PBS to salute Betty White in August
Beginning today, PBS stations will begin the documentary "Betty White: First Lady of Television" (check local listings). Given the fundraising-driven programming free-for-all of PBS in August, "First Lady" might air on your affiliate anytime between now and Aug. 30.
More than 10 years in the making from the "Pioneers in Television" production team, "First Lady" celebrates White’s more than 80 years in the entertainment business, dating back to the days when radio was the dominant medium. Not gorgeous enough for movies, White migrated to radio shortly after high school, and was featured in such series as "Blondie," "The Great Gildersleeve" and "This Is Your FBI."
Best known to TV viewers as Sue Ann on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Rose on "The Golden Girls" and Elka on "Hot in Cleveland," White has been a pioneer and trailblazer both on camera and behind it.
She has been recognized as the first woman producer of a sitcom, "Life With Elizabeth," which aired from 1953-55. White also starred in the title role, a character she had developed on an even earlier TV talk show called "Hollywood on Television."
Celebrities joining the celebration include Ryan Reynolds, Valerie Bertinelli, Tina Fey, Carl Reiner and many others. Look for clips and interviews with stars of several generations who appeared with her on the small screen, including Valerie Harper, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gavin MacLeod, Tom Sullivan and Alex Trebek.
- What is the real cost of reaching the world’s highest summit? "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" (10 p.m., HBO, TV-PG) looks at the underside of the fixation on Mt. Everest.
At least one person has died trying to conquer that mountain every year since 1977. Of the more than 300 people who have died on Everest, about 200 never have been removed.
A second segment explores shifting attitudes toward NFL cheerleaders and contrasts these hyper-sexualized sideline performers to sporting events abroad, where the role of such figures has declined.