Top Picks: 'Petty: The Biography,' NBC's 'The Wiz Live!,' and more

Novelist William Boyd develops intriguing fictional snapshots with his tale of a British female photographer in 'Sweet Caress,' PBS's 'Off the Menu: Asian America' is an intriguing look at how community, identity, and food are intertwined, and more top picks.


The cost of fame

For those of you who find yourself playing air guitar and slipping into Walter Mitty dreams of life as a rock star ... you might want to hold your horses, or at least read this book. Petty: The Biography, by Warren Zanes, will both fuel those dreams and make your own ordinary life look pretty darn good. Tom Petty is truly a man who suffers for his art (often inflicting collateral damage), and the story of Petty leading the Heartbreakers for four decades both thrills and chills.

Suitable for framing

Novelist William Boyd develops intriguing fictional snapshots with his tale of a British female photographer. In Sweet Caress, Amory Clay’s journal entries span the 20th century to her retirement on a remote Scottish island. She goes from photographing for the society page to documenting risky battlefield forays in World War II and Vietnam, among other adventures. Boyd uses anonymous vintage photos – from decades of his own collecting – throughout. A pitch-perfect, bittersweet finale leaves the reader pondering long after turning the last page.

Live musical event

Looking for an activity for the whole family as the holiday season continues? NBC’s live musicals have recently become a fun part of the end of the year, and its newest production, The Wiz Live!, arrives Dec. 3. If you know “The Wizard of Oz,” you will no doubt find the show to be a fun twist, and you just may see a star being born with TV newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy. “The Wiz Live!” airs at 8 p.m.

Word by word

A new film adaptation of Macbeth comes to the big screen on Dec. 4, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Haven’t thought about Shakespeare’s play since high school? Let legendary Shakespearean actor Ian McKellen educate you. In this video of a 1979 actor’s workshop, McKellen meticulously walks through Macbeth’s famous “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy, noting what actors and audience members alike should pay attention to. Check out the clip at

Cultural identity

Cuisine is a definitive part of any culture. In the film Off the Menu: Asian America, director Grace Lee explores community and identity through food, from conversations with a Chinese-American chef who’s inspired by the dishes of his youth to a sushi company that adds unusual, Texas-inspired flavors. It airs on PBS on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. 

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