News Nuggets: Joaquin Phoenix on how ‘I’m Still Here’ prepared him for ‘The Master’

Joaquin Phoenix explains how “I’m Still Here” prepared him for “The Master“: “[‘The Master’] is being touted as Phoenix’s big comeback, following a brief hiatus spent filming the mock-umentary, ‘I’m Still Here,’ where he explored a career in rap. Though the film was considered a confusing flop, the actor said that it was just what he needed before returning to acting. ‘Part of why I was frustrated with acting was because I took it so seriously. I want it to be so good that I get in my own way,’ Phoenix told the Time magazine of his decision to take a break from acting. ‘Once I became a total buffoon, it was so liberating.'” ON THE RED CARPET

It’s official: Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban join Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson as “American Idol” judges: “Fox was under pressure to get deals finalized with Ms. Minaj and Mr. Urban because the first tapings of auditions for a new season of ‘Idol’ begin Sunday night in New York; the shows will begin broadcasts in January. The network had held off from confirming the widespread rumors of their selection because they had not signed their contracts until this weekend. The new judges replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, who both left ‘Idol’ last spring after two seasons.” NEW YORK TIMES

Director Cristian Mungiu returns to the Oscar race. Will the Academy make up for their 2007 snub? “… eyebrows would have been raised if Romania hadn’t submitted ‘Beyond the Hills.’ Cristian Mungiu’s long-awaited follow-up to his 2007 Cannes champion, ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ earned a raft of glowing reviews — if not quite the unanimous veneration that greeted his previous film — upon its premiere back in May … The selection of Mungiu’s film throws down an interesting gauntlet of sorts to this voting branch, for the director’s last film remains something of a thorn in the their side. Just as ‘The Dark Knight’ is widely — if not quite accurately — regarded as the film that triggered a change in the structure of the Best Picture category when it failed to make the cut in 2008, ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ is similarly perceived in relation to the foreign-language race.” IN CONTENTION

Will “The Book of Mormon” move from stage to screen? “The two creators [Trey Parker and Matt Stone] were first asked about the recent rumors that the musical might be turned in to a feature film. Parker discussed their plans (or rather their lack-of-plans) to the press. ‘We don’t have any,’ he explained. ‘The only thing is that when we first started working on it seven years ago we kind of toyed with the idea of it being a Broadway show or being a movie. Obviously since Matt and I knew how to make a movie we thought we’d make a movie because we can do that pretty quickly, but we stuck with it and after we saw our first few workshops with an audience, we thought this would be cool as a stage thing.'” I AM ROGUE

Broadway, “Law & Order” vet Jesse L. Martin will guest star on “Smash“: “Jesse L. Martin, one of the original members of the Tony-winning ‘Rent’ Broadway cast, will recur over an arc and will sing in some episodes of the musical drama. Martin will play Scott Welker, the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Workshop whose story crosses with virtually every cast member. ‘Smash’ is about a group of dreamers and schemers with big dreams of Broadway stardom, working on a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe.” EXAMINER

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