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TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : 'Critical Choices' surround abortion on Showtime; CBS asks Martha Stewart 'Home for the Holidays'

December 08, 1996|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Samson and Delilah" / 5, 7 and 9 p.m. TNT. Concludes Wednesday

He was the Israelite with the strength to snap a lion's neck. She was the fetching Philistine who turned on him. In its simplest terms, this is a tale of love and betrayal. Eric Thal plays the hero with long hair and good looks. Elizabeth Hurley is the beauty who cuts him down.

****

"Danny Kaye: A Legacy of Laughter" / 7:30 p.m. KCET

Oh, Kaye! Versatility was the strong suit of the Brooklyn-born funny man who could sing, dance and make us laugh in films such as "Wonder Man" (1945), "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1947) and "White Christmas" (1954). Rosemary Clooney (a co-star in "White Christmas"), Harry Belafonte, Carl Reiner and daughter Dena Kaye reflect on the comic's multiple talents in this "American Masters" profile.

****

"Critical Choices" / 8 p.m. Showtime

Strong ratings for HBO's "If These Walls Could Talk" proved viewers would watch a timely film dealing with abortion. Naturally, the star power of Cher, Sissy Spacek and Demi Moore did not hurt the cause. Here, the story concerns three women who come together during a tense standoff at an abortion clinic in Milwaukee. The protagonists: a doctor (Betty Buckley), a pro-choice activist (Diana Scarwid) and a religious mother of four (Pamela Reed).

Monday

"A Different Kind of Christmas" / 8 p.m. Lifetime

Santa Claus comes to town in this nice slice of holiday sentiment. Warm, charming and generous, Santa (Bruce Kirby) puts smiles on the faces of every youngster, but riles grinch-like neighbors disturbed by the commotion surrounding his home built to resemble a winter wonderland. Enter Elizabeth Gates (Shelley Long), the ambitious city attorney and mayoral candidate who must shut him down. But there's more to this true story involving a twist that could slam the gate on Elizabeth's campaign.

Tuesday

"Martha Stewart's Home for the Holidays" / 8 p.m. CBS

If you wanted instruction on the proper way to shoot a basketball, you would consult Michael Jordan. If you wanted tips on acting, you would speak with two-time Emmy winner Dennis Franz of "NYPD Blue." And if you wanted to know how it felt to kiss a frog, then Miss Piggy would be your gal. But when it comes to picking the perfect Christmas tree or preparing a classy party, the expert is Stewart, who shares such expertise in her second CBS special.

****

"Christmas in My Hometown" / 9 p.m. CBS

Melissa Gilbert, Tim Matheson and singer Travis Tritt form an unlikely romantic triangle in this new TV movie. Matheson has the unsympathetic role as a corporate Scrooge obligated to downsize the factory in a small Nebraska town. Gilbert falls for him, mistakenly thinking he has arrived to boost production. And Travis plays a local sheriff with an eye for Gilbert. Sounds like the elements for a country tune, don't you think?

Saturday

"An Edith Ann Christmas" / 8:30 p.m. ABC

The precocious 6-year-old voiced by Lily Tomlin is back for the holidays, but not all is well with her dysfunctional family. The trouble begins when rebellious Irene, an older sister, gets a tattoo on her tush and then runs away after Edith Ann tattles to their parents. At school, meanwhile, the kids gear up for a play featuring an offbeat rendition of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Rest assured a happy ending looms ahead for one and all.

****

"Opryland's Country Christmas" / 9 p.m. CBS

Seasonal songs with a country flavor are served up by several familiar faces. The lineup includes Clint Black ("Christmas for Every Boy and Girl"), Hank Williams Jr. ("Santa Looks a Lot Like Daddy"), teen sensation LeAnn Rimes ("Holiday in Your Heart") and Barbara Mandrell ("Santa, Bring My Baby Home"). Patty Loveless, Lorrie Morgan, Kenny Rogers, Marty Stuart, Wynonna and the Irish dance company Riverdance are other big names on the bill.

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