December 2, 1997 in Features

Count On Laughs With ‘Comedy Honors’

John Martin New York Times Syndicate
 

You want laughs tonight? Tune in “American Comedy Honors” (FOX at 8) for two hours of great moments in television comedy as Kelsey Grammer, Candice Bergen, Cybill Shepherd, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Roseanne and Tim Conway are saluted.

I’m not sure if they qualify as comedy legends. But they are superstars.

And clips spanning their careers prove that they know what makes people laugh.

The hour takes off with a bang, when Grammer’s “Frasier” co-star David Hyde-Pierce goes one-on-one with pint-size Jonathan Lipnicki (“Meego,” “Jerry Maguire”). Hyde-Pierce then delivers a riotous account of how, he says, the show’s producer (George Schlatter, “Laugh-In”) tricked him into being there.

Grammer’s acceptance remarks are rather touching, as he acknowledges that this has been a year in which his personal life has been in turmoil.

The tribute to Bergen includes a very funny running joke about how Edgar Bergen’s daughter’s life has been affected as a result of being raised with a dummy sibling, Charlie McCarthy.

Peter Bogdanovich presents the award to Shepherd with affection and candor. Martin Mull and Fred Willard ham it up as they toast Roseanne.

It’s a family affair when Damon, Kim, Shawn and Marlon Wayans serve up some good-natured teasing in their tribute to Keenen Ivory. And the star-studded audience is rolling in the aisles when Carol Burnett weighs in on Conway’s career.

Highlights

“Grace Under Fire,” ABC at 8: Last week I said that the series returned with a too-familiar theme. This week is another recycled plot: Grace (Brett Butler) takes a job with a construction company and must prove to her male co-workers that she can pull her own weight.

Didn’t she fight the same battle at the refinery?

“Soul Man,” ABC at 8:30: As Mike (Dan Aykroyd) counsels a nervous groom (John Christopher Jones), he must cope with emotions that surface when daughter Meredith (Courtney Chase) finds a box of memorabilia from her parents’ wedding.

“NewsRadio,” NBC at 8:30: Jon Lovitz guest-stars in a very funny repeat, playing a disturbed man who threatens to jump off a ledge outside Dave’s (Dave Foley) office. Bill (Phil Hartman) sees the unfolding drama as an opportunity to advance his career.

“Michael Hayes,” CBS at 9: While investigating a Chinese slave prostitution ring, Hayes (David Caruso) becomes emotionally involved with a young woman (Lucy Alexis Liu) forced into prostitution.

“Dateline NBC,” NBC at 10: A report examines what “Dateline” says is a growing problem: unruly and abusive airline passengers.

“The Ten Most Interesting People of 1997,” ABC at 10: Barbara Walters’ annual special spotlights Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ellen DeGeneres (“Ellen”), cloning scientist Dr. Ian Wilmut, dancer Michael Flatley, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, film star Arnold Schwarzenegger, singer Elton John, golfer Tiger Woods and talk-show host Kathie Lee Gifford - plus the year’s “Most Fascinating” person.

Cable Calls

“Marty’s Christmas Party,” TNN at 5: Marty Stuart and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Cowboys crash-land at the North Pole, where they spend the night with Santa. Kids especially will love the seasonal music.

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