King miniseries runs short on originality

Stephen King and TV sweeps used to be such a natural combination. This season, even the limp ABC network waited until the end of the sweeps period to premiere King's 14-part series "Kingdom Hospital" (8 p.m., ABC), an adaptation of the Danish miniseries "Riget." Now we know why.

Before the credits finish running, we learn that Kingdom Hospital stands on haunted ground, just like the hotel in "The Shining," the mansion in "Rose Red" or the unhallowed real estate featured in any number of King tales.

Quirky characters abound in "Kingdom," all more affected than compelling. The hospital security guard (Julian Richings) wears the thickest glasses I've seen since those old Thompson Twins MTV videos from the 1980s. The resident hypochondriac (Diane Ladd) also is an ethereal psychic who tries to enlist a weary and eccentric surgeon (Andrew McCarthy) in her attempts to communicate with the spectral children. King has entered the "Kingdom" of self-parody with this series, and it's not terribly scary or entertaining.

Friends and family of the late George Harrison, the "quiet Beatle," gathered Nov. 29, 2002, for an evening of music and memories captured in the musical documentary "Concert for George" on "Great Performances" (8 p.m., PBS). Harrison's friends -- including Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Billy Preston and Joe Brown -- perform his best-known songs.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): steroids and suicide; Isaac Mizrahi.
  • "Secrets of the Dead" (7 p.m., PBS) revisits the influenza outbreak of 1918.
  • Two more contestants advance on "American Idol" (7:30 p.m., Fox).
  • A reactionary congresswoman smears Bartlet's daughter on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • Anna says goodbye on "The O.C." (8 p.m., Fox).
  • A writer falls under suspicion after his wife dies accidentally on "Power, Privilege and Justice" (9 p.m., Court).

Late night

Ben Stiller appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Carmen Electra on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Paul Bettany is scheduled on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (12:35 a.m., NBC) ... Jeff Gordonis scheduled on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (12:37 a.m., CBS).


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