It's Dave versus himself

Ted Koppel will work overtime for the remainder of 2002, hosting the new interview series "Up Close" (11:05 p.m., ABC). While Koppel's "Nightline" has focused on a single topic or news story every weeknight since 1979, each episode of "Up Close" will be dedicated to a single person, famous or unknown, who may have never before appeared on television. "Up Close" replaces "Politically Incorrect" and will run until January 2003 when ABC launches a talk-comedy series starring Jimmy Kimmel.

Koppel's first guest is "Late Show" host David Letterman. Although Letterman has interviewed thousands of guests on his NBC and CBS talk shows, he is famously tight-lipped about his private life. It should be interesting and refreshing to see if Letterman lets down his guard and steps out of his well-seasoned talk show character.

No matter what he says, Letterman deserves the good sport award of the week for appearing on "Up Close" and discussing ABC's rather awkward efforts to hire him away from CBS to replace Koppel and "Nightline." This guest stint also puts Letterman in the unique position of competing against the last half-hour of his own show.

� Centuries before high-tech alarms and expensive security systems, Egypt's pharaohs rigged their tombs with elaborate traps and devices to protect their treasure-laden sarcophagi. "Building the Impossible: Mummy Security System" (8 p.m., TLC) examines these three thousand-year-old burglar-proof structures and chronicles the efforts of an international team of scholars, engineers and builders who attempt to reconstruct an ancient, thief-retardant burial shaft.

� The voices of Bill Cosby, Gregory Hines and Phylicia Rashad can be heard in the children's cartoon series "Little Bill" (7 p.m., Nickelodeon), now airing during primetime. This sweet cartoon is based on a series of books by Bill Cosby about an imaginative preschooler (Xavier Pritchett) who balks when his parents and peers tell him he is "too little" to have adventures.

� The repeat special "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts: The New Dawn" (7 p.m., Discovery) uses amazing computer-generated special effects to recreate the era of a female Leptictidium as she scavenges the primeval forests for insects and avoids predators.

� Summer vacations can result in gastronomic adventures, but are you ready for "Freaky Food" (8 p.m., Travel Channel)? This one-hour special explores venues that sell chocolate-covered crickets, worm-encrusted candy apples and toasted grubs. Bon appetit!

Tonight's other highlight

� Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas star in the 1998 romance "The Horse Whisperer" (7 p.m., ABC).

� On the eve of the All-Star Game, the major league's sultans of swat take their turns at the annual "Home Run Derby" (7 p.m., ESPN).


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