Redford special airs as his new movie opens



* Who was checking NBC anchor Tom Brokaw's copy earlier this week?

Inappropriate pun-laden transitions between news stories are an irritating part of many local newscasts, but you rarely hear them on the network level. Yet after reporting on this week's runway collision between two airliners in Detroit, in which eight passengers died, Brokaw introduced the next story: "Continental Airlines collided with bankruptcy today. . ."

* Do you believe in coincidence? Consider the facts.

Movie fans are likely to be drawn to a Sunday night special on NBC, "Robert Redford & Sydney Pollack: The Men and Their Movies" (at 8 p.m., Channel 2). The actor/director team, after all, is responsible for such memorable hits as "The Electric Horseman," "The Way We Were," "Jeremiah Johnson" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The show, hosted by Dick Cavett, will feature clips from those and other films, as well as outtakes.

Now, are you even remotely surprised that a new Redford/Pollack collaboration, "Havana," debuts in some cities next week? (A release date for Baltimore theaters has not been set.)

* Speaking of memorable movies, how many readers believe Bing Crosby's peerless crooning of the song "White Christmas" sprang from the 1954 movie of the same title? We ask because the film can be seen at 8:30 tonight on Channel 2.

Wrong. The Irving Berlin song actually was heard in the 1942 movie "Holiday Inn," of which "White Christmas" was a partial remake. Crosby was in both pictures, but the song won an Oscar in the 1942 original.

* In this season of soggy sentiment, is there a better respite than "A Christmas Story?" The funniest Christmas-oriented film in memory, the 1983 movie has been popping up on cable and will get a broadcast airing locally at 4 p.m. Sunday on Channel 54.

Adapted from the semi-autobiographical humor writing of Jean Shepherd, who wrote and narrates the film, it perfectly captures the ambiguities of the holiday season in a gently cynical, nostalgic way. Peter Billingsley plays the young protagonist who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon are his parents.

The boy's visit to a department store Santa is a scream.

* How many parents exercise a feature of the city's United Cable Television system which allows them to block certain channels to their children's viewing? As noted earlier, The Jukebox Channel on the United system is regularly screening Madonna's controversial video "Justify My Love." But spokesman Gary MacGregor, who says the firm does not see itself as a censor, notes the channel can be "locked out" through a simple coding procedure described in subscriber handbooks.

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