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'True Blood' newbie? We've got your vampire explainer here

Are you planning on being True to the End tonight when the seventh and final season of True Blood premieres?

Many EW staffers eagerly have their DVRs set to check out the latest happenings in Bon Temps, but there’s a few who remain (blissfully?) ignorant of all the political intrigue and naked bodies that populate HBO’s drama. For the faithful: EW has plenty of news for you to consume. Are you a little clueless? We’re here to help.

In the Explainer below, we take a newbie and break down the crazy plot twists going on over six seasons–along with some of the most common terminology. “Fangbanger” may be obvious, but some of the others, not so much. Check it out below. READ FULL STORY

What book was Eric reading in the 'True Blood' finale? PopWatch investigates!

If you weren’t immediately distracted by Alexander Skarsgard’s nakedness in the True Blood finale, you may have noticed that Eric was reading a book while lounging on a snow-covered mountaintop in Sweden. EW has confirmed that the book is Den allvarsamma leken by Hjalmar Söderberg. Translation: The Serious Game. According to True Blood showrunner Brian Buckner, it was Skarsgard’s pick: “This was the book that Alex wanted to be reading because it is an old Swedish favorite.”  READ FULL STORY

'True Blood': Is it Sookie/Bill or Sookie/Eric? -- VOTE

In honor of March Madness, EW is launching a tournament to determine the Greatest TV Couple of All Time. But before we can finalize the brackets, we are turning to you, our hopeless TV romantic readers, to decide which five couples – all part of a love triangle on their shows — make it out of a qualifying round to fill the final slots. First up, Sookie & Bill versus Sookie & Eric on True Blood.

Sorry, Edward & Bella: When it comes to vampire love, you can’t beat the sexy, smoldering stares of a Viking… Or is it you can’t beat the stares of an old-school Southern Gentleman?

You can see where we run into problems. For one of our qualifying polls to determine the Greatest TV Couple of All Time, we need your help to decide if real-life loves Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Bill (Stephen Moyer) should be the True Blood relationship that makes the cut – or if Sookie and Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) is the real love worth dying for.  Apologies to Alcide: He may be a shirtless werewolf hunk, but his ill-fated brief make-outs with Ms. Stackhouse aren’t enough to elevate him to potential boyfriend status.

Personally, I prefer Eric Northman. He’s sarcastic and playful, which is exactly what you should be looking for in a vampire boyfriend. He may have originally tricked Sookie into drinking his blood, but Bill’s hands aren’t exactly clean when it comes to manipulation either. Their seasons-long flirting was fun to watch, but things really heated up when Eric’s memory was wiped by an evil witch in season 4 and Sookie had to take care of him. They fall in love, have steamy sex in the moonlight (not to mention all over her house), and — although they are now broken up — last season he still protected Sookie, and didn’t allow his “sister” Nora to hurt her. Plus: That smile! READ FULL STORY

'True Blood' predictor polls: What's gonna happen before the end of the season?

With two episodes left of True Blood‘s fifth season, we can’t wait to see how the many wars play out: vampire vs. human, vampire vs. fae, and V-drinking wolf vs. hot shirtless wolf (to name a few). Since we have no clue, really, we’re throwing it to you. Weigh in on the polls below.  READ FULL STORY

U.S. Olympic trials: All male swimmers look like Alexander Skarsgard until the caps come off

Just a theory I’ve been floating. Such chiseled faces!

NBC was back with another hour-long prime-time telecast of U.S. Olympic swimming trials Tuesday night. Brendan Hansen (right) and Eric Shanteau finished 1-2 to qualify for the 100m breaststroke as Hansen’s longtime nemesis and Shanteau’s Japanese training buddy Kosuke Kitajima — portrayed as quite the evil troll by commentators Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines — lurked in the shadowy stands above the pool. He even clapped when the race was over. That imp! READ FULL STORY

This Week's Cover: The cast, characters, and crazy new season of 'True Blood'


When penning the fifth season of True Blood, the frightening yet disarmingly funny vampire drama that returns to HBO this Sunday, creator Alan Ball found inspiration (in all places!) by watching the scary-in-their-own-right presidential primaries.

“My first instinct about going into religion and politics was from watching Michele Bachmann, who thinks she has a direct line to God.” Ball told EW. “What would happen if she became president? A lot of right-wingers would like to see a theocracy in America. From there we thought, ‘What would a vampire theocracy be and how would you justify it? What kind of impact would it have on humans?’”

The result is a battle between the Tru Blood-sipping Authority, headed by Roman Zimojic (Christopher Meloni), and religious extremists like the Sanguinistas, who believe humans were created by God for one purpose only: to serve as a hearty meal. “Sanguine is from the Latin word for blood, and I was trying to find a name that like a real movement,” explains Ball.

We think it works!  READ FULL STORY

Nominated for Nothing: 'Melancholia'

Every year, brilliant movies are utterly ignored by the Oscars. The Searchers, Groundhog Day, Persona, Breathless, Hoop Dreams, King Kong, Caddyshack — the Academy has a long history of overlooking comedies, action movies, horror flicks, artsy foreign films, and documentaries that aren’t about World War II. This year, we’ll be taking a closer look at films that were too small, too weird, or perhaps simply too awesome for the Academy Awards. These are the Non-Nominees.

The Film: Melancholia, the latest meditation on the absurdity of human existence from Danish provacateur Lars von Trier, starring Kirsten Dunst in a theoretical comeback performance as a manic-depressive woman struggling to get through her own wedding. Also, a runaway planet slams into Earth, destroying all life on our planet. Also, Kiefer Sutherland. READ FULL STORY

'Haywire' gets a D+ CinemaScore grade: What gives?

Well, this is a kick in the pants. (And the face… and pretty much anywhere else Gina Carano could knock you on your butt clear into next week.) In addition to a less-than-impressive opening weekend at the box office, Steven Soderbergh’s well-reviewed action caper Haywire earned a dreadful, if not entirely baffling, D+ grade from CinemaScore.

The film, which has already earned plenty of comparisons to being a female version of the Bourne series, is complete with a knock-out leading lady who knocks out all of her leading men (see left: poor Ewan McGregor), Michael Fassbender (in a towel: A+!), Bill Paxton (with a mustache!), stunning action sequences (the hotel room, the snowy car chase), and a killer last line. So what gives?

Lana Del Rey: Was she really the worst 'SNL' musical guest of all time? Vote!

The great Lana Del Rey debate rages on. While many have come to the defense of the singer since her much talked-about performances during this weekend’s Saturday Night Live (including host Daniel Radcliffe), others still maintain that the controversial music sensation is one of the worst guests in the show’s history, if not the very worst. (Juliette Lewis and Eliza Dushku seemed to think so. Heck, so did Brian Williams.)

Are people, like Radcliffe suggested, simply letting their personal feelings about Del Rey’s rise to fame cloud their judgment of her appearance? Or were her performances of “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” quite simply that bad? I happen to be in the latter group of those who were downright flabbergasted by Del Rey’s warble-y, emotionless numbers and were left with burning questions, like: Who was this girl? Where did she come from? And why… why?! Watch her performance below and see what all the noise has been about: READ FULL STORY

Poll: Who's your all-time favorite female film badass?

The new action thriller Haywire will be hitting theaters on Jan. 20, but it’s the film’s heroine, betrayed operative Mallory Kane, who will be doing most of the hitting ass-kicking. Despite this being her first leading role, mixed martial artist and American Gladiator Gina Carano, who plays Mallory, will be in some very familiar territory– her opponents in the movie (including Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum) will wish they had never crossed her.

But there have been many who paved the way for female badassery in movies. There’s perhaps no more obvious choice than the original female rebel, Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) who not only faced down some terrifying extraterrestrials in the Alien saga, but uttered one of the most copycatted lines in movie history. Then again, Sarah Connor and her unbelievable arms (courtesy of Linda Hamilton) could have just as easily fought off those pesky space invaders. Just look at all damage she (and those biceps) did in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

And then there are the ladies who make revenge look so good: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 1  and 2, Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in the two versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Kate Beckinsale as vampire Selene in the Underworld series. Or how about Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity in The Matrix trilogy, Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita, or Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?

They may be bringing tough-as-nails video game heroines to life, like Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and Mila Jovovich as Alice in the Resident Evil films. Or they could be leading the charge for a new generation of no-nonsense female warriors, like Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl in Kick-Ass and Saorise Ronin as Hanna in Hanna. Clearly, there’s no shortage of awesome women showing the enemy where it hurts.

Now it’s up to you, EW readers, to decide: Who is your all-time favorite female film badass? Take our poll below and choose wisely, because the winner will be revealed in an upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly. (And the “losers” could very well kick your butt.) Happy voting!

Read more:
‘Haywire’ preview
17 Sexy Action Chicks
20 All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture

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