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Christmastime is here ... again?

Three months before holiday, items hitting the stores

By Todd Leopold
CNN

cover.galaxy.jpg
Major October releases include "Dressing a Galaxy" ...

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Eye on Entertainment
George Lucas
Movies

(CNN) -- This Saturday, Abrams is releasing a gorgeous coffee-table book, "Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of 'Star Wars.' "

The same day, the publisher is putting out a brick of a book, complete with CD-ROM, called "Creating the Worlds of 'Star Wars': 365 Days."

Keep in mind that these are the types of books that are usually bought for gifts (the first is $50; the second $29.95) and that "Revenge of the Sith" isn't due on DVD until November 1.

It can mean only one thing: Get ready for the holiday shopping and awards season.

Don't believe me? A slew of elaborate box sets, creamy coffee-table books and notable releases of many stripes are either already out or due in the next month, well before the traditional November/December window.

Indeed, even Oscar talk is starting early. There's already talk of Academy Award nominations for Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote," opening Friday in limited release) and George Clooney ("Good Night, and Good Luck," opening October 7 in limited release). Usually the studios roll out their Oscar candidates, with accompanying publicity, in mid-late December.

All this probably explains why the local Target is one step away from ditching the autumnal oranges and browns for holiday green and red.

Eye on Entertainment makes his list and checks it twice.

Eye-opener

Abrams, best known for its photography and art books, gave "Star Wars'' the same elaborate presentation in "Dressing a Galaxy" and "Creating the Worlds" as its other books receive.

The former, in particular, includes hundreds of luxurious photographs of Natalie Portman in Amidala's finery, not to mention sketchbook representations and close-ups so close you can practically feel the swatches.

Rhino Records went to similar lengths for "Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings," an 8-CD Ray Charles box set in a package shaped like an old portable record player; and "One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found," a four-CD collection packaged like a hatbox. The former already is in stores; the latter is due October 4.

Then there's Alfred Hitchcock, whose "Masterpiece Collection" (Universal Home Entertainment) includes 14 of the master's films, from 1942's "Saboteur" to 1975's "Family Plot" and many of his 1950s greats, such as "Vertigo" and "Rear Window." It's also out October 4.

Meanwhile, a number of performers are trying on new clothes.

Besides the aforementioned Hoffman and Clooney (the latter directed and stars in "Good Night, and Good Luck"), Charlize Theron is starring in "North Country" (October 14), a sort-of "Norma Rae" set in the iron mines of Minnesota; Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth are a '50s comedy duo in the controversial "Where the Truth Lies" (October 14); and Steve Martin and Claire Danes star in "Shopgirl" (October 21), based on Martin's novella.

And new albums? Before October is out, Franz Ferdinand will have released "You Could Have It So Much Better ..." (October 4), Liz Phair will have put out "Somebody's Miracle" (October 4), Depeche Mode will be out with "Playing the Angel" (October 18) and Alicia Keys will be "Unplugged" (October 11).

And to think, 2006 is only three months away.

On screen

  • Joss Whedon's TV series "Firefly" comes to the screen in the form of "Serenity." The film opens Friday.
  • "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the story of golfer Francis Ouimet's unlikely U.S. Open win, opens Friday.
  • Julianne Moore is getting a lot of attention for her performance in "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," about a mother who entered contests to put food on the table. It opens Friday.
  • Jessica Alba and Paul Walker star in "Into the Blue." It opens Friday.
  • On the tube

  • "Will & Grace's" live season premiere is 8:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC.
  • Sound waves

  • Fiona Apple's long-awaited "Extraordinary Machine" (Epic) comes out Tuesday.
  • Sinead O'Connor goes reggae? Yes, she does, on "Throw Down Your Arms" (Sanctuary), which comes out Tuesday.
  • VH1 packages the Bangles with the sadly appropriate title, "VH1 Classic Presents: We Are the '80s" (Columbia/Legacy). What a shame. Anyone who heard the band's debut EP and then the 1984 LP "All Over the Place" would have thought the group was destined for greatness, between the fury of "I Want You," the pop brilliance of "Hero Takes a Fall" and the transcendent "Dover Beach." And then ... well, the music industry can chew up anybody. The CD comes out Tuesday.
  • Paging readers

  • As if "He's Just Not That Into You" wasn't depressing enough, now comes "It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken" (Broadway), by Greg Behrendt and his wife, Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. (The back cover says it's "empowering," but the front features a pint of ice cream. You decide.) Just out in bookstores.
  • Jason Christopher Hartley, a veteran of the current Iraq conflict, tells his story in "Just Another Soldier" (HarperCollins).
  • Video center

  • A DVD of Cream's Royal Albert Hall reunion concert from May comes out Tuesday.
  • A Val Lewton collection, including the producer's films "Cat People" and "The Body Snatcher," comes out Tuesday.
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