ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* In TV movies, especially the original thrillers regularly released on the USA cable network, the formula seems to be: Homicide = 1 hero + 4 suspects x ? victims.
It certainly holds true in "Blindman's Bluff" , tonight's latest USA premiere (at 9 o'clock).
The hero is a recently blinded college professor/author, played with taciturn believability by Robert Urich, lately of "Spenser for Hire."
He's also one of the murder suspects and a potential murder target. Among the others are his best friend (Ron Perlman, who was shaggy Vincent on "Beauty and the Beast"), his old girlfriend (Lisa Eilbacher) and his therapist/new girlfriend (Patricia Clarkson).
The film never loses its plug-in-the-characters formula feel, but you really don't know where it is going for some time. And if anything, Urich underplays the tension of being blind and both suspect and possible victim.
* Actor Michael Douglas, teen star Luke Perry (of the Fox series "Beverly Hills 90210"), baseball strikeout king Nolan Ryan, and victims' rights activist Ellen Levin are guests tonight on NBC's latest "First Person With Maria Shriver" special (at 10 o'clock, WMAR-Channel 2).
Media Monitor's favorite quote is from fortysomething Ryan, who says, "Sometimes I see old teammates of mine and see their children -- and then realize I'm pitching against their kids now."
Perry also delivers a worthwhile message when Shriver asks him about being a role model for teens: "I think kids should find their role models a lot closer to home."
* Following up yesterday's column about TV ratings, recent figures from Nielsen Media Research surprisingly answer the question of who watches the most TV: adults, teens or kids?
Surprise: The most avid watchers are adults. As published in the trade magazine Electronic Media, the nod goes in descending order to adults, kids and teens.
Average November viewing for adults, for example, was 4 hours and 40 minutes daily; for kids, 3:20 and for teens, 3:14.
And the total number of hours TV was being watched per day in an average household? A fairly astonishing 7:26 hours. And that was before the "Olympic Winter Games" began!