TV spotlight shines on trio of females

Elizabeth Smart, Jessica Lynch and Britney Spears are the Powerpuff Girls of our fevered media moment. Just like the cartoon characters Buttercup, Bubbles and Blossom, they form a trio of female archetypes. There's the tough one, the pretty one and the smart one. And this week they're everywhere.

  • Americans followed the 2002 Elizabeth Smart kidnapping with fascination, curiosity and no little discomfort. Just what did the pretty little Mormon adolescent do while held captive by that deranged zealot? Why didn't she escape? But since her miraculous discovery and return to her parents, the public sentiment have shifted from joy to exhaustion to irritation, as the Smarts have transformed themselves from victims to ubiquitous media hounds.

The TV movie "The Elizabeth Smart Story" (8 p.m. Sunday, CBS) offers little new information about the case, or about the lost months of Elizabeth's captivity. And it takes its sweet time going nowhere.

By the end of "The Elizabeth Smart Story," I thought I had been kidnapped. But you have the power to escape my sad fate by avoiding this ripped-from-the-headlines stinker.

For those who can't get enough of the Smart story, there's also the documentary quickie "Elizabeth Smart: The Long Way Home" (6 p.m. Sunday, A&E;).

  • For reasons I can only blame on a vast media conspiracy, I never received a review copy of "Saving Jessica Lynch" (8 p.m. Sunday, NBC). So I won't be able to tell you how NBC makes sense of the ever-shifting story of how American troops rescued the 19-year-old private from her Iraqi captors. Was it the "Saving Private Ryan" moment that the media celebrated in February, or the cynical "Wag the Dog" scenario described in a damning BBC documentary? You'll just have to watch.

The Lynch story also unfolds in documentary fashion on "Saving Private Lynch" (9 p.m. today, A&E;). And later this week, the real Miss Lynch appears with Diane Sawyer on a special "PrimeTime" (9 p.m. Tuesday, ABC).

  • I saw Britney Spears "singing" on "Saturday Night Live" a few weeks back. It was quite a Milli Vanilli moment. It's bad enough that Britney can't sing, but she can't even pretend to sing. And for her efforts, she's showered with endless media attention.

Not since Madonna has a star with so little talent received so much hype. But not even the vulgar Material Girl played the kiddy porn angle as Spears has with provocative videos and lyrics like "I'm not that innocent." The former Mouseketeer sits down for an interview on "Dateline" (6 p.m. Sunday, NBC). "Behind the Music" (9 p.m. Sunday, VH1) looks back at Spears' career, and Diane Sawyer is scheduled to interview the pop tart Thursday night.


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