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Stay Tuned column: Powerful performances in blues legend tribute ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Melissa Crawley
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Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis celebrate a blues legend in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

Ballet dancers follow their dreams, cast members of “The Sopranos” reunite for a good cause and a celebration of a blues legend showcases Chadwick Boseman’s final film performance.

Dispatches: Weekly TV news

Oscar winner, Alicia Vikander, is set to star in HBO limited series, “Irma Vep.” The show is loosely based on Olivier Assayas’ 1996 movie of the same name. Assayas and Vikander will also serve as executive producers, along with “Euphoria” creator, Sam Levinson.

Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz will play Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev respectively, in a limited series from Paramount TV Studios. The project is based on the book, “Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War” by Ken Adelman and is set to be taken out to potential buyers soon.

Disney announced that an animated series featuring the lead characters from “Moana” and “The Princess and the Frog” are coming to Disney+ in 2023. Both will feature original music.

Contenders: Shows to keep on your radar

Stephen King’s “The Stand” gets another adaptation. Previously broadcast as an ABC miniseries in the 1990s, this version is a 10-episode series that will debut weekly on CBS All Access (Dec. 17). The epic story of good versus evil stars Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail, the 108-year-old leader of a group of survivors who fight against the very bad Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard).

“On Pointe” follows the lives of young ballet students as they pursue their dreams of becoming professional dancers (Dec. 18, Disney+). The six-part docu-series focuses on a season at the School of American Ballet in New York City.

On Dec. 18, cast members of “The Sopranos,” along with creator David Chase, are virtually reuniting for the first time since the show’s 20th anniversary last year to benefit nonprofit Friends of Firefighters, which was started after 9/11 terrorist attacks to support New York firefighters and their families. The two-hour event will feature the cast reading a new “Sopranos” sketch, written by Chase and show writer Terence Winter, as well as a Q&A session. It will be live-streamed on Twitch.

Chadwick Boseman’s final film before his death in August, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” debuts (Dec. 18, Netflix). In this adaptation of August Wilson’s play, the action takes place in a Chicago music studio in 1927, as fiery blues singer, Ma Rainey, joins her band for a recording session.

John Legend hosts the two-hour “Global Citizen Prize Awards” (Dec. 19, NBC, 8 p.m. ET). The ceremony honors those working to end extreme poverty and to make the world a better place. The special features performances by Alessia Cara, Carrie Underwood, Common, Gwen Stefani, Legend, JoJo and Tori Kelly.

The inner workings of Boston’s government are the subject of filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s “City Hall” (Dec. 22, PBS, 8 p.m. ET). The film explores the impact of city government on our daily lives as it oversees the running of services we often take for granted, like sanitation, veterans’ affairs, elder support, parks, licensing bureaus and recordkeeping. Wiseman commented that he made the film “to illustrate why government is necessary for people to successfully live together.”

Report Card: Ratings winners and losers

Winners: NBC renewed “Transplant” for a second season.

Losers: Hulu canceled “Helstrom.”

Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @mcstaytuned.

Cheboygan Daily Tribune