Top Picks: Neneh Cherry's new album 'Blank Project,' PBS's search for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and more
The Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection, which includes such favorites as 'Oklahoma!' and 'The Sound of Music,' arrives on Blu-ray, Bill Cosby is honored by the American Comedy Awards, and more top picks.
A shaken trust
The word plagiarism sends a shiver down the spine of any journalist, and the name Jayson Blair gives the word additional punch. He is the subject of the PBS “Independent Lens” documentary A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at The New York Times. As the extent of his fraud unfolded, jobs were lost, careers were ruined, and the public trust in a venerable journalistic institution was badly shaken. Blair is one of the many interviewees in this compelling picture of the worst plagiarism scandal in modern journalism history. It airs May 5.
Tune into the American Comedy Awards to see industry legend Bill Cosby, best known for his Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning program “The Cosby Show,” receive the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence. Cosby was also the first African-American actor to costar in a TV drama with his show “I Spy.” The awards themselves return to TV for the first time since 2001, airing May 8 on NBC at 9 p.m.
Way beyond genre
If you danced to Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” in the 1980s, her latest, Blank Project, may shock at first listen. Cherry has lost none of her signature mash of punk, jazz, and hip-hop, but she has pared her avant-garde sound down to vocals and percussion. “Across the Water” opens with a ferocious drumbeat as Cherry negotiates motherhood and music to the urgent rhythm. More than a decade since her last solo album, Cherry’s forward thinking remains compelling. No surprise there.
Mozart in a new light
So you think you’ve got Mozart pretty well figured out. But what if someone has made a career of digging deep with the specific intention of undoing what your ears have become used to – presenting the real Amadeus? Then you’d have this four-CD set of Le Nozze di Figaro by conductor Teodor Currentzis with his orchestra and choir, MusicAeterna. “I made this recording because I wanted to show what can be achieved if you avoid the factory approach of the classical music mainstream,” he says. Listen for yourself on Sony Classical. This is the first in a series.
Lost gardens relocated?
The mystery surrounding one of the Seven Wonders of the World is tackled by PBS in its “Secrets of the Dead” series with The Lost Gardens of Babylon. Believed to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in Iraq’s city of Babylon, the hanging gardens are described in written records as rising hundreds of feet in the air – an engineering marvel and a sight to behold. But British historian Dr. Stephanie Dalley pursues a hunch through the dangers of modern Iraq that the gardens were actually located in Nineveh and built 100 years before Nebuchadnezzar. It airs May 6.
If you’ve ever sung about what a beautiful mornin’ it is, or declared the hills were alive with the sound of music, then you may be happy to own The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection on Blu-ray. It features iconic movie musicals from the legendary team, including “Oklahoma!,” “The Sound of Music,” “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” and “State Fair.” Bonus feature: a sing-along version of “The King and I.” It’s available May 6.