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Archive for Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New depths in royal watching

August 9, 2011

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I am not afraid to admit that when I first received the press release for the one-hour special “Crazy About Pippa” (8 p.m., TLC), my first reaction was, “Pippa who?”

On reflection I realized that she’s the sister of the woman who married the grandson of the reigning monarch of a foreign nation. Or to put it another way, she’s the sister-in-law to the decidedly unexciting man who is second in line of succession to a largely ceremonial throne of a nation not my own.

Oh, that Pippa!

Seriously, Pippa-mania seems about as manufactured as can be. Or the most transparently fake Brit “trend” since the tastemakers tried to cram those scrawny Beckhams down our throats.

Some in the media are intoxicated with all things royal and all things British. But not everyone is drinking the Marmite-flavored Kool-Aid. A recent “60 Minutes”/Vanity Fair poll revealed that 52 percent of all Americans had no idea of who Pippa was.

From the Beatles to the Teletubbies, Americans have long embraced U.K. trends. But I think Pippa-mania is one British invasion that may not survive the transatlantic trip.

“William & Kate: Royal Baby Watch” (9 p.m., TLC) follows.

• “Out: The Glenn Burke Story” (9 p.m., Versus) recalls the promising Major League Baseball career of a player once hailed as “the next Willie Mays.” Burke’s decision to come out as a gay man in the late 1970s did not sit well with Dodger management. After appearing in the 1977 World Series, Los Angeles traded him to the lowly Oakland Athletics, where he was brutally taunted by manager Billy Martin, whose reputation as a loathsome bully will only be enhanced by this film.

“Out” follows Burke’s demonization and exile from baseball to a life of minor celebrity and excess and early death from AIDS. “Out” includes interviews with Burke’s teammates, friends and contemporaries, including Dusty Baker, Rickey Henderson, Claudell Washington and former Major Leaguer and gay rights activist Billy Bean. Bean came out as a gay man only after his playing days were done. As “Out” makes clear, no active player has done so since Burke.

• Proud garbage pickers and antique dealers with New York accents and attitudes loom large on “Dirty Money” (9 p.m., Discovery).

As on “Picker Sisters” (9 p.m., Lifetime), these guys contend that if they buy something for $5 and then fix it up and resell it for $50, that they’ve cleared $45 in “profit.” That’s only the case if you believe that their time, talent and what used to be called “labor” count for nothing. In effect, they’ve reduced their salary to zero. Could that be why corporate cable media is so in love with shows like this?

Tonight’s other highlights

• A dozen acts perform on “America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Beau Bridges guest-stars on the midseason finale of “White Collar” (8 p.m., USA).

• Online dating can be murder on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Bobby takes things to extremes on “Combat Hospital” (9 p.m., ABC).

• “POV” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) repeats the 2008 documentary “Food, Inc.”

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