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April 5, 2012

TV specials revisit Titanic's final moments

From dramas to docs, the Titanic centennial won't escape TV's notice. On special programming, viewers will be welcomed aboard the doomed luxury vessel, hear stories of its passengers and crew, and explore the legacy of its tragic end.

If you don't feel like heading for your local movie house to see James Cameron's "Titanic" re-released in 3-D splendor, you can catch a new dramatic telling of the epic saga on ABC.

This four-hour miniseries can't claim Leonardo DiCaprio, but it does have a big name attached: Julian Fellowes, the acclaimed screenwriter of "Gosford Park," "The Tourist" and "Downton Abbey." It airs over two nights, beginning at 8 p.m. EST on April 14 and concluding the next night at 9 p.m. EDT to mark the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking.

Linus Roache ("Law & Order") stars as lofty first-class passanger Hugh, Earl of Manton, while his wife, Louisa, is played by Geraldine Somerville (the "Harry Potter" films). Their daughter Georgianna is played by Perdita Weeks ("The Tudors").

Each hour follows similar events from the perspectives of different passengers and crew, building to a powerful conclusion in the final hour that draws together all the stories during Titanic's final moments -- and the final moments of many people it was carrying.

Other Titanic programming includes:

-- "Saving the Titanic" (premiered April 1 on most PBS stations) is a historical drama that tells of the self-sacrifice and bravery of the ship's engineers, stokers and firemen in the face of impending death. What happened in the engine and boiler rooms after the collision? Based on eyewitness accounts, it's the story of nine men from the engineering crew who battled to fight back the sea and keep the power running, even when they realized all was lost.

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