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TV picks for the week

Television is really cooking this week with some new, big-money competitions, and PBS goes all-in on Vietnam. Here's what caught my eye:

Sunday: "Boomtowners," 8 p.m., Smithsonian: Residents of oil-rich North Dakota deal with life in this new documentary series.

"Spring Baking Championship," 8 p.m., Food: Eight competitors vie for a sweet ...Read more

Odds on whether endangered TV shows will return

If I had the chance to run the networks, "Happy Endings," "Revolution" and "The Neighbors" would still be on the air -- and I'd be out of a job.

There was a time when network executives could justify bottom-dwelling series such as "Cheers" and "Seinfeld," in hopes that audiences would eventually come around.

But in these times of stiffer ...Read more

Transgender community, allies see Jenner interview in positive light

LOS ANGELES--When Bruce Jenner revealed to Diane Sawyer what many had already speculated -- that the 1976 Olympic champion now publicly identifies as a woman -- nearly 17 million people were watching.

It was a groundbreaking event for the athlete turned reality star, and for an estimated 700,000 transgender Americans.

"It's become a national ...Read more

Bruce Jenner: 'I am a woman'

Bruce Jenner said Friday night that he's transitioning from male to female, plainly telling ABC's Diane Sawyer, "Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a woman."

The much-anticipated interview kicked off with the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner and reality TV celebrity reaching for a tissue even before the questions began. "I've been thinking ...Read more

Bruce Jenner says, 'For all intents and purposes, I am a woman'

LOS ANGELES -- Bruce Jenner's much-anticipated ABC interview with Diane Sawyer kicked off Friday night with some tears and an expected revelation. "For all intents and purposes," Jenner said, "I am a woman."

Jenner teared up even before the questions began, telling Sawyer, "I've been thinking about this day forever and what I should do with my ...Read more

'Cleveland Abduction': Movie based on Michelle Knight memoir difficult to watch, tough to act

Taryn Manning remembers calling her mother to say she was being cast as the star of a new TV movie, a big step for the actress.

Her mother was not pleased. "Taryn," she said. "It's an awful story."

Indeed it is, in many respects. The movie is "Cleveland Abduction," based on Michelle Knight's book about the years of horror that Ariel Castro ...Read more

Shonda Rhimes speaks out on 'Grey's Anatomy' shocker

This article contains details about Thursday's episode of "Grey's Anatomy." If you haven't seen the episode, read on at your own peril.

"Grey's Anatomy" fans were shocked when Thursday's episode of the long-running medical drama ended with the death of Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd, the hunky neurosurgeon played by Patrick Dempsey and a central ...Read more

Spike Lee's 'Chiraq' would add to city's long violent filmography

As the camera pans over the Chicago skyline in the opening frames of the 1953 noir "City That Never Sleeps," a voice-over contemplates the nuances of "this giant, sprawling, sordid and beautiful, poor and magnificent city."

All these decades later, a description that still rings true. The story follows a jaded beat cop who wants out of both the...Read more

Russell Crowe calls directing 'Water Diviner' the best job in the world

Russell Crowe has filmed dozens of music videos and three documentaries while performing in 41 films over 25 years. But starring in and directing his first feature, "The Water Diviner," gave the "Gladiator" Oscar winner his own breed of beginner's luck.

A breakout success, the mix of World War I history and postwar romance became Australia's ...Read more

Movie review: Mulligan tackles another classic literary heroine in 'Madding Crowd'

Glowing reviews are nothing new to English rose Carey Mulligan. The star of "An Education," damsel in distress of "Drive" and Daisy Buchanan of the recent "Great Gatsby" is used to the sort of notices she's earning for her turn as Bathsheba Everdene in the film of Thomas Hardy's "Far From the Madding Crowd." Her Bathsheba is "intense, compelling...Read more

'Montage of Heck' reveals unseen sides of Kurt Cobain

LOS ANGELES -- Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were goofing off at home when she asked him one of the most fundamental questions about his public perception.

"Why are you the good one and I'm the bad one?" she asked, teasingly, about how the media portrayed their stormy romantic relationship.

"I used my illusion," Cobain said, mocking the LP ...Read more

There's a funny dark side to 'Adult Beginners' as estranged siblings Rose Byrne and Nick Kroll reconnect

"Adult Beginners," starring Rose Byrne, Nick Kroll and Bobby Cannavale, is the kind of comedy that goes down easy even as it looks at the hard stuff.

In this case, director Ross Katz is concerned with life's stress fractures and the difficulties of dealing with grown-up siblings who haven't exactly grown up.

The film comes by its funny dark ...Read more

President Obama's White House Correspondents' Dinner monologue has a thousand fathers and mothers

WASHINGTON -- If there's a comedy equivalent to the "nuclear football," the suitcase with the launch codes, it's a worn gray folder marked "Presidential Statement" that lives in the bowels of the White House, in the speechwriters' suite, and was delivered to the President Barack Obama last night. Inside that folder is a well-guarded arsenal of ...Read more

What's opening in theaters next week

Opening Friday

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" (PG-13): Box office records are ready to be broken by the return of the Marvel Comics superhero team. This time, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) square off against Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a...Read more

Blake Lively balances baby, Preserve lifestyle site and 'Age of Adaline'

"Hi," Blake Lively says, extending her free hand.

Her other one is occupied, cradling her swaddled newborn, who nurses at her chest. She sits down on a couch, props a pillow on her lap and continues breast-feeding.

She acts as if it's not a big deal -- having her baby here, in this hotel room with us -- but it kind of feels like seeing a ...Read more

President Obama's Correspondents' Dinner monologue has a thousand fathers and mothers

WASHINGTON -- If there's a comedy equivalent to the "nuclear football," the suitcase with the launch codes, it's a worn gray folder marked "Presidential Statement" that lives in the bowels of the White House, in the speechwriters' suite, and was delivered to the President Barack Obama last night. Inside that folder is a well-guarded arsenal of ...Read more

'Tangerines' is somber parable about war, humanity

LOS ANGELES -- The selection of the Estonian film "Tangerines" as one of the five foreign language Oscar nominees for 2014 came as something of a surprise, but now that the movie is in theaters it's easy to see why the academy judges responded so strongly.

A somber parable about the destructive effects of war and what a shared humanity might be...Read more

'24 Days' is gripping, anguished account of a kidnapping

LOS ANGELES -- Knowing the outcome behind the true-life tragedy "24 Days" doesn't diffuse the horror, the tension or the sadness of watching one family's drama unfold day after agonizing day when a son is kidnapped and hope dies.

French director Alexandre Arcady, who wrote the screenplay with Emilie Freche and Antoine Lacomblez, brings a gritty...Read more

'Black Souls' a top-notch Italian gangster film

LOS ANGELES -- A bleak tragedy orchestrated in a Mafia key, "Black Souls" ("Anime Nere" in Italian) is broodingly effective as a crime drama because it's driven by family dynamics as much as the mechanics of transgression.

Directed and co-written by Francesco Munzi, "Black Souls" is set not in the Sicily of the "Godfather" saga or even the ...Read more

Bruce Jenner's story is his alone to tell, so why all the wild talk?

LOS ANGELES -- Everyone loves "Transparent." The groundbreaking series about the midlife transition of a transgender woman put Amazon on the Emmys map and raised the visibility of a group of Americans already benefiting from the courage and talent of people like Chaz Bono, Lana Wachowski and Carmen Carrera.

Next month, Andreja Pejic will become...Read more