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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. “When you see a merger between two giants in a declining industry, it can look like the financial version of a couple having a baby to save a marriage.” — In the wake of the announced Penguin-Random House merger, The New York Times writes about the death of the publishing industry. Again.

2. We think David Lynch would approve of Sufjan Stevens’ creepy new video for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which includes a dog funeral and a tied-up clown. Also: the full Silver & Gold: Songs For Christmas EP, which comes out today, is now streaming on Stevens’ Bandcamp. [via Stereogum]

3. Adam McKay — who is currently in the midst of re-writing the Anchorman 2 script with Will Ferrell — tells The Playlist that it will feature some musical numbers — with dancing!

4. Sean Penn, action star? Apparently he’s is in negotiations for Prone Gunman, a thriller based on a Jean-Patrick Manchette novel that “centers on an international operative named Martin Terrier who is betrayed by the organization he works for and must go on the run in a relentless game of cat-and-mouse across Europe.” [via THR]

5. Maggie Shipstead — who studied under Zadie Smith at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop — has won this year’s Dylan Thomas award for her debut novel Seating Arrangements; the annual prize goes to a published author writing in English who’s under the age of 30. [via Guardian]

Bonus Buzz: The 44 Greatest Barack Obama Facial Expressions

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