Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House
As a Washington, D.C., reporter for nearly six decades, Helen Thomas has peppered every president since John F. Kennedy with pointed questions. The daughter of illiterate immigrants, she rose to dean of the elite White House press corps and helped open the government corridors of power to female journalists. In this documentary by JFK’s niece, Rory Kennedy, Thomas recounts her colorful career. Monday, Aug. 18, at 9 p.m., HBO

Wide Angle: Iraqi Exodus
Each month, about 50,000 Iraqis of all classes and religions flee their war-torn country. Wide Angle tracks them to their most frequent destinations, Jordan and Syria. Interviewees include an interpreter for the U.S. military who fears for his family and a mother and daughter forced into prostitution to survive. Anchor Aaron Brown also speaks to Jordan’s Queen Noor about how the influx has strained her nation’s resources. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

The Black List: Vol. 1
In this documentary, former New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell interviews an eclectic assortment of 22 noteworthy African-Americans, among them Chris Rock, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, civil-rights activist Vernon Jordan, museum curator Thelma Golden, rock guitarist Slash, and choreographer/dancer Bill T. Jones. The film is part of a multimedia project that includes a book and a traveling photo exhibit. Monday, Aug. 25, at 9 p.m., HBO

Gavin & Stacey
James Corden (The History Boys) and Ruth Jones (Saxondale) are the writers and stars of this charming British series about a couple who want to take their long-distance relationship to the next level—if their quirky family and friends will let them. The show has won two BAFTA awards (Britain’s equivalent to the Emmy). Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 8:40 p.m., BBC America

CNN Special Investigations Unit: Crime & Corruption
As New Orleans attempts to recover from Hurricane Katrina, the city has struggled to overcome the culture of corruption that had become endemic to the Big Easy. Correspondent Soledad O’Brien speaks to the city’s first inspector general about his mission to root out mismanagement, and to prosecutors who are trying to curb the violence that hinders the return of residents, tourists, and business investment. Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m., CNN

Other highlights

McCain Revealed/Obama Revealed

CNN prefaces its political convention coverage with biographies of presumptive nominees John McCain and Barack Obama. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., CNN

Discovery Project Earth
Scientists experiment with theoretical solutions to the ravages of global warming in this new series. Friday, Aug. 22, at 9 p.m., Discovery

Democratic National Convention
PBS reports live 8–11 p.m. nightly; other broadcasters provide prime-time updates; and CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC offer coverage throughout. Monday–Thursday, Aug. 25–28

Show of the week
Documenting the Face of America

Between 1935 and 1943, a gifted group of photographers confronted America with images of the Dust Bowl and the Depression, including Dorothea Lange’s iconic 1936 portrait of a destitute family of California pea pickers, Migrant Mother. This documentary tells how Roy Stryker, head of the Information Division of the Farm Security Administration under FDR, assembled a group of extraordinary talents that included Gordon Parks, Walker Evans, Lange, and many others. Their images, which aroused controversy and charges of propaganda at the time, remain haunting and relevant today. Monday, Aug. 18, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Movies on TV this week

Monday, Aug. 18
Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)
A widow and the heroin-addicted friend of her late husband help each other rebuild their lives in this drama, which drew strong reviews for stars Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro. 8 p.m., Cinemax

Thursday, Aug. 21
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
A traumatized Vietnam veteran starts to lose his grip on reality in this stylish psychological thriller, featuring a fine Tim Robbins. Midnight, Encore

Friday, Aug. 22
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
A wry look at the mysterious workings of the Motion Picture Association of America ratings board, which holds vast sway over movies’ financial prospects. 7:45 p.m., IFC

Sunday, Aug. 24
Bad Boys (1983)
This film rises above prison-movie clichés, thanks to Sean Penn’s star-making performance as a Chicago hoodlum who claws his way to the top of the heap in a juvenile detention facility. 10 p.m., Flix

Tuesday, Aug. 26
La Vie Promise (2002)
In this French drama, the teenage daughter of an aging prostitute kills her mother’s abuser, and the two women go on the run. Starring Isabelle Huppert. 7 p.m., Sundance

Friday, Aug. 29
Vanishing Point (1971)
Fueled by drugs and a disc jockey’s rants, an ex-Marine races police from Denver to San Francisco. Barry Newman and Cleavon Little star in the counterculture cult film. 6 p.m., FMC

Sunday, Aug. 31
Adam’s Rib (1949)
In one of their best co-starring turns, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play husband-and-wife lawyers who wind up on opposing sides of a sensational attempted-murder case. 4:30 p.m., TCM