Gus Van Sant‘s Promised Land became a surprise awards contender when Focus Features decided relatively late in the game to give it an Oscar-qualifying limited run, but this first trailer suggests it’s more than worthy of the competition. Matt Damon stars as Steve, a likeable corporate salesman who arrives in a small rural town to pick up drilling rights. The locals, struggling to recover from the economic recession, initially appear more than eager to oblige — until a grassroots campaign against the purchase, led by Dustin (John Krsasinski) and local teacher Frank (Hal Holbrooks) starts picking up steam.

OK, I’ll admit that the synopsis sounds pretty dry when described that way. But between Van Sant’s steady direction and Damon and Krasinski’s engaging performances, Promised Land looks like a powerful, thought-provoking piece. Frances McDormand and Rosemarie DeWitt round out the excellent supporting cast. Check out the trailer after the jump.

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A few titles have lately dropped out of the ultra-competitive year-end release calendar, but now one more has jumped into the fray. Gus Van Sant‘s Promised Land is getting a limited NY / LA release in late December, in order to give it a shot at the next Oscar race. The film will then roll out to additional markets starting in January.

Promised Land has mostly flown under our radar the past several months, but now that it’s set a release date the talent involved should attract some attention. Matt Damon and John Krasinski wrote the script based on a story by Dave Eggers. The pair also star, along with Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, and Titus Welliver. More details after the jump.

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The good news for a lot of comedy fans today is that NBC renewed Community for a fourth season. There’s a catch, however. That season is a truncated 13-episode order at this point. And while EW reports the renewal, the site says that the returns of series creator Dan Harmon and actor Chevy Chase are still to be confirmed. Presumably there would be no show without Harmon, but given recent statements by Chevy Chase, perhaps there is still reason to be concerned about his return.

Still no word on Parks & Recreation, though that could arrive later this evening. But we do have promo pics from NBC’s new shows, renewal announcements for 30 Rock and Parenthood, and word on returning stars for The Office. Also after the jump:

  • Fox unveils a trailer for Fringe‘s fourth season finale
  • FX is developing Heartsick, about a female serial killer
  • AMC renews Comic Book Men and The Talking Dead
  • HBO drops new character posters for True Blood
  • VICE developing weekly newsmagazine series on HBO

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Poster: Leatherheads

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George Clooney‘s third directorial feature, Leatherheads, is set for release in April and today the film’s rather snazzy official one-sheet was revealed. The 1920s pro-football dramedy finished shooting last May, but it seems like I’ve been hearing about this one for three years now; any longer and Will Ferrell’s 1920s pro-football light bulb would start to flicker. Full poster after the jump via ComingSoon.

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