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Your select viewing guide for Friday, Aug. 31
HISTORY: The Secret Life Of ... (History, 8 p.m.) Imagine eminent historical figures profiled by Entertainment Tonight. That’s pretty much the premise behind this new series that dishes dirt on history’s biggest names and icons. Tonight’s opener reopens the history books on King Henry VIII. According to this report, ol’ Henry was quite the handsome ladies man before a jousting accident left him hobbled and bitter. Thereafter King Henry became a mean-spirited ruler with a gluttonous appetite for food and drink. His royal court consumed more than 400 gallons of wine each week! Along the way, Henry VIII went through six wives (and beheaded two).
DOCUMENTARY: the fifth estate (CBC, 9 p.m.) The lure of American hoop dreams is ruining the lives of some Canadian families. Tonight’s episode from last season takes a closer look at the selection of homegrown basketball stars Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson in the first round of the NBA draft last year. Host Bob McKeown shines a light on shady "prep schools," which demand the parents of young basketball prospects pay big bucks for their kids to make the grade for university without ever setting foot in a classroom. The program interviews two young players whose parents are risking it all to get into the big league. One family has even sold its house to pay the prep-school tuition.
FOOD: Meat Men (Food Network, 9 p.m.) If the reality-TV industry can turn out programs about child-pageant competitors, hair stylists and pawn-shop proprietors, why not a show about butchers? Debuting tonight, this new show focuses on meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda, whose huge New Jersey meat warehouse supplies more than 500 customers, including several high-end eateries in New York City. As per the usual reality-TV template, the show attaches inordinate drama to seemingly mundane events. Tonight’s opener is a case in point as Pat Jr. puts all his energy and effort into creating a custom hamburger for celebrity chef Michael White. Hey, who’s running the store?
REALITY: Ex-Wives of Rock (Slice, 10 p.m.) Where do groupies and rock-star wives go when the music dies? A handful turn up in this new reality series that follows the rather sad lives of divorcees Bobbie Brown (once married to Warrant front man Jani Lee), Athena Lee (ex-wife of Scorpions drummer James Kottak), Susan Dixon (formerly with Warrant bassist James Dixon) and Sharise Neil (once married to Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil). Although most episodes in the series find the Botoxed exes reminiscing fondly about the good old days, tonight’s opener has them planning for the future and a “regular life.” Rock on, ladies.
MOVIE: Thief (TCM, midnight ET; 9 p.m. PT) Over a four-decade acting career, James Caan has earned a reputation as a big-screen tough guy in films like The Godfather and Rollerball. He’s far more interesting in this 1981 thriller written and directed by Michael Mann. Caan delivers a rare understated performance as the professional thief Frank, whose successful Chicago businesses are a front for his real vocation of stealing things. Frank is approached by a mob boss to start taking down bigger scores, but all he really wants to do is explore his new relationship with the pretty Jessie (Tuesday Weld). The neo-noir crime story is driven by the haunting soundtrack by Tangerine Dream.