"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," sang Bob Dylan, but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture 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.
Big releases: The Words (Sept. 7)
Big picture: A struggling, dead-broke writer (Bradley Cooper) -- who is inexplicably sleeping with Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) -- discovers a brilliant old manuscript in an antique briefcase. The film presents his next move, opting to publish said novel as his own, as an immoral decision with grave consequences. But, realistically speaking, if you were a literary fraud coupled with Saldana, and always had her bemoaning your lack of money (with a world-weary sadness in her cinnamon doe eyes), you'd publish somebody else's novel, too. (Hell, for Zoe, I'd steal an orphan's college trust fund -- and simultaneously take his Halloween candy).
Forecast: Casting the distinguished Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) as the tortured author of the uncovered novel immediately lends The Words credibility. Olivia Wilde and Dennis Quaid also flesh out the bill -- and Cooper himself could charm his way through a hurricane at a Republican convention. But the film's premise also has me wondering if the Twilight novels were published the same way: Did Stephenie Meyer discover the tortured, hormone-fuelled journals of 200-year-old, barely-literate, sparkly vampire trapped in a teenager's body?
Big event: MTV Video Music Awards (Sept. 6, MuchMusic, 7 p.m. )
Big picture: It's the party the Grammys wishes it knew how to throw. This year, the always unpredictable celebration will include performances by Rihanna, Taylor Swift, One Direction and Green Day. British Columbia's own Carly Rae Jepsen will be on hand, nominated for best new artist. I know, you're expecting me to mock Carly with snooty, hipster disdain. But who among us has not been moved to smile at least once by Jepsen's hit, Call Me Maybe. Want proof? Check out the artist's acoustic, children's-toy driven version with The Roots and Jimmy Fallon on YouTube -- not to mention the cross-dressing remix on Chatroulette (you can't make this kind of stuff up). Hell, even Cookie Monster covered her! You got cookie, so share it maybe?
Forecast: Jepsen deserves more than a maybe for recording this summer's theme song. I sincerely hope she wins (and I sincerely HATE being sincere). But Rihanna is poised to steal the show with her live number.
MTV-favourite Nickelback is not a nominee this year (and the band will truly be missed on the podium). But lead singer Chad Kroeger -- or as I now like to call him, Sk8er Man -- would have been a good fit for the main character in The Words. Of course, he'd have poached his lyrics from the cave-paintings of a loincloth-clad Neanderthal.
Honourable mention: Perception (Sept. 5, Bravo, 8 p.m. ). It's A Beautiful Mind meets House meets ... every other police procedural on TV. Dependable Toronto-born actor Eric McCormack stars in the new series Perception, about an eccentric professor with paranoid schizophrenia who helps the FBI solve tough-to-crack cases. Hmm ... Maybe he can explain why Nickelback is the top-selling band in North America?
Big release on Tuesday: Stars (The North), Matchbox Twenty (North).
Big picture: It's not a typo. Both bands essentially chose the same album title (but Stars gets creative points for the word "The"). In the case of Stars, and its underrated brand of electro-indie pop, the title seems appropriate. North is still the side of the border where the Montreal-based ensemble's lush, orchestral-pop is appreciated the most. Lead singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell are the perfect vocal dance partners -- always at their best when singing in unison. Meanwhile, after a decade in the dark, Matchbox Twenty returns to light up fans with Rob Thomas's radio-friendly crooning. The group's latest single is a mid-tempo balled called Overjoyed -- likely the same feeling Thomas felt when landing a career-rejuvenating mentor gig on TV's The Voice this fall. But Thomas's side job begs an interesting question: With the revolving door of host/judges/mentors on today's musical reality shows, when will the talent run dry? J. Lo and Paula Abdul are out, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears are in? It's hard to even keep track anymore. How long before the reality sharks start swimming around our young blood, like Carly Rae? (Hey, we just met you -- and it's crazy. Don't give Hollywood your number. No maybes.)
Forecast: Matchbox Twenty's greatest hits album was called Exile on Mainstream for a reason; the band's music is custom built for Top 40 success. But the Stars effort will have far more shine. We should count ourselves lucky that they call the north home.
Honourable mention: Cat Power (Sun). Creative guru Chan Marshall has never been known for her sunny disposition. Cat Power's music has always been soaked in slow-burning melancholy and self-reflection. But indie's siren of sad could surprise fans with an album that lives up to its name. The effort's musical mood is almost jubilant -- and she performed every instrument. Now that's what I call Cat Power.
-- Postmedia News