On The Weekend Watch:
WHAT'S YOUR GAME? -- Whew! Sports activities of wide variety are chewing up huge chunks of the viewing schedule this weekend. First up, of course, are the early games of the annual basketball odyssey of the NCAA Tournament, and CBS/Channel is the locale for a numbing total of 15 games through Sunday, with Billy Packer heading the broadcast teams. Doubleheader game times are at noon and 8 p.m. today and Friday; marathon games begin at noon on Saturday (four) and Sunday (three). Of special note for local fans, the Towson State Tigers take on Ohio State at 8 p.m. Friday. NBC/Channel 2 is countering the CBS roundball sweep with the sweeping grace of figure skating, specifically top events from the "World Championships" this week in Munich. Check listings for specifics, but there are prime time shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and two shows Sunday, at 2:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m. Also on Saturday, Channel 2 has its first Orioles pre-season broadcast game from Florida, against Texas at 1:30 p.m. and featuring the recently retired-again Jim Palmer doing the play-by-play. Finally, note that one of the most popular events in "ABC's Wide World of Sports" annual calendar is on the schedule at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Channel 13). It's the two-week-long Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Alaska, just concluded this week, which proves that the athletic aberration is exceptionally virulent in certain people.
MUSIC TO DONATE BY -- The special programming connected with PBS fund-raising drives continues on Maryland Public Television (channels 22 and 67), whose limited low-key marketing messages contrast pleasantly with the traditional beg-a-thon over on Washington's Channel 26. The musical range runs from a "Richard Tucker Gala" at 9 p.m. Friday, through "Going Home to Gospel with Patti LaBelle" at 8 p.m. Sunday, and on to "Harry Connick Jr. and His Orchestra Swinging Out" at 10 p.m. Sunday.
IS IT LIVE? -- Yes, "NBC's Saturday Night Live" is finally a new one this week (at 11:30 p.m., Channel 2), with one of the smallest yet biggest Hollywood stars of the moment, actor Michael J. Fox, as guest host. The Black Crowes are musical guests.
THE CABLE CONNECTION -- Premium services are unusually watchable for movie lovers this weekend. At 8 p.m. Saturday on HBO, for example, the world premiere of "The Josephine Baker Story" (reviewed on Page C1 today) profiles the black American chanteuse who was a legend in Europe yet suffered nothing but discrimination in her native nation. Also at 8 Saturday on Showtime comes the cable premiere of "Pretty Woman," the irresistible Julia Roberts/Richard Gere twist on the "Pygmalion" fable. And at 8 p.m. Sunday on Cinemax, the latest edition of the network's "Crazy About the Movies" documentary series profiles actor Robert Mitchum, who's quite modest about his accomplishments.