December 21, 1998 12:00 PM

Lifetime (Sat., Dec. 26, 10 p.m. ET)

We thought we could do without an hour’s profile of the Sex and the Single Girl author (1962) and longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine (1965-97). But there turns out to be much of interest in the subject’s life before she made her name selling glossy sex.

We learn how deeply Brown, now 76, was influenced by a mother who praised her intelligence but made her feel unattractive. We discover her devotion to a sister crippled by polio. And we come to respect her for propelling herself from over-achieving ad agency secretary to star copywriter.

As Brown achieves celebrity and publishing success (aided by husband David Brown, producer of such films as Jaws and The Sting), Intimate Portrait suffers from a lack of shading. Feminist critics of Cosmo are typed as “bra-burners” by narrator Gene Shalit. The program fails to probe the psychology behind Brown’s determination to fight aging with plastic surgery. Give her this, though: She’s got drive.

Bottom Line: Check out this Cosmo girl

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