Central Park Five, April 16, 9 p.m., PBS
Who could forget the case of “the Central Park jogger,” a young white woman found in the park in April 1989, nearly naked and barely alive with a crushed head. But this Ken Burns documentary recounts part two of the tragedy: the five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted and jailed more than seven years for the brutal attack — and later found innocent. It’s a sobering flashback to a time when crack, crime and race had New York on edge.
André Gregory: Before and After Dinner
It may seem that raconteurs have given way to rappers, but the art of storytelling hasn’t vanished yet. This portrait of André Gregory, the groundbreaking director-actor-artist best known for My Dinner With Andre, picks up where the cult classic conversation left off. Gregory (now 78) unspools his life's mysteries, passions and fears, speaking warmly of his lifelong friendship with Wallace Shawn and his problematic relationship with his European parents, “Jews who forgot to tell their children they were Jews.”
Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Willie Nelson and Family
Age hasn’t curbed Willie Nelson’s appetite for two things: smoking weed and making music. Nor has it dulled that inimitable twang. The country superstar celebrates his 80th birthday this month by dropping a new studio record featuring a mix of American standards (Irving Berlin) and country classics (Carl Perkins), as well as new works by Willie. Let’s Face the Music and Dance is an inspiring testament to the longevity of creativity; the man already has 200 albums to his name!
Living With Shakespeare: Essays by Writers, Actors and Directors, Edited by Susannah Carson
If Shakespeare in the Park is a favorite summer ritual, consider putting this collection of essays on your spring reading list. In it, James Earl Jones, Julie Taymor, Camille Paglia, Ben Kingsley and other creative people offer insights gleaned from their experiences with the Bard’s work. Theater geeks will be in their glory.
WORTH THE TRIP
Fiesta San Antonio, April 18-28
To commemorate the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto in 1891, Texas women decorated carriages, baby buggies and bicycles with flowers, then met in front of the Alamo to throw the blossoms at one another. From those odd, humble beginnings, the Battle of Flowers Parade was born. Today it’s just one of several marches at the Fiesta San Antonio, an 11-day event that draws more than 3 million revelers. Other highlights include food, live music and the Texas Cavaliers River Parade on the San Antonio River, with (yes) floats that actually float!
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.