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Highlights

TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : 'Every Day' is Christmas on the Family Channel as holidays begins; PBS' 'Great' Arthur Freed

December 01, 1996|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Christmas Every Day" / 7 p.m. Family Channel

If "Groundhog Day" is one of your favorite films, then do we have a movie for you. Meet Billy Jackson (Erik von Detten), a teen whose father (Robert Hays) has learned--on Christmas, no less--that a relative plans to build a store that would put him out of business. The next day, Billy has a nagging sense of deja vu when he relives Dec. 25, an occurrence that happens over and over. Hey, where the heck is Bill Murray when you need him?

****

"Vanessa Williams & Friends: Christmas in New York" / 8 p.m. ABC

Do you hear what I hear? It's the sound of yuletide specials airing all over the airwaves between now and the big day. In this one, the talented Williams takes center stage at the Shubert Theatre, where her guests are Phil Collins, Babyface, Shania Twain, Luther Vandross, Rosie O'Donnell and the Boys Choir of Harlem. Among the musical selections: "Star Bright" (Williams); "White Christmas" (O'Donnell, joined by Elmo of "Sesame Street") and "God Bless the Child."

****

"Calm at Sunset" / 9 p.m. CBS

A young man follows his dream, putting him at odds with family, in this appealing TV movie. As the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" drama opens, James (Peter Facinelli) returns to his coastal hometown after dropping out of college. He yearns to be a fisherman, a goal pursued with help from a newfound friend (Kevin Conroy). The decision creates a conflict with James' father (Michael Moriarty), a man familiar with the many hardships of life at sea.

Monday

"Great Performances" / 8 p.m. KCET

"He changed the look of musicals," says Cyd Charisse of Arthur Freed, the man behind such golden oldies as "Meet Me in St. Louis," "An American in Paris" and "Singin' in the Rain." In "Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM," we learn about the elusive figure who shunned the spotlight, content to let the films speak for him. The 90-minute retrospective is full of clips and interviews with the likes of Leslie Caron, Ann Miller, Mickey Rooney and Stanley Donen.

****

"The Prosecutors" / 9 p.m. NBC

Michelle Forbes, currently making her mark as no-nonsense medical examiner Julianna Cox on the splendid "Homicide: Life on the Street," is one of three women heading this unsold pilot set in the New York district attorney's office. She plays a litigator whose confidence in the system is shattered following the murder of her husband ("Homicide's" Clark Johnson). Also on board are Stockard Channing, as a former mentor, and Judy Reyes as an ambitious intern. Though it failed to make the NBC schedule, this drama boasts a script by Lynda La Plante ("Prime Suspect") and Tom Fontana ("Homicide").

Wednesday

"The 1996 Billboard Awards" / 8 p.m. Fox

Chris Rock is on a roll. Hilarious as guest host of a recent "Saturday Night Live" (his monologue was the freshest and funniest in years), the hot comic soon will get his own late-night talk show on HBO. This week, he oversees the seventh annual special in which Toni Braxton, Celine Dion, New Edition, ZZ Top and Dishwalla sing their hits.

****

"An Unexpected Family" / 9 p.m. USA

Very little of the unexpected surfaces in this derivative made-for-cable drama. Stockard Channing (yes, again) stars as a single woman whose irresponsible sister (Christine Ebersole), in familiar "Kramer vs. Kramer" style, walks out on her son (Noah Fleiss) and daughter (Chelsea Russo). Channing, as you might expect, is "not very good with kids," but she comes to care for them with support from a friend (Stephen Collins).

Saturday

"The Selena Murder Trial: The E! True Hollywood Story" / 4 p.m. E!

A big-screen biopic about the slain Tejano singer is in the works. In the meantime, E! Entertainment offers this two-hour "docudrama" based on testimony from the much-publicized trial in which fan club president Yolanda Saldivar was found guilty of first-degree murder. The principals are played by Lizzett Padilla and Socorra Mora, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Saldivar. Next year, E! plans to carry similar programs on a monthly basis.

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