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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Features

‘Southern Rock’ looks at earlier era

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Given just three songs to sing during the series finale of “American Idol,” Bo Bice’s choices included Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” I wondered just what his teenage audience made of the song’s lyrics about “the governor” (George Wallace), Neil Young, Watergate and other pointed references to the early 1970s, well before they (and Bo) were born.

Young and old fans of Bo Bice and his music would do well to catch “American Revolutions: Southern Rock” (8 p.m. tonight, CMT). “Revolutions” begins in the mid- and late 1960s with a look at the Muscle Shoals, Ala., recording studio where black pop and soul artists cut records with white session musicians. Dwayne Allman literally walked in off the street to record “Hey Jude” with Wilson Pickett, the song that introduced the world to Allman’s unique guitar sound.

Rich in vintage performance clips, “Revolutions” includes interviews with Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Johnny Van Zant, Billy Powell, Gary Rossington, Judy Van Zant, Doug Gray, Donnie Van Zant, Phil Walden, Charlie Daniels and others. The documentary focuses on the circuitous routes to overnight success taken by The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Steeped in the politics of the era, the film also explores how benefit concerts by the Allmans and other bands helped launch and sustain the 1976 presidential campaign of Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, a man many hoped would present an image of a progressive and integrated South to the nation.

Like too many rock documentaries, “Revolutions” is punctuated by tragedy and early death, covering the fatal motorcycle accidents of Dwayne Allman and Berry Oakley of The Allman Brothers and the plane crash that killed Steve Gaines and Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as their backup singer Cassie Gaines.

Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”) returns to episodic comedy in the fake documentary series “The Comeback” (9:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO). She plays Valerie Cherish, the once-hot star of a sitcom called “The It Girl” who is so desperate for a new gig that she submits to the inconvenience and indignity of a camera crew following her every move as she auditions for a new sitcom, “Room and Bored.”

Although similar in concept to Kirstie Alley’s Showtime series, “The Comeback” is hardly a crude comic catastrophe of “Fat Actress” proportions. “The Comeback” is a dull toothache of a TV show.

Like Kudrow’s character, it’s a mild annoyance that you keep hoping will just go away.

Returned alien abductees continue to learn their fate and purpose as the spooky and intriguing series “The 4400” (9 p.m. Sunday, USA) returns for a two-hour second-season opener.

Matt Lauer announces the list of the “100 Greatest Americans” (8 p.m. Sunday, Discovery) as chosen by an Internet poll. As weeks go by, the list will be whittled down until only the greatest American emerges. The list of the 100 nominees is fascinating in a depressing way, revealing the short attention spans and media-obsessed nature of our times.

Michael Jordan and Michael Moore make the cut. George Washington shares space with George Lucas. Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks are in the mix, but not Tom Paine, author of “Common Sense.”

Tonight’s highlights

John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe and James Cromwell star in the 1999 drama “The General’s Daughter” (8 p.m., NBC).

While trying to exploit Mars’ mineral resources, Earthlings discover an ancient and angry Martian civilization in the 2005 shocker “Crimson Force” (9 p.m. tonight, Sci Fi).

“The Wonderful World of Disney” presents the 1942 animated favorite “Bambi” (8 p.m., ABC).

Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (10 p.m., CBS): a surgeon’s wife dies under strange circumstances.

Wallace Shawn guest-stars on “Crossing Jordan” (10 p.m., NBC.

Sunday’s highlights

Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (7 p.m., CBS): the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees; a European drug executive questions the high cost of U.S. medicines; Montana’s bear crisis.

Scheduled on “Dateline” (7 p.m., NBC): an interview with Peggy Lipton; Canadian victims of “friendly fire”; auto safety tests.

Murder gets the spa treatment in the 2005 TV film “Mystery Woman: Vision of a Murder” (7 p.m., Hallmark), directed by star Kellie Martin.

Hugh Jackman hosts the 59th annual Tony Awards (8 p.m., CBS), honoring the best of Broadway.

A car bombing blows the cover on a family’s secret on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (9 p.m., NBC).

“Entourage” (9 p.m., HBO) enters its second season.

Aspiring stars scramble for their big moment in the new reality series “Fight for Fame” (10 p.m., E!).

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