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'AHS' star Sarah Paulson calls conjoined twins her 'craziest' role yet

In the three previous seasons of American Horror Story, Sarah Paulson has played a medium, a reporter targeted by a serial killer, and a witch blinded by acid. Clearly, Paulson loves a challenge…which brings us to this year’s Freak Show. Playing conjoined twins Bette and Dot, who are discovered by freak show manager Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), Paulson admits it’s been her most difficult AHS character to date. But the actress is also finding the fun in it. “Now I’m really overusing the twin emoji on my iPhone,” Paulson jokes on location in New Orleans. “Boy, do I use it a lot. That thing was invented for me.” EW talked to the Emmy nominee about playing two very different ladies and whether she’ll ever get to play Asylum‘s Lana Winters again.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So where does Elsa find you? Are you at, like, a Starbucks?
SARAH PAULSON: Well let’s just say they didn’t see the light of day very often.

Ryan said that Bette and Dot might be responsible for dark things.
Yes. Bette and Dot might be responsible for some dark things. When they’re discovered, Elsa in a way, even though it may not appear to be that in the beginning kind of saves them from what may befall them because of their dark deeds. Elsa at least in the beginning seems to be offering them an alternative to what would have happened if they were left where they were found.

Are their personalities different?
It’s not as simple as nice and evil. It’s more complicated in true Ryan Murphy style. One has more darkness in her but not darkness of evil—darkness of depression, of knowing what’s out in the world. The other one is more of an innocent. It’s innocent and more cynical. Even though they share a body, they have different brains and different hearts. They experience everything differently from each one another.

The process to create these twins sounds so intense.
There are so many ways that we’re making this happen that it’s not any one thing. It’s not just a visual effect, it’s not just the other head effect. This is a combination of 9,000 things. The part that’s the most hardest is when we’re doing the visual effects. I think I thought when I was going to do it was I would do all of Bette, in all camera sizes, and then switch over to Dot and vice versa. But what happens is because the effects have to be the same, the camera has to be locked off. Basically, I have to do Bette and Dot within each camera size and so I’m going back and forth with each girl, every time they change the lens and go tighter. So I don’t get like nine takes as one person. I have to go back and forth and back and forth. They have the same hairstyle but they wear different color headbands. So every time we go back and forth, five people descend upon me. We’ve gotten it down to a science—I can practically do it in my sleep. But there’s 9,000 things that happen as we change everything over, not the least of which is what goes on with me internally to play both of them.

Is this the most challenging AHS role you’ve had so far?
It is the most challenging so far. There’s the inherent reality that everyone knows that I do not have two heads. So we’re asking the audience to go with us on this journey. We’re asking everybody that’s a fan of the show, like people who are with the show, so I have anxiety because I just want so much for everything about it to work that people forget that they’re watching something that they know isn’t real and that they buy it and they believe it. I think that’s why these two girls seem like two different creatures. It’s hard to find to find all the color and variation and nuances. It’s hard to play one person with all of those things going on. It’s obviously doubly difficult to do it when you are trying to give shading and characterization to two people. And I have a southern accent also.

So is the Elsa and twin relationship maternal?
It’s more reminiscent to me of Jude/Lana, certainly between Dot and Elsa. Between Bette and Elsa, Elsa represents so much glamour and so much beauty that Elsa to Bette is like the most glamorous thing she’s ever seen. Bette is such an innocent. There’s so much wonder in her. It’s a very different kind of relationship.

What is Bette and Dot’s relationship to the group? Are you a threat to the other freak show people? Are you welcomed?
The troupe is in need of a real jolt of energy and a new attraction to make people in the town come and see it. The show is not in its heyday. It’s definitely on the downward spiral. I think because they all want to be employed and all of them recognize a kindred. When they see the twins, they’re hopeful and excited that we’re going to bring about a certain kind of change that’s going to be good for the group.

Do you deal with Twisty the Clown?
I think he’s watching us. But as of right now there’s no story there with that character.

Have you had to do crazy stuff yet, like snakes covering you or more goat’s blood dropped on you?
Yes. In the first episode. I mean I’ve got two heads, Tim. It’s almost like there’s no event that needs to happen for it to be the craziest thing I’ve done. But there is something that happens in the very first episode that’s crazy, that sets the scene for the rest of the season for them. It happens in episode one.

Everyone keeps telling me it’s the best one yet.
I think it is. I don’t know that I always have a finger on my pulse. I certainly didn’t think Coven would have the reaction it did because it was so much lighter in tone than Asylum.

I do know from an artistic standpoint both as a reader when I read the scripts the stories are so rich and complicated and it’s just so fascinating. I can’t imagine it not being something that people embrace. I think from a creative standpoint it’s got that feeling of Asylum, in that it’s really about something: this idea of being a forgotten soul in the world that’s just been cast aside. Everybody feels like that at some point in their lives. It’s something that I think has a tremendous amount of currency. It feels very honest about what it means to be a person. I also just think I don’t know how you’re not going to fall in love with everybody and root for people and there’s terrible things happening to people. And the way it looks! The set design! The costumes! The stuff that’s happening this year with the sets and the costumes it is so beyond. And Ryan’s going very different with the style of the show in terms of the way it’s being shot.

He said the look is different in terms of the camera movement.
It’s very different. There’s a stillness to it comparatively. I’m not saying it’s going to be still because it’s American Horror Story. But you think about the defining things of the show and you think about fish eye lenses and rapid fire editing. It is my understanding from working with Ryan the way it was being shot there weren’t a lot of Dutch camera angles, there were no fish eyes, no high and wide in the corner like the view of a spider. It wasn’t like that. I think it’s a very unique visual style and very different than what we’ve done. And I think that’s what’s so exciting about it. The minute you think you can figure out what you think we can expect from the show, it’s Ryan turning it on its head and going, “No I don’t think so.”

Have there been crazy moments in the make up trailer where it’s like “Oh, Angela’s got three breasts and Kathy’s wearing a beard”?
Oh my god. There’s nothing more insane than walking into that trailer. Jessica’s over there getting her hair, freaky make up done. Kathy’s next to me getting her beard put on. And Angela likes to flash them. She’s like, “Look at my three boobs!” Because they’re covering up everything. She can walk around with her three t*** hanging out and everybody is very happy that she’s doing so even though we’re not looking at her real boobs. It’s amazing.

This year in particular like you walk out of a trailer and you’re like Oh Jesus. You really feel like you’re at a sideshow. So many of the people there are really people with special abilities from that world. So many of our extras and background artists are like, “Oh I play at this show” or “I work in this circus.” It’s incredible and it gives it such a feeling of authenticity.

I know Pepper is back. That must be so exciting to you that this is sort of like an Asylum-prequel because I know how special that season is to you.
I love that idea. Maybe season five will be Aslyum the sequel! I just wanna play Lana Winters again—is that so bad?

Like old Lana?
No I think it should be Lana in the ‘70s. That was my favorite look in the world.

Do you know Bette and Dot’s arc? Like do you know what happens in episode 13?
Nope. It always changes. Ryan has told me what he plans for me. But I refuse to believe it until it’s here because I’ve done this long enough with him to know that he’s a man of fever dream inspiration and things come to him out of nowhere and all of a sudden things take a hairpin turn and it ends in a different way than expected. I do know sort of where I’m headed.

'Big Brother' host Julie Chen on Frankie's exit and Derrick's biggest competition

Each week after every eviction, host Julie Chen will answer a few of EW’s burning questions about the latest episode of Big Brother.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You called Frankie’s reaction after being voted out, “the happiest eviction I’ve ever seen.” Did all that enthusiasm and flying glitter take you back a bit?
Not at all. I expected no less from a showman like Frankie. He was consistent this summer — always interesting to watch. This guy was born to be in front of an audience. READ FULL STORY

'Bad Judge' taps Betsy Thomas to showrun after Liz Brixius' departure

Bad Judge has found a new showrunner: Betsy Thomas has been tapped to takeover duties for Liz Brixius, who exited the new NBC comedy earlier this month, EW has confirmed.

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'The Simpsons' star Yeardley Smith heads to 'The Mindy Project'

Lisa Simpson is popping up all over TV this fall. Yeardley Smith, who voices The Simpsons’ eldest daughter, will guest-star on an upcoming episode of The Mindy Project, EW has learned exclusively.

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Gloria Steinem will guest star on 'The Good Wife'

The strong women of The Good Wife are about to come face-to-face with a feminist legend. EW has confirmed that activist Gloria Steinem will guest star on the upcoming sixth season of The Good Wife. Steinem, who’s a fan of the show, will play herself in the season’s third episode. There’s no word yet on which characters she’ll interact with, but one can only hope she’ll offer Alicia a few words of wisdom.

The Good Wife returns Sunday, Sept. 21 at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.

James D'Arcy cast as Edwin Jarvis in 'Agent Carter'

When Agent Peggy Carter makes the transition to television this winter on both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, a few Howling Commandos and Strategic Scientific Reserve agents will join her. And with the latest addition to Agent Carter‘s cast, an important figure has been added that should tether the series even more firmly into the Marvel cinematic universe.

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Controversial 'Survivor' player John Rocker on what he'll do if recognized

It always happens. Whenever someone even semi-famous comes on Survivor and hopes to fly under the radar, they are recognized. Former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel almost made it all the way through Survivor: Philippines, until Jonathan Penner forced her to reveal her secret at the final Tribal Council. Even Gary Hogeboom, who was mostly a backup quarterback in his NFL career, was recognized when he played in Survivor: Guatemala. All it takes is one person to connect the dots and your game could be through.

So will it happen to former Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker when Survivor: San Juan del Sur commences on Sept. 24? I asked the outspoken and controversial athlete about that when I spoke with him and his girlfriend Julie McGee out in Nicaragua the day before filming began and you can see his response in the video player below. READ FULL STORY

'Nashville' sneak peek: Watch Juliette sing Patsy Cline's 'Crazy'

Juliette may have a chance to turn her career around this season on Nashville.

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Aaron Sorkin: I didn't know how 'The Newsroom' was going to end

The lights are about to dim on the HBO’s The Newsroom. The drama, created by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and focusing on fictional cable news channel ACN, begins its final season on Nov. 9, and will wrap up its story in a tight six episodes. “It was because of my schedule,” Sorkin says of the shortened season. “But, as it turned out, six was the right number. I don’t know what we would have done with a seventh episode.”

So what’s in these final hours? EW talked to Sorkin about weddings, power plays, and Twitter scandals.

EW: Will there be a time jump when the show premieres?
AARON SORKIN: We’re ahead about five months. However, once the season starts each episode begins right after the last one ended so there are no time jumps during the season. It’s a very compressed season. Once again, we’re telling one story throughout the whole season, there are stories that come off like branches, but there’s one story that we begin in the first episode and goes to the end.

Can you tease the main story?
Well, without giving too much away, it’s something that we’ve been talking about for the last 2 years: government and journalism. A lot of people feel like the current administration has been really tough on reporters and whistleblowers. I realize I’m not making it sound exciting but it involves one of our characters in a lot of jeopardy. Our people have a story that was given to them by a government whistleblower and the Justice Department wants the name of their source and they won’t give it up. So we see how far they’re willing to go for that.

Will the fallout from Jerry (Hamish Linklater) and Genoa play in?
It does a little bit. But the bigger thing that comes along is that we meet Reese’s father’s children by his next wife so we meet his half-brother and his half-sister is Kat Dennings. And they own a 45-percent share of the controlling stock in the company and that begins a story rolling of a hostile takeover of AWN.

Will (Jeff Daniels) proposed to Mac (Emily Mortimer) in the finale. Are they still engaged?
Again without giving too much away, I knew going into this season that they’re gonna have to get married. There’s gonna have to be a wedding. How do you do a wedding that we haven’t seen before on TV? And I think we came up with a way.

Is Maggie back on stable ground?
When we meet Maggie at the beginning of the season, she sort of has the eye of the tiger. She is trying to shed every rotten thing that’s happened to her in the last few years and toughen up and breathe new life into herself. She really completes that part of her character arc this season.

Is Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) still dating Hallie (Grace Gummer)?
Yeah Jim is still dating Hallie, but there’s tension in that relationship. Hallie is actually now working for ACN Digital at the beginning of the season. And mirroring something that happened at MSNBC a while back when someone tweeted a quip that was offensive to Republicans. It was a big deal—MSNBC had to apologize. They had to fire the producer who sent the tweet and everything. So something very similar happens to Hallie. She in the middle of the night, really tired, tweets something from ACN’s account, sort of immediately realizes what she’s done, deletes it but it’s too late. That begins a story that lasts the whole season, too.

How do you feel about this last season? Excited? Sad?
I’m really excited. I do feel it’s a really solid season. I think we’re wrapping up a lot of stories in a nice way. I miss everybody already but I’m in the editing room every day with the show so for me I don’t have postpartum depression yet. But that will come, I promise. On the other side of the wall from the editing room is our stage, so I can hear them pulling apart our set and throwing it in dumpsters, so that’s hard.

Did the show end how you thought it would? Did things evolve?
For most of the time, I didn’t know how the show was going to end. I would have small images of what I wanted to see. But the closer I got to the end of the season in terms of writing, the more I was able to see the end of the season finale. Once we got there, it happened more easily than I thought it was going to.

Frankie of 'Big Brother' says he does not regret pushing the Rewind button and wants to marry Zach

It’s a good thing VHS tapes are pretty much extinct because Frankie Grande may never want to Be Kind — Rewind ever again. The professional “YouTube personality” (and brother of current pop princess Ariana Grande) was running the Big Brother house last week as Head of Household yet could not stop himself form pressing the mysterious button that showed up in the house. Once pressed, the BB Rewind button meant that the entire week in the house would be replayed, and Frankie went from HOH to being evicted by his fellow houseguests and alliance partners. How does Frankie feel about their betrayal? Does he regret pushing that infernal button? And what can we expect form his reunion with the other half of Zankie? We were able to slip some questions to Frankie on his way to the jury house, and here’s what he had to say.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You kind of led the charge to hitting the Rewind button that wiped out your entire week as HOH. Now that you’ve experienced the results and were sent packing, do you regret it?
FRANKIE GRANDE: I don’t regret pushing the button because as a Big Brother super fan, there was no option — the button was going to be pushed. I’m happy I led the charge too. The only thing I regret is not winning the HOH again. READ FULL STORY

'Ground Floor' quashes 'Scrubs' reunion, recasts Christa Miller

Sorry, Scrubs fans: Ground Floor will not be reuniting Christa Miller and John C. McGinley.

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Fox orders DC Comics' 'Lucifer'

Warner Bros. TV is really bringing the comic book world to life.

Fox has given a put pilot commitment to Lucifer, based on the property from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, EW has confirmed.

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'Private Practice' alum Brian Benben heads to 'Scandal'

Brian Benben is returning to Shondaland. The Private Practice alum has landed a guest-starring role on Scandal, EW has learned exclusively.

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