PBS tracks 'Seabiscuit' legend

Back during the Great Depression, Americans wanted a hero who was also a "common man." So they fell in love with a homely horse. This, in a nutshell, is the moral of the documentary "Seabiscuit" on "American Experience" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings).

Based on the best-selling book "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" (Random House, 2001) by Laura Hillenbrand, this one-hour film portrays the Seabiscuit phenomenon as one of the greatest sports stories of the century; as a triumph of media and merchandising; and, most importantly, as a unique friendship between an unlikely equine hero and the hard-luck jockey John "Red" Pollard.

Seabiscuit's odd physique, common looks and ungainly trot were dismissed by racing snobs but embraced by average Joes. When Seabiscuit took on the Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1938, 40 million listeners -- one out of every three Americans -- tuned in. "Seabiscuit" puts great, and maybe a little too much, emphasis on the horse as a metaphor for the little guy triumphing over the stuffed shirts. Hillenbrand argues that Depression-era Americans loved Seabiscuit because he "was beat up like they were ... He was a proxy for the nation."

  • "Revenge of the Celebrity Assistants" (8 p.m., E!) allows former personal assistants, valets and "insiders" to rant about the big stars who once employed them. "Revenge" offers the skinny on what its like to work for Sharon Stone, Kathy Griffin, Lance Bass and Martin Scorsese, among others. They share tales of weird habits, unusual demands and confidentiality agreements.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Storm clouds threaten Lucy's wedding day on "7th Heaven" (7 p.m., WB).
  • "Carson & Cody: The Hunter Heroes" (8 p.m., History) recalls the true-life stories of 19th-century Western legends Kit Carson and Buffalo Bill Cody.
  • A family massacre leaves a bloody trail of evidence on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

Series notes

Fashion wars on "The Parkers" (7 p.m., UPN) ... Heidi Klum guest stars on "Yes, Dear" (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... On two episodes of "Half and Half" (UPN), Dee Dee's fib (7:30 p.m.), sweet dreams (8:30 p.m.) ...Colin's dark mood worries Ephram on "Everwood" (8 p.m., WB).

Late night

Colin Farrell and Rosanne Cash are on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Arsenio Hall and Shantal Kreviazuk on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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