ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Last year it was kind of the All-American Boy story at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, as upright Pete Sampras knocked off bad boy Andre Agassi for the title, in the first all-American final in 11 years.
It will be a couple weeks before we know whether the 20-year-old Sampras can defend the title, but early round matches are getting under way today in Flushing Meadow, N.Y., and coverage is available on cable and broadcast television.
Basic cable's USA service has games daily at 11 a.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. CBS has nightly highlights after the late news. But note that in Baltimore, Channel 11 is holding the 11:30 p.m. network highlight show until midnight, so that "Who's the Boss" can air as usual at 11:30.
* WNUV-Channel 54's 8 o'clock movie tonight is notable for a couple reasons.
First, "The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains" was originally made for cable (on HBO in 1987), and illustrates a now established phenomenon in the small-screen movie business. More and more movies are being made for the TV-by-wire networks, and subsequently syndicated for sale to broadcast stations -- as well as repackaged for the video trade.
Second, the film (with Val Kilmer and Charles Durning) is an interesting, if imperfectly done, remake of one of film history's most intriguing classics, the 1932 "I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang."
The earlier movie, with Paul Muni, might be termed investigative filmmaking. It told the true story of a prisoner, Robert Eliot Burns, who was abused by a brutal corrections system not once but twice. For the real Burns escaped from a sadistic Georgia chain gang to become a success in life, only to be re-arrested and re-jailed on outstanding charges -- and he escaped once again.
It is this double jeopardy outrage that is exploited by "The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains." For in one riveting scene, second-time fugitive Kilmer (as Burns) sneaks into a theater and watches himself in the movie -- and the footage on screen is of Muni in the original film.
* The Fox network tonight has another of its series of original Monday movies. It is "Dead Silence," with Renee Estevez, Carrie Mitchum and Lisanne Falk in a story about three college kids on spring break who try to cover up their automobile killing of a homeless person.
* The visual arts get remarkably little attention from the visual medium of TV, but tonight's "American Masters" on PBS (at 10 o'clock on MPT) salutes the work of an important American figure.
"Robert Motherwell and the New York School" documents the work of the artist who led the expressionist movement in this country in the early 1940s. He died in July.
* Finally, movie buffs take note: the TBS service on cable has one of the nicer pictures to come out of the mid-1950s: "Teahouse of the August Moon," with Glenn Ford as an American officer in post-war Okinawa.