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Catch entertainment escape waves

By Meriah Doty
CNN


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(CNN) -- Escapism means different things to different people.

Whether you're planning to flee from threats of terrorism, the blistering heat, the kids, your parents or your job, there's one thing you can depend on in the coming months for entertainment -- selection.

TV, DVDs, video games, music and books offer something for everyone this summer. Here is an overview of what to expect:

Couch potato calendar

Summer is no longer a time for reruns on the tube. Shows scheduled to show a fresh crop of episodes include season six of "Sex and the City" on HBO, "Fame" hosted by Debbie Allen on NBC, new episodes of "Crime & Punishment" on NBC and "Paradise Hotel" on Fox.

The second season of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's fledgling filmmakers documentary series "Project Greenlight" airs on HBO this summer, too.

If you missed this year's Oscar long-shot winner "The Pianist," don't worry; you can see the Roman Polanski film for the first time on DVD along with countless others. This year's best actor Adrian Brody, Oscar's sovereign smoocher, stars.

Pianist
Movie lovers can catch up on this year's Oscar-winning films including "The Pianist."

Other Oscar films coming out on DVD this summer include "Chicago," "Frida," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Gangs of New York," "Adaptation," "About Schmidt" and "The Hours." (Gallery of this summer's top DVDs)

Games galore

Many of this summer's blockbuster movies will have Xbox, Game Cube and PlayStation 2 counterparts. Look for "Enter the Matrix," "Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness" and "The Hulk" around the same time their filmic father comes out.

"Even though most video games based on movie franchises are nothing more than a shameless use of a popular license, it can easily be argued fans of sci-fi/kung-fu movies like 'The Matrix' are the same folks who get a kick out of interactive entertainment," gaming reporter Marc Saltzman says.

Gaming geeks are sure to be pleased with "Madden NFL 2004" from EA Sports debuting in August. It promises to "once again set a new benchmark for graphics, multiplayer matches via the Internet and customizability," according to Saltzman.

Also coming out later in the summer is "Soul Calibur II." Saltzman assures it will "help kick some life back into the ailing fighting game genre."

Enter the Matrix
"Enter the Matrix" is the summer's most highly anticipated video game, according to Saltzman.

"Many a PC player is salivating over the Windows version of 'Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,' the best-selling and controversial action/adventure game," says Saltzman.

He adds that features like custom soundtracks, enhanced graphics and game modifications ("mods") that can be made over the Web will lure gamers to stores. (Gallery of this summer's gaming highlights)

Please your palette with Potter, more

The big read of the summer, of course, will be J.K. Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book coming out in June.

"[Publishers] are going to be taking advantage of the great interest in Harry to get people to consider other great titles, particularly both just before and after 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' bows June 21," says Jerome Kramer, Editor in Chief of Book Magazine.

Harry Potter
Potter No. 5 hits stores in June.

Kramer says to look out for Random House's sci-fi "City of Ember" if you can't wait until Potter No. 5 hits bookstores.

If you tear through all 896 pages of Rowling's book in late June, Simon & Schuster is bringing out the first two books of a five-book series called the "Spiderwick Chronicles."

"They look very promising: Shorter, accessible, they're geared to readers a little younger than the core Harry Potter crowd," Kramer says.

Beyond this summer's promised Potter craze, there are a plethora of selections to take with you poolside.

Kramer predicts Hillary Clinton's book, "Living History," Tom Franklin's debut novel "Hell at the Breech," which re-imagines a white-on-white feud between landowners and sharecroppers that took place in Alabama more than a century ago, and Elinor Lipman's "The Pursuit of Alice Thrift" will be among the hottest items on bookstore shelves this summer. (Gallery of the season's most hyped books)

Rock out to the old and new

Mainstays are dusting off their guitars and amps to hit the road this summer.

Aerosmith will be touring with KISS, and the Eagles, Allman Brothers Band, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fleetwood Mac, The Lovin' Spoonful and ZZ Top will also be performing together.

50 Cent
Rappers 50 Cent, pictured here, and Jay-Z headline this summer's Rock the Mic Tour.

For youngsters, festivals will be sure to please. The lineup at Lollapalooza '03 includes Audioslave, Incubus, Jane's Addiction, Jurassic 5, The Donnas and Queens of the Stone Age.

You won't find him in the club, but rapper-of-the-moment 50 Cent is headlining the Rock the Mic Tour along with superstar rhymer Jay-Z. This may prove to be the most popular concert stop of the summer.

Other acts that are bound to generate a fury of frenzied fans are Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, Beck, John Mayer and REM.

Anticipated CDs to drop this summer will come from Metallica, The Strokes, Radiohead, and Beyonce Knowles.

Keep your ears open to find out who puts out an infectious summer anthem destined for widespread radio play. (Gallery of hot summer concerts and CD releases)


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