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Not as good as the film

The Baltimore Sun

The Starz cable channel debuts a drama series tonight inspired by Crash, the feature film that won an Oscar as best picture in 2006.

None of the original cast made the transition to the small screen, and while the TV series is still set in Los Angeles, it is being filmed in Albuquerque, N.M. Not surprisingly, Crash, the TV series, does not measure up very well against the film in terms of atmosphere and acting.

But the biggest problem with the pilot is that even though it includes characters with different ethnic, racial and social-class backgrounds coming into contact (often violently) with one another, the writing is not nearly as sensitive to cultural differences and conflicts as the film was.

The biggest name in the ensemble cast is Dennis Hopper. Hopper is overacting, and he never tones it down.

Still, this is a series premised on exploring racial and ethnic differences at a time when that is very much on the nation's mind thanks to the prominence of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. It could catch the wave. (10 p.m., Starz) **

LATE-NIGHT GUESTS Actress-writer Tina Fey visits the Late Show with David Letterman (11:35 p.m., CBS). Actor Daniel Craig appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (11:35 p.m., NBC).

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