ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Give Ted Turner credit. The cable mogul knows how to be succinct, as viewers can see in tonight's "First Person With Maria Shriver" special (at 10 o'clock, Channel 2). On the subject of what he knew about his new bride before marriage, he says this:
"I knew a lot. I knew she was a protester in Vietnam against the Vietnam War, and I knew that she was in the movies, and I knew she did exercise videos, and I knew she was cute."
Hmmmm. That encompasses several decades in the life of one of America's most evolutionary celebrities, actress Jane Fonda, who also appears in the Shriver interview.
Tactfully, Turner forgoes mentioning "Barbarella" and Fonda's first husband, activist/politician Tom Hayden.
Also on the Shriver show: actor Danny Glover, Raisa Gorbachev (wife of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev), and a bone marrow recipient named Anissa Ayala.
* A discussion with children ages 9 to 12 about last week's riots in Los Angeles highlights a new half-hour cable special from former network correspondent Linda Ellerbee tonight on the Nick-at-Nite network.
"We hope to learn from kids what will help us build a better world for them to live in," said network president Geraldine Laybourne in announcing "Nickelodeon Special Edition: A Dream on Fire," which will be telecast at 8 p.m. with no commercial breaks. The show is a production of Ellerbee's Lucky Duck Productions.
The discussion includes talks with children who experienced the riots, as well as other youngsters in New York who watched the violence on TV. Repeats are scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
* Everybody knows from David Lean's epic film of 1962 about the World War I desert exploits of "Lawrence of Arabia." But what happened to T.E. Lawrence upon his return to England? The story occupies "A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia," a new PBS "Great Performances," premiering at 9 tonight on Maryland Public Television.
Ralph Fiennes stars as the Arab advocate, who is disillusioned by politics and diplomacy in post-war peace negotiations.
* Ted Turner's first cable enterprise, the "superstation" WTBS out of Atlanta, sometimes offers a treasure trove of movies that do not make it onto his newer, higher profile TNT all-movie channel.
Such is "The Sheepman," at 10 tonight. Glenn Ford stars in this offbeat western, playing the peaceable title character whose fleecy livestock rile up the local cattlemen, including chief villain Leslie Nielsen (more recently inept detective Frank Drebin of "The Naked Gun" series).
A spunky Shirley MacLaine provides the love interest.