A model night for Fox ESPN turns 15


Tonight marks the 15th anniversary of ESPN, which marks the occasion, in part, by televising something even older (a 24-year-old Bud Greenspan documentary) about something older still (major league baseball from 1896-1916). It also marks the season premieres of "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Models Inc." on Fox, and the arrival of a lot of nonfiction TV offerings.

* "Kennedy Center Presents" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 22) -- "A Salute to Slava" is the debut presentation of this new PBS series, and it collects many eminent talents to honor Mstislav Rostropovich, the departing National Symphony Orchestra music director. Taped in June, with Paula Zahn as host, this one-hour special includes, besides a biography of the man affectionately known as "Slava," such luminous teamings as violinist Isaac Stern and flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal. PBS.

* "Beverly Hills, 90210" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 45) -- Two noteworthy promotional elements are included in this show's fifth-season premiere. One is the addition of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who joins the cast and moves into the bedroom, though not the role, formerly occupied by Shannen Doherty as Brenda. The other is a cameo appearance by Howie Long, the flip side of "90210" star Jason Priestley's appearance last Sunday during Fox's NFL coverage. Fox.

* "High School II" (10 p.m.-1:45 a.m., Channel 22) -- In 1968, Frederick Wiseman took a camera crew to Philadelphia's Northeast High and returned with "High School," in which the portrayal of classroom methods and conflicts captured a depressing portrait of suburban education. Twenty-five years later, he returns from East Harlem's Central Park East Secondary School with a much more hopeful film -- one that includes everything from lessons on vestigial fruit flies to counseling sessions with students and teachers. Best segment: an extended, casual conversation among five high-schoolers, which starts with the Rodney King riots and ends with the responsibilities of young parenthood. Highly recommended. PBS.

* "Models Inc." (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- "Twin Peaks" was the most recent prime-time soap to employ the trick used by "Models Inc." tonight: Kill off a character in the pilot, solve her murder many episodes later, then bring back the actress in a different role. Stephanie Romanov is given a new lease on life in "Models Inc.," this time in the role of Monique. Fox.


* "The Glory of Their Times" (9:30-10:30 p.m., ESPN) -- With real baseball still on strike, and Ken Burns' "Baseball" still 11 days away, Bud Greenspan's documentary on old-time baseball is a welcome diversion.

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