Sunday TV: Two Music Awards Shows

Radio-Disney-Music-Awards-2016-billboard-650It’s another night when two different music awards shows of different genres collide. One’s from Los Angeles, the other from Inglewood, Calif; one has a performance from Florida Georgia Line, the other has Flo Rida.

The 2016 Radio Disney Music Awards (Disney, 7 p.m.) also has performances from Ariana Grande, DNCE, Hailee Steinfeld and Kelsea Ballerina, among others. And the second American Country Countdown Awards (Fox, 8 p.m.) with performances from Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood.

The handsome horror drama “Penny Dreadful” (Showtime, 10 p.m.) returns for a third season, with a disheveled Vanessa seeking the help of Dr. Seward (Patti LuPone) to battle a new evil, a certain Count Dracula.

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (E!, 9 pm.) returns for its 12th season, all set to exploit Lamar Odom’s problems.Equally unlikeable: “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” (E!, 10 p.m.).

In the second to last episode of “The Good Wife” (CBS, 9 p.m.), Alicia works to keep Peter out of jail as his trial begins. Earlier, Chris Noth, the actor who plays Peter, looks into his past on “Who Do You Think You Are?” (TLC, 8 p.m.). Lea Michelle takes the plunge at 9.

If there are as many story lines in tonight’s “Game as Thrones” (HBO, 9 p.m.) as there were last week, you may wish to have more characters killed off. But look who’s back: Bran Stark, now no longer a kid.

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Saturday TV: Rock, Jazz and Obama

2016-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-inductions-6f3a823c3fc1f234There’s no doubt whatever that the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (HBO, 8 p.m.) is is the weakest yet, with Steve Miller, Chicago and Deep Purple. The achievements of songwriter and producer Bert Berns is the most interesting thing heard all night, and though many people still question whether hip hop should even be part of the proceeds, the appearance of N.W.A. adds the most rock ’n’ roll spirit to the sprawling thing, that doesn’t seem to have been edited much at all (so there’s a lot of acceptance speeches).

Though it was just taped April 8, it seems outdated since its “In Memoriam” section and its live performances, which salute David Bowie and Glen Frey, ignores Prince until the closing credits puts up the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” solo.

What was once the most entertaining night of the year by CSPAN is now being glommed on by cable news network who are now attracted to its confluence of political and entertainment worlds in The 2016 White House Correspondents Dinner (CSPAN, 6 p.m.; CNN, 7 p.m.; MSNBC, 9 p.m.).

Larry Wilmore is a good choice to headline the event; he’s a standout among late night political comics with “The Nightly Show.” But as sharp as he’ll probably be, it will be tough to match the mic-dropping performance of Barack Obama, doing his last performance of his two terms.

It’s not the only Presidential entertainment tonight, oddly, with a prime time “Jazz at the White House” (ABC, 8 p.m.) celebrating International Jazz Day with a concert featuring Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Chick Corea, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Esperanza Spalding.

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Playlist 4-29-16

RadioCPRFirst show in two weeks dominated of course by the death of Prince. But there were other deaths noted: that of Lonnie Mack and Billy Paul, who died last week as well. And there were a few birthdays today, of Washington’s own Duke Ellington, as well as Tammi Terrell and Willie Nelson.

The panorama of Prince was marred by technical challenges — none of the 1984 birthday concert I had on my laptop (or his latest albums) could be played; there was no second CD player, causing an odd pause between some songs, and the needle on one turntable skipped too merrily. Still, I think there was only one dud from the dozens of Prince song we played (if you must know, it was “Planet Earth”).

Here’s what I played on the radio tonight:

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Friday TV: Sports Docs, New Gervais


Two sports documentaries make their debut today. One is “Team Foxcatcher” (Netflix, streaming), director Jon Greenhalgh’s real story behind the 1996 murder of an Olympic wrestling champion David Schultz by John E. du Pont that was the basis of the 2014 Steve Carell film.

“The Drew” (Showtime, 8 p.m.) looks at a pro-amateur Drew basketball league in South Central Los Angeles that produced a number of stars in a film directed by former NBA star Baron Davis.

And in the world of actual sports, the NFL Draft (ESPN, 7 pm.; ESPN2, 8 p.m.) continues its second and third rounds.

Ricky Gervais wrote, directed and stars in a new romantic comedy, “Special Correspondents” (Netflix, streaming) about hapless foreign radio reporters who start to fake their news. It also stars Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga and America Ferrera.

A winner is named on the 15th season finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox, 9 p.m.) between Ariel Malone, 26, a country club chef from Hackensack and Kristin Barone, 27, a line cook from Chicago. It comes after a five-course cook-off. Winner gets $250,000 and a job in Vegas.

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Other Things I’ve Written Lately

Here are a few other things I’ve written lately:

  • A rare interview with Tracy Morgan on the comeback trail, for the Washington Post.
  • A Q&A with TV icon Carol Burnett about her classic variety show and her questions only tour, also for the Post.
  • A look at an exhibit of Muslim women photography, “She Who Tells a Story,” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
  • A story about the pot stamps in the collection of the National Postal Museum for Smithsonian Magazine, just in time for 4/20.
  • Eking out some laughs about Washington from comedian Maz Jobrani for the Washington Post.
  • A more expanded discussion with Duncan Shiek in advance of his last Broadway production, “Spring Awakening.”
  • A swing through the satisfying National Portrait Gallery competition, held every three years, which gets more personal this year.
  • A chat with actress turned singer and songwriter Rita Wilson for the Post.
  • A look at the sleek exhibit and installation by Robert Irwin at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, for Smithsonian Magazine.
  • An interview with Latin jazz giant Arturo Sandoval for the Washington Post.
  •  Various video and song premieres from the Cleveland group Seafair, as well as the tasty duo The Greyhounds and the English soul funk masters  The New Mastersounds  f0r The Vinyl District. 


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Thursday TV: Sophia Loren Sits to Talk

TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVALOn “Live from the TCM Classic Movie Festival: Sophia Loren” (TCM, 8 and 11:30 p.m.) the 81-year-old actress sits down to talk about her career with her son Edoardo Ponti, who was also director of her last film, the 2014 “Human Voice” (TCM, 9:15 p.m.), which follows.

Turner Classic Movies rounds out the night with four more of her movies, “Marriage – Italian Style” (9:45 p.m.), “Arabesque” (12:45 a.m.), “The Priest’s Wife” (2:45 a.m.) and “More than a Miracle” (4:45 a.m.).

The latest traveling foodie with a show is Eddie Huang, the restauranteur and creator of “Fresh Off the Boat” whose new show “Huang’s World” (Viceland, 10 p.m.) has him tasting local cuisine in different places, starting with Orlando.

The biggest thing in sports will look more like a game show: first round of the NFL Draft (ESPN, 8 p.m.).

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Music Review: John Hiatt at the Birchmere

hiattSalutes since the death of Prince last week have come so far from artists as wide ranged as Janelle Monae to Bruce Springsteen.

Tuesday, John Hiatt found way to tip his hat in respect as well in a manner that came more natural than expected.

Stopping for the first of two nights at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Hiatt was continuing an extended solo acoustic tour —  the kind of thing that allows an artist can drift to inspirations as his muse leads him without checking with the band first. It let him shift very naturally from a typically stirring “Cry Love” into Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

It was only a chorus, but the intent was clear, as it was in the song that followed, a typically contemplative “Feels Like Rain” that changed hues gradually to allow a chorus of “Purple Rain.”

It showed both the versatility of the lanky longtime songwriter and the depth of his own satchel of songs that could allow such connections.

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Wednesday TV: A Different Angle to Sports

vice-world-of-sportsThe rollouts are continuing on the year’s best new network. And like many of its other shows nominally about subjects otherwise well covered by cable — travel, food, music — it brings an international perspective often lost or ignored elsewhere.

In tonight’s premiere, “Vice World of Sports” (Viceland, 11 p.m.) has host Selema Masekala traveling to  Ghana to a tiny town that has nonetheless produced more championship boxers per capita than anywhere else in the world.

A totally unnecessary “The Goldbergs: An 80s Rewind” (ABC, 8:30 p.m.) replaces the sitcom this week with a short documentary about stars’ recollections about the actual 1980s, as if there isn’t a current CNN documentary series about the very same thing.

Lucious throws a fund raiser on “Empire” (Fox, 9 p.m.) to show his worthiness as CEO.

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TV Tonight: Let’s Call It Nuclear Tuesday

chernobyl-animals-birdToday is the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a milestone that ought to create a number of news reports and updates. The most unusual one, and yet one best tailored for its specific audience may be “Life After: Chernobyl” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.) examines how local wildlife has been affected by the worst nuclear accident in history, as well as the effect on the environment. It’s hosted by biologist Rob Nelson and anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochoa.

We’re not calling it Super Tuesday 4, as some are, but the Presidential Primary Results (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Span, 8 p.m.) will have results from voting today in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island.

Another Super Tuesday was Tuesday Weld, who is featured in six films on Turner Classic Movies, from “Rock, Rock, Rock” (8 p.m.) (with performances by Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and the Johnny Burnette Trio), “Because They’re Young” (9:45 p.m.), “Lord Love a Duck” (11:30 p.m.), “I’ll Take Sweden” (1:30 a.m.), “Sex Kittens Go to College” (3:15 a.m.) and “The Cincinnati Kid” (5 a.m.).

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Stage Review: ‘Black Pearl Sings!’

BlackPearlThe song hunting expeditions of early 20th century musicologists, scouring rural backwoods to find tunes that have been become part of the nation’s fabric — as well as discovering authentic, previously-unknown voices is one ripe for theatrical adaptation, particularly a musical.

Frank Higgins’ “Black Pearl Sings!” is based on the interactions of John Lomax and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter. Lugging a tape recorder, Lomax found Lead Belly singing in a prison, where he himself had been kind of a musicologist in stripes, soaking up old songs he heard there and singing them again.

All of that would make a stirring production, though Higgins gives it a twist by fictionalizing it and making both the musicologist and the imprisoned singer female.

The gender switch adds another level of interest to a Depression-era play that already deals with issues of race, culture, privilege, appropriation and stereotypes. The initially wary but ultimately successful interaction between cultures makes it perfect for Metro Stage, the Alexandria theater that practically specializes in such things. Artistic director Carolyn Griffin practically said so at the end of the opening performance.

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