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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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PBS brings back ”Death of Princess”

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

“Frontline” (9 p.m., KSPS) rebroadcasts “Death of a Princess,” one of the most controversial programs in the history of public television. The 1980 film offers a dramatic re-creation of a British journalist’s attempts to get to the bottom of the brutal public execution of a Saudi princess and her lover for the crime of adultery.

The decision of PBS and the BBC to air the film resulted in heated protests from the Saudi government, pressure from the Carter administration’s State Department, and loud complaints from the oil industry, including Mobil, the deep-pocketed sponsor of “Masterpiece Theatre.”

Tonight’s anniversary broadcast includes vintage new clips recalling the “Princess” controversy. Look for a younger Ted Koppel back when “Nightline” was just getting started.

As a dramatic film, “Princess” has the look and feel of a European thriller from the mid-1970s. More than an expose, “Princess” is a long meditation on the precarious state of the Saudi regime and the divided nature of the contemporary Arab world, caught between oil riches and modernity and a deeply felt commitment to protect tribal religious traditions that have lasted for more than 14 centuries.

A new epilogue also examines how conditions have changed – and not changed – for women in the Arab world over the past quarter-century.

Kristen Bell, recently seen in Showtime’s over-the-top musical “Reefer Madness,” doesn’t have to quit her day job. UPN has officially renewed “Veronica Mars” for a second season.

That’s good news and bad news for Bell, who brings a smart, sassy spunk to her role as a high school private eye. The bad news is that Bell already looks and acts old enough to be attending graduate school. On tonight’s “Veronica Mars” (9 p.m., UPN), our heroine’s search for a missing terrier reveals that the entire town of Neptune has gone to the dogs.

Hosted by Robert Krulwich, “Nova scienceNOW” (8 p.m., KSPS) looks at recent breakthroughs in stem cell studies and the political firestorm that accompanies any discussion of this scientific process.

In February 2004, Korean scientists announced that they had isolated stem cells from a cloned human embryo. Harvard scientists have been trying to replicate the Korean experiments.

“Nova” also looks at mankind’s diminutive ancestors; new evidence about the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex; and speculation about the age-old question of how frogs survive when they freeze in the winter and thaw in the spring.

Other highlights

Another night of song on “American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox).

Upon his death, the town’s oldest resident bequeaths his house to Stars Hollow on “Gilmore Girls” (8 p.m., WB).

Longitudes and attitudes on “The Amazing Race” (9 p.m.).

A pregnant patient makes an emotional decision on “House” (9 p.m., Fox).

A teen is charged with assaulting an officer on “Judging Amy” (10 p.m., CBS).

Fin gets too close to a convenience store robbery on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (10 p.m., NBC).

Defenestration can be a pain in the neck on “Blind Justice” (10 p.m., ABC).

Cult choice

Jayne Mansfield stars in the 1956 musical comedy “The Girl Can’t Help It” (7 p.m., Fox Movie Channel), featuring performances by The Platters, Fats Domino and Little Richard. Mansfield, who died in 1967, is the mother of Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”).

Series notes

A Marine’s wife cries rape on “Navy NCIS” (8 p.m., CBS) … Edward Burns guest-stars on “Will & Grace” (8 p.m., NBC) … Hip-hop contests on “My Wife and Kids” (8 p.m., ABC) … Neesee’s secret on “All of Us” (8 p.m., UPN).

Ernie’s big move on “George Lopez” (8:30 p.m., ABC) … The hot stove league on “Eve” (8:30 p.m., UPN).

On back-to-back episodes of “Scrubs” (NBC), a cheap suit (8:30 p.m.), and when the ice queen reigns, it pours (9 p.m.) … Gender wars on “According to Jim” (9 p.m., ABC) … Keith’s eyes open on “One Tree Hill” (9 p.m., WB) … Hoop dreams on “The Office” (9:30 p.m., NBC) … No TV party tonight on “Rodney” (9:30 p.m., ABC).

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