Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this week’s picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more.
The Apollo. Since 1934, The Apollo Theater has been the breeding ground and epicenter of black entertainment. As the storied venue celebrates its 85th Anniversary, this new HBO documentary takes a look back how a small theater located in the heart of Harlem played a key role in the careers for some of the biggest names of music and comedy. Directed by Academy and Emmy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams, it features archival footage, music, dance and comedy routines along with a behind the scenes look at the theater’s day to day operations. Anchored with new interviews with Smokey Robinson, Jamie Fox, Pharrell Williams, and Patti LaBelle, Williams has put together the ultimate salute to a New York and industry institution. The Apollo is available now on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Dennis Miller and Friends. After curating/hosting a series of films in 2009 and 2017, Dennis Miller returns to Turner Classic Movies backed by some of his famous friends. Martin Short, Rita Wilson, Dana Carey and Jay Leno will join Miller to discuss such gems as Duck Soup, Dr Strangelove, The Big Picture, Tootsie, Being There, Soylent Green, A Hard Day’s Night, A Face In the Crowd, and Marty, among many others. It’s promises to be a great night of classic cinema, peppered with insights that will just as entertaining. Dennis Miller and Friends airs each Friday night in November at 8pm East on Turner Classic Movies. You can also go to www.tcm.com for more information.
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Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series Vol 15 by Bob Dylan. After a motorcycle accident that put him on the shelf for the better part of a year, Bob Dylan returned to Nashville to make his follow up to his acclaimed Blonde On Blonde. But instead of a continuation of the free wheeling sound that came to define his ‘electric period’, the songs featured a hybrid of country, folk and rock. The latest installment of the acclaimed Bootleg series looks back at the sessions that would produce the groundbreaking albums John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. It features 47 previously unreleased tracks that chronicles the evolution of material that introduced a new generation to country music. It also set the table for what would define the singer-songwriter era. The centerpiece of the set is the collaboration between Dylan and Johnny Cash leading up to, and after, his appearance on Cash’s TV show and songs that he cut with country legend Earl Scruggs for a PBS special. It’s another dynamic set that captures Dylan during one of his numerous musical incarnations. Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series Vol 15 by Bob Dylan is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming outlets. You can also go to www.bobdylan.com for more information.
Twilight Animals by Sylvia Black. The latest from the singer/songwriter/bassist/producer continues her noir-infused explorations into the darker side of love with a few new twists. New York City downtown legend Lydia Lunch adds her trademark vocals on four tracks, including hypnotic takes on Van Halen’s ‘Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love’ and the Huey Lewis & The News classic, ‘I Want A New Drug’. There’s also some Eastern-infused elements and old school 50s rock n roll that only adds to the power and mystique of the Sylvia Black sound. If you are looking for a Lynchian soundtrack to your trip to parts unknown, this is it. One of the year’s best. Twilight Animals by Sylvia Black is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming services.
We All Want Something Beautiful by Randall Slavin. While making the rounds trying to break into the world of acting, Randall Slavin wandered into a photography studio and ended up befriending the owner. After being taught some basic toolson how to work a camera, Slavin decided that his future was behind the lens and not in front of it. Continuously finding himself at the right place at the right time, Slavin captured candid shots of many of the stars that would come to define Hollywood over the last 20 years. This new book collects the best of his work, when clubs like The Viper Room, Opium Den and The Hollywood Roosevelt was the prime hangout spots for such future stars as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston, Ryan Gosling, and Hilary Swank. The loose, laid back nature of the shots shows the tail end of Hollywood nightlife that was far more freewheeling and anything goes, before the revelatory nature of TMZ kicked in. With forwards by Ben Stiller and Jeremy Renner, it shows an artist at his ascension capturing Hollywood’s next wave of superstars. We All Want Something Beautiful by Randall Slavin is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all book retailers.