Monitor Picks

Five things we think you'll like, including a sprinkling of 'Stardust,' a book on Gershwin and his peers, and the long-awaited return of AWOL film stars.

Glittering Flick

We think the lush fantasy-romance Stardust – with the still-bewitching Michelle Pfeiffer (r.) and Robert DeNiro (as you've never seen him before) – deserves better than its just-below-the-radar status. It's "Pirates" with some "Lord of the Rings" grandeur. Peter O'Toole plays an expiring king to perfection. Charlie Cox is, well, the new Orlando Bloom.

The Great American Songbook

In The House that George Built, author Wilfrid Sheed writes, "popular music was far and away our greatest contribution to the world's art supply." He's talking about the golden age of American songwriting (roughly 1925-50) by the likes of Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, and the book's namesake, George Gershwin. It is a wildly hyperbolic, deeply affectionate insider's biography of the men whose enduring artistry still has the power to make us swoon.

Take Me Home, Country road

Alison Krauss's "A Hundred Miles or More" is an aural road worth traveling. A collection of soundtrack songs, unreleased tracks, and collaborations with the likes of James Taylor, it's highlighted by "You Will Be My Ain True Love," a duet with Sting, and the roots gospel "Down to the River to Pray."

Game On!

CBS's new Power of 10 has the drama of "Deal or No Deal" plus a fun sociological component – contestants guess the percentage of polled Americans who, for example, think girls should be allowed to play high school football (42 percent!) or say they've let a dog lick their mouths (we forget, but it was high). Drew Carey, soon headed for "The Price is Right," hosts.

Roll Out The Red Carpet

After a summer in which movies were dominated by culinary rats, yellow-skinned cartoon characters, and robots camouflaged as 16 wheelers, it's a relief to page through Entertainment Weekly's bumper guide to fall films and discover that Hollywood's A-list is returning in force. Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, Tom Hanks, and Reese Witherspoon are all back.

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