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Glitz and glam of Oscars is Can’t Miss TV

The 80th edition of the Academy Awards, with host Jon Stewart, is among the week's best offerings in television, movies, music and more.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Television

Image: Jon Stewart
**FILE** Oscar host Jon Stewart opens the 78th Academy Awards telecast in this March 5, 2006 file photo from in Los Angeles. The Academy Awards, the Grammys, the Golden Globes: all entertainment institutions, all seemingly spontaneous, yet all heavily reliant on writers who are now on strike. If it drags into the new year, how will the Writers Guild of America strike impact Hollywood's fabled awards season, which kicks off Sunday night with ABC's American Music Awards? (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Mark J. Terrill / AP

I really didn’t have to cite this in “Can’t Miss” this week, because let’s face it, just about everybody knows when the Academy Awards are coming on after massive media hype, and it doesn’t need a shove into the spotlight. However, the show was in danger of being at least weakened by the writers strike, and possibly cancelled altogether. Now it is certain to be back in its old glory, which means lots of red carpet gab, eye-popping gowns, awkward Teleprompter intros and little in the way of surprises when the envelopes are actually opened. This is the 80th edition of the Academy Awards, and Jon Stewart will be doing the hosting honors. It will always be on TV, like “I Love Lucy” reruns. And occasionally, it might even make “Can’t Miss.” (Sunday, ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Movies

Image: Scene from, \"Be Kind, Rewind\"

Are you tired of predictable, formulaic storylines? “Be Kind Rewind” offers one that you may not have seen before: A man who works in a junkyard suspects that a power plant is causing his brain to melt, so he decides to sabotage the plant. But when his plan goes wrong, the result is a magnetic field that causes all of the tapes in the local video store to be erased. Since that might cause his best friend to lose his job at the video store, the two pals re-film every movie that one little old lady, the store’s lone loyal customer, wants to rent. I know you’re saying: “Oh, that old hackneyed yarn.” Remember, “Be Kind Rewind” is from director Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and it stars Jack Black, Mos Def and Mia Farrow, so the whacked-out tale is loosely tethered to Hollywood normalcy. Loosely. (New Line Cinema, opens Friday)

Music

Image: Ray Davies, Working Man's Cafe

News flash: Ray Davies is British. He was born in London and went on to fame as the lead singer-songwriter for the Kinks. He is responsible for such classics as “You Really Got Me” and “Waterloo Sunset.” But since the mid-1990s he has been performing solo — and lately as a quasi-American. “Working Man’s Café” is his latest CD, a collection of pop-rock anthems about the state of the world as he sees it from his artistic perch in New Orleans (where, by the way, he was shot in 2004 while chasing a thief who had snatched his female companion’s purse). His second solo disc is a vibrant departure from past musical journeys, with such notable tracks as “Vietnam Cowboys,” “Imaginary Man” and “One More Time.” It should be a hit in his native England and elsewhere. (New West Records)

DVD

Image: American Gangster DVD

With Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington on the marquee, “American Gangster” couldn’t miss. And it didn’t. While it didn’t completely live up to its pedigree in terms of Oscar nominations (it was directed by Ridley Scott, from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian, but only received two noms, one for Ruby Dee for Supporting Actress) the true story was a fascinating and entertaining look at the cat-and-mouse game between a detective (Crowe) and a ruthless Harlem drug lord (Washington) during the Vietnam War era. “American Gangster” comes out on DVD this week in a “2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition” with an extra 18 minutes of film plus an alternate ending, a feature-length look at the production and a featurette on translating actual police case files to film. I’m tempted to say it would be a crime to pass it up, but I won’t. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Books

Image: The First Patient book

Washington, D.C., is a pretty boring place, really — a lot of old buildings and even older politicians. Many of the latter sit in their grand mahogany chairs and pontificate for hours, and that’s when they actually show up for sessions. In Michael Palmer’s Washington, however, events move at a machine-gun pace. In his new thriller, “The First Patient,” a country doctor named Gabe Singleton is suddenly called upon to treat old Naval Academy classmate Andrew Stoddard — who just happens to be the President of the United States. But when Gabe goes to D.C., he finds out that the president might be going crazy, and that it might not be from natural causes. I know, I know. People going crazy in Washington? What’s new about that? Well, in Palmer’s over-the-top wild ride, just about everything. (St. Martin’s Press)