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Must-See TV
8 new and returning shows to watch, record and binge!
 
 
 

By Gerri Miller



MARIAH’S WORLD

MARIAH’S WORLDWith her octave-spanning voice, figure-baring wardrobe, and lavish lifestyle, Mariah Carey makes headlines with every step, the latest being her s
plit with billionaire fiancé James Packer. Capitalizing on interest in the Grammy winning diva, E! takes viewers into Mariah’s World for an eight-episode docuseries that follows  the superstar as she tours Europe, vacations in Lake Como and Capri, and spends time with friends, fans, and her five-year-old twins. Her ex, Packer, will appear in the several episodes, including the premiere.

“I haven’t been on tour in Europe in at least 10 years, so I figured, ‘Let’s show the behindthescenes, what it really takes to do a tour, watch how the music evolves, watch the process, and watch how the different personalities interact,” Carey says. “I figured, ‘If I don't document this right now, I'm not sure when I'm going to go on tour again.’ My goal was to make it something that can be a lasting piece of work for my fans, and great footage for my kids and myself to have.”

At first, Carey sometimes asked the crew to turn off the cameras, “But as I started to feel more comfortable with the whole documentary thing, I was just like, ‘All right. It is what it is. And if I don't give the right amount of access, it's going to do the opposite of what I want.’ I feel like the more the fans get to see, the better understanding they’ll have of me.”

She hopes fans will be entertained while learning about “a lot of sides of me that they may not have known were there. I can be a bit of a jokestress and sometimes that gets the best of me,” she admits. “I can be a bit bossy, but I try to be a nice person.”

Mariah’s World premieres Dec. 4 at 9 pm ET/PT on E! and Bravo.



MARIAH’S WORLD

SHUT EYE

There are storefront psychics in neighborhoods all over Los Angeles, reading tarot cards and palms for gullible patrons—with the Romany (a.k.a. Gypsy) mafia behind the scenes, controlling it all. That’s the milieu of the Hulu drama Shut Eye, one in which, says executive producer Les Bohem, “It’s a time honored tradition to be a fortune teller. As I started doing research, I discovered that the culture was just so rich and exciting.”

SHUT EYE
Jeffrey Donovan plays Charlie, a fake psychic who, after an encounter with a mysterious hypnotist (Emmanuelle Chriqui) finds that he really can read minds. He was drawn to the character--a very different guy than the “alpha” males he previously played in Burn Notice and Fargo—and the novel premise. “You have really smart, educated people walking in with $5 and then they're bilked for a half a million. I found that fascinating. It's a very strange world that these people live in, and that's what attracted me to the show. It was a world I hadn’t seen before.” 

Jeffrey Donovan plays Charlie in SHUT EYEChriqui describes her character, Gina, as mysterious, sexy, dangerous, unpredictable, and shady. “She has a lot of secrets. She’s a survivor and she’ll stop at nothing to do what she has to do.” 

Also starring are Isabella Rossellini as the matriarch of the Romany clan and KaDee Strickland as Linda, Charlie’s wife. Strickland “loved the dynamic between Linda and Charlie and how they operate, how they prey and get inside of people's minds and how they survive when they're under the thumb of others,” she says. “There are so many interesting webs to be woven.”

Shut Eye begins streaming Dec. 7 on Hulu


MOZART IN THE JUNGLE

For the past two seasons, the comedy-drama Mozart in the Jungle has taken viewers inside the classical music world, exploring the musical—and carnal—passions of members of a New York City orchestra, its volatile conductor (Golden Globe winner Gael Garcia Bernal), and the people who run it. In the wake of the heated labor relations, strike and lockout that left the players without a home, Season 3 begins with the characters pursuing solo endeavors.

Mozart in the Jungle

Bernal’s Rodrigo is in Venice, preparing to stage an opera diva’s (Monica Belucci) comeback concert, and an incendiary relationship results. Filming there for the first half of the season was “kind of surreal,” says writer-executive producer Paul Weitz, “because there are no trucks--all the equipment was put on boats, and taken to wherever you were shooting. We got to shoot at La Fenice, the opera house, in the middle of the night, with nobody in there. The locations are incredibly atmospheric.”

“It's the most incredible city,” agrees Bernal. “It's very wet, of course, and because it's so warm as well, we were all really wet all the time. That added to the magical moisture of the music.”

Meanwhile Hailey (Lola Kirke) contemplates a career change and Cynthia (Saffron Burrows) and Gloria (Bernadette Peters) remain embattled in negotiations. Says writer-executive producer Will Graham, “We’re trying to tell stories about a world of music that people don't know a lot about and that we really think is important and cool.” Mission accomplished!

Mozart in the Jungle begins streaming Dec. 9 on Amazon Prime Video.

 

STAR

Star

Fox scored a major hit with its behind-the-music melodrama Empire, so it’s betting on another music series to follow suit. From Empire creator Lee Daniels, Star follows three young singers navigating the shark-infested waters of the music business. Surrounding the talented newcomers at its center is a roster of famous names: Benjamin Bratt, Naomi Campbell, Tyrese Gibson, Lenny Kravitz and Queen Latifah as Carlotta, an Atlanta salon owner and former girl group singer who now belts it out in church.

“It’s the story of three girls who have the ambition to start a girl group,” says Latifah. “Two of them have the same mom, who is now deceased. They’ve been in the foster care system, and I was really close with their mom. I’ve been looking for them for years. I’ve wanted to step in and be their mom since their mom passed away. They show up on my doorstep but it’s a good thing because but Carlotta’s going through her own ups and downs.”

StarLatifah had been talking to Lee Daniels for years, trying to find a project to collaborate on, and she thought that Star was the perfect show to bring her back to television. “This is an interesting enough character and story to sink my teeth into and stay with, and the girls are perfect,” she praises Jude Demorest Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady. “There are some great elements to this show that I think will get people interested and watching every week, and give me something to do that’s exciting and challenging, which is what I need every time I take on a role.”

                                                                           Star premieres Dec. 14 at 9 pm ET/PT on Fox

NASHVILLE

Much to the delight of fans that rallied to save it with a social media campaign and petition, a pink slip from ABC didn’t mean the end of Nashville. The soapy country music saga moves to CMT for its 22-episode fifth season, with its lead cast intact and several newcomers coming aboard.

“It is always so thrilling and gratifying and humbling to have fans feel so passionately about your show. To see what the fans did to bring Nashville back was really moving,” says Connie Britton, who plays country superstar Rayna James. “It makes us feel really grateful and we want to do this justice. We want to bring you the best that we can bring you.”

Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), whose plane went missing in last season’s cliffhanger, is alive and will be part of the show, and Scarlett (Claire Bowen), Deacon (Charles Esten), Avery (Jonathan Jackson), Will (Chris Carmack), Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and sisters Daphne and Maddie (Maisy and Lennon Stella) will also return.

Nashville

New additions to the cast include Jen Richards as physical therapist Allyson Del Lago, a transgender character; Rhiannon Giddens as social worker and singer Hanna Lee “Hallie” Jordan, Christian Coulson as Damien George, director of Gunnar and Scarlett’s debut video, Bridgit Mendler as YouTube star Ashley Wilkinson and Murray Bartlett as men’s fashion designer Jakob Fine.

“To me, the heart of the show was the relationships and the love these people have for each other,” says executive producer and new show runner Marshall Herskovitz. “What I saw in the show was the deep connection of these people and that’s what we wanted to play up” this season. “The first thing we mandated was shorter scripts, so that there was time for the music to play out because the music is so important in this show. Also, we wanted more diversity in the music and with that comes more styles of music and other kinds of stories, because Nashville is the crossroads of the entire music world, not just country music.”

Nashville will have its two-hour premiere Jan. 5 at 9 pm on CMT. Each of the 22 episodes will be available for streaming on Hulu every Friday, one day after they air on CMT.


EMERALD CITY

EMERALD CITY

Dorothy is a badass in a leather jacket. Her dog Toto is a tough German shepherd. Lucas, the Scarecrow, is a soldier with amnesia. And Glinda the Good Witch is cold, calculating and not all that perfect. This Emerald City is definitely not the Wizard of Oz you know from the movie musical, which is off limits to replication, its rights owned by MGM.

Dorothy & her dog Toto - Emerald City“I would describe it as beautiful, romantic, and an adult re-imagining of the books,” says writer-producer David Schulner of the 10-hour NBC fantasy-drama, which mines L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz to fashion “contemporary takes on those classic characters.” These include cleverly revealed versions of the Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion, and lesser-known characters from Baum’s 14-volume Land of Oz book series, like Princess Ozma. “The fact that we have a trans character struggling with her identity that came right from Baum’s books is really important to me,” notes Schulner, who is already mapping out a second season.

Shot in Spain, Croatia, and Hungary, the series’ lush, cinematic look reflects the esthetic of its director, Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall). “No matter how dark the material got, Tarsem made it beautiful, something you couldn’t look away from,” says Schulner, also praising the top-notch designers who executed Singh’s vision.

Starring Adria Arjona as Dorothy, Joely Richardson as Glinda and Vincent D’Onofrio as the less than benevolent Wizard of Oz, whose hatred of magic unleashes a war with the witches, Emerald City is dark and often violent, too scary for little ones. But catchy songs notwithstanding, The Wizard of Oz’s flying monkeys and menacing trees terrified kids too, Schulner reminds. “All fairytales are dark.”

Emerald City will have its two-hour premiere Jan. 6 at 9 pm ET/PT on NBC.


HOMELAND

After five seasons of terrorism and espionage on international soil, Homeland returns from Berlin for Season Six for story about a homegrown terrorist threat set in New York City between the presidential election and the inauguration (this time, the female candidate won). Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is in town to advise the president-elect, while Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) has a new job advocating for mistreated and wrongly accused Muslims.

HOMELANDQuinn (Rupert Friend), barely alive following torture and a stroke, “Is very changed and altered, a casualty of the war on terrorism,” says executive producer Alex Gansa. Carrie’s answer to the marriage proposal she received and her future, if any, as a spy will also be revealed in the sixth season.

“She’s wrestling with enormous guilt for having made the choices that she has made, and been responsible for the deaths of so many people. She's overwhelmed with that sense of loss,” says Danes of the bipolar former CIA operative she plays. “She is rejecting the philosophies of the agency, and she's repositioning herself. She’s going to try to influence change from a different vantage point. But she is a rogue spirit. It's one of the reasons she's a really good spy. I don't think she'll ever not want to be a spy in some capacity, but it will manifest itself differently this time around.”

Danes, who lives in New York, was thrilled to be working in the city, and not just for the convenience of it. “It’s very fertile territory for our story. There's the interface of a lot of different counterterrorism outfits that'll be really fascinating,” she says. As always, the plot mirrors real-life dangers. As Patinkin notes, “We’re dealing with things that are frighteningly close to the world we live in.”

Homeland premieres Jan. 15 at 9 pm ET/PT on Showtime.


THE YOUNG POPE

Catholics may be shocked, even horrified, but nonetheless intrigued as much as anyone by the central character in The Young Pope, starring Jude Law as Lenny Belardo, the first American to be elected Pontiff.

The Young Pope

Law’s Pope Pius XIII is shrewd, arrogant, controlling, megalomaniac, morally conflicted, and has a mean streak. He’s prudish, homophobic, and against divorce and abortion, and questions his own faith. He refuses to show his face to the public, which adds to his mystique. He persuades the Vatican confessor to spill secrets about the Cardinals’ sins. And he installs Sister Mary (Diane Keaton)--the nun who raised the abandoned young Belardo as her own--as his chief advisor (and spy), but forbids her from addressing him as Lenny. Only ‘Your Holiness’ will do.

Behind the Vatican’s closed doors are the machinations and plotting enemies you’d expect, including his former mentor (James Cromwell), a Cardinal who’s furious about being passed over as Pope and wants his protégé to resign. For Law, the role was “an opportunity to play a character with plenty of contradiction and contrast,” he told Variety. “The joy was to be able to play a complicated, multi-layered character.”

The Young PopeBut the idea of playing the Pope was a daunting prospect. “I was overwhelmed initially,” Law admitted to the U.K.’s Telegraph. But as director Paolo Sorrentino reminded him, “it’s a piece about a guy called Lenny who’s an orphan, who happens to be the Pope. It was a joy to be able to play someone in such a political terrain, surviving the Vatican, and learning to manipulate and orchestrate all those different influences. It was very fertile soil in which to put a character.”

The 10-episode series, already renewed for a second season, will premiere two episodes per week, on Sunday and Monday nights.

The Young Pope premieres Jan. 16 at 9pm, ET/PT on HBO.



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