Tuesday TV: The Oafish Billionaire and the Poor Kids of Iowa

If “American Masters” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) were named instead “American Bastards,” it might be more fitting that there’s a two hour profile of David Geffen, one of the most off-putting billionaires in entertainment.

A guy who lied to get his first job and broke federal law to do it, succeeded at first by being an agent who pushed for every whim of the artists he cultivated. And at first Geffen had some taste, signing Paula Abdul, Jackson Browne, suggesting the formation of the Eagles and assisting in the creation of Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Director Susan Lacy is mostly a music fan, so dwells lovingly on this era, using CSN music later in the film after we’ve long left that part of the story. He manages to alienate everyone he’s helped in music when he decides to sell his company to a corporation, which is sold again.

An initial foray into film doesn’t go well, so he goes back to music and hires a team that signs terrible acts or good acts that are long past their prime. The difference between the Titanic and Geffen Records, one stinging quip goes, is that the Titanic had better bands. He sues Neil Young for not making commercial music and is asked to tell Yoko that John Lennon has died.

Then he gets involved back in movies and produces a number of movies that are successful if not exactly classics (“Risky Business” is not “Citizen Kane”). From then on the two hour film is either about how ruthless he was or how generous he was. Carl Sandburg only got an hour. [Here's the story I wrote when Geffen reluctantly met the press last summer].

Stick around, though, and there’s an absolutely heartbreaking edition of “Frontline” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings) in which children in small town Iowa talk about their poverty. Their clear-eyed reactions to their bleak situation will bring to mind the callus statements about “takers” in the society and bring perspective to the overindulgences of Turkey Day and Black Friday. Perhaps its wisdom will make us thankful.

Paula Abul will perform a medley of her hits on the “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC, 8 p.m.) results show, as the field is shrunk to four contestants.

The field is trimmed to eight on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

The Roman Empire’s role in the spread of Christianity is the subject on the second episode of “Mankind: The Story of All of Us” (History, 9 p.m.).

It’s Thanksgiving on “Happy Endings” (ABC, 9 p.m.), ‘New Girl” (Fox, 9 p.m.), where Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner guest star as Jess’s parents,  “The Mindy Project” (Fox, 9:30 p.m.), where Ed Helms makes a return visit, and even on “NCIS” (CBS, 8 p.m.). But it’s all about a high school reunion on “Ben and Kate” (Fox, 8:30 p.m.).

Lauren Graham guest stars on “Go Now” (NBC, 9 p.m.).

The month-long Tuesday night salute to Constance Bennett continues with “After Office Hours” (TCM, 8 p.m.), “Merrily We Live” (TCM, 9:30 p.m.), “Topper” (TCM, 11:15 p.m.), “Topper Takes a Trip” (TCM, 1 a.m.), “Bed of Roses” (TCM, 3:30 a.m.) and “Fifty Million Frenchmen” (TCM, 4:45 a.m.).

The 50th anniversary of “To Kill the Mockingbird” (AMC, 8 p.m.) warrants a full night’s screening.

Remember the “Oprah” show about a schizophrenic child? Neither do I, but a new episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” (OWN, 10 p.m.) recalls.

The home made pepper spray in a SuperSoaker is the highlight of tonight’s “Doomsday Preppers” (National Geographic Channel, 9 p.m.).

Among tonight’s competitions are “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) and “Chef Race U.K. vs. U.S.” (BBC America, 10 p.m.).

Jax gets his affairs in order on “Sons of Anarchy” (FX, 10 p.m.).

Piper Perabo travels to Amsterdam on the season three finale of “Covert Affairs” (USA, 10 p.m.).

One is much taller than the other when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar meets Chuck D on “Iconoclasts” (Sundance, 8 p.m.).

There are lots of college basketball games on today, including Marquette vs. Mississippi State (ESPN2, 2:30 p.m.), Georgia vs. UCLA (ESPNU, 5:30 p.m.), DePaul vs. Wichita State (ESPN, 7 p.m.), Butler vs. North Carolina (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Havard at St. Joseph’s (NBC Sports, 8 p.m.), Iowa vs. Western Kentucky (CBS Sports, 9:30 p.m.), Saint Louis vs. Kansas (ESPNU, 9:30 p.m.) and Indiana vs. Georgetown (ESPN, 10 p.m.).

But there’s just one college football game: Akron at Toledo (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).

Daytime Talk
Kelly & Michael:
Amy Poehler, Rico Rodriguez. The View: Willie Nelson, Ken Burns, Sarah Burns. The Talk: Chris O’Donnell, Dr. Michelle Callahan. Katie Couric: Giuliana & Bill Rancic. Ellen DeGeneres: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kelly Clarkson.

Late Talk
David Letterman: Amy Poehler, Josh Hutcherson, Tegan and Sara. Jay Leno: Lindsay Lohan, David Gregory, Wanda Jackson. Jimmy Kimmel: Demi Lovato, Andy Allo. Jimmy Fallon: Bob Costas, Miranda Cosgrove, Pitbull. Craig Ferguson: Marion Cotillard, Kevin Pollack. Carson Daly: Citizen Cope, Atlas Genius, Wolfgang (rerun). Tavis Smiley: Paul Tough. Jon Stewart: Nate Silver (rerun). Stephen Colbert: Doris Kearns Goodwin (rerun). Conan O’Brian: Ben Stiller, Olivia Munn, Flo Rida (rerun). Chelsea Handler: Pitbull, James Davis, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ross Mathews.

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