ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Just once, wouldn't it be nice to see a guest from one entertainment realm pop up on a show playing a completely different type of character? Take rocker Roger Daltrey of The Who, scheduled "to make his American network television debut" on tonight's edition of NBC's "Midnight Caller" (at 10, Channel 2).
Is he a brick-layer, a cop or even maybe a rival talk-show host to Killian (star Gary Cole)? Nope -- what a surprise! -- he's a heroin addicted rock singer, former boyfriend of Nickey (Lisa Eilbacher).
Ah, but the role does give him an excuse to perform an original song.
* It's a double weekend whammy for Daltrey, who also is prominent in a repeat cable showing tomorrow of a very nicely done documentary, which recently won a Best Music Special ACE Award for the VH-1 network, the music video service tailored to unrepentant middle-aged fans.
In "Still Rockin' After All These Years," to be shown at 5 p.m. tomorrow, many of the top rock stars of the '60s reflect with considerable insight on the enduring popularity of themselves and their music.
Paul McCartney, for instance, acknowledges that rock 'n' roll was once ceded to the young, but wonders, "Why did we think it was a young thing?" He notes that his musical interests were originally stirred by a pretty old man, the legendary Muddy Waters.
Appropriately, significant attention is paid to the inevitable '60s rock association with drugs and outrageous behavior, such as trashing hotel rooms. Pete Townshend of The Who makes the scene starkly clear by noting, only "those who have survived . . . can go on another 20 or 30 years," and we hear from a number of recovered substance abusers, including Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, David Crosby, James Taylor and Carole King.
Media Monitor's favorite moments, though, are when Billy Joel and Phil Collins reflect with obvious sincerity on the loneliness of touring. They now try to travel with their families and say that those connections have become the most important parts of their lives.
Clearly, these are fortysomething guys who have grown up. Yet their music still rocks, as amply demonstrated by the array of performance clips cut with unusual relevance into the interview narrative. As Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards says, "We haven't got the final juice out of the grape yet."
* Beginning today on Baltimore County's Comcast Cablevision, look for a series of five-minute interviews with Maryland congressional figures cut into CNN Headline News (Channel 28). They will be shown repeatedly, and initially address the Persian Gulf war.