Mike Hughes

It’s a story of war, love, death and birth

A decade ago, Waad Al-Kateab stepped into a new life.
She was 18 and idealistic (“headstrong,” her parents said), a freshman at the massive University of Aleppo, in Syria. Then war changed everything.
That’s part of the story of “For Sama,” which reaches PBS Tuesday (Nov. 19). The award-winning documentary focuses partly on her decision to stay, even after having baby Sama.
“We stayed with these people in Aleppo for five years …. We just felt we belong to this place, to these people as our family,” Al-Kateab (shown here, away from the war zone). “We can’t just … leave.” Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Nov. 18: Music soars Swiftly

1) “American Music Awards,” 8 p.m. Sunday, ABC. Taylor Swift (shown here), who already has 23 AMA’s, will be crowned “artist of the decade” and will perform. She’s up for artist of the year, against Post Malone (who leads with seven nominations), Ariana Grande, Halsey and Drake. Ciara hosts, Selena Gomez has her first TV performance in two years and Shania Twain has her first AMA one in 16 years. Also performing: Thomas Rhett, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Dua Luppo, Lizzo, Kesha and Big Freedia Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 16: A Stylish “SNL”

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Harry Styles (shown here with Kenan Thompson) hosts and is the music guest, putting him in elite turf. The first person to do both on the same night was Desi Arnaz, 43 years ago (and 18 years before Styles was born); the most recent was Chance the Rapper, three weeks ago. Others include Sting, Drake, Ludacris and Gaga, plus the old masters (Mick Jagger, Elton John, Paul Simon) and the opposite (Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus) and more. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 15: Super streaming, plus “Red”

1) “Red,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. This play is easy to love or hate, but mostly to respect. It catches painter Mark Rothko at his peak (and near his nadir), spending years on massive murals. He lectures constantly to an assistant who finally protests his “titanic self-absorption.” It’s brilliant, (but self-destructive) talk, perfectly rendered. On Broadway, “Red” won a Tony and Albert Molina (as Rothko) was nominated. In the London production (shown here), Molina links with Alfred Enoch (“How to Get Away With Murder”), who’s also perfect. Read more…

“Preppy Murder”: An unfair world in 1986 … and now

The “Preppy Murder” documentary tells us a lot about life in the 1980’s … and maybe about life now.
That starts with the fact that the case drew such fevered attention. “Before O.J. Simpson, this was the trial of the century,” tabloid reporter Steve Dunleavy says in “The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park,” a compelling, three-night cable documentary that starts Wednesday (Nov. 13).
And that was partly for the same reason the Simpson case drew such attention: The victim was young, female and attractive; the suspect (shown here) looked more like a hero than a villain.
“If something happened in Central Park to a white person, you paid attention,” said Magee Hickey, who covered the 1986 case for a New York TV station. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 13: Country soars; “preppy” tragedy

1) Country Music Association Awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC. A big night for country women has an opener with Carrie Underwood (the host, shown here), Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire (“guest hosts”), Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Tanya Tucker and more. Some will return for solos … and yes, there will also be guys: Blake Shelton sings alone and with Garth Brooks; also, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton and more, including Brooks and Dunn with the Brothers Osborne. Read more…

Great advice: Find friends, ignore naked guys

A talented actress, we’re told, can ignore all distractions.
Still, that’s not easy when there’s a naked-guy table … and a naked-guy lamp … and more.
“We truly did mess a bunch of lines,” said Shay Mitchell, a “Dollface” co-star. “I’d be saying my line (and) a lamp-shade naked man was just walking by. I was like, ‘All right. Where was I?
”That’s part of the quirky approach of “Dollface,” which debuts Friday on Hulu.
Jules (Kat Dennings, shown here) has been casually dumped by her boyfriend of five years, propelling her fantasy scenes. “When Jules is going through a heightened emotion, the magical realism kind of comes in to guide her,” Dennings said. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 12: Dolly, Disney and doctors

1) “The Resident,” 8 p.m., Fox. It’s Nurse Appreciation Day at the hospital, a fact that’s met with skepticism. “If they really appreciated us, they’d get us more nurses, not cookies,” someone says. Chasing profits, the hospital keeps adding procedures without adding staff; it’s a flaw that strikes powerfully tonight. An hour that starts with fun and games (shown here) and starkly. “Resident” still flounders when trying a lighter story; a jockey sub-plot here is a prime example. But when it’s serious – as it often is – it works well. Read more…