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Annual specials spice up TV viewing for the holidays

Look out: Here they come!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2001

LOS ANGELES -- The cartoon Grinch is back, and so is Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Claus. How much more do we need for a warm and fuzzy holiday TV season?

Lots more, based on the sleighful of shows on the way. There's a prime-time ''Rugrats'' Hanukkah special, one with Charlie Brown and the gang, and old and new musical greetings from Bing Crosby, Macy Gray and others. The highlights (all times EST):

Animation:

''Frosty the Snowman,'' 8 p.m. Friday, CBS. Narrated by Jimmy Durante, it's based on the popular song that follows the good-natured snowman on a North Pole quest to keep from melting.

''Rugrats Chanukah,'' 8:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS. The Rugrats discover the meaning of the Jewish holiday watching Grandpa Boris and his old rival, Shlomo, take to the stage. ''Rugrats: The Santa Experience'' precedes it at 8 p.m.

''A Charlie Brown Christmas,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 6, ABC. Charlie Brown searches for the meaning of Christmas in this holiday classic, followed by a behind-the-scenes documentary on its creation in 1965.

''How the Grinch Stole Christmas,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 14, WB. The Dr. Seuss tale returns to broadcast TV for the first time since 1987. The mean Grinch tries to deprive Whoville of Christmas in the 1966 special.

''The Story of Santa Claus,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 15, CBS. The voices of Ed Asner, Betty White and Tim Curry are featured in the story of a gentle toy maker whose dream is to deliver a toy to every child on Christmas.

''Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too,'' 7 p.m. Dec. 16, ABC. When a letter from Pooh and the gang to Santa goes astray, Pooh must trek to the North Pole to make sure their gift wishes come true.

''Twas,'' 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, HBO. A journey through the holiday season, including Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, through music and animation. Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Macy Gray are among the voices heard, along with children musing about the meaning of Santa Claus.

''Santa Baby,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 17, Fox. The voices of Gregory Hines, Patti LaBelle, Vanessa Williams and Eartha Kitt are featured in the story of a young girl (Kianna Underwood) who uses a wish to help her songwriter dad.

''Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,'' 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, WB. Based on the novelty holiday tune. When Grandma disappears on Christmas Eve, young Jake tries to find her and Santa, too.

Stocking stuffers:

''Christmas: Behind the Traditions,'' 9 p.m. Sunday, HGTV. A lighthearted look at the history behind holiday trappings, including how the Christmas tree came to America and the meaning of mistletoe.

''Home for the Holidays with Martha Stewart,'' 8 p.m. Tuesday, CBS. The homemaking doyenne with holiday recipes and crafts from around the world. Guests include Isabella Rossellini.

''White House Christmas 2001,'' 9 p.m. Dec. 16, HGTV. Dozens of decorators and artisans, including the White House pastry chef and florist, prepare the president's place for the holidays.

''St. Olaf Christmas Festival,'' 10 p.m. Dec. 18, PBS (check local listings). The choirs and orchestra of the Minnesota college join for a 90-year-old holiday celebration.

''A Home for the Holidays with Mariah Carey,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 21, CBS. The third annual special offering inspirational stories about adoption. Carey, Enrique Iglesias and Destiny's Child are among the featured performers.

''Target Stars on Ice,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 21, NBC. With Olympic champions Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt and Ilia Kulik, along with other skating stars such as Kurt Browning and Steven Cousins.

''The Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade,'' 10 a.m. Dec. 25, ABC. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa are hosts of the annual holiday parade that includes Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse.

Movies:

''Call Me Claus,'' 8 p.m. Sunday, TNT. Whoopi Goldberg stars as a cynical TV producer who meets a retirement-age Santa Claus in search of his replacement. Nigel Hawthorne and Brian Stokes Mitchell co-star; the score includes new Garth Brooks songs.

''Three Days,'' 8 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC Family. A husband (Reed Diamond) wrapped up in his career loses his wife (Kristin Davis) just before Christmas, then gets the chance to relive the last few days of their life together.

''The Seventh Stream,'' 9 p.m. Dec. 9, CBS. A new Hallmark Hall of Fame drama starring Scott Glenn, Saffron Burrows and John Lynch. The real world and an ancient Celtic legend collide in an Irish village.

''Mrs. Santa Claus,'' 9 p.m. Dec. 15, Hallmark Channel. Santa's spouse (Angela Lansbury) is stranded in Manhattan in the early 1900s as she tries to find a new flight plan for the hubby.

''A Town Without Christmas,'' 9 p.m. Dec. 16, CBS. Patricia Heaton, Peter Falk and Rick Roberts in a romantic drama about a reporter and novelist searching for an unhappy child.

''The Sons of Mistletoe,'' 9 p.m. Dec. 19, CBS. Set in a boys' foster home that is in danger of being closed when its benefactor dies. Roma Downey, Doris Roberts and George Newbern star.

''It's a Wonderful Life, 8 p.m. Dec. 24, NBC. The exclusive broadcast of the 1946 Frank Capra classic about a dispirited man (James Stewart) who is shown the value of his life by angel Clarence.

Auld Lang Clark:

''Dick Clark's Primetime New Year's Eve Rockin' Eve 2002,'' 10 p.m. Dec. 31, ABC, and ''Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2002'' at 11:35 p.m. blaze the way into the New Year from Times Square with musical guests. Wayne Brady is host of the Hollywood-based festivities.



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