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Must-see TV specials, movies to be released in 2015

Must-watch television specials and movies set to be released in 2015.

'Fifty Shades of Grey' (Feb.13)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Focus Features

"Fifty Shades of Grey" (Feb.13): The soft-core bondage-porn novel by E.L. James was a runaway bestseller, but how on Earth will they make a movie out of it? Dakota Johnson plays literature student Anastasia Steele; Jamie Dornan plays wealthy control freak Christian Grey. Whether it's a sensation or a laughingstock, you know you want to see it. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

'Serena' (March 27)

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper might make magic
Photo Credit: AP

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper might make magic again in what looks like a straight-ahead romantic drama, "Serena" (March 27). Neill Blomkamp, the inventive and politically minded director of "District 9" and "Elysium," delivers a film about a sentient robot, "Chappie" (March 6). Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays that guy who strode a tightrope between the Twin Towers in "The Walk" (Oct. 2). Will Ferrell meets Kevin Hart in the prison-themed comedy "Get Hard" (March 27). And you can't say you're not curious about a remake of the 1991 cult classic "Point Break" (July 31). -- RAFER GUZMÁN

'Avengers: Age of Ultron' (May 1)

Photo Credit: Marvel / Jay Maidment

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" (May 1): Deeply invested fans may care about the plot (James Spader is the voice of an artificial intelligence called Ultron), but the rest of us will show up for the crackling chemistry between Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. New additions include Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

'Jurassic World' (June 12)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

"Jurassic World" (June 12): The long-awaited sequel to Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" (pictured above) franchise stars new Hollywood darling Chris Pratt and is directed by Colin Trevorrow (the 2012 gem "Safety Not Guaranteed"). Expectations are high -- what, did everyone forget "Jurassic Park III"? -- and the box-office surely will be, too. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

'Spectre' (Nov. 6)

Photo Credit: AP / Matt Dunham

"Spectre" (Nov. 6): The 24th Bond film, starring Daniel Craig as 007, was recently announced with great fanfare at Pinewood Studios in England. No plot has been revealed, but check out the cast: Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Dave Bautista (a scene-stealer in "Guardians of the Galaxy") and Lea Seydoux, star of the controversial lesbian film "Blue Is the Warmest Color." Sam Mendes returns to direct. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

'The Peanuts Movie' (Nov. 6)

"Tomorrowland" (May 22), a film based on the Disney theme park area and starring George Clooney, sounds fantastic -- but no one knows the plot. "Straight Outta Compton" (Aug. 14) dares to tell the story of the iconic gangsta-rap group N.W.A. with a cast of mostly young unknowns. And "The Peanuts Movie" (Nov. 6), the first Peanuts feature film in 35 years, will be rendered in 3-D computer animation rather than the ink and paint we remember from the beloved television specials. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (Dec. 18)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Dec. 18): Everyone who's still alive from the original cast, current stars like Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong'o, fanboy favorite J.J. Abrams in the director's chair -- this is the movie event of the year even for casual fans. Expect all-day marathons, total media saturation and Internet spoilers. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

Jennifer Lawrence in 'Joy' (Dec. 25)

Photo Credit: AP / Joel Ryan

"Joy" (Dec. 25): Well, Long Islanders, here's your movie: Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, the local housewife who became the wildly successful inventor of gizmos like the Miracle Mop. David O. Russell, who already cast Lawrence as a Long Island housewife in "American Hustle," is the director. Note the Christmas Day release, which suggests that 20th Century Fox has high hopes. Above, Jennifer Lawrence attends the world premiere of the film "The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1" on Nov. 10, 2014. -- RAFER GUZMÁN

Liam Neeson in 'Taken 3,' more

Fans of Liam Neeson, rejoice! The 62-year-old actor
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Clemens Bilan

Fans of Liam Neeson, rejoice! The 62-year-old actor will double-punch us with two action flicks. First comes "Taken 3" (Jan. 9), his latest vehicle about a CIA agent with a particular set of skills. Then comes "Run All Night" (April 17), about an aging hit man forced to turn against his boss. Other older stars getting into the action game: Colin Firth as a shadowy operative in "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (Feb.13) and Sean Penn as a fugitive spy in "The Gunman" (March 2). -- RAFER GUZMÁN

David Letterman Leaves (May. 20)

David Letterman Leaves: This will be one of
Photo Credit: AP / Jeffrey R. Staab

David Letterman Leaves: This will be one of those moments, arriving May 20, cloaked in hyperbole -- certainly understandable -- alongside just a little melancholy, too. Also understandable: After all, Dave has been a happy part of our lives for more than 30 years. After Johnny Carson, he is and was the consummate late-night host. Let the hype begin. When he's done, no one will have spent as many years on late night -- a total of 33, for 6,028 episodes on NBC and CBS, which noted upon announcing his final day: "Letterman is one of the most influential, acclaimed and honored personalities in television history." All true, but he's also one of the most reclusive. How will TV's most famous introvert deal with all the hoopla? -- VERNE GAY

Stephen Colbert to the 'Late Show'

The new Stephen Colbert is almost here --
Photo Credit: AP

The new Stephen Colbert is almost here -- his "Late Show" for CBS starts Sept. 8.

'Mad Men' Finale

'Mad Men' Finale: Sometime in 2015, one of
Photo Credit: AMC / Justina Mintz

'Mad Men' Finale: Sometime in 2015, one of TV's singular triumphs ends. But don't expect "answers" or a finale to beat all finales. If past is prologue here, "Mad Men" will probably end with a question mark as opposed to an exclamation point. Maybe many question marks. Foremost, if "Mad Men" is really the journey of Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) soul, then where does this complicated soul end up? -- VERNE GAY

'Glee' (March 20) and 'Parks and Recreation' (Feb. 24) finales

'Glee' (March 20) and 'Parks and Recreation' (Feb.
Photo Credit: AP

'Glee' (March 20) and 'Parks and Recreation' (Feb. 24) finales: Now here are two series that will end with an exclamation point. They will go out loud, and with surprising speed, too. "P&R's" seventh and final season (beginning Jan. 13) will literally rush by. "Glee," too. It begins Jan. 9 with a two-hour launch and concludes in March with a two-hour wrap. Another loud exit: "Two and a Half Men" (Feb. 19), which could even see the return of Charlie Sheen. -- VERNE GAY

'Better Call Saul' (Feb. 8)

Photo Credit: AP / Ursula Coyote

"Better Call Saul": Arriving Feb. 8 on AMC, this is an easy, umm, call. Really: the prequel to a classic series, "Breaking Bad," which will bring fresh dimensions to a series we loved. "Saul" is easily one of the most anticipated launches of the whole year. But this won't be a reunion series -- except for Bob Odenkirk, as ambulance-chaser Saul Goodman, and Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Saul's muscle. Expect lots of fun new elements and characters. For example, who knew Saul had a brother? He does: Chuck McGill, played by another legend, Michael McKean. -- VERNE GAY

'Saturday Night Live' 40th Anniversary (Feb. 15)

'Saturday Night Live' Turns 40: And to celebrate,
Photo Credit: NBC

'Saturday Night Live' Turns 40: And to celebrate, a three-hour spectacular on Feb. 15. Expect everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- to turn out for this event telecast. -- VERNE GAY

Marvel's 'Agent Carter,' Other Interesting Premieres

Marvel's 'Agent Carter,' Interesting Premieres:
Photo Credit: Marvel / Katrin Marchinowski

Marvel's 'Agent Carter,' Interesting Premieres: "Agent Carter" (ABC, Jan. 6, pictured); "Empire" (Fox, Jan. 8); "12 Monkeys" (Syfy, Jan. 16); "Backstrom" (Fox, Jan. 22), "Battle Creek" (CBS, March 1); "The Last Man on Earth" (NBC, March 1); "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix, March); "Wayward Pines" (Fox, May 14); "Heroes Reborn" (NBC, TBA); and "Grease Live" (Fox, also TBA.) And . . . let's not forget NBC's next live holiday event, an adaptation of "The Music Man." -- VERNE GAY

'The Late Late Show with James Corden' (March 23), more

New late night guys: Larry Wilmore begins his
Photo Credit: CBS / Jeffrey R. Staab

New late night guys: Larry Wilmore begins his Comedy Central series, "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" on Jan. 19, while "The Late Late Show with James Corden" arrives March 23. Wilmore -- one of the creators of ABC's "black-ish" -- is Colbert's successor, while Corden takes over for Craig Ferguson. Corden, like Wilmore, arrives with a resume that doesn't have an entry for late-night TV host. (Corden is an accomplished veteran of the stage and star of Hulu's "The Wrong Mans.") The fun in both cases could be watching them learn the new gig while on the job. -- VERNE GAY

'American Idol' and 'Dancing with the Stars'

'American Idol' and 'Dancing with the Stars': I'll
Photo Credit: AP / Dan Steinberg

'American Idol' and 'Dancing with the Stars': I'll be watching as these major franchises drift inexorably into "formerly major" status. Len Goodman, for example, leaves sometime in 2015. Meanwhile, there are big changes on the 14th season of "Idol" -- beginning Jan. 7. It will be the first without Randy Jackson; and at some point during the season, the long-standing "results" edition will end, and be merged into the performance edition. Last season's judging panel returns -- Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. -- but will they be around for the 15th season? -- VERNE GAY


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