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TV Smarts

October 15, 1998

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

* Today. "Medical Detectives" (TLC, 8-9 p.m.) This is a science documentary about the process of establishing a crime victim's identity by studying skeletal structure. In this case a victim's face is re-created from a skull. VCR+76399

* Friday. "Our Endangered Middle Class" (KCET, 9-10 p.m.) This is a special edition of KCET's "Life & Times Tonight," reporting on the gap between Los Angeles' "haves" and "have-nots." VCR+36332

* Saturday. "Hispanic Heritage Awards" (KNBC, 7-8 p.m.) This is a special NBC telecast of the annual ceremony held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, honoring the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans. Honored this year are: Dr. Antonia Coello Novello, former U.S. surgeon general; Luis Rodriguez, author; Abraham Chavez, concertmaster of El Paso Symphony; Rebecca Lobo, athlete; Martin Sheen, actor; and Celia Cruz, singer. Hector Elizondo ("Chicago Hope") and Giselle Fernandez ("Access Hollywood") host. VCR+4104

* Sunday. "Buy the Book" (BET, 8:30-9 a.m.) This is a new weekly show highlighting the latest African American literary releases. Today: "Home Court Advantage" is a novel by Rita Ewing and Crystal McCrary, who are wives of NBA players. Also recommended, "Margaret Sanger" (KCET, 2:30-4 p.m.) This is a biographical documentary about the woman who was jailed for opening America's first birth-control clinic in 1916. Blair Brown narrates. Birth control is discussed in the October 1998 National Geographic magazine special on women's rights and population.

* Special note. "Africans in America," a four-part documentary on the 300-year history of slavery in America, will be presented on KCET Oct. 19 to 22. Each 90-minute episode airs at 8 p.m. and repeats at 9:30 p.m. The series is based on the book, "Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery," by National Book Award-winner Charles Johnson, and narrated by Angela Bassett.

--Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, associate director for teacher education, Cal State University system. For references to books, videos and Web sites recommended in the past month's TV Smarts, log on www.calendarlive.com/HOME/CALENDARLIVE/TVENT/TVSMARTS.

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