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How it feels to go 'Into the Storm' in the Oculus Rift

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Comic-Con trend pieces often skew toward the macro, focusing on how the various entertainment megacorporations use the annual San Diego event to carve out valuable real estate in the cultural calendar for the next two or three years. But a quick walk around the main floor inside of the Convention Center revealed a more immediate new development: Virtual Reality has arrived. Fresh off its purchase by Facebook and a buzzy line-around-the-block presence at E3, the Oculus Rift appeared in a few different places on the Comic-Con floor. READ FULL STORY

Chris Harrison blogs 'The Bachelorette' finale

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I want to start off by saying congratulations to Andi and Josh on their engagement. I couldn’t be happier for them.

That said, this live After the Final Rose special was easily one of the more intense hours of television I’ve ever hosted. I want to pick this story up about a month and a half ago. That was the first time I sat down with a producer who let me know that Nick was still very much interested in Andi and he wanted to talk with her. Nick called me and we talked for a bit about how he was doing, and he let me know his feelings and how he really wanted to get some closure with Andi. At the time Andi was in Mexico and she was just beginning her new relationship with Josh, so she didn’t think it was the appropriate time. I understood both sides in this case. Nick essentially had a Band-Aid just ripped off of him and there was no closure whatsoever. He was being extremely cool about the whole thing and his approach was kind and respectful, not angry or vengeful. Because of that when he showed up to talk to Andi at the Men Tell All I sat down to talk to him. There was obviously a lot more to the conversation that you didn’t get a chance to see, but you got the overall idea. But one thing that wasn’t shown is how I explained to him that although I respected his emotions and thought he was handling this very professionally I made it very clear that I respect Josh and his relationship with Andi.

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Who said it, Justin Bieber or Johnny Manziel?

Justin Bieber and newly minted Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel have a lot in common: Both are young, wildly successful, and very outspoken, boldly proclaiming that they’re here to stay and unstoppable, sorry, haters. In fact, there’s so much overlap in their statements that the folks at Sports Illustrated wrote up a Who Said It quiz featuring quotes from the two.

Think you know which one gloated that there’s “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money”? Or which one wants to party with “Charlie Sheen, Rob Gronkowski and Tiger Woods”? Give it a shot over at Sports Illustrated.

What does an episode of 'Friends' look like without any jokes?

Taking the jokes out of an episode of Friends it like taking the meth out of an episode of Breaking Bad—it’s just wrong. And if you take the jokes out of season six’s “The One with the Apothecary Table” specifically, laughter is quickly replaced with judgment, Pottery Barn hatred, and Joey’s girlfriend Janine Lecroix, who’s just as annoying as when there were jokes involved.

The show still manages to be funny, however, because the writing wasn’t the only thing making viewers laugh. Watching Monica hit Janine with a trash bag will never be anything but immensely satisfying.

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The 10 best videos from Comic-Con 2014

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Another year, another Comic-Con. The 2014 San Diego pop culture ultra-bonanza was a bit light on major “the next Superman movie is also a Batman movie”-esque reveals. But if the major studios and networks weren’t out in full force, they still showed off a significant amount of buzzworthy footage from the major projects that promise to define the next few cycles of cultural chatter. Below, the 10 best videos that made their debut during Comic-Con 2014. READ FULL STORY

'The Bachelorette' season finale: And the 'winner' is...

Okay, rose lovers — the suspense is over. If you don’t want to know who Andi chose in tonight’s season finale, stop reading now. I’m serious, folks. If you’ve somehow stumbled onto this post and have not yet watched Andi hand out her final rose at the Proposal Platform, then walk away. I’ll wait. Okay, for those of you who have witnessed the conclusion of tonight’s “journey,” click through to discuss Andi’s choice of future husband… READ FULL STORY

'The Hobbit' Comic-Con panel is now online: The top 5 highlights

The Comic-Con panel for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies went online today, making this Monday especially delightful for those unable to attend the madness in San Diego over the weekend. “Huzzah!” Tolkien fans everywhere shouted.

The panel saw numerous cast and crew—including Peter Jackson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis—dole out trivia, make shocking confessions, and laugh with a costumed Stephen Colbert (seriously). Here are the highlights:

1. Stephen Colbert as moderator: Colbert is a J.R.R. Tolkien super-fan (see: the full Hobbit costume he wore during the panel). The late-night host admitted having reservations about Peter Jackson & Co. tackling The Lord of the Rings series, the original works in the franchise, but he ultimately loved the films. Still, he did find a flaw: “The only problem I saw was at a total of 11 1/2 hours, they were too damn short.” Throughout the panel, Colbert popped in and out, offering humorous commentary on the actors, the films, and most importantly, the narrative, which he is extremely knowledgable about, bringing us to…

2. Philippa Boyens admitting she lost a trivia contest to Colbert: Boyens, one of the writers of the series, knows her material backward and forward. Hell, she adapted the books. In a fateful trivia contest, however, she was no match for Colbert. Boyens recalled Colbert’s wife approaching her after the match, saying, “I think this is the greatest night of his life.” Colbert likened his Tolkien aptitude to being “an athlete who’s been training his entire life for a race he never knew was coming.” Jackson joked that Colbert isn’t a modest winner.

3. Peter Jackson updating fans on the Hobbit finale: Jackson began working on the first LOTR movie around 1995, meaning he’s dedicated about 20 years of his life to adapting Tolkien’s work for the screen. “It’s a commitment I’ve really enjoyed taking,” Jackson explained. That being said, the work isn’t over yet. To offer an update, the director said they’re still shooting, and are currently in the middle of filming the Battle of Five Armies. The film will hit theaters December 17.

4. Elijah Wood admitting he never read LOTR (again): Wood was met by boos from the crowd when he confessed, again, that he has never read the LOTR books. A shocked Colbert asked Wood if he knows how to read. In Wood’s defense, he had a pretty convincing explanation: “I read The Hobbit when I was a child and it was a big, big book for me. I had The Lord of the Rings on my shelf and it was one of those things that was very daunting and was kind of always there. I thought, ‘I’ll get to that one day,’ and then these movies came about. I felt like I was living it and experiencing it in such a profoundly deep way that I never really consulted the books. I imagine it’s something that I will go back to but it was such an experience over the course of such a long period of time.”

5. Andy Serkis discussing his process, progress: Serkis is one of the most versatile screen actors around, capable of manipulating technology to bring various forms to the screen. “As an actor, [technology] breaks down barriers,” Serkis explained. “Whatever you are, it doesn’t matter. You can play anything.” After playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Serkis found the lead role as King Kong. “I thought my life was going to go back to normality to play normal films in a normal traditional way. The idea hit me overnight: ‘Hold on a minute: I’ve just played this three-and-a-half foot ring junkie. Now I’m going to play a 25-foot gorilla. This means typecasting is not more.'” Today, Serkis can be seen onscreen as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, in theaters now. One more bonus: Serkis treated a delighted audience to his Gollum voice.

For the Tolkien-obsessed, check out the full panel here:

I'm Still Not Over... House and Cuddy's terrible relationship

Some television characters just shouldn’t be together. I don’t care how much unresolved sexual tension there is or how funny the witty banter is or how much chemistry the two characters have. There are just some “will-they or won’t-they” couples who should absolutely won’t—because once you take away that conflict, the show and the two characters’ interactions become uninteresting. And this is no more truer than for Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), whose relationship I’m still not over. Not only was it unnecessary, it ruined House by becoming the central focus of the show. READ FULL STORY

One set, two actors, all dialogue: TV's best 'bottle' episodes

Sunday night’s episode of Masters of Sex, titled “Fight,” was one of the series’ best. It stuck the show’s two main characters, Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and his assistant/lover Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), in a single hotel room and then let them batter out their anxieties and anger through flirtation, role play, and sex, all while an actual boxing match rages on TV.

In TV parlance, episodes like “Fight,” where characters are restricted to a few sets, are often called “bottle episodes”—they’re cheaper to make (you don’t have to build new sets or cast guest stars) but they succeed or fail depending on the quality of the writing and the actors’ performances. In other terms, “Fight” was also nearly a “two-hander,” a term borrowed from stage performance that refers to a play in which only two actors appear. READ FULL STORY

Ira Glass isn't so sure he can defend his 'Shakespeare sucks' comments (Updated)

UPDATE: We asked Ira Glass if he does indeed believe Shakespeare sucks, and this is what he said: “That was kind of an off-the-cuff thing to say that in the cold light of day, I’m not sure I can defend at all.”

Don’t worry, high school kids choking down Hamlet and Macbeth before school starts. You’re not alone: Famed radio host Ira Glass also hates Shakespeare.

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