Top Picks: Musician Dave Van Ronk's memoir, Capitol Records' remastered Beatles albums, and more

CBS celebrates the anniversary of the Beatles' 'Ed Sullivan' appearance, PBS honors Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker's birthday with a two-hour tribute, and more top picks.

PBS
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
The Mayor of MacDougal Street
PBS
American Promise

Royal purple

PBS celebrates Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker’s 70th birthday on “American Masters” with a two-hour tribute, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth. The documentary is rich with insights and retellings from Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire, and the late Howard Zinn as it traces the rise of a powerful, creative voice in the midst of a society’s struggle for racial and gender equality. It airs Feb. 7.

Fifty years ago...

Fifty years to the night that the Beatles stirred America into Beatlemania with their appearance on CBS’s “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the network will host The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. Reuniting to perform songs by the Fab Four are Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (the Eurythmics). Other artists paying tribute to one of the greatest rock bands ever include Alicia Keys, John Legend, John Mayer, Keith Urban, and Maroon 5.

Beatles, American-style

To honor the 50th anniversary of when the Beatles stormed America – and life suddenly got better and brighter – Capitol Records has digitally remastered the band’s first 13 American albums. The 13-disc box set includes original album cover art and a 64-page booklet with photos from the band’s first visit. The albums, from “Meet the Beatles” (1964) to “Hey Jude” (1970), are available in mono and stereo and can also be purchased individually on CD or downloaded from iTunes.

Race and identity

PBS honors Black History Month with American Promise, a film on “POV.” The movie explores two African-American families as they send their gifted sons to The Dalton School, an elite private school in Manhattan. Spanning 12 years, it documents the challenges faced by all sides as they grapple with a clash of cultures, abilities, and assumptions about race and class in America. “American Promise,” a 2013 Sundance Film Festival winner, premières Feb. 3.

Test your knowledge

The new iPhone and iPad hit QuizUp does for Trivial Pursuit what Draw Something did for Pictionary: It uses online interactions to breathe new life into a classic game. Compete with friends or challenge strangers to see who knows the most about everything from military history to Miley Cyrus. The minute-long matches play out in real time, building suspense with each correct answer. QuizUp’s fun questions and fast pace make it all too easy to play “just one more game.”

Father figure of folk

The Coen Brothers’ recent film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” may have been fictional, but fans of Greenwich Village folkie Dave Van Ronk might beg to differ. Van Ronk’s life inspired the Coens’ film, and a new second edition of his 2005 memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, coincides with a renewed interest in the great 1960s folk music boom. The book chronicles Van Ronk’s career – fraught with near misses and should-have-been hits (including a brazen song theft by a young Bob Dylan) at a seminal time in music history – in a warm and nostalgic voice.

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