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Fourth of July TV schedule 2017: Hot dog eating contest, movie and TV marathons, more

Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Tom Sizemore are

Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Tom Sizemore are among the A-list cast in "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). Credit: DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures / David James

Independence Day is filled with patriotic TV programs, plus movie/TV marathons to serve as day-off binge bait. It’s not quite as busy when the holiday falls in the middle of the week, but there are still enough options to satisfy a variety of viewing desires.

American history

Salute the documents that created our democracy with the new special “The Words That Built America” (7 p.m., HBO). More than 100 readers bring alive our founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Among them are all six living presidents, six vice presidents, senators, congressmen, plus celebrities including Robert De Niro, America Ferrera, Morgan Freeman, Yo-Yo Ma, Rosie O’Donnell, Kerry Washington, Common, Anderson Cooper, Dwayne Johnson and Meryl Streep.

“America the Story of Us” (7 a.m.-7 p.m., History) — The 2010 docudrama with special effects charts four centuries of national development, cultural challenges, industrial growth, technology innovation, more.

“Patriots Rising: The American Revolution” (8-11 a.m., 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 2-5 p.m., AHC) and “The Revolutionary War” (5-11 p.m., AHC) — Docuseries chart the colonists’ 18th century war for freedom.

“To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine” (9 a.m., 3 p.m., WLIW World) — One-man play brings alive the writer who promoted the revolution in his pamphlets “Common Sense” and “American Crisis.”

“The Statue of Liberty” (2 p.m., WLIW/21) — Ken Burns’ 1985 hour history of the harbor landmark features James Baldwin, Mario Cuomo and others.

“Sons of Liberty” (3:30-8 p.m., Starz Encore) — The 2015 miniseries dramatizes America’s founding fathers, with Jason O’Mara as George Washington, Henry Thomas as John Adams and Dean Norris as Benjamin Franklin.

“A Star-Spangled Story: Battle for America (4 p.m., Smithsonian) — How Francis Scott Key wrote the War of 1812 poem that became the national anthem.

“America’s Greatest Monuments” (5 p.m., Smithsonian) — The Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, more.

Movies of American history/spirit — James Cagney plays patriotic tunesmith George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (8 p.m.) and William Daniels stars as John Adams in the musical “1776” (10:15 p.m., both TCM).

Holiday events

“Today’s Picks” at the right side of this page details holiday fireworks. But July 4 also holds Coney Island’s annual “Hot Dog Eating Contest” (noon, ESPN2; encores at 4 and 10 p.m.). Tune in early for previous years on ESPN Classic, repeating in chronological order through noon.

Movie marathons

Every three hours for 24 hours, it’s the 1996 blockbuster “Independence Day” (Tuesday 6 a.m.-Wednesday 6 a.m., E!) with Will Smith and Bill Pullman.

“Green Lantern” kicks off a day of superhero films (7 a.m.-2 a.m., FX) that also includes 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Captain America.”

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” leads into “European Vacation” and “Vegas Vacation,” with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo (noon-6 p.m., 6 p.m.-midnight, AMC).

“Forrest Gump” is followed by a second Tom Hanks hit, “Saving Private Ryan” (12:30-8 p.m., 8 p.m.-3:30 a.m., Spike)

“First Blood” and two other Rambo films star Sylvester Stallone (8 p.m.-2:30 a.m., IFC).

Series marathons

Among them: “Veep” (8:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m., HBO2); “Spartacus: War of the Damned” (2-11:39 p.m., Starz Black); “Silicon Valley” (3-8 p.m., HBO2); and of course, our annual visit to “The Twilight Zone” (Monday at midnight to Wednesday 5 a.m., Syfy).

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