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Bacall shares memories on ‘Screenings’

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Big-screen romances, real, fabricated and imagined, have often been problematical for Hollywood movies. This summer is certainly no exception – everyone is officially sick of Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie and the latest incarnation of Ben and Jennifer. It’s comforting to know that Hollywood publicists have been using the whiff of off-screen coupling to promote on-screen sizzle ever since the days of Mary Pickford.

Sometimes it works. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were the faces that launched a million tabloid headlines, even while making bombs like “Boom.” Then there are times that the romance seems so phony that the public balks, as Tom Cruise now knows well.

And there are instances when the romance may or may not be real, but the movies are so atrocious that nobody cares, as in the cases of “Gigli” with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, or “Shanghai Surprise” with Sean Penn and Madonna.

But there are times when the romance is real and the on-screen chemistry is palpable, as in the case of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Their love affair both on- and off-screen is a major part of Robert Osborne’s “Private Screenings” (5 p.m., Turner Classic Movies) interview with actress Lauren Bacall.

Born in Manhattan in the 1920s, Bacall retains the “r”-less accent of old New York, a vocal inflection that will certainly pass with her generation. She uses the word “marvelous” quite often and without irony or affectation, and the way it sounds is, well, marvelous.

She celebrates her strong-willed single mother, her brief stint as a fashion model, her discovery by director Howard Hawks, and the sparks that flew on the set of the 1944 drama “To Have and to Have Not” (9 p.m., TCM) between her and Bogart, a married man 25 years her senior.

She would go on to marry him and appear with Bogart in such films as “Dark Passage” (7:30 a.m., TCM) “The Big Sleep” (11 a.m., TCM) and “Key Largo” (6 p.m., TCM).

They were working on a film together when Bogart died of cancer in 1957.

Bacall recalls her other leading men with great fondness, including Gregory Peck from “Designing Women” (1 p.m., TCM) and Kirk Douglas in “Young Man with a Horn” (11 p.m., TCM).

And while she and John Wayne (“The Shootist”) were miles apart politically, Bacall always liked him for his on-screen vulnerability and for his “tiny feet” that contributed to his signature walk.

She glides briefly and diplomatically by a brief fling with Frank Sinatra. She says it never would have lasted because of his wandering eye. Perhaps Old Blue Eyes considered it just one of those things … too hot not to cool down.

Bacall’s late former husband, Jason Robards, goes unmentioned.

Other highlights

Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty star in “The Golden Palace” (11 p.m., Lifetime), a sequel to “The Golden Girls” (6:30 p.m.) that lasted only one season from 1992 to ‘93.

Gordon Ramsey presides over the two-hour season finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” (8 p.m., Fox).

Be the last kid on your block to guess the surprise ending of the 1999 shocker “The Sixth Sense” (8 p.m., ABC), starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.

Debra and Marie’s cold war worries Ray on “Everybody Loves Raymond” (8:30 p.m., CBS).

A brutal bias attack on “The Closer” (9 p.m., TNT).

Ed shuffles the deck on “Las Vegas” (9 p.m., NBC).

A policewoman’s (Sherilynn Fenn) corruption investigation puts her family in danger in the 2005 thriller “Officer Down” (9 p.m., Lifetime), co-starring Casper Van Dien.

Fears of a pirate attack on “CSI: Miami” (10 p.m., CBS).

Allison envisions a murdered TV star on “Medium” (10 p.m., NBC).

Cult choice

A baker travels to Tinseltown during the silent era to audition as the next Valentino in the 1977 period comedy “The World’s Greatest Lover” (5 p.m., Fox Movie Channel), starring Gene Wilder, Carol Kane and Dom DeLuise. Directed by Wilder.

Series notes

A stolen quote comes back to haunt Doug on “King of Queens” (8 p.m., CBS) … Joe Rogan hosts “Fear Factor” (8 p.m., NBC) … Flex sees the light on “One on One” (8 p.m., UPN) … Annie meddles on “7th Heaven” (8 p.m., WB).

Bobby’s fib on “All of Us” (8:30 p.m., UPN) … My mother, the car problem, on “Two and a Half Men” (9 p.m., CBS) … Joan is caught short-handed on “Girlfriends” (9 p.m., UPN) … Ava worries on “Summerland” (9 p.m., WB) … Mona melts under pressure on “Half & Half” (9:30 p.m., UPN).

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