This Week in Pop Culture Roundup (Nov. 20, 2011)

In case you were overwhelmed last week worrying about the NBA lockout or who is the sexiest man alive or the latest on Ashton Kutcher’s problems, below are some of the pop culture stories you might have missed.

———-Music———-

The heart-stopping, earth-shaking,…legendary E Street Band will tour with Bruce Springsteen in 2012 supporting a new album.

In a new interview, Michael Stipe explained why REM called it a day.
“The horror was if somebody Twittered or leaked it.”

Listen to Kate Bush’s new CD 50 Words for Snow on NPR First Listen.

Also on NPR, you may listen to Michael Jackson: Immortal, the new CD of Jackson songs for a Cirque du Soleil production.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” on his new CD Take Care, was inspired by a visit from Stevie Wonder.

The New York Times reviewed the new album by Florence and the Machine.

The Chicago Tribune reviewed a performance by Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump, who played “shiny funkified soulful pop” in promotion of new solo CD.

I like music critic Greil Marcus, so will have to check out his new book on The Doors that was reviewed in The New York Times at the link.

“I’ll be watching you.” Sting released a free app for the iPad that documents his career.

———-Movies———-

Brad Pitt plans to quit acting in three years. I guess they need to hurry up and film Oceans Fourteen.

Officials are investigating actress Natalie Wood’s drowning death from 30 years ago. Although initial reports claimed a yacht captain was blaming Woods’ then-husband actor Robert Wagner for the death, recent reports note that Wagner is not a suspect. But Christopher Walken, who was on the boat with the couple the night Woods died, has hired a lawyer.

Karl Slover, one of the last living actors who played one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, passed away Tuesday.

The new film The Great Flood features archival footage from the 1927 flood and music from Bill Frisell.

The screenwriter for “The Departed” picked his top 5 British crime and suspense films from the 1960s and 1970s.

Illumination Entertainment is planning a Woody Woodpecker film. (Thanks @VeryAw.) I grew up with the cartoons, so I’m excited that this overlooked character may be revived.

The Atlas Shrugged DVD was released with a back cover mistakenly saying the movie was from a novel of “self-sacrifice” instead of author Ayn Rand’s contrary philosophy of self-interest. Oops!

Andy Buckle’s Film Emporium blog wrote an interesting comparison between two epic World War II films, The Thin Red Line vs. Saving Private Ryan. (Thanks @buckle22.)

Johnny B. Goode! Last weekend, Michael J. Fox reenacted his guitar playing from Back to the Future at a charity event.

———-Television———-

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton was hired by NBC News.

Charlie Rose is going from PBS to CBS, which is pairing him with Gayle King.

A new mid-season comedy on CBS, “iROB,” will feature Rob Schneider and Cheech Marin.

Ricky Gervais will be back as host of the Golden Globes.

———-History and Other Pop Culture News———-

The new CBS On the Road reported the sad and touching ending to the story of the friendship between Bella the dog and Tara the elephant: Have tissues handy. If you have not heard of Bella and Tara, you might first want to check out an earlier story about the animals.

“Sticks Like Magic!” CNN reports on the interesting background of the toy Colorforms, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this month. I had forgot about Colorforms, which I had as a kid.

Long-lost Air Force One tapes made the day JFK was killed were just discovered and put up for sale.

Nice to have some good sports-related news with Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos rescued safe from kidnappers.

The Houston Astros are moving to the American League. I’m still confused from the Brewers league switch in 1998.

Shout! Factory released a new 11-DVD set of Mr. Magoo cartoons, featuring the voice of Jim Backus.

Check out some New Guinness World Records for 2012.

What was your favorite pop culture story this week? Leave your two cents in the comments.