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HBO presents tribute to Jack Benny

The late, great Jack Benny made laughs over five decades as a penny-pinching, vain, exasperated man who confessed to being 39 years old and insisted on playing his theme song, Love in Bloom, off key on the violin.

Even Benny's gestures and phrases became trademarks: When exasperated, he would take a pregnant pause, fold his arms and raise his hand to his cheek and exclaim, "Well!"

He once said of his persona: "The reason my character sustained over so many years is because I played a character that included all the faults and frailties of mankind."

Benny, who died 16 years ago (at the age of 39, of course) is the subject of a new HBO special, Jack Benny: Comedy in Bloom, which premieres tonight at 10 with repeats on Oct. 12, 18 and 29.

Tom Smothers narrates the tribute to Benny's life and career, which features clips from his classic television show, currently in repeats on cable's Comedy Central, home movies and family photos.

Also included are interviews with those who knew Benny, including George Burns (who took over Benny's role in The Sunshine Boys after he was stricken with cancer), Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Ann-Margret, Dinah Shore, his daughter Joan, former Tonight Show producer Fred DeCordova and Benny writers Hal Goldman, Sam Perrin, George Balzer and Al Gordon.

"Reading Rainbow' takes kids around the world

By N..F. MENDOZA

Los Angeles Times

Offering a colorful palate of daily storytelling and reading motivation, PBS' Emmy-winning Reading Rainbow celebrates its 10th anniversary with new half-hour episodes, each featuring locations connected to the show's feature book.

The books are narrated by celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Ruby Dee and Dixie Carter while the book's illustrations are shown on-screen. After the book is read, the show includes "real-life" situations and book reviews by children.

The new shows, which begin today, include Sam the Sea Cow. Host LeVar Burton travels to Orlando's Sea World for an up-close look at manatees for Sam the Sea Cow, which is based on a book by Francine Jacobs and narrated by Jason Robards.

For the Lola Falana-narrated Sophie and Lou _ Petra Mathers' story of a mouse who overcomes shyness by learning to dance _ Burton is joined by a troupe of hip-hop dancers who take a globe-trotting look at dance around the world.

Clinton, Gore to appear on "Larry King Live' tonight

By JOHN CARMODY

Washington Post

WASHINGTON _ CNN said Thursday that the Democratic ticket, Gov. Bill Clinton and Sen. Al Gore, will appear live tonight on another special 90-minute version of Larry King Live.

The candidates will be interviewed in Ocala, where King will catch up with their bus tour. There will be viewer call-ins.

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