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A makeshift news studio in Newtown, Conn.

A makeshift television news studio is seen along the Housatonic River in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. 

Credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

TV news can't stop a mass murderer, but it could make a difference

There's no easy fix, but newscasters could take away one 'reward'

This Saturday, PBS will be airing "What Next After Newtown: What Our Country and Communities Can Do" at 3:00 p.m. (check local listings). I'm curious to see this, as I'm sure I share the same sense of powerlessness and frustration a lot of people have had following the events in Newtown last week. Even though I think the problems that lead to mass murder are many, complex and thorny, if there's something I can do, I'd like to know. 

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<p>Fifth Harmony</p>

Fifth Harmony

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 2 Finale - Performances

Demi Lovato, LeAnn Rimes and Little Big Town join the finalists

If you can measure a reality show's clout or buzz by the acts clamoring to be involved with its finale, FOX has to be absolutely terrified by how chilly "The X Factor" is. 

It was previously announced that Thursday's whopping two-hour finale would feature performances by One Direction, who have already performed two songs on "X Factor" this season and owe their entire career to Simon Cowell and the show, and Pitbull, an artist so desperate for exposure that he'd probably appear at a well-attended bar mitzvah.

That was a bad sign.

Then came Wednesday's (December 19) announcement that finalists Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony would duet on tonight's show with LeAnn Rimes, Little Big Town and Demi Lovato, respectively.

That's right. Tonight's big guests are an "X Factor" judge who didn't have anything else to do, a country singer more notorious for tabloid exploits than anything in her recent music output and a reasonably successful country act with only moderate crossover appeal. That's... weak.

Why is Carly Rose Sonenclar being asked to sing with a less vocally gifted singer in a genre she's never displayed any interest in? Is Demi singing with Fifth Harmony because they did one of her songs once? And are they keeping Tate from doing a duet with a female artist because they don't want to alienate voters who think Tate only has chemistry with his wife? 

I'm very confused. 

On to tonight's recap!

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 162: Best TV of 2012

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 162: Best TV of 2012

Dan and Alan go back and forth on their top 10 shows of the year, and then some


It's Top 10 time on the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I go back and forth (in, for some reason, snake draft order) on our respective favorite shows of 2012. You've already seen my list, and the HitFix Television Critics' Poll has Dan's Top 10, but this is us discussing how much we liked various shows, arguing about how high or low they should be ranked, etc. And we even go a bit past the top 10.

There's no rundown this week, because Dan didn't want to individually code segments that overlap anyway, and there really aren't spoilers of note (I think we mention who won the Pawnee City Council election and a few other minor comedy things, but were very careful with regards to the big dramas).

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, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 162 - Best of 2012

Dan and Alan discuss their favorite TV shows of the year


Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it's time for The Firewall & Iceberg's Best of 2012 Podcast.
You may already know our respective Top 10s either from HitFix's TV Critics' Poll or from Sepinwall's Top 10 and Top 20 lists, but you haven't heard us chatter about them.
And yes, we're planning on doing a Worst of 2012 Podcast. It'll probably record this week and then post on Monday as a pre-Christmas treat for those who like that sort of thing!
Please note that I'm not doing a time breakdown for this podcast because it's more than 20 back-and-forth segments on various shows and I'm not eager to go insane. However, we were both fairly conscious of not spoiling plotpoints, particularly when discussing our favorite dramas (we spoil some comedy stuff, but that's probably OK...). I can't guarantee that you can listen to this podcast and remain 100% pure on spoilers on shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" and "Homeland," but I think we're close to 98 percent pure. Maybe 99 percent?


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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<p>Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio on the set of &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio on the set of "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Ben Affleck and Chris Terrio on 'Argo,' the Middle East and the root of all drama

The director and writer of one of the season's biggest hits discuss their process

NEW YORK -- When he made his way into the director's chair for a new phase in his career, Ben Affleck always assumed that if he came across an existing script, he would likely just take over and re-write it. And of course, he has the credentials: an Oscar for co-writing "Good Will Hunting" with Matt Damon goes a long way toward legitimizing his talent as a writer. But when "Argo" was fired across his bow by Smoke House honchos Grant Heslov and George Clooney, that wasn't the case.

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<p>Ed Burns at the world premiere of &quot;Man on a Ledge&quot; last January.</p>

Ed Burns at the world premiere of "Man on a Ledge" last January.

Credit: AP Photo

Ed Burns and Tom Rothman topline Sundance Film Festival's 2013 Dramatic Jury

Davis Guggenheim will participate on the U.S. documentary jury

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is a little under a month a way and while the festival's complete slate is now known, the juries had remained a mystery until today.  

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: FOX

Bruno Mars' 'Locked Out Of Heaven' continues its lock on Billboard Hot 100

Rihanna's 'Diamonds' remains at No. 2

Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” locks up the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row.

The move makes him one of only nine male soloists to spent at least two weeks with his first four singles, according to Billboard (Billboard counts his feature on B.o.B.’s “Nothing On You” in its tally).

“Heaven” reigns over former chart topper, Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” which is No. 2 for the second consecutive week. The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey”  climbs 4-3, switching places with Ke$ha’s “Die Young.” As Billboard notes, part of “Die Young’s” drop-off comes from a number of stations’ decisions to decrease airplay of the song following the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings.

Maroon 5’s “One More Night” stays at No. 5, while Flo Rida’s “I Cry” also remains in the same spot at last week, at No. 6.

Rounding out the Top 10, Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat,” featuring Nicki Minaj rises 9-7, Phillip Phillips’ “Home” falls 7-8, fun.‘s “Some Nights” drops 8-9 and Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” zooms five places to No. 10.

As the Christmas freeze goes into effect with few new singles going to radio through the holidays, the highest debut belongs to newly-crowned “The Voice” victor, Cassadee Pope, whose version of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” bows at No. 40.


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"Cheer Perfection"

 "Cheer Perfection"

Credit: TLC

Exclusive: Like 'Honey Boo Boo'? Catch this 'Cheer Perfection' preview

The producers of 'Toddlers & Tiaras' bring us more little kids and mean moms

The producers of "Toddlers & Tiaras" and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" are bringing us another series bubbling over with tarted up little girls and mean moms, and HitFix is bringing you an exclusive clip right here, right now. "Cheer Perfection" (premiering Wed. Dec. 19 at 10:00 p.m.) follows tiny cheerleaders as they compete for a shot at a big, national competition. Or something. Since a one-off episode aired to 1.1 million viewers in July, we're betting this show will follow in the footsteps of its can't-look-away, ratings-snaring predecessors. 

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio can't help but celebrate at the placement of 'Django Unchained' on this year's Top Ten list.</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio can't help but celebrate at the placement of 'Django Unchained' on this year's Top Ten list.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Freaky Frenchmen, troubled teens, and rowdy racists all find a place on our 2012 Top Ten List

From Leos Carax to Judd Apatow, our ten favorite films of the year

It's that time of year, and we will indeed have plenty of lists for you here on HitFix.  Greg Ellwood ran his ten favorite films of 2012 yesterday, we're working on a collective "worst of" list, and I've got at least three end of the year articles coming in the days ahead.  For now, though, it's time for the big one, the main list, the top ten.

I love that our amazing video team (Michiel Thomas and James Jhun don't get nearly enough credit for all the outstanding work they do for us each and every day, and at this time of the year in particular, they are working around the clock to get everything ready) puts these together as video pieces for us.  It's a great way to take one last fond look at the ten films that defined 2012 for me, the movies that most directly spoke to my experience, my tastes.

There are films on this list that I have had heated arguments about this year, movies that have polarized viewers in some cases.  As always, the rules for an appearance on this list are simple:  it has to be a new movie that I saw in 2012.  Some of these were festival films, some of them had massive wide releases, and all of them made an impression on me.  If they haven't played your area yet, please don't get upset about it and yell at me.  Just consider it a heads up, something to keep an eye out for in the near future.

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<p>&quot;Community,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;New Girl&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Boardwalk Empire&quot;&nbsp;all made my top 20 for 2012.</p>

"Community," "New Girl" and "Boardwalk Empire" all made my top 20 for 2012.


TV Top 20 of 2012: 'New Girl' & 'Boardwalk Empire' lead the best of the rest

An abundance of great comedies and dramas marked the year in television
Last week, I published my 2012 Top 10 list — which became one vote of many in HitFix's First Annual Television Critics' Poll — and noted in the introduction that there was a very clear top six for me, and that, after that, there was a cluster of a dozen-odd shows that I could have put in any order on any given day and felt that those four in particular deserved to be there.
And yet in the days that followed, I’ve been nagged by thoughts of having omitted “New Girl,” or “Boardwalk Empire,” or “Justified” or some others that narrowly missed the cut. In years past, I’ve tried to spread the wealth by doing multiple Top 10 lists — usually one for new shows, and one for returning — but this was a much stronger year for veterans than rookies (even with two first-year shows making the Top 10). So instead, I decided to take a page from Fienberg, who annually does a Second 10 list, and write for a while about the shows that didn’t quite make it into the Top 10, but were awesome nonetheless.
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<p>Eliza Coupe as Jane on &quot;Happy Endings.&quot;</p>

Eliza Coupe as Jane on "Happy Endings."

Credit: ABC

Review: 'Happy Endings' - 'No-Ho-Ho'

Brad tries to separate Christmas from Jane's birthday, and Dave plays gift whisperer for Penny

A quick review of last night's "Happy Endings" coming up just as soon as I explain "Tremé" to you...

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<p>Ivan &amp; Alyosha let it snow</p>

Ivan & Alyosha let it snow

Credit: Kyle Dean Reinford

Premiere: Ivan & Alyosha trot out 'Rebel Jesus' for the holidays

Roots-pop crew debut a live performance ahead of 'All the Times We Had'

Ivan & Alyosha have partnered with a couple auspicious sources this fall, first with the Missing Pieces and Dualtone labels, and next with "Rebel Jesus."

The first, aforementioned joint venture marks them as labelmates with Immaculate Noise favorites Shovels & Rope and recent Grammy nominees The Lumineers. The band will now be releasing its full-length debut, "All the Times We Had," on Feb. 26, led by the single "Running for Cover."

Rootsy "Rebel Jesus," on the other hand, is a highlight for a different reason: the season. This holiday-inspired Jackson Browne cover is yet another firm sample of the band's refined vocals and ageless pop affinities, plus a perfectly level-headed excuse to bust out the jingle bells. As implied by its title, this "heathen and a pagan" have more than garland and red-nosed reindeer on their minds as the the rip into the mildest guitar solo of all time.

The live performance was filmed at Seattle studio Avast!, where "All the Times We Had" was recorded. It was also mixed by Jesse Lauter, who did the same duties last year for The Low Anthem. So there's that.

After Christmas cheer, look forward to this solid album.

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