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Archive for Monday, April 9, 2007

Jonestown’ survivors tell all

April 9, 2007

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"American Experience" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) recalls one of the saddest, strangest chapters in recent history with the mesmerizing documentary "Jonestown: The Life and Death of the People's Temple."

The stories of the charismatic and paranoid preacher Jim Jones and the mass murder-suicide of more than 900 of his congregation in November 1978 have been well documented. But filmmakers Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith and Noland Walker wanted to find out just what attracted people to the People's Temple and why so many decided to live and die under the edicts of the erratic preacher.

"Jonestown" unfolds without narration, depending entirely on interviews with survivors of the massacre and those who were lucky enough to be absent on that horrible day. We also hear from those who defected from Jones before the move to Guyana. The film also presents remarkable and never-before-broadcast footage shot inside the People's Temple. Some of it was captured just hours before Jones began his evil end game. Jones' final exhortations to his flock, beseeching them to behave, line up and take their fatal dose of poisoned Kool-Aid, were also captured on audiotape and can be heard here.

The combination of voiceovers, imagery and music is nothing short of hypnotic.

¢ David Alan Grier hosts "Thank God You're Here" (8 p.m. and 9 p.m., NBC), an improvisational comedy that invites talent to jump into a scene with only a costume. They have no clue as to the script or scenario and have to wing it from the moment they walk through the door and are greeted by the show's title gag. Actors Jennifer Coolidge ("Best in Show"), Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Joel McHale ("The Soup") and Wayne Knight ("Seinfeld") take tonight's challenge. Sporadically amusing, "Thank God" has the look and feel of a summer-replacement filler show. Given the lackluster response to "Studio 60" and "Black Donnellys," it looks like summer has come early for NBC.

¢ Thoughts of a second home on "The King of Queens" (8:30 p.m., CBS). The first of the final seven original episodes of this series.

¢ The lakeside melodrama "Falcon Beach" (6 p.m., Family) returns for a second season. On a similar note, repeats of the network soaps "One Tree Hill" (4 p.m., Soapnet) and "The OC" (5 p.m., Soapnet) will air Monday through Friday.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ House takes a bet on "House" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Another bachelor-party episode on "How I Met Your Mother" (7 p.m., CBS).

¢ Howie Mandel hosts "Deal or No Deal" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ The competition continues on "Dancing with the Stars" (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ Chris goes on a power trip on "Everybody Hates Chris" (7 p.m., CW).

¢ Jack has Fayed to himself on "24" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ An embarrassing e-mail gets wide distribution on "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (7:30 p.m., CBS).

¢ Bobby seems confused on "All of Us" (7:30 p.m., CW).

¢ After disrobing with the wrong man, a judge ends up in hot water in the 2007 drama "Judicial Indiscretion" (8 p.m., Lifetime), starring Anne Archer.

¢ Parents learn new ways of keeping children in shape and eating well on the second-season premiere of "Honey We're Killing the Kids" (8 p.m., TLC).

¢ It's not all peaches for Judith and Herb on "Two and a Half Men" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ Lynn's letdown on "Girlfriends" (8 p.m., CW).

¢ There are better things to do than watch "The Bachelor" (8:30 p.m., ABC).

¢ Kelly burns out on "The Game" (8:30 p.m., CW).

¢ A murder victim seems to have run afoul of Indian casino operators on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Wayne learns the dark side of white-collar work on "The Riches" (9 p.m., FX).

¢ John Waters hosts "'Til Death Do Us Part" (9 p.m., Court).

¢ With tax day but a week away, go "Inside the IRS" (9 p.m., National Geographic).

¢ Missing for five years, a woman (Doris Day) returns to find her husband (James Garner) with a new wife (Polly Bergen) in the 1963 comedy "Move Over, Darling" (9:30 p.m., AMC). A remake of the 1940 Cary Grant comedy "My Favorite Wife," this project began as "Something's Got to Give," starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, but Monroe died in 1962.

¢ Bill Bradley appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central).

¢ Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Halle Berry are booked on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS).

¢ Jay Leno hosts Anthony Hopkins, Rose McGowan and Good Charlotte on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

¢ Rosario Dawson, Nick Swardson and Ciara appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).

¢ Expect Alternate Routes on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

¢ Craig Ferguson hosts Kurt Russell and Paul Wall on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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