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Moscow TV Round-Up: It's a Woman's World

Alla Pugacheva has been Russia's first lady of pop for almost four decades. Serge Serebro / vitebsk popular news

It’s Women and Song Week on Moscow TV, so open some wine and enjoy Alla Pugacheva, Judy Garland and Olivia Newton-John at their tuneful best on your small screen – along with bonus features on notable non-chanteuses Marina Tsvetaeva and Valentina Tereshkova, plus Big Band bandleader Glenn Miller as the week’s token guy. Here’s the where and when:

What better way to start the week of International Women’s Day than with a feature on Alla Pugacheva, Russia’s one-woman entertainment empire? Pugacheva established herself as the national pop-diva in the late 1970s and has remained such ever since, pursuing multiple avenues as singer, composer, producer and actress – as well as a scandalous lover, five-time bride, sometime mother and doting grandma. 

Tune in to the Who’s Who channel for the biographical documentary “Alla Pugacheva: And It’s All About Her” (2014), a good reminder for fans and a useful summary for outsiders of how Russia’s “woman who sings” turned her trademark “clear mezzo-soprano and full display of genuine emotions” into a woman the whole country finds irresistible. 

Alla Pugacheva: And Its All About Her / Алла Пугачева. И это все о ней. 

Who’s Who, Monday at 5:05 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Valentina Tereshkova in 1969. Alexander Mokletsov / RIA NOVOSTI

Tuesday moves us from the first woman of song to the first woman in space with the Alexei Kitaitsev documentary “Valentina Tereshkova: The Seagull and the Hawk” (2013) on the Istoriia channel. This is an earnest retelling of how the determined Tereshkova, a proverbial girl-from-the-provinces, beat out two other y-chromosome-challenged cosmonauts for the pilot's seat on the history-making Vostok-6.

Launched on June 16, 1963, Tereshkova orbited the earth some 48 times over nearly three days, using the codename “Seagull” to keep in touch with her home base at Baikonur and with Valery Bykovsky (“Hawk”), who was flying a parallel mission in Vostok-5.

This is real-life derring-do of the first order, and this feature does it justice, using exclusive interviews with Tereshkova and other cosmonauts as well as previously unshown film footage to good advantage.

Valentina Tereshkova: The Seagull and the Hawk / Валентина Терешкова. Чайка и Ястреб

Istoriia, Tuesday at 6:55 a.m. and Wednesday at 1:40 a.m.

Judy Garland was one of Hollywood's greatest stars of the mid-20th century. PIXABAY

Wednesday’s featured gal is Judy Garland, long known as “America’s sweetheart” after her turn as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). Here Kultura offers one of post-adolescent Judy’s best efforts: George Cukor’s rendition of the Moss Hart musical drama“A Star Is Born” (1954) exploits all her various talents to the full, prompting Newsweek to effuse, “As an actress Miss Garland is more than adequate. As a mime and comedienne she is even better. But as a singer she can handle anything from torch songs and blues to ballads. In more ways than one, the picture is hers.”

“Star” racked up a sizeable pile of silverware, including Golden Globe trophies for Garland and male lead James Mason, and eventually found a permanent home in American cinema lore: In 2000 the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Tune in and see what all the applause was all about.

A Star Is Born / Звезда родилась.

Kultura, Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. and Thursday at 3:15 p.m.

Legendary Big band musician and arranger Glenn Miller is played by James Stewart in 'The Glenn Miller Story.' wikimedia commons

As Token Musical Male this week Kultura offers James Stewart in Anthony Mann’s “The Glenn Miller Story” (1954), a very good biopic of the band leader who came to symbolize Swing and the Big Band Era itself. Stewart and June Allyson are fine in the leads, but the real star here is the Miller sound – epitomized by “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “In the Mood” – which was captured well enough to win an Oscar for Best Sound Recording.

Tune in for some great songs and a look back at an era when popular music was king, but ruled a very different kingdom.

The Glenn Miller Story / История Гленна Миллера.

Kultura, Thursday at 12:00 midnight and Friday at 3:10 a.m.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta walk through the crowd of guests at a party following the premiere of “Grease” in Los Angeles on June 5, 1978. associated press

On Saturday Kultura stretches things a bit by airing the American teenage romance “Grease” (1978) under its “Cinema for All Times” rubric. That said, there’s no arguing that Australian pop singer Olivia Newton-John does a great job as Sandy (opposite John Travolta’s greaser Danny) in this entertaining 1970s-looking-at-the-1950s musical.

An Oscar nomination for Best Song (“Hopelessly Devoted to You”), five Golden Globe nominations and three People’s Choice wins were no accident, nor was the film’s soundtrack album emerging as the second-bestselling American record of 1978. Tune this in with your rugs rolled back just in case you bust out dancin’.

Grease / Бриолин 

Kultura, Saturday at 11:05 p.m.

A photograph of Marina Tsvetaeva taken in the Crimean village of Koktebel in 1911. Maximilian Voloshin

Sunday’s distaff entry turns to the music of poetry, as Kultura airs Marina Migunova’s new and unconventional documentary “The Ten Rings of Marina Tsvetaeva” (2017). Migunova “unites screenwriter, director, designer and jeweler” in examining the poet’s ten “massive silver rings” – each connected with a significant episode of her life and work – in order to “reassemble the myth” behind each of the three that remain and the seven now lost to modernity.

This is an inspired sort of literary anthropology that speaks in a new way to the romance, adventure and tragedy that made up the poet’s life. Tune in and see the mural that was Tsvetaeva more clearly through ten of its parts.

The Ten Rings of Marina Tsvetaeva
/ Десять колец Марины Цветаевой.

Kultura, Sunday at 9:35 p.m.

Mark H. Teeter is the editor of Moscow TV Tonite on Facebook

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