Halloween arrives with movies, specials and theme-oriented series episodes. PBS's American Masters focuses on Lon Chaney, a master of makeup that turned him into a variety of frightening figures. Beau Bridges stars in a fact-based Showtime movie about a haunted house. ABC puts Monk on its schedule, and Fox begins the second season--Day 2--of 24. PBS's "Nova" turns Dava Sobel's book about Galileo and his daughter into a two-hour production. And check Page 6 for a list of televised NBA games.
LON CHANEY: A THOUSAND FACES
Wednesday at 9 on MPT and 10 on WETA
Just in time for Halloween, the PBS art showcase focuses on movie legend Lon Chaney, who led a life as intriguing as his many on-screen personas. He was one of the last silent film stars to make a talking picture debut--"The Unholy Three," a remake of his silent film, released in 1930. He died seven weeks later.
Chaney is best remembered for his work as Fagin in "Oliver Twist" in 1922, as Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1923, and as the title character in "The Phantom of the Opera" in 1925. Most of his more than 100 films were destroyed by Universal Studios to recover the silver used in making them. Only four exist complete, and they are ravaged copies, according to the show.
The child of deaf parents, Chaney completed the fourth grade before he started performing with traveling musical comedy troupes, also serving as choreographer and stage manager. He reportedly liked to dance on the set between scenes. The program includes the only surviving shot of Chaney dancing.
He earned the nickname "man of a thousand faces" because of his expertise with makeup, which he kept in a toolbox. Transforming himself into Quasimodo for "Hunchback" took three hours. Later, he helped other celebrities with their make-up when they appeared in movies. Considered the foremost authority on the subject, he wrote the entry on makeup for the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1929, as well as writing articles for other publications.
Voted the most popular male star in 1928 and 1929, Chaney got 20,000 letters a week at the height of his popularity, but tossed them into the trash-- except for those from prisoners, to which he replied.
Thursday at 8 on ABC
ABC airs the two-hour pilot of this series starring Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, a neurotic detective who dodges germs and worries he left his stove on.
Touchstone Television originally produced "Monk" for ABC, but the network passed on the series. USA Network, which, like Touchstone and ABC, is under the Disney umbrella, picked it up. Last summer, ABC took it back, airing it against Fox's "American Idol," where it took second place in the ratings.
The premise: Since the murder of his wife, Trudy, in 1997, Monk has suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and a variety of phobias. He is on psychiatric leave from the San Francisco Police Department. Bitty Schram plays his nurse, Sharona Fleming, and Ted Levine is his former boss, Capt. Stottlemeyer.
"Monk" will air Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC, beginning Nov. 18.
RETURNING PRIME-TIME SERIES
24, Tuesday at 9 on Fox
Don Cheadle, on NBC's "ER."