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Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2007

Two Hands’ grasps prodigy to patient

August 2, 2007

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Nominated for an Academy Award in the category of documentary short, "Two Hands" (6 p.m., Cinemax) profiles a remarkable talent and poses questions about how little we know about the workings of the human mind and body.

A child prodigy, pianist Leon Fleisher seemed all but washed up by 37 when suddenly and without explanation, two fingers on his right hand curled into a ball. The musical gift that had defined him had been taken away.

Depression followed a ruined marriage and a succession of therapies and remedies from ESP to alcohol. After a long funk, Fleisher discovered and mastered one-handed musical pieces composed for a wealthy piano talent who had lost his right arm in World War I. He became a great conductor and acclaimed teacher.

Not to be too Dr. Phil about it, but the maestro had turned his lemons into lemonade.

More recently, a surgery on his wrist and injections involving Botox have given him use of his right hand for the first time in decades. His return to the recital hall merited front-page attention.

Yet Fleisher wonders whether his setbacks and suffering haven't left him a better man and a better musician.

The true miracle of "Two Hands" is its remarkable economy. "Two Hands" tells a fascinating story, with a beginning, middle and thought-provoking end, and clocks in at less than 16 minutes.

As someone who believes firmly that nearly every popular movie released in the past two decades has been at least a half hour too long, I salute "Two Hands" for its beautiful brevity.

¢ Now in their lucky 13th year, the X Games debut tonight (8 p.m., ESPN). More than 14 hours of X Games coverage will be broadcast through Sunday on ESPN, ABC, ESPN2 and any number of online streams and blog wrap-ups. This year's games will include something called Moto X racing. According to a release from ESPN, Moto X racing will join hitherto broadcast disciplines, including Freestyle, Step Up, Best Trick and SuperMoto.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Randy and Earl make things right with the local media on "My Name is Earl" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ An emotional blizzard moves into town on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ Liz clicks with a handsome stranger on "30 Rock" (7:30 p.m., NBC).

¢ Michael lectures at Ryan's business school on "The Office" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ Four murders unfold from the victims' perspectives on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ The contestants dwindle from eight to six on "So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ The contestants face their first supervillain on "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" (8 p.m., Sci Fi).

¢ Sneaky Pete returns from his honeymoon on "Mad Men" (9 p.m., AMC).

¢ Craig David, James Morrison and Dave Matthews appear on "Live From Abbey Road" (9 p.m., Sundance).

¢ Our host takes on the manipulative powers of three used car salesmen on "Mind Control with Derren Brown" (9 p.m., Sci Fi).

¢ Blingstyles of the crass and tasteless on "Cribs" (9:30 p.m., MTV).

Late night

Matt Damon is scheduled on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) ... Al Franken and Jackie Chan are booked on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Claire Danes, Bob Sagat and Grace Potter and the Nocturnes on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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