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On TV this week: ‘Amy Tan – Unintentional Memory’ and ‘Vax Live’


Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is vast. Here are some of the shows, specials, and movies coming to TV this week, May 3-9. Details and times are subject to change.

AMERICAN MASTERS: AMY TAN – UNINTENTIONAL MEMORY 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Filmmaker James Redford had just completed this documentary on writer Amy Tan (“The Joy Luck Club”, “The Bonesetter’s Daughter”) when he died in October at the age of 58. This fact adds a layer of melancholy to this portrait of Tan, which is built around interviews with the author and with other writers including Kevin Kwan and Isabel Allende. The film also contains a wealth of family photos and home videos, of which Tan is a particularly rich source. “I never throw away photos, unless they’re blurry,” she wrote in “Where the Past Begins,” her 2017 memoir. “All of them, even the gruesome, are an existential tale of my life. life.”

THE HURT LOCKER (2009) 6:45 p.m. on Showtime 2. At the Oscars last month, Chloe Zhao became the second woman to win the Oscar for Best Director and the first woman of color to do so. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win this directing award with “The Hurt Locker,” Bigelow’s tense drama about an army unit that detects and eliminates IEDs in Iraq. In a New York Times article after Bigelow’s victory, Manohla Dargis wrote that the film “didn’t just break through the seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling of the American film industry; it also helped dismantle stereotypes about the types of movies women can and should make. “

THESILENCEOFTHELAMBS (1991) 5:45 p.m. on Showtime. Anthony Hopkins won his second Oscar for Best Actor last month, bowled over by Chadwick Boseman, who had been favored to win posthumously. The first time Hopkins won the award was for his performance in this horror classic, in which Hopkins plays serial killer Hannibal Lecter alongside Jodie Foster’s future FBI agent, Clarice Starling. Interestingly, while Showtime airs “The Silence of the Lambs” on Tuesday, alternative channel Showtime 2 will air “21 Bridges” (2019), an action movie starring Boseman as the NYPD detective, starting at 5:30 PM.

CHILDREN SAY THE MOST DARNDEST THINGS 8 p.m. on CBS. Tiffany Haddish hosts the latest version of this variety show, which allows children to discuss their thoughts on life. (The show’s title looks particularly quaint in the TikTok and Instagram age.) Wednesday night’s Season 2 premiere features a crossover with Drew Carey and “The Price Is Right,” another legacy show.

WEST SIDE STORY (1961) 8 p.m. on TCM. Audiences had their most substantial look to date on Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” adaptation in April, when the film’s first trailer premiered during the Oscars. This version, due out in December, will of course have fierce competition in the form of this classic Hollywood take on the musical, with Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the central lovers of the story. When this “West Side Story” came out in 1961, Bosley Crowther of The Times opened his review by declaring the film “nothing less than a masterpiece of cinema.”

GREAT PERFORMANCES: UNCLE VANYA 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). In a normal year, this adaptation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by Irish playwright Conor McPherson (“Girl From the North Country”) could have made its way to Broadway: it opened up to excellent reviews in London’s West End. London in early 2020. (The Guardian’s Arifa Akbar wrote that McPherson’s script had a “stripped down and lively simplicity” and called the production, directed by Ian Rickson, “exquisite.”) Instead, the series closed early, victim of the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily for American audiences, the cast, led by Toby Jones and Richard Armitage, reunited in the West End in August for this filmed version, which was recorded live on stage at the Harold Pinter Theater.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS (2018) 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on TNT. The Hollywood version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” will be released next month, and the trailers released so far promise lavish production. Considering that it was directed by Jon M. Chu, it’s no surprise. Sumptuousness was incorporated into every frame from Chu’s previous film, “Crazy Rich Asians,” the hit romantic comedy about a NYU professor (Constance Wu) who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family (Henry Golding ), which turns out to be ridiculously rich. The film grossed enough money at the box office to make its wealthy characters blush, and much of its immediate appeal lies in the over-the-top sets and characters. But in an interview with The Times in 2018, Kevin Kwan, who wrote the best-selling novel the film is based on, pointed to another meaning in the story’s title. “The story at the heart of it all is about a family, a couple, a mother and a son,” he said. “And this is where the real insane wealth lies in the story.”

VAX LIVE: THE CONCERT TO UNITE THE WORLD 8 p.m. on ABC and CBS. Selena Gomez is expected to host this benefit concert, which aims to celebrate the increasing availability of coronavirus vaccines and encourage viewers to seek them out. Headliners are Jennifer Lopez, HER, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and the Foo Fighters. It’s unclear if the performance will feature Dave Grohl getting the shot in one arm while rocking devil horns with the other.

DJ CASSIDY’S PASS THE MIC: BET MOTHER’S DAY EDITION 9 p.m. on BET. Since July, DJ Cassidy has hosted remotely produced shows where R&B artists perform in front of webcams. Artists ready to contribute to this Mother’s Day edition include Patti LaBelle and Johnny Gill. The complete list of performers has been kept secret.



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