Culture Catch-up: Fighting the good fight
The loop is here, and we're bringing you in.
TV: Amid the chaos of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the voices of the passengers on United Flight 93transmitted via cellphones and airphoneswere an eerie oasis of calm. In the Discovery Channel's excellent docudrama 93: The Flight That Fought Back (September 11, 9 p.m. EDT), the loved ones who received those calls describe the conversations and imagine what happened once the phones were disconnected.
Divas: One just cut off her ankle bracelet, the other just cut loose Janice Dickinson, and now both are gonna have talk shows. The Tyra Banks Show and Martha premiere September 12 (times vary; check local listings), and boy, are we excited. Banks, who has risen from mere supermodel to huge television celebrity thanks to the UPN hit America's Next Top Model, will use the platform to focus on "the dreams, hopes, and challenges of today's young women." Her website offers insight into cutting-edge topics she'll cover: "Women Who Love Gay Men" and "Do You Have a Million-Dollar Invention?" Oprah should be worried. As for Martha Stewart, the domestic goddess will do her show live and promises wacky segments like "What's Really for Dinner," during which she'll surprise viewers by going into their homes, cooking with them, then chowing down. Let's hope her probation officer won't confuse this behavior with breaking and entering.
Movies: Courtrooms don't seem like frightening places, except perhaps for the dude on trial, but The Exorcism of Emily Rose could change things a bit. Based on the true story of a girl who seemed to get all demon-possessed, Emily Rose flashes between the trial of the priest who is charged with her murder for the flubbed exorcism and her weird writhings and incantations prior to her death. And unlike other horror movies, it stars good actors: Laura Linney as a lawyer, Shohreh Aghdashloo as a doctor, and Tom Wilkinson as the priest.
DVDs: Put Sacha Baron Cohen in front of thousands of Harvard students and their families, and then wait for the pained expressions to erupt as he tells them about ordering porn in his hotel room. The uncomfortable speech is tacked on to Da Ali G Show: The Complete Second Season ($30), which features Cohen annoying the crap out of people by acting like an idiot from England, a Kazakh TV reporter, or a slave to fashion from Austria. This season contains one of the most horrifying yet hilarious moments of television comedy when Cohen, who's Jewish, manages to get a whole bar of southerners singing along with him while he belts out the catchy tune "Throw the Jews Down the Well." Oy. Also worth checking out are the new crop of disks in Palm Pictures' Directors Label series (palmpictures.com, $25 per disk, $80 for the set of four), in which the most prominent music video directors show off their best clips plus loads of cool extras. This batch features volumes dedicated to Mark Romanek (Janet and Michael Jackson's "Scream," Nine Inch Nails' "Closer," Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way"), Anton Corbijn (Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box," U2's "One"), Stephane Sednaoui (Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away," Alanis Morissette's "Ironic"), and Jonathan Glazer (Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity," Radiohead's "Karma Police").
Spirits: A hurricane may have knocked the Big Easy down, but many bars are hoping lots of hurricanes can help prop the city back up again. Almost 100 restaurants and bars across the country are participating in The Save New Orleans Cocktail Hour (September 12, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.), organized by the French Quarter's own Museum of the American Cocktail. For $10 you get a traditional New Orleans drinklike a hurricane (that's rum and fruit juice for the uninitiated) or brandy milk punchand the proceeds go to relief.
Mice: Because mainland China is just way too far from the Happiest Place on Earth, Hong Kong Disneyland is opening September 12. It has Space Mountain and even Mainstreet U.S.A. (where classic Cantonese cuisine is served). And unlike the other parks in the Disney empire, this one has feng shui. Based on the advice of experts, the park was tilted a few degrees and built facing the water with the mountains behind. That should make the kiddies happy. Of course, a billion people could make for some long lines.