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TV smarts

April 16, 1998

Some broadcast and cable programs contain material included in the public school curriculum and on standardized examinations. Here are weekend home-viewing tips:

* Thursday. "Edward VIII: The Traitor King" (A&E, 5 p.m.; repeats at 9 p.m.) While the story of Edward VIII's abdication from the throne of England and his marriage to the wealthy American Wallis Simpson is well known, the hypothesis that he was forced out for his sympathies to the Nazi cause is not a part of the popular public story. Watch this "Biography" segment, do your own research and reach your own conclusions.

Also, "Bill Nye the Science Guy" (KCET at 4:30 p.m.), always a good source of science information, focuses on solutions to pollution problems.

* Friday. "Mother Night" (TMC, 5 p.m.) A movie based on Kurt Vonnegut's book by the same title. Nick Nolte plays the role of an American writer who is persuaded to become an American spy and poses as a Nazi sympathizer during World War II. The film depicts the writer's struggle with the pressure to become who he pretends to be. For a detailed Web site, including a study guide, go to

"Stalag 17" (TCM, also at 5 p.m.) is the story of a soldier (William Holden) thought to be an informer in a prison camp. Both films provide students realistic depictions of life away from the battlefields during World War II.

* Saturday. "20th Century With Mike Wallace: The Perils of Whistleblowing" (A&E, 1 p.m.) Though legislation is in place in the U.S. to protect employees who bring corruption to light, people who undertake exposure of illegal practices often pay a terrible price. The show features Jeffrey Weigand (tobacco company executive), Ralph Nader and the late Karen Silkwood, each of whom was responsible for exposing corporate corruption.

"Hostages: Rescue in Peru" (TLC, 5 p.m.; repeats at 8 p.m.) This program comes near the one-year anniversary of the rescue of hostages--mostly Peruvian officials and foreign ambassadors--who were held hostage for more than four months in the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru, by Tupac Amaru rebels. Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori explains his role in this long and difficult political dilemma and human drama.

* Sunday. "People's Century" (KCET, 9 p.m. and continuing Monday and Tuesday). The premiere of this 26-episode history of the most significant events of the 20th century begins tonight. Film footage is taken from archival films, newsreels and home movies. The documentary is brought to life through testimony of actual witnesses and the interpretations of historians.

--Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, associate dean, College of Education, Cal State Northridge

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