Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” no longer remains locked out of the Top 10, as it leaps 15-7. Alex Clare’s “Too Close” falls one notch to No. 8, while Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You” holds at No. 9.  Chris Brown’s “Dont Wake Me Up” rises 11-10 to known Pink’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” out of the Top 10.

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<p>A scene from&nbsp;&quot;Moonrise&nbsp;Kingdom&quot;</p>

A scene from "Moonrise Kingdom"

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support Interview: Adam Stockhausen on hand-making the world of 'Moonrise Kingdom'

The production designer of Wes Anderson's latest details the experience

After serving as production designer Mark Friedberg's art director on 2007's "The Darjeeling Limited," Adam Stockhausen went on to design a number of commercials for director Wes Anderson over the last five years. In that time, the relationship strengthened and Anderson eventually tapped him to design his latest feature, "Moonrise Kingdom," and all the New England quirks and Boy Scout flourishes that would come with it.

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<p>Skylar Grey and Eminem</p>

Skylar Grey and Eminem

Skylar Grey recruits Eminem to exec produce long-delayed album

Plus, Eminem has some album news of his own

We’ll believe it when we see it, but Skylar Grey’s long-delayed debut album, now titled “Don’t Look Down,” has a new Spring 2013 release date, and Eminem has signed on as executive producer.

Eminem will be featured on the new single, “C’mon Let Me Ride,” which comes out Dec. 11. Alex Da Kid produced the track and both he and Eminem mixed it.  In a press release, Grey calls the song “fun and sarcastic.”

As you may recall, Grey’s album was supposed to come out in 2011. At that time, it was called “Invisible,” and Interscope even released the title track. Sounds like much of that work has been scrapped since Interscope refers to “C’mon Let Me Ride” as “the first single” from the album. We also don’t know what’s happening with a track she recorded in 2011 with Marilyn Manson called “Can’t Haunt Me.”

Grey, as you know, has already been nominated for five Grammys, mostly for co-writing Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna. She also co-wrote and appeared on Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor.” She currently appears on two Slaughterhouse tracks and on her own tune,  “Building a Monster,” from the “Frankenweenie” soundtrack.

In the press release, Grey explains the delay: “Putting out a debut album is a bit scary—I want it to be just right, so I took some extra time to finish it. Eminem’s increased involvement has been such a blessing; I’m getting guidance from an artist I really admire and trust. Having written many new songs, the album has become a completely different animal, hence the title change.”

Not that an artist isn’t entitled to change her mind, but when Grey spoke with Hitfix’s Katie Hasty in an interview that ran in September 2011, she was reluctant to record with Em because “I didn’t want to do what people expected.” Looks like that changed. 

In other Eminem news, earlier this week he somewhat cryptically may have announced that he’ll have a new album out as well in 2013.

A new Eminem baseball cap came out Monday, available through his website, and it has dates for each of the years that he has released a solo album. For example, there’s a 1996 for “Infinite” and 2010 for “Recovery.” Now there’s a 2013.  The cap is styled like a Detroit Tigers’ cap, and we know that’s Eminem’s hometown team, so either he’s trying to tell us something or hoping that the Tigers can seal the deal next year after losing the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in four straight.


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