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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Fireworks and history celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang!

July 03, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Independence Day isn't just for fireworks and picnics. The small screen offers a variety of family fare, with lots of historical tendencies, to tempt kids and parents alike.

Charlie Brown waited for the Great Pumpkin, brought home the tiniest Christmas tree, but didn't neglect Independence Day. This is America, Charlie Brown: The Birth of the Constitution (Sunday, 9 a.m. Disney) takes a Peanuts-y look at the founding fathers. For ages 2 to 8.

If you're tired of being huddled around a tiny sparkler and seek the spectacle, tune into Fireworks! (Sunday 5 p.m., 9 p.m. A&E). Hosted by George Plimpton, the special was filmed at locations throughout the world and tells the history of fireworks from their beginnings in ancient China to the spectacular, computer-choreographed productions of today. For ages 4 and up.

With a subtle theme of racial equality, the film Goodbye, Miss 4th of July (Sunday, 7 p.m. Disney) follows a young Greek immigrant (Roxanna Zal) whose family settles in Montgomery, W. Va. When the family befriends both black and white alike, angering the local Ku Klux Klan, she learns what freedom is all about . For ages 8 and up.

Recently, Madonna boldly encouraged Generation X to "Express Yourself" and, taking her cue, a boy expresses his rights on Roundhouse (Sunday 7:30 p.m. Nickelodeon). In fact, "Rights" is Sunday's theme for the variety show, which features the sketches "Soapbox on a Rope" and "National Inquisitor School of Journalism." For ages 6 to 16.

For some patriotic melodies, there's Star Spangled Branson (Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 8 p.m. Family), with country performances from Johnny Cash, the Oak Ridge Boys, Marie Osmond, Mel Tillis, Jim Stafford and Tony Orlando. For ages 10 and up.

On Monday, Disney devotes much of its day to holiday programming, including the animated Ben and Me (10 a.m.); Tall Tales and Legends: Pecos Bill (11:30 p.m.) starring Steve Guttenberg; the feature-length Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (5:30 p.m.); the documentaries Thomas Jefferson: The Pursuit of Liberty (7 p.m.) and All About the Statue of Liberty (7:40 p.m.). For ages 4 and up.

James Cagney may have gained fame as a movie gangster, but he's unforgettable in his Academy Award-winning role as Broadway showstopper George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (Monday at 2 p.m. TNT). Joan Leslie and Walter Huston play supporting characters. For ages 12 and up.

Wakko wowed the world with his clever and quick-paced ditty "Wakko's World." Monday, the fast talker is challenged to name all 50 states and their capitals to music in "Wakko's America." The Warners help Abe Lincoln write the Gettysburg Address in "Four Score and Seven Migraines Ago," and the tip of a candle comes to life and plays an important part in the birth of America in "The Flame" on Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs (4 p.m.)

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