It’s books against basketball
With basketball on CBS, PBS convenes a book club. “American Masters” (check local listings) profiles two Southern women whose books became some of the most beloved novels of the 20th century, inspiring classic motion pictures while also wrestling with larger issues of American racism and Southern identity.
”Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel” (8 p.m.) offers a glimpse at the woman behind “Gone With the Wind.” Her own life would provide plenty of material for the massive page-turner that sold millions of copies during the Great Depression. She would lose a fiance to World War I before she turned 18 and lose her mother to influenza soon after. She was later courted by two men and married the wrong one before settling down with the soul mate who would survive her. She evolved from a sheltered Southern belle who recoiled when she had to share a classroom with a black woman at Smith College in Massachusetts to a rather liberated flapper and enterprising journalist during the 1920s.
”Rebel” also reveals how, after she became wealthy from sales of “Gone With the Wind,” she secretly financed the first black hospital in Atlanta and provided tuition for the education of black doctors to staff the facility. It’s unclear, but implied, that she was inspired to do so by the negative reaction of black readers (and, later, moviegoers) to her portrayal of slavery in her epic novel.
”Harper Lee: Hey, Boo” (9 p.m.) mixes scholarly and literary voices and pop culture figures (Tom Brokaw and Oprah Winfrey) in its appreciation of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Like “Rebel,” it relies a great deal on clips from its film adaptation, an instant masterpiece that turns 50 this year.
Of the two women, Lee is the greater enigma, an Alabaman living in Manhattan who was aided emotionally and financially by gracious fellow Southern exiles. Much is made of Lee’s relationship with Truman Capote, a childhood friend and the subject for the peculiar neighbor, Dill, in “Mockingbird.”
Tonight’s other highlights
• Two hours of performances on “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Sewers, prisons and a bundle of joy on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox), which is new to this night and time.
• March Madness concludes with the final game of the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament (8 p.m., CBS), live from New Orleans.
• A soldier’s code leads to treason charges on “House” (8 p.m., Fox).
• All the show needs is a new title and a star on “Smash” (9 p.m., NBC).