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Austin Chronicle TV Eye

Coming Soon

By Belinda Acosta

MARCH 6, 2000:  February sweeps are over. Thank goodness. After a month of so-so miniseries that included not one but two JonBenet Ramsey movies, undying enthusiasm for Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (enough already!), and a nasty pie in the face for Fox over Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire -- I, for one, am ready to bid February goodbye, farewell, adieu, go away. Except for David Letterman's touching return to Late Night following his quadruple bypass surgery and a couple of memorable moments on the Grammy Awards on CBS (Santana's wins, Jennifer Lopez's dress, the musical prodigies who burned up the stage in a short segment about the value of arts and music in the schools), the rest of the month can go down in TV history as the month of bizarre and boring happenings.

Onward to March. Now that the nets can cash in from inflated (or faltering) ratings based on a little sweeps sorcery (kill a character here, introduce a new one there), it's safe to mix some new potion to the TV pot. At least, that's how it appears. Call it midwinter additions or midseason shakeups. Whatever you call it, it provides a time for the networks to make some changes and rearrange schedules. For cable channels, there are premieres and specials aplenty. The following March highlights are subject to change without notice. Check local listings:

Second Annual TV Guide Awards (3/5, 7pm, Fox): With ballots provided by the TV magazine, regular couch potatoes vote for their favorite TV actors and actresses, and critics be damned.

Inside the Actor's Studio (3/5, 7pm, Bravo): Kevin Spacey is the featured guest on this one-on-one chat with host James Lipton.

If These Walls Could Talk 2 (3/5, 8pm, HBO): The lesbian experience is explored in this second edition of the HBO special, starring such talents as Ellen Degeneres, Sharon Stone, and Chloë Sevigny. By peeking into a house at three different time periods, These Walls reveals the complexity, the changes, and the defeats of lesbian rights and struggles. Fans of The Sopranos need not worry. The regular Sunday night episode will air an hour earlier at 7pm. Additional play dates for If These Walls Could Talk 2 are 3/8 at 9pm, 3/13 at 7 pm and 3:30am, 3/16 at 10:55pm, 3/21 at 1:15am, and 3/25 at 10pm.

For the Record (3/6, VH1): This new magazine show highlights key events in rock & roll history.

Gundam Wing (3/6, Cartoon Network): In this potentially cool series from Japan, teenage boys are chosen to battle a secret society bent on evil.

God, the Devil, and Bob (3/7, 7:30pm, NBC): This animated series will join a re-vamped Tuesday lineup that includes 3rd Rock From the Sun, Will & Grace, and Just Shoot Me.

Family Guy (3/7, 7:30 pm, Fox) returns for a limited run.

Soap Opera Digest Awards (3/10, 8pm, NBC): This is the awards show sponsored by the soap mag.

The 15th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (unscheduled, VH1): This year's inductees include Eric Clapton, the Lovin' Spoonful, Bonnie Raitt, and James Taylor. The ceremony will air on VH1. Check local listings for more up-to-date information.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards Ceremony (3/12, TNT, 7pm): It's billed as the "only way to predict best actor and best actress Oscar" winners. Isn't that what the Golden Globe folks tell us about their awards show? No matter. For the celebrity hound, this glamfest is still worth tuning in for.

MTV Spring Break (3/15-26, MTV, various times): Scantily clad, affluent young people party on the beach.

Daddio and Battery Park (3/23, NBC): Jesse and Stark Raving Mad get bumped for the six-week tryout of these new sitcoms. Battery Park is described as a "comedic look at police detectives in New York's Battery Park" by TV Guide's Lauren David Peden.

The 72nd Academy Awards (3/26, 7pm preshow, ceremony at 7:30pm, ABC): Geena Davis is the pre-show host, and the goofy dance numbers are out. Billy Crystal is in as host.

Behind the Music 2 series premiere (unscheduled, VH1).

Other new shows scheduled for March or April premieres, but with no set premiere date: The Beat (UPN) is a cop show from the creators of Homicide and Oz. Baby Blues (WB) is an animated series based on the comic strip. Clerks (ABC) is an animated show based on the indie film by Kevin Smith about minimum wage working stiffs doing their best to get by. Falcone (CBS) is based on the 1997 gangster film Donnie Brasco, starring Jason Gedrick as an FBI agent undercover as a mobster named Joe Falcone. Grapevine (CBS) follows the lives of single people on the beach. M.Y.O.B. (NBC) is a post-teen drama from the director of The Opposite of Sex, featuring Katherine Towne as a young woman in search of her birth mother. TV Guide's Matt Roush describes it as "nervier and more distinctive than your typical NBC comedy" (in case you're wondering, the title means "mind your own business"). Secret Agent Man (UPN) stars the hunky Costas Mandylor as a world-class spy. Talk to Me (ABC) depicts the life of a radio talk show host (Kyra Sedgwick), her friend (Nicole Sullivan), and her foe (Beverly D'Angelo). Then Came You (ABC) is a May-December romance that crosses class lines. Titus (Fox) is another vehicle for a stand-up comic, this time, Christopher Titus. Wonderland (ABC) is a new medical drama to rival ER and Chicago Hope. This one is set in the "wonderland" of Rivervue, a fictitious New York City psychiatric hospital (but based on research at Bellevue Hospital). Michelle Forbes stars.

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