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TV Smarts

April 26, 2001

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

* Today--"Lighter Than Air" (HIST 4-4:30) Traces manned balloon technology from the French Revolution to the German and American dirigible disasters of the 1930s. Also, "The Tower of London" (TLC 8-9 p.m.) About the fortress built in 1067 by William the Conqueror to control the citizenry of London, and its 800 years of use as a prison for nobles and monarchs.

* Friday--"Coming to the Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians" (KCET 9-10:30 p.m.) Explores Curtis' masterworks of anthropological photography recording the life of more than 80 Native American tribes between 1900 and 1930. Also, "The Great American History Quiz: America at War" (HIST 9-10 p.m.) Viewers can download a free quiz sheet at and match wits with celebrities who pose questions on the air about events from the American Revolution to the Gulf War. Also, "Understanding Evolution" (TLC 10-11 p.m.) Covers the period from Charles Darwin's publication of "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" to the present day.

* Saturday--"Children's Books on BookTV" (C-SPAN2 9-10 a.m.) Author Anne Rockwell and illustrator R. Gregory Christie discuss their book, "Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth," about the famous heroine of the escape route to freedom for slaves before the Civil War. Also, "61*" (HBO 9-11 p.m.) Movie directed by Billy Crystal based on the competition between New York Yankees players Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to beat Babe Ruth's home run record. Also, "Legacy of a Kidnapping: Lindbergh and the Triumph of the Tabloids" (KLCS 10-11 p.m.) Analyzes the mass media's effect on public opinion, focusing on the reaction to the kidnapping of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's baby in the 1930s.

* Sunday--"The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" (CMAX 7:30-9 p.m.) About America's first Jewish baseball star, whose achievements rivaled Lou Gehrig's and Babe Ruth's and helped break down barriers of discrimination in American sports. Also, "Joseph" (KPXN 9-1 p.m.) Tells the story of a carpenter from Nazareth, his conflicts with Roman authorities, his marriage to a woman who becomes pregnant during his long absences and his relationship with the child, Jesus. Also, "Twilight Los Angeles" (KCET 9-10:30 p.m.) Anna Deavere Smith's one-woman theater piece about the Rodney King beating, the violent aftermath of the trial verdict and the lasting effect of the ensuing L.A. riots.

* Monday--"Virgin and the Abbey" (ODSY 9-10 p.m.) Shows how monks at Downside Abbey in England collaborated with technicians from Virgin Records to record Gregorian chants.

* Tuesday--"Ft. Tejon" (CITY 7-7:30 p.m.) This episode of the "Visiting With Huell Howser" series is set in a north Los Angeles County locale where historically accurate reenactments of Civil War and Indian War military activities take place. Also, "Poetic License" (KCET 10-11 p.m.) Showcases the work of several teen poets who are part of a burgeoning live-performance movement that combines West African Girot traditions, Native American storytelling and beat bebop.

* Wednesday--"Jefferson High" (KCET 7-7:30 p.m.) Showcases films made by students at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles and recently shown at the Sundance Film Festival, focusing on the history of South-Central L.A. and present-day immigrant experiences. Also, "Song of the Lark" (KCET 8-10 p.m.) A television dramatization of Willa Cather's classic novel about a young 19th century Colorado woman's passion for music and her rise to international stardom.


Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, dean of the School of Education, College of St. Rose, Albany, N.Y. Columns available at

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