Pro Football / 10 a.m. CBS, Fox
CBS welcomes home the National Football League for the first time since 1994, giving Southland viewers an AFC doubleheader featuring Pittsburgh at Baltimore and the New York Jets at San Francisco. Fox opens its NFC package with a game determined by a viewers' poll. ESPN, which no longer shares the Sunday night schedule with TNT, kicks off its season at 5:15 p.m. when Oakland visits Kansas City. And on "Monday Night Football," which now starts one hour earlier at 5 p.m., New England faces the defending world champion Denver Broncos.
"Behind the Planet of the Apes" / 2:30 and 7 p.m. AMC
Getting the "Apes" series to the big screen was not an easy task, as this two-hour special explains. Producer Arthur P. Jacobs had to convince 20th Century Fox that a film with actors in monkey suits could be both entertaining and profitable. Hosted by veteran Roddy McDowall (who played Cornelius), the program includes behind-the-scenes footage, screen tests, photos and interviews with Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison and others. AMC also screens each of the five films on Sunday and Monday, including the 1968 original based on Pierre Boulle's sly science-fiction saga.
"Giving Up the Ghost" / 9 p.m. Lifetime
Ready for a farfetched and moribund "comedy" in which the spirit of a dead husband encourages his wife to commit suicide and join him on the other side? Marg Helgenberger and real-life mate Alan Rosenberg star as Anna and Jake, the characters in question. Anna is lonely, and Jake is eager for her to swallow sleeping pills. Before making that pivotal decision, however, Anna must defend a husband accused of killing his wife, a case she works with the help of a smitten private investigator (Brian Kerwin).
"Instant Comedy With the Groundlings" / 10 p.m. FX
Fans of the summer hit "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" may be drawn to this new series showcasing the rapier-witted troupe whose famous members include Jon Lovitz, Julia Sweeney, Paul Reubens, Kathy Griffin, Lisa Kudrow and the late Phil Hartman. Each episode features seven fast-on-their-feet comics and a celebrity guest (often a Groundlings alumnus) performing an unscripted half hour of improvisational sketches.
"Costello" / 8:30 p.m. Fox
This new comedy series about a South Boston bartender is loaded with beer nuts. Comedian Sue Costello plays a tough, crass cookie serving the suds to blue-collar types. At work, she yaks about her favorite "word of the day" and jokes in the men's room with best friend Trish (Kerry O'Malley). At home, she contends with an obstinate Irish-Catholic father (Dan Lauria), an uptight mother (Jenny O'Hara) and a brawling brother (Chuck Walczak). Beware: The dialogue on this show from the producers of "Home Improvement" is surprisingly raunchy.
"MTV Video Music Awards" / 8 and 11:30 p.m. MTV
Back in Los Angeles for the first time in five years, this 15th annual bash brings out Madonna, Hole, Marilyn Manson, Beastie Boys, Master P and the Dave Matthews Band as performers at the Universal Amphitheatre. Brandy and Monica also show up to sing "The Boy Is Mine." Madonna, who sports a different look every time she's on the show, leads the field with nine nominations for "Ray of Light" and "Frozen." Ben Stiller, always a hoot on the "MTV Movie Awards," has been tapped as host for the tape-delayed telecast.
"13 at 50" / 8 p.m. KCOP
For a station entering a fifth decade, KCOP hardly shows its age. Nonetheless, in this two-hour retrospective co-hosted by news anchors Tawny Little and Alan Frio, the emphasis is on nostalgia and popular shows of the past. Beyond interviews with Steve Allen, Dick Clark, June Lockhart, Buddy Ebsen, Regis Philbin and Leonard Nimoy, the special features clips of Betty White's 1950s sitcom "Life With Elizabeth" and the '60s dance hit, "The Lloyd Thaxton Show." In addition, there are highlights of vintage talk shows (Liberace and Zsa Zsa!), children's fare (Hobo Kelly, "Romper Room") and news footage.