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At this time of year, it's good to be reminded that contemporary TV offers such a cornucopia of riches. This past year, in particular, has offered plenty to give thanks for -- in terms of both what's on the air and what is not. Among the things I'm thankful for:

That "The Flash" is actually good.

That recent, pricelessly funny Billy Bob Thornton guest spot as a lovelorn urologist-to-the-stars on "The Big Bang Theory."

That I don't work at the "Today" show.

That David E. Kelley is writing a TV show for Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman to star in.

That this is the last season for "Two and a Half Men."

That "Seinfeld" reruns still hold up pretty well.

That Casper Kelly made '80s sitcom parody "Too Many Cooks." Whether or not you like the finished product -- and it's often pretty disgusting -- I'm glad someone had the impulse to make it.

That Norman Lear squelched a proposed reboot of "All in the Family." Let Lear's original classic show stand untarnished.

That no one is writing mean tweets about me for me to read aloud on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

That we still have a few more months of David Letterman, and one more month of "The Colbert Report."

That Jon Stewart hasn't quit his day job to become a film director for good yet.

That MTV2 still airs reruns of "The PJs." (And that "PJs" scribe Larry Wilmore is the one taking over Stephen Colbert's slot on Comedy Central.)

That the upcoming "Osbournes" reboot is just a limited series.

That Ioan Gruffudd finally got something interesting to do on TV, on "Forever."

That my remote has a working fast-forward button.

That AMC still shows the occasional "Breaking Bad" marathon.

That the daytime news and chat shows can turn on a dime from the Ferguson outrage to holiday pie recipes. There's something oddly comforting in the notion that, not only are the news shows no longer able to distinguish the serious from the trivial, but they no longer even try.

That Frances McDormand and RIchard Jenkins were so terrific in "Olive Kitteridge." (And that HBO made it in the first place.)

That Laurie Metcalf ("The McCarthys"), Scott Bakula ("NCIS: New Orleans"), and Judd Hirsch ("Forever") are back on primetime.

That "The Mindy Project" hasn't been canceled yet.

That the window between a movie's theatrical release and the time it appears on premium cable is down to about eight months.

That Steven Soderbergh came out of quasi-retirement long enough to shoot a whole season of "The Knick." (And that Clive Owen starred in it.)

That I got to enjoy five seasons of Steve Buscemi and Michael Kenneth Williams, as Nucky and Chalky, on "Boardwalk Empire."

That "South Park," now in its 127th season, has yet to jump the shark.

That Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Allison Tolman were so perfect on "Fargo." (And that the series wasn't even more gruesome than it was.)

That Benedict Cumberbatch still does TV.

That HBO Go lets me watch entire runs of defunct series like "The Wire." Someday, I'll actually take advantage of that opportunity, I promise.

That Netflix picked up the ball NBC dropped and will make Tina Fey's new series, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," starring Ellie Kemper.

That Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter are still on TV. Not that I always watch them; it's just a comfort to know that they're there, making mischief.

That there are still a few episodes of "Newsroom" left to air before Aaron Sorkin quits writing for TV.

That, in a world of crime and terrorism and chaos,Tom Selleck's mustache and Mandy Patinkin's beard remain islands of stability and reassurance.

That they keep bringing back that commercial with the Hershey Kisses as musical holiday bells, every year.

That we still have upcoming seasons of "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards," "Downton Abbey," and "Archer," among others, to look forward to.


For some inexplicable reason, most television shows (especially '90s sitcoms) feel the need to bestow holiday-themed episodes upon their viewers, and let's just say it's a curse and a blessing. Of course holiday episodes can be a great excuse to cozy up with the family, shove a bunch of gingerbread into your face, and watch your favorite characters enjoy a bit of festive goodness, but some shows miss the magical mark in a major way. Check out a few unforgettably horrible holiday episodes from your favorite (or, possibly least favorite) series, most of which are so bad that they're good. Also, it goes without saying that this list was approved by The Grinch.

"Ghost Whisperer" - Holiday Spirit
You know what screams Christmas? Watching Jennifer Love Hewitt discover that Santa Claus is actually a ghost while trying to determine whether or not he's "naughty or nice." Whoever wrote this episode needs to be given some kind of life time achievement award immediately. Also, let's hope no kiddos see this episode, or they might risk having their childhoods inadvertently ruined.

"Xena: Warrior Princess" - A Solstice Carol
Not to be confused with Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" (but just as excellent), "A Solstice Carol" features everyone's favorite ancient feminist warrior princess getting into all kinds of rowdy holiday hijinks. Plus, viewers learn a valuable lesson: Christmas tree ornaments can double as weapons! Let's just say the image of Santa using a candy cane as a lethal arrow will forever be etched into our collective memory.


"Melrose Place" - A Melrose Place Christmas
You probably thought the Christmas-themed episode of "Melrose Place" was great at the time, but turns out it's actually just insanely 90s. Between the running shoes, the giant button-down shirts, and the semi-mullets, "Melrose Place" is somewhere no one should be spending the holidays. That being said, this clip might induce extreme 90s nostalgia that makes the episode worth watching.


"7th Heaven" - Here Comes Santa Claus
So many well-meaning holiday time hijinks, so little time! The Camdens are at their very best in this "7th Heaven" Christmas episode, which features Eric and his flock of children doing charity work and finding the true meaning of Christmas. Of course the best part is the scene where Simon dances around the kitchen in candy cane pajamas. And by best part, we mean worst part.



"Designing Women" - I'll Be Home for Christmas
So, "Designing Women" is obviously the greatest show of all time (right?), and the Christmas episode definitely falls into the "so bad it's good" category. Basically, any show that features characters spontaneously breaking into song with superimposed baby pictures on the screen constitutes a win.

"The Brady Bunch" - The Voice of Christmas
Speaking of characters breaking into spontaneous song, let's talk about "The Voice of Christmas," a very special "Brady Bunch" episode wherein Mrs. Brady loses her voice before a concert (panic!) -- but then regains it just in time to belt out a tune at the Christmas service. In other words, it's a holiday miracle!


"Joey" - Joey and the Christmas Party
Matt LeBlanc is a talented actor, but we can probably all agree that "Joey" wasn't a great idea. However, if there's any doubt in your mind that this character should have been left in the "Friends" zone, this Christmas episode is all the proof you need.



Details, Brooks Brothers & Patron With The Cinema Society Host A Screening Of Sony Pictures Classics'
When you meet Bennett Miller in person, his films seem to make a bit more sense. A quiet, intense man, the cadence of his answers can be charitably described as "deliberate," while others might simply wish for him to speed up slightly and get to the point.

The same charges have been levied against his works by detractors, but fans of "Capote," "Moneyball," and now "Foxcatcher" revel in the lugubrious tone and torpid pace of the dialogue, while sudden, kinetic bursts of physical exertion punctuate without warning.

Moviefone Canada spoke with Bennett about "Foxcatcher" at the Toronto Film Festival, and we started by discussing a key scene that takes place behind a closed door, a metaphor (perhaps) for much of the film's narrative opacity.

Moviefone Canada: In my opinion, the most remarkable scene is the one that takes place behind the window. It embodies everything that you're doing with the story -- as much as we know, so much of it is left unsaid, we can witness it, but not actually know what's going on. Can you talk about whether or not that scene means as much to you as a director?
Bennett Miller: I don't think I have some kind of hierarchy of important scenes, but that scene is a turning moment. It is a chapter change where Dave [Schultz, played by Mark Ruffalo], who had moved back to the farm, really is forced to make a decision, and feels compelled to protect his brother and to dismiss Du Pont momentarily.

Like many things, when scrutinized and you think about in life how these moments are, it doesn't matter what was said. You just see it and this guy is protecting his brother and you have to step away. He's kind, but he's firm about it. It's a significant beat. I had pondered all different versions of scripted scenes, and eventually, it's just when we were scouting, I saw that door, and that window, and [thought to] rip it up. That'll work. I just thought it would play better.

What made you want to become a filmmaker?
I was a very quiet kid. I started speaking very late. Maybe that had to do with circumstances that would make a kid quiet, but I think I understood language long before I started speaking. When I was about five years old, I saw a production of "The Miracle Worker," the Helen Keller story, and that made a major impression. The play itself, a moment in the play, it just seared me in a way.

The water-on-hand scene?
I remember that moment too, the moment of connection when she figures out the language, absolutely, but I remember the mother realizing that the child was blind and deaf and screaming into the crib. It's actually shattering. And then I went on to the stage after. It was a small community theatre and so it wasn't a stage up here, it was black boxes. I remember I was able to just walk on the stage and I opened a door that should have led into a house, but there was no inside of the house, it was just pulleys and ropes and sandbags and flats, backstage darkness. I realized this is a set.

That concept of a set, it was new to me and I wanted, from that moment on, to become a production designer, a set designer. And I actually did some of that in college before I dropped out, designed for some plays. But photographs, taking photographs, my father took slides on vacations, so that was incredibly entrancing, watching the slideshows and I started taking pictures ... I feel like this [stuff about me] is the most boring stuff in the world.

I don't know how to turn the lens around so much. I think the reason I'm in it, the main reason, is I love cinema. I think it's just the most powerful medium in the history of art, and I think the potential is unimaginable. You spend lifetimes [sic] trying to master it and it's also something that feels like it's dying. If cinema dies, it's not because we've managed to discover everything that it can discover and do everything that it can do, it's going to die because there is no longer an audience and a demand for it, because the exploitation of the medium for monetary gain will snuff out its true potential.

Mark Ruffalo has discussed the use of meditation on set.
I was awfully surprised when he started talking about that. I think there's a lot to learn from meditation. That's kind of why you do it. It's a discipline of observing, awareness and equanimity. Not concluding, but being able to look at something that perhaps is difficult to look at, and not succumb to the temptation to conclude. To just keep looking past. Being with it in that moment and really seeing what is there and not having a mind trigger to a conclusion, to the temptation to label something or just to see it as it is and how much deeper you can go if you don't reach for the low-hanging fruit. If you don't sensationalize, if you don't contrive to manipulate a response. If you're not trying to do a dualistic thing, but rather accept the complexity, the chaos, the anxiety and disturbance of reality.

Clearly, you're talking about your film, right?
Yeah, of course, but I think there's many forms of meditation. What interests me is that it doesn't have any imagination, no fabrication, no mantras or visualizations, or vocalizations or anything like that, but is observational.

Some critics have gone so far to say that Du Pont's actions are a larger indictment of the U.S. in general.
Part of what's attractive about the story is that these characters do embody the conflicting characteristics of my country and the world. Ultimately, you can recognize the metaphor and the allegory in it. When you make the film, you really can't be working politically, it would contradict the whole style and integrity of the film.

In choosing the subject, I thought it was fascinating because so many of these themes, like wealth and class and entitlement and things like that, exceptionalism, they're just in the story. Perhaps if I'm interested in those things, perhaps the lens will gravitate in the direction of how those things manifest on the most banal, mundane interpersonal level.

It's kind of an extraordinary story: you have one of the wealthiest men in America and he's got working class blue-collar middle America guys just rubbing up against, their interests just rubbing up against each other. I saw the story as allegorical, but when you're working on it, you don't think like that.

Channing Tatum seems to have been born to play this role.
I offered him the role 8 years ago.

I saw a film called "Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" when I went to a special screening in New York, it was the premiere, at a theatre in Chelsea. I'd never heard of him, I'd never seen him before. I saw that movie and I didn't even have a script yet for "Foxcatcher," but I was researching it and pursuing it. I saw that performance and he's incredible in that film. He's electric and dangerous and I thought, "Holy s**t!"

That doesn't happen a lot, that someone just jumps off the screen like that. The character's this sort of unmoored, dangerous guy from Queens, New York, and I thought well, he's got that animal energy, the intensity, and he radiates. I thought, wow, he's got that energy, but they probably just hired some guy from Queens who's like that to play himself. When I found out that he's from Alabama, and doesn't sound like that or walk like that or think like that, I offered him the part before there was a script.

He said yes, and as time went on and I developed the thing, his career started to change and he started to do other things, and as he told me, he kind of got freaked out by the whole idea, and it turns out I wasn't able to get the movie made. After "Moneyball" I bumped into him on the Sony lot, and we caught up. I told him I wanted to get "Foxcatcher" going again and was he in.

And what did you see in the other two?
Well, Mark Ruffalo's Mark Ruffalo. There's no explanation needed. He's just got the biggest heart of anybody I've ever met, and he's sort of the Dave Schultz of the entertainment industry. There's no movie without him.

And Steve Carell, the fact that he's not an obvious choice is what made him an obvious choice. He does what Du Pont does, which is the unimaginable. Nobody saw Du Pont doing what he did, nobody thought Du Pont had that in him, and so it had to be an actor who you considered benign, but had this whole other thing, which was not hard for me to see once I'd met him and talked to him.

"Foxcatcher" opens in theatres on November 28.



'Foxcatcher' Trailer
Jamie Foxx FactsWith both an Oscar and a Grammy on his mantle, Jamie Foxx is a one-man entertainment empire.

Foxx began his career as a stand-up comedian before landing his own sitcom just a few years later -- and then he awed the world. His portrayal of Ray Charles in "Ray" (2004) earned Foxx one accolade after another and even relaunched his music career. Fresh off his Oscar win, the multi-hyphenate teamed with Kanye West and took home a Grammy for the Ray Charles-inspired "Gold Digger." This fall, he's back on the big screen as Dean "MF" Jones in the star-studded comedy "Horrible Bosses 2" (you can also catch him in "Annie" December 19).

From his real name to the dare that launched his career, here are 33 things you probably don't know about Jamie Foxx.

1. Jamie Foxx was born December 13, 1967 in Terrell, Texas to Louise Annette Talley and Darrell Bishop.

2. He was adopted by his maternal grandparents after his parents' relationship came to an end when he was just seven months old.

3. Foxx's grandparents had also adopted his mother when she was a child.

4. Foxx had a very strict Baptist upbringing. He credits his grandmother's influence in his life as a primary reason for his success.

5. Growing up, he played basketball and football. Foxx was the first player in the high school's history to pass for more than 1,000 yards.

6. Foxx also began playing piano at the age of 5 and was a choir leader and pianist in the local New Hope Baptist Church.

7. His musical talent helped him land a scholarship to Alliant International University for classical music and composition.

8. While his musical career has been overshadowed by his acting, Foxx released his debut album "Peep This" in 1994.

9. His follow-up album -- released in 2005 -- debuted at No. 2.

10. The album followed collaborations with Kanye West, in particular the song "Gold Digger" that featured a Ray Charles hook ("I Got a Woman") and went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2005.

11. The song earned Foxx and West the Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.

12. In 2010, he won a second Grammy with T-Pain for the song "Blame It."

13. Before his Grammys, however, Foxx's acting career began as a stand-up comic -- on a dare. In 1989, a girlfriend egged Foxx on to participate in a comedy club's open mic night.

14. Foxx was no stranger to making a room laugh, though. In second grade, his teacher would often reward the class by letting a young Foxx tell his classmates jokes.

15. When Foxx found out that female comedians often performed first, he took up the ambiguous sounding stage name -- Jamie Foxx -- to avoid biases.

16. His birth name is Eric Marlon Bishop.

17. The surname "Foxx" was a nod to comedian Redd Foxx.

18. Foxx's successful stand-up led to roles on "In Living Color" and "Roc" in the early '90s.

19. By 1996, he had his own TV series -- "The Jamie Foxx Show" (1996 - 2001).

20. While starring in his show, Foxx's film career began to pick up. His first starring role was in "Booty Call" (1997).

21. A couple of years later, he landed his first dramatic starring role in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" (1999).

22. Foxx's first screen role, however, was also his film debut. In 1992, the actor had a minor role in the Robin Williams-starring "Toys" (1992).

23. From "Booty Call" to Oscar glory. In 2004, Foxx became a bona fide star after receiving two Oscar nominations in the same year for "Collateral" and "Ray." He's only the second male in history to receive two acting Oscar nominations in the same year. The other was his "Any Given Sunday" co-star Al Pacino.

24. Although he didn't win the Best Supporting Oscar for "Collateral," Foxx won Best Actor for his portrayal of the late musician Ray Charles in "Ray."

25. He hasn't been nominated since.

26. He's one of only five people to have both an Oscar for acting and a No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts. The others are Cher, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby.

27. Foxx wore prosthetic eyelids for the production of "Ray" so he could better play the blind pianist. The prosthetic eyelids made him virtually blind for the majority of each day.

28. Oddly enough, the actor did impersonations of Ray Charles when he was working on "In Living Color."

29. Kerry Washington played Jamie Foxx's wife in "Ray" and, then again, eight years later in Tarantino's "Django Unchained" (2012).

30. In real life, Foxx has never been married.

31. Although he's never tied the knot, Foxx has two children: Corinne (b. 1994) and Annalise (b. 2009).

32. Corinne accompanied him to the Oscars in 2005.

33. Bonus Fact: Jamie Foxx once hijacked a Moviefone Unscripted! See the hilarious video below.



[Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia]

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Game of Thrones AryaQuoth the raven, "I see a darkness in you."

Those spooky words are uttered in a new, very brief (literally, 10 seconds) teaser from "Game of Thrones" season 5. HBO released it via Twitter:

We get a fleeting glimpse at Arya as she pierces some random with Needle. Then, the teaser urges us to "Receive the power of the sight" at ThreeEyedRaven.com. There's not much to see the website, though except a chance to sign up to receive updates on season 5, which should premiere this spring.

Last we saw Arya, she had escaped Sandor "The Hound" Clegane and Brienne of Tarth, and got on a ship headed to the city of Braavos. She used the coin that Jaqen gave her and uttered the phrase "valar morghulis" - and the captain quickly granted her passage. What Arya will find in Braavos is likely to be a major storyline in season 5.

Ironically, though the "Game of Thrones" site is named for the Three-Eyed Raven, that character won't figure into the new season, as the showrunners have confirmed that Bran Stark won't be seen next year.