The story of America's talk shows on A&E's "Biography," music performances from "Saturday Night Live" and the Country Music Association Awards on CBS top this week in television.
"Judging Amy," 8 p.m., Channel 4. The new drama series stars Amy Brenneman as a single mother who moves back home when she is named to a judgeship. With Tyne Daly, Richard T. Jones and Dan Futterman. ("Touched by an Angel" will be back; "Amy's" regular place on the schedule will be Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)
"Hayley Wagner, Star," 8 p.m., Showtime. Growing too old for the kind of roles that made her famous, a pampered child movie star has some adjusting to do after she retires to a "regular" life. The new made-for-cable family movie stars Bethany Richards, Priscilla Presley and Nick Cornish.
"It's Only Talk: The Real Story of America's Talk Shows," 8 p.m., A&E. Going back to pioneer Joe Franklin in New York and to Steve Allen's 1954 version of "The Tonight Show," this program looks at a genre that wasn't always as ubiquitous -- and sometimes lacking in standards -- as it is today.
"Sealed With a Kiss," 9 p.m., Channel 4. Two chance encounters alter the once-stable life of a successful young professional (John Stamos); will he stay with his fiancee (Jane Sibbett) or take a chance with someone new (Annabeth Gish)? The new made-for-TV movie also stars Angie Dickinson and Robert Stack.
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," 9 p.m., Channel 2. As spinoff series go, this one has attracted more than average interest because of the critical and popular success of "Law & Order." Dann Florek in the role of Capt. Cragen will be among those keeping the two series connected. And for fans of the canceled "Homicide: Life on the Street," Richard Belzer brings his Detective Munch character up from Baltimore.
"Family Law," 10 p.m., Channel 4. When her husband leaves her, taking most of their joint practice with him, a lawyer (Kathleen Quinlan) scrambles to rebuild. The new drama series also stars Julie Warner, Christopher McDonald and Dixie Carter.
"Saturday Night Live Twenty-Five: The Music," 10 p.m., VH1. Highlights of musical performances and musical comedy sketches (remember the Sweeney Sisters?) since "Saturday Night Live" began in 1975 will be shown at this time through Friday, starting tonight with the early years. Artists to be shown over the course of the week include Madonna, Ricky Martin, Paul McCartney, Alanis Morissette, Roy Orbison, R.E.M., Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones.
"The Champ," 8 p.m., TCM. This 1931 film starring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper and Irene Rich continues TCM's September theme of boxing. Three more boxing films will follow tonight; look for still more boxing movies on Thursday night.
"Mysteries & Scandals: Truman Capote," 8:30 p.m., E! In the context of Robert Morse's celebrated performance in "Tru," Capote's eccentricities seemed quite natural. This program, on the other hand, would seem to focus less sympathetically on some of the more flamboyant and puzzling aspects of the celebrity author, who died in 1984.
"It's Like, You Know ..." 8:30 p.m., Channel 7. Joel Grey, real-life father of series star Jennifer Grey, guest-stars as himself -- a role apparently dictated by the fact that she is cast as herself.
"Mission Hill," 9 p.m., Channel 49. This new animated series aims to satirize youth culture while, WB must hope, still appealing to the young audiences that have made hits of other shows on the network.
"Once and Again," 10 p.m., Channel 7. The lives of two single parents (Sela Ward and Billy Campbell) change forever when they meet by accident, but change is not necessarily the same as lasting happiness. This new drama series is highly anticipated because of the track record of creators Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz with "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life," critical favorites for which some viewers found it hard to acquire a taste.
"Reverb," 11:30 p.m., HBO. The weekly music series returns for a third season with an episode featuring Alanis Morissette and Everlast.
"Country Music Association Awards," 8 p.m., Channel 4. The 33d annual event will be shown live from Nashville. Leading the list of nominees this year are Tim McGraw, who has seven, Vince Gill (five), and the Dixie Chicks and George Strait (four each). Gill, a veteran of the hosting duties, will be seen in that role once again.
"Seeking Solutions With Hedrick Smith," 8 p.m., Channel 17. Smith visits six cities from coast to coast where "ordinary individuals" are said to be successfully fighting back against hate crimes, street crimes and teen violence.
"The West Wing," 9 p.m., Channel 2. Martin Sheen stars as the president in this new drama set in the White House. Creator Aaron Sorkin, who drew good reviews if not large audiences when "Sports Night" debuted last season, can be expected to offer some of the same fast-paced workplace insights. Rob Lowe as a presidential aide is another attraction.
"Harvey," 9 p.m., TCM. If you caught the TV remake of this really-big-rabbit movie during the summer, you might want to check out James Stewart in the original. The 1950 movie, a key piece of the Stewart persona, also stars Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow and Charles Drake.
"Susan's Plan," 10 p.m., Cinemax. A woman's plan to have her ex-husband killed for his money backfires, with comic overtones. Starring in this movie from director John Landis are Nastassja Kinski, Billy Zane, Lara Flynn Boyle and Dan Aykroyd. (Rated R)
"The Kindness of Strangers," 7 p.m., HBO. People requiring major organ transplants are dependent on the generosity of donors they never knew. This documentary interweaves stories of transplant patients and donors who made it possible for them to live. The executive producer is James Redford, son of Robert Redford and himself the recipient of two liver transplants.
"Chicago Hope," 9 p.m., Channel 4. The "other" hospital drama series returns for a sixth season -- and with some major changes. The doctors who were fired last spring won't be back, and Lauren Holly, Barbara Hershey and Carla Gugino are joining the cast. Mandy Patinkin returns as Dr. Geiger, and creator David E. Kelley, who wrote tonight's possibly irreverent script, has promised to be personally involved in the made-over show.
"New York Philharmonic Opening Night," 9 p.m., Channel 17. Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich is the featured soloist in a program conducted by Kurt Masur.
"Third Watch," 10 p.m., Channel 2. Given the honor of debuting in the spot that belongs to "ER," this new action series is centered on "heroes of the street" who must respond to emergencies in New York City, whether it be the birth of a baby on a subway car or a high-rise apartment building engulfed in flames. Stars Skipp Sudduth, Coby Bell, Jason Wiles and Molly Price.
"Standing in the Light," 6:30 p.m., HBO. Kidnapped by Indians in the Delaware Valley of 1763, a Quaker teen-ager (Stephanie Mills) falls in love with a young warrior (Grant Nickalls), a youth from England who was taken in by tribe earlier. Later reunited with her family, she fears that no one could understand her love for an Indian. Part of the "Dear America" series about young heroines in American history.
"Alien Cargo," 8 p.m., Channel 67. A routine flight from Mars to Titan turns deadly when an alien force warps the minds of the crew. The made-for-TV sci-fi movie stars Jason London, Missy Crider and David Paterson.
"Now and Again," 9 p.m., Channel 4. With only his brain intact after a devastating accident, a man agrees to an experiment that gives him a new body and a new face -- and a job that requires him to battle evil forces. The new series is billed as an action-comedy-drama-romance and stars Eric Close, Dennis Haysbert and Margaret Colin.
"Odd Man Out," 9:30 p.m., Channel 7. A 15-year-old's attitudes toward women are affected by living in a household dominated by his mother, his aunt and his three sisters. The new comedy series stars Erik von Detten as the teen-ager and Markie Post as his mother.
"A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith" and "Boo Boo Runs Wild," 10 p.m., Cartoon Network. John Kricfalusi, known to fans as the creator of "Ren and Stimpy," adds a "postmodern sardonic twist" to the classic characters of Yogi Bear, Boo Boo and Ranger Smith in these two new cartoons. Kricfalusi's appreciation of the originals is said to have led him to "reproduce or parody every last intricate detail."
"Selena," 8 p.m., Channel 7. Jennifer Lopez stars as the international favorite who was killed just as she seemed about to achieve superstardom. The 1997 movie also stars Edward James Olmos as her father and Jon Seda as the guitarist she married.
"Freaks & Geeks," 8 p.m., Channel 2. High school, circa 1980, is the setting for this new "comedy-drama" that focuses on two teen-age siblings (Linda Cardellini and John Daley) and their friends. In tonight's premiere episode, a troublesome bully (guest star Chauncey Leopardi) just may get what he deserves.
"Soldier," 8 p.m., HBO. Mechanical warriors threaten the human population of a future Earth. The 1998 sci-fi action movie stars Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Connie Nielsen. Michael Chiklis and Gary Busey. (Rated R)
"Wild Discovery," 8 p.m., Discovery. A tiger family is followed in the wild as a mother prepares her three cubs to live on their own. Their older sister lives nearby with cubs of her own, and her father returns to the area "to enforce his claim on the territory."
"Long Day's Journey Into Night," 9 p.m., Channel 17. William Hutt and Martha Henry Henry star in a film adaptation of the acclaimed Stratford Festival production of Eugene O'Neill's darkly moving masterpiece.