News Nuggets: ‘Homeland’ kills major character in ‘very brave, very strange’ season finale

Emmy champ “Homeland” concludes its third season on Showtime with “a very brave, very strange hour of television, one that broke almost every rule a TV show can break.” **SPOILERS AHEAD** Emmy and Golden Globe winner Damian Lewis‘s character of Nicholas Brody was publicly hanged in Iran after killing the IRG leader. Tim Molloy says that “it’s shocking for a hit series to kill one of two main characters whose relationship has fueled the show for three seasons.” The Wrap.

Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine, age 96, dies at her home in Carmel, California. She won the Academy Award as Best Actress for her role in the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock film “Suspicion.” Her other two Oscar nominations were as a lead in “Rebecca” (1940) and “The Constant Nymph” (1943). Fontaine had been in a bitter feud for many decades with her sister Olivia de Havilland, a two-time Oscar winner herself. Hollywood Reporter.

Peter Jackson‘s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug dominates the box office for its opening weekend, bringing in $73 million, but underperforming last year’s returns. Disney’s “Frozen” fell to second place with $22 million. Tyler Perry‘s “A Madea Christmas” opened in third position with $16 million. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” finished in fourth with $13 million. Thompson on Hollywood.

In other box office news, producers and studios are thanking last week’s Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations for great results. Limited release films and independent movies need that awards momentum for “box office gold.” “American Hustle had this year’s best per-screen average this weekend for a total of $690,000 in six locations. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Nebraska,” and “Philomena” also had excellent ticket sales. Variety.

The voting membership of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences passes the 6,000 mark. An end-of-year report is prepared each December, and the 2013 edition shows an addition of 172 members. The biggest gain is in the documentary branch, which increased from 173 to 210 members. The acting branch actually decreased by two people despite inviting 22 new performers to join this year. The Wrap.

Kris Tapley wonders if now is too early to speculate about next year’s Oscar race. With the trailer now released for the Christopher Nolan film “Interstellar,” he says it’s more than “a sci-fi excursion I was very much looking forward to from an immensely talented commercial filmmaker and a charismatic, revived leading man (Matthew McConaughey) fronting an amazing cast.” The movie will open during the 2014 awards season on November 7. Hitfix.

Need some recommendations during free time over the holiday season? Six series encouraged for binge viewing are: “Mother Up!” (Hulu), “Axe Cop” (Hulu), “Hello Ladies” (HBO), “Wigs” (YouTube), “The Fall” (Netflix), and “Hollywood Acting Studio” (YouTube). Backstage.

The annual “Christmas in Washington” concert is held in Washington, D.C. Sunday night. As President Barack Obama and his family looked on, film star Hugh Grant hosted performances from Backstreet Boys, Sheryl Crow, Anna Kendrick, Janelle Monae, and Pat Monahan. The TNT special will air on Sunday, December 20. USA Today.

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