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Focusing on those who got the job done

The American spirit of community service and creative entrepreneurship are on display tonight, from a show honoring good citizens to a profile of Microsoft innovator Bill Gates. Alas, another side of our society also gets some cable scrutiny: Alleged treason in the spy game.

* "Encounters: The Hidden Truth" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Weird stuff. In place of the kooky "VR.5," which did not make the Fox fall schedule, comes a special that investigates unexplained cattle mutilations, the eerie events surrounding the movie "The Exorcist" and contemporary exorcisms. Fox.

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* "Boy Meets World" (8:30-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Say hello to a survivor. The likable series is returning in the fall, along with all the other ABC Friday family comedies. In this repeat, Cory and Topanga (Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel) raise some eyebrows in trying to produce a romantic video in Shakespeare's style. ABC.

* "Newsweek American Achievement Awards" (9 p.m.-11 p.m.,

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WJZ, Channel 13) -- Emergency rescue workers from Oklahoma City get a salute in an unusual honors ceremony celebrating citizens who have made significant contributions to their communities. Jimmy Smits and Meredith Baxter are hosts, and performers include Keith Carradine, John Denver and All-4-One. CBS

* "Tycoon" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- The title figure is Bill Gates, the man behind Microsoft Corp., who is said to be among the richest entrepreneurs in the United States. Anchor Tom Brokaw does the interview. NBC.

* "Pole to Pole" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., MPT, Channels 22, 67) -- How many people can say they've done what Michael Palin did? In tonight's concluding segment, he reaches the south pole, becoming one of the few to have half-circumnavigated the globe directly from north to south. MPT.

Cable

* "Investigative Reports" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., A&E; Network) -- The series digs into America's most shocking true spy scandal of recent years. Included is an interview with intelligence figure Aldrich Ames, currently imprisoned on charges of selling secrets to the Soviet Union, as well as interviews with CIA colleagues and KGB officers.

* "Dennis Miller Live" (midnight-12:30 p.m., HBO) -- Who better than Chris Farley to discuss America's obsession with fitness? The funny fat guy is a guest of the clever comedy guy, and both are "Saturday Night Live" veterans.


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