Musical 'Dreams' are right on key

How do you top yourself after playing Audrey Hepburn? If you're Jennifer Love Hewitt, you strap on some white go-go boots and take a walk over to Makeup so you can impersonate Nancy Sinatra performing her signature hit, "These Boots are Made for Walking," on "American Dreams" (7 p.m. Sunday, NBC).

The former "Party of Five" star is hardly alone. Brad Paisley appears in tonight's episode as Ricky Nelson singing "Dream Lover." And just to remind us that the 1960s weren't all pop ballads and dreamboats, Josh Kelly guest-stars as Barry Maguire performing the protest song "Eve of Destruction." This Bob Dylan-influenced ditty featured an angry delivery and downbeat lyrics, but still spent one week as the No. 1 song on the Billboard chart in September 1965, five months before "Boots" hit No. 1 in February 1966. "Boots" was knocked off its perch by "The Ballad of the Green Berets," a patriotic, pro-Vietnam War song that seems a natural for the "American Dreams" play list.

  • "Monty Python" member Terry Jones takes an irreverent look at the time when knighthood was in flower on "Terry Jones' Medieval Lives" (6 p.m. today, History). In the first two installments of the eight-part series, Jones explodes the chivalrous code of "The Knight" (6 p.m.) and debunks pious myths about "The Monk" (6:30 p.m.).
  • "The Directors" (10 a.m. today, Encore) celebrates the most influential screenwriter of his generation, David Mamet. Joe Mantegna, the actor most closely associated with Mamet's films and dialogue ("House of Games," "Things Change") comments, "There's very little ad-libbing in a David Mamet film. There's no need to because his words are written for a specific reason."
  • NASA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to answer the question David Bowie posed more than 30 years ago: Is there life on Mars? "Mars: Dead or Alive" airs on a special presentation of "NOVA" (7 p.m. Sunday, PBS).

The film documents the efforts of scientists and engineers to prepare the Spirit probe for a controlled crash landing in a Martian crater that may have once contained water. "Dead or Alive" is scheduled to air just hours after Spirit's scheduled arrival. The "NOVA" producers (and no doubt the NASA scientists) hope it will conclude with live broadcasts from the red planet. Keep your fingers crossed. A high percentage of Mars missions end in failure.

  • Jeff Goldblum narrates "The Secret of Life," part one of the five-hour series "DNA" (8 p.m. Sunday, PBS). "Secret" chronicles the efforts to reveal the structure of DNA, an achievement that would win Drs. James D. Watson and Francis Crick the Nobel Prize and scientific immortality. Watson appears here, having lost little of his swagger since solving the great riddle in 1953.

Today's highlights

  • Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman and Ray Liotta star in the 2001 comedy "Heartbreakers" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Carolina takes on Dallas in NFL Wildcard Playoff action (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in the 1998 adventure "The Mask of Zorro" (7:30 p.m., CBS).

Sunday's highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): crowded federal prisons; a Harvard professor's unusual approach; Turkmenistan's despot.
  • Oklahoma and LSU meet in the Sugar Bowl (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Katie Couric's career is explored on "True Hollywood Story" (8 p.m., E!).
  • Larry David's very petty (and very funny) antics continue in the fourth season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (8:30 p.m., HBO). Look for cameos by Mel Brooks and Ben Stiller.

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