Originally created 09/15/03

TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week

Beware of the word "experiment" when it's linked with television. Too often, an "experimental" TV series is one that gets axed after its first week, replaced by reruns of "The Drew Carey Show."

But "K Street" could be different. For one thing, it's on HBO, which pretty much assures its full 10-week run while guaranteeing no "Drew Carey" reruns.

Besides, it sounds sort of cool.

Executive-produced and directed by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, "K Street" is described as an experimental fusion of reality and fiction - a fly-on-the-wall look at government that is written, filmed, edited and aired in the same week.

Because of this crash production schedule, the first episode (which airs Sunday at 10:35 p.m. EDT) wasn't available for review.

But HBO says the new series - produced on location in Washington, D.C. - will venture inside the world of powerful political consultants, with a premium placed on immediacy as it centers on the biggest political news of the week.

The largely improvised "K Street" will mix fictional characters with real-life Beltway insiders. Actors Roger G. Smith, John Slattery and Mary McCormack star as political consultants. Meanwhile, bona fide political consultants James Carville, Mary Matalin and Michael Deaver appear as themselves - while serving "K Street" as consulting producers.

This means they're consulting themselves. Only in Washington, only on HBO!

Other shows to look out for:

- Discovery Channel burns bright with tigers in a new documentary about the big cats. Four years in production, "Living With Tigers" lives with two tiger siblings through their transition from cuddly cubs to adult predators. It also profiles a bold project, currently involving two U.S.-born Bengal tigers, to teach captive-born tigers to be wild. Narrated by Stockard Channing, the film airs at 8 p.m. Sunday.

- For its milestone 300th "Intimate Portrait" of impressive women, Lifetime Channel turns to the first lady. In this profile, Laura Bush discusses her background as an only child in Texas who grew up to join one of America's most powerful political families - and tells of her whirlwind, three-month courtship by George W. Bush, with whom she would one day move to the White House. The film includes interviews with Mrs. Bush's family and close friends, including her in-laws - former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush - and National Security Adviser Dr. Condoleezza Rice. And it discloses who still brings her coffee every morning. "Intimate Portrait: Laura Bush" airs at 7 p.m. Monday.

- The subject of many recent headlines, the AIDS crisis in South Africa is the focus of this week's "P.O.V." edition. In her disturbing film "State of Denial," South Africa native Elaine Epstein looks at a nation reeling from disease and set back by years of government inaction. At the same time, the documentary draws a bracing picture of patients, journalists and health-care professionals who are struggling against the odds to obtain treatment and medications. "State of Denial" airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday on PBS (check local listings).

- It's time for you to go ... and watch "Survivor: Pearl Islands," which premieres with a 90-minute kickoff at 8 p.m. Thursday on CBS. For this, the seventh "Survivor" competition, 16 castaways are stranded on a remote island off Panama, where guys and gals are divided equally into eight-member tribes named Morgan and Drake (in tribute to pirates who pillaged these isles' shores). The tribes have spoken: Here we go again.


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