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Spring Sweeping

April 19, 1998|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The farewell of "Seinfeld" is likely the biggest news during the May sweeps, but the television industry's important four-week ratings period is filled with miniseries, movies, specials and noteworthy episodes of popular series.

Here are some of the highlights of what's ahead during the advertising rate-setting sweeps, which run from Thursday through May 20.

Movies

"Dallas: War of the Ewings": J.R. is up to his old tricks as he tries to regain control of Ewing Oil. Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray star. Friday. CBS.

"Merlin": On the heels of "Gulliver's Travels" and "The Odyssey" comes this lavish four-hour adventure about the legendary wizard. Sam Neill heads the cast. April 26-27. NBC.

"Nicholas' Gift": Jamie Lee Curtis and Alan Bates star in this true story about a couple who transformed the tragic loss of their young son into a campaign for human organ donations. April 26. CBS.

"Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack": Clint Black and his wife, Lisa Hartman Black, star in a true story of a champion rodeo rider whose life was tragically changed after he was falsely accused of murder. April 28. CBS.

"'The Long Island Incident": Laurie Metcalf stars in a true story of a Long Island woman whose husband is murdered by a crazed gunman on a commuter train. May 3. NBC.

"Mario Puzo's The Last Don II": The Clericuzios are back for more Mafia fun and games in a four-hour drama starring Kirstie Alley, Danny Aiello and Jason Gedrick. May 3 and 5. CBS.

"Only Love": Marisa Tomeiand Rob Morrow star in a two-part adaptation of Erich ("Love Story") Segal's novel about a forbidden love that spans two decades. May 10 and 11. CBS.

"Witness to the Mob": Nicholas Turturro stars in this four-hour drama as notorious mob hit man Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, whose deal with the FBI sent his former boss, John Gotti, to prison for life. May 10-11. NBC.

"Rescuers: Stories of Courage": Martin Donovan and Dana Delany star in this Barbra Streisand-produced drama about a Dutch couple who develop a plan to harbor 36 Jews in their home. May 10. Showtime.

"Miracle at Midnight": Sam Waterston and Mia Farrow star in this true story of a family who risked their lives to protect 7,500 Danish Jews from Nazis. May 17. ABC.

"Peter Benchley's Creature": Four-hour thriller about a horrifying creature from the deep that invades a lush Caribbean island. Craig T. Nelson and Kim Cattrall star; Stan Winston did the visual effects. May 17-18. ABC.

Series Finales

"Seinfeld": Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer say goodbye after nine seasons. May 14. NBC.

"Murphy Brown": The Emmy Award-winning comedy series comes to an end in a special one-hour episode featuring George Clooney, Bette Midler, Julia Roberts, Alan King, Mike Wallace and Frances Bergen. May 18. CBS.

"The Larry Sanders Show": Garry Shandling's terrific comedy series comes to a close after six seasons. May 31. HBO.

Series Weddings

"Friends": The gang travels to London to attend Ross' wedding on the one-hour season finale. May 7. NBC.

"The Nanny": Fran and Maxwell finally tie the knot. May 13. CBS.

"Suddenly Susan": Vicki marries her rabbi boyfriend. May 18. NBC.

"Spin City": Richard Kind and Faith Prince get hitched. May 20. ABC.

"The Drew Carey Show": Wedding bells ring for Kate and Oswald on the season finale. May 20. ABC.

"Beverly Hills, 90210": Kelly is set to marry Brandon on the season finale. May 20. Fox.

Specials

"Campbell Soup's Tour of Olympic Figure Skating Champions": Tara Lipinski heads the roster. Thursday. ABC.

"The World's Most Dangerous Magic": Magicians perform stunts other masters of illusion have died trying. April 27. NBC.

"The Lusitania: Murder on the Atlantic": Cliff Robertson narrates this documentary about the Cunard luxury liner that was destroyed in 1915 from a single torpedo fired from a German U-boat. May 3. A&E.

"In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great": Michael Wood returns to PBS in this four-part series in which he retraces the route and life of Greek warrior Alexander III. May 4-5. KCET.

"Lie Detector": Mark Fuhrman, Jeff Gillooly and James Nicholas are given the opportunity to proclaim their innocence as they submit to a lie-detector test. Marcia Clark hosts. May 5. Fox.

"Beauty Pageants ... Exposed!": Airing on the eve of the Miss Universe pageant, reports on scandalous and ridiculous behind-the-scenes stories at beauty pageants. May 11. UPN.

"The 47th Annual Miss Universe Pageant": Featuring reigning Miss Universe Brooke Lee. May 12. CBS.

"The Daytime Emmy Awards": TV's best soap operas, talk shows and game shows. May 15. NBC.

"The Virtual Ed Sullivan Show": Via computer magic, Ed Sullivan introduces and interacts with contemporary entertainment acts. May 18. UPN.

Tributes

"Biography: Charlie Chaplin: A Tramp's Life": Two-hour documentary on Charlie Chaplin; clips and interviews with co-stars, writers and family. May 10. A&E.

"American Masters: Don Hewitt": Profile of the creator and executive producer of "60 Minutes." May 13. KCET.

" '60 Minutes' at 30": A look at the controversial news-making stories the series has covered since 1968. May 17. CBS.

"Cher Remembers Sonny": Cher pays tribute to her first husband in a sure-to-be sentimental journey. May 20. CBS.

"CBS: The First 50 Years": The network celebrates a big anniversary with a retrospective. Alan Alda, Bea Arthur, Ed Asner, Candice Bergen and the Smother Brothers are among the participants. May 20. CBS.

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