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Preview '96

Cable's Different Strokes

September 15, 1996|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If you want the skinny on ESP, urban pop, dirty candidate tricks, thrill seekers, schemers, dreamers, debunkers and real ER docs, cable's got it this season.

From Bravo's arts expose and the Learning Channel's historical myth-busting to MTV's celeb talk with the uniquely decorative NBA superstar Dennis Rodman and the History Channel's spectator sport approach to presidential politics, cable's new series and specials define alternative channel surfing. Here's a sampling of what to look for in the months ahead:

A&E

"Las Vegas: Gamble in the Desert" and "Las Vegas: House of Cards": A two-part chronicle of Vegas history, from the Paiute Indians and the Mormons to the gambling mecca of today, based on Susan Berman's bestseller "Easy Street." Dec. 1-2.

AMC

"The Royale": AMC's first original family programming is an observation of life in a Rochester, N.Y., movie palace, circa 1948, through the eyes of a 12-year-old. November.

BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION

"UnReal": BET's new "signature music show"--with interviews, video highlights, fashion and gossip--revolves around the latest in urban music and urban pop culture. Oct. 7

BRAVO

"Expose": A new showcase featuring five multipart series with a behind-the-scenes approach to the arts, kicking off with "The Look" at the fashion industry. In the weeks after that are "Naked Classics" (classical music) and "Naked Hollywood" (movies). "The Rise and Fall of Ballet" and "The Envelope, Please" air in 1997. Oct. 6.

THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL

"Super Stunts": Just how far will filmmakers, thrill seekers and stunt artists go for excitement? Tune in to see the lengths (and the heights and speeds) they'll go. Oct. 5.

THE DISNEY CHANNEL

"Amazing Animals" and "Audubon's Animal Adventures": Two weekly Sunday family series, the former based on the Dorling Kindersley children's books, hosted by a little girl named Kate and an animated gecko named Harry; the latter features a different animal species each week. Premiered Sept. 8.

THE FAMILY CHANNEL

"Small Talk": A game show where kids ages 7 to 9 give opinions on various issues; the contestants must correctly guess what the kids will say. Wil Shriner hosts what's described as a cross between "Kids Say the Darndest Things" and "Hollywood Squares." Sept. 30.

"Wait 'Til You Have Kids": A "Newlywed Game"-styled show where three couples earn points by matching parenting experts' answers to questions about raising kids. Sept. 30.

THE HISTORY CHANNEL

"Four Years of Thunder": A four-part look at World War I's tide-turning aviation, the harbinger of the aerospace arms race, featuring previously unreleased archival footage. Sept. 16-19.

"November Warriors": As candidates' war of words heats up, this new series of four documentaries takes a look at the dirt-dishing, promise-making and punditry of past presidential campaigns. Oct. 7-10.

HBO

"The High Life": Two American Dream seekers (Robert Joy and Mark Wilson), who run a storage facility in 1950s Pittsburgh, scheme to get rich in this dark comedy by Emmy-winning David Letterman writer Adam Resnick. November.

THE LEARNING CHANNEL

"Myth America": Author and historian Rick Shenkman separates fact from cherished legend in U.S. history, setting the record straight on presidential lore, national holidays and more. Oct. 1.

"Trauma: Life and Death in the ER": No, you won't see George Clooney in this new 12-part series--just real doctors, surgeons and nurses at work in trauma units across the country. Oct. 3.

"The Quest": Experts and "obsessed amateurs" seek to answer tricky questions about the reality of ESP, the potential for an existence in space and just when humans took that first upright step. Oct. 4.

LIFETIME

"Traders": Expect scandals aplenty in this weekly drama series as a female economist replaces her father as head of a high-powered investment banking firm. Dad's gone to the slammer after a sour stock deal. Premiered Sept. 8.

MTV

"Rodman World Tour": Tattooed 'n' dyed "Bad As I Want to Be" Dennis Rodman will star in a weekly show featuring "commentary" and celebs. November.

"The Jenny McCarthy Show": The "Singled Out" sensation and "Playboy" pinup hosts her own weekly variety series. December.

SCI-FI CHANNEL

"Sightings": The popular exploration of all things paranormal now makes its exclusive home here, with all new hourlong episodes. Oct. 4.

SHOWTIME

"Sex and the Silver Screen": Raquel Welch hosts a six-part series tracing the evolution of sex in the movies. Sept. 22.

USA NETWORK

"La Femme Nikita": Series based on the French film by Luc Besson about a young woman recruited into a secret, and deadly, government organization. Janunary.

"Rudy": Sitcom about an aspiring newscaster who makes a living producing a children's puppet show. The puppets, however, are actually aliens with attitude. January.

VH1

"Legends": A series of documentaries exploring the lives of influential musicians, beginning with a profile of Janis Joplin, narrated by Kris Kristofferson. Oct. 6.

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