After the launch tonight of a major PBS series examining the state of education in America, local viewers may telephone questions about the condition of state schools to a panel of experts gathered by Maryland Public Television.
MPT is producing a live local follow-up show to "Learning in America: Education on Trial," a MacNeil/Lehrer production airing at 10 p.m. the next three Mondays. MPT's production follows at 11 p.m., and viewers may call a toll-free number - (800) 222-1292 - to talk about Maryland schools.
Actor Richard Dysart ("L.A. Law") hosts the PBS series, which takes the format of a trial, and each edition will address a specific question. Tonight's is "Do We Need a National Report Card?" Additional shows ask, "Are Public Schools Beyond Repair?" and "Are We Short-Changing Our Schools?"
The national show also requests a telephone response from viewers, who may vote on the question at hand.
Reporter Jim Bohannon of Mutual Radio Network hosts the MPT specials, and state schools superintendent Nancy Grasmick is scheduled to be a studio guest in the Jan. 20 final edition of the show.
PROBING THE PORT - In another Owings Mills-based production, MPT is planning a 60-minute documentary about the Port of Baltimore, for airing in the fall.
Award-winning local documentarians Susan Cohen and William A. Whiteford will make the program which, while initially planned for regional airing, may be offered for PBS distribution.
THE CABLE CONNECTION - Beware, trivia-natics: Comedy Central, the all-comedy service that recently joined the city's United Artists Cable system (and earlier was added to the United Artists Cable in Anne Arundel County) can be habit forming.
For instance, Media Monitor was surprised to recently learn the answer to this obscure casting call:
What actor can be seen playing a very similar role in both "Sergeant Bilko" (originally "You'll Never Get Rich") and the subsequent madcap military comedy, "McHale's Navy?"
The fondly remembered Phil Silvers show (1955-59) can be seen at 4 p.m. daily on Comedy Central, and "McHale's Navy" (1962-66) is on at 5 p.m.
Surprise! Dogface Dino Paparelli in "Bilko" and radio operator "Tinker" Bell in "McHale's Navy" turn out to have been the same guy: stumpy character actor Billy Sands.