Queen Sugar. The Bordelons are back as writer-director Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed series returns for season 3. It continues the story of Charley, Ralph Angel and Nova Bordelon’s personal and professional challenges as they fight to save their late father’s sugarcane farm. At the center of it all is middle sister Charley (Dawn-Lynn Gardner), who is trying to fend off a rival family, while also trying to secure a safe future for her son Micah (Nicholas Ashe). Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) must prepare for the upcoming cane season, even as he is still reeling for the news that Blue (Ethan Hutchinson) might not be his biological son. Nova (Rustina Wesley) finds her long-standing notions about relationships put to the test when an old friend comes back into her life. Once again, DuVernay continues to break new ground, using an all-lady directing crew – including DeMane Davis, Patricia Cardoso, Maria Guran, Shaz Bennett and Lauren Wolkstein to helm each episode along with Meshell Ndegeocello as the show’s in-house composer. One of TV’s best is back and looking to build on its already historic legacy. Queen Sugar will have a two night premiere on OWN May 29th and 30th at 10pm Eastern.
Animal Kingdom. For season 3 of TNT’s action crime drama, the tension – and the stakes – have never been higher for the Cody family. Baz (Scott Speedman) was robbed and left for dead after being set up by his girlfriend. Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is in jail, having been framed for murder by Baz. But the ever crafty Smurf gave her grandson J (Finn Cole) power of attorney over all of her business holdings, making him the de facto leader of the family. With Smurf locked up, and Baz presumed dead, Craig (Ben Robson), Deren (Jake Weary) and Pope (Shawn Hatosy) have no choice to put together another high risk job. Another twist to an already twisted puzzle: The re-emergence of Deren’s long lost father Billy (Denis Leary), who claims to be there to make amends, but may have a much darker agenda planned. As always the show has plenty of action, tons of tension and a boatload of drama. Adding Leary to an already potent mix of great actors – anchored by a never better Barkin – should make this another can’t miss season. Season 3 of Animal Kingdom premieres May 29th at 9pm Eastern on TNT. You can also go to www.tntdrama.com for more information.
The Fourth Estate. Oscar nominated director Liz Garbus directed this new Showtime documentary series that follows the writers and editors of the New York Times as they try to accurately – and honestly – cover an administration that is actively trying to undermine them. It goes deep in the trenches as the hard working men and women fight to maintain the right for the freedom of the press and the right to know what’s happening within the walls of government. The access is unprecedented and at times plays like a thriller as much as a news based doc. The Fourth Estate premieres on Showtime this Sunday at 8pm Eastern.
Part Of The Light by Ray LaMontagne. For his third album in 4 years, the New Hamsphire born singer-songwriter decided to go the self-produced route and the results are astonishing. Combining the psychedelic explorations of 2016’s Ouroboros and the raw, earthy overtones of such works as Gossip In The Grain and Trouble, LaMontagne is at the peak of his powers as a songwriter, arranger, and as a vocalist. He’s drawn comparisons to Van Morrison, Jeff Buckley, Richard Manuel and Gordon Lightfoot, and for good reason: the body of work that he’s produced over the last 15 years has more than earned him a place in that company. One of the year’s best. Part Of The Light by Ray LaMontagne is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers. You can also go to www.raylamontagne.com for tour dates and more information.
Top Of The Mountain by Patricia Vonne. Most people recognize Patricia Vonne as Zorro Girl from the Sin City movies (co-directed by her brother Robert Rodriguez) but she is also a formidable singer-songwriter with six critically acclaimed albums under her belt. Her latest album finds her at her most eclectic and personal. The title track is a powerful salute to her friend Vincent Lopez who bravely battled muscular dystrophy with such grace and dignity that it served as an anchor for this project. The rocker ‘City Is Alive’ recalls her years spent in New York City and is co-written by native New Yorker Willie Nile. ‘Lil Lobo’ deals with avoiding the pitfalls that comes with online dating, while ‘Tidal Wave’ (co-written with Alejandro Escovedo) celebrates finding love a 2nd time around. A number of songs also celebrate the power of family and faith: ‘Madre de Perla’ is dedicated to her mother, who introduced Vonne to music and the arts; ‘Cancion de la Boda (Wedding Song)’ was written in honor of her sister, who married the love of her life; ‘Illuminaria’ and ‘God’s Hands’ are tracks devoted to letting the Higher Power chart your life path. Vonne also honors musical heroes such as The Cruzados and Elvis on the Mexican surf-guitar instrumental ‘Western Blood’ (in which she plays lead guitar) and the Sun Records-styled ‘Graceland Trip’, featuring long time Chris Isaak bandmates Johnny Reno (sax) and Scott Plunkett (piano). With crisp production by Rick Castillo and Michael Ramos, Vonne has put together another magnificent work. Top Of The Mountain will be available on Friday, through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.
Breach Of Peace: Portraits Of The 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge and Diane McWhorter. In 1961, The Freedom Riders – several hundred black and white women and men entered Southern bus and train stations insure that the federal government enforce the Supreme Court ruling that made segregation illegal. It all came to a head in Jackson, Mississippi when 328 Riders were arrested and quickly convicted for ‘breach of peace’. The Riders refused bail, and after city jails reached capacity, they were transferred to the infamous Parchman prison farm where they serve out the remainder of their sentence. It marked a turning point in the American Civil Rights Movement, highlighting the injustices behind the Jim Crow laws of the South, government’s indifference towards enforcing federal law and putting such virtual legislation such as The Civil Rights Act on the fast track. To coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders, Breach Of Peace – a book that featured the Riders 1961 mug shots alongside new pictures of 82 of its living members was released to critical acclaim. This expanded edition now features 98 photos – including 16 portraits that were taken inside Parchman during the 50th Anniversary ceremonies – along with interviews and brief bios. It’s a moving tribute to the brave women and men who challenged the country to live up to its full potential and galvanized a moment – as well as a nation. Breach Of Peace: Portraits Of The 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
Los Angeles. Lebowski Fest. To coincide with the 20th Anniversary of the Coen Brothers cult classic, The Wiltern Theater will host a special evening that will include a live performance of The Kyle Gass Band followed by a screening of a film that put the words ‘The Dude Abides’ into film history. For those who only caught what many consider to be the Coen Brothers best film on DVD or cable, here’s a chance to capture it the way it was meant to be seen: On the big screen. Having one half of Tenacious D – who promises to have a number of special guests sit in – isn’t bad either. White Russians are optional. Lebowski Fest will be at the Wiltern Theater on Friday. You can also go to www.wiltern.com for tickets and more information.
Los Angeles. Cinespia Screenings. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for some of the biggest names in entertainment, but during the summer it’s transformed into a place to celebrate everything the beauty and wonder of cinema under the stars. Films slated to screen throughout the season include Almost Famous, Casablanca, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Thelma & Louise, Vertigo, Footloose and much more. There will also be DJ sets, dance parties, sleepovers and for the 4th of July, fireworks. One of the must see events of the summer is back and better than ever. The first half of The Cinespia Screenings run May 26th through July 4th. You can also go to www.cinespia.com for tickets, a complete film schedule and more information.