TV plugs movies, again and again


On The Weekend Watch:

MARKETING MOVIES -- It is a point made often before, but a pair of programs in the coming days particularly emphasize television's symbiotic shill role in the promotion of movies. For example, at 10 tonight (CBS/Channel 11) actor Pierce Brosnan, best known for his TV roles (particularly "Remington Steele"), hosts "Robin Hood: Myth, Man, Movie." The special is timed, of course, to this weekend's opening of the much-ballyhooed film about the Sherwood Forest denizen who stole from the rich and gave to the poor (Kevin Costner). We'll see an interview with Costner, a variety of clips and on-the-set scenes, all designed to get you into a theater as soon as possible. And on Friday, NBC's "Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" (Channel 2) has actor Beau Bridges as a guest. Why? He stars Sunday in "Without Warning: The James Brady Story," a world premiere HBO movie this weekend (see following item for details). Exposure with Johnny not only plugs the film for those with cable access, but also helps in the eventual marketing of the home videocassette version of the story about the White House press secretary shot during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.

THE CABLE CONNECTION -- Bridges' performance as the feisty, brain-wounded Brady in "Without Warning" is extraordinary. Joan Allen is even better as the supportive wife who became a crusader for gun control, as recent passage by the House of Representatives of the so-called "Brady bill" attests. President Reagan, as played by Bryan Clark, also comes off badly in the film. Viewers, however, will find themselves waiting in vain for anything approaching the passion with which the gun control issue is argued in public. Instead, this plays mostly and disappointingly at the personal level, just like any number of other medical-movie-of-the-week TV tear jerkers.

THEY'RE BACK -- The engaging space aliens so inhospitably canceled last season are due a 10-week return beginning Friday on Channel 45. We are talking about "Alien Nation," of course, the series based on the movie about an outsider police detective teamed with a tough Los Angeles cop. Repeats of the show begin a 10-week run in the 9 p.m. Friday slot.

KOOP'S KIDS -- Parents and their children might find useful information in an NBC special Sunday night. In "Listening to Teenagers" (7 p.m., Channel 2), former surgeon general Dr. C. Everett Koop reviews a variety of health issues involving adolescents, from AIDS to smoking.

A LOCAL ROYAL ANGLE -- Royal watchers will want to tune in a six-part series on Maryland Public Television beginning Sunday, which documents the Maryland connection to England's abdication episode. "Edward & Mrs. Simpson," at 10 p.m. Sundays for six weeks, tells the love story of King Edward and Howard County-born Wallace Warfield Simpson.

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