You may argue that it's not quite December yet and, technically, you'd be correct. But let's face it: As far as the world of entertainment is concerned, we've been in December since the end of October.
Four very popular authors are out with new books, some nostalgic favorites are out on DVD, and James Taylor and his mountain-stream voice are featured in the "Great Performances" series on public television.
So, all right. It is still November. But just barely. So let's take a peek ahead and get ready to turn that calendar page over just one more time in 2006.
As we roll into December, "The Nativity Story" hits theaters, with Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary, Oscar Isaac as Joseph and Alexander Siddig as the Archangel Gabriel. The age-old story of the birth of Jesus certainly contains enough splendor, emotion and drama to satisfy any moviegoer who prefers a flick with a strong plot and opportunities for spectacle. But, especially at this time of year, it's also a movie that is certain to hit the Christian world right in the heart.
If you're up for just plain silly fun, "The National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj" might fill the bill. Taj moves up in the "Lampoon" pecking order to become the main man. The character, played by Kal Penn (a co-star of 2004's "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"), is a nerdy-but-lovable exchange student from India who is moving on to England's staid Oxford University, which will not be the same after Taj hits campus.
And if you're a horror fan, there's something for you: "Turistas," about a group of young adventurers whose bus breaks down in an isolated village near a beach in Brazil. Of course, you already knew that there is a dark secret lurking in the jungle, didn't you?
A new TBS comedy, "10 Items or Less," turns loose a cast of improv actors, in character, with nothing but an outline for each week's half-hour episode, then lets them wing the dialogue and action. John Lehr, a co-creator of the show, plays Leslie, the owner of Greens & Grains Grocery Store, joined by such other characters as stock boy Carl (Robert Clendenin); Todd (Chris Payne Gilbert), the beefcake butcher in his bloody apron; Ingrid (Kirsten Gronfield), the timid customer service rep; and others trying to keep the store afloat in the shadow of a nearby chain supermarket managed by rival Amy (Jennifer Elise Cox), who used to spurn Leslie's advances back in high school.
Further blurring the line between what's real and what's artificial: The series is taped in a real-life, working grocery store.
"10 Items or Less" premieres at 11 p.m. ET Monday, Nov. 27.
Fox Reality releases "Corkscrewed: The Wrath of Grapes," a new series that follows two TV producers as they pursue a long-held, maybe ill-advised dream. Nigel Lythgoe (executive producer of "American Idol" and a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance") and Ken Warwick (executive producer of "America's Got Talent") were childhood friends on the back streets of Liverpool. Now, with success and money, they feel ready for a fantasy they've been fermenting for years: purchasing a California vineyard. But arriving at the vineyard clad in designer wear, Lythgoe and Warwick don't exactly look the part. And misadventures loom, ranging from vine rot and spreadsheet woes to wild boars. Will their grapes even produce enough wine to help them drown their sorrows? "Corkscrewed" premieres 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29.
"It's strange to be at an event like this and still be alive," marvels the 58-year-old James Taylor. But the beloved singer-songwriter is very much alive, and, surrounded by other musical giants, he is saluted on a "Great Performances" airing 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, on PBS (check local listings). "A Tribute to James Taylor" gathers Jackson Browne, Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Jimmy Buffett, David Crosby, the Dixie Chicks, Dr. John, Carole King, Taj Mahal, Cheech Marin, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and many others. It was taped in February at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The classical dreamboats who comprise Il Divo are out with a new one this week. "Siempre" is a collection with a mix of melody that runs the gamut from "Nights in White Satin (Notte Di Luce)" to "La Vida Sin Amor."
Emmylou Harris teams up with Carl Jackson and others for a collection titled "I've Always Needed You."