'Paterno,' The Darkness, 'Premium Rush': The Week Ahead in Pop Culture

A look at the things we're most excited about watching, reading, browsing, and listening to:

A look at the things we're most excited about watching, reading, browsing, and listening to:

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt's increasingly convincing claim to the title of movie-star-of-the-moment largely owes to his impeccable taste in roles; his career has been built on smart-but-commercially viable works like Inception, 50/50, (500) Days of Summer, and The Dark Knight Rises. We'll see if the streak continues with Premium Rush, a thriller in which he plays a New York City bike messenger who ends up carrying a highly sought-after parcel for delivery.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia's one-man show based on his own life has been transformed into the raved-about comedy Sleepwalk With Me. Katey Rich of Cinema Blend calls it "a romantic comedy that's utterly unique, but also satisfying in a primal, familiar way."

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The tribal-funk, Talking Heads-indebted sound of Brooklyn's Yeasayer remains beguiling but accessible on the band's third album, Fragrant World. "Henrietta," with its extended, loping mantra of a bridge, is a particular triumph. Writes The Boston Phoenix, "it's downright jaw-dropping that they're able to experiment so wildly in the context of such catchiness."

The Darkness were set to either be the next big thing or the next big one-hit wonder in 2003, when their glammy, ridiculous, hair-metal-revival single "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" attacked the charts. Nearly a decade later, it looks like "one-hit wonder" was the right bet. But Hot Cakes, their first full-length since then to feature the band's original, hit-making lineup, aims to change that.


When Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski started working on his biography of Joe Paterno, he thought he was writing a book about the beloved, winningest coach of the Penn State football team. When Posnanski was already deep into the process of researching and writing the book, the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal hit, and changed Paterno's legacy—and the shape of the book—dramatically. Paterno's challenge will be to take a clear-headed, critical look at the life of a man who was so greatly admired, and then so dramatically disgraced.



Sigourney Weaver's USA miniseries Political Animals comes to an end tonight. Sure, the show has its flaws—occasionally cheesy dialogue, some stock-y characters—but it's been a joy to watch the stellar cast of actresses embody tough, complicated roles. And the series finale is worth watching to see where the Hillary Clinton stand-in main character's political aspirations ultimately take her.

The unexpected charms of Political Animals not withstanding, late summer is generally a wasteland for TV. Proof lies in the fact that on Friday evening TLC is premiering two spin-offs of its Say Yes to the Dress franchise: I Found the Gown and Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, which, like SYTTD itself, both document brides-to-be in pursuit of the perfect wedding dress. The shows promise to be just as predictable as the original—but also just as pleasantly escapist.

Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

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