By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer
'Corean Chronicles': Fantasy author L. E. Modesitt Jr. signs and discusses the latest installment of his fantasy sequence Darknesses: The Second Book of the Corean Chronicles. 7 p.m. today, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Rookwood Pavilion, Madison and Edwards roads, Norwood. 396-8960.
Kevin Harvick: Just weeks after a win at the Brickyard 400, the NASCAR driver meets fans, signs autographs and conducts a Q&A session. 5:30-7:30 p.m. today, Tom Gill Chevrolet, Commerce Drive, Florence. (859) 371-7566.
Music Cafe: The Fitton Center takes its music showcase outdoors to Fairfield's Village Green Theater with sets by Anne and Phil Case, Misfits, Inc. and Chris Dunnet. 7 p.m. today, Wessel Drive, adjacent to Lane Library, free. 863-8873.
Top pick: ESPN scores with Playmakers, its first drama series. Omar Gooding, Tony Denison, Russell Hornsby and former Mariemont High School football player Jason Matthew Smith star as members of the fictional Cougars pro football team. The gritty exploration of athletes' pain, stress, insecurity and drug use has been rated TV-MA, unsuitable for children under 17. It has some nudity and profanity (9 p.m., ESPN; repeats at 10 p.m.).
TV critic John Kiesewetter also says Hollywood makeup artists transform amateur singers into their idols on Fox's new Performing As... (8 p.m., Channels 19, 45).
New on CD
Critic's pick: Peter Frampton gets back in the game today with his first studio album of new material in nine years, the aptly titled Now (33rd Street; $17.98).
Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, dying of cancer, delivers his bittersweet farewell, The Wind (Artemis; $18.98).
Neo-soul diva Mary J. Blige gives her thoughts on Love & Life (Geffen; $18.98).
Louisville rap act Nappy Roots rhymes about the Dirty South on Wooden Leather (Atlantic; $18.98).
The fall's most-anticipated musical documentary series is being accompanied by the most extensive reissue series in history. It begins in earnest with Martin Scorcese Presents: The Best of the Blues (UTV; $18.98).
New on DVD/video
Critic's pick: Advance orders have kept it at the top of the best-seller lists for weeks, and today The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers finally arrives. The DVD dishes up a fistful of mini-documentaries, behind-the-scenes info galore, a music video, a short film by co-star Sean Astin, and a 10-minute preview of the final installment in the trilogy, The Return of the King, which opens Dec. 17. Note that this is the original version of the movie; an extended edition DVD featuring new footage will be released later this fall.
24 hours out: Q102/Bud Party at Sawyer Point includes happy-hour food, drink and live music by the fun and funky Motion Sick Love Slaves. 5:30-10 p.m. Wednesday, along the riverfront, downtown. 699-5102.
48 hours out: Thursday night at Go Bananas Comedy Club features cheap seats for comedienne Laurie Kilmartin with her uproarious, one-of-a-kind take on the female experience. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, rear of Market Place complex, off Montgomery Road just north of Olde Montgomery, $2-$5 (reservations encouraged). 984-9288.
72 hours until Friday: Branford Marsalis brings his contemporary jazz to the 20th Century, 8:30 p.m., 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, $35.25. 562-4949.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 768-8330
Gallery takes off
Real trial: Mascara works well, but application slow
MTV acknowledges Cash's 'Hurt'
Get to it!
'Fistful of Rain' delivers an immediate punch
Battered woman grows in 'The Shade'
Page turners: What you are reading