“JAMES DEAN: SENSE MEMORIES” – Television has a big thing for Elvis Presley this week. In addition to a two-part miniseries on the King that begins tonight, CBS is airing an Elvis special on Friday. There’s even a full day of Elvis movies on AMC today. But not to be overlooked is this “American Masters” documentary about another pop-cultural icon who died way too soon.

Rich with striking vintage photographs and insightful commentary, “Sense Memories” focuses on the most significant period in the actor’s brief life and examines why he endures as a mythic figure, despite having made only three major films. “It was so clear that he was a special person,” says director Mark Rydell during one of the program’s many interviews. “Every moment you spent with him you knew you were with an original. Strange and peculiar and arresting – you couldn’t take you eyes off him.” This fall marks the 50th anniversary of James Dean’s fatal car accident and the release of “Rebel Without a Cause,” the film with which he is forever identified. 9 p.m. Wednesday, PBS.


TONIGHT: Young Jonathan Rhys Meyers does a credible job in the title role of “Elvis,” a new two-part miniseries that focuses on Presley’s life between the ages of 18 and 33, when he rose from poverty in Tupelo, Miss. to become to America’s first rock ‘n’ roll star and one of history’s most idolized show-biz personalities. Randy Quaid plays domineering manager Colonel Tom Parker and Camryn Manheim portrays doting mother Gladys Presley. 9 p.m., CBS.

MONDAY: Shannon Elizabeth stars in “Confessions of an American Bride,” a romantic comedy about a woman whose plans for a fairy-tale wedding hit a snag when a new career opportunity reunites her with her college crush. The cast also includes Eddie McClintock and Geoff Stults. 9 p.m., Lifetime.

TUESDAY: It’s down to the wire for those globe-trotting contestants of “The Amazing Race.” The Emmy-winning reality series concludes its latest season tonight as it winnows its final three duos down to the ultimate big-money winners. 9 p.m., CBS.

TUESDAY: “The New Asylums” is the latest installment of “Frontline.” It explores the “complex and growing topic” of how an ever-increasing number of people with mental disorders are winding up in jails and prisons that are often ill-equipped to properly help them. 10 p.m., PBS.

WEDNESDAY: In the season finale of “Jack & Bobby,” the boys embark on a road trip with Grace to visit their long-estranged father in a Texas prison. The episode includes several intriguing guest appearances, including Tim Robbins, Lou Diamond Phillips, writer Gore Vidal and producer Norman Lear. 9 p.m., the WB.

THURSDAY: Funny how George Lucas sheds his “reclusive” mode every time a new “Star Wars” is set to be released in theaters. The director shows up in the latest episode of “The O.C.,” during which he apparently expresses some interest in Seth’s graphic novel. Meanwhile, Sandy and Caleb confront Kirsten about her erratic behavior of late. 8 p.m., Fox.

THURSDAY: Ah, parting is such sweet sorrow. The season finale of “The Simple Life: Interns” looks like it will be the last chance for us to see Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton onscreen together. In the wake of tabloid reports that the two gal pals are kaput, Paris plans to do the next incarnation of the series with a new sidekick. Here’s a better idea: Why not pull the plug on the whole thing? 9 p.m., Fox.

FRIDAY: When it premiered four years ago, “Star Trek: Enterprise” was supposed to reinvigorate the famous sci-fi franchise. Alas, it has not, and “Enterprise,” a victim of lackluster ratings, prematurely arrives at its series finale with a pair of hour-long episodes. The end of the show will mark the first time in 18 years that there will be no new “Star Trek” episodes on the air. No doubt there are tears being shed all over the Federation. 8 and 9 p.m., UPN.

FRIDAY: If you haven’t already satisfied your Elvis Presley craving, Friday brings the debut of “Elvis by the Presleys.” It’s a follow-up to the miniseries in which ex-wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie share their memories of life with the King. The special also offers previously unseen photos and home movies from the Presley estate archives. 7 p.m., CBS.

SATURDAY: “Star Wars” fanatics can warm up for the hotly anticipated debut of the latest big-screen release by watching the “Clone Wars Marathon.” It’s composed of all 25 episodes of the slickly animated “microseries” (they’re less than five minutes apiece). It bridges the plot gaps between “Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” released in 2002, and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” which hits theaters on May 19. 7 p.m., Cartoon Network.

SATURDAY: In the one-woman show “Tracey Ullman: Live & Exposed,” the versatile actress-comedian retraces her childhood, early career and rise to stardom, revealing how she came up with some of her most distinctive characters along the way. The 90-minute special was taped before an audience in Los Angeles. 9:30 p.m., HBO.

Chuck Barney:

(c) 2005, Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.).

Visit the Contra Costa Times on the Web at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-05-05-05 0914EDT

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