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Archive for Saturday, August 5, 2000

Intent’ targets hit-man manual

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August 5, 2000

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Can a book kill? The flawed, but provocative TV drama, "Deliberate Intent" (7 p.m., Sunday, FX) explores the real-life case of a murder victim who successfully sued the publisher of a hit-man manual that served as a blueprint for a hideous crime. Timothy Hutton ("Ordinary People") stars as professor and attorney Rod Smolla, who helps pursue the publisher, Paladin Enterprises, despite his long career of defending First Amendment rights. He is cajoled into this activist stance by his dogged colleague, Howard Siegel (Ron Rifkin), who also finds the hit-man manual indefensible.

"Deliberate Intent" also teams two cop-show veterans, James McDaniel ("NYPD Blue") stars as Lt. Johnson, who hires a paid assassin, James Perry (Clark Johnson, "Homicide"), to kill his wife, his quadriplegic child and their baby sitter. Although saddled with some sub-par dialogue, McDaniel makes the most of his rich role as a cold-blooded former Motown recording executive who has few qualms about murdering his own family for monetary gain. Based on a book by Smolla, "Intent" takes an unabashed stand against the publisher's right to publish this questionable book, an argument that many viewers, including this one, could not entirely accept. Told largely in grim flashbacks to the crime, accompanied by a narrative provided by the actual manual, "Intent" never lacks in passion. What it does not provide is a rational argument as to how or why Smolla changed his stripes and embraced this case with so much passion.

  • OK, Anne Heche as a captain in the Marines is a bit of a stretch. She stars in "One Kill" (7 p.m., Sunday, Showtime, TV-14) as Capt. Mary Jane O'Malley, who stands trial for shooting a decorated war hero, Major Nelson Gray (Sam Shephard), after he breaks into her home and attacks her in her bedroom. While a civilian court cleared her of all charges, the Marine Corps brass seem determined to silence her, or imprison her for killing one of her own. A long, slow movie that unfolds in endless flashbacks, "One Kill" reveals O'Malley's romantic dalliance with Gray, a man more troubled that he first appears. But it fails to provide either her earnest lawyer (Eric Stoltz) or the TV audience with a clue as to her character or motivations. Shephard shines, or rather smolders, as a stoic Marine who unravels when reacquainted with passion.

Saturday's highlights

  • John Larroquette and Kimberly Williams star in the fantasy miniseries "The 10th Kingdom" (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14, part two of four).
  • John Henson hosts a repeat of "The Best Commercials You've Never Seen III" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
  • The Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys tangle in pre-season NFL action (9 p.m., ESPN).
  • Stand-up comedy on "Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly" (10 p.m., HBO, TV-MA, L).

Sunday's highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (6 p.m., CBS): repeat reports on alternate educational programs; a secret intelligence-gathering agency; a profile of author Frank McCourt.
  • "The 10th Kingdom" continues (6 p.m., NBC, TV-14, part three of four).
  • Jason Scott Lee stars in the 1994 live action adaptation of "The Jungle Book" on "The Wonderful World of Disney" (6 p.m., ABC, TV-G).
  • Alan Alda hosts the new series, "Influences" (6:30 p.m., Eastern, Bravo, TV-PG) featuring TV veterans discussing the shows and performers who inspired them. Future segments will feature Roseanne, David Chase, Tyne Daly and Ray Romano.
  • A daughter (Kellie Martin) confronts a fateful choice about caring for her mentally challenged mother (Mary Steenburgen) in the 1998 TV drama, "About Sarah" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
  • Sylvester Stallone stars in the 1995 thriller, "Judge Dredd" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14), based on the popular comic book character.
  • Richard Dreyfuss narrates the four-hour documentary special, "Dawn of Man" (8 p.m., TLC, concludes Monday, TV-PG) exploring 5 million years of human evolution
  • Sitcom secrets on "E! True Hollywood Story: Eight Is Enough" (8 p.m., E!). Make that more than enough.

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