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TV Smarts

October 29, 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. "John Glenn Space Launch" (CNN, CNBC, DISC, KABC, KCBS, KNBC, MSNBC, approximately 10 a.m.-noon) Live coverage of the launch of a space shuttle carrying Sen. John Glenn will be supplemented by documentary footage on the history and future of U.S. space science.

Also recommended is "Modern Marvels: The Stock Exchange" (History, 7-8 p.m., repeating 11 p.m.-midnight). This documentary traces the history of America's major stock exchanges, beginning at the site of a Wall Street open-air slave market, detailing the most famous market "crash" on Oct. 24, 1929, and explaining the present billion-share-a-day trading organizations run by computers (glitch-free, until Oct. 27, 1998). VCR+59691

* Friday. "Martian Mania: The True Story Of 'The War of the Worlds"' (SCI-FI, 6-7 p.m, repeating 10-11 p.m.) This is a documentary directed by Emmy-winner Melissa Jo Peltier about the nationwide panic caused on Halloween eve in 1938 when Orson Welles ("Citizen Kane") broadcast a radio play by Howard Koch ("Casablanca") based on a novel by H.G. Wells. James Cameron ("Titanic") hosts. VCR+7343950. (Recommended reading, "The Panic Broadcast: Portrait of an Event," by Howard Koch, published by Little, Brown.)

Also recommended, "Dracula: The True Story," (KCET, 10-11 p.m.) This is a historical documentary about Vlad Tepes, the 15th century Romanian prince whose method of killing foes inspired Irish author Bram Stoker to write a novel about vampires (in which Vlad is referred to by his family name Dracul. VCR+51479

* Saturday. "Carmen" (BRAVO, 2:30-6 p.m.) This is a broadcast of a recent performance by the National Opera of Paris of the Bizet work, with Beatrice Uria-Monzon in the title role. VCR+262238.

* Sunday. "All the President's Men" (SHOW, 12:45-2:45 p.m.) This movie of William Golding's Oscar-winning screenplay, based on the nonfiction bestseller by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, includes material on presidential impeachment proceedings that took place a generation ago. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star. Available on video.

Also recommended, "Vote for Me/Politics in America #101--Making a Big Noise" (KCET, 2-4 p.m.) and "Vote For Me/Politics in America #102--Political Junkies/The Year I Ran for Congress" (KCET, 4-6 p.m.) This pair of documentaries describes what a politician has to do to get elected and what the electorate has to do to get a politician's attention. Recent campaigns in California, Illinois, Louisiana and North Carolina are shown, which focus on the role of lobbyists, professional campaign management and especially TV.


--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

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