Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV (Feb. 21-27, 2005).
LET'S TALK OSCAR: At other times in my life, on the subject of Oscar we'd be talking about Felix Unger's roommate or the maker of hot dogs and lunchmeats and his pal Meyer. But, as for most, the talk of Oscar is actually about the statues that Hollywood hands out to its own at the annual Academy Awards.
The 77th version of this kudosfest takes place Sunday on ABC and promises to deliver on it's promise of movie stars, cheeky insider comments and enough glamour to choke an E! fashion commentator at 30 paces. But what, you ask, does this have to do with music?
Well, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Jamie Foxx is a favorite to win the best actor trophy for his portrayal of the immortal Ray Charles in "Ray!" And, there's also a little thing called the best song award, which is always among the televised honors because it adds performances to the show, and what would an awards show be without musical performances?
This year's show will include a few really good ones, too, with Beyoncé pulling triple duty, performing "Look to Your Path" from "Les Choristes" accompanied by the American Boyschoir and "Learn to Be Lonely" from "The Phantom of the Opera," as well as teaming up with Josh Groban to perform "Believe" from the film "The Polar Express." Counting Crows will be on hand to offer "Accidentally In Love" from "Shrek 2," while Carlos Santana and Antonio Banderas will add "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from "Motorcycle Diaries" the the affair.
Beyond all that, if you haven't already been sucked in by the carefully calculated, pre-fabricated controversy about host Chris Rock over the last week or so, it's probably worth tuning in to hear how he skewers Hollywood's players while keeping them in stitches... and upping his salary for his next film in the process, no doubt.
As has become a tradition, on the same day Barbara Walters will have her annual warm and fuzzy ABC special where she sits with a selection of entertainers and tries to make them laugh and cry. Foxx is among this year's soft-focus targets, which are rounded out by "Saturday Night Live" vet Will Ferrell and "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher. The program airs before the Oscars on the East Coast and after on the West.
MEGA-IDOL: Just a programming note for those not paying attention: Fox will be running three nights of "American Idol" for a few weeks to accommodate the winnowing of the 24-person semi-finalist field. Men on Monday, women on Tuesday and results on Wednesday in the infuriating new 9 p.m. slot. Seems that Fox isn't willing to pit its winning "Idol" franchise against ABC's "Lost," but really doesn't mind forcing me to tape "West Wing" (NBC; the best show on television after "The Simpsons." Really).
7 DAYS, 7 GLORIOUS DAYS: That's how long the week is, with a holiday for most in the United States on Monday, to boot! Pay tribute to your favorite leader on President's Day... Chop down a cherry tree for Washington, annex a huge tract of land for Polk, reduce the deficit for Clinton or widen it enormously for Bush! It's your choice... Or use the day to plan your TV viewing around musical appearances. Here's a suggested list:
Monday: Tina Turner's on "The View" (ABC) and Ani DiFranco guests on "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" (CBS), plus "Idol." Oh yeah, Robbers On High Street is the house band all week on "Last Call With Carson Daly" (NBC), so watch that too.
Tuesday: Tori Amos visits "Live With Regis & Kelly" (syndicated) and Rufus Wainwright sings on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (NBC), and "Idol," of course.
Wednesday: More Tori, a she appears on CNBC's surprisingly popular show "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" and Oasis' Noel Gallagher accompanies Ian Brown's performance on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (NBC), and "Idol," dammit.
Thursday: Barry Manilow starts your day on "Good Morning America" and Joanna Newsom finishes it off on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (ABC).
Friday: Wyclef Jean appears as "a smooth but murderous gang chieftain" on "Third Watch" (NBC), plus it's the last day of Robbers On High Street serving as the house band on "Last Call With Carson Daly" (NBC), which you should have been watching all week. If you didn't, you should be ashamed.
Saturday: Brian McKnight guests on the syndicated "Soul Train" and you get another chance to see Ludacris and Sum 41 on a repeat of January's "Saturday Night Live" hosted by Paul Giamatti.
Sunday: Watch Rod Stewart on "reakfast With the Arts" (A&E) with your morning coffee, squeeze in some sports in the afternoon and then gear up for all that Oscar stuff to take you through prime time.