Fall Preview: 20 We're Excited For
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS — Part 1
Who's in it: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes
What it's about: With Voldemort's Death Eaters now in control of the Ministry of Magic, Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint), and Hermione (Watson) go on a far-ranging quest to uncover the mysterious lost Horcruxes that will help them defeat their foe (played again by Fiennes).
Why we're excited: In addition to being the beginning of the end of Harry's big-screen journey (part 2 comes out next July), Hallows is the first Potter movie to be released in 3-D. Not even a Dementor could keep us away!
Jonathan Franzen, Aug. 31
What it's about: The members of a Minnesotan household, champions of the suburban ideals of casual environmentalism and gentrification, suddenly find their carefully constructed life unraveling around them.
Why we're excited: In his first novel in nine years, following the National Book Award-winning best-seller The Corrections, Franzen delivers another searing tragicomic examination of modern families. No matter how good it may be, though, we're pretty sure Oprah won't be suggesting it for her book club anytime soon.
Title TBA, date TBA
What to expect: If ferocious comeback single ''Power'' is any indication, the first full-length statement in nearly two years from rap's most polarizing genius will be worth the wait. While details on the still-untitled disc remain scarce, cronies and collaborators say West has been cooking up the hard-knocking beats and rhymes he does best.
Why we're excited: After his run-in with Taylor Swift at last fall's MTV Video Music Awards made him a media outcast, West went uncharacteristically quiet. When — or if — he'd return to making music was anyone's guess, though reports periodically surfaced that he was hard at work on a top secret project in a secluded Hawaii studio. Then ''Power'' broke his silence in the most dramatic style possible this May. Expectations for West's fifth album were already high, but that's when they rocketed straight into the stratosphere. At this point, we're hoping he delivers nothing less than the best hip-hop album of all time — but we'll happily settle for the best of this fall.
THE GOOD WIFE
CBS, returns September TBD
Where we left off: After a season of scandal and house arrest, Wife wrapped with Peter announcing his intention to run for state's attorney. In a scene typical of so many real-life moments, he gestured for his wife to join him at his side. But Alicia was ambivalent about reconciling with the roguish two-timer, a feeling exacerbated by a phone call from Will, who we're pretty sure was calling to say he wants her, needs her, loves her.
What we hope will happen: In our dream world, Alicia tells Peter to go to hell — preferably into the photo-op microphone — and then runs off with Will.
What we think will happen: We suspect she'll stand by her man and remain deliciously torn.
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES
Siddhartha Mukherjee, Nov. 16
What it's about: Billed as a ''biography'' of cancer, this nonfiction book examines the origin of the deadly disease and the attempts to understand, treat, and cure it over the years.
Why we're excited: Mukherjee, a Columbia University oncologist, taps into the long tradition of doctors who write with elegance and verve — think Oliver Sacks or Abraham Verghese. This much-buzzed-about book seems poised to garner both awards and a wide readership.
Who's in it: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Owen Wilson
What it's about: The Focker twins' sixth birthday party brings the Focker and Byrnes clans back together.
Why we're excited: Ten years after the story began (and six since we first met the Fockers), there's still more mayhem in store for Everyguy Greg Focker (Stiller) and his fearsome father-in-law (De Niro). And this time, a few fresh faces join in on the fun: Jessica Alba as a sexy drug rep, Harvey Keitel as a contractor, and Laura Dern as the headmistress of the Focker kids' school.
Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses, Sept. 7
What to expect: The former rodeo cowboy has moved from Texas to L.A., but don't look for much glamour on his third album. Instead, lyrically rich guitar-driven tunes like the title track and ''Depression'' add a few more worn faces to his gallery of men on the fringes.
Why we're excited: Though Bingham — who won an Oscar for Crazy Heart's theme song, ''The Weary Kind'' — is not yet 30, his gravelly voice is perfectly suited to songs celebrating old-school Americana.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
The CW, returns Sept. 9 at 8 p.m.
Where we left off: After a season of sexual tension between bad boy Damon and his brother's girlfriend, Elena, the two finally shared a real kiss. Or so we thought. ''Elena'' revealed herself as doppelgänger Katherine — the lost vampire love Damon had been searching for since 1864 — when she stabbed John, Elena's vamp-hating biological father.
What we hope will happen: We'd love for Damon to remember the taste of Katherine's lips and return to find her and Elena face-to-face.
What we think will happen: We worry that Katherine will be gone and Elena will find John dying—and blame Damon.
Keith Richard, Oct. 26
What it's about: The Rolling Stones guitarist reminisces about about his 66 years of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and more drugs.
Why we're excited: A pivotal figure in one of the greatest bands of all time, the composer of more unforgettable riffs than you can count, and an inveterate hard-rocker, Richards has certainly lived a full life. We expect his eagerly awaited memoir will be just as full. The most impressive thing about his life is that he managed to remember so much of it.
Who's in it Emma Stone (Zombieland), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Amanda Bynes
What it's about: When high schooler Olive (Stone) lies about having sex, her classmates peg her as a tramp. Her response? She opts to flaunt her newly bad reputation, Scarlet Letter-style.
Why we're excited: The movie's young cast and sweet-and-sour humor already have some hailing it as the next Mean Girls. Plus, Stone's star turn could push the inveterate scene-stealer (remember her in Superbad and The House Bunny?) to the head of her Hollywood class.
THE INCREDIBLE MACHINE
Sugarland, Oct. 19
What to expect: If you catch this pop-country duo on the road this summer, you'll score a sneak preview of what Jennifer Nettles (above) and Kristian Bush have in store for their fourth studio album: ''Wide Open'' is a propulsive rocker, ''Find the Beat Again'' bounces with addictive ''Hey!'' callbacks, and ''Stand Up'' is pure inspiration in two-part harmony.
Why we're excited: At this rate, it's unclear how much longer Sugarland can keep the word country in their band description, but the pop sure sounds sweet.
BROTHERS & SISTERS
ABC, returns Sept. 26 at 10 p.m.
Where we left off: A massive car crash left Robert (Rob Lowe, now on NBC's Parks and Recreation) presumably dead and Holly in critical condition. Elsewhere, we learned that Saul is HIV-positive, and Rebecca and Justin decided to give the long-distance-marriage thing a try.
What we hope will happen: Producers have already revealed that they plan to leap forward a year, so if we're lucky, that means that Kitty's grieving-widow days will be long behind her, and she'll be ready to embrace the single life.
What we think will happen: The season will open with Kitty (Calista Flockhart) laying flowers on Robert's grave, and we'll discover that Justin's yearlong separation from Rebecca (played by Emily VanCamp, who's leaving the series) proved to be the final straw for their insufferable marriage.
GETTING TO HAPPY
Terry McMillan Sept. 7
What it's about: What ever happened to Bernadine, Gloria, Robin, and Savannah — the four best buds who touched a cultural nerve with McMillan's 1992 novel, Waiting to Exhale? At long last the author brings us up to date.
Why we're excited: Rarely has a sequel been so highly anticipated. The original book was a smart, funny melodrama that developed an adoring fan base — and inspired Forest Whitaker's 1995 movie starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett.
Who's in it: Rachel McAdams (The Time Traveler's Wife), Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton
What it's about: An ambitious young TV producer (McAdams) gets caught in the crossfire when she hires a veteran news anchor (Ford) to cohost a morning program with a former beauty queen (Keaton).
Why we're excited: Did you see the cast? On top of its all-star lineup, Morning Glory finds writer Aline Brosh McKenna back on the women-at-work turf she plumbed so perfectly in The Devil Wears Prada. And it's about time somebody spoofed the goofy world of a.m. news. Oh, and did we mention that cast?
MAN ON THE MOON II: THE LEGEND OF MR. RAGER
Kid Cudi, Sept. 14
What to expect: Kanye and Mary J. Blige will drop by for the follow-up to 2009's Man on the Moon.
Why we're excited: Moon was one of last year's coolest albums, so we can't wait for the sequel. The upcoming first single, ''Erase Me,'' is an unexpected foray into straight-up rock, so he's clearly not afraid to take chances. But don't worry, the album also features plenty of the forward-looking hip-hop that he's known for.
Fox, returns Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.
Where we left off: Olivia was being held captive in the alternate universe. Meanwhile, her alt-world double was still on the loose in our universe, carrying out bad-for-our-world orders from the icy-cruel alt-world version of Walter, a.k.a. the Walternate.
What we hope will happen: We look forward to rapturous confusion over Peter's attraction to the new sexy-tough Fauxlivia. She'll flirt and do more dangerous stuff to get her way.
What we think will happen: We assume that it won't take very long for Olivia to break free from her alt-universe prison. Still, how will she get back to her/our/not-their world? The mind reels...
Emma Donoghue, Sept. 13
What it's about: Are we defined only by our surroundings and experiences, or does individuality go deeper? This is the question tackled in Donoghue's gutsy new novel, which follows a 5-year-old boy whose entire life has taken place within the confines of a single room.
Why we're excited: It's tricky for an author to pull off a novel with a young and deeply idiosyncratic narrator — as Mark Haddon did with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But Donoghue has proved that she has the chops in novels like Slammerkin and Life Mask.
Who's in it: Ryan Gosling (The Notebook), Michelle Williams (Shutter Island)
What it's about: The marital woes of a working-class couple (Gosling and Williams) are intercut with flashbacks of their budding relationship.
Why we're excited: Oscar alert: This indie has been building buzz ever since its debut at January's Sundance Film Festival.
Interpol, Sept. 7
What to expect: A return to form from the gloomy New York rockers.
Why we're excited: After releasing the disappointing major-label debut Our Love to Admire in 2007, they've gone back to the indie label where they got their start. That's a reassuring sign for longtime fans. Even better: For their fourth album, the band are revisiting the moody moans and insistent riffs of their finest work. And just like that, Interpol are great again.
The CW, returns Sept. 13 at 9 p.m.
Where we left off: Gossip Girl played every finale card possible to end its third season: a pregnancy, a goodbye, a birth, a deflowering, and a shooting! So now we have more than a few questions: Is Georgina's baby really Dan's? Will Jenny stay sequestered in Hudson, N.Y., long enough to run out of eyeliner and hair extensions? Can Dorota really tend to her new baby and Blair? Oh, and will Chuck survive after being shot by robbers in Prague?
What we hope will happen: Jenny, we hear Hudson is lovely this time of year. And in winter and spring, too.
What we think will happen: Don't fret, Upper East Siders: Odds are excellent that Chuck will live to enjoy all the baby-mama drama awaiting Dan.