PBS puts 'Wide Angle' on life outside U.S.

Except for the loud and often rude shenanigans on "Amazing Race," there are few American TV shows about life in foreign countries. That's what makes the second season of the documentary series "Wide Angle" (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) all the more welcome. Each episode of "Wide Angle" presents a 45-minute film about a far corner of the globe. A 15-minute conversation, alternately hosted by Jamie Rubin, former assistant secretary of state, and BBC correspondent Mishal Husain, follows.

Tonight's documentary, "Exclusive to Al-Jazeera," offers an inside view of the controversial Qatar-based network, the first Arabic all-news channel not controlled by one government. Shot during the opening days of the recent war in Iraq, "Exclusive" shows the network's many similarities to Western-style news channels. Most of Al-Jazeera's staff, it turns out, worked in America or the United Kingdom. As television journalists, their day is spent trying to avoid technical snafus and getting scooped by their competition. There are many scenes of the station manager calling up other networks to complain that they have been stealing Al-Jazeera's live feed.

"Exclusive" also shows the network confronting international condemnation after Al-Jazeera broadcast footage of killed and wounded American and British soldiers, and a scene of POWs under interrogation. One staffer shows a clip, shown on Reuters Television, of Iraqi prisoners being interrogated, and wonders why that tape hasn't caused a similar uproar. Later, Al-Jazeera's Baghdad bureau faces expulsion for reports that the Iraqi government considers too pro-American.

Future "Wide Angle" films will look at Junoon, the wildly popular Pakistani rock band; AIDS in the Angolan army; and a school for Chinese migrant workers.

  • Turner Classic Movies pays tribute to Katharine Hepburn today with an 11-film retrospective, beginning early this morning with "Mary of Scotland" (5 a.m.). Highlights include the documentary "Kath-arine Hepburn: All About Me" (5 p.m.), "Bringing Up Baby" (7 p.m.) and "The Philadelphia Story" (9 p.m.). My, she was yar.

Tonight's other highlights

  • One pair endures name-calling and taunting by the other competitors on "Amazing Race 4" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Sheryl Crow, Goo Goo Dolls, Hootie and the Blowfish and Delbert McClinton perform on the "Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • A car crashes into a restaurant on "CSI" (8 p.m. CBS).
  • After a scoop, a TV journalist vanishes on "Without a Trace" (9 p.m., CBS).

Late night

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Emmylou Harris and Roger Clemens appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Colin Quinn and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).


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