April 23, 2019

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What’s on TV Tuesday: ‘Betty White: First Lady of Television’ and ‘Real Sports’

What’s on TV Tuesday: ‘Betty White: First Lady of Television’ and ‘Real Sports’
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A PBS documentary celebrates the storied career of Betty White. And a new edition of “Real Sports” airs on HBO.

What’s on TV

BETTY WHITE: FIRST LADY OF TELEVISION 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). With nearly 80 years of show business behind her, and a sense of humor that still stings, Betty White has won the hearts of fans young and old. (The proof is in the online campaign that helped land her an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in 2010.) This new portrait of the 96-year-old actress, who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest television career among female entertainers, harks back to her days in radio and the lesser-known roles that preceded her characters in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls.” The documentary also features interviews with a long list of former co-stars, including Georgia Engel, Tina Fey and Ryan Reynolds.

REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL 11 p.m. on HBO. In this month’s edition of “Real Sports,” Sherpas from Nepal, members of an ethnic group who guide foreign climbers up and down Mount Everest, share the myriad dangers they face while working on the mountain and trying to recover the remains of perished adventurers. In addition, the journalist Jon Frankel looks into the hyper-sexualized nature of cheerleading in the United States and Britain, and Mary Carillo heads to Wimbledon for a chat with Mansour Bahrami, the mustachioed tennis player who knows how to put on a show.

HEATHERS (1989) on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Netflix, Shudder, Vudu and YouTube. Consider this cult classic a dark and deadly precedent to “Mean Girls.” Winona Ryder stars as Veronica, an outcast in disguise and reluctant fourth member of a powerful high school clique known as the Heathers. As she grows tired of their scheming ways, she finds a companion in J. D. (Christian Slater), a bad-boy newcomer who convinces Veronica to settle her frustrations with her vain classmates once and for all. Plans to air a television reboot of the film on Paramount Network were scrapped in June, but the movie will soon return to theaters with a rerelease.

LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF (2004) on Google Play, Mubi, Vudu and YouTube. In this nearly three-hour essay film, the director Thom Andersen laments the reputation movies have given his hometown, Los Angeles, and criticizes the film industry’s portrayal of the city’s architecture, history and socioeconomic fault lines. Divided into three parts, the film features scenes from more than 200 movies in which Los Angeles plays a major or minor role, such as “Clueless,” “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential.” In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott wrote, “Mr. Andersen induces a paradoxical reaction, one that might be taken as evidence of a degree of hypocrisy on his part.” He adds that to watch the film is “to be reminded of the pleasures provided by the very entertainment being held up for censure.” Whether film buffs agree with Mr. Andersen’s take, there are plenty clips for them to enjoy.

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