Best Bets: "Amazing Race," "Avengers" and CDs by Norah Jones and Carrie Underwood

Bopper and Mark on "The Amazing Race."
CBS Photo

(CBS News) May begins tomorrow and will herald the arrival of summer action movies at the box office and super-charged TV fare at home.

The first summer movie out of the gate this year is "The Avengers," which opens Friday. The comic book-based action adventure brings together a host of superheroes (Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, Chris Evan's Captain America, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Mark Ruffalo's The Hulk and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow) to fight against a common enemy. Josh Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame directs.

Pictures: "The Avengers" premieres

Also debuting Friday is "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a dramedy about British retirees who take up residence in a less-than-four-star hotel in India. Its cast includes U.K. icons Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson, as well as Dev Patel of "Slumdog Millionaire."

May is also the time when TV networks wind up their year with cliffhangers, farewells and reality show winners and give you a peek at next fall's new shows and schedules. The look ahead, called the "upfronts" in TV talk, won't take place for another week or so, but the end-of-season offerings begin this week.

"The Amazing Race" finale takes place in an extended episode Sunday when the final teams scramble to earn $1 million and the title of winner of the 20th season.

"Two and a Half Men" is also getting down to the wire and tonight will air a much-hyped episode in which Kathy Bates plays the ghost of Charlie Sheen's character Charlie Harper.

Also this week, HBO will broadcast the April 14 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonyon Saturday night. It will feature performances by Green Day, Kid Rock, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sarah Barelles and more.

And finally, AMC, the cable channel that gave you "Mad Men," is bringing you "The Pitch," a reality show in which ad men make competing pitches to would-be advertisers. It premieres tonight.

Released on DVD Tuesday will be holiday ensemble movie "New Year's Eve," Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah's church-choir movie "A Joyful Noise," and "W.E.," Madonna's take on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's love story.

Music lovers can look forward to new albums from two Grammy winners on Tuesday.

Norah Jones, whose debut album ("Come Away With Me") earned five Granmy awards and went diamond in 2002, is releasing her fifth studio album, "Little Broken Hearts."

Country singer Carrie Underwood, who won the fourth season of "American Idol," is bringing out her fourth album "Blown Away." Her previous CDs have won her several Grammys and Billboard awards and a host of country music titles.

Also look for the release of the soundtrack for the NBC musical show "Smash." In it, cast members take on songs by such artists as the Monkees, Santigold, George Harrison and Marilyn Manson.

Readers will see the publication Tuesday of memoirs by musician Gregg Allman (*"My Cross to Bear") actress Sissy Spacek ("My Extraordinary Ordinary Life") and TV journalist Dan Rather ("Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News")

Also coming out May 1 is "Deadlocked," the 12th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and a paperback version of Nora Robert's "The Last Boyfriend."