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Stacking the Deck in May

April 25, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The all-important May sweeps period kicks off Thursday with new episodes of NBC's "must-see TV," a two-hour "Diagnosis Murder"on CBS and a two-hour wrestling special on UPN. The heavy ammo ends May 26 with the season finales of NBC's "Law & Order" and the ABC comedies "Dharma & Greg" and "The Drew Carey Show."

Below are sweeps highlights:

SIGNING OFF

"The Nanny": The voice is silenced! Fran Drescher's sitcom bids adieu after six seasons in a one-hour send-off. CBS, May 19.

"Melrose Place": Everyone's favorite apartment-building denizens wrap up multiple sagas of love, sex and jealousy after seven years. Fox, May 24.

"Mad About You": The curtain rings down after seven seasons for the Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser sitcom with a one-hour episode. NBC, May 24.

"Home Improvement": Tim Allen and the gang say farewell after eight seasons with a 90-minute retrospective episode. ABC. May 25.

MOVIES, MINISERIES AND DOCUMENTARIES

"Noah's Ark": Jon Voight is the legendary biblical ark builder in this four-hour extravaganza. Mary Steenburgen also stars. NBC, May 2 & 3.

"The Simple Life Noah Dearborn": Oscar-winner Sidney Poitier plays an ageless carpenter who becomes the target of a greedy developer. CBS, May 9.

"Masterpiece Theatre: Great Expectations": Ioan Gruffudd, Justine Waddell and Charlotte Rampling star in a four-hour adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. PBS, May 8-9.

"The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer": Kevin Anderson and Tom Skerritt star in a two-part thriller about former hippie Ira Eichorn, who was accused of murdering his girlfriend. After he fled the country, he was convicted in absentia and is currently fighting extradition in France. NBC, May 9-10.

"Rocky Marciano": Jon Favreau plays the famed boxer in this biopic. Showtime, May 15.

"Double Platinum": Diana Ross and Brandy star in this drama musical about a woman who sacrificed her daughter for her singing career. ABC, May 16.

"Joan of Arc": Leelee Sobieski stars in a four-hour historical drama about the religious peasant girl who tried to unite and save France from the English. CBS, May 16 and 18.

"Atomic Train": Rob Lowe headlines a two-part thriller about a runaway train loaded with nuclear weapons and waste that is racing toward Denver. NBC, May 16-17.

"American Experience: MacArthur": Four-hour documentary on the courageous and egotistical American hero, Douglas MacArthur. PBS. May 17-18.

"The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax": Angela Lansbury stars as a recent widow who finds herself on a secret C.I.A. mission. CBS, May 20

"Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Movie": Jane Seymour and Joe Lando reprise their series roles in this adventure, which finds them searching for their kidnapped daughter. CBS, May 22.

"A Lesson Before Dying": African American drama based on Ernest Gaines' novel starring Cicely Tyson. HBO, May 22.

"Cleopatra": Leonor Varela, Billy Zane and Timothy Dalton star in the lavish two-part historical drama about the legendary Queen of the Nile and the men in her life. ABC, May 23-24.

"The Jesse Ventura Story": Biopic about the former Navy SEAL turned pro wrestler who is now governor of Minnesota. Nils Allen Stewart stars. NBC, May 23.

"Michael Landon, the Father I Knew": John Schneider plays the late actor in this drama that chronicles the turbulent relationship between Landon and his son. CBS, May 23.

AWARDS AND PAGEANTS

"The 34th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards": Shania Twain and Garth Brooks are set to perform. CBS, May 5.

"The 1999 World Music Awards": Annual awards' show telecast from Monte Carlo. ABC, May 20.

"Teen People's 21 Hottest Stars Under 21": Profiles of such young stars as Katie Holmes and Kirsten Dunst. ABC,. May 21.

"The 26th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards": Will the 19th time be the charm for best actress nominee Susan Lucci of "All My Children" fame? CBS, May 21.

"The 48th Annual Miss Universe Pageant": Telecast from Trinidad and Tobago, the beauty pageant features reigning Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliams and Miss USA Kimberly Ann Pressler. CBS, May 26.

SIDE SHOWS

"WWF Smackdown": Two-hour special starring the top men and women wrestlers in feature matches. UPN, Thursday.

"The World's Most Dangerous Magic II": A magician hangs over a pit filled with hungry alligators and a female magician is locked in a wooden coffin with more than 100 wharf rats. NBC, May 2.

"Busted Everywhere!": People from all walks of life are caught in unusual and embarrassing situations. Fox, May 25.

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