BIG RELEASE: Draft Day (April 11)
BIG PICTURE: It's Major League meets Moneyball meets Jerry Maguire meets... the kind of movie that will still hire Kevin Costner! Draft Day tells the story of the Sonny Weaver (Costner), the plucky general manager of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, who is desperately trying to land the No. 1 pick. The movie makes NFL draft day seem so EPIC and melodramatic, you'd think they were choosing the Pope, the president and the Hunger Games contestants all in one sitting.
FORECAST: All is not lost; this one could still score a few touchdowns. Canada's Ivan Reitman directs and the acerbic Denis Leary plays the Brown's coach. Jennifer Garner, hot on the heels of her turn in Dallas Buyers Club, effortlessly oozes charm as Sonny's supportive partner. She is an actress impossible to dislike -- even when watching her earnestly tell Kevin Costner things like "All that matters is what you think. Write your own story." (Yes, write your own story, Kevin --as long as that story is not Waterworld 2.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Rio 2. This is the story of a family of parrots trying to survive in Rio amidst favelas, bloody clashes between the police and drug dealers, anti-government protests -- and a glut of unfinished World Cup stadiums. I'm kidding, of course. That would too much like the real Rio. In this animated sequel, Blue, Jewel and their feathered brood decide to leave Rio to live in the Amazon and teach their kids the true call of the wild. But Blue proves to be the odd bird out and worries he'll lose his family to the jungle's call.
BIG EVENT: Mad Men (April 13, AMC, 10 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: Mad Men begins its swan song with the first in a two-part seventh season -- half of this year's final 14 episodes will be stocked away until 2015 (You can thank Breaking Bad for cementing that annoying TV trend). Mad Men's creator Matthew Weiner is notoriously tight-lipped about the goings on at the agency of Sterling Cooper, so little is known about the farewell run. But Mad Men likes to leap forward between seasons, and given that Season 6 was set in 1968, Season 7 should start with the end of the swinging '60s and likely take us into the '70s. Last we saw him, Don Draper had let his many masks down and told the ugly truth for once. Unfortunately, it was with an important client, and the partners ordered the advertising guru to go on leave. Like Don, many characters this year will find themselves in unfamiliar places, or on unexpected journeys: Pete and Ted have opened up a West Coast branch of Sterling Cooper; while Peggy sits uncomfortably in Don's old shoes. In a recent interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, Montreal actress Jessica Pare (the second Mrs. Draper) discussed the season's darkness. "The violence and the despair was all pretty far from these people's lives and now its coming closer and closer."
FORECAST: Draper may not find redemption for his multitude of sins, but he will find reinvention. I have two predictions for how this series could wrap: 1. We'll find Don in the mid-80s doing his best Don Johnson Miami Vice impression -- sporting shoulder pads and a pastel T-shirt under a white suit -- while managing ad campaigns for Ronald Reagan and, of course, cheating on the seventh Mrs. Draper; Or 2. Don will invent a time machine -- and inter-dimensional transporter -- and end up ruling the Iron Throne in Westeros. He can help the Game of Thrones gang update their slogans. "Winter is coming" is getting old. If anyone can con, connive and charm his way to power, it's our amoral ad man. (Plus, a part of me has always wanted to see Jon Hamm ride a dragon.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: 2014 MTV Movie Awards (April 13, MTV, 9 p.m.). Hosted by Conan O'Brien, this is as close to an Oscar night that Jennifer Aniston is going to get. You can tune in to find out if she'll win the career-changing award for Best Shirtless Performance for her work in the comedy We're The Millers. Her competition: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) or Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment). Plus, find out how voters decide Best Kiss between two threesomes: Ashley Benson, James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens in Spring Breakers, and Emma Roberts, Aniston and Will Poulter in We're the Millers?
BIG RELEASES ON APRIL 8: Martina McBride (Everlasting), Denney and The Jets (Mexican Coke)
BIG PICTURE: Music fans can thank Nashville this week. The fabled music town brings us albums from a megastar and a bright newcomer. Country giant Martina McBride finds her soul on Everlasting, a collection of classic R&B and rock 'n' roll covers, including Diana Ross and the Supremes' Come See About Me and Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds. This is her first cover album since 2006's Timeless. Meanwhile, Denney and The Jets offer the diamond in the rough this week. Never heard of them? Neither had I. But Mexican Coke is the album the Rolling Stones have been trying to make since Exile on Main Street. These Nashville rockers mingle country, soul and blues to create a feverish, debauched musical thrill ride. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll never sounded so good. These boys were born in the wrong era, but better late than never.
FORECAST: Martina reinvents the classics, while Denney and The Jets may become the envy of Mick and Keith.