Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV (Feb. 28-March 6, 2005).
MICHAEL'S ON TRIAL: Not since O.J. Simpson has there been a celebrity legal proceeding that has generated the media storm that Michael Jackson's trail on charges of child molestation has. While you won't be able to turn on a news channel or news broadcast without receiving updates on the daily battles in the courtroom, E! is going to be Jackson Trial Central as the case unfolds in Santa Maria, Calif.
On Tuesday, E! will bow "E! News: The Michael Jackson Trial," produced in partnership with U.K.-based satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting (BSB). The daily half-hour courtroom re-enactments of the trial will be based on the previous day's events and because cameras will not be allowed in the court room, actors will rely on verbatim court transcripts to recreate highlights, while legal experts will provide commentary.
Edward Moss, who portrayed Michael Jackson in a brief scene in "Scary Movie 3," will have the honor of playing the pop superstar again. Jack Donner, whose television credits include "Star Trek: Enterprise," "Roswell" and "Mission: Impossible," will be seen in the key role as Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville.
Character actors Rigg Kennedy and Dan Sanders will star as Jackson's defense attorneys, Thomas Mesereau and Robert Sanger, respectively, with Charles Haigh playing District Attorney Thomas Sneddon and Bob Wood representing Assistant District Attorney Ron Zonen.
On Monday, E! will offer a recap of events thus far on "Accused: The Michael Jackson Trial," with information about Jackson's arrest and a preview of the daily series. Saturday will see the channel's first hour-long recap of the week at the trial.
ONE NIGHT... WITH USHER: There are few recording stars on the planet as big as Usher is right now. And on Saturday, Showtime will broadcast his concert at San Juan's Coliseo de Puerto Rico live (tape delayed on the West Coast). Expect to hear a lot from his hit album "Confessions" and to see a lot of the fancy footwork that has earned him comparison's to the embattled King of Pop in his prime.
If you're excited about the show, tune in early for a pre-show hosted by TRL's Quddus on Showtime and MTV. Look for behind-the-scenes footage from concert rehearsals and a sit down with Usher.
IDOLS AND STARMAKING: The three-night "American Idol" format continues this week with boys singing on Monday and girls on Tuesday, with results of viewer voting revealed on Wednesday. Personally, I have no quibbles with the cuts from last weeks episodes, and I hope America once again rises to the challenge this week and continues to cut loose the chaff and leave behind a set of serious contenders for the finals.
Note to contestants: Listen to judge Simon Cowell's criticism. If he says you were boring, you probably were. Dig in and find exciting songs to sing and put it all out there, otherwise, you'll be on the sidelines with Jared Yates, Judd Harris, Melinda Lira and Sarah Mather.
On Tuesday, "Idol" gets a little competition in the return of "Nashville Star" on USA. Expect a little more star-power in the third season of this country competition as LeAnn Rimes takes over as host, and Bret Michaels, Phil Vassar and Anastasia Brown serving as judges. Comedian Cledus T. Judd as correspondent? That's a bit dicey, but nonetheless this should turn out to be an enjoyable quest for a Universal South Records contract.
Thursday brings back "Making the Band" on MTV as P. Diddy seeks to create a follow-up to Da Band.
ALL WEEK LONG: "(All week) All week long (all week)... Feel good, feel good!" Hey, I never promised that I wouldn't sing or bastardize Lionel Ritchie songs, so keep your comments to yourself, thankyouverymuch. Now then, looking for brain-sapping visual overload to connect your days together? Me too... Here's what I suggest as the Ides of March take over the calendar year:
Monday: The Replacements are never far from my heart, so Paul Westerberg on CBS' "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" is a no-brainer.
Tuesday: Kathleen Edwards on "The Late Show With David Letterman" celebrating the day's release of her sophomore album, "Back to Me."
Wednesday: Afternoon star power visits "Oprah" as Josh Groban and Mariah Carey visit her syndicated show.
Thursday: Jennifer Lopez will try to redeem herself for the Grammy performance with her husband, Marc Anthony, as she performs on "Today" (NBC).
Friday: Kings Of Leon is one of the coolest, f***in' bands to come down the pike in quite a while. Tune into "Last Call With Carson Daly" on NBC to hear why.
Saturday: Ricky Skaggs hosts Great American Country's broadcast of the "Grand Ole Opry Live," which will feature Pat Green as a guest this week, as well as the Crabb Family.
Sunday: 50 Cent is in focus all day on MTV2, it seems as the channel presents the specials "All Eyes on 50 Cent: The Sequel," "50 Cent House Party" and "Candy Girls." From interviews to previews of his new album, "The Massacre" and in the case of the last show, an hour of music videos "full of video honeys," hosted by the rapper and taped at his home.