It's a double debut this week for Jacqueline Bisset. In HBO's Forbidden (premiering Sunday at 8 p.m.), her first film for cable, she is a German countess who on the eve of World War II gives shelter--and falls in love with--a German-Jewish writer (Jurgen Prochnow). On Tuesday, she appears in her first network TV movie, a new adaptation by James Goldman of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (CBS at 8 p.m.), cast in the title role opposite Christopher Reeve's Vronsky. Paul Scofield plays her cold and ambitious husband.
Airing Sunday at 9 p.m. are two new TV movies, Half-Nelson (NBC) and California Girls (ABC). The first, which launches a new Friday evening series, stars Joe Pesci, best known for his Oscar-nominated performance as Robert De Niro's brother in "Raging Bull." Pesci plays an aspiring actor who becomes a private investigator to the stars, and Dean Martin, in a recurring role, plays himself. In California Girls, Robby Benson leaves New Jersey for California in the blissful belief that all the girls are blonde and tan and that the fun never stops.
Airing earlier Sunday at 8 p.m. on Channel 11 is Shampoo, that sparkling satire of Beverly Hills life starring Warren Beatty as a trendy hair stylist who is a compulsive womanizer.
If you wish to skip the Academy Awards Monday and watch a movie instead, it actually is possible. At 8 p.m. NBC brings back (for the umpteenth time) Clint Eastwood's amiable if slapdash (but very popular) comedy Every Which Way but Loose, in which he plays a San Fernando Valley bare-knuckle fighter whose pal is a cheerful orangutan.
There's also an orangutan in the new TV movie A Summer to Remember (CBS Wednesday at 8 p.m.), starring James Farentino and Tess Harper as the stepfather and mother of a deaf boy (Sean Justin Gerlis, who actually has been deaf from birth). Communicating with sign language, Gerlis develops a special relationship with the orangutan. Louise Fletcher plays the scientist who has raised the animal and taught it to sign, and Burt Young is cast as a seedy circus owner.
Rebel Without a Cause, the James Dean classic that had such a profound effect on an entire generation of young people, returns Friday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13.
Saturday evening brings a strong lineup of vintage fare. Director Robert Mulligan and screenwriter Horton Foote's film of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (Channel 5 at 8 p.m.) brought Foote an Oscar for his adaptation. Gregory Peck also won an Oscar for his splendid portrayal of a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black (Brock Peters) accused of rape. It is also a story of childhood, as the drama unfolds from the point of view of Peck's daughter (Mary Badham) and her playmate (John Megna). The film also is notable for Robert Duvall's screen debut as Peck's slow-witted neighbor.
Also airing at 8 p.m. Saturday (on Channel 13) is John Schlesinger's rather too literal film of Nathanael West's classic Hollywood novel The Day of the Locust. But there's vivid period atmosphere and similarly vibrant performances from a cast headed by Karen Black and Donald Sutherland.
For all its lurid '40s melodrama plotting, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, a 1946 Hal Wallis production airing Saturday at 10 p.m. on Channel 28, touches upon timeless truths about the temptations of power and wealth and the capriciousness of fate. Barbara Stanwyck is a mill owner whose life is upset with the unexpected return of her childhood sweetheart (Van Heflin), an itinerant gambler and two-fisted war hero. In his film debut, Kirk Douglas was cast as Stanwyck's alcoholic husband, the local D.A.
Selected evening pay/cable fare: The Trouble With Harry (Z Sunday at 7, again on Thursday at 9); Dog Day Afternoon (HBO Sunday at 10); Heads or Tails (SelecTV Tuesday at 7); Dinner for Adele (Z Tuesday at 7); A Woman Called Golda (WGN Tuesday at 9:30, concludes Wednesday at same time); Fanny and Alexander (Movie Channel Tuesday at 10); The Left-Handed Gun (WTBS Wednesday at 7); Whiskey Galore (SelecTV Thursday at 7); All of Me (SelecTV Thursday at 8:30); Fort Apache, the Bronx (HBO Thursday at 10); The Grey Fox (Cinemax Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)
Opinions in this column are based on the original-release version of the films. Checks for the logs are based on Leonard Maltin's "TV Movies" book and other sources. Pay TV movies without checks have not been reviewed by The Times.