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‘Fascinating Women’ Dotes On Celebrities

For many, the only thing more tiring than the tide of holiday specials is the flood of year-end specials that follows.

Too often, it’s a matter of rounding up the usual suspects for another batch of profiles and accolades. Such is the case with CBS’ “Ladies Home Journal’s Most Fascinating Women of 1997” at 10.

Spotlighted are Celine Dion, Roma Downey, Della Reese, Roseanne, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Grand Forks, N.D, Mayor Pat Owens, model Emme, 12-year-old artist Alexandra Nechita and athletes Venus Williams, Tara Lipinski and Martina Hingis.

Also featured is Bobbi McCaughey, who gave birth to septuplets last month, and a tribute to Princess Diana by Jane Seymour.

The truth is that some of these women are anything but fascinating. Or if they ever were fascinating, they stopped being so months ago due to endless media hoopla.

Shows like this declare themselves fascinating in hopes of attracting an audience.

If “truth in advertising” statutes applied to titles, we’d see shows like “The Most Overexposed People of 1997” or “Some of the People Who Made a Lot of Money This Year.”

Lipinski, Williams and Hingis fascinating? Somebody at “Ladies Home Journal” has been watching too much sports.

Where are the women of medicine, science and education? Where is the initiative to find the women who have quietly changed the world?

Enough already. These celebrity fests are nothing more than prime-time filler.

Highlights

“Quiz Show” (1994), ABC at 8: Three cheers for ABC for screening this intelligent and morally challenging tale based on the 1950’s quiz-show scandals. Ralph Fiennes stars as Charles Van Doren, the tweedy college professor whose appearances on “Twenty-One” created a national sensation.

In time, however, he faced the reality that he had been subtly assisted by producers who wanted to see him keep winning, thus fueling the ratings.

John Turturro plays Herb Stempel, the bitter ex-champion Van Doren knocked off the show.

“The Metropolitan Opera Presents,” KSPS at 7: James Levine conducts Bizet’s “Carmen.” Waltraud Meier stars in the title role of the gypsy who tempts the jealousy of the soldier Don Jose, sung by Placido Domingo.

The Franco Zeffirelli production was taped at the Metropolitan Opera House in March. It’s in French with English subtitles.

“Cybill,” CBS at 9: This series has been running hot and cold. This episode from September left me cold.

Cybill and Maryann (Cybill Shepherd, Christine Baranski) meet in Cybill’s past-life regression to the court of Henry VIII. This is too silly to be funny.

Cable Calls

“Football,” TBS at 4:30: From Miami, it’s the Carquest Bowl, with W. Virginia (7-4) taking on Georgia Tech (6-5).

“Biography,” A&E; at 5 and 9: The series reveals its biography of the year, counting down from a top-10 list of personalities. Finalists include Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Madeleine Albright, Ted Turner and Tiger Woods. Who could it be other than Princess Di?

“Football,” ESPN at 5: Missouri (7-4) meets Colorado State (10-2) in the Holiday Bowl, from San Diego.

“Spellbound” (1945), AMC at 6 and 11:30: Gregory Peck is an amnesiac who may have a buried past in this Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Ingrid Bergman co-stars in what Hitch once called “a manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis.”

Salvadore Dali created a surreal dream sequence that William Cameron Menzies (“Things to Come”) directed. It’s a first-class love story loaded with intrigue.

Talk Time

“Tonight,” NBC at 11:35: Animal expert Peter Gros and actor Scott Glenn.

“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Actress Bridget Fonda, actor Matt Damon and comedian Allan Havey.

“Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” ABC at 12:05 a.m.: Michael Douglas, Scott Turow, Elayne Boosler and Arianna Huffington.

“The Late Late Show With Tom Snyder,” CBS at 12:35 a.m.: Actress Bernadette Peters and television personality Bob Berkowitz. Repeat.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:35 a.m.: To be announced.



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