This week in pop culture: A new Expanse book, ‘Hairspray Live!’ and a new Neil Young

corey_babylonsashes_hc“Babylon’s Ashes” by James S. A. Corey (Orbit). The sixth book in Corey’s hit space opera known as the Expanse series. The series has been turned into a show on Syfy called “Expanse,” for which one imagines they are hoping for a “Battlestar: Galactica”-type audience. (Dec. 6)

“Hairspray Live!” (NBC). NBC really loves these live musicals, huh? With Jennifer Hudson, Harvey Fierstein, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande and more, starring newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad. (Dec. 7)

Donny Most, “Swinging Down the Chimney Tonight” (Summit). You might recall Most played Ralph Malph on “Happy Days;” I put this five-song holiday EP here mostly because he co-stars in Owen Edgerton’s sort-of-Christmas movie “Follow,” which is now on iTunes.  (Dec. 9)

Not one of his more thrilling album covers, huh?

Not one of his more thrilling album covers, huh?

Neil Young, “Peace Trail” (Reprise). Young’s 37th album overall and second of 2016 (following the live album “Earth”) is reportedly a mostly acoustic album, cut in four days, with drummer Jim Keltner and bass guitarist Paul Bushnell. (Dec. 9)

“Miss Sloane.” Jessica Chastain stars as a hard-charging D.C. lobbyist in this Franco-American thriller directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”). With Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Stuhlbarg, which seems like a very strong cast for a movie with virtually no buzz. (Dec. 9)

“Office Christmas Party.” When an uptight CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the office run by her goof-off brother (T. J. Miller), he and his staff must throw a total rager to save their jobs. As often happens in these situations. You may have seen Aniston on a really terrible episode of “Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 3 promoting this very film. (Dec. 9)


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