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TV Smarts

May 11, 2000

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

* Today--"The Candidate" (AMC 3-5 p.m.) Jeremy Larner's Oscar-winning screenplay about a fictional California election campaign makes the process so clear that the recent book "Guide to Family Movies" by Nell Minow suggested it as a primer on the subject for kids 12 and up. Robert Redford stars. Rated PG; Available on video.

* Friday--"Cyberflight" (TLC 9-10 p.m.) Documentary describes how engineers and pilots use computers and electronic-image flight simulators to design helicopters.

* Sunday--"Jesus" (KCBS 9-11 p.m.; continues Wednesday, 9-11 p.m.) Miniseries about the life and mission of Jesus explores his relationships with his mother; her husband, Joseph; Mary Magdalene; his apostles; and his cousin, John the Baptist. Cast includes Jeremy Sisto, Jacqueline Bisset, Debra Messing, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Gary Oldman.

* Monday--"Nightline: Crime and Punishment--Women IN Prison" (Court 10-11 p.m.; continues Thursday, 10-11 p.m.) This special documentary miniseries hosted by Ted Koppel describes what life is like for the fastest-growing segment of prison society in America--women.

* Tuesday--"Israel's Forgotten Heroes" (KCET 10:30-11:30 p.m.) A look at American men and women who participated in Israel's 1948 War of Independence, including those who smuggled fighter planes into the new nation and the U.S. volunteers who flew them in combat.

* Wednesday--"Pigeons" (DISC 7-8 p.m.) An explanation of the masterful navigational abilities of pigeons and the contributions they have made to science, medicine and history.

Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, dean of the School of Education, College of St. Mary, Albany, N.Y. Columns available at http://www.latimes.com/tvsmarts.

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