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TV Smarts

February 01, 2001

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

* Today--"California Power Play" (KCET 7-8 p.m.) Broadcast on the energy crisis plaguing California will include reports from public television stations KCET in Los Angeles, KQED in San Francisco, KVIE in Sacramento and KPBS in San Diego.

* Friday--"Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey" (KCET 9-11 p.m.) Traces the career of Nobel Peace Prize winner Bunche from boyhood in Detroit through scholar-activism at Howard University, World War II-era diplomacy for the U.S. State Department and peacemaking for the United Nations. Sidney Poitier narrates. Recommended reading: "Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey" by Brian Urquart. Also, "The Bee" (ANML 10:30-11 p.m.) Reports on bees and wasps, showing that pollination by bees is part of the process of creating a third of our food and their sting-venom is a valuable medicine for arthritis. Also, how the Chinese inventor of paper, Ts'ai Lun learned the process by studying wasps chewing tree bark to make a nest.

* Saturday--"Dancing in September" (HBO 9-10 p.m.) Provides a behind-the scenes look at the work of African Americans in today's television industry, centering on an idealistic writer's struggle to preserve artistic integrity in a bottom-line oriented world. Isaiah Washington and Nicole Ari Parker star.

* Sunday--"Roots" (ODSY 4-9 p.m.) Rebroadcast of the TV miniseries based on Alex Haley's novel about African American history. Also, "Bojangles" (SHOW 8-10 p.m.) Movie based on the life of Bill Robinson, the legendary African American dancer, stage and screen star who rose to such national prominence that at his death his pall bearers included Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, Bob Hope, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio and Irving Berlin. Gregory Hines stars. Also, "BookTV In Depth: Toni Morrison" (C-SPAN2 9 p.m.-midnight) Three-hour interview with Nobel laureate Morrison covers her career as an author, professor and editor.

* Monday--"The Parkers" (KCOP 8:30-9 p.m.) Leading characters Kim and Stevie prepare for an upcoming African American festival by trying to spend a week living without conveniences and technology invented by African Americans. Also, "Biography of America: Woodrow Wilson" (KLCS 9-9:30 p.m.) Examines the career of a president who led the U.S. out of isolationism to leadership in world affairs.

* Tuesday--"Elian Gonzales" (KCET 9-10 p.m.) Examines the passions and agendas of the officials and families who turned the case of a 5-year-old Cuban refugee into a symbol of the 50-year political contest between the Cuban and American governments.

* Wednesday--"Officers and Gentlemen" (A&E 10-11 p.m.) This "Investigative Reports" documentary gives a condensed version of life at military academy Norwich University in New Hampshire from freshman year to graduation.

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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