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Two strong hours on PBS

The Baltimore Sun

Two specials on the real world premiere tonight, and they both have Maryland ties.

There's a cheap motel in Laurel, according to author James Bamford, where some of the Sept. 11 hijackers stayed. You can almost see it from the headquarters of the National Security Agency. And that's the point of "The Spy Factory," a Nova report tonight on PBS. The NSA knew about the men who would hijack the planes, but couldn't - or wouldn't - release the information to the FBI.

Some of the charges and revelations have appeared before. But seeing the places and the planes and the flying schools altogether makes it once again horrific. Based on Bamford's The Shadow Factory, this is another excellent effort from Nova . (8 p.m., WETA-Channel 26) ***

PBS offers a second strong hour at 9 p.m. with a Frontline report on Parkinson's disease, "My Father, My Brother and Me." Three men all related, all of a certain age, show symptoms, and we see how the disease arrives and how it progresses. One of the researchers featured in the report is Dr. Lisa Shulman, a professor of neurology at the University of Maryland Medical School. This is science told through a personal, human lens, and that's the source of its power. (9 p.m., WETA-Channel 26) ***

LATE-NIGHT GUESTS: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appears on Late Show with David Letterman. Actress Penelope Cruz visits Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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