Ailey troupe dances on PBS Friday


On The Weekend Watch:

A DANCING PREVIEW -- A week in advance of the company's much anticipated performances in Baltimore, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is featured in a two-hour PBS package on Friday. At 9 p.m. (channels 22, 67 and 26), "Great Performances Dance in America" features two works by the company, "For Bird -- With Love" and "Episodes." And at 10 p.m., "Going Home: Alvin Ailey Remembered" is an hour-long tribute to the late dancer/choreographer who founded the nation's premiere black dance troupe. (The company performs Feb. 14-16 at the Morris Mechanic Theatre and also is due in May to conduct a month-long residency in Baltimore.)

DO WE LOVE FRANCES? -- It may be irresistible. Despite a public controversy in which daughter Lucie Arnaz has condemned the show, Sunday's CBS movie about the early lives of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball will be hard to skip. Frances Fisher and Maurice Benard star in "Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter," at 9 p.m. on Channel 11. And to help get ready by viewing the original, we note that "I Love Lucy" can be seen by many viewers here at least twice daily weekdays, at 9:30 a.m. on Washington's Channel 5 (available on most local cable systems) and at 2 p.m. on Channel 54.

USE THE FORCE, FLASH -- Not often seen on TV, actor Mark Hamill, who will forever be known as Luke Skywalker from "Star Wars," does a guest shot tonight on "The Flash" (at 8:30, Channel 11). The network synopsis reveals he is not one of the good guys.

THE MOVIE MARQUEE -- Viewers may remember the opulent 1962 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty," with a vaguely effeminate Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian to Trevor Howard's stern Captain Bligh. But most film historians agree the story was done far better in 1935, with Clark Cable and Charles Laughton in the same roles, respectively. And it is that version (a Best Picture Oscar winner) which Maryland Public Television is screening at 11 p.m. on Friday. Also worth noting is another classic airing Saturday on Washington's PBS outlet, Channel 26. It's director Howard Hawks' wonderful "Bringing Up Baby" from 1938, perhaps the quintessential madcap comedy. With Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and a leopard, it remains a peerless romp which seems also to have employed most of Hollywood's best character actors.

A SCHOOL LESSON -- In an effort to discourage dropouts, an unusual youth-oriented special is airing this weekend. The "NBA All-Star Stay in School Jam" airs live at noon Saturday on NBC/Channel 2 as well as on the Nickelodeon and TNT basic cable services. Young performers such as the rap duo Kid 'n Play, Will Smith ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") and Tempestt Bledsoe ("The Cosby Show") are joined by NBA stars, including Michael Jordan, to urge kids to stay in school to improve their futures.

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