TV picks for the week of Nov. 29

Deck the walls with flat screen TVs, fa la la la la la la la la! Pay TV and network freebies, fa la la la la la la la la! Christmas is here, on television anyway. Here's what caught my eye this week:

Sunday: "A Prince for Christmas" 8 p.m., ION: A foreign prince gets cold feet on his way to his wedding and heads to America seeking a bride with ...Read more

Around the remote: Chuck Barney's picks for the week of Nov. 29

DON'T MISS: "The Wiz Live!" -- It's time to ease on down the yellow brick road as another live stage spectacular comes to television. This adaptation of the 1975 acclaimed Broadway musical arrives stuffed with well-known personalities, including Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, Common and Amber Riley. But the coveted role ...Read more

50 years later, Charlie Brown turns out to be a 'Christmas' winner after all

LOS ANGELES--When they finished making "A Charlie Brown Christmas" 50 years ago, the producers sat back and looked at their work. And they thought: Good grief.

"We just thought it was a little slow, and it was certainly not a traditional Christmas show," said Lee Mendelson, the producer who persuaded "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz to ...Read more

Poland's ruling on Roman Polanski all but ends US case

LOS ANGELES -- In January 1978, Roman Polanski bought the last seat on a British Airways flight to London and never came back.

The celebrated director of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown" was out of jail after a 42-day psychiatric evaluation. He faced a likely 48 more days to complete his sentence after a guilty plea to having sexual ...Read more

Will audiences turn out in record force for 'Star Wars'?

How far will "Star Wars" go?

The betting has begun on just how big Walt Disney Co.'s new space opera, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," will be when it hits theaters in mid-December.

The film is expected to gross $175 million to more than $200 million in the U.S. and Canada in its opening weekend, according to people who have seen prerelease ...Read more

George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass' still inspires 45 years later

What kind of contrarian would single out 1970 as his favorite year for Beatles music? That was, after all, the year the Beatles disbanded and broke the hearts of millions around the world.

"We got something like 14 Beatles records that year: Not only the 'Hey Jude' and 'Let It Be' (Beatles) albums, but solo albums from Paul, George, John and ...Read more

Getting 'Creed,' a 'Rocky' spinoff, made was a real underdog story for Ryan Coogler

Ryan Coogler, the director of the new "Rocky" spinoff film "Creed," wasn't even born when "Rocky" came out in 1976. For that matter, he wasn't born when "Rocky II," "Rocky III" or "Rocky IV" came out either.

Still, for as long as he can remember, Sylvester Stallone's perennial-underdog boxer Rocky Balboa has always had a special meaning to him ...Read more

Restored James Baldwin documentary timely as ever

When I sat down last week to watch "James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket" (in a digitally restored version of the 1989 documentary), it was one day after the terror attacks in Paris -- the city where Baldwin found his confidence and professional footing -- and at the end of a week of college campuses publicly grappling with racism both subtle ...Read more

Redmayne immersed himself in the issues

Eddie Redmayne rattles off statistics about the transgender community: "In 31 states, you can still be fired for being transgender," he says by phone from London. "The suicide rate within the community is incredibly high at 41 percent. The violence to trans women of color is confounding."

Just three years ago, he knew none of this. Even while ...Read more

'Victor Frankenstein' dead on arrival

Dr. Frankenstein's efforts to create life out of mismatched pieces ended in disaster. Efforts by director Paul McGuigan to create the movie "Victor Frankenstein" out of mismatched pieces results in the same disastrous ending.

The latest big-screen adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel looks at the familiar story through the eyes of Frankenstein'...Read more

Movie review: Exquisite intimacy in 'The Danish Girl'

LOS ANGELES -- After the publicity maelstrom that surrounded Caitlyn Jenner's transition and the success of Amazon's "Transparent" TV series, no contemporary consumer of media need be told what it means to be a transgender woman. In 1926, the situation was very different.

That's the year when "The Danish Girl" begins its story of Einar Wegener ...Read more

Political impersonations, like Larry David's of Bernie Sanders, can affect a candidate's image

Except for what we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears, the whole world is mediated. What we know comes to us filtered, reshaped, edited, redacted, translated, gussied up or dumbed down, spun, sampled, selected, dressed in a tuxedo or wearing a red nose.

As happens every four years, we are once again confronted with a cast of ...Read more

For cable networks, holiday movies are the gift that keeps on giving

Even Ebenezer Scrooge might have been impressed with how TV networks are profiting from holiday movies.

Along with early displays of decorations by retailers, the continuous loop of holiday music on radio and the festive color of Starbucks coffee cups, nothing rings in the season quite like the volley of holiday movies that flood the small ...Read more

2015 films you need to see: Anything by Kristen Wiig, 'Results' and more

Oh, no, not again. It's nearing the time for year-end lists and hearing from various guilds and groups to create a vague consensus over the best of this year's movies. (And music and restaurants and people and TV and everything.)

More than many of those other media, with the movies this often means the onset of a collective amnesia as if ...Read more

What's opening in theaters next week


Opening Friday:

"Krampus" (PG-13): Adam Scott and Toni Collette are the parents of a little boy who accidentally summons a Christmas demon to their home. Because even the holidays can use a little horror.

"Chi-Raq" (R): Director Spike Lee transplants Aristophanes' ancient Greek play Lysistrata to present-day, gang-ridden Chicago.

"...Read more

Casey Kasem's children sue his widow, saying abuse led to his death

LOS ANGELES -- Three of Casey Kasem's children and his brother are suing the late radio host's widow, accusing her of neglecting his medical care and hastening his death in 2014.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that Jean Kasem moved her husband between medical facilities, hospitals, a Las Vegas hotel ...Read more

Frank Gifford suffered from brain disease, possibly football-related, family says

NFL great Frank Gifford, who died in August of reported natural causes, had a brain disease that may have stemmed from his Hall of Fame football career, his family said in a statement released Wednesday.

The family revealed that it had medical researchers study Gifford's brain after he died at age 84, and that those pathologists found evidence ...Read more

'In Jackson Heights' review: Gentrification of Queens neighborhood captured in doc

The expansive, generous-spirited new Frederick Wiseman documentary "In Jackson Heights" teems with life. Wiseman's 40th film, it continues his obsession with the institutions, the juices and the peculiarities of American life and the democratic process. It's a very good thing to experience around the Thanksgiving holidays; some of us give thanks...Read more

At 93, Norman Lear looks to his future

CHICAGO -- None of the 200 or so people who showed up at a late October luncheon in Chicago was as old as the guest of honor: Norman Lear, age 93. And few, if any, would have been as lively or as smart or as charmingly opinionated.

"This country does not handle aging well," Lear said. "Aging is treated like a disease, and it is not. It is just ...Read more

Stallone and Company on the creation of 'Creed'

For Sylvester Stallone, it was deja vu. There he was, a few Fridays ago, at the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, having a proclamation read to him by the mayor. Mayor Michael Nutter was declaring Nov. 25 "Creed Day" in honor of the new movie Creed, which stars Stallone as some mug named Rocky Balboa, and Michael B. Jordan as ...Read more