News Nuggets: Final Stephen Colbert guest this Thursday will be the Grim Reaper

When Stephen Colbert hosts the final episode of “The Colbert Report” this Thursday, things will get quite dark. His guest for the last episode on Comedy Central will be none other than the Grim Reaper himself, who he calls a “colleague and lifelong friend” and “travel agent.” Other guests on this week of the Emmy-winning show are Seth Rogen, Kendrick Lamar, and author Phil Klay. About the departure following nine years, Colbert says, “Our last week of shows are going to be really special, just like every other week.” Colbert will replace David Letterman for CBS on “Late Show” beginning next September. USA Today

After three weeks at the top, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” falls to second place at the box office this weekend. The newcomer in first is Ridley Scott‘s Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” starring Christian Bale with $24.5 million for its debut. The Jennifer Lawrence sequel “Mockingjay” makes $13.2 million. In a somewhat limited release, the new Chris Rock comedy “Top Five” does well with $7.2 million. Variety

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The Broadcast Film Critics Association will have three special honors at their 20th annual Critics’ Choice Awards ceremony on January 15. Kevin Costner will receive a life achievement award for his film career, which has included two Oscar wins for “Dances With Wolves.” The Louis XIII Genius Award will be presented to director Ron Howard. The Critics’ Choice MVP winner is Jessica Chastain, whose films this year have included “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “A Most Violent Year,” “Interstellar,” and “Miss Julie.” HitFix

Stephen Fry will host the British Academy Film Awards for a 10th time. Called England’s “resident renaissance man,” he is always “a welcome presence” at the Royal Opera House and keeps the show “briskly” moving along. BAFTA nominations will be announced on January 9, and the ceremony is slated for February 8 in London. Deadline

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Is Charlie Sheen returning to “Two and a Half Men“? Ashton Kutcher, the star who replaced Sheen, seemed to indicate he will be back while being interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres on Friday. Sheen’s off-screen behavior got him fired as the lead on the CBS comedy in 2011. His character of Charlie Harper was then killed off in a gruesome accident. The series finale airs on February 19. TV Guide

Host Ryan Seacrest confirms that “American Idol” is scaling back next season. With ratings on the decline, the long-running Fox reality program will “transition to a two-hour show on one night for most of its run.” The show will have performances and results in the same episode starting around the Top 10 week. The series returns for a 14th season on January 7. TV Line

Chris Nashawaty celebrates the 75th anniversary of “Gone With the Wind” with an extended essay about the classic film. He says: “It took three years, cost a princely sum and threatened to go off the rails more times than David O. Selznick cared to count. But against all odds, (it) stayed the course – and turned out to be an epic for the ages.” The 1939 Best Picture Oscar winner starred Clark Gable and Academy Award winners Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel. Entertainment Weekly

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