Six Picks for the Week Ahead in Entertainment

Comic-Con 2010 in San Diego (Thur. - Sun.)

ImageA highlight?

Consider it Pop-Culture-Con 2010. This year’s four-day event in San Diego is more studio-heavy than ever, with such non-fantasy fare as TV’s White Collar and Burn Notice and movies like The Other Guys vying for exposure along with more convention-appropriate programming such as True Blood and this fall’s superhero drama The Cape. Expect the biggest turnouts for movies like Green Lantern, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and TRON: Legacy, while actual comic book fans will also have a first look at the television version of Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed series The Walking Dead.

Check out the panel lineups, how-to sessions, and merch booth offerings at the official Comic-Con website. A few tickets may still be available for Sunday as of the time of this article’s publication.

Tim and Eric Awesomecon 2010 (Sat.)

ImageCon men

If you’ll be in San Diego this weekend for Comic-Con and are a fan of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim from Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, you’re in luck -- they’re holding their annual Awesomecon on Saturday from 12-3pm at North Embarcadero Marina Park. Admission is free; expect possible guest appearances by show regulars David Liebe Hart and James Quall, and maybe witness a tribute to the late Richard Dunn. Dress up as your favorite character or the Tairy Greene Machine either to win a prize or get ridiculed by the two stars. Great job!

This year’s official show flyer is wackier than most.

Season 4 premiere of Mad Men (Sun.)

ImageFor your consideration

After another season of inner personal demons lashing out through adultery, cigarettes, booze, false identity, and inadvertent foot amputations, Mad Men (AMC, Sunday at 10p) takes us back to the ’60s for the award-winning series’ fourth season. After the incredible third season finale, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Joan (Christina Hendricks) and the gang return a whole year later (in 1964) to run their newly created Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency.

Can't wait until Sunday for your Mad Men fix? In bookstores beginning Tuesday is Mad Men Unbuttoned, the book version of the popular Footnotes of Mad Men blog. Inside, you’ll find author Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s breezy look at 1960s advertising, showing us the fashion and social norms of the day.

Angelina Jolie in Salt (Fri.)

Image Action!

Speaking of Comic-Con, Angelina Jolie is expected to appear there Thursday to promote her new film, Salt, which opens on Friday. How fortuitous! Salt returns Jolie to her Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith action mode as she plays a CIA officer who’s accused of being a Russian spy. Missing-in-action director Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger) returns to helm this international thriller that also features support from the dependable Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The first handful of reviews for Salt are positive.

Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime (Fri.)

ImageThis ain't no party

Writer/director Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse) follows up his acclaimed yet polarizing black comedy Happiness 81 with a sequel that includes many of the same characters 10 years on -- but all played by different actors. For instance, Dylan Baker’s pedophile from the first film is now played by Ciarán Hinds, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s introvert is now inhabited by Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire). Life During Wartime also stars Paul Reubens, Shirley Henderson, Ally Sheedy, and Allison Janney, and opens on Friday in limited release. It will also be available On Demand that same day.

Find theaters and showtimes at the official website.

The Pillars of the Earth miniseries begins (Fri.)

ImageMcShane gets medieval

Deadwood's Ian McShane stars in one of the few big-budget miniseries to be found on television this summer -- or anytime, these days. An epic eight-hour, six-part adaptation of Ken Follett's 1989 novel of the same name produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, The Pillars of the Earth (airing Fridays at 10pm on Starz) chronicles the construction of a cathedral in medieval England, with plenty of political intrigue, murder, war, and dueling ambitions to keep things interesting. Donald Sutherland and Rufus Sewell also star.

Learn more about the miniseries and watch Ken Follett's vlog at the official Starz site.

Closing the book on last week

Most Popular Title on Metacritic.com
Inception 76 Week ending 7/17/2010
Weekend Box Office Champion (Estimated, U.S. only; source: Boxofficemojo.com)
Inception 76 $60.4 million; 1st week at #1
#1 Album on Billboard 200 (Source: Billboard.com/Nielsen SoundScan)
Eminem: Recovery 63 3rd week at #1
Top-Rated Primetime Broadcast Show (Source: Nielsen)
America's Got Talent [Wed.] (NBC) 11.9 million viewers; week of 7/5-7/11

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