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TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : 'Women's Film Festival' on Lifetime; 'Choppers' in the air on Discovery; HBO airs 'The Second Civil War'

March 09, 1997|STEVE LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Women's Film Festival" / 8 p.m. Lifetime

Susan Sarandon hosts an uneven collection of shorts produced and directed by female filmmakers. "Lois Lives a Little," from Adrienne Shelly ("Trust"), turns on the fantasies of a bored, middle-aged wife (Alix Elias). Anne DeSalvo is the writer, director and star of "Women Without Implants," a tale of breast augmentation. "Dr. Hugo," from Kasi Lemmons, involves the warm bedside manner of a handsome physician (Vondie Curtis Hall) who enjoys his house calls, and "Undertaker" is a poem about violence written and interpreted by Patricia Smith.

****

"To Dance With Olivia" / 9 p.m. CBS

In his latest TV movie, Louis Gossett Jr. plays a character concerned with the roots of a relationship. The story: A couple's marriage falls apart when the wife (Lonette McKee) blames her husband for the death of their son. Inevitably, these two people must reexamine their lives when Gossett, who plays a small-town lawyer in 1961, defends a black farmer charged with the attempted murder of a congressman's son.

****

"Murder Live!" / 9 p.m. NBC

The evils and excesses of daytime TV are explored from a prime-time perspective. A grieving father (David Morse) goes over the edge following the suicide of his daughter, whose rape was revealed on a talk show. In retaliation, he plants a bomb in the studio and wields a gun to intimidate the show's egotistical host (Marg Helgenberger), her audience and crew. Meanwhile, a SWAT commander (Peter Horton) holds out for a peaceful resolution to the standoff as millions watch on live TV.

****

"Choppers on Patrol" / 9 p.m. Discovery Channel

Look, up in the air! It's a bird, it's a plane. Nope, it's a helicopter! This two-hour report checks out the choppers streaking across the mean skies of New York City. Filmmakers had unlimited access to whirlybirds representing the U.S. Coast Guard, the New York Police Department and WNBC-TV. Included: footage of a boy who jumped into the perilous currents of the Harlem River; and a brush fire that threatened the Brooklyn Beltway.

Tuesday

"Long, Long Ago" / 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. AMC

What was it like to see a movie 100 years ago? "I was so excited, I thought I'd burst," says Ruth Gilmore of Illinois, one of 26 centenarians who share their thoughts in this hourlong show. The anecdotes, which will either warm your heart or put you to sleep, are interspersed with clips from such silents as "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), "Perils of Pauline" (1914) and "The Rink" (1916).

****

"Something Borrowed, Something Blue" / 9 p.m. CBS

If it wasn't already taken, "Secrets & Lies" could suffice as an alternate title for this TV movie. It's a melodrama about three first-time brides, each of whom is concealing a secret that could ruin her relationship. Connie Sellecca stars as a magazine editor planning a cover story on herself and two other women (Twiggy Lawson and Shawnee Smith). Their prospective grooms are played by Jameson Parker, Ken Howard and Ricky Paull Goldin.

Thursday

"Law & Order" / 10 p.m. NBC

New night, same swell show. While "ER" takes a break until April 10, its slot will be filled by the cranky cops and aggressive attorneys of this New York-based drama. The three-part story starting this week is a bicoastal affair involving the murder of a film executive. It's a high-profile case requiring partners Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Curtis (Benjamin Bratt) to investigate leads in Los Angeles, while prickly prosecutor Ross (Carey Lowell) takes on a "dream team" led by her ex-husband. But will they love L.A.? Stay tuned.

Saturday

"The Second Civil War" / 9 p.m. HBO

Executive producer Barry Levinson describes this made-for-cable movie as "a dark comedic look at our inability to function as a republic." Directed by Joe Dante, whose credits range from "The Howling" to "Gremlins," the film is set in the near future when Idaho's governor (Beau Bridges), a man fed up with the nation's immigration policies, closes his borders to orphaned refugees from Pakistan, sparking a civil conflict in the process. Phil Hartman plays the U.S. president who handles the crisis with assistance from his confidant (James Coburn).

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