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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

Hello to goodbye 'Larry'; there once was family 'McCourt' . . . ; Franken lays 'Late' on the line

March 15, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"The Informant" / 8 p.m. Showtime

Set in 1983 Northern Ireland, this edgy cable movie centers on a so-called "tout" (well played by Anthony Brophy) naming the IRA leaders who coerced him into killing a Belfast judge. Granted immunity by hard-driving Ulster cop Timothy Dalton, Brophy claims he is turning informer for the sake of his wife and kids, but the grim reality of life in prison is clearly a factor. Cary Elwes is fine as a sympathetic British soldier Dalton manipulates into providing emotional support for the increasingly frightened Brophy.

****

"A Father for Brittany" / 9 p.m. CBS

Andrew McCarthy has the key role in this TV movie based on a true story about a complicated adoption. The star of "Weekend at Bernie's" and "Pretty in Pink" plays an initially irresponsible husband who adopts a daughter with his wife (Teri Polo), who has cancer. The complication ensues when Polo dies and the agency takes back young Brittany because it has a policy against giving children to single parents.

****

"The Larry Sanders Show" / 10 p.m. HBO

Now this is as good as it gets. At long last, Garry Shandling returns for what is sadly the sixth and final season of his scathingly sharp satire about the egotism and backstabbing that goes into a nightly network talk show. In the ominous opener, ever-insecure Larry (Shandling) grapples with the popularity of guest host Jon Stewart and meddling network execs who suggest "fine tuning" to boost his sagging ratings. Meanwhile, sidekick Hank (Jeffrey Tambor) schmoozes a lookalike shoe salesman to acquire his "Hey Now" license plate.

Tuesday

"The 12th Annual American Comedy Awards" / 8 p.m. Fox

Moving to Fox after a decade on ABC, this two-hour special taped last month salutes the comics who make us snicker. David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier") and Carol Burnett ("Mad About You") earned TV honors, while Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt of "As Good as It Gets" were good enough to be named funniest actor and actress in a movie. As lifetime achievement honoree, Jerry Lewis said of his late partner, Dean Martin: "The straight man is never given recognition."

****

"The McCourts of Limerick" / 8 p.m. Cinemax

Four brothers from an Irish Catholic family recount their poverty and hardship in this "Reel Life" documentary. Frank, Malachy, Michael and Alphie reflect on the squalor of life in Limerick after their father deserted them during World War II. Their feeling of abandonment weighed heavily on the boys, who somehow fought through it. As Michael says, "There was always hope.... When you take that away, you might as well dig the hole."

****

"For Your Love" / 8:30 p.m. NBC

A new comedy from the creator of "Living Single" looks at love in various stages. Yvette Lee Bowser's sitcom focuses on the relationships of three couples: passionate newlyweds Mel (James Lesure) and Malena (Holly Robinson Peete); next-door neighbors Sheri (Dedee Pfeiffer) and Dean (D.W. Moffett), high-school sweethearts in their third year of marriage; and Mel's brother Reggie (Edafe Blackmon), a songwriter resisting wedlock to his girlfriend (Tamala Jones), a divorced teacher. Jill, the cute canine in "As Good as It Gets," will be seen in future episodes.

****

"Lateline" / 9:30 p.m. NBC

"Murphy Brown" meets "Nightline" in a new satirical comedy undermined by weak writing and cliched characters. "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Al Franken stars as Al Freundlich, a clueless correspondent on a late-night network news show who makes life miserable for his sharp producer (Megyn Price). Others on staff include the show's arrogant, adulterous anchor (Robert Foxworth), his sycophantic assistant (Catherine Lloyd Burns) and their cutthroat boss (Miguel Ferrer).

Saturday

"Always Outnumbered" / 9 p.m. HBO

Laurence Fishburne, who has collaborated with HBO on two well-received projects ("The Tuskegee Airmen" and "Miss Evers' Boys"), stars in what the network describes as an urban fable about an ex-con eager to challenge the violence and anarchy in himself and the world around him. Bill Cobbs, Natalie Cole, Laurie Metcalf and Cicely Tyson round out the cast of this TV movie, which Walter Mosley adapted from his collection of short stories titled "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned."

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