Movie executive's rise is 'Kid' stuff

If you love movies and the larger-than-life characters who create them, don't dare miss "The Kid Stays in the Picture" (8 p.m., HBO), a 2002 documentary based on producer and studio head Robert Evans' tell-all biography. Narrated by Evans, "Kid" recalls his improbable and rapid ascent from garment industry executive to Hollywood actor to Paramount Pictures executive producer. When Evans took over Paramount, it was ranked ninth among Hollywood's fantasy factories. After acquiring and producing "Rosemary's Baby," "True Grit," "Love Story," "The Godfather" and "The Godfather: Part II," "Chinatown" and "Paper Moon," among others, it was the No. 1 studio, and a major revenue source for the mammoth Gulf + Western conglomerate.

But Evans did more than turn Paramount around. He helped save Hollywood from itself and ushered in a short-lived golden age of American cinema. By the later half of the 1960s, audiences had lost interest in the star-studded musicals, war movies and westerns that the studios kept producing. By hiring innovative directors like Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich, Evans connected with a growing youth market looking for grittier, more sophisticated fare.

Filled with clips from dozens of Evan's pictures and animated by an innovative use of tinted stills, "Kid" is a strange, surprising warts-and-all portrait of a tinsel-town original. Evans and his irrepressible spirit of ballyhoo inhabit every frame of this frequently over-the-top production. For instance, according to Evans, "Love Story" was not merely a hit movie, but was responsible for a whole new tide of romanticism and millions of pregnancies.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Last year's "American Idol," Kelly Clarkson, appears on "Summer Music Mania 2003" (7 p.m., Fox), along with Alice Cooper, Brian McKnight, The Ben Taylor Band with Ziggy Marley, Fabolous, Monica and Tyrese.
  • "Frontline/World" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) looks at the terrorist group Hezbollah's impact on Lebanon society; a Central American coffee crisis; and three Nepalese women Sherpas who prepare to scale Mount Everest.

Late night

Antonio Banderas, Heidi Klum and Liam Lynch appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts the winner of "American Idol" on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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