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Women in the mob look back on WE

By Kevin McDonough

United Feature Syndicate

Nearly a year has passed since the final episode of "The Sopranos," and we’re still wondering whether Tony got to enjoy that order of onion rings. Part of what stood out was Tony’s relationships with women. While most mobster movies are about guys putting other guys in cement shoes, Tony struggled mightily to understand his wife, his mother, his sister, his mistress(es), his daughter and, of course, his therapist.

The documentary series "Secret Lives of Women" (9 p.m., WE) profiles three mafia women who, for very different reasons, became the widow, the wife and the girlfriend of mobsters.

The wife endured Carmela Soprano’s worst nightmare when police and DEA agents descended on her home while she was sending her children off to school. The widow knew something was up when her husband didn’t call home to check up on their sick son. He hasn’t been heard from since 1992. The Philadelphia girlfriend saw her life of glitz turn to ashes when her much older boyfriend became a federal witness. She had never been terribly popular with her boyfriend’s fellow hoods. Suddenly, she was linked to a "rat," and that made her vulnerable.

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Each of the women says her slide into the criminal was gradual or unconscious. Two admit that they were raised "to serve men" and say that their lack of education and options made "the life" look good — until it turned very ugly. At least two have written books. And, in a move that would make Christopher Moltisanti proud, at least one is at work on a screenplay.

  • In 1996, acclaimed filmmaker David Breashears was closing in on his third successful ascent of Mount Everest. He and his team were documenting the climb for an IMAX movie. A sudden storm changed the subject of that movie. Suddenly, he was covering a rescue mission and an ordeal that trapped three teams near the top of the world. In "Storm Over Everest" on "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS), survivors recall their ordeal, the acts of bravery and moments of fear, and the five climbers (including two expedition leaders) who did not make it.
  • DVDs available today include the acclaimed 1976 miniseries "The Adams Chronicles" and the 1992 miniseries "Sinatra."

Other highlights

  • The top three warble on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • "Nova" (7 p.m., PBS) presents "A Walk to Beautiful," documenting clinics in Ethiopia helping mothers overcome a common and devastating affliction.
  • A storage unit holds grim residue on "Criminal Minds" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14,V).
  • Lake’s zealous pursuit of a teen’s killer has unintended consequences on the ninth-season finale of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14), following a repeat "SVU" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
  • Spunky, fashion-forward women target a serial killer on the first-season finale of "Women’s Murder Club" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

Series notes
Jimmy finds himself on the wrong end of a gun on "NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG,V) … Clips on "Most Outrageous Moments" (7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., r, NBC) … On two episodes of "According to Jim" (ABC, TV-PG), Cheryl’s fib (7 p.m.), the devil is in the details (7:30 p.m.) … A winner emerges on "Beauty and the Geek" (7 p.m., CW) … A singer doesn’t survive a party at Hefner’s posh mansion on "Shark" (8 p.m., CBS) … Blue smoke on "Hell’s Kitchen" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14,L) … A last dance for one on "Dancing with the Stars" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … The devil has a security problem on "Reaper" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).

Late night

John Harwood is scheduled on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) … Regis Philbin, Laura Dern and Death Cab for Cutie appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) … Jay Leno hosts Evangeline Lilly, Ben Barnes and Switchfoot on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) … David Spade, Jean Smart and Ashlee Simpson appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC) … Steve Carell, Alyson Hannigan and Duffy are booked on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Craig Ferguson hosts John Cusack and Parminder Nagra on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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