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Yes, Virginia, There is a Lot of Christmas Programming


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go and everywhere you look on television.

Now through Dec. 25, viewers will be deluged with more than 80 Christmas specials, endless repeats of such holiday films as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" and yuletide-themed episodes of TV series.

Whew! That's enough Christmas cheer to last an entire lifetime.

NBC has three new holiday movies in the offing: "Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story," featuring John Ritter as the creator of Dorothy, Toto and Co.; "A Mom for Christmas," with Olivia Newton-John as a mannequin who comes to life, and "Guess Who's Coming for Christmas," starring Beau Bridges as a stressed-out alien.

Dolly Parton is returning to her old Tennessee home for a musical holiday special on ABC and the animated and real New Kids on the Block host a musical yuletide celebration for the network. "All Creatures Great & Small" fans will have something to cheer about: A&E is presenting a two-hour holiday episode Christmas Eve.

Bravo is airing two versions of the classic ballet "The Nutcracker," and Showtime's daredevil Super Dave will celebrate the holidays in his own unique way.

Plus a host of Christmas favorites also will be returning: "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Below is a guide to select holiday specials that will be airing on the commercial and cable networks, PBS and independent stations. (Some specials may be repeated later in the month.) For airings of holiday movies, please consult TV Times' weekly movie guide.


"New Kids on the Block Christmas Special" (Friday at 9 p.m.) is an animated special with live-action highlights that finds the teeny-bopper heartthrobs learning the true meaning of Christmas from a boy with magical powers.

"Dolly Parton: Christmas at Home" (Dec. 21 at 9 p.m.) returns the country-Western singer/actress to her childhood home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee for this yuletide special.

"Roots: The Gift": (Dec. 24 at 9 p.m.) is a repeat of the 1988 holiday special. CBS

"I Love Lucy Christmas Special" ( Monday at 8:30 p.m.) is a repeat of the holiday-flavored "lost episode."

"Disney Christmas on Ice" ( Dec. 21) celebrates the holiday with Disney characters and such ice-skating stars as Peggy Fleming and Scott Hamilton.

Also: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Friday at 8 p.m.), "Frosty the Snowman" (Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.), "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Dec. 19 at 8:30 p.m.), and "The Waltons' Homecoming" (Dec. 25 at 11:30 a.m.). NBC

"The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story" (Monday at 9 p.m.) stars John Ritter, Annette O'Toole and Rue McClanahan in a drama about the "The Wizard of Oz" author.

"Bob Hope Christmas" (Saturday at 10 p.m.) finds Hope in Bermuda with Dixie Carter, Joan Van Ark, Loni Anderson, the Associated Press All-American Football Team and the 1991 Rose Queen.

"A Mom for Christmas" (Dec. 17 at 9 p.m.) is Olivia Newton-John, going dramatic in a modern-day fairy tale about a department store mannequin who comes to life after a motherless little girl wishes she had a mother

"Christmas in Washington" (Dec. 19 at 10 p.m.). John Denver hosts this ninth annual holiday festival with Aretha Franklin, Reba McIntire and soprano Barbara Hendricks. The special benefits the Children's Hospital.

"Guess Who's Coming For Christmas" (Dec. 23 at 9 p.m.) stars Richard Mulligan and Beau Bridges in a comedy about the friendship that develops between a retiree and a stressed-out alien.

"Christmas Eve at St. Peters" (Dec. 24 at midnight). NBC News covers midnight mass at the Vatican.

Also: "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.); "Christmas Eve" with Loretta Young (Dec. 24). PBS

"Shining Time Station Holiday Special" (Dec. 21 at noon KCET). Harry the Engineer tells a holiday story and Mr. Conductor narrates two holiday tales.

"The King's Singers at Wells" (Dec. 23 at 5:30 p.m. KCET) features the British singing group at Wells Cathedral.

"The 31st Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Program" (Dec. 24 at 9 a.m. KCET) is 12 hours of the annual concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

"Christmas at Pops" (Sunday at 7:30 p.m. KCET). John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra celebrate with soprano Barbara Hendricks. Ed Asner and Allison Waggener read "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus."

"Live From Lincoln Center" (Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. KOCE, 8:30 p.m. KCET) is headlined by Irish flutist James Galway.

"Great Performances" (Dec. 21 at 9:30 p.m. KCET; Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. KOCE) offers "Beatrix Potter's Tailor of Gloucester," featuring Ian Holm.

Also: "A Christmas Special with Luciano Pavarotti" (Sunday at 8:50 p.m. KCET); "Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Shirley Verrett" (Sunday at 10 p.m. KCET); "Great Performances": "Christmas with Flicka" (Sunday at 11:10 p.m. KCET); "Christmas at King's" (Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. KOCE, 10 p.m. KCET); "Christmas Eve on Sesame St." (Dec. 24 at 8 a.m. KCET). LOCAL


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