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TV Note: 'Sins' revives son's pain over dad's bombing role

Saturday, January 05, 2002

Most of all, Tom Cherry just wants it to be done with. But that's a tall order.

For one thing, a new film on cable's FX network is inviting fresh attention to his unrelenting nightmare: The struggle since boyhood for approval from his father as he came to grips with his father's possible involvement in a vicious crime four decades ago.

"It's always gonna be there," says Cherry of his pain. "But I'm not one to run from something."

Premiering Sunday at 8 p.m., "Sins of the Father" is the story of this man who's spent a lifetime "kind of in the shadow of the thing."

Ever since his troubled youth in Birmingham, Ala., Cherry, 49, has lived with the gnawing suspicion that the father he once idolized was among a group of Klansmen who planted a bomb that ripped through a black Baptist church.

That explosion the morning of Sept. 15, 1963, left four girls dead and horrified the nation.

Then ... nothing. Decades passed.

But two years ago, in large part thanks to Tom Cherry's testimony, his father was indicted for murder.

(Of the other suspects, Thomas Blanton Jr. was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001, while another ex-Klansman, Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss, was convicted of murder in 1977 and died in prison. A fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died without being charged.)

Now 72 and ailing, Bobby Frank Cherry at last may stand trial. On Thursday, he was judged mentally competent, in a reversal of a ruling handed down last summer. His trial date could be set later this month.

Playing the son in "Sins of the Father" is Tom Sizemore (currently in theaters in "Black Hawk Down") and the father is played by Richard Jenkins (the spectral patriarch on HBO's "Six Feet Under"). Ving Rhames and Colm Feore also star.

(Frazier Moore, Associated Press)

'Oz' returns

Repairs to the prison may be finished, but the mayhem is starting all over again on "Oz," the HBO drama. In the season premiere, airing at 10 p.m. tomorrow, the prison reopens after a gas explosion. This episode, "Visitation," has a different kind of explosive conclusion.

(F.M.)

Local commercial upsets some

A commercial touting McKean automobile dealerships has upset some viewers because it's made to look like an urgent news break.

"We interrupt this broadcast for a breaking news bulletin," says a scowling fake anchorwoman. Then she adds, "From McKean News Network."

Although it quickly becomes clear this is a pitch for cars, the use of the term "breaking news" has some viewers doing a double take in the atmosphere that exists following last year's terrorist attacks.

"Now when you interrupt a broadcast, it's not that funny," said a woman who called to complain about the spot.

WPXI general manager Ray Carter said he thought most viewers would not be confused into thinking it was an actual news account.

"But I was uncomfortable enough to ask for a disclaimer on it," Carter said. He said it wasn't a reaction to complaints from viewers, "just my own gut saying I would prefer to have a disclaimer in front of that."

The disclaimer, which will air at the start of the spot and clarify that it's not a real news break, should be on the air by today.

McKean president Brad McKean said the company received "varying reactions" to the commercials.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

Rockwell on 'Link'

Pittsburgh native Rick Rockwell, who rose to fame in Fox's "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?" scandal, will be among the contestants in tomorrow's "Newsmakers II" edition of NBC's "Weakest Link" (8 p.m., WPXI).

Other players will include actor Corey Feldman, Diet Coke commercial actor Lucky Vanous, recent "Survivor' winner Tina Wesson, and actor Gary Coleman.

(R.O.)

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