Stanley's the man

Today's TV

July 21, 1999

"Eyes Wide Shut" may be getting a mixed critical reaction, but that shouldn't dim the luster of Stanley Kubrick, whose well-deserved reputation as a filmmaker almost without equal is based on a canon of just 13 films. It's not many, but what's there is almost always fascinating.

Having so few films to pick from also makes it easier to put together a pretty comprehensive tribute, such as the one airing on TCM tonight and tomorrow. Things kick off tonight with "Paths of Glory" (1957, 8 p.m.-9: 30 p.m.), starring Kirk Douglas as a French army commander defending three men up for court-martial who are really nothing but scapegoats for a failed battle charge. Kubrick's second film, "Killer's Kiss" (1955, 9: 30 p.m.-11 p.m.), is a film noir with Frank Silvera as a sleazy nightclub owner trying to ruin a prizefighter and his girlfriend (Jamie Smith and Irene Kane). "The Killing" (1956, 11 p.m.-12: 30 a.m.) stars Sterling Hayden and Coleen Gray in the tale of a botched racetrack robbery. The evening draws to a close with the epic "Spartacus" (1960, 12: 30 a.m.-4 a.m.), with Kirk Douglas as a slave leading a revolt against Rome.

Three of Kubrick's best-known works air tomorrow night: "Lolita" (1962, 8 p.m.-11 p.m.), "Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1963, 11 p.m.-1 a.m.) and "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968, 1 a.m.-3: 30 a.m.).

-- Chris Kaltenbach

At a glance

"Great Old Amusement Parks" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., MPT, Channels 22 and 67) -- In the days before huge, high-priced theme parks became dominant, many old-style amusement parks provided lower-tech entertainment closer to home. Some of them are still operating, and producer (and off-screen narrator) Rick Sebak checks them out in his inimitable style. One thing they have in common, he says, is a "reassuring funkiness." Followed by a look at two nearby perennial favorites: "Hersheypark: Sweet Memories" (9 p.m.-10 p.m.), looks at Pennsylvania's 92 year-old tribute to chocolate, while "Kennywood Memories" (10 p.m.-11 p.m.) chronicles the 101 year-old park in West Mifflin, Pa. PBS.

"The Almost Perfect Bank Robbery" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- This black comedy starring "Suddenly Susan's" Brooke Shields and Dylan Walsh follows the high jinks of a bank teller and her boyfriend as their perfect bank heist goes bad. CBS.

"To Die For" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Nicole Kidman won praise for her performance as a deadly ambitious TV news personality in this 1995 movie. It's based on a book by Joyce Maynard that is based on a true story. Fox.

Cable

"Under the Sea" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., repeats 11 p.m.-midnight, Discovery) -- Tonight's episode in a week devoted to sea-dwellers is "Claws -- The World of Crabs and Lobsters." These creatures have a variety of survival tactics, and lobsters have been known to live longer than people. In some cases, big old lobsters have been treated respectfully and returned to the water after being caught.

From staff and wire reports

Weekend ratings

Coverage of John F. Kennedy Jr.'s crash caused a modest midsummer surge in television ratings over the weekend.

Newsmagazines on CBS, ABC and NBC that covered the story on Sunday night ranked among the six most-watched prime- time programs last week, Nielsen Media Research said yesterday.

The three networks devoted much of their airtime Saturday to coverage of the story. NBC's coverage had a 5.8 rating and 14 share, ABC's had a 5.1 rating and 13 share and CBS had a 3.6 rating and 10 share. The rating is the percentage of homes equipped with a TV in use.

That's about double the normal viewership on a summer Saturday at ABC, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.

Cable news channels saw more substantial ratings increases because of the story, again more so on Sunday than on Saturday. Ratings for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel were all above their July averages by more than 500 percent, Nielsen said. Associated Press

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