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April 03, 1988|Lee Margulies

From game show to TV movie: That's where Vanna White is headed. The popular letter-turner from "Wheel of Fortune" is starring in "The Goddess of Love" for NBC. She portrays Venus, who comes to life after 3,000 years. NBC describes the film as a romantic comedy.

Soap opera star Mary Stuart, who played Jo on "Search for Tomorrow" for 35 years, will turn up on ABC's "One Life to Live" this month. She'll play a judge hearing a murder trial. Her first appearance will be April 15, and the role will last for two weeks. Another veteran soap actress, Rosemary Prinz, this week joins "Ryan's Hope" in the role of a nun. She started back in 1956 on "As the World Turns" and later appeared on "All My Children."

Phil Donahue will fill in for Bryant Gumbel as co-host of NBC's "Today" show this week, when Gumbel is on vacation. Gumbel will be off again the week of April 18, traveling to Seoul, Korea, to prepare for his assignment as an anchor for NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics. His substitute that week will be Jim Hartz, who was host of "Today" from 1974-77.

In an effort to boost the visibility of cable TV, the National Cable Television Assn. and the National Academy of Cable Programming have declared April National Cable Month. They're trying to draw attention to the variety of program options available on cable.

President Reagan and two of his predecessors, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, will appear on ABC April 16 in "Conversations with the Presidents." It's a one-hour program in which the trio answer questions from children about the presidency and other matters.

Next Sunday, Raquel Welch stars in NBC's "Scandal in a Small Town," playing a small-town cocktail waitress who complains about a teacher at her daughter's high school and finds herself the center of controversy. Ronny Cox plays the teacher and Christa Denton is the teen-age daughter.

The Arts: The much-discussed opera "Nixon in China," which had its world premiere last year, is coming to television April 15. It'll be shown on the PBS "Great Performances" series, having been taped at the Houston Grand Opera. . . . The Broadway play "A Walk in the Woods," which opened on Broadway last month, also is bound for PBS. At the conclusion of its run, it will be taped for future broadcast, with Sam Waterston and Robert Prosky in the roles of delegates to a U.S.-Soviet arms control meeting.

Meredith Baxter Birney will again use her time off from the NBC series "Family Ties" to tackle a role decidedly different from that of working mom Elyse Keaton. She's starring in a TV movie for NBC called "Winnie," playing a woman who has spent most of her life in an institution for the mentally retarded and is determined to leave and take up normal living on the outside.

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