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PopWatch planner: Zombies, Muppets, Dancing, 'Hunger Games'…. and ‘Mad Men’!

Time flies, but it seems to take waaaay longer when you’re waiting for the most anticipated movie of the year to open or a favorite TV show to come back from an extended hiatus. This Friday, Hunger Games fans will finally get their wish when Katniss, Peeta, and the rest of the crew come to the silver screen. But that’s not all that’s on the docket this week. The planner is bookended with AMC favorites, starting with tonight’s Walking Dead season finale and moving on to next Sunday’s Mad Men season 5 premiere – it’s only been 17 months in the making!

In between, there’s the Dancing with the Stars season opener, a couple new TV shows (Touch and Bent) to check out, and of course, NCAA March Madness. Have a great week!

SUNDAY
The Walking Dead season finale, 9 p.m. AMC

The Walking Dead season finale tonight should have enough blood, gore, drastic turns of events, and gun-wielding zombies to hold you over until next season. If not, perhaps you should seek outside help… or just watch the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter trailer a few more times.  After the show, check out our interview with showrunner Robert Kirkman and the full recap of the episode on insidetv.ew.com.

MONDAY
Dancing with the Stars season premiere, 8 p.m., ABC

If you ever wanted to see Urkel dance, this season of Dancing With the Stars is your chance. Former Family Matters star Jaleel White joins tennis great Martina Navratilova, Extra host Maria Menounos, singer Gavin DeGraw, and more under the glitter ball.

TUESDAY
The Muppets out on DVD/Blu-ray

I have had “Man or Muppet” in my head since The Muppets came out over Thanksgiving, but that won’t stop me from watching it again. Relive all the Muppety magic as the Jason Segel/Amy Adams – and don’t forget Kermit and Miss Piggy — film makes its way to DVD and Blu-ray.

WEDNESDAY
Bent premieres, 9 p.m., NBC

Amanda Peet (where’s she been?) stars in NBC’s new sitcom Bent. She plays a recently divorced lawyer who hires a contractor with a reputation for womanizing to renovate her kitchen. What I’m looking forward to most? The always hilarious Jeffrey Tambor playing an aspiring musician (and the contractor’s father).

THURSDAY
Touch premieres, 9 p.m., FOX

A sneak peek of the new Kiefer Sutherland drama was well-received earlier this year, but will fans remember and be ready come back for the full season? A step away from Jack Bauer on 24, but back in the same time slot, Sutherland stars as a New Yorker whose wife died on 9/11, and who’s now raising his 11-year-old son.

Bonus if you’re reading this on Sunday: There’s an online Q&A at 6:30pm.

FRIDAY
The Hunger Games opens in theaters

The hottest movie of the year comes out today, but may the odds be ever in your favor in buying a ticket – advance sales on Fandango list over 1,000 showtimes already sold out, and more are going fast. Our Hunger Games special coverage has the lowdown from the cast and crew of the film, plus you can check out clips from the movie, and share your thoughts on opening day!

SATURDAY
March Madness basketball, CBS

Regional finals continue this weekend, so keep an eye on your bracket and settle in for some serious college basketball.

SUNDAY
Mad Men returns, 9 p.m., AMC

A season premiere just 17 months in the making, Mad Men returns Sunday night with a special two-hour episode. Are Don and Megan for real? How’s Joan doing with the baby? What pitch is Peggy working on this week? It’s been a loooong time for us to go without a scotch, so get your decanter and highball glass ready.

Read more:
Special coverage: ‘The Hunger Games’
The Women of Mad Men
‘Dancing With the Stars': And the new cast is……

PopWatch Planner: 'Smash' premieres, movies to see with your sweetie, and gearing up for Grammys

Today’s PopWatch planner is bookended with major events — the Super Bowl today (obviously!) and next Sunday the week kicks off with the Grammy Awards. But in between, there are some major TV premieres and a special DVD release for all the Twi-hards. Have a great week!

SUNDAY
Super Bowl XLVI, 6:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. PT, NBC
It’s all football all the time today, especially since you’ve probably already seen most of the commercials! But it’s worth staying tuned for Madonna’s halftime show, and after the game, for the premiere of The Voice and Jimmy Fallon’s last late night special from Indianapolis. If you’re not watching the game, here are a few other optionsREAD FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: Madonna is everywhere, Clooney is everywhere, and change your password! xoxo

Even if the groundhog sees his shadow on Thursday and winter sticks around, awards season is still heating up. Tonight’s Screen Actors Guild awards will honor the industry’s best — and feature some of Hollywood’s hottest names. Later this week, Super Bowl madness begins, starting with Lenny Kravitz at the NFL Honors on Saturday and running straight through to a halftime show starring Madonna and LMFAO that’s sure to blow Indianapolis away. We’ve got all the info on the week for your pop culture needs. xoxo, EW.

SUNDAY
SAG Awards, TNT and TBS (8 p.m./7 p.m. Central, live on the West Coast at 5 p.m.)

With the lead actor’s race in hot contention, the annual Screen Actors Guild awards are a clash of the (heartthrob) titans this year, as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio are all up for the prize. Check back to EW.com for the winners and on-the-scene updates later tonight! READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: Oscar noms, more 'Idol' auditions, and Kiefer's new show

American Idol and Sundance are taking over the PopWatch planner this week, not to mention Oscar nominations! So soak up the football today and enjoy your last couple days of ‘who will get nominated’ speculation before the real guessing game of awards season gets underway. There’s also some great TV on tap, including a new Kiefer Sutherland show and the SAG awards.  Have a great week!

SUNDAY
American Idol special episode, Fox, 10p.m. READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: Brits, tech toys, and gearing up for the Globes

golden-globes_320.jpg

It’s the calm before the storm in entertainment-land this week, as awards season gears up and TV premieres start rolling out. But never fear, PopWatch Planner is here with a roundup of worthwhile entertainment for your week ahead.

SUNDAY
Downton Abbey, PBS, 9 p.m.
Absolutely Fabulous, BBC America, 10 p.m.

It’s a double dose of Britain tonight with the season 2 premiere of Downton Abbey on PBS and the 20th anniversary special of Absolutely Fabulous on BBC America. My DVR is in overload mode and I’m making tea and crumpets (and maybe a martini a la Patsy) as we speak.

MONDAY
BCS Championship Game, ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

The college football bowl winners will be crowned Monday in the matchup between the Louisiana State Tigers and Alabama’s Crimson Tide. LSU is 13-0, playing Alabama for the first time since their win against them in early November.

TUESDAY
Consumer Electronics Show

Get ready for an onslaught of news about all the new tech toys and Internet crazes of the year to come from the Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. The question remains, just how big a TV is possible?

WEDNESDAY
Top Chef: Restaurant Wars, Bravo 10 p.m.

It’s everyone’s favorite time in the Top Chef season this week — Restaurant Wars. What will the teams be and how will this crew ever decide on a theme? We got a sneak peek in last week’s episode that Sarah will be working at a restaurant called Half Bushel — it’s anyone’s guess what that means….

THURSDAY
30 Rock, season premiere, NBC 9 p.m.

Liz Lemon’s back! Feeling forever delayed, the TGS crew is back in action this week and reportedly taking on North Korean leader Kim Jung Il’s death in a sketch. Too soon? You decide.

FRIDAY
The Devil Inside (in theaters) … or just rent your favorite horror flick
The new horror movie The Devil Inside opened last week, but is there a better night to see a horror film than Friday the 13th? The film received dismal reviews,  so you may just want to Netflix a classic like Nightmare on Elm Street instead. The Devil Inside was a hit at the box office, though, and surely scared the wits out of thousands of teenagers. Will it continue its frightful success this week?

SATURDAY
Saturday Night Live, NBC 11:35 p.m.

Our entertainer of the year, Daniel Radcliffe, hosts Saturday Night Live this week. Can he continue to break the Harry Potter mold and do some groundbreaking comedy?

SUNDAY
Golden Globe Awards, NBC, live at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT

It’s Hollywood’s favorite night — lower-key than the Oscars, but just as fun, the red carpet rolls out for the Golden Globes. Make sure to check back to EW.com’s Golden Globes special report for real-time coverage and to share your thoughts on all the fashion, winners, losers, and parties.

'Platinum Hit' brings Kara DioGuardi back to TV; what has she been up to since 'Idol'?

No matter what you thought of Kara DioGuardi’s stint as a judge on American Idol, you kind of had to feel bad for her when she left the show. Her exit in September 2010 was greeted with a mix of shrugs and relief, as though she was the one holding the show back during its tepid ninth season. She became a scapegoat, even though Simon Cowell’s senioritis and Randy Jackson’s continued banality were far bigger issues for the show.

She returns to reality television tonight in the form of Platinum Hit, which premieres on Bravo at 10. The show puts 12 up-and-coming singer-songwriters (with heavier emphasis on the latter) in the spotlight and pits them against one another in a series of songwriting challenges doled out by DioGuardi and co-host Jewel, with $100,000 and a series of recording and publishing deals at stake.

Each episode focuses on a particular songwriting genre, which is appropriate for DioGuardi, considering she has penned everything from dance tracks to rock anthems to country jams to whatever it is that Ashlee Simpson makes. But what has the award-winning songwriter been up to since her departure from Idol?
READ FULL STORY

Star Tours jumps to lightspeed: Exclusive video of Disney's reboot of the classic Star Wars ride

Hang on, we’re making the jump to lightspeed.

Tomorrow the all-new Star Tours—The Adventures Continue, a reimagining of the classic Star Wars-themed ride, makes its highly anticipated debut at Walt Disney World (at Disneyland, June 3), and unless you have a T-14 hyperdrive, it’s about as close as you’re going to get to that Galaxy Far, Far Away.

The entire attraction has been upgraded—from the façade to the queue to the ride itself. Most importantly, the attraction received a 3D facelift courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic. But for this video first look hosted by The Clone Wars’ own Ashley Eckstein you won’t need to don your flight glasses (yes, that’s what Disney’s calling the requisite 3D eyewear). Check out the video after the break: READ FULL STORY

'The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump' on the scene: Read the best lines here!

Image Credit: Michael Kovac/WireImage.com

The rules for any roast demand that the roasters should have genuine affection for the roastee. You never rib someone you don’t like. But at the taping of The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump last night in New York City (airing on Comedy Central on Tuesday March 15 at 10:30 pm EST) not all of the comedians on hand had love in their hearts for the Trumpster — including Lisa Lampanelli, who had established that roasting rule in the first place. “Well, I broke the rule because the money’s really good,” the Roast veteran jested to me on the red carpet. Whitney Cummings, who’s quickly becoming a Comedy Central MVP, added, “Donald takes himself very seriously. I think he’s a clinically diagnosed narcissistic egomaniac. I think we’re dealing with a real sociopath here.” First-time roaster Anthony Jeselnik predicted, “They say you only roast the ones you love, so this is going to be short.” Sure others played nice — namely Larry King, who gushed “The Donald…what a guy!” more than once during the show — but it was the nasties, led by Roastmaster Seth MacFarlane, who ruled the night…and proved that gotta-like-the-roastee rule irrelevant.  READ FULL STORY

'Hot in Cleveland' season finale: 5 reasons this show rules

hot-in-clevelandImage Credit: Craig T. MathewTV Land’s Hot in Cleveland—a scripted bright spot in an otherwise reality-infused summer—signs off its first season tonight. I’m beyond sad to see it go! But that’s reason enough to revisit the show here for a quick moment. I previewed most of tonight’s tornado-infused episode (yes, they’re pulling a Desperate Housewives-style stunt!), and it’s full of the heart, laughs, and all the Betty White-in-a-sweat suit that you have come to love and expect so far. The episode is actually kind of a retrospective, with lots of time spent on all the men that have blown through these four ladies’ lives in the first nine episodes. Here at the end of a rather surprising and spectacular first season, I thought a toast to the show was due. So, here are my 5 Reasons Hot in Cleveland Rules. Here goes: READ FULL STORY

'Ugly Betty' PSA: This show's worth a second chance in its new Wednesday timeslot -- starting tonight!

After Ugly Betty languished on Friday nights from October through December—and dropped a couple million viewers along the way—ABC recently decided to give its one-time hit a better chance of surviving to its fifth season and moved it to the comedy-filled Wednesday nights. And, hark, fans! That night has finally arrived! Tonight, the fabulous gang from Mode makes its debut on Wednesday for the first time. And it’s the first time the show has appeared on a desirable night since last May. Hallelujah!

Now, I’m not judging you, believe me, but I’m more than certain lots of you out there have skipped out on Betty this season—or maybe even last season, too. (Or—gasp!—even season 2.) Well, there’s no time like the present to get back into the fray! Why? Because Betty is, without question, better than ever. The creative juices are flowing at the show’s writing headquarters and—this is a good thing!—the series seems to have recaptured that rather elusive juice that made it so delightful during back in season 1.

So, what I’m saying is: Get back on board, people! To help get you up to speed, I’m presenting the five essential things you must know about the show currently. Read up and then dive back at 10 p.m. on ABC tonight:

• Betty ain’t so ugly anymore. Didja hear? (Or, rather, just see America Fererra’s smiling face above.) Betty got a makeover—lost the bangs, got sleeker glasses, and her clothes are a tad less crazy. And—here’s the big shocker!—she’s losing the braces soon, too. Plus, in case you didn’t watch through last season, she got promoted to Associate Features Editor at Mode, so she’s no longer a lowly assistant. How’s that for injecting life into a storyline? (Also: Her new hot looks may have something to do with the fact that producers are mulling whether to hook her up with former boss, Daniel.) READ FULL STORY

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