• U.S.

Fall Preview: A Taste Of Autumn

23 minute read




First off, let’s not call them Backstreet Boys anymore. The youngest member of the group, Nick Carter, is 20 years old; the oldest, Kevin Richardson, turns 28 on Oct. 3. And he’s married and has a goatee, for cryin’ out loud. So from now on, let’s call these guys Backstreet Twentysomethings. After all, teens grow up, and bands do too, or VH1’s Where Are They Now? awaits. The Boys–er, the Twentysomethings–are currently holed up in a studio in their home base of Orlando, Fla., working on their as-yet-untitled new album, which is due out Nov. 21. They’re not the new kids on the block anymore. It may be time for them to move from boys to men.

The Backstreets may see the most traffic, but there are plenty of other roads worth exploring this season. Pop singer Samantha Mumba, a half-Irish, half-Zambian 17-year-old, releases a promising debut in October, and 19-year-old diva Christina Aguilera reconnects to her Latin roots with a Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo, out Sept. 12. Rock will have its place, with U2 and the Wallflowers readying new CDs, and soul will have its day, with Erykah Badu making a welcome return and Sade making a welcome and long-awaited one. As for hip-hop, the Atlanta-based duo Outkast, jazz rapper Guru and rap rocker Everlast are ones to watch. With so much to choose from, Napster never had it so good.



Rock is dead. Rock is alive. Meaningful music is over. Meaningful music never mattered more. The British band Radiohead’s new CD, Kid A, out Oct. 3, arrives like Mark Antony delivering Caesar’s funeral oration: it comes not to praise rock but to bury it. The songs defy convention and categorization: one track, The National Anthem, begins like a full-on rock number, with a throbbing bass guitar and aggressive percussion, before the tune bursts open and jazzy horns tumble out. This is an album about atmosphere and mood, not easy hooks and catchy choruses. Listening to Kid A is like hearing one’s own heart–you feel every beat intimately. And you never want it to stop.




Given the shortage of women’s roles and Hollywood’s addiction to old TV shows, we can’t believe it took this long for Charlie’s Angels to make it to the big screen. Columbia Pictures has updated the material with Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu as the latest angels in an ongoing crime-fighting organization. John Forsythe returns as the voice of Charlie, their boss, and Bill Murray joins in as Bosley, trusted sidekick.

Watchable cast, amusing premise, curiosity factor bigger than Farrah Fawcett-Majors’ hair–the Angels are off to a good start, but what they need now are your prayers. Casting dramas, rewrites and on-set tensions have turned Charlie’s Angels, which opens Nov. 3, into the most chronicled production since Titanic. The studio has spent around $90 million turning the TV show into a movie (always an iffy investment), but there is good news: ace screenwriter John August (Go) has made a significant contribution to the script, and the eye-popping trailer is exciting audiences. Here’s hoping the movie is a babe.

The Angels won’t be the only ones employing their feminine mystique in theaters. Renee Zellweger gives insanity a girlish charm in Neil LaBute’s comedy Nurse Betty (Sept. 8), and in December Nicole Kidman stars as Paris’ most seductive courtesan in the postmodern musical Moulin Rouge. Kate Hudson is the heart and soul of Cameron Crowe’s coming-of-age movie Almost Famous (Sept. 15), an ode to ’70s rock that’s already gathering momentum in this year’s Oscar race. Helen Hunt is unstoppable this season, romancing Richard Gere in Dr. T & the Women (Oct. 13), starring opposite Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment in Pay It Forward (Oct. 20) and teaching Mel Gibson What Women Want (Dec. 15).

Even some of the guys are acting more like the gentler sex. Macho producer Jerry Bruckheimer is releasing Remember the Titans (Sept. 29), an integration drama with Denzel Washington set in 1971 against the backdrop of high school football. Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller do some bonding (and some hilarious head butting) in Meet the Parents (Oct. 6). And Jim Carrey’s heart grows several sizes in Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Nov. 17). Must be those treatments from Nurse Betty.



Hong Kong is the cinema that put the artistry in martial arts. Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan turned the spectacle of kung-fu fighting into high-flying ballet. In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which makes its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 9, Ang Lee pays glorious tribute to both Chinese action films and Western-style love stories. The Taiwanese-born director of Sense and Sensibility offers a mature crowd pleaser, with brisk pacing and a lingering melancholy.

Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh, Asian stars who have made their mark on both sides of the Pacific, play wise warriors defending their lord from a mysterious invader. While Chow and Yeoh tiptoe toward the awareness that they may have little time to realize their unspoken love, a girl-woman (radiant ingenue Zhang Ziyi) teases them with her suspiciously superior martial skills and tests both their emotional and physical equilibrium.

There are fierce sword fights and ancient enmities, gravity-defying battles on rooftops and treetops, rapturous smooches in the Gobi Desert–genuine old-fashioned movie magic all around. As the willful princess, 20-year-old Zhang realizes a fairy-tale destiny. In only her second film, she gives a star-is-made performance that heralds a bright future in Mandarin-language movies–and beyond them. Asked recently what her plans are, she said, “Learn English.” The young beguiler is fresh out of acting school in Beijing; now she seems prepared to go Hollywood. If Hollywood is smart, it will go Zhang.




At a time when very little within the art world has caught the imagination of many people outside the art world, one of the current notable trends is the gradual marginalization of art–you know, pictures and stuff. There may not be another crowd-pleasing Warhol on the horizon, but museums must have their blockbusters, so they have been resorting more often lately to shows of easy-to-digest fashion or pop-music artifacts. The embarrassing “Rock Style” show that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City put on earlier this year stuffed both trends into one silly shopping bag. And one of the fall’s biggest shows will be devoted to Giorgio Armani, the Italian clothing designer, whose lustrous things are worn by lustrous people everywhere. His retrospective unveils on Oct. 20 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, which was host to a history of the motorcycle two seasons ago and would probably put on the New York Auto Show next if that’s what it takes to get customers through the door. To keep it all from seeming too much like an afternoon at the better sort of mall, the installation will be designed by Robert Wilson, the ethereal creator of the better sort of stage productions.

Two other museums will offer their own less glamorous versions of the art/fashion/music nexus. On Nov. 5, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts unveils “Dangerous Curves: Art of the Guitar,” a 350-year survey that’s heavy on the post-Stratocaster era. In the same vein, the Brooklyn Museum of Art will premiere “Hip-Hop Nation: Roots, Rhymes, and Rage” on Sept. 22, a survey of rap culture from its beginnings in the late 1970s. Pick your outfit now.



The Great Hon’ami Koetsu–how many people in the West have heard of him? Not too many, but in the early 17th century this man was to Japanese culture roughly what Leonardo da Vinci or Benvenuto Cellini had been to Italy a century before: a wonderfully versatile master of many media, renowned equally as painter, calligrapher, potter, lacquer artist and, thanks to his close relationship with the great shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, the virtual “art director” of Buddhist Japan. No artist, Eastern or Western, was ever more authoritative within his own culture; and Koetsu’s work was also identified with the tea ceremony, whose aesthetic principles–and even, to no small extent, subject matter–he helped form.

“The Arts of Hon’ami Koetsu, Japanese Renaissance Master” is the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s major show this fall–the first comprehensive Koetsu exhibition outside Japan. It will be on view through Oct. 29 and is not to be missed. A gem.




It was about 40 years ago today that the band began to play, and common sense would suggest that there is absolutely nothing new left to say about the Beatles. Not true, at least on the evidence of The Beatles Anthology (Chronicle), a massive collection of 340,000 words and some 1,300 photographs and illustrations due Oct. 5. Put together with the full cooperation of the Fab Four’s three surviving members, the Anthology is essentially the group’s autobiography as told by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, with John Lennon’s memories assembled posthumously. The result is a unique, inside version of the familiar tale, from scuffling early gigs to worldwide fame. What did it feel like to be a Beatle? Is an answer to this enough to justify the $60 price tag? Beatlemaniacs will find the question silly. In fact, they will have the opportunity to shell out even more this fall for Paul McCartney: Paintings–the title is self-explanatory–and Y E S Yoko Ono, a collection of artworks from Lennon’s widow. Roughly 10 other Beatles books will hit the shelves as well. All you need is ink.

The season also promises some nonfiction works that are actually not about the Beatles, including Margaret Salinger’s account of her reclusive writer-father and Ronald Reagan’s letters to his wife. On tap too: major new biographies of Robert F. Kennedy, Donald Trump, Joe DiMaggio and Ho Chi Minh.



Margaret Atwood’s 10th novel should equal or surpass the popular appeal she achieved in The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) while maintaining her consistently high literary achievements. English professors will relish the postmodern trick–a novel with a novel within a novel–that gives The Blind Assassin (Doubleday; 521 pages; $26) its title. The less theoretically inclined can simply kick back and marvel at Atwood’s gripping tale, which stretches from World War I almost to the present moment. At the center are two sisters, Iris and Laura Chase, daughters of a wealthy Canadian manufacturer who is ruined during the Depression. The Chase girls must adjust to diminished expectations, and the choices they make, the secrets they keep, will reverberate for decades. There is enough suspense in The Blind Assassin, out Sept. 5, to stock a shelfful of ordinary mysteries, with the added benefit that Atwood’s plot comes with fully rounded characters and reams of beautiful prose.




Miguel Adrover’s formidable buzz has been built on the strength of just two tiny shows. After the second one, in which he showed a jacket made from the ticking taken off a mattress that was discarded on the street (and reportedly had belonged to the recently deceased Quentin Crisp), the fashion pages were practically wet from all the drooling. They raved over the inventiveness and “elegant edginess” of such outfits as the the two pairs of flannel pants with Hermes belts, one of which was retailored as a jacket, right, or the navy sweatshirts with Yankees baseball caps worked into the shoulders. Now Adrover has a big financial backer (Pegasus), but also a big load of pressure to produce clothes that sell.

What seems almost certain to sell this fall is tweed, which has been shaken out of its owlish mien by designers like Marc Jacobs and Veronique Branquinho. Even better if the tweed belonged to Mom, as vintage clothing gets hotter than ever. But when even the chicest tweed seems too fusty, fashionistas will fall back on denim, preferably in treacherously low-rise hipsters like those by Frankie B.



Are we, as creatures of taste, fated always to favor the era we grew up in? The work of Nicolas Ghesquiere, the 29-year-old French designer who has brought Balenciaga back to cult status while reviving that skinny-panted, big-shouldered, tough-chic ’80s silhouette, above, would certainly seem to suggest so. Ghesquiere, who will show in New York City for the first time this fall, for the Italian line Callaghan, has already become a darling of local stylists. Who can blame them? It’s hard not to get excited by a fashion designer who so resolutely marches to the beat of his own drum.




Survivor may have shown us the future of TV this summer, but autumn will bring such time-warp fare as a Dynasty-like soap from Aaron Spelling and a remake of The Fugitive (CBS, Fridays, 8 p.m., starts Oct. 6). But the show many advertisers give the best odds is Bette (CBS, Wednesdays, 8 p.m., debuts Oct. 11), a sitcom with brassy Bette Midler–an actual professional entertainer!–playing herself a la The Jack Benny Show. The series has plenty for Midler’s fans (yes, she sings), but will Survivor’s young viewers swing to this boogie-woogie belter’s tune?

The season does have its innovations. James Cameron’s sleek sci-fi thriller, Dark Angel (Fox, Tuesdays, 9 p.m., starts Oct. 3), introduces buzz magnet Jessica Alba. On NBC’s endearingly oddball Ed (Sundays, 8 p.m., begins Oct. 8), a lawyer moves back to his hometown, buys a bowling alley and courts his high school crush. And teen-TV satire Grosse Pointe (The WB, Fridays, 8:30 p.m., bows Sept. 22) looks like nasty fun. Are sitcoms and dramas back? Well, at least until Survivor returns, with its clones, to vote them off the island.



Frankly, the press release for Gideon’s Crossing (ABC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m., starts in October) made us wince. “Ben Gideon is the voice of reason, empathy and wisdom…[He] treats the whole person, not just the illness.” Is it Patch Adams: The Series? Nope. The Homicide team of Andre Braugher and producer Paul Attanasio has fashioned the most subtle, character-focused hospital drama since ABC euthanized Wonderland.




Mark Morris, who loves opera almost as much as modern dance, has cooked up a new version of Four Saints in Three Acts, the 1934 surrealist collaboration between Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein. This production, which blends dance, mime and slapstick in the fanciful Morris manner, had its world premiere in London in June, and will make its eagerly anticipated U.S. debut at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, Calif., on Sept. 21. Michelle Yard, a much-admired addition to the Mark Morris Dance Group, is St. Teresa, and word is that she, pictured above with John Heginbotham, dances like, well, a saint.

Elsewhere this season, classical-ballet whiz Christopher Wheeldon has choreographed Vivaldi’s ever popular The Four Seasons for the Boston Ballet (Sept. 28). The Kennedy Center in Washington presents The Legacy of Paul Taylor, a mini-festival featuring Taylor’s latest, Fiends Angelical (Sept. 29-Oct. 8). And the Carolina Ballet, America’s most promising young company, based in Raleigh, N.C., premieres a staging of Coppelia (Oct. 26).



For those who regard George Balanchine as the choreographer of the century–any century–Washington will be the place to be in September. The Kennedy Center’s Balanchine Celebration features such masterpieces as Agon, Divertimento No. 15 and The Four Temperaments, performed by the Miami City, Pennsylvania, San Francisco and Joffrey ballet troupes. It also marks the official debut of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet Company (Sept. 12-24).




Need a musical goose?/then get off your caboose/and enthuse for a doozical, woozical Seuss/Where the Whos call a truce/And a moose might be puce/When you choose a Carus-ical, musical Seuss. Maybe nobody can twist sounds into balloon animals of rhyme the way Theodor Geisel did, but a Tony-laden team is going to try, adapting some of Geisel’s Dr. Seuss books and characters into a Broadway show called Seussical: The Musical. The songs are by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime). Frank Galati, who won two Tony awards for The Grapes of Wrath, is the director; and Kathleen Marshall, who choreographed Kiss Me, Kate and many of the enthralling Encores! musical revivals, is in charge of the dancing. David Shiner, the Cirque du Soleil veteran who shone on Broadway with Bill Irwin in Fool Moon, will play the Cat in the Hat, who serves as the show’s narrator. If the new show resembles any Broadway standard, it would be a certain feline adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s poems for children. That show opened 18 years ago; it will close this month. We’ll bet the Seuss-ophonic troupe wouldn’t mind having a Cats in the hat.

You don’t see many jolly musicals in this dour Broadway age, but this fall there are two. Seussical is joined by The Full Monty, based on the hit Brit film about blue-collar guys who try to make a few bob as strippers. David Yazbek (from TV) and playwright Terrence McNally wrote the show. There’s also an old-fashioned sweeping romance: a Jane Eyre from pop balladeer Paul Gordon and some of the folks behind Les Miserables. All you composers working on more versions of Martin Guerre and The Wild Party can put them aside. The musical is perking up. Broadway might be fun again if shows would stop singin’ the blues.



It may be less famous than its Second City rival, the Steppenwolf, but the Goodman Theatre is one of America’s finest, most adventurous regional companies. Under artistic director Robert Falls, it has boosted the careers of such playwrights as Mary Zimmerman (The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci) and Rebecca Gilman (Spinning into Butter), and presented landmark revivals such as the 1999 Tony Award-winning Death of a Salesman, starring Brian Dennehy. This fall the Goodman rewards itself with a new home, a 170,000-sq.-ft., two-stage theater complex in downtown Chicago. Its inaugural production, King Hedley II, eighth in August Wilson’s 10-play cycle about the black experience in 20th century America, debuts Dec. 11.




In October, a week apart, two new federal courthouses will open at opposite ends of the country. One sits in full view of the Atlantic Ocean in Islip, N.Y.; the other rises from the desert in Phoenix, Ariz. Both were designed by Richard Meier. There is perhaps no more appropriate building for Meier to design than a courthouse, a place where rules are enforced and and order is established. His adherence to Euclidean geometry and classical modernism begins to seem almost quixotic in an era absorbed in Gehryesque deformed surfaces and blobby forms. While both federal buildings have all the Meier hallmarks–lots of light, lots of white, lots of glass–they face quite different environmental challenges. In Phoenix, the main glass atrium has been engineered to be cooled by natural airflows and water rather than air-conditioning. In New York, the corridors along the courtrooms are public spaces with views to the sea.

For those who crave order on a smaller scale, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, is sending over some of its extensive collection of 20th century furniture to the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. While reproductions can be seen in the increasing number of midcentury furniture stores around the U.S., there’s nothing like an original Arne Jacobsen to set design pulses racing.



How do you erect a memorial for a figure as admired as Martin Luther King Jr. in a city filled with monuments–and monumental agendas? Very carefully. This is the approach of the folks at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, who organized a design competition that has drawn 871 entries; the winner will be announced this fall. While the prize, $20,000, is small, the payoff is big; the Vietnam War memorial, awarded in a similar competition, made the career of then undergraduate student Maya Lin.




The San Francisco Opera specializes in movie-into-opera custom conversion jobs designed to tantalize non-operagoers who don’t know Rigoletto from rigatoni. Two years ago, it was A Streetcar Named Desire, with superstar soprano Renee Fleming as Blanche Dubois; now it’s Dead Man Walking, with superstar mezzo Susan Graham as Sister Helen Prejean, the spiritual adviser who brings salvation to a death-row inmate, the role for which Susan Sarandon won an Academy Award. The score is by Jake Heggie, a gifted purveyor of bittersweet art songs, and the libretto is by playwright-opera buff Terrence McNally (The Lisbon Traviata, Love! Valour! Compassion!). Will this brand-name opera be agitprop or art–or both? Whatever the results, the timing of the premiere at the War Memorial Opera House on Oct. 7, less than two months after Texas’ controversial double execution, could scarcely be better.

But those who prefer their music sans message needn’t feel left out. Michael Tilson Thomas, the Great American Conductor, celebrates the centenary of the Great American Composer by leading the San Francisco Symphony in Aaron Copland’s electrifying Symphony No. 3 (Sept. 27-28). Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel, the hottest tickets of the post-Pavarotti era, join forces for a gala concert at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House (Oct. 29). Ace countertenor David Daniels, opera’s freshest star, makes his triumphant return to the New York City Opera in a new production of Handel’s Rinaldo (Oct. 31). And Chanticleer, the Grammy-winning 12-man a cappella vocal ensemble, backs up Magnificat (Teldec), its elegant new CD of plainchant and Renaissance motets, with tour dates in Princeton, N.J. (Oct. 3); New York City (Oct. 6 and Dec. 3); Detroit (Oct. 8); St. Louis, Mo. (Oct. 11); St. Paul, Minn. (Dec. 1-2); and Chicago (Dec. 6).



Murray Perahia, the reigning poet of classical piano, first made a name for himself in the ’70s with his chaste, sensitive interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin. But Perahia didn’t bond with the Baroque genius of Johann Sebastian Bach until an injury to his right thumb forced him off the concert stage for five nerve-racking years. “I needed it spiritually,” he explains.

Now that he’s back at the top of the heap, Perahia has started playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the work that made Glenn Gould an overnight star back in 1955. A series of European tryout performances last season received rapturous reviews, suggesting that this massive masterpiece is as well suited to Perahia’s exquisitely detailed lyricism as it was to Gould’s probing, mercurial style. American audiences can decide for themselves when Perahia brings the Variations to Stanford, Calif. (Oct. 15); Seattle (Oct. 17); and New York City’s Avery Fisher Hall (Oct. 22), and on a Sony Classical recording out in September.




How badly does Atlanta’s High Museum of Art hope that it might someday be the last resting place of the photography collection of Elton John? Badly enough to court him by letting 380 of his pictures fill the entire museum, as well as its downtown annex, this fall. But who can blame the museum’s trustees? Sir Elton, as he is now officially privileged to be called, keeps one of his several homes and most of his more than 2,000 pictures in Atlanta. And in the 10 or so years since he started buying photographs seriously, Sir Elton–it’s fun just to see those words, no?–has assembled a credible collection of 20th century photographs. It’s the kind that could give any medium-size museum, the High, for instance, a nice-size addition to its department of photography, with everything from Abbott (Berenice) to Ziolowski (Joe).

O.K., Ziolowski’s not famous, but this is an enthusiast’s assemblage of favorite pics, not a scholar’s fastidious survey of photo history. Rock stars all started as fans. The Atlanta show, which opens Nov. 4, represents one star returning to his roots by becoming an art fan. His collection is heavier on musician portraits (Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Sting and Elton, Elton, Elton) and fashion shots–big surprise–than on street photography or social commentary. But that’s the charm of a chapbook: it’s not an encyclopedia.

A celebrity of another era, the Countess de Castiglione, will be feted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “La Divine Comtesse,” opening Sept. 18, is a show of more than 90 pictures of the 19th century Italian beauty, a mistress of Napoleon III, who commissioned the photographer Pierre Louis Pierson to re-create great moments of her public life. Sir Elton would understand.



He started as a wistful pictorialist, making shadowy nocturnes that look like damp watercolors. He became a dedicated modernist, producing angular portraits of angular personalities like Greta Garbo and Amelia Earhart (pictured). He culminated as the grayest sort of gray eminence, head of the photography department of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, whose sentimental “Family of Man” exhibit in 1955 was the original museum blockbuster, but also the show that more dry-eyed photographers loved to hate. If Edward Steichen had a very mixed career, and he did, at every stage of it he made some great pictures all the same. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City surveys the whole thing starting Oct. 4.




Whenever Steven Spielberg announces a new venture, attention will be paid, and expectations and envy will run high. DreamWorks spent its first two years dodging the barbs of industry rivals giddy over the studio’s low production. Those same folks have reveled in the grinding gestation of Pop.com the inchoate creative-content site powered by the brains and wallets of Spielberg and friends Paul Allen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Live and animated short-form videos like those on AtomFilms and Icebox are part of Pop’s plan when the site debuts in early October, but the main emphasis will be on the virtual workshop, where first-time screenwriters and novelists can post and store their work, and mingle with what site CEO Kenneth Wong calls “notables” to develop their ideas. Whether a successful–not to mention revenue generating–creative community can exist on-line is anyone’s guess, but don’t bet against the names on Pop’s letterhead.

Pop isn’t the only site with entertainment ambitions. Platinum Studios, which owns the rights to more than 1,000 comic-book characters like Dylan Dog and Barry Ween, launches four sleek e-toon shows in late fall. Meanwhile, kid’s site Rumpus.com releases its second 45-minute flash-animated movie, The Day I Saved America, on Nov. 20, featuring Jason Priestly as the voice of Betsy Ross. (Yes, it’s a comedy.) Even Looney Tunes legend Chuck Jones, 87, is getting in on the action with Timber Wolf, the ongoing adventures of an intellectual Canis lupus, arriving on Entertaindom.com in December.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com