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Firing Line special debate

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(PBS, 9-11 p.m.): It may not be the mother of all debates, but it is a compelling battle of heavyweights who take sides on the timely topic "Resolved: US Industry Does Not Need Protection." In favor: Host William F. Buckley Jr., Rep. Dick Armey (R) of Texas, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Against: Rep. Richard Gephardt (D) of Illinois, former presidential candidate Jerry Brown, author-editor James Fallows, and economist Lester Thurow. As

usual, a wicked sense of humor and irony proves the saving grace as the arguments fly. The format has gone a little show-biz, with a casual, sweatered Buckley - described as founder and "star" of "Firing Line" - introducing the show, and with speakers photographed from fancy angles as they walk to their seats. But the conflict produces insights, rhetorical fun, sometimes contradictory information, and in the end a feeling that none of it would prove much consolation to an American who just lost a job in a plant that was moving to Mexico. WEDNESDAY

Live From Lincoln Center

(PBS, 8-10 p.m., E.T.): The New York Philharmonic is about to launch its 150th season, an impressive anniversary being marked by the oldest orchestra in the United States. In a concert from Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York, musical director Kurt Masur offers a program including Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and Symphonic Dances from Bernstein's "West Side Story." And that superb soprano Kathleen Battle performs songs by Richard Strauss and Bernstein.

Please check local listings for all programs, especially those on PBS.

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