TCM features Cecil B. DeMille's wild style

I've always been a sucker for big, biblical blockbusters. No other film genre better combined spectacular widescreen effects, overwrought Wagnerian scores, wacky casting, swordplay, gruesome battles, torture, cruelty and scantily clad women. And nobody made these movies with as much fanfare, pomposity and ballyhoo as old C.B., the subject of the two-part documentary "Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic" (7 p.m., Turner Classic Movies, concludes Wednesday).

Interviewed extensively here, Steven Spielberg said that the parting of the Red Sea in "Commandments" was "the best special-effects sequence of all time." Martin Scorsese recalls watching DeMille movies as a kid. "You knew you were going to see a real movie" when you attended a DeMille movie, Scorsese said.

"DeMille" also chronicles the director's fervent anti-Communism and his controversial attempts to force all directors to sign a loyalty clause. That effort earned him a public rebuke from conservative director John Ford.

  • Blue-collar guys live out their fantasies in the documentary "Tribute: A Rockumentary" (8 p.m., Showtime), which follows members of Kiss, Judas Priest, Monkees and Beatles imitation bands. While this overlong film does not begin with an overtly cruel or condescending tone, the "Spinal Tap" moments pile up, particularly when members of Missing Link, a Monkees tribute ensemble, descend into bitter feuding.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Ray becomes the butt of the kids' jokes on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Visions of mortality on "Bernie Mac" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • Peter Jennings is host of "Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness" (7 p.m., ABC), a three-hour examination of the birth of Christianity.
  • Amy Sedaris appears on "Cracking Up" (7:30 p.m., Fox).
  • The NCAA Basketball Tournament (8 p.m., CBS) concludes.


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