Saturday TV: A Drop of Cirque du Soleil

ONE_DROP“Imagined by Cirque du Soleil – One Night for One Drop” (CBS, 8 p.m.) brings a little circus to your Saturday night. The annual event is usually held each year on World Water Day (though this year’s World Water Day is March 22). But this year’s seventh edition was presented on International Women’s Day in Las Vegas so that is a theme. Tara Lipinski and Blue Man Group man appearances in the show, created each year to raise money for One Drop, an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to safe water. Since 2013, they’ve raise over $35 million for the cause.

A new season starts for the reignited “Trading Spaces” (TLC, 8 p.m.), working on homes that will have 50s and 70s themes. College football themes are created on the revived spinoff “While You Were Out” (TLC, HGTV, 9 p.m.) with teams from both “Trading Spaces” and “Good Bones.” Each network’s version of the show will be different — TLC’s will focus on the people; HGTV’s on the makeovers.

The fourth film in the humanity-trimming series, “The First Purge” (HBO, 8 p.m.), with Marisa Tomei and Y’lan Noel, makes its premium cable debut as does “Searching” (Starz, 8 p.m.), the missing daughter drama from last year starring John Cho.

The story of the godmother of cocaine, Griselda Blanco, is told in the new series “Notorious” (Reelz, 9 p.m.).

A kidnapper from a past can returns and threatens to ham a child on “Ransom” (CBS, 9 p.m.), the only new scripted show tonight on broadcast TV.

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A Couple Takes the Gershwin Prize

IMG_6657It was the 10th Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, but winners Emilio and Gloria Estefan represent two firsts — the first married couple to be so honored, and the first of Latin heritage.

The award comes with a presentation with a big Congressional delegation in Washington and an all-star concert at the DAR Constitution Hall saluting the music, taped for public television.

The last time the prize was given, in 2017, Tony Bennett mostly sat back and basked in it before coming out and slaying everybody with a few songs at the send.

But for the 2019 event Wednesday, the couple seemed among the most hardworking on stage.

In front of a big band directed by Emmy-winner Gregg Field, the two both helped open the show with “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” and closed it with a big “Samba/ Conga” finale.

In addition, Gloria came out to join some of the guests in song — with José Feliciano on one song; with violinist Sarah Chang on another; and joining her daughter Emily Estefan on a duet of a Gershwin song, “Embraceable You.”

Where usually performers look up to the adjoining box to pay respects to the honoree, sitting next to the Librarian of Congress presiding, Carla Hayden, their seats were empty half the night.

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Friday TV: Aidy Bryant’s ‘Shrill’ Star Turn

Shrill“Saturday Night Live” star Aidy Bryant shines in the new series “Shrill” (Hulu, streaming) about a struggling writer at an independent weekly in Portland, Ore. She has to deal with a lowly job as listings writer, an indifferent boyfriend and mildly irritating parents on her way to accepting herself as a larger sized person. Based on the book by Lindy West, the cast also includes Luka Jones as her slacker boyfriend, John Cameron Mitchell as her boss, and Julia Sweeney and Daniel Stern as were parents.

The new documentary bio “I Am Richard Pryor” (Paramount, 10 p.m.; Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.) has an unusual two-network debut, looking at the groundbreaking comedian through interviews with this around him, along with contemporary comedians.

Idris Elba stars as a middle-aged DJ in England who is enlisted to look after his niece (Frankie Harvey) in the eight-episode series “Turn Up Charlie” (Netflix, streaming).Piper Perabo and JJ Field also star.

A fourth and final season begins for the comedy “Catastrophe” (Amazon Prime, streaming).

Also online today, the third season start of the remade “Queer Eye” (Netflix, streaming).

“The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann” (Netflix, streaming) looks at the disappearance of a 3-year-old from a Portuguese resort that became one of Britiain’s highest-[profile missing child cases.

The second half of the fifth season of “Arrested Development” (Netflix, streaming) may be its last. It was first canceled by Fox in 2006; Thursday Netflix said it was canceling its updated “One Day at a Time” because of lack of viewers.

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Thursday TV: A New ‘Project Runway’

project-runway-bravoHarvey Weinstein is gone; the show has moved back to its original network from an 11-year stint on Lifetime. But the biggest change for the 17th season of “Project Runway” (Bravo, 8  p.m.) may be the absence of Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, who have fled to Netflix for a future project.

The revamped competition for aspiring fashion designers now stars the willowy but not deep Karlie Kloss as host, with former competitor (and fourth season winner) Christian Soriano moving into the advisory Gunn role. Nina Garcia, in fact, is the only holdover; she shares the judges table with former Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth and designer Brandon Maxwell. The prize money has been upped; the show also has a component where viewers can buy the week’s designs. But once more the success will rise and fall on the creativity and personality of its 16 contestants.

No dramatic TV show has been as reflective of the current political scene as “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access, streaming), the “Good Wife” spinoff starring Christine Baranski. Its third season continues the resistance with the addition of Michael Sheen as a shady (and quite hairy) lawyer.

Ariana Grande, Alicia Keys, Halsey, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Garth Brooks and the Backstreet Boys all perform at the iHeartRadio Music Awards 2019 (Fox, 8 p.m.) airing live from Los Angeles. Hosting is the rapper and recent winner of “The Masked Singer,” T-Pain. Cardi B leads with 14 nominations; Drake has eight. Taylor Swift will receive a special award for her tour.

The finale of “Top Chef”(Bravo, 9:30 p.m.) has its final showdown among three chefs

Abby and Ilana visit Sleep No More on “Broad City” (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.).

On “Better Things” (FX, 10 p.m.), Sam sees old friends and cooks for everyone.

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Wednesday TV: Big Screen-Style ‘Frontier’

TRIPLE FRONTIERThe troubled thriller “Triple Frontier” (Netflix, streaming)  from J.C. Chandor (“A Most Violent Year”), which was picked up by the streaming service after Paramount pulled the plug on a production with Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy, finally sees the light of day. Now starring Ben Affleck, the the big screen-style, cartel-robbing caper that is set near the borders of Paraguay, Agentina and Brazil, also features Oscar Isaac and Charlie Hunnam, among others. And it’s also playing on some big screens.

There’s been far more drama away from the camera than there could possibly be in a new episode of “Empire” (Fox, 8 p.m.), but yes, Jussie Smollett’s character is in it.

Presumably, the world’s best is named on the first season finale of “The World’s Best” (CBS, 9 p.m.). And yes, one of the finalists is a ventriloquist.

There’s three on the Edge of Extinction, and the former tribes switch up to become three new ones on “Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

Looking forward to a new “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS, 10:30 p.m.).

“Documentary Now!” (IFC, 11 p.m.) stars Fred Armisen as a superman who goes looking for the creator of “The Far Side” comic strip.

Gretchen’s anxiety coms to a head at a work event on “You’re the Worst” (FXX, 10 p.m.).

Johnny and Moira hit a cat on “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop, 10 p.m.).

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Tuesday TV: Saget Shows More Videos

videos-after-dark-abcThe first eight years of the family-friendly “America’s Funniest Home Videos” were hosted by Bob Saget of “Full House.” Once off the show, he became a raunchier comedian. But now the videos and maybe the network have caught up to him, since he’s now hosting a raunchier video clip show, “Videos After Dark” (ABC, 10 p.m.). It gets a preview tonight, in advance of its season debut later this year.

Is there any question what Colton will do tonight on the season finale “The Bachelor” (ABC, 8 p.m.) after dismissing two finalists and mooning over a third, who left on her own? The bigger question: Why would it take two hours to tell it? (It was originally going to be three hours, but was quite logically  trimmed).

A more engaging reality series “Terrace House: Opening New Doors” (Netflix, streaming) starts a new season.

“Jimmy Carr; The Best of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits” (Netflix, streaming) is a new stand-up comedy special from the Brit.

A new season starts for “MasterChef Junior” (Fox, 8 p.m.) with a new Top 24 issuing as many perfect banana splits as possible.

The couples take overnight dates off “Temptation Island” (USA, 10 p.m.).

UFOs swarm Washington D.C. on the first season finale of “Project Blue Book” (History, 10 p.m.), based on an incident in July 1952.

On “This is Us” (NBC, 9 p.m.), Kate is reaching the end of her pregnancy.

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Remembering Hal Blaine, 1929-2019

Hal-BlaineOne of rock’s greatest timekeepers was stilled, as Hal Blaine died in Los Angeles Monday at age 90.

A player on more than 350 Top 40 hits and 40 No. 1 records, Blaine was something of a hometown hero in Hartford, where I was working when I interviewed him in 2000, as he was about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first group of studio sidemen so honored.

It was fitting that the ceremony was being held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, he told me, since “one of my first jobs was at the Waldorf, playing that room with Count Basie and Joe Williams.”

Blaine, then 71, thought it was odd he was being inducted as a “sideman,” though. “I don’t know why they didn’t call it ‘session men’ instead of sidemen,” he said. “The funny part of it is that just about all of us were leaders.”

That was certainly the case with Blaine, a trained musician who composed and wrote down his own drum parts to a head-spinning number of ’60s hits. It’s still impossible to turn on an oldies station anywhere and not hear Blaine’s work more than a dozen times a day. He played on nearly all of the Beach Boys’ hits, from “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “California Girls” to the more groundbreaking “Pet Sounds” and “Smile” sessions.

Blaine made his name as part of Phil Spector’s studio band, known as the Wrecking Crew, where his thump announced to the world the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” He played on Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and “Return to Sender,” Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over,” Dean Martin’s ”Everybody Loves Somebody,” Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and most of the Simon and Garfunkel hits, from “Homeward Bound” to “Mrs. Robinson.” It’s probably easier to list the performers of that era with whom Blaine didn’t worked.

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Monday TV: Making of ‘Imagine’ and Punk

John&YokoTwo strong music documentaries are on tonight.

The British-made “John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky” (A&E, 9 p.m.) is about the making of the “Imagine” album, whose title track was pretty much based on a Yoko Ono idea and was originally intended as a B-side to “Give Me Some Truth.” Lots of backstage footage creates a picture of the life of the two, including more of her art background than these rock bios usually give. Ono herself appears at the end as do grizzled surviving members of the band for the album, from Klaus Voormann to Jim Keltner.

I still can’t forgive John Varvatos for turning CBGB’s into a high-end clothes boutique, but his love for the music that occurred there is what drives his new documentary series “Punk” (Epix, 10 p.m.), which does as good a job as any in chronicling the rise of the raucous movement, starting with Iggy Pop, who also happens to be an executive producer. Like the other rock doc tonight, it will be shocking to see how many of the surviving figures in the movement have aged.

“The Bachelor” (ABC, 8 p.m.) pretty much made his choice last week, but Cassie said she wasn’t sure she was 100 percent sure about engagement so they broke up completely and he jumped that damn fence. They’ll spend two hours tonight getting him back in the game and trying to convince Hannah and Tayshia that they’re still in it, too. But the two hour finale is Tuesday.

It’s the second season finale for “The Good Doctor” (ABC, 10 p.m.), which finds Shaun in a bar fight.

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A Stirring Salute to the Queen of Soul

56f3ee86-d10e-441f-b90a-42c3d5b03d97-GettyImages-1134086120Any time is a good time for a salute to Aretha Franklin music. But the Queen of Soul did it so well herself, it’s hard to pay tribute and come close.

The music special “Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul” (CBS, 9 p.m.) tries its best, but in the end succeeds largely in reminding one how many great songs she put her stamp upon.

For sheer vocal power, Jennifer Hudson stops the show almost as soon as it starts, taped in January at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with three of the tastiest Franklin hits, “Think,” “Ain’t No Way” and “Respect.”

A couple of other “American Idol” alums also shine with Kelly Clarkson’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” and Fantasia two collaborations — “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” with Rob Thomas filling in the George Michael part; and in a finale of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with Andra Day, Alessia Cara and Brandi Carlile that, with all of its approaches, still can’t quite touch Franklin’s own rendition that brought tears to the eyes of its writer Carole King and President Barack Obama at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, when the Queen was 73.

That’s one clip the two hour special doesn’t show (though CBS aired the original). Maybe because the present day artists wouldn’t compare. But there are some swell snippets of Franklin from a variety of TV approaches and just a little from the powerhouse performance at the Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972, captured in the documentary “Amazing Grace” that finally receives its nationwide release next month.

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Also on Sunday: Going Beyond ‘Serial’

AdnanOne would think the death of a high school girl in Baltimore would have been adequately covered in the first season of the “Serial” podcast. But there is much more to the story and quite a bit to update in Amy Berg’s “The Case Against Adnan Syed” (HBO, 9 p.m.), a four-part documentary series that includes hiring investigators to look at some other suspects.

The visual aspect not only brings dreamy drone photography of the areas where it all unfolded, previously only described, we also get to see how old everybody has become, 20 years after the teen’s death. And the victim’s diaries are illustrated in the hearts-and-flowers manner in which they were written.

More true crime is found in in the new documentary series “Finding Justice” (BET, 8 p.m.), concentrating on racial injustice in six different cities, starting with Tampa.

The title of Gregg Araki’s new series “Now Apocalypse” (Starz, 9 p.m.) inverts the name of the great Vietnam movie for a messy mix of sci-fi and millennial sexcapades. Amid the hooking up and drug-taking, lizard-like aliens start appearing (possibly because no other story would have panned out). Co-writing the series with the proclaimed king of New Queer Cinema is the sex columnist from Vogue.

“Shameless” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) has its season finale, with a decision to make about Frank.

But it’s the apparent series finale for “Crashing” (HBO, 10 p.m.), which has had a pretty strong third season, but had its fate announced just this week. John Mulaney guest stars in the final episode.

It was also announced Friday that this would be the last season for “SMILF” (Showtime, 10 p.m.), which the network pulled the plug on apparently because of behind the scenes problems. The rest of its season will play out.

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