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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Devito Helps Make ‘Pearl’ Priceless

John Martin New York Times Syndicate

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are a perfect match in real life. And they are heavenly together in CBS’ “Pearl” at 8:30.

The February ratings “sweeps” bring special guest stars out of the woodwork. But I don’t think you’ll find one brighter than DeVito.

The episode starts out innocently enough.

Thanks to Annie (Carol Kane), Pearl and Pynchon (Malcolm McDowell) end up on a blind date to a dinner hosted by Dean Aston Martin (DeVito). That’s funny enough, as the acerbic professor is mortified to be in the company of his working-class student.

But Dean Martin (Get it?) is awe-struck at the sight of Pearl, who is a dead ringer for his late beloved wife.

DeVito is marvelous, as his character turns on the charm for Pearl’s benefit and jousts with the arrogant Pynchon. Male pride takes over when Pynchon objects to his boss hitting on his “date.”

That’s when things unravel, as writers revert to one of the oldest gags in the book. It’s an unfortunate end to an otherwise delightful half-hour.

Be that as it may, you won’t regret tuning in. Husband and wife DeVito and Perlman share a swell chemistry, and it comes to the fore here.

I don’t see an obvious opening for DeVito to reprise his role. But if we have to wait for the May ratings sweeps to find out, it will be worth the wait.

Highlights

“The Living Edens,” KSPS at 8: “Denali: Alaska’s Great Wilderness” is a magnificent nature documentary revealing the mighty, unspoiled Alaskan landscapes and the animals that inhabit the region. The hour includes an amazing look at how animals survive the brutal winters.

Don’t miss the wood frog, which spends the winter frozen rock solid.

“Grace Under Fire,” ABC at 8: Friends confront Grace (Brett Butler), who is using pain pills to dull more than the ache in her back.

“Beverly Hills, 90210,” FOX at 8: This show’s first February sweeps stunt involves Donna (Tori Spelling), who is abducted by her stalker (Trevor Edmond) and held at gunpoint on live television.

“Miss USA Pageant,” CBS at 9: Donald Trump now owns the rights to the contest and - check this out - Marla Maples is co-host with George Hamilton. This year’s smile-off takes place in Shreveport, La.

“Ellen,” ABC at 9:30: Bonnie Rait, Aaron Neville and David Crosby guest-star as Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres) and her pals attend “Rock and Roll Dream Camp.”

“Mark Russell,” KSPS at 9: Scandals for Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are sure to inspire the comic-singer’s latest special.

“Law & Order,” NBC at 10: There’s more to the death of a woman who appeared to take her own life by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge in his engaging hour. Blackmail and fraud apparently played a role in the death, but none of the witnesses will talk.

Cable Calls

“The Life and Times of …” TNN at 5: Billy Ray Cyrus is profiled.

Is the singer who ignited the country dance craze with “Achy Breaky Heart” a flash in the pan or a legend in the making. His subsequent albums suggest the latter.

Among those interviewed are band members Don Von Tress and Terry Skelton and friends Dolly Parton, Mark Collie, Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase.

“Stormy Weather” (1943), AMC at 5:30 and 9:30: Immortal dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson taps his way through this spirited (though unlikely) showbiz musical romance. Lena Horne is sensational, and Cab Calloway and Fats Waller keep the joint jumpin’.

It’s worth the time if for no other reason than to listen to Horne’s sultry rendition of “Stormy Weather” and Waller’s signature “Ain’t Misbehavin.”’

Talk Time

“Tonight,” NBC at 11:35: From Las Vegas, Nev., actor-comedian Chevy Chase.

“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Fran Drescher (“The Nanny”), actress Isabella Rossellini and singer Tony Bennett.

“Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” ABC at 12:35 a.m.: Edward Asner, Carl Lewis and anti-affirmative action activist Ward Connerly.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:35 a.m.: Actor John Leguizamo, actor Rod Steiger and musical guest The Cardigans.

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