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'Saturday Night Live' opening poignant tribute to Sandy Hook

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Today’s look at the pop-culture world finds the genius of Lorne Michaels, a defense of “Zero Dark Thirty,” the weekend box office, other things, and the mystery music video.

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: A nicely done opening, per the New York Times, “The moment that will most likely endure from the year-ending episode of “Saturday Night Live” is the quietly powerful opening of a children’s chorus singing “Silent Night.”  . .The rendition that opened the show was performed by the New York City Children’s Chorus. . . It provided a stirring and memorable answer to the question of how the NBC comedy program would address the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., whose victims included 20 children.” http://nyti.ms/UXVbRs

NO, NO, NO: You just don’t get it, per The Wrap, “The filmmakers behind “Zero Dark Thirty” labeled as “preposterous” the idea that their dark, intense portrayal of the killing of Osama Bin Laden was an argument for torture, in a wide-ranging interview with TheWrap responding to criticisms being leveled at their film, which opens on Wednesday. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter-producer Mark Boal said the criticisms amounted to people misreading the film. And they rejected the idea that politics influenced their filmmaking choices.” http://bit.ly/TpzeNH

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: No surprises here, per The Hollywood Reporter, “New Line and MGM's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey kicked off the holiday season in high style, opening to $84.8 million, the top three-day opening of all time for the month of December. The first in Peter Jackson's planned trilogy, Hobbit opened to $138.2 million overseas for a worldwide total of $223 million. The movie came in ahead The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003 ($125.9 million).” http://bit.ly/ZzzTkV

INBRED ALIENS: Or something like that, per Entertainment Weekly, “Aliens are invading Disney Channel! That seems to be the story with the news that Disney Channel will air four episodes of ABC’s The Neighbors on Friday Dec. 28 from 8-10 p.m. This is the first time that Disney has run a special presentation of a current ABC show (they are part of the same company).” http://bit.ly/TrfEAB

ROLLING STONES: With the final 50th anniversary tour done, questions are in order – but not now, per Rolling Stone, “Whatever the future holds for the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band, they blew it out (Saturday night), rampaging from classic to classic in true Stones fashion – through the past, darkly. The Stones treated this show as a lavish celebration loaded with special guests, from Lady Gaga torching up "Gimme Shelter" to Bruce Springsteen strapping on a guitar for "Tumbling Dice." http://rol.st/12tJ7hm

SEEMS SILLY: Rules are rules, but geez, per Variety, “The Writers Guild of America has remained rigorous on qualifying screenplays for its awards with more than a dozen notable exclusions this year including Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and William Nicholson's "Les Miserables." . . . The guild's restrictions require that scripts be produced under WGA jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the U.K. and that the scripts be formally submitted for consideration.” http://bit.ly/ZzzgHV

A FINALE: And a rave review, per the Los Angeles Times, “Has "Homeland" redeemed itself? It’s tempting to say that the second season finale has put the show squarely back on its feet. After the rat-tat-tat high jinks and wild terrorist plots of the last few episodes, this episode managed to balance finely tuned character moments with explosive plot twists. By the end, it seemed that "Homeland" had definitely gotten its groove back.” http://lat.ms/SFz7kt

GOING, GOING. . . : Gone (soon), per Entertainment Tonight, “Kristen Stewart is auctioning off her gown for a good cause. The Twilight beauty announced that her Zuhair Murad getup worn to the Los Angeles premiere of Breaking Dawn- Part II is now for sale in an effort to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. The donation(s) will go to the Robin Hood Foundation, and in addition to getting the gown off of the 22-year-old starlet's back, it'll also be autographed.” http://bit.ly/UMaaAe

KATE MIDDLETON: Pregnancy sickness abates, per People, “The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in her favorite designer, Alexander McQueen, on Sunday in her first official appearance since leaving the hospital. The expectant princess, 30, wore a green floor-length dress with a daring thigh-high slit as the guest of honor at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards show in London.” http://bit.ly/RzhceZ

MILEY CYRUS: Just the facts, per Us Weekly, “The 20-year-old let her bad girl side shine onstage at the VH1 Divas show Sunday night at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium. Wearing a midriff-baring leather jacket covered in metal spikes and tight leather pants, Cyrus performed a cover of Billy Idol's 1983 classic "Rebel Yell." To do the song justice, Cyrus crowd surfed and danced around an explosion of pyrotechnics. Cyrus, still styling a blonde, pixie 'do, also gave a full-on crotch-grab to cameras as she rocked out to the hit.” http://usm.ag/TW9tmT

AND FINALLY: Today’s mystery music video. http://bit.ly/V3iVrZ

--Skip Wood (Follow me on Twitter @DaybreakSkip)

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