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TUNE ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : Lena Horne tells her story on PBS' 'Masters'; CBS and NBC cover the Thanksgiving Day parades



"Nova" / 8 p.m. KCET. Continues through Tuesday 8 p.m. Mon.-Wed. KOCE

Lennart Nilsson, the Swedish photojournalist who chronicled the creation of a human being in fascinating detail on "Miracle of Life," picks up where he left off on that 1983 PBS documentary. In this ambitious three-part report, he covers the vast diversity of life on Earth. The series opens with a look at similarities in the embryonic stages of humans and animals. Microorganisms and Nilsson at work are subjects of the subsequent programs.


"Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice" / 9 p.m. KCET

At 16, she took her place in the chorus line of Harlem's famed Cotton Club. Later, she was the first African American to sign a long-term contract with a major movie studio. In the '50s, she was blacklisted as a Communist subversive. Now that's "Stormy Weather." And through it all, the radiant Horne has shown character a-plenty. In this "American Masters" retrospective, she tells her life story, augmented by TV and movie clips plus interviews with friends and colleagues.


"Home Improvement" / 9 p.m. ABC

To animation and beyond! The network's top-rated series turns into Toon Town this week via a 4-minute stop-motion sequence in the vein of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Produced by Will Vinton's studio, the segment finds tool man Tim (Tim Allen, who gave voice to Buzz Lightyear in Disney's "Toy Story") dozing off while watching a Christmas special on the tube. That triggers a dream in which the Taylors are transformed into cute wooden figures. One hopes the humor is anything but wooden.


"Frontline" / 9 p.m. KCET

Tales of children of mixed race are hardly unique, but the one that unfolds here is of personal interest to African American producer June Cross, whose Caucasian mother gave her away when she "became too dark to pass for white." The motives behind that decision are explored in the film, which represents a journey of self-discovery for its maker.


"All-American Thanksgiving Parade" / 8 a.m. CBS

"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" / 1 p.m. NBC

Viewers will roll out of bed early to catch the perennial CBS telecast covering festivities in New York and other cities across the country. Or, they can view the annual Macy's pageant while digging in on the big bird awaiting in the dining room. That other Big Bird--or at least a reasonable facsimile floating over the streets of Manhattan--is likely to be a part of the event.


"Off Ramps: L.A. Stories" / 10 p.m. KCET

Filmmaker Robert Drew covers the familiar terrain of "Hoop Dreams" in "L.A. Champions," a basketball documentary he says was made without knowledge of the other. Set in South Central Los Angeles, the hour focuses on two African American athletes vying for the city championship between Fremont and Crenshaw High. One teen will earn a coveted college scholarship; the other will remain in a neighborhood beset by unemployment and drug dealers.


"Dolly Parton: Treasures" / 8 p.m. CBS

Dolly says hello with an hourlong special in which she shares anecdotes about her favorite songs and serves up others from the "Treasures" album. The real hook: Footage from the era when each tune was released will be accompanied by interviews with the writers and performers who made it famous. Mac Davis, Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard, Neil Young, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens and Charlie Rich are among the contributors.

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