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The Globe and Mail

TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Nov. 20

A select viewing guide for Tuesday November 20

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PROFILE American Masters (PBS, 8 p.m.) Why did the reclusive David Geffen agree to be profiled for American Masters? Possibly because the famously press-shy media mogul turns 70 this winter, but more likely it’s because he knows American Masters isn’t likely to take any cheap shots in rewinding his forty-odd years spent in the entertainment business. The two-hour profile opens in 1964 with Geffen landing his first job at the William Morris agency working in the mailroom and eventually graduating to talent agent. In the late sixties, he shifted his sights to the music industry and launched the early careers of Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Eagles. More screen time is devoted to Geffen co-founding the DreamWorks film studio in 1994 with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The profile rides on the strength of more than 50 interview with Geffen colleagues and clients, including Jackson Browne, Elton John, Lorne Michaels and Cher (to whom Geffen, incredibly, was once romantically linked).

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COMEDY Ben & Kate (Fox, Citytv, 8:30 p.m.) Slowly but surely climbing in U.S. ratings each week, this rookie sitcom rides on the performance of journeyman comic actor Nat Faxon–better known for winning a screenplay Oscar last spring for co-writing The Descendants–as an affable slacker named Ben, who returns to his hometown to inject some fun into the life of his sensible single-mom sister Kate (Dakota Johnson). The usual family ties are stretched in tonight’s new episode in which Kate plans to attend her high-school reunion and her big brother encourages her to exact vengeance upon the bully that made her teen years miserable. You go, girlfriend!

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REALITY Holmes Makes it Right (HGTV, 9 p.m.) To whom did harried homeowners turn to before Mike Holmes? As on the earlier series Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection, the burly contractor is still coming to the rescue of luckless property owners saddled with the mistakes of disreputable workmen. In tonight’s new episode, the big guy is summoned to a house that was recently retrofitted with ulrea formaldehyde insulation–which has been banned in Canada for decades. Unfortunately for these homeowners, fixing the problem has the makings of a total home makeover.

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REALITY Extreme Couponing (TLC, 10 p.m.) Have you clipped your coupons today? Returning tonight for a fourth season, this popular series follows people who compulsively pinch pennies via clipping coupons and taking advantage of various in-store promotions. Mostly, it’s about people who take inordinate pride in their frugality. Watch the cheapness on display in tonight’s season-opener as a Georgia couple named Rudy and Chase decide to renew their vows and try to keep the reception budget under $20. In the second show, a 15-year-old Kansas couponer named Broderick goes power-mad with his bargain-hunting, much to the dismay of his sisters and parents.

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MOVIE Maxie (Vision, midnight) Sure, Glenn Close has spent most of her career playing harridans (Fatal Attraction, The Paper) or hard cases (Damages), but she’s actually a deft comic actress when handed the right role. In this breezy 1985 comedy, she’s perfectly cast as Jan, a demure secretary newly ensconced in a San Francisco with her husband Nick (Mandy Patinkin). Before they unpack their boxes, however, she’s possessed by the spirit of an outrageous twenties flapper named Maxie and suddenly the shy Jan is swilling gin and doing the Charleston with reckless abandon. The late Ruth Gordon makes her final film appearance as the couple’s dotty landlady.

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