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Tnt Offers Insight About George Wallace

Faye Zuckerman New York Times Syndicate

One historic image burned into our collective American psyche is of George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, in June 1963 standing in the doorway of the University of Alabama blocking two black students from registering for college.

Few doubted that Wallace was an avowed segregationist. He would have been the first to admit it.

His name throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s was synonymous with racism and the so-called “Southernizing of this country.” Folks either stood behind him or vehemently opposed him.

How and why George Corley Wallace came to polarize this country on race issues is the purpose of TNT’s intelligent biography “George Wallace,” Sunday and Tuesday at 5, 7 and 9.

Gary Sinise steps into the role of Wallace, showing us the man’s complexities, including his deliberate decision to become a segregationist. (Early in Wallace’s career, he was supported by liberal groups such as the NAACP and the ACLU.)

Through flashbacks and black-and-white footage (of mostly his speeches), Wallace abandons his early populist opinions and chooses segregation to gain power. It’s a Faustian bargain that plagued him throughout his career.

Director John Frankenheimer (“The Manchurian Candidate”) uses black-and-white images to give the film urgency and immediacy. The script never embarrasses. Rather, it tries to explain Wallace’s shortcomings.

My only complaint is why the writers fabricated the character of a black prisoner (Clarence Williams III) who is employed at the governor’s mansion as a domestic. His character is supposed to deliver the black point of view.

Couldn’t that have been done by using actual folks?

Highlights

“A Time to Heal” (1994), NBC tonight at 9: Nicollette Sheridan plays a young mother who suffers a stroke during delivery of her second child. Left partially paralyzed and unable to speak, she becomes bitter and withdrawn before waging a fight to recover. This is an inspirational, true story.

“The Last of the Mohicans” (1992), ABC Sunday at 8:30: This film adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s tale is mesmerizing with its honest portrayal of the war between the French and British in 18thcentury North America. The action is set against a touching love story between a white man adopted by the Mohicans (Daniel Day-Lewis) and the daughter of a British officer (Madeleine Stowe).

“The Beast” (1996), NBC Sunday and Monday at 9: You remember this two-part underwater drama. It was NBC’s fishing expedition to reel in viewers with claws rather than jaws.

Peter Benchley, author of “Jaws,” concocted the notion that a squid, seemingly the size of Long Island, N.Y., with razor-sharp claws, can shred boats, eat humans and tear apart a baby sperm whale faster than you can say, “Holy calamari!”

Parents’ Pick

“Rugrats,” NIK tonight at 8: This weekend, the animated show kicks off a new season with two segments. One titled “Spike’s Babies” has the wild-eyed toddlers trying to find out why Tommy’s dog, Spike, keeps making trips under the house. Could it be “aliebs?” In the other segment, Chuckie comes down with “chicken pops,” and Angelica persuades the diaper-clad gang that their friend is about to turn into a chicken.

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