Originally created 12/15/03

TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week



Spell it i-r-r-e-s-i-s-t-a-b-l-e. Wait, that's not right. But however you spell "irresistible," that word aptly describes "Spellbound," a documentary about the National Spelling Bee.

Airing 8 p.m. EST Tuesday on Cinemax, the film profiles eight appealing, motivated young Americans from diverse backgrounds who face a grueling contest with 241 other teens at the finals in Washington, D.C., after outlasting more than nine million other competitors in hundreds of regional spelling bees across the country.

Among others, you'll meet Angela from Perryton, Texas, whose father is a cattle rancher who illegally entered the United States more than 20 years ago and still speaks little English; Neil from San Clemente, Calif., a teen of East Indian heritage whose grandfather has offered to feed 5,000 people in India if he wins; and Emily from New Haven, Conn., whose comfortable life also includes equestrian training.

Cheer them all in this charming, Oscar-nominated portrait.

Other shows to look out for:

- It's another kind of competition and it comes to an end Sunday with the finale of "Survivor: Pearl Islands." You know the drill: The final four castaways are reduced to two. Then the jury votes on the winner. Then there's lots of reminiscing. Plus host Jeff Probst. CBS' three-hour extravaganza starts at 8 p.m.

- Also Sunday at 8 p.m., A&E unfurls its "Biography of the Year." Who will be the person (or persons) deemed the most noteworthy of 2003? Among the candidates: Kobe Bryant, Nicole Kidman, Laci Peterson, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Oh, yeah: Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, too. Place your bets.

- New! "The Sopranos"! Now that we have your attention: Check out a never-before-aired scene from the second season of this HBO drama series. It's a heartwarming holiday interlude with Big [filtered word] (Vincent Pastore) getting wrapped up by the Feds. Retrieved from the cutting-room floor, the two-minute sequence will be available on, no, not HBO, but online at the Amazon.com Web site- Monday only.

- Join a writing workshop at (of all places) New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility on "What I Want My Words To Do To You," a documentary that puts into the words the thoughts and feelings of these female inmates. Led by playwright Eve Ensler ("The Vagina Monologues"), the workshop invites 15 women, most of whom were convicted of murder, to delve into their pasts and explore the nature of their crimes. The film culminates with a prison performance of the women's writing by actresses including Glenn Close, Rosie Perez and Marisa Tomei. Produced by Judith Katz, "What I Want My Words To Do To You" is part of the "P.O.V." series and airs 9 p.m. Tuesday on PBS (check local listings).