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What's On TV

Shows worth noting for May 22 - 28

Listings are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times Eastern, check local listings.


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SportsCentury (ABC, 2-4 p.m.): "Great Coaches," the first of four two-hour episodes kicks off a retrospective of 100 years of sports. Among those profiled are legendary coaches Vince Lombardi and John Wooden. The second installment, called the "Most Influential People," airs Sunday at the same time.

A Lesson Before Dying (HBO, 8-9:40 p.m.): Based on Ernest Gaines's powerful 1993 novel, the movie tells the story of a young African-American who is wrongly convicted of murdering a white man in 1940s Louisiana. It also stars Golden Globe winner Don Cheadle ("The Rat Pack") as a schoolteacher (see story above). (TV-14)


Cleopatra (ABC, 9-11 p.m.): She was a seductress, schemer, conniver, and in this miniseries also a brilliant strategist, loving mother, and a near-dusky beauty. All these aspects of the Queen of the Nile are here but suffer from a weak narrative. The talents of Timothy Dalton as Julius Caesar and Billy Zane as Marc Antony are wasted as the two loves of Cleopatra (Leonor Varela). Check out two documentaries instead: Tuesday at 9 p.m. A&E telecasts "Cleopatra's World: Alexandria Revealed" and at 11 p.m. The History Channel airs the "Myth of Cleopatra."

Michael Landon: The Father I Knew (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Starring John Schneider and Cheryl Ladd, this depressing film paints an unflattering portrait of the late TV star. Directed by Landon's son, Michael Landon Jr., the TV movie chronicles his father's multiple marriages and portrays Landon as passionate about his work, but selfish in his personal life.


French Open Tennis (USA, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.): It's live! The second Grand Slam of the season, and the only one to be played on clay, begins today with Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis chasing the one title that's eluded them. Hingis is in roaring form. Sampras, meanwhile, has been shaky and unsure.

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The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): A prisoner, a peacemaker, a president: Nelson Mandela's life journey not only defined South Africa, it influenced how humanity would think about brotherhood. Next month, President Mandela will retire to life as a private citizen. This intimate portrait is an excellent tribute to a humble legend. On Friday at 10 p.m., Discovery Channel will air "Apartheid's Last Stand," a one-hour documentary on the prison where Mandela spent 17 years.


The American Experience: Fly Girls (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): During World War II, not all American military pilots were men. About 1,000 women, including wives, mothers, and students, signed up to fly with the US military to test planes, ferry aircraft, and instruct male pilots. Mary McDonnell narrates this interesting documentary.

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