L.A. Is Burning (PBS, Frontline, 9-10:30 p.m.): Five people - journalists, writers, and professors - who have written about the Los Angeles riots revisit the city to probe the causes and effects of the violence. Each individual takes the viewer on a journey to different neighborhoods and examines the untold stories and misconceptions about what happened. The program traces the chronology of events from the Rodney King verdict and the ensuing three days of burning and looting to present-day L.A. Familiar TV images of the event are interspersed with home videos that have never been broadcast. Viewers hear the perspectives of gang members as well as so-called white liberals from upper-class enclaves who ended up defending their property with guns. The program aims to find out how well we understand what happened there, why it happened, and how L.A. is a warning signal. WEDNESDAY
Fires in the Mirror (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): In May 1992, Anna Deavere Smith's one-woman play premiered in New York City for a two-week engagement. It ended up running for three months to sold-out audiences. Now director George Wolfe has created a filmed version of her award-winning play for "American Playhouse." "Fires in the Mirror" retells the tragedy that occurred in August 1991 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, when a car driven by a Hasidic Jew struck and killed a black child. Several hours later, a group of bl ack youths stabbed a Hasidic scholar in apparent retaliation. Playwright Smith plays 19 characters, who tell the story from different viewpoints. Her portrayals are based on her interviews with ministers, witnesses, and others, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and an Orthodox Jewish housewife. She speaks their exact words from transcripts and mimics their voices and gestures.
Please check local listings for all programs, especially those on PBS.