Six Picks: Previewing the Week Ahead in Entertainment

Our new weekly column brings you everything you need to know about the six biggest entertainment stories that are on our radar this week:

Iron Man 2 arrives in theaters (Thur.)

At the end of 2008’s Iron Man 79, the charmingly egotistical Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was unable to resist revealing his identity, leaving him open to the public pressures he faces in this sequel, which hits your local cineplex on Thursday night. This effects-happy fantasy of an arrogant billionaire with a reactor-powered heart of gold rides high on the considerable charisma of its star, while also adding big names like Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, and Don Cheadle into the mix. Iron Man 2 also contains setup for upcoming Marvel movies Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers, with Samuel L. Jackson again appearing as Nick Fury. Despite initial middling reviews, the film opened overseas on Friday and has already grossed more than $100 million. But even terrible reviews won't keep audiences away; the only question is whether the new film will top the original's worldwide take of $585 million, and the reaction of opening weekend moviegoers may play a large part in the movie's fate.

Don't forget to check out Metacritic's Summer Movie Preview for a look at other major releases coming in the next few months.

Flash mobs try to save Chuck from cancellation (Mon.)

ImageChuck is mobbed

Geeky spy comedy Chuck is on the bubble for cancellation for a third time, and once again, fans are on the forefront of the renewal effort. Whereas last year’s Finale & Footlong campaign focused on showing advertiser support, this year’s action seeks to recruit new viewers. On Monday, Chuck flash mobs will be gathering in public spaces in Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, and Philadelphia between noon–1pm local time, armed with Nerd Herd-type clothing and techy paraphernalia. At the same time, Twitterers around the world will be frenziedly tweeting using Twitter hashtags #FlashChuck and #CHUCK.

Find out how you can join the Chuck Twitter flash mob [ChuckTV.net], or read more about other notable show-saving campaigns, including last year's successful Chuck-saving efforts.

Broken Social Scene's Forgiveness Rock Record (Tue.)

Image The latest from the Scene

It’s been five years since the last album from this rotating Canadian collective, as its members have been busy with solo projects and other bands. Forgiveness Rock Record, the indie outfit’s fourth album, is livelier than prior outings like the eponymous Broken Social Scene 82 or You Forgot It In People 86 and features some gentler tunes among the more textured and experimental arrangements. Founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning purportedly scaled back the core band for this record, but guests include usual suspects Feist, Amy Millan (Stars), Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw (Metric), Sam Prekop (The Sea and Cake) and producer John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake). The first few reviews are good but not great, but we expect that to change in a hurry after its Tuesday release.

Listen to Forgiveness Rock Record in its entirety at NPR (until May 4th), or view tour dates to find out when BSS is coming to a city near you.

Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live (Sat.)

ImageStill golden

After Betty White (The Golden Girls, Mary Tyler Moore) was featured in a memorable Super Bowl ad for Snickers, over half a million people joined the Facebook group Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!. (And you thought Facebook was only for Mafia Wars.) Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels capitulated to the power of social media, and the octogenarian actress (recently featured in the likes of The Proposal and Ponyo) will join musical guest Jay-Z on SNL for a special Mother’s Day episode (Saturday, NBC, 11:30pm/10:30pm Central), which also boasts the return of previous female cast members such as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

The Hold Steady's Heaven Is Whenever (Tue.)

ImageSteady as they come

Brooklyn-based rockers The Hold Steady release their fifth LP (Heaven Is Whenever) on Tuesday, a return to form replete with riffy exuberance and frontman Craig Finn’s slice-of-life lyrics. While some fans and critics may miss the quirky keyboard stylings that informed much of 2008’s Stay Positive 85 (keyboardist Franz Nicolay left the band amicably earlier this year), others may appreciate how Finn’s storytelling pops over the album’s more guitar-based esthetic.

Listen to Heaven Is Whenever in its entirety at NPR (until May 4th) or check tour dates on the band's official site.

Season 4 of Friday Night Lights begins on NBC (Fri.)

ImageA new season kicks off

Award-winning drama Friday Night Lights consistently appears on critic top 10 lists thanks to its subtle portrayal of American and family life. The show's acclaimed fourth season -- which premieres Friday at 8pm (7pm Central) on NBC after airing on DirecTV last fall -- revolves around changes: A new high school and football team have been created, and the old guard is moving on to jobs, school, and relationships. The criminally underappreciated Kyle Chandler (Early Edition, Grey’s Anatomy) and Connie Britton (Spin City, 24, Nightmare on Elm Street) anchor the cast in a show so intimate, you may feel like you are watching a documentary. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

You can watch a preview of season four and stream last season’s finale on the NBC website.

Closing the book on last week

Most Popular Title on Metacritic.com
Iron Man 2 52 Week ending 5/1/2010
#1 Weekend Box Office (Estimated, U.S. only; source: Boxofficemojo.com)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 33 $32.2 million; 1st week at #1
#1 Album on Billboard 200 (Source: Billboard.com/Nielsen SoundScan)
Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna [Soundtrack] 1st week at #1
Top-Rated Primetime Broadcast Show (Source: Nielsen)
American Idol [Wed] (Fox) 21.0 million viewers

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Comments (6)

  • PR Newswire Help Des  

    I love Broken Social Scene! "Looks just like the sun" and "pacific theme" were my anthems in '02. Maybe I'll go buy this new one, I mean download select tracks for free from hypemachine.

  • Chris Newby  

    Loving all the new features

    Album recaps
    Music Previews
    Film Previews Week aheads

    Keep it up, the website is becoming more relevant to me by the day

  • DANIEL SAN  

    No more good movies to look foward to until the Karate Kid remake.

  • Evan B.  

    I have been looking forward to Friday Night Lights for months! Thanks for putting together such great features!

  • PDP  

    Love this new feature, hope you guys keep it up!

  • Mitch  

    Seems strage that there won't be a Chuck Flash Mob in Burbank (or at least the Greater LA Area) - seems like a natural fit! They should almost do it in every Best Buy store.

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