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Bigger helping of 'Fried Green Tomatoes'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The major broadcast networks are taking it easy tonight, filling their respective prime-time schedules with "event programming" that occupies all or most of the available air time: a three-hour movie repeat on NBC, a 2 1/2 -hour movie repeat on CBS, and a three-hour awards show on ABC. To find something interesting, viewers have to look hither, and yawn.

* "Fried Green Tomatoes" (8-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- The expanded length of this repeat telecast is explained by NBC's claim that this re-edited film contains footage not shown in theaters. Usually, footage is discarded for good reason, but die-hard fans of this 1991 movie will welcome all additional scenes, digressions and lines of dialogue. NBC.

* "The 21st American Music Awards" (8-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Will Smith, Meat Loaf and Reba McEntire are hosts. Michael Bolton, Vince Gill, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Rod Stewart (among others) perform. I watch something else. ABC.

* "Evening Shade" (8-8:30 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- John Beresford Tipton never had codicils like this: Wood (Burt Reynolds) is given a million dollars, but only if he and his family perform a series of increasingly demeaning tasks. Which leads, in my mind at least, to that rhetorical question: "What's demeaning of life?" CBS.

* "I'll Fly Away" (8-9 p.m., WETA, Channel 26) -- This is the prime-time show to watch tonight. Even though it's a rerun, it's easily the best thing offered -- and tonight's episode, featuring guest star Tommy Hollis as Lilly's brash Northern cousin, is exceptional. Regina Taylor stars. PBS.

"Lethal Weapon 2" (8:30-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Joe Pesci's supporting role is what makes this 1989 sequel as energetic and entertaining as the original -- although that isn't saying all that much, really. Mel Gibson, Danny Glover star. CBS.

* "Power Plays" (9-11 p.m., WMPT, Channels 22/67 -- A lack of narration leads to a lack of perspective in this six-hour series about the business of sports. It's interesting to watch because it reveals the ruthlessness and cynicism of many people on the periphery of big-time sports, but almost numbing to watch because so much of the series works as unadulterated public relations -- and on public TV, yet. Saddest image in tonight's two hours: Muhammad Ali, exploited and then ignored, like some long-caged zoo animal, during one particular media event. PBS.

Cable

* "Rivera Live" (9-10 p.m., CNBC) -- Geraldo Rivera goes live, and goes for a harder-journalism slant, on this new live talk series.

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