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True stars get just desserts, while 'Grace' is undervalued

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The networks are relying mostly on reruns this week, giving you a second chance to watch some of the year's highlights. But tonight's real gem is that rarity of rarities -- an awards show for people who really deserve awards.

* "Kennedy Center Honors" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- The best thing about this annual salute to the arts is that it introduces us to genres we're probably not familiar with. You may know all about Sidney Poitier and Neil Simon and B. B. King, but what about diva Marilyn Horne and ballet legend Jacques D'Amboise? If someone put a gun to your head, could you name a single ballet outside of "The Nutcracker"? Watch and enjoy, as some of the most talented people on the planet get the praise they deserve. CBS.

* "Grace Under Fire" (9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Corporate downsizing hits Grace's plant, leaving her both demoted and considerably less trusting. Star Brett Butler is one of the funniest women on TV, and co-star Dave Thomas (not the Wendy's guy) is always funny. The show's usually good for some genuine laughs, although the segues it uses between scenes -- a series of quick-cut stills zooming in on the scene of the action -- can be irritating. ABC

* "Law & Order" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- This show never gets the acclaim of its more renowned competitors, but it's consistently entertaining and frequently thought-provoking, if sometimes a bit preachy. Strong cast, too. The late William Kunstler guest-stars tonight as -- surprise! -- a defense attorney. NBC.

Cable

* "Hairspray" (3 p.m.-5 p.m., repeats 8 p.m.-10 p.m., Comedy Central) -- This John Waters comedy introduced Ricki Lake to the world, but don't hold that against it. Instead, simply enjoy its evocation of early-1960s Baltimore (remember Buddy Deane and Kirby Scott?) and see if you remember how to do "The Madison."

* "True Grit" (4 p.m.-6 p.m., TNT) -- This is not the 1968 classic, an extremely likable starring vehicle for John Wayne that won him a long-overdue Oscar. It's a 1978 pilot for a TV series that never got off the ground, starring Warren Oates. Wait for the real thing.

* "Larry King Live" (9 p.m.-10 p.m, repeats 2 a.m.-3 a.m., CNN) -- An hour with Barbra Streisand that won't cost a couple of hundred bucks; who says TV isn't your best entertainment value?

* "Holiday Time at Disneyland" (1 a.m.-2 a.m., Disney) -- In the days before Disney World, Disneyland in California was the center of the Disney empire. Join Uncle Walt himself for this 1962 visit with Mickey and the gang.

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