'Platinum' makes sweet music for UPN

The stylish new drama "Platinum" (8 p.m., UPN) does the near impossible: It almost makes me care about the world of hip-hop music. For all of its flash, "Platinum" tells an old-fashioned story about brothers and business partners Jackson (Jason George) and Grady (Sticky Fingaz) Rhames, who co-found Sweetback records. After years of selling demo tapes from the trunk of their car, they find themselves major players in the music business. But while early struggles made them close as partners, success and adversity may tear them apart.

As the premiere opens, fickle tastes, and the failure of the second album by their white rapper Versis (Vishiss), result in serious cash-flow problems for the brothers Rhames. The polished Jackson reacts with a certain stoicism. Or is it repression? He keeps his problems so bottled up that he doesn't even tell his lawyer wife, Monica (Lalanya Masters), about Sweetback's woes or a buyout offer from a slick competitor (Tony Nardi). The brash Grady is more emotional, and his doped-up entourage lashes out with a comic blend of incompetence and violence that may remind some of "The Sopranos."

The documentary "April 1865: The Month that Saved America" (8 p.m., History) takes a day-by-day approach to a month that witnessed Gen. Robert E. Lee's retreat from Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederacy; his surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses Grant at Appomattox; Lincoln's assassination at the hands of a pro-confederacy conspiracy; and the first steps toward reconciliation and reconstruction. Based on the book "April 1865: The Month that Saved America" by Jay Winik (HarperCollins, 2001), the film avoids what the author calls "a rote narrative line" to provide a rich historical context.

The new series "What Should You Do?" (7 p.m., Lifetime) presents dramatic recreations and advice on how to cope with medical emergencies, fire, burglaries and other sorry scenarios. How do you survive an avalanche? You'll just have to watch.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Peter Jennings covers the war in Iraq (7 p.m., ABC).
  • The matchmaking madness ends on the series finale of "Married by America" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • A speculative conversation about widowhood and remarriage ends badly on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • A busted novelist (Tom Berenger, "Platoon") participates in a drug sting on "Third Watch" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • An ex-con asks Horatio to help him find his son on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • A body may be linked to a 13-year-old murder case on "Crossing Jordan" (9 p.m., NBC).

Series notes

Competitive deliveries on "King of Queens" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Joe Rogan is host of "Fear Factor" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Book-clubbing on "The Parkers" (7 p.m., UPN) ... Kevin pops the question on "7th Heaven" (7 p.m., WB).

Back-to-back episodes of "The Practice" (ABC), a new client takes on a beverage company (8 p.m.), Ellenor's client (Alfre Woodard) fights execution (9 p.m.) ... Colin confides in Ephram on "Everwood" (8 p.m., WB) ... A wild-and-crazy friend on "Still Standing" (8:30 p.m., CBS).

Late night

Jim Boeheim and Pete Yorn appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bob Costas and Kelly Clarkson on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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