Great Performances

Annie Lennox brings true Americana ... by way of Scotland

In person or in concert, Annie Lennox is a stunning talent. She performed for the Television Critics Association with a stripped-down band ... even improvising by using her hand as a "hand harp," to replace a guitar solo; then she recorded a stunning PBS concert with full band. Either way, her voice delivered jazz classics beautifully. That PBS special is 10 p.m. Friday (April 3); here's the story I sent to papers:


Shakespeare and jogging: A perilous combination

Epic in scope, steep in ambition, PBS' four-week Shakespeare project has been impressive -- and varied. "Richard II" was terrific; the two "Henry IV" films nearly drowned in Falstaff overload.  Now comes the excellent "Henry V" finale (Friday, Oct. 11). Here's the updated version of the story I sent to papers:

Tony Bennett still thrives at 85

There are some veteran singers, I'm sure, whose voices are just a fraction of their prime.

Not Tony Bennett. When he sang to the Television Critics Association recently, everything -- his voice, his phrasing, his back-up quartet -- was precise. At 85, this guy remains a strong talent.

Many people can sample that on Friday, when Bennett has a "Duets" special on PBS' "Great Performances." Here's the story I sent to papers:




One-woman play lifts us up easy

In the vast wasteland of Friday-night television, PBS has inserted a rich variety of concerts. This week, there's "Let Me Down Easy," Ann Deavere's one-woman show about life and death and health care and more.  Here's the story I sent to papers:


As Anna Deavere Smith crafts her shows,
one fact stands out: People are VERY different.

Hugh Laurie -- comedy, crew, drama ... and now the blues

By now, you may have heard me lecture on the fact that "House" is TV's best drama and Hugh Laurie is the best drama actor. I do that sometimes; I also  blather about his comedy skills, which remain semi-tucked away in England.

Now there's more; he's also a bluesman who is the center of a terrific PBS special. In some markets -- including East Lansing and Cincinnati -- that airs at 9 p.m. Friday. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Placido Domingo: The first 70 years

In the midst of this week's commercial-network commotion, PBS drops in a Placido Domingo special on Friday. This varies a lot from market to market -- it airs Friday on Cincinnati, but not in Lansing -- so I'll put the story here. Check your local listings:


From his earliest moments, Placido
Domingo had music flowing into his ears.