Best bets for May 26: Memorial Day eve music and emotion

1) “National Memorial Day Concert,” 8 and 9:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings). It was 30 years ago that producers moved the “Capitol Fourth” approach to the eve of Memorial Day: Mix a rich collection of music and some emotional words. This time, the music is from Patti LaBelle, Gavin DeGraw, Alison Krauss, Justin Moore, Christopher Jackson and Amber Riley. Sam Elliott, Dennis Haysbert and Jaina Lee Ortiz tell the true stories; Joe Mantegna and Mary McCormack (a late addition) host, Read more…

Best-bets for May 25: “Ransom” wraps its season

) “Ransom” season-finale, 9 p.m., CBS. With Saturdays awash in reruns and sports, this has been an exception — a four-nation co-production, based loosely on some real-life police negotiators. Tonight, things again get personal: Cynthia, a member of the team, has been kidnapped with her brother, who has steep gambling debts. Now Eric and Kate (Luke Roberts and Natalie Brown, shown here) and others break the rules, in an attempt to save them. Read more…

Best-bets for May 24: Hilty brings Broadway zest

1) “Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m., PBS. A three-week spree of personal concerts concludes with the terrific Megan Hilty touring her far-flung career. She does songs from NBC’s “Smash” (“Don’t Forget Me,” “Let Me Be Your Star”) and from Broadway’s Wicked (“For Good,” with Shoshana Bean, her friend from their standby days; they’re shown here) and “9 to 5.” She’ll also do pop and more. At 10, PBS reruns last year’s hour with another top talent, two-time Tony-winner Sutton Foster. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for May 27: NBC eyes summer dominance

1) “America’s Got Talent” opener, 8-10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. This is the week NBC tries to dominate the summer. The key is “AGT,” the perpetual ratings champ. Simon Cowell and Howie Mandell remain, but Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough replace Heidi Klum and Mel B; also, Terry Crews replaces Tyra Banks as host. (The newcomers are shown here.) And there’s a companion show: “Songland” debuts at 10, with four writers pitching to producers (including Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic), who choose one for their guest star. Read more…

Best-bets for May 23: It’s Red Nose Day

1) “Red Nose Day,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Screenwriter Richard Curtis started this in England, as an annual fundraiser for kids’ causes, then nudged it to the U.S. For this one, he’s written a mini-sequel to his “Four Weddings and a Funeral” movie, with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell (shown here) and more. There’s music by Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton; comedy with Kate McKinnon, Rob Gronkowski and more; plus a serious film with Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”) seeing overseas projects. Read more…

Hilty: Second-hand fame, first-class talent

Megan Hilty has built an impressive life from second-hand parts.
“Most of my career (is) basically stuff that other people have already made ridiculously famous,” said Hilty, who has a special Friday (May 24) on PBS.
That started as Kristen Chenoweth’s stand-by in “Wicked,” on Broadway. “It was terrifying …. My Broadway debut, I had two-hours’ notice. It was opposite Idina Menzel, shortly after she won her Tony. And I’d never done the show with people before.” Read more…

Best bets for May 22: New/old Bunkers and Jeffersons

1) “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” 8-9:30 p.m., ABC. TV’s first golden age of comedy was propelled by these Norman Lear shows, in 1971 and ’75. Lear, 96, co-produces and co-hosts these live shows, using old scripts. Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei play Archie and Edith Bunker, with Ellie Kemper and Ike Barinholtz as their daughter and son-in-law. (The original series, shown here, reruns from 7-10 p.m. ET on digital channel GetTV.) Then Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes are George and Louise Jefferson. Read more…

Memorial Day eve: A small-town guy meets the masses

Like many small-town kids, Justin Moore’s friends talked about moving to somewhere bigger.
That could be … well, almost anywhere. Back then, Poyen, Ark., had 272 people; it later soared to 290.
“I was the one, out of all my buddies, who didn’t want to leave,” Moore recalled. “I’m the one who did it – and the only one who didn’t want to.”
Not to worry: Moore, 35, is now back in Poyen, with his wife and four kids, running the ranch he worked as a kid. But he often travels to much bigger places to do country music – including PBS’ Memorial Day eve concert, Sunday in Washington, D.C. Read more…