ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* A production crew from the Fox network series "America's Most Wanted" visits Baltimore today and tomorrow, taping a pair of local stories as the series nears a milestone: the capture of the 200th fugitive attributed to the show's airing.
The Baltimore cases gaining attention include the arrest on April 19 of William Cecil Brandon Jr., 49, accused of murdering a youth who rang a doorbell in a prank, and the escape last November from the state's "Supermax" prison of convicted murderer Harold Benjamin Dean.
"America's Most Wanted," in its fifth season (at 8 p.m. Fridays, WBFF-Channel 45), is the show that re-enacts crimes and broadcasts descriptions and other information about fugitives at large. Show host John Walsh first gained national attention when his son, Adam, was killed in a Florida abduction/murder case that was dramatized by the television movie, "Adam" (in 1983, starring Daniel J. Travanti).
Walsh is in town with the production team this week, and Channel 45 plans a luncheon in his honor on Thursday.
Since the initial 1988 broadcast, the series has profiled 464 fugitives (as of April 20), and contends that 198 have been apprehended as the result of tips phoned by viewers to law enforcement agencies. (Baltimore suspect Brandon was arrested before the show's planned broadcast of his case.)
Show officials anticipate announcing the identity of the 200th capture as part of the May 8 edition of "America's Most Wanted."
* Here's another example of mixing reality with TV in confusing, often troubling ways: Today's "Sally Jessy Raphael" show at 10 a.m. on WBAL (Channel 11) was scheduled to feature several women who survived the 1991 hostage takeover of a Utah hospital maternity ward by a gun-wielding father.
But also on the guest list was actor Harry Hamlin ("L.A. Law"), who only portrays the father in a dramatization of the incident in the movie "Deliver Them From Evil: The Taking of Alta View," to be broadcast tonight at 9 on CBS (Channel 11).
Will all viewers make the distinction between reality and fiction?
* In a local production of a different sort, the elephants of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus can be seen visiting Baltimore City Hall in a new "44 Special" on the city's local access cable service, Channel 44 of the United Artists Cable system.
The ponderous pachyderm visit actually takes place tomorrow morning. And the "44 Special" airs at 10:30 p.m., with repeats at 5 p.m. Fridays and 4:30 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
* Romance in space! Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) falls in love in tonight's new edition of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" at 8 o'clock on Channel 45. It's a mixed relationship -- he's human and she (Famke Janssen) is an "empathic mesomorph."
Worse, since birth she has been betrothed to someone else.