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Report Gets Rare Glimpse Into Jury Room

By John Martin New York Times Syndicate

Get an unprecedented glimpse of the criminal justice system when “CBS Reports” at 9 presents “Enter the Jury Room.”

With the cooperation of the Arizona Maricopa County Superior Court, CBS was allowed to install remote control cameras and microphones in jury-deliberation rooms. You’ll see major parts of three criminal trials, followed by the debates over guilt or innocence conducted behind closed doors.

This two-hour-long special, reported by Ed Bradley and Richard Schlesinger, is one of those rewarding times when network television fulfills its potential to educate and enlighten.

What’s best about this exercise is that Schlesinger interviews defense lawyers and prosecutors through jury selection and trial proceedings, giving viewers an explanation of their strategies and their perceptions of the jurors.

After the verdicts are rendered, the lawyers are joined by the judge to watch highlights of the deliberations. Later, the jurors themselves are debriefed.

If you’ve never served on a jury, this is like being there. If you have served, you’ll want to compare your experience with those of the jurors.

Highlights

“The Nanny,” CBS at 8: Robert Vaughn (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E”) and Joan Collins (“Dynasty”) guest star as Maxwell’s (Charles Shaughnessy) estranged father and stepmother. Maxwell’s dad gives Sylvia (Renee Taylor) a bum investment tip.

“Beverly Hills, 90210,” FOX at 8: Brandon (Jason Priestley) tries to get back on track by breaking it off with Tracy, but Val (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) steps in to, as usual, cause trouble.

“Wings,” NBC at 9: Rose Marie (“The Dick Van Dyke Show”) is a terror as Roy’s (David Schramm) feared mother. The gang gets invited to a dinner party designed for Roy to introduce his new girlfriend. Country star Billy Dean also puts in an appearance.

“PrimeTime Live,” ABC at 10: Diane Sawyer interviews mobster Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, the hit man whose testimony took down New York mob chief John Gotti. The conversation continues tomorrow night at 10 on “Turning Point.”

Cable Calls

“Not in This Town” (1997), USA at 9: Kathy Baker portrays Tammie Schnitzer, the real-life heroine who stood up to neo-Nazi hate groups plaguing Billings, Mont. The archvillains not withstanding, the atmosphere of fear is rather haunting. Schnitzer’s courage is an inspiration, and Baker is superb, notably in a scene depicting the desecration of a Jewish cemetery. Adam Arkin and Ed Begley Jr. co-star.

“Under the Piano” (1995), LIFE at 9: This Canadian TV-movie about a woman’s devotion to her autistic sister is a moving tale. It’s well acted and beautifully filmed. The fact-based movie stars Amanda Plummer as the devoted older sister of an autistic musical savant (Megan Follows). Opera star Teresa Stratas (“La Traviata”) plays their bitter and dismissive mother.

Set in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, it dramatizes the emotional burden the disorder - a mystery then - places on families and society’s mostly backward response. Follows’ performance is exceptional.

“American Justice,” A&E; at 6 and 10: The investigation of a 10-year-old girl’s murder in Illinois is recounted. It is a horrifying story of lies told by police and prosecutors that led to the incarceration of two innocent men, who spent over a decade on death row before they were freed.

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