MPT wonders if you've got the time


On The Weekend Watch:

GOT SOME TIME? -- That's the question asked by "Project Reach Out," an unusual telethon that seeks pledges of volunteer time rather than money. The fourth annual edition airs tonight starring guest host Ben Vereen, under the sponsorship of Maryland Public Television, the state Department of Education and the United Way of Central Maryland. It's on MPT from 8 to 11, while the first hour is also being carried by WJZ-Channel 13 and the last hour can be seen on Washington's WJLA-Channel 7. Last year's effort, hosted by singer Melba Moore, generated more than 295,000 hours of volunteer work for a variety of agencies.

HAD A GOOD TIME? -- In another local production, WBAL-Channel 11 tonight gives the traditional back-to-school report, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" (at 8 o'clock). The hourlong show, hosted by anchor Rod Daniels, looks at educational ways some Maryland youngsters spent their holidays.

IT'S ABOUT TIME! -- This weekend marks the premieres of some new series and the season debut of some returning shows. On NBC Friday, the news-oriented half-hours "Real Life With Jane Pauley" and "Expose" (with Tom Brokaw) start a second season (8 and 8:30, Channel 2). Pauley has a chat with Oprah Winfrey and Brokaw reports on poaching. ABC on Friday (at 8:30 p.m., Channel 13) offers a "Saturday Morning Preview" of new shows which debut in the kiddie prime time on Saturday. (Media Monitor's favorite is the return of the live-action "Land of the Lost," at 8:30 a.m.) The Fox network on Saturday also launches for young viewers the series "Little Shop" (at 10 a.m., Channel 45), a cartoon version of "The Little Shop of Horrors." And for older viewers on Sunday (at 9:30), Fox pokes "Herman's Head" into view, an offbeat series in which the characters are the emotions inside the brain of a character named Herman.

THE CABLE CONNECTION -- New stuff is all over the cable networks, too. The annual "MTV Music Video Awards" are on live at 9 tonight on the MTV basic service. Showtime on Friday offers a funny new comedy set, "Mark Schiff: My Crummy Childhood," at 10:30 p.m. And natural history and nature study are the subjects of two ambitious premieres on Sunday. The former is "Dinosaurs!," a four-part basic cable series hosted by Walter Cronkite exploring the latest theories about Earth's earlier denizens, at 8 p.m. on Arts & Entertainment. And the latter is "People of the Forest: The Chimps of Gombe," at 9 p.m. on The Discovery Channel.

THE SPORTS SCENE -- The advance of 39-year-old Jimmy Connors has been the big story of the "U.S. Open Tennis Tournament." See how he fares in the quarter finals via the USA cable network's daily coverage at 7:30 tonight, then tune to CBS (Channel 11) for the weekend. Women's final and men's semi-final action begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, and women's doubles and men's finals are at 4 p.m. Sunday.

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