Don’t-Miss List: ‘The Big C,’ Steve Earle and More

See it! Hear it! Read it! Do it! The best of movies, TV, music, books and beyond


The Big C, Final Season premiere, April 29, Showtime

The fourth and final season of Showtime’s “cancer dramedy” deals with depression. (Each season has focused on a different stage of grief.) Yet, while the series is definitely frank, it’s far from grim. As a stage IV melanoma patient coming to terms with her mortality, Laura Linney has earned accolades for treating the dreaded disease with both honesty and humor. “I think the role of comedy and comics," the Golden Globe-winning actress says, "is to help deal with situations when they are overwhelming.”


The Low Highway, Steve Earle

While there’s a certain disenchantment evident in songs like "Burnin’ It Down" (which rants against Walmart’s low wages), fans of the troubadour tradition will take comfort in Steve Earle’s new record and its cozy, “coffeehouse country” sound. Earle wrote The Low Highway looking out the tour bus window and it’s clear there’s no place he’d rather be. “I’ve been on every interstate highway in the lower 48 states by now and I never get tired of the view,” he writes in the liner notes. “… And I’m always the last one to holler good night to Charlie Quick, the driver, and climb in my bunk because to me it feels like Christmas Eve long ago when I still believed in Santa Claus. God, I love this.”

Arthur Newman

What do you do if you’re not who you want to be? That’s the theme underlying this provocative rom-com about a depressed middle-aged divorced man who fakes his own death to start a new life. Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, who plays Newman, admits being drawn to characters who must cope with regret, “that notion of feeling you haven’t made your mark, of missing your moment.” 


Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, Brian Stelter 

As showbiz gossip goes, the morning show wars are as dishy as it gets. Reviewers contend this expose by New York Times reporter Brian Stelter lacks the gravitas of his colleague Bill Carter’s famed look at Leno vs. Letterman, The Late Shift. But those who consider Today as integral to the morning routine as a cup of coffee will appreciate the book’s juicy details, like NBC’s plot to dump Today host Ann Curry before the 2012 Olympics, dubbed “Operation Bambi” by ruthless execs. 


Jazz Fest, April 26-May 5, New Orleans

This is the festival on every music lover’s bucket list — and with good reason. The 2013 Jazz Fest's 10-day lineup is packed with stars, including Patti Smith, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Jimmy Cliff, Hall and Oates, Earth, Wind and Fire and Fleetwood Mac. And, this being New Orleans, the cuisine — crawfish etouffee, fried chicken, jambalaya, hot sausage po-boys, shrimp and grits, muffulettas — is every bit as irresistible.

Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.

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