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Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

TLC breaks the code on ‘Hackers’

December 11, 2002

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Chances are you've never heard of Captain Zap. But 20 years ago, long before most people had heard of cyber crime or even owned a personal computer, Zap committed one of the greatest coups in hacker history. He broke into a phone company's mainframe computer and lowered the long-distance phone bills for millions of customers. Captain Zap and a new generation of computer pranksters and criminals are profiled on "Hackers: Outlaws and Angels" (9 p.m., TLC).

"Hackers" looks at both the "white hats" and "black hats" of computer crime, and the drifters and dreamers who find themselves somewhere in between. We visit a high-tech command center where hundreds of technicians scan the Web for potentially lethal attacks on the Internet. They liken their job to driving a spaceship through an asteroid belt. According to "Hackers," cyber crime has transcended vandalism and burglary to become a potential tool of terrorism and even military assault.

While some folks see hackers as dangerous, others paint them as visionaries blazing new trails in personal freedom and expression. "Hackers" interviews John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead whose Electronic Frontier Foundation offers a hacker manifesto and an end to traditional notions of private property.

  • Directed by Spike Lee, the documentary "Jim Brown: All American" (9:30 p.m., HBO) looks at Brown's extraordinary NFL career as well as his shocking decision to retire in 1966, while still at the top of his game. In nine NFL seasons, Brown led the league in rushing eight times. Brown would blaze a trail as a black actor in Hollywood, appearing in "The Dirty Dozen" and other films. And, unlike other famous athletes, Brown has never shied away from controversial opinions about race and racism.
  • Ten years in the making, the documentary "Rocks with Wings" (8 p.m., PBS) examines how one coach inspired a shy group of girl Navajo high school basketball players to become unlikely champions. Along the way, "Rocks" looks at some of the factors that keep Navajo communities impoverished.
  • Arguably the most overexposed celebrity of the year, Jennifer Lopez is the last person who needs to be "Revealed" (9 p.m., E!). Nonetheless, she sits down with host Jules Asner to discuss her new movie, her new man and any number of rumors.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): dangers of the smallpox vaccine; Tony Hawk, skateboarding champion.
  • Wanda wants Bernie to change his diet on "The Bernie Mac Show" (7 p.m., Fox)
  • A blizzard blankets the capital on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • Two women and one man chosen from thousands of applicants undergo plastic surgery, among other transformations, on "Extreme Makeover" (8 p.m., ABC).
  • Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): a researcher's viral infection turns out to be murder.
  • A dead protester may be linked to a forbidden Chinese religious cult on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).
  • A patient claims to be from another world on "MDs" (9 p.m., ABC).

Series notes

Ed's huckster brother (Timothy Busfield) wants to sell men's makeup from the Stuckeybowl on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Janet doesn't fit into Michael's workspace on "My Wife and Kids" (7 p.m., ABC) ... Trip flips for an exotic alien on "Enterprise" (7 p.m., UPN) ... Dawson sings the holiday blues on "Dawson's Creek" (7 p.m., WB).

Christmas gets competitive on "George Lopez" (7:30 p.m., ABC).

A call-girl crackdown on "Fastlane" (8 p.m., Fox)... A sad sack takes control of his fate on "The Twilight Zone" (8 p.m., UPN) ...Dinah's mother (Lori Loughlin) returns on "Birds of Prey" (8 p.m., WB).

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