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PopWatch Confessional: Your best entertainment-related gift

It’s beginning to look a lot like gift-mas around EW’s headquarters—which is why we decided to devote this week’s PopWatch Confessional to the real reason for the season (read: presents). The question posed to our staffers: What’s the best pop culture-related gift you’ve ever received?

Molly Smith, editorial assistant: My friend is an artist, and one of our favorite movies is Step Brothers. She painted me a portrait of the Step Brothers cover, but replaced Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly with James Blunt and Clay Aiken, artists we poke fun at occasionally. (The painting is pictured above.) It’s certainly a conversation starter! READ FULL STORY

'Arrow', 'Walking Dead', and more earn TV mid-season finale awards

It’s officially that time of year when all your shows are on hiatus—leaving you to ponder (and possibly re-watch) their fall finales for the next month of your life. In other words, your holidays will be plagued with thoughts like these: “Where is Olivia Pope?” “Is Oliver Queen really dead?” “What’s going to happen to Cary Agos?”

Before you get too deep into the “what does it all mean” portion of the coping process, let’s acknowledge some of the best and worst moments that 2014’s mid-season finales had to offer. To do that, we’ve handed out a few (figurative) awards for the hours that will stick with us through the holidays:

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Lady Gaga recalls some good advice she got from a stripper

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have a few things in common: musical talent, the album they just made together, and their appearance on The Tonight Show last night, to name a few. But there are other areas where the two of them are very different.

For example, when Jimmy Fallon brought up that one time Bennett took advice from a cab driver in New York, he then asked Gaga if she’d ever taken advice from a stranger. She had. Only she got her advice from an elderly stripper in Atlanta. As you do.

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Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Winfrey star in a soap opera (with vocal effects)

Many people don’t remember this, but back in the ’80s, Jimmy Fallon and Oprah Winfrey starred in a soap opera together. The two played a husband and wife on Midnight Meadows, which was almost as popular as Days of Our Lives.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Fallon played a clip from the ’80s hit when Winfrey stopped by the Tonight Show. Apparently, it wasn’t just a soap opera, but rather a soap opera with vocal effects.

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The year late-night got it right... and dodged another meltdown

Was it really as simple as getting rid of Jay Leno?

For the longest time, late-night television was a battlefield. Beginning with Johnny Carson’s retirement in 1992—which set up the Leno/Letterman divide that would define the landscape for two decades—and best epitomized by the disastrous 2009 Tonight Show handover and subsequent takeback from Conan O’Brien, late-night has always been a bloody zero-sum conflict that inflated every minor change to the equation into a major tectonic shift.

NBC so bungled the Leno/O’Brien transition that when rumors began to emerge in early 2013 that the last-place network was planning to push top-rated Leno out for good and hand the keys to the Tonight Show to the younger, cooler Jimmy Fallon, another fiasco seemed inevitable. While the whispers grew, Leno fanned the flames on his show, making jokes about being knifed in the back by NBC execs. No one thought he would go quietly, and his critics, late-night rivals, and the other networks waited gleefully for another wave of schadenfreude. READ FULL STORY

'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Martin Freeman joins the fellowship of Studio 8H

For a guy who’s the star of a billion-dollar franchise, Martin Freeman isn’t exactly Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt—though he did get a laugh out of jokingly referring to himself as the “funny George Clooney.” But the unassuming Brit who plays the clever Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit is not to be underestimated—especially as a first-time host on Saturday Night Live. The original lovelorn Office drone in Ricky Gervais’ groundbreaking series delivered one of the best episodes of the season, working at a Middle-earth paper company, marrying a WNBA superstar, and chilling with his British chums, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman.

Even though he’s not as big a star as some of this year’s other hosts, he’s an immediate threat in our ongoing Mr. Saturday Night poll, which is still waiting for a dominating performance to take control of the race. Cameron Diaz debuted in first place after her episode, but one week later, she was eliminated. James Franco now sits atop the pack, but he scored only marginally higher than Diaz had. Might Freeman shake up the standings again?

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Barbara Walters reveals a few Most Fascinating People selections: NPH, Oprah, more

This morning, Barbara Walters returned to The View to announce the lineup of this year’s 10 Most Fascinating People special on ABC.

After Walters joked about how they almost played “The Bitch is Back” during her entrance, she revealed the names of seven of the 10 individuals she will feature in this year’s special, including Neil Patrick Harris, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Chelsea Handler, Michael Strahan, Scarlett Johansson, and David Koch. The additional three interviewees will be revealed during the broadcast.

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Steve Carell sings 'Sexual Healing' with Jimmy Fallon's barbershop quartet

In Hollywood, it’s rare that two ideas come together so perfectly that everyone’s happy. But that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night’s Tonight Show.

The two ideas? Steve Carell singing with a barbershop quartet and a barbershop quartet singing Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” Last night, Carell joined Jimmy Fallon’s quartet, The Ragtime Gals, for a brief performance that’s sure to make the world a happier place.

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'Conan' is selling Nick Offerman's giant wooden emojis

Remember when Nick Offerman went on Conan and joked about how everyone should start communicating using emojis, even when they’re having a face-to-face discussion? Well, he was only partly joking.

Conan has teamed up with Tilt.com to actually create facsimiles of Offerman’s giant emojis. So far, 100 prototypes have been made, with proceeds going to the Children’s Defense Fund. The bad news? The first batch already sold out at $100 an emoji. The good news? There’s another batch on the way. You can find them here, and then quit emoting all together.

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'Saturday Night Live' best host poll: Can James Franco go the distance?

As far as hosting Saturday Night Live goes, you can’t ask for much more than someone like James Franco. That’s not to say that everything he did on the most recent episode was comedy gold, but he’s bold—not the kind of guy who probably says no to too many sketch suggestions. There’s no doubt he was having a good time when he was on the Studio 8H stage, giddy not only for the winning gags but also the moments that threatened to go off the rails. There seemed to be some of both.

It will be interesting to see which of those scenarios ultimately tips the scales with voters. Franco was game, playing Christopher Walken’s Captain Hook, an aging Luke Skywalker, a raging mayoral runnerup, and an exasperated bridge troll. He joins a Mr. Saturday Night contest that’s been wide open since Chris Pratt was eliminated. Cameron Diaz sits in first place after hosting recently, but she leads with only 31.51 percent of the vote—not a particularly auspicious debut.

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