ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* WMAR-Channel 2 reporter Andy Barth may not know what he's letting himself in for with a whimsical half-hour news special this weekend.
For at the end of "How Do They Do That?" (at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow), Barth asks viewers to write in their own burning questions about "the mysteries of life . . . [but] not the big mysteries, just the nagging questions."
For instance, he says, while watching the Steven Spielberg movie "E.T." he wasn't wondering how the lovable alien would get home, but how the Reese's Pieces candy prominently featured got that colorful, seamless coating.
Similarly, he was mystified by how canned peanuts could still be mostly whole after shelling and packaging.
The answers were forthcoming as he and cameraman Jack Miller paid visits to the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania and Planters Peanuts' processing plant in Suffolk, Va. They also found out how bowling balls are made in Dundalk, sparklers are made in Elkton, paper is recycled in Baltimore and even how that fuzz gets on tennis balls (at a factory in North Carolina).
* WJZ-Channel 13 says it will run the Disney classic movie "Dumbo" but can't yet say exactly when, after viewers who settled in to watch it -- and in some cases videotape it -- found "The Cat From Outer Space" last Saturday morning instead.
Program director Mike Easterling says "Dumbo" was originally scheduled (as highlighted here) to be part of the station's August package of Disney movies substituting for rerun ABC cartoon fare in the Saturday morning kids' prime time.
But the station found the movie's running time of about 90 minutes was too short for the two-hour time slot allotted.
"I didn't want to chop the movie up with too many commercials," says Easterling, saying the station hopes to find a slot to run "Dumbo," perhaps even commercial-free.
Tomorrow morning's film in the 10 o'clock slot is "Darby O'Gill and the Little People."
* A pair of apparently perished pilots get a brief moment in the prime-time spotlight on CBS (Channel 11) this weekend.
At 10 p.m. tomorrow, Jane Seymour stars as a sports magazine editor in "Passion" and at 10:30, William Daniels is the chief executive in "Word of Mouth," about a White House speech writer (George Newbern).
* In another special daytime scheduling, WBAL-Channel 11 is screening on Sunday the first two parts of the documentary "Story of a People."
Part one, at noon, profiles black writers, producers, actors and others in the theater and dance worlds. Part two, at 1 p.m., examines black artist contributions to music and the visual arts.