Big release: Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Big picture: "I'm Tony Stark. I build neat stuff. I got a great girl and, occasionally, save the world." With three simple lines, Robert Downey Jr. embodies every fanboy's dream. As Iron Man 3 begins, Stark has disengaged from the world and become a handsome hermit obsessed with nothing but his gadgets -- and his lover/assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Then, along comes a mysterious terrorist named The Mandarin (In IM4, the early word is the main villains will be named Kiwi and Cantaloupe) and things turn ugly fast. Stark's mansion is destroyed in a massive display of firepower and Pepper is taken hostage. Oddly enough, Paltrow -- annoying lifestyle maven, occasional actress, World's Most Beautiful Woman ("thanks" for feeding her ego People magazine) and annoying children namer (eg. Apple, Moses) -- is at her most likeable when she plays Pepper. Paltrow and Downey Jr. have an onscreen chemistry reminiscent of classic Hollywood screwball comedies. Meanwhile, casting Sir Ben Kingsley as the villain also gives Downey Jr. a talented performer to feed off. (If only we could get The Mandarin to hack Paltrow's GOOP website and shut it down.)
Big event: Inside Amy Schumer (April 30, Comedy Network, 10:30 p.m.)
Big picture: From the man in the iron mask, to the woman in the clown mask. Unlike Paltrow, Amy is a female star we can relate to. On her new, edgy sketch-comedy series, the standup comedian doesn't pull any offensive punches, tackling taboo subjects -- from sexting and erectile dysfunction to one-night stands.
Forecast: After guest stints on Louie and Girls, and a helping hand in the Comedy Central roasts of Roseanne and Charlie Sheen, Schumer deserves a solo venture. Welcome Inside Amy Schumer. It may not be clean fun, but you'll leave with a smile.
Honourable Mention: Manhunt (May 1, HBO Canada, 9 p.m. This Sundance Film Festival doc tells the true story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden -- told through interviews with many of the CIA operatives and analysts whose work helped bring the terrorist down. Among those profiled is Nada Bakos, the CIA veteran who inspired Jessica Chastain's character in the Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty.
Big release on April 30: LL Cool J (Authentic), Iggy & The Stooges (Ready to Die)
Big picture: LL Cool J says Authentic is both a commentary on the state of hip hop and a reflection of his "genuine love" for all music. You can certainly see the latter in the genres exemplified by the album's guest artists, including Brad Paisley, Bootsy Collins, Chuck D, Charlie Wilson, Earth Wind & Fire, Monica, Snoop Dogg, Seal and Eddie Van Halen. Meanwhile, Iggy Pop and James Williamson celebrate an unlikely musical reunion after 40 years of estrangement. While far from vintage Stooges, the album is solid and offers nostalgic charm for the seminal punk band's many fans.
Forecast: Iggy & The Stooges may be long in the tooth, but they certainly remain authentic. Meanwhile, LL Cool J proves he's made a lot of friends in his 30 years in the business. But what does it say when a musician feels the need to call his album Authentic? (I fully expect Authentic to usher in a whole wave of literal album titles: Taylor Swift's Songs About Guys I Used to Sleep With, Mumford & Sons' We Have Beards and Banjos, and The Rolling Stones' Three Out of Four of Us Are Actually Zombies.)
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture offerings is just what we need. With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.