Election night projections, prognostications, analysis, results and second-guessing take center stage, pre-empting all prime-time programming on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS. Political affairs also will consume the attention of cable news outlets CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all day and well into the night, perhaps extending to the year 2016.
Presidential election night coverage always involves a balancing act between real drama and manufactured tension, and between news that gets reported and information that is withheld out of deference to those still voting.
On election night 2008, the networks did not project Barack Obama as the winner until polls closed in California. That did not happen in 1980, when the networks announced a Ronald Reagan landslide victory on the East Coast early in the evening, before many in the Pacific time zone had cast their votes.
Of course, no electoral drama lasted quite as long as the nail-biting, hanging-chad election of 2000, which took more than a month to decide (and inspires arguments to this day).
---Viewers seeking to flee the night of politics might turn to the series finale of "The Men Who Built America" (9 p.m., History, r), a rather 19th-century view of the inventors, tycoons and financiers behind our country's technological revolutions.
But even this is shot through with politics, as "Men" describes a cabal of tycoons -- Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan -- in search of a friendly presidential administration. As the 20th century dawns, Henry Ford experiments with a gasoline-powered car and an assassin's bullet kills President William McKinley, bringing Theodore Roosevelt to the White House -- a mixed blessing for men un-
accustomed to government involvement in their business affairs.
---Horrified that your candidate didn't win? Few scary movies hold up as well as the 1968 shocker "Rosemary's Baby" (9 p.m., Sundance). John Cassavetes stars as an insecure actor who makes a deal with the devil for a good part. This takes its toll on his naive wife (Mia Farrow), who retaliates with one of the more shocking coiffure changes in cinematic history.
According to cinema gossip and lore, Farrow got the radically short bob in the middle of the film's production, which irked her jealous older (and soon-to-be ex) husband, Frank Sinatra. The new hairdo added to Rosemary's haunted and terrified look as it dawned on her that she was not having a typical pregnancy. She even got to mention the name of her hairdresser: Vidal Sassoon.
Based on a book by Ira Levin, "Rosemary's Baby" was the first in a spate of
popular movies to deal with
satanism and the devil. The novelist would come to regret the popularization of satanic themes. In a newspaper interview cited in his 2007 obituary in The New York Times, Levin suggested that popular novels and movies extolling a belief in Satan may have contributed to the rise of religious fundamentalism. That obituary concluded with Levin's regret and his amusing line, "Of course, I didn't send back any of the
---Brad Pitt stars in the glossy 2008 drama "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (8 p.m., Fox Movie Channel), about a baby born an old man who grows progressively younger through the years. Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
---TV-themed DVDs available today include "Sesame Street: Old School (1979-
---Way up north on "Alaska: The Last Frontier" (9 p.m., Discovery).
---Officers can't tell lying inmates from honest ones on "Hard Time" (9 p.m., National Geographic).
---New Jersey shoplifters face the music on "Caught Red Handed" (9:30 p.m., TruTV).
---Jax gets closer to the truth on "Sons of Anarchy" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
---"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" (10 p.m., OWN, r) visits with "Long Island Lolita" victim Mary Jo Buttafuoco, a young plastic surgery addict and conjoined twins.
---Sports clips take center stage on "Viral Video Showdown" (10:30 p.m., Syfy).
A kept woman (Constance Bennett) finds true love in Paris in the 1930 drama "Sin Takes a Holi day" (9:30 p.m., TCM).
---Live election coverage is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Mindy Kaling, Willard Wigan and Barry Rothbart appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).
---Nico Santos, Heather McDonald and Rob Delaney are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---"The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central) will follow the election results.
Other network late night shows are pre-empted by election coverage.
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.