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Mary J. Blige likes to refer to herself in the third person in interviews. What she’s talking about is not a character but a format, an enterprise.During the last 20 years, Blige has established a hard-shell model of big-personality female R&B: the sort of music, halfway between hip-hop and gospel, that represents real talk and reasonable fantasy; deals with iss…

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The pairing of Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed seems at once too obvious and not obvious enough.Too obvious because both are female writers who happen to have had best-selling books optioned by Reese Witherspoon and made into high-octane, swinging-for-the-fences films.And not obvious enough because Flynn specializes in probing dark, unsavory recesses of the human psyche, …

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The news arrived via a celebrity tweet.Conan O’Brien posted in January that one of the most beloved TV series of the 1960s, an action-packed absurdist comedy about a costumed crime fighter and his youthful sidekick was finally coming to home video: “Batman,” starring Adam West and Burt Ward, would be released sometime in 2014.For decades, nostalgic vie…

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Even the horses were afraid of Steve Carell. When he walked the Pennsylvania estate where he filmed “Foxcatcher,” shrouded by the prosthetics and makeup he wore to play John E. du Pont, the troubled scion and convicted murderer, he could tell the animals were keeping their distance.“I was hoping that would happen naturally,” Carell said, smiling…

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WEST ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – It was still two weeks before Halloween when WEZW-FM, the easy-listening standby of Cape May County, N.J., pushed the Christmas button.Not to miss out on the merriment, two rival stations in Birmingham, Ala., activated their holiday playlists within minutes of each other last week, and by December nearly 500 stations around the country wer…

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One of the few certainties in the music business these days is that if Taylor Swift puts out a new album, it will sell by the truckload. Her last two records, “Red” and “Speak Now,” each sold more than 1 million copies in their first week out, an increasingly rare feat as music sales weaken, and listening habits shift to online streaming services like Spotify and YouTube.…

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“I was not your obvious choice for that kind of role,” Dan Stevens said, discussing his part as a crewcutted homicidal maniac in the forthcoming horror-adventure movie “The Guest.”That is true. Last seen by most people lying dead in a ditch in his guise as Matthew Crawley in the waning, traumatizing seconds of the third season of “Downton…

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Regardless of your feelings about Jason Mraz, you can never doubt his sincerity.Since his first hit more than a decade ago, the meaningful-but-hiding-behind-a-sunny-melody “The Remedy,” Mraz has made hearts swoon with “Lucky,” his Grammy-winning duet with Colbie Caillat, spawned a gazillion homemade YouTube videos with the breezy “Iȁ…

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A newly released video has raised fresh questions about National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence situation.Monday, the Baltimore Ravens terminated the running back’s contract after a graphic video emerged of him punching Janay Palmer – Rice’s then-fiancée, who is now his wife – ins…

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The last time most people saw Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader together, the two were probably wearing wigs while hosting a game show, making out with family members or giving unnecessarily detailed California traffic directions on “Saturday Night Live.”The next time audiences see them together, it won’t be so funny.In the opening scene of the writer-direct…

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In a rare mea culpa, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday that he had mishandled the Ray Rice case, in which the Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended for two games after being accused of assaulting his fiancée.The suspension, announced late last month, led to an instant and furious uproar from women’s groups, organizations supporting victims of …

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NEW YORK – Is there a truism more rarely true than the notion that absence makes the heart grow fonder?In my experience, this sentimental cliché just as often proves false, whether applied to people, places or things. Take Broadway musicals. It has been more than 15 years since I first saw, and was not particularly entranced by, “The Phantom of the Opera…

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Call it “When Harry Potter Met Sally.” In a new romantic comedy, Daniel Radcliffe plays the nonwizardly Wallace, a medical school dropout whose heart goes kaboom for a hipster gal. The only problem is that she already has a boyfriend. The film, “What If,” then explores a question: Can two people with clear chemistry just be best friends?“…

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NEW ORLEANS – Six weeks in the Crescent City and Chris Pratt has not let one drop of gumbo, one morsel of po’boy, or one crumb of beignet pass his lips.In itself, this admission would be enough to raise the pitying eyebrow of anyone who has been bewitched by New Orleans cuisine.But coming from Pratt, an actor who has physically oscillated from puffy to shredd…

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The creators of the British electro-soul collective Jungle may have many self-taught skills, but dancing on roller skates is not one of them. When the duo released their celebrated EP “The Heat” last fall in their native Britain, they took an enigmatic route, keeping their faces and names under wraps. The video for the title track featured a pair of synchroni…