TV highlights for the week

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Henry Luce is a hugely influential yet largely forgotten figure from the American Century -- the name he himself coined for the 1900s.

Fresh out of Yale, Luce masterminded Time magazine in 1923 to recap the week's news with brash, people-oriented flourish. Just a few years later, he invented the first picture magazine, Life. Then, to celebrate business, he created Fortune magazine, which somehow prospered despite its birth during the Great Depression. And in the 1950s he went 4-for-4 with Sports Illustrated.

More than a media mogul, Luce "fashioned a vision of America and the world that reached nearly 25 percent of Americans," according to a new "American Masters" profile, "A Vision of Empire: Henry Luce and Time Life's America." The documentary airs on PBS at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Other shows to look out for:

When all else fails, Barry Keenan decides to try kidnapping. And not just kidnapping anyone, but the 19-year-old son of Frank Sinatra, who, Keenan figures, will pay plenty to get Frank Jr. back. Based on the real-life 1963 abduction, "Stealing Sinatra" is a darkly funny comedy starring David Arquette as Keenan, along with William H. Macy, James Russo and Thomas Ian Nicholas as Ol' Blue Eyes' son. This Showtime film premieres 7 p.m. today.

Aidan Quinn and Rachel Griffiths star in "Plainsong," the story of a year in the life of a small Colorado town. This "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production centers on Tom, a high school teacher and soon-to-be-divorced father, and his fellow teacher Maggie, also divorced, who lends Tom her support. It airs 8 p.m. today on CBS.

A new documentary, "Jockey," begins with a surprising fact: Horse racing brings in $17 billion a year, second only to football. It also exacts a tremendous price on its riders, which is what the film is about. Breaking the "code of silence," three jockeys expose the inside story of horse racing. And despite its dangers and hardships, they leave no doubt why they love it: "It's a rush," says Sellers. "It's an addiction." The film by Kate Davis premieres on HBO 7 p.m. Monday -- an apt prelude to the Kentucky Derby, being run on May 1.

-- Comedy Central pictures standup routines in a new way with "Shorties Watching Shorties." The premise finds two remarkably verbal cartoon babies (voiced by comedians Nick DiPaolo and Patrice Oneal) introducing and commenting on newly animated vignettes by such comics as Lewis Black, Dane Cook, Janeane Garofalo and Denis Leary. This means when Gilbert Gottfried is heard wondering why "at the Last Supper, how come no one sat at the other side of the table," we are shown why seating both sides of the table in da Vinci's painting would have been the wrong artistic choice. The comedy version of music videos (or so it's being pitched), "Shorties Watching Shorties" premieres 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.


EDITOR'S NOTE -- Frazier Moore can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org

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