New this week: ‘Saved by the Bell,’ Miley Cyrus & McCarthy
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.
— The Christmas movie, that yuletide evergreen, is subtly changing. “Happiest Season,” which premieres Wednesday on Hulu, has many of the genre’s comforting standards — a homecoming trip, family discord, a secretly planned engagement — but it opens the holiday comedy to a fresh cast of characters, and comes away all the more charming for it. Writer-director Clea DuVall’s film — originally planned as a theatrical release by Sony Pictures — stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Harper and Abby, a couple who travel to Harper’s Waspy family for the holidays. Just before they arrive, Harper confesses she isn’t out to her family. The spirited supporting cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy.
— “Superintelligence,” too, is a studio film uprooted to a streaming service by the pandemic. The Melissa McCarthy comedy, her latest with director-husband Ben Falcone (“Tammy,” “The Boss”), had been headed to theaters but will instead debut Thursday on HBO Max. In it, an artificial-intelligence supercomputer voiced by James Corden tasks McCarthy’s unemployed character with saving the world.
— Ironically, the week’s top Netflix release is the one that’s been playing in theaters. After two weeks in select cinemas, Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy” begins streaming Tuesday. The adaptation of J.D. Vance’s much-talked-about 2016 bestseller hasn’t been a hit with critics ( including this one ), but it’s also a kind of regular feature to the season: a big ’ol helping of awards bait, with a handful of big performances by elite actors (Glenn Close, Amy Adams).
—AP Film Writer Jake Coyle
— Miley Cyrus is ready to rock ‘n’ roll on her new album. The pop star recruited some famous rock stars to help on her seventh studio release “Plastic Hearts,” including Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol and Joan Jett. And Mick Rock, the iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographer who has shot everyone from David Bowie to Debbie Harry, photographed the “Plastic Hearts” cover art. But pop fans shouldn’t worry too much about Miley’s rock sound, the album – out Friday – also features a collaboration with hitmaker Dua Lipa and includes producers like Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) and Louis Bell (Post Malone).
— Speaking of Dua Lipa, the Brit has had a major year in music thanks to the success of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” and the smash hit single “Don’t Start Now.” She’ll celebrate her big year on Friday with “Studio 2054,” a multidimensional live experience where Lipa is promising fans “a night of music, mayhem, performance, theater, dance and much more.” The singer said there will be “surprise superstar guests” at the event, and standard tickets costs $11.99.
— Grammy-winning Chicago-based rockers Smashing Pumpkins will release a double album on Friday. “CYR” features 20 tracks produced by founding member and frontman Billy Corgan. The band’s 11th album also features founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin as well as guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “CYR” is the follow-up to 2018’s “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN” – Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin’s first collaborative album in 18 years.
— AP Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu
— If you like “Bones” and “CSI” but just need more French accents, your best bet is the terrific NOVA special “Saving Notre Dame.” The hour-long PBS documentary airing Wednesday shows the incredible lengths architects, engineers and craftspeople have gone to restore the iconic Paris cathedral stricken by 2019′s fire. There is detective work — where did the original limestone come from? — and painstaking efforts to reclaim the building’s glory, like stained glass specialists using cotton swabs to remove toxic lead. Everyone wears wear full hazard protection gear as they navigate a “giant house of cards.”
— Can you have a “Saved by the Bell” without Screech? Peacock is hoping fans won’t notice that character’s absence when its sequel to the popular TV series brings back members of the original cast — Elizabeth Berkeley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar — but not Dustin Diamond, who played the quirky Screech. In this sequel kicking off Wednesday, Gosselaar is California governor who has a son at Bayside High, Berkeley is a guidance counselor and Lopez is once again A.C. Slater, now a gym teacher.
— It happens all the time: You wake up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel. In the case of HBO Max’s adaptation of “The Flight Attendant,” the comedy and darkness work simultaneously. Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” plays an air hostess with a drinking problem whose looney attempts to cover up her part in the death place her in the crosshairs of the FBI. The first three episodes of the limited series premier Thursday, with the first one free now if you’re willing to give HBO Max your email.
— AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy
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