MGM: When the Lion Roars (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): If the old Hollywood was a dream factory, then MGM was its greatest assembly line, at its height turning out films that defined the look and tone of American movies.

This six-hour documentary - airing weekly in two-hour blocks - chronicles the rise, glory years, and decline of the powerful movie studio, whose dominance was symbolized by the roaring-lion clip preceding its movies.

The story is fit for one of MGM's own dramatic films - from the time in the 1920s when an ex-junk dealer named Louis B. Mayer began his movie business, through the creation of icons like Greta Garbo and Clark Gable, to MGM's slide into disarray in the 1980s.

The opening episode - 1924-1936 - covers the empire-building of Mayer and his production boss, Irving Thalberg, a name almost as bright as the stars he helped create. The studio churned out hit after hit - films like ``Grand Hotel'' and ``Dinner at Eight.''

(Episodes two and three air Sept. 6 and 13.)

US Open Late Night (CBS, 12:37-1:07 a.m.): Highlights of the day's play in the tennis classic, with analysis and interviews. * WEDNESDAY

US Open Late Night (CBS, 12:37-1:07 a.m.): Highlights. * THURSDAY

Biography (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): Thanks to the strike, you may not be able to watch baseball, but you can watch the career and life of the greatest icon of that and probably any sport. ``The Babe,'' a new program in the notable A&E series, looks at Geroge Herman Ruth the player and the man.

It chronicles Babe Ruth's tough early years at an industrial school in Baltimore, the beginning of his pro career at age 19, his years with the Red Sox and Yankees, and his triumphant 60-homer season in 1927, a mark not broken until 1961. The show does not overlook a freewheeling lifestyle that some called irresponsible, and his dedication to the young fans who loved him.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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