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Specials to Whet Appetite for Oscars


Television begins the countdown to Monday's 69th Annual Academy Awards this weekend with various Oscar-related specials.

Peter Barnes and Sue Herera host CNBC's "Hollywood Inc . . . The Business of Movies," Friday at 7 p.m. The live special takes a look at the American film industry from a financial perspective.

Several of this year's Oscar nominees are also up for "The 12th Annual Independent Spirit Awards," which honor outstanding achievement in independent film. Jeff Lipsky, the founder of October Films, and Colin Brown, film writer for Screen International, host live coverage of the ceremony, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on the Independent Film Channel.

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert give their thumbs up on what they consider the Oscar-worthy films of 1996 on "Siskel & Ebert: If We Picked the Winners," airing Saturday at 7 p.m. on Channel 7. The duo also have created their own mock category: "Worst Nomination."

The Cartoon Network presents its "Fifth Annual Academy Awards Special," Sunday and Monday at 3 p.m. The marathon features acclaimed cartoons from the MGM, Paramount and Warner Bros. libraries. Included are the Oscar-winning "The Dot and the Line," "The Pink Phink" and "Tweety Pie."

Melissa Rivers hosts E! Entertainment Television's "Countdown to the Oscars," airing Sunday at 5 p.m. The one-hour live special mingles with fans in the bleachers at the Shrine Auditorium, checks out the last-minute preparations and gets winning predictions from the experts.

Other weekend fare:


CBS' coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament continues on Channel 2 at 4:30 p.m., Friday at 4:30 p.m., Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

ABC presents coverage of the "World Figure Skating Championships," at 8 p.m. on Channel 7. Among the international stars competing from Lusanne, Switzerland, are Irina Slutskaya, Maria Butyrskaya and Elvis Stojko, and Americans Tara Lipinksi, Michelle Kwan, Nicole Bobek, Todd Eldredge, Michael Weiss and the dance team of Elizabeth Punsalan and Jared Swallow. The competition continues Saturday at 8 p.m.


The Discovery Channel's "Cyberlife Spring Break," airing at 9 p.m., is a one-hour special designed to help viewers sort through the mass of computer products and information.


Burke Moses, Melora Hardin and Charles Hallahan star in the NBC special "Things That Go Bump," airing at 8 p.m. on Channel 4. Moses plays a New Orleans cop who investigates the nether world after he sees a ghost in a graveyard.


A&E's "Biography" series expands to two hours for "Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow," airing at 5 and 9 p.m. This portrait of the beloved but troubled entertainer features performance clips and interviews with 40 insiders including Mickey Rooney, June Allyson, Robert Stack, Jackie Cooper and Ann Miller.

Adam Zolotin, Shirley Jones and Richard Mulligan star in the new Family Channel film "Dog's Best Friend," airing at 7 p.m. Zolotin plays a young boy whose sudden ability to talk to animals allows him to save his grandparents' farm from foreclosure.

Showtime's "The Twilight of the Golds," airing at 8 p.m., deals with a doctor (Jon Tenney) researching prenatal genetics who discovers that his unborn child has the genetic profile for homosexuality. Jennifer Beals, Brenan Fraser, Faye Dunaway and Garry Marshall also star. Based on the play by Jonathan Tolins.

Lisa Hartman Black and Eva LaRue star in ABC's psychological thriller "Out of Nowhere," airing at 9 p.m. on ABC. Black plays a woman who is stricken with amnesia after an auto accident.

Richard Crenna, Ben Cross and Paul Gross star in CBS' new version of Jules Verne's fantasy "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," airing at 9 p.m. on Channel 2.

The History Channel's documentary "The Lindbergh Baby: Kidnapping of the Century," airing at 10 p.m., combines visual coverage of the kidnapping trial with broadcasts by such commentators as Walter Winchell and Lowell Thomas.

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