Movies: “Nightcrawler,” a creepy trip through nighttime Los Angeles and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is the must-see of the week. Daniel Radcliffe can usually do no wrong, but “Horns” makes me wonder. Television: Michael Feinstein lovers should watch his Rainbow Room special on Friday. The first part of “Olive Kitteridge,” starring my former neighbor Frances McDormand, begins Sunday. Music: Taylor Swift’s “1989” is unavoidable, so you may as well take a listen. Yannick Nezet-Seguin has helped revivify the Philadelphia Orchestra: start here to find out why. Books: My good friend Bryan Stevenson’s new book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” is well worth your consideration. Sports: I’m so disgusted with the Giants and Jets that I may have to start watching the Knicks. Finally: The most popular costume themes for Halloween 2014: Guardians of the Galazy, Frozen, and Ebola.
I told people a year ago, when Sting did his wonderful “Last Ship” concerts at New York’s Public Theater, that the show would have a much better chance on Broadway if Sting himself were in it. (Not as the lead character, for which he’s too old, but in one of the lesser parts, as a kind of glorified cameo.) Well, according to Michael Riedel in today’s NY Post, I was right. The musical’s sales are slipping, and all the “experts” would agree that it would sell more tickets if Sting went into it. In other theatre news, Kristin Scott Thomas will play The Queen in Peter Morgan’s play “The Audience,” next spring in London. While Kristin is on the throne across the ocean, Helen Mirren will be reigning, in the same play, on Broadway. Sting has said that he was inspired to become rich and famous by seeing the Queen as a boy, so maybe he could write up that scene, insert it in “The Last Ship,” and have that be his cameo.
For a country which prides itself on “Liberté,” France certainly likes to ban things. Latest example: The nation is facing a bizarre crisis of fake clowns terrorizing its citizens. Pranksters dressing up as scary clowns have been causing problems on the streets, scaring children and the general population, sometimes armed with pistols, knives, or bats, and sometimes beating people up. As a result, the village of Vendargues in southern France has put into place a ban on anyone wearing a clown costume. The mayor said it is to “avoid any disruption…by evil clowns.. It’s about protecting children by preventing any ill-intentioned clowns from mixing with residents.”
“The Big Bang Theory” returned to its Thursday time slot with a bang in the form of an Oscar winner and Emmy nominee. Billy Bob Thornton guest starred during Thursday’s “The Misinterpretation Agitation” episode. And while Thornton’s performance as a sad urologist to the stars will likely earn the Fargo alum a guest actor in a comedy Emmy nomination, the best part of Thursday’s episode was the fact that it was kept under wraps.
Your first Halloween treat today: Reading Pottermore‘s latest feature, a 1700-word exploration of the despicable Dolores Umbridge—written, naturally, by J.K. Rowling herself. (In the movies, Dolores is play by the great Imelda Staunton, pictured, currently triumphing in the UK in “Gypsy.”) The Harry Potter author calls Umbridge—onetime Hogwarts professor, current Azkaban resident, and one of the primary antagonists of the series’ fifth installment—”one of the characters for whom I feel the purest dislike.” She reveals that Umbridge was inspired by a real person, a former teacher or instructor of Rowling’s whom she “disliked intensely on sight.” (This admission should be a pretty big deal for hardcore Potterheads, since Rowling has claimed previously that smarmy Gilderoy Lockhart is the only Potter character based directly on a real person.)
Whether or not the 138 songs on this uber-bootleg six-CD box set really did change the course of rock music, the best bits are as good as it gets. So says Alexis Petridis: ‘The rough recordings Dylan made in Woodstock in the summer of 1967 had a profound effect, widely held to represent the third time in as many years that he altered the course of music.’
Please don’t say: it’s not Mary Martin or Cathy Rigby. This promo makes it very difficult to tell if Allison Williams, who gets to fly this time, will join the exalted ranks of her predecessors. Or if Christopher Walken can match Cyril Ritchard.