Culture Catch-up: The Family Guy makes a movie
The loop is here and we're bringing you in.
DVDs: Dismal ratings persuaded Fox to boot the cartoon comedy Family Guy in 2002, but after ravenous fans devoured DVDs of the adventures of the Griffin clan, the network brought the series backmuch to the surprise of creator Seth MacFarlane. Now that it's a hit on TV, MacFarlane's giving the DVD devotees a thank you note with the straight-to-DVD Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffinthe Untold Story ($30), which tells the tale of the Brit-accented baby's desire to prove that fat slob Peter Griffin is not his real father. With Brian, the cocktail-swilling family dog, in tow, Stewie flees to San Francisco to track down the man he thinks is his dad.
Movies: Dear sweet Jodie Foster, honey, you're worrying us with this whole paranoia streak you're on. We think it's affecting your work. Sure, Panic Room was good, but this new Flightplan flick in which you're convinced someone has kidnapped your daughter midflight as part of a hijacking plot? Did someone threaten to kill you if you didn't make it? Death might have been a better option, judging by Corpse Bride, the animation sensation from Tim Burton. A thin, timid young man (voiced by Johnny Depp) is supposed to marry a thin, timid young girl, but the night before the wedding, while practicing his vows in the woods, the man accidentally marries a corpse. It's musical and odd and completely charming, maggots and all.
Books: The accents may be different, but there are many similarities between Savannah, Ga. where John Berendt set his bestselling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Eviland Venice, the Italian city he strips bare in The City of Falling Angels ($26). In both, the residents are extremely colorful, and it seems someone has been up to no good. In Venice, the real-life mystery centers on the burning of the Fenice opera house, and Berendt's lovely depictions of arts, culture, and social life will have you booking a plane immediately. If you have to stay on this side of the Atlantic, however, this Saturday (September 24), Washington, D.C., will host the National Book Festival. The fifth such bash on the Mall hosted by the Library of Congress and first lady Laura Bush brings a bunch of authors to chat about their work. This year's lineup includes Tom Wolfe, Sharon Creech, Jonathan Safron Foer, and Giada De Laurentiis. Many of that gang may be applauding Oprah Winfrey's decision to bring contemporary literature back into her megapopular book club. On her September 22 show, she announced that the next choice is 2003's A Million Little Pieces, the substance-abuse memoir by James Frey.
TV: Talking heads complain about PBS swinging too far to the left politically, but this week its only bias is gonna be toward rock-and-roll. The much anticipated documentary Bob Dylan: No Direction Home (September 26 and 27; check local listings), directed by Martin Scorsese, pieces together the career of one of the most influential musicians of our time with revealing interviews and never-seen footage. And if you have HBO, don't forget to tune in to Extras (Sundays, 10:30 p.m. EDT), a sitcom about show biz from Ricky Gervais, the guy who created and starred in The Office (the original British version). Now he's a movie extra finding out what stars are like behind the camera.