'Reel' Roseanne better than 'Real Roseanne'

Few things seem less appealing than the prospect of "The Real Roseanne Show" (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., ABC). Veteran documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler ("American High," "The War Room") follows former "Roseanne" star Roseanne Barr as she pitches her new cooking show to the Food Network. Unlike the Osbournes, who burst upon the scene two years back with their quirky lifestyle, Barr's private life has been an open book since the late 1980s.

We all loved her character Roseanne Conner, but that was part of a truly great sitcom, a collaborative effort with writers, producers and fine actors, including Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman. Who knows, maybe the sight of Roseanne trying to be "real" will drive us all back to scripted dramas and comedies.

  • And while we're on the subject of life imitating Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger appears on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) with Jay Leno to discuss his feelings about a possible run for governor of California. The prospect of "The Terminator" following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan has excited many and has revived mention of his 1987 movie "The Running Man." There hasn't been so much excitement about a possible movie star candidate since Charlton Heston mulled a Senate race back in the early 1980s. He opted instead to star on "The Colbys," and the rest is history.
  • Fans of early Schwarzenegger and his passion for physical culture might enjoy "The Spartans" (7 p.m., PBS). This gorgeous three-hour film examines the ancient Greek kingdom where equality (for all but slaves) and military fitness were prized above all. Classical historian Bettany Hughes is host of "The Spartans," featuring stunning Greek scenery and historical re-enactments. While it examines a culture that saw the virtue of slavery, endless warfare and compulsory infanticide for small and deformed infants, the film is not without humor. Upon tasting the Spartan's favorite dish, a concoction of vinegar and pig's blood, one ancient wag observed, "No wonder their soldiers are so willing to die in battle."
  • The new documentary series "Take This Job ..." (9 p.m., A&E;) glances at the wacky ways that some Americans earn a paycheck. Episode one focuses on primitive hunters and gatherers, including a bounty hunter who could do voiceovers for Gary Busey, and a rabid pack of paparazzi who spend hours, sometimes days, at a time stalking Hollywood celebrities.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): tenacious telemarketers; violent video games; The Blind Boys of Alabama.
  • David Spade is host of "The 2003 Teen Choice Awards" (7 p.m., Fox). Scheduled performers include The Donnas, Evanescence and Kelly Clarkson.
  • International crises keep the rewrite team busy as Bartlet prepares for his inaugural address on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): an investigation into the 1988 murder of racecar driver Mickey Thompson.
  • A psychic's account of a murder raises doubts on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).

Late night

Samuel Jackson appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS).

Colin Farrell, Molly Shannon and Smash Mouth are scheduled on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Anthony Michael Hall and Candace Bushnell appear on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).


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