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Hot Profiles, Cold War and Warm 'Secrets'


Enter Judge Wapner's "Animal Court," relive the Cold War in 24 installments and find out why the Clinton-Lewinsky affair is in keeping with a rich history of Oval Office scandal.

This fall on cable TV also promises more in the way of celebrity profiles (Bravo and E! are going nightly with existing series that take a long gaze at the stars). Meanwhile, there are new series for the kids on Disney and for adults on HBO and MTV.

Here are some highlights of the new season on cable (not including TV movies, which are highlighted on Page 18):


"Cold War": CNN is calling this the most important production in its 18-year history--a comprehensive retelling of the Cold War, based in part on newly released records from the Soviet Union archives and American records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Revisit Potsdam, Checkpoint Charlie and "Dr. Strangelove," and go into the minds of international players Kennedy, Krushchev, Castro and Kissinger. Jeremy Isaacs ("The World at War") is co-executive producer, and Kenneth Branaugh narrates the series, delivered in 24 one-hour episodes. Sept. 27.


"Bravo Profiles": The series expands to five nights a week this fall, and includes theme weeks, like "Funny Men," which features hourlong profiles of Steve Martin, Stan Laurel, John Cleese, Jackie Mason and Michael Crawford. The series premieres with "The Entertainment Business" (Oct. 4), a weeklong look behind the glitz to expose the repercussions of stardom.


"Janet: The Velvet Rope": Janet Jackson beams the final concert of her world tour from New York's Madison Square Garden, performing songs from her current release "The Velvet Rope." Oct. 11.

"The Sopranos": Should a mob boss go on anti-depressants? And should he tell his therapist everything? A black comedy from David Chase (creator of the TV series "I'll Fly Away"), starring James Gandolfini and Lorraine Bracco, of "Goodfellas" fame, this series will have an initial run of 13 episodes. 1999.


"Nagano Winter Olympics Documentary": Bud Greenspan, famed chronicler of Olympic Games past, focuses on the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. December.


"Cousteau's China": This one-hour special details the late explorer Jacques Cousteau's expedition along the Yellow River, a 2,903-mile-long journey stretching from the Kunlun Mountains to the Yellow Sea. It marks Cousteau's last on-air appearance for TBS. Oct. 4.

"The Movie Lounge": Thanks to the success of a similar series, "Dinner and a Movie," TBS launches this new Saturday night series where host Kent Osborne isn't in the kitchen, he's in a cocktail lounge interviewing three guests about the movie being shown. Already premiered.

E! Entertainment Television

"The E! True Hollywood Story": This series that delves into the gossip and legend surrounding some of Hollywood's more notorious celebrities expands to four nights a week, tackling such subjects as John Lennon's final days (Oct. 11), Andy Kaufman (Oct. 18) and Jeanne Carmen, who "went from modest beginnings in the cotton fields of Arkansas" to become a queen of B movies (Oct. 4).


"Revue": A new half-hour musical variety series, which MTV describes as "part performance, part biography, part philosophy and part comedy." Co-created by former Men at Work frontman Colin Hay, the show will focus on a musician, editing interviews and performance into a uniquely told story. Friday.

The History Channel

"Secrets of the Oval Office": Long before Bill Clinton admitted to an "improper relationship" with Monica Lewinsky, American presidents had their own skeletons in the closet. This special examines America's presidential past and the secrets therein--from Warren Harding's mysterious background to Thomas Jefferson's infamous love affairs. Nov. 3.


"Hard Time": Burt Reynolds directs and stars in a trilogy of movies about veteran ex-cop/ex-con Conrad Logan, who has to clear his name after serving prison time for a crime he didn't commit. Co-starring Charles Durning, Billy Dee Williams and Robert Loggia. Dec. 13.

"Crusade": From the creators of "Babylon 5" comes another sci-fi series, this one about a ship that travels the universe searching for a cure to eliminate a plague on Earth. Gary Cole plays the commanding officer. January.

Comedy Central

"The New York Friar's Club Roast": Putting a fellow comedian on the firing line of insults and barbs is one of the grandest traditions in comedy, and now you can go inside the Friar's Club as the New York institution roasts standup comic and sitcom star Drew Carey. Among those on the dais flinging insults Carey's way are Buddy Hackett, Red Buttons, Margaret Cho and "Drew Carey Show" co-stars Ryan Stiles and Kathy Kinney. Oct. 28.


"Viva Le Rock!": A team of humorists, including L.A.'s own Sandra Tsing Loh, Lynn Snowden and Jim Gaffigan, explore the world of contemporary rock through a mix of offbeat profiles, pranks and essays. October.


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