Trevor Noah: But Is He Funny?

That’s the multi-million-dollar question Comedy Central is raising by tapping unknown-to-America Trevor Noah to succeed Jon Stewart as the host of “The Daily Show.” The South African Noah likes to say that he was “born a crime” because interracial marriage and sex were illegal under apartheid. Learn a few other fast facts about him here.

The Battle Over Nazi-Stolen Art

On the eve of the release of a film starring Ryan Reynolds as a lawyer and Helen Mirren as the Jewish refugee who won a historic battle with the Austrian government over the ownership of a great painting, an expert at Christie’s has spoken of a force that is changing the shape of the international art market: the new understanding of the huge scale of wartime art thefts. In “Woman in Gold,” Mirren plays the part of US citizen Maria Altmann, niece of the muse of Viennese painter Gustav Klimt. Her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, had been the striking model for the artist’s celebrated 1907 painting, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (pictured).

Sinatra Sings “Soliloquy” From “Carousel”

Frank is everywhere this week: a big documentary on HBO on Sunday, a popular new exhibition at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center in New York. Did you know that Sinatra was Billy Bigelow in the 20th Century Fox/Henry King film version of “Carousel”? But Sinatra abruptly quit and Gordon MacRae was hired to replace him. Listen to how Sinatra approaches the role in the video above.

Judge Judy’s New Show Is A Hit

The New York Times rather condescendingly today says that “Hot Bench,” a new show created by Judge Judy, is a “surprise” hit. The paper also said that Judge Judy’s own show, upon its premiere years ago, was “a long shot.” The New York Times should stop underestimating Judge Judy.

World’s Biggest Collection Of Vinyl

With 6 million discs, Zero Freitas has built the biggest record collection on the planet – and now he is building a new home in Brazil for the hoard so that he can share his passion with the world. Three homes are being demolished for the five-storey structure. A team of archivists is busy cleaning, photographing and indexing crates full of 33, 45 and 78 RPMs. Meanwhile, his buying spree is gathering pace. When music shops go bust, Freitas snaps up the entire stock. His agents swoop on every major record auction in Europe and the US. Container-loads of singles and LPs arrive at his Read more »

Your Weekend: A Selective Guide

Movies: I wouldn’t mind if “Get Hard,” starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, were offensive if it were funny: it isn’t. The Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence “Serena” is supposedly a dog, but I may watch it anyway. Television: The Mark Morris dance masterpiece, “L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato,” will be broadcast Friday on PBS. On Sunday, HBO will broadcast the acclaimed documentary, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” Music: I’ve listened to the soundtrack from “Empire,” and it’s smooth stuff, but I have no desire to listen to it again. Yannick Nezet-Seguin is a wonderful conductor, and I’ve been savoring his recording of Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe.” Books: Every time I walk into a bookstore lately, I see dozens of new tomes but none I want to buy: back to Tolstoy. Sports: I did so well with my bets during the first regionals of March Madness, what could possibly go wrong this weekend? Hah! Finally: “Remembering what I had forgotten is the way most of the poems get started.” (Seamus Heaney)

Small Codpieces, Please, We’re American

The BBC doesn’t think Americans can handle big codpieces. That’s according to one of the stars of “Wolf Hall,” the upcoming BBC/PBS historical drama series based on Hilary Mantel’s two Man Booker Prize-winning books, “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies.” Actor Mark Rylance, who plays the show’s main protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, said producers toned down the size of the fashion accessories to make them more acceptable to viewers in the U.S. “I think the codpieces are too small,” Mark Rylance said during a question-and-answer session discussing the show. “I think it was a direction from our American producers PBS — they like very small codpieces which always seemed to be tucked away…. I can see for modern audiences, perhaps more in America, they may not know exactly what’s going on down there.” Codpieces are padded fabric flaps that men used to wear over the crotch of their pants to accentuate the genital area. They were popular in the 16th century, when “Wolf Hall” takes place. Damian Lewis, who stars in the series as Henry VIII, explained that the codpiece “was a symbol of your virility, your sense of adventure. They were encouraged, it was a fashion, and Henry liked them.” “Wolf Hall” starts April 5th on PBS.