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Highlights

TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : The Bee Gees go to the vault on VH1; HBO visits the sporting life on film; USA scores Louganis bio

March 16, 1997|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"The Irish in America" / 5 and 9 p.m. A&E

Actor Aidan Quinn ("Avalon") narrates this historical look at "those who turned poverty into prosperity." Denied liberty in their native country, 5 million men, women and children learned to "expect the unexpected" after emigrating to America between 1650 and 1922. Catholicism, religious strife, English penal codes and the Great Famine of 1847 are among the topics of this two-hour program.

****

"Storytellers" / 7 and 10 p.m. VH1

Lonely days, lonely nights. Where would music be without the Bee Gees? Barry, Robin and Maurice tell the tales behind their songs in a new edition of this acoustic series featuring renditions of "To Love Somebody," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" and "How Deep Is Your Love," which Barry calls "one of the best pieces of work we've ever done."

****

"Placido Domingo: The Covent Garden Gold and Silver Gala" / 8 p.m. KCET

The renowned tenor and London's Royal Opera House celebrate a double anniversary in this PBS special recorded last December. It's been 25 years since Domingo made his first guest appearance (as Cavaradossi in "Tosca") at Covent Garden, which marked its 50th anniversary. Domingo, who conducts Lehar's "Gold and Silver" waltz, is joined by singers representing opera's next generation. Among the highlights: selections by Gounod ("Faust"), Massenet ("Le Cid"), Bizet ("Carmen") and Mozart ("Don Giovanni").

****

"Sports on the Silver Screen" / 8 p.m. HBO

Actors are not always good athletes, but it's imperative that we believe they are. Whether it's Robert De Niro demolishing an opponent as the brutal boxer Jake La Motta in "Raging Bull" or Robert Redford swinging for the fences as "The Natural," credibility is everything. Produced in association with the American Film Institute, this documentary culls clips from sports-oriented films ("Bull Durham," "Rocky," "Tin Cup") and interviews the people who contributed to them.

****

"Prison of Secrets" / 9 p.m. Lifetime

Less lurid than the usual women-behind-bars flick, this made-for-cable movie is nevertheless mired in the standard cliches of its genre. Stephanie Zimbalist ("Remington Steele") stars as a middle-class wife and business woman sentenced to 10 years for fraudulent concealment. "I just wanted to make some extra money," laments a naive Lynn, who is dispatched to a women's facility full of rotten male guards dishing out drugs and running a prostitution ring.

****

"Stolen Women: Captured Hearts" / 9 p.m. CBS

Some of the best musical advice we ever heard was "Love the One You're With," which is pretty much the theme of this new TV movie. "Northern Exposure" alum Janine Turner plays Anna, a newlywed captured by a Lakota Indian chief (Michael Greyeyes) in 1868. It's love at first sight for Anna, whose friend (Jean Louisa Kelly) would prefer to be set free. Dennis Weaver and Patrick Bergin co-star.

Tuesday

"Hollywood Walk of Fame: America's Street of Dreams" / 6:30 and 9 p.m. AMC

"Come up and step on me some time," Angie Dickinson quipped at the dedication ceremony for her star on the world's fabled boulevard. Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood, chats about the 2,000 celebrities who have been immortalized since local businessmen came up with the idea in 1960. A sampling of the trivia: Gene Autry is the industry's only five-star luminary, receiving the honor for his work in recording, live performance, TV, movies and radio.

Wednesday

"Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story" / 9 p.m. USA

No gold medals will go to this biopic, which is a belly-flop because of bland acting and a heavy-handed script. Adopted by a stern father (Michael Murphy) and a doting mother (Rosemary Dunsmore), the peerless diver is shown as a loner who felt like an outsider in high school. As an adult (played by Mario Lopez of "Saved by the Bell"), the gay Louganis protects his privacy, perfects his dives and shows poor judgment in matters away from the pool. On the plus side, Bruce Weitz gives an understated performance as coach Ron O'Brien.

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