Films a flashback on today's big stars

The best way to be entertained by TV tonight -- after watching "TV Nation" that is -- is to sample several cable movies to catch early roles by actors and actresses who today are a lot more in demand. Tonight's exhibits: Tommy Lee Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Fran Drescher.

* "TV Nation" (8-9 p.m., Channel 4) -- It's almost better not knowing what's on this show, because the variety is a constant and pleasant surprise. Suffice it to say that Michael Moore, Merrill Markoe and Ben Hamper are on the road and on the case. NBC.


* "And the Sea Will Tell" (9-11 p.m., Channel 11) -- Part 2 of 2. The story in this 1991 miniseries doesn't conclude as neatly as it should, but the performances, especially by Rachel Ward and Richard Crenna, are good enough to keep this island murder story afloat. CBS repeat.



* "Rock 'n' Jock Softball Challenge" (8-9:30 p.m., MTV) -- Gee, what a nice way to get over the baseball strike -- by watching a rerun of a celebrity softball game on MTV.

Of course, if you want to see actual major-league players hit a ball with a bat, this is the place -- even if they are playing with, and against, the likes of Heather Locklear and David Faustino.

* "The Eyes of Laura Mars" (8-10:05 p.m., TNT) -- In 1978, when this film thriller was made, Faye Dunaway was one of the hottest actresses around. In 1994, she's had to deal with the cancellation of her TV sitcom and the dissolution of her deal to star in the Broadway version of "Sunset Boulevard."

Meanwhile, her relatively unknown 1978 co-star, Tommy Lee Jones, is now one of the hottest actors around.

On the Hollywood seesaw, he's see, she's saw.

* "The Nixon Interviews With David Frost" (9-10:35 p.m., DIS) -- Part 4 of 5.

Tonight's topic of discussion was, next to Watergate, the most sensitive issue of Richard Nixon's presidency: the war in Vietnam.

* "Love and Betrayal" (9-11 p.m., LIF) -- Stefanie Powers stars in this 1989 telemovie, but look out for co-star Fran Drescher -- five years later, she's the one with the higher profile.


* "Eyes of a Stranger" (10:05-11:50 p.m., TNT) -- And here's perhaps the most stunning reversal of the bunch.

In 1981, Jennifer Jason Leigh, now a major star, was billed beneath the female star of this film thriller, the one whose name was supposed to pack them into the theaters: Lauren Tewes of "The Love Boat."