Monthly Archives: February 2023

The Mother Church is More Than a Country Club

Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium rocks—and rolls out the red carpet for all kinds of music

It’s been around since the World War II era, when it was renamed after the death of the steamboat captain, Tom Ryman, who had it built. But before that, it was a church, the Union Gospel Tabernacle. And for decades, appropriately enough, the Ryman Auditorium has been known as country music’s Mother Church, a nod to its house-of-worship roots as well as its unparalleled prominence as a world-class performance spot. The Grand Ole Opry made the venerated venue its home for 31 years, beginning in 1943.

But this iconic temple for Music City royalty has always been a place for more than country music, says general manager Gary Levy, who’s been in his Ryman role for nearly five years. “We just celebrated our 130th birthday, and part of that was to expand on the idea that we’re much beyond the legacy of country music and the Grand Ole Opry.”

Levy points out that from its earliest days, all kinds of showbiz superstars played at the Ryman—including magician Harry Houdini, Italian opera legend Enrico Caruso, composer and conductor John Philip “Stars and Stripes Forever” Sousa, singing cowboy Roy Rogers, comedian W.C. Fields, silver screen goddess Mae West, jazz crooner Nat King Cole, silent film superstar Charlie Chaplin, and Bob Hope.

And the Ryman wasn’t just known for music. It also hosted political rallies, community events, theatrical productions and ballet. It developed a rarified rep one of America’s most venerated performance spots, for acts of any kind. 

“The Carnegie Hall of the South,” says Levy. “Our philosophy here is all are welcome, and we believe that.”

Just this week, the Ryman received its 14th Pollstar Award, an honor voted by the trade industry publication, as the Theater of the Year.

The Grand Ole Opry still comes home “to roost,” for a series of shows during the winter, and other country stars showcase there at other times throughout the year. Garth Brooks, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, and Ricky Skaggs are no strangers to the Ryman stage.

And other times, the Ryman presents a wholly eclectic and ecumenical lineup, opening its iconic doors in downtown Nashville to U2 front man Bono, flute-playing rapper/singer Lizzo, the Wu-Tang Clan (which made history in 2019 as the first hip-hop act to play the Mother Church), pop star/actor Harry Styles, and former First Lady Michelle Obama (on her book tour).

On March 1, the Ryman will host “Rock the Ryman,” an annual event featuring Nashville artists like Little Big Town, The War & Treaty, Caitlin Smith and Charlie Worsham, all performing music from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees—and continuing to connect the dots between the venue and the long line of non-country artists who’ve taken to the Ryman stage over the decades.

“People feel like they’ve ‘made it’ when they play the Ryman,” he adds, “no matter how big they [already] are.”

Left: The suit worn by James Brown during his appearance at the Ryman is on display as part of the venue’s exhibits of memorabilia from artists who’ve played there.

Is the Ryman haunted???

Is there a ghost in the house at one Nashville’s most revered musical places?

“Many artists and a lot of staff members truly do believe the building is haunted,” says Gary Levy, the GM of the Ryman. “My guess is that, if any concert venue is going to be haunted, it would be this one.”

And why is that?

Maybe it’s haunted by the ghost of Elvis, whose first and only appearance at the Grand Ole Opry was a bit of a disaster; audiences just didn’t know what to make of him and his hip-shaking, but he knew what to make of them—he vowed to never return. And he didn’t…or maybe he did, and he does. Could that be Presley’s otherworldly specter, lurking in the shadows of the balcony, or around the labyrinth of corners and corridors backstage?

Or maybe it’s the ghost of riverboat captain Thomas Ryman, who founded the building—which eventually became the Opry—as a gospel tabernacle? After he died, and the facility was renamed in his honor, the Ryman began getting away from its “spiritual” roots, hosting a variety of entertainers and events. Perhaps Ryman wasn’t too pleased with all the secular sounds and “risqué” performances. It’s about that time that reports of a strange “apparition” began circulating. 

One of the Opry’s earliest stars during its Ryman years was Hank Williams, who met an untimely death, at age 28 in 1953, after mixing drugs and alcohol. What if the Ryman’s “ghost” is the fabled “I Saw the Light” singer, who perhaps grew so fond of rapturous responses from the Opry crowd, he decided to keep coming back, seeking an encore? Ryman staffers have for years recounted episodes of hearing Hank Sr.’s unworldly voice or his songs in the building—with no explanation or source to be found.

Numerous other Opry entertainers met unfortunate early demises, from accidents, overdoses or even murder—including Patsy Cline (plane crash), Stringbean Akeman (killed during a robbery) and Dottie West (automobile accident…on the way to play Opry, after it moved to its “new” home at Opryland). Maybe they’re just hanging out at a place that they just weren’t ready to depart.

There’s also the legend of the “Grey Man,” believed to be one of the Confederate soldiers who visited the venue after the War Between the States was over; he’s sometimes been “seen” sitting in the balcony, as if waiting for another show to start. Another spooky school of thought concerns “The Lady,” a recurring female apparition specifically believed to be Patsy Cline.

Levy says he’s heard things from some clearly “spooked” Ryman employees. “Sometimes they’ll see something, or someone, when the building is otherwise completely empty,” he says. “Maybe it’s late at night, after a show, and they’ll notice the stage curtain fluctuating, or what they think is someone standing behind it. Or they think they notice in someone in a place where there should be no one.”

While Levy hasn’t seen any of that himself, he won’t go so far as dismissing it. “I have never personally experienced anything,” he says. “But I’m not [going] to discount anything either. There’s a lot of things out there we don’t know about, and I respect the opinions of everyone who believes it might be haunted. Who are we to say if it is, or it isn’t?”

—Neil Pond

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The Entertainment Forecast

Feb. 24 – March 2

Eugene Levy on the road, cowboys in the saddle & Satan spooks a school

‘Schitt’s Creek’ star Eugene Levy travels the globe in his new series.

FRIDAY, Feb. 24
The Reluctant Traveler
Emmy winner Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek) hosts this globetrotting travel series, visiting exotic and beautiful destinations in Costa Rica, Finland, Italy, Japan, South Africa…and even the good ol’ US of A (Apple TV+)

Espionage, political intrigue, passionate love—Vincent Cassel and Eva Green (left) star in this high-stakes, high-energy thriller about how our pasts have ways of destroying our futures (Apple TV+)

The Consultant
Biting workplace satire series follows a dapper consultant (Christoph Waltz) who comes to the rescue of an emerging tech company after its CEO dies and a hoped-for merger falls through (Prime Video).

Western Night
Saddle up for a trail-mix trio of cowboy flicks, all starring Robert Ryan, the prolific, genre-spanning actor who appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows during the 1940s through the ‘70s, including war dramas, high-seas epics and crime capers. And oh yeah, also Westerns! (TCM).

Chaos Reigns: The Films of Lars von Trier
Danish filmmaker von Trier has always been a controversial director, for his exploration of dicey subjects and gritty, fem-centric parables—like Nymphomaniac I and II, a pair of bridged erotic accounts about a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who, well, just can’t get enough sex. It’s notable for its all-star cast and a stylish flair that elevates it to the realm of “art” instead of pornography, with appearances by Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman and Connie Nielsen (Mubi).

12 Desperate Hours
Held hostage by a home intruder, a quick-thinking mother (Samantha Mathis, right) offers to drive him anywhere he wants to go, becoming his unwilling accomplice on a rampage of destruction (8 p.m. Lifetime). 

SUNDAY, Feb. 26
Shock Docs: The Devil’s Academy
Was there really a mass demonic possession at the Miami Space Academy in 1979? This harrowing documentary takes a look at the scarifying chain of events that began hells-a-poppin’ after a student claimed she was possessed by the devil (9 p.m., Travel Channel).

The Circus
Just as the new political season heats up, the Emmy-nominated docuseries returns to pull back the curtain on this extraordinarily fractured and fraught moment for American democracy (8 p.m., Showtime).

TUESDAY, Feb. 28
Black Broadway
This concert special featuring a current generation of Black Broadway stars celebrates iconic stage performances made famous by Black singers, with songs from The Wiz, The Color Purple, Porgy & Bess and more (8 p.m., PBS).

Homestead Rescue
Have a homestead that needs rescuing? Then call Marty Rainey and his kids (above), who thrive on helping people rehab and revive to create more self-sufficient lives, as they do in tonight’s new-season premiere episode, assisting a Wyoming family resurrect a legacy home place (8 p.m., Discovery Channel).

Bring It Home

Extras on the home video release of Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) include a sing-along “jukebox” feature, deleted scenes and featurettes that bring you deeper into the complicated story of the late, great singer and how she became a superstar.

Hollywood’s top palooka goes for extra rounds in The Rocky I-IV Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), a set of all five feature films in Sylvester Stallone’s epic boxing saga (Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV, plus Rocky Vs. Drago). And the knockout punch: They’re all in 4k Ultra HD for the first time (plus standard Blu-rays with commentary).

In Salvatore: Shoemaker of the Stars (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), director Luca Guadaginino (Bones and All, Call Me By Your Name) turns his lens on the Italian shoemaker who made sure all the stars of Hollywood’s silent era were well-heeled, founding the luxury footware and accessories company that still bears his name. Actor Michael Stuhbarg (currently on Showtime’s His Honor) narrates.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Season three of creator Jon Favreau’s hit sci-fi adventure series, starring Pedro Pascal as a bounty hunter who becomes a protector of Baby Yoda, begins its third season today (Disney+).

Beauty and the Bleach
Documentary looks at the global beauty trend of skin lightening—and how “lighter” skin taps into a wider issue of racist bullying and prejudice against people who aren’t white (9 p.m., Fuse and Fuse+).

Omega: Gift and Curse
The Dominican singer-songwriter known as Omega (real name: Antonio Peter De la Rosa) lifts the veil in this new five-part docuseries to give fans an exclusive look at his life and career (WE tv and ALLBLK).

New series stars Mark Strong as a talented surgeon who opens an “underground” clinic beneath a London tube station to treat those who cannot, or will not, seek more legitimate medical care. But as anyone who’s had to deal with insurance knows, it doesn’t always go smoothly (Topic).


Revisit one of Britain’s most legendary rock bands with Genesis BBC Broadcasts (Rhino), a 5-CD (or 3-LP) collection spanning the group’s music between 1970 and the late 1990s, featuring vocalists Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Nick Davis. It features live tracks recorded by the BBC, including an historic set from Wembley Arena in 1987. 

The legendary late Nashville songwriter Harlan Howard once defined country music as “three chords and the truth.” Now the legendary Willie Nelson sings it and brings it in his new album, I Don’t Know a Thing About Love (Sony Music Entertainment), an all-new celebration of Howard’s classic songs, including “Tiger By the Tail,” “Life Turned Her That Way,” “Busted” and “Streets of Baltimore.”

Grin & Bear It

Cast of familiar faces put a ferociously flip, rip-roaring spin on a true incident from the ’80s

Cocaine Bear
Starring Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Margo Martindale and Alden Ehrenreich
Directed by Elizabeth Banks

In theaters Friday, Feb. 24

Sometimes, movies have titles that leave you wondering, or might be misleading. Quantum of Solace? Don’t look for it on a map—and what the heck is a Quantum of Solace, anyway? Reservoir Dogs? Watch the whole movie, and you won’t see a single reservoir, or any canines. A Clockwork Orange? No clock, no orange. I screened Armageddon Time last year and liked it, but when it was over, I still felt the title was, well, a tad obscure for a story about a Jewish boy growing up in Queens during the 1980s.

There’s nothing misleading or obscure, however, about Cocaine Bear. It’s 100% on the nose, about a bear that does cocaine—a lot of cocaine.

It’s an outrageously fun—and often quite hilarious—spin on the old “man vs. nature” theme, about people pitted against an apex predator and fighting to keep the body count low. Think Jaws in the Great Smoky Mountains, or Leonardi DiCaprio getting mauled by that grizzly in The Revenant, but, well, a lot more unbridled, unhinged fun than either of those. In this case, the predator is a black bear flying high on blow from a drug smuggler’s crashed airplane.

Black bears—as we learn from some onscreen information from Wikipedia, which opens the film—aren’t generally threats to humans; they’re mostly just looking for something to eat.

But a bear hoovering copious snootfuls of snow? Well, watch out!

And, as you might have heard, it’s based on a stranger-than-life true story from the mid-1980s, when a 175-pound bear did, indeed, come upon a duffle bag filled with cocaine cargo dropped from a smuggler’s airplane in the mountains of east Tennessee. When wildlife agents came across the bear, its stomach gorged with about $15 million worth of nose candy, it was dead. A medical examiner at the time said no creature, not even a large one, would have a chance surviving that much coke. There was no rampage, no attacks on people, just a major, unfortunately fatal OD, a sad end to a majestic creature of the forest.

So, the movie takes a few liberties—well, a lot—with the facts, as movies sometimes do. Actor-director Elizabeth Banks adds to her behind-the-camera resume (which includes directing one of the Pitch Perfect movies, and the 2019 remake of Charlie’s Angels) with this ferociously entertaining action-comedy romp as an ensemble cast of familiar-face characters converges, eventually colliding with the cocaine bear. She finds just the right tone of black (bear) humor, spicing the story with a few severed limbs and goosing it all with some well-timed, funhouse-level gotchas.

Keri Russell is menaced by a bear coked up on nose candy.

It’s a wild ride as a park ranger (Margo Martindale), wildlife inspector (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and single mom (Keri Russell) venture into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to look for a couple of young school-skipping teens (Brooklyn Prince, who made her debut as a wayward kid in the critically hailed The Florida Project, and Christian Convery). Meanwhile, the bear has already attacked a tourist couple (Kristofer Hivju from Game of Thrones and Dutch actress Hannah Hoekstra), while a motley crew of small-time drug-smuggling middlemen (rapper/actor O’Shea Jackson, Alden Ehrenreich—he was young Han Solo in the Star Wars spinoff Solo—and, in one of his final roles before his death last year, Ray Liotta) arrive in the area. They’re hoping to intercept the dropped drugs and scoot before a local cop (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) can sniff out their trail.  

Brooklynn Prince and Henry Christian get more than a tardy slip when they skip school.

You can’t have a movie about a wild, drug-crazed bear without a few bear attacks, can you? The mama bear in Cocaine Bear is completely computer-generated, designed by the same topline effects company that crafted amazing creatures for King Kong, Avatar and Lord of the Rings. But she behaves, well, certainly not like Yogi, Fozzie Bear or Paddington—more like you might expect a big wild animal on toot would really behave, out-of-its mind crazy and desperately craving another snort. (At one point, mama bear does a quick line off a lower leg recently detached from, well, you’ll just have to see it.) There’s blood and guts, but they’re balanced by the well-calibrated, giddily gruesome humor of watching an ensemble of recognizable actors gamely throw themselves into the merry, deep-woods mayhem.

As one of them finds out, pinned underneath an exhausted, zonked-out black bear passed out on top of him, that’s not somewhere you want to be.

Isiah Whitlock Jr. is a cop on the cocaine trail.

Do kids and baby bear cubs get into the stash, too? Yep. Can a cocaine-fueled bear outrun a speeding ambulance? Yes, she can. Is it wise to try to escape a bear—especially one zooming on coke—by climbing high into a tree, or locking a door? Um, no, it is not.

This could very well become a new cult classic, in the vein of some other movies that have successfully found ripe, riotously rich comedic tones in dangerous, deadly situations, like Werewolves Among Us and Snakes on a Plane, turning something frightfully fearful into something else, something fun, flipped-out and funny.

It’s a rip-roaring romp, with lots of rip and lots of roar—and a message from the ‘80s that still resonates today: Keep your stash of cocaine away from the bear!

—Neil Pond

The Entertainment Forecast

Feb. 17 – Feb. 23

‘Idol’ returns, Billy Crudup sells timeshares on the moon & Monopoly’s twisted roots

Who’ll hit the jackpot on the new season of “American Idol”?

FRIDAY, Feb. 17
Hello Tomorrow
Ten-episode dramady stars Billy Crudup (from The Morning Show) as a traveling salesman in a future world offering timeshares on the moon. Far out! (Apple TV+).

Carnival Row
Second half of the final season of the fantasy drama, set in a world where humans and creatures clash and starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, starts tonight (Prime Video).

The 12th Victim
True-crime four-part docuseries sheds startling new light on an infamous 1958 case of Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, a teenage couple charged and convicted of brutally killing 11 victims at random (8 p.m., Showtime).

A Rose for Her Grave: The Randy Roth Story
Christell Stause, Colin Egglefield and Laura Ramsey star in this TV adaptation of a best-selling novel by true-crime author Ann Rule, about a notorious serial wife-killer and the fearless woman who final brings him to justice (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Two contestants survey their surroundings in new episodes of “Naked and Afraid.”

SUNDAY, Feb. 19
Naked and Afraid
Cue the naked bums and the pixels—it’s a new season of the ultimate survival series, which puts contestants in all kinds of inhospitable places wearing nothing but their birthday suits. Who’ll endure, and who’ll “tap out,” in Mexico’s notorious Devil’s Canyon, or the brutal jungles of Guyana? (8 p.m., Discovery Channel).

Magnum: P.I.
Re-filling the sand-filled shoes originally worn by Tom Selleck, Jay Hernandez returns for a new season of this reboot to the role of the Oahu private eye now solving crimes in the same TV universe as Hawaii Five-0 (9 p.m., NBC).

American Idol
The show that pioneered TV’s musical competition genre returns for season 21 with judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie leading the search for America’s next singing sensation (8 p.m., ABC).

Biography: WWE Legends
In this corner… Explore the careers and private lives of wrestling superstars in this new docuseries (8 p.m., A&E).

Tournament of Champions IV
Who’s tough enough to chew their way to the top? You’ll find out in this new season of Guy Fieri’s food-competition series, in which chefs from across America clash in a series of high-stakes challenges (8 p.m., Food Network and Discovery).

MONDAY, Feb. 20
American Experience: Ruthless—Monopoly’s Secret History
And you thought the popular, iconic board game was just about moving little tokens around a square, gobbling up property deeds, buying houses and hotels and collecting rent. But the story of how it came to be, as told in this insightful documentary, is one of theft, deception and corporate double-dealing. Should we be surprised? (9 p.m., PBS).

Secrets of Spain
Where are the best stops to pause for a nosh in a trek across Spain. Siblings Giaconda and George Scott, who grew up there, take viewers on a guided tour of great places to dig into the cuisine (and the culture) of the region off the beaten tourist track (10 p.m., Cooking Channel).


Just ahead of this year’s 95th annual Academy Awards, Red Carpet Oscars (Thames & Hudson) is a lavish, photo-packed coffee-table treasury of some nine decades of fashions at the entertainment world’s biggest, most culturally impactive annual event. Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett wrote the foreword.

“Get Back” to the heyday of mop-top mania in this lavish, luminous re-release of Harry Benson’s The Beatles (Taschen), a coffee-table compendium of images (some classics, others rarely seen) by the esteemed Scotland-born photog who chronicled most of the Fab Four’s tours, TV appearances, press conferences, play times and movie productions.

TUESDAY, Feb. 21
Bodycam: On the Scene
Tonight’s episode, “Miracle Escapes,” follows officers as a suspect suddenly pulls off, with a policeman wedged half-inside, half-outside of the car, and then other officers rescue a man perilously stuck on a train track (10 p.m., Investigation Discovery).

Tune in for the beginning of the sixth and final season of the gritty drama series about the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic in California, and various lives it directly affected (FX and Hulu).

Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal
True-story documentary series about a prominent South Carolina family whose lives start to unravel after the death of a teenager in a boating accident (Netflix).

Breaking Ground
Documentary about a Kansas neighborhood working to restore their community—and trying to “break ground” by rebuilding other Black and brown communities across the country (streaming on PBS Voices on YouTube).

Outer Banks
The adventure continues in tonight’s kickoff of season three of the teen mystery drama, set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as the scrappy group known as the Pogues—washed ashore on an idyllic island—face more obstacles in tracking down the legendary treasure (Netflix).

Jabari Banks as Will as Olly Sholotan as Carlton in “Bel-Aire”

Season two of the Fresh Prince “reimagined” spinoff series begins tonight, with Jabari Banks as young Will Smith, who journeys from the mean streets of Philadelphia to the gilded, gated mansions of Hollywood (Peacock).

Ant-y Warfare

Paul Rudd returns to the teeny-tiny character that’s become a major cog in the Marvel movie machine

Paul Rudd, Kathryn Newton & Evangeline Lilly confront a new challenge in ‘Quantumania.’

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas & Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by Peyton Reid

In theaters Friday, Feb. 17, 2023

“From small things, mama,” sang Bruce Springsteen back in 1979, “big things one day come.”

The Boss wrote and recorded that song some 35 years before the first Ant-Man movie, in 2015, which introduced fans of the Marvel Comics character to Paul Rudd as the pizza employee, doting dad and petty thief who ends up with a high-tech, form-fitting super-suit that can shrink him down to become an insect-size do-gooder.

Or, when necessary, enlarge him into a towering colossus.

Just like real-life ants who can engineer and construct entire mega-colonies, form themselves en masse into bridges and boats, lift up and carry up to 5,000 times their body weight, and (of course) change the course of picnics, Ant-Man is a teeny-tiny “small thing.” But he’s become a big player in the Marvel movie franchise. Quantumania is the third in the Ant-Man movie franchise, and as the title suggests, it takes place in the “quantum realm,” a hidden dimension in the sprawling Marvel multiverse that’s only accessible through dark sorcery or weird science.

Or the movies like this one.

Quantum-ville is like Oz buzzing on super steroids and maybe some crystal meth, an explosively colorful place of breathtaking awesomeness, unfathomable peril and outrageous oddity—like Alice in Wonderland crossed with Mad Max: Fury Road, Lord of the Rings, Dune and the cantina scene from Star Wars, with a dash of Terry Gilliam’s fanciful Monty Python whimsy. Giant snails are used like horses, there’s a character who looks like a walking stalk of broccoli, and an army of minions with heads that resemble light bulbs. And another character (Carey Stoll) is practically all head.

Oh, and yes, there’s also Bill Murray, playing…oh, does it really matter? It’s Bill Murray.  

And this being a marvel movie, there are some very high stakes—not just the fate of the universe, but the fate of the multiverse and all universes, existence itself. Director Peyton Reed, who’s steered both previous Ant-Man movies, keeps the ka-pow factor high and the tone bounding giddily between high tragedy and quippy silliness. The fate of everything may hang in the balance, but even in the quantum realm, inappropriate, selfish, annoying behavior is still known as a dick move.

And rest assured, you’ll see the movie’s superbad bad guy, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors—from The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Lovecraft Country, Devotion) again. Dudes who want to rule the world, and more, aren’t easily dissuaded or dismissed. Like Taylor Swift tells us, haters gonna hate. And conquerors gonna conq.

Ant-Man confronts Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

It’s a wild rush of heady stuff, but such is the Marvel way, which connects everything in Quantumania to the larger MCU (that’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe), a sort of multi-dimensional superhero realm for the interconnectivity of film properties based on Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers, Dr. Strange, Deadpool, Spider-Man and other characters rooted in Marvel comic-book ink.

I won’t get into the cosmic weeds of all the mind-bending details, but in this latest adventure, Scott Lang (pssst—he’s really Ant-Man) is sucked into the quantum realm (in case you forget what it’s called, it’s mentioned about a dozen times in the first 10 minutes of the film). He’s accompanied by Hope van Dyne (the returning Evangeline Lilly), whose superhero alter ego is the Wasp, and Hope’s brainiac-scientist parents (Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas, also reprising their roles). Kathryn Newton (Little Big Lies, Freaky, Supernatural) comes aboard as Pym’s young-adult daughter, Cassie, whose social activism keeps getting her in trouble on Main Street USA but well suits her for what she’ll end up doing alongside revolutionaries in the quantum realm.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas somehow keep their coifs looking stylish, in any dimension!

Can the multiverse be saved? Can Kang be defeated, or at least contained? Will Scott finally bond with his daughter? Will Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas’ expertly coiffed hair ever be unfashionably mussed, even after being violently downsized to microscopic scale, sucked into the vortex of inter-dimensional debris and finding themselves in the middle of a quantum-realm war?    

MCU fans will geek out over the sheer spectacle and the bountiful bombast of CGI—two hours of mind-numbingly expensive zipping and zapping and crashing and smashing. There’s one particular scene (involving gazillions of Lang and Ant-Men, permutations of “all possible outcomes”) who mobilize into something like a teeming human anthill. If you love you some Paul Rudd—an immensely likeable and prolific actor with more than 130 movie and TV credits, from franchise blockbusters to zany romcoms, relationship dramas and even spy flicks—well, you’ll certainly get a heaping helping of him here.   

And in this packed and stacked Ant-Man movie, some actual ants get their spotlight in a major way.

This supersized, noisy and sometimes chaotic superhero adventure won’t be for everyone—particularly those who like their movies smaller, quieter, a bit more subtle and with less blowout spectacle, and fewer ants. But for Marvel fans, it’s the latest mega-movie about a teeny character doing tremendous good, on a massive stage across space and time.

Small things lead to big things—in a Springsteen song, or in the MCU’s multiverse, anything is possible. Ant-Man is an everyman hero, movie manes never get mussed, and Paul Rudd can truly do everything, everywhere, all the time, all at once.

—Neil Pond

The Entertainment Forecast

Feb. 10 – Feb. 16

Top picks for what to watch, read & more

Reece swaps lives, things heat up in Mexico & puppies have a super “bowl”

Reece Witherspoon (left) returns to TV in “Your Place of Mine.”

FRIDAY, Feb. 10
Your Place or Mine
Reese Witherspoon, Ashton Kutcher, Tig Notaro and Steve Zahn star in this romcom about a pair of best friends who “life swap” for a week, making some insightful discoveries about themselves and each other (Netflix).

Things get hot “At Midnight,” starring Monica Barbaro.

At Midnight
Romantic rom-com film is set in an exotic hotel in Mexico, where various characters (Diego Boneta, Monica Barbaro, Anders Holm, Whitney Cummings) all converge…and sparks fly at midnight (Paramount+).

The Girl Who Escaped: The Kara Robinson Story
Katie Douglas stars in this true-crime original about an abducted teen who survived and ultimately brought down a serial killer (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Crazy Rich Asians
Michelle Yeoh is getting raves (and much-deserved movie-awards attention) for her starring role in the sci-fi mind-bender comedy Everything, Everywhere, All the Time. But see the role which officially re-launched her mainstream acting career, in this charming 2018 romcom (7;30 p.m., truTV).

SUNDAY, Feb. 12
Puppy Bowl XIX
The “super” bowl of canine cuteness returns, with more ways to watch than ever. TV personalities—including Zak Bagins of Ghost Adventures, Alex Guarnaschelli (Supermarket Stakeout) and talent from the upcoming movie Shazam! Fury of the Gods—join bona fide sports commentators to give play-by-play and other insights to the bow-wow action on the mini-gridiron (2 p.m., Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TBS, HBO Max and discovery+).

MONDAY, Feb. 13
Bob ♥︎ Abishola
Abishola (Folake Olowofooyeku) decides to postpone taking the Medical College Admission exam, to the surprise of Bob (Billy Gardell) and nearly everyone else (8:30 p.m., CBS).

TUESDAY, Feb. 14
Next Level Chef
Superstar chef Gordon Ramsey returns to host more challenges in his unique culinary gauntlet built as a three-story structure. Which chefs can rise to the top? (8 p.m., Fox).

Love Triangle: High Drama
Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate with any or all these romcoms, available today—Silver Linings Playbook, Bridget Jones’ Baby, I Think I Love My Wife and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (Starz app).


This Valentine’s Day, turn to author Aileen Barrett’s Tinder Translator (Hardie Grant), a fun and frisky guide to navigating the choppy waters in the sea of love during our modern era of dating apps.


The Fabelmans, director Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed, award-winning semi-autobiographical film—his most “personal” film yet—tells the touching story of how a young boy with a love of movies became one of the most successful filmmakers of all time (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment).

Wu-Tang: An America Saga
Youhoo, it’s you-know-Wu-who! Tune in tonight for the third and final season of the re-enacted drama series about the Staten Island hip hop group, which rose to become one of the most influential rap acts with members including Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, RZA and U-God (Hulu)

Full Swing
Tee up for this documentary that follows a diverse group of highly competitive pro golfers on and off the course during a grueling season on the PGA tour (Netflix).

The third final season of the Star Trek streaming spinoff (starring Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role as the esteemed interstellar commander Jean-Luc Picard) drops today (Paramount+).

Double Cross
The Cross siblings continue their vigilante quest to stop child trafficking, taking their fight all the way to top of a corrupt syndicate, in season four of the drama series starring Ashley Williams and Jeff Logan (streaming on ALLBLK).

The Entertainment Forecast

Feb. 3 – Feb. 9

Top picks for what to watch, read and hear!

A salty tale, Peyton Manning gets a TV show & Pierce Brosnan breaks out

All times Eastern.

FRIDAY, Feb. 3
Dear Edward
Connie Britton (above left) and Taylor Schilling star in this new life-affirming drama series, based on the acclaimed novel about a young boy who somehow survives an airplane crash that kills everyone else aboard, including his parents (Apple TV+).

True Spirit
Ship ahoy! A young woman sets out to do what was thought to be impossible—become the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and around the world. The true-story saga stars Teagan Croft (right), Cliff Curtis and Anna Paquin (Netflix).


Get hip with Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 85 (Sony), the latest multi-artist collection including hits from Taylor Swift, Elton John & Britney Spears, Lizzo, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj and more. And wow: There have been 84 other CD like this since 1998! 

Shark Tank
Artisan charcuterie boards, car fragrances and specialty lighting for night sports are pitched to the investors (9 p.m., ABC).

SUNDAY, Feb. 5
The 65th Annual Grammy Awards
Trevor Noah returns to host this annual ceremony honoring the best music of the year, in all formats and genres, live from Los Angeles (8 p.m., CBS).

Murf the Smurf
New true-crime docuseries (produced by Ron Howard and Ryan Grazer) is based on Jack Roland Murphy, a surfing dude, musician, author and artist…who was involved in the biggest jewel heist in American history and later convicted of murder (MGM+).

MONDAY, Feb. 6
History’s Greatest of All Time with Peyton Manning
The NFL “GOAT” hosts this eight-episode countdown series spotlighting some of the top achievements in various categories, including industry and business, sports, sweet treats and daredevil stunt performers (10 p.m., History Channel).

The Good Doctor
More doc drama! Shaun (Freddie Highmore) invites Aaron (Richard Schiff) to stay with him while exterminators work at Aaron’s house and Lea (Paige Spara) realizes both men have a lot more in common than she realized. Meanwhile, Dr. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) wrestles with a big decision about her career and her personal life (10:01 p.m., ABC).

History’s Greatest Heists with Pierce Brosnan
The former James Bond actor slips back into superspy mode to host this series about the most daring, elaborate real-life heists in history, including the notorious Lufthansa theft in New York, depicted in Goodfellas (10 p.m., History Channel).

Body Cam: On the Scene
What’s it like when police officers go on a high-speed chase, and their body cameras record it all? Or when a pursuit ends in a shoot-out? Or a reckless driver endangers everyone on the highway? Find out in tonight’s episode of this docu-series following real cops in real situations that can take turns toward deadly in a split second (Investigation Discovery).

Gina Rodriguez stars in the new comedy series “Not Dead Yet.”

Not Dead Yet
A broke and newly single woman (Gina Rodriguez) works to restart her life and her career with the only job she can find—writing obituaries—while getting some guidance from an unlikely source (8:30 p.m., ABC).


A newly enhanced home-entertainment release of the 2001 gritty police drama Training Day (Warner Bros. Discovery) reminds us why it got Denzel Washington an Oscar, and his co-star Ethan Hawke a Supporting Role nomination. Bonus content includes commentary by director Antoine Fuqua, alternative endings and deleted scenes.

Bill Russell: Legend
Two-part documentary takes you inside the life and remarkable career of the hoops legend Bill Russell, who led every one of the basketball teams on which he played to championships—receiving a Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympic Games—and becoming the first Black head coach in NBA history (Netflix).


Animal House and Blues Brothers director Jon Landis provides the foreword for The Annotated Abbott and Costello (McFarland), a comprehensive chronicle of the iconic comedy duo’s movies throughout the 1940s and ‘50s. Did you know: They performed their most famous routine, “Who’s on First?” in two films, One Night in the Tropics and Naughty Nineties? And they “met” monsters—Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Mummy—in a series of Abbott and Costello Meet… movies.   

Penn Badgley plays Joe Goldberg in “You.”

It’s a new year and a new country in season four, but the dangerously obsessive Joe (Penn Badgley) just can’t find anywhere he can outrun his past (Netflix).


Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence
Documentary series explores the shocking true incidents at the New York university where a father of one of the student’s fathers psychologically conditioned and later sexually exploited and abused a group of young women (Hulu).