August 30, 1999 12:00 PM

PBS (check local listings)

Turning to business news, the employment picture brightened this month when this hour-long magazine show about honest toil returned to PBS for a six-episode run (four repeats from 1997-98 and two new programs). The first fresh Lively-hood of the year, timed for the Labor Day weekend, is an examination of the American work ethic titled “Chipping off the Old Block.”

Witty host Will Durst, a politically aware comedian with an unpretentious attitude, introduces viewers to a 10-year-old Girl Scout in California who lives to sell cookies (her mother describes her as “a very, uh, interesting person”); twentysomething staffers at a software company in Texas who seem proud of their extreme workaholism (“I’m like a totally psycho person,” one says cheerfully); a top executive in Detroit who serves as a mentor to inner-city teenagers; and a determined single mother in Tennessee who went from minimum-wage office work to a $20-an-hour bricklaying job, with college on the side. It’s a pleasure to meet the bunch of them, but the best segment finds Durst and his retired blue-collar dad chewing the fat in reclining chairs in the older man’s modest Milwaukee home. You sense that wherever the comedian’s career takes him, he’ll never be too far from his roots.

Bottom Line: Earns its keep

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