Networks prepared for May sweeps

TV: Michael J. Fox leaves `Spin City,' while `90210' and `Party of Five' leave Fox.

Radio and Television

April 19, 2000|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Time to gear up for May sweeps, that annual TV extravaganza where we say good-bye to some old favorites and gird ourselves for high-profile mini-series, as the networks engage in last-minute jockeying for ratings. Not to mention advertising dollars -- the networks use their performance during these sweep months to help set ad rates.

Here are a few expected highlights. You've been warned:

Two long-running series end their Fox network runs: "Party of Five" on May 3 and "Beverly Hills, 90210" on May 17. (This two-hour finale reportedly features many former cast members -- including Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, but probably not Shannen Doherty).

Speaking of farewells, Michael J. Fox departs ABC's "Spin City" as of May 24.

Bruce Willis will be a guest star on three episodes of "Friends," while Tea Leoni and Garry Shandling get to play the actors playing Scully and Mulder on "The X-Files" (April 30).

ABC's "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" will tape five shows inside Maricopa County Prison in Arizona, beginning May 1.

As for movies, look for Ben Cross as "Solomon" (April 30-May 1, Pax); Chad Lowe as John Denver (April 30, CBS); Jeremy Sisto as "Jesus," co-starring Jacqueline Bisset, Jeroen Krabbe and Debra Messing (May 14 and 17, CBS); "The '70s," with Brad Rowe (April 30-May 1, NBC); and two mini-series from the ubiquitous Robert Halmi Sr.: "Arabian Nights" (April 30-May 1, ABC) and "Jason and the Argonauts" (May 7-8, NBC).

And speaking of the '70s, there's a distinct retro flavor to this sweeps, thanks to a pair of "mini-movies" on Fox, promising behind-the-scenes looks at "The Brady Bunch" and "Diff'rent Strokes" (May 16); Barry Williams (Greg Brady, for those who have chosen not to remember) starring in a TV adaptation of his book, "Growing Up Brady" (May 21, NBC); and a "Dukes of Hazzard" reunion, bringing back John Schneider, Tom Wopat, Catherine Bach and others (May 19, CBS).

Well-Traveled students

Five Montgomery County students who investigated the Underground Railroad will be featured on the Travel Channel's "American Journey" series Sunday.

The students, all enrolled in the alternative-learning Muncaster Challenge Program, begin their encounter with slavery in Washington where they traveled on rowboats up Rock Creek -- a key part of the Underground Railroad, a secret route used by runaway slaves in the 19th century seeking freedom.

In Elkridge, the group also travels up Deep Run Creek, another segment of the railroad, where they learn about Harriet Tubman, who guided more than 300 slaves to freedom.

The students' trip includes a stop at Baltimore's Orchard Street Church, used as a headquarters by Tubman, and the District of Columbia's Mount Zion Cemetery, where many slaves -- who never attained their freedom -- are buried.

"American Journey" airs 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays on cable's Travel Channel, with a repeat from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Columbine survivors on CNN

On the first anniversary of the Columbine high school tragedy, CNN is airing a two-part interview with survivors of the shooting.

Tonight's interview is with 19-year-old Valeen Schnurr, who survived nine wounds from a single shotgun blast. During the interview with correspondent David Mattingly, she talks about how though she's been able to forgive the two young shooters for what they did to her, she hasn't forgiven them for killing her friend Lauren Townsend.

Tomorrow, Patrick Ireland, who was shot while lying on the library floor and escaped by crawling through a window, talks about his recovery process with correspondent Carol Lin.

The interviews are scheduled as part of CNN Newsstand, which airs from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. weeknights.

Alvarez on `Steiner'

The Sun's own Rafael Alvarez is the scheduled guest for the first half of "The Marc Steiner Show" Tuesday. Alvarez may discuss his latest book, "Orlo and Leini."

Today and next Wednesday, during the show's second half, Steiner will look at the upcoming Maryland Film Festival, set for April 28-30 at the Charles and Senator theaters.

"The Marc Steiner Show" is broadcast weekdays from noon to 2 p.m. on WJHU-FM (88.1).

Easter on History

To mark Good Friday, the History Channel has scheduled an evening full of Christian-themed programs. At 8 p.m., "History's Mysteries: The Shroud of Turin" looks at the cloth reputed to be the burial shroud of Jesus. Recent tests suggest the shroud actually dates from between A.D. 1260 and 1390, but other tests have cast doubt on those results.

At 9 p.m., "The Twelve Apostles," narrated by Martin Sheen, looks at the lives -- and fates -- of the 12 men hand-picked by Jesus to spread his word.

The programming block repeats from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this column.

TV's top shows

Here are last week's top TV shows, according to A. C. Nielsen Co. figures:


1 Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Tuesday ABC 18.7

2 ER NBC 18.2

3 Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Thursday ABC 17.7

4 Friends NBC 12.8

5 Dharma & Greg ABC 12.1

6 60 Minutes CBS 11.0

7 Daddio NBC 10.9

8 The Ten Commandments ABC 10.8

9 NYPD Blue ABC 10.8

10 Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 10.0

11 Becker CBS 9.9

12 Law & Order NBC 9.8

13 20/20, Wednesday ABC 9.7

13 (tie) Frasier NBC 9.7

15 Touched by an Angel CBS 9.4

16 Providence NBC 9.3

17 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC 9.1

18 Dateline Wednesday NBC 9.0

19 Dateline Friday NBC 8.9

19 (tie) Drew Carey Show ABC 8.9

19 (tie) Talk To Me ABC 8.9

22 Once and Again ABC 8.8

23 Dateline Tuesday NBC 8.3

24 48 Hours CBS 8.2

24 (tie) 60 Minutes II CBS 8.2

24 (tie) West Wing NBC 8.2

27 CBS Sunday Movie: Picnic CBS 8.1

28 ABC Monday Night Movie: French Kiss ABC 7.9

28 (tie) Spin City ABC 7.9 28 (tie) Vanished ABC 7.9

The rating is the percentage of homes equipped with a TV in use.

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