One of Hollywood's brawniest epics, director Stanley Kubrick's 1960 effort, "Spartacus" (noon-4 p.m., TNT), stars Kirk Douglas as the fearless leader of a slave rebellion in ancient Rome. Top-notch in all technical aspects, the film boasts a splendid ensemble cast of Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton. Tony Curtis comes up amusingly short, however, as a slave with a curious Brooklyn accent ("I am da singa of songs").
At a glance
"The Mighty Ducks" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- It's not unusual for the holidays to bring schedule changes that may not be welcomed by everyone, but Ducks fans are in luck this week. Formulaic and predictable for even the youngest of viewers, this 1992 comedy stars Emilio Estevez as a lawyer who coaches a hockey team consisting of inept players. The movie also stars Joss Ackland. At the same time tomorrow, catch the 1994 sequel, "D2: The Mighty Ducks." NBC.
"Xena: Warrior Princess" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- After being hurt badly in a fight, the warrior gal flashes back to an earlier encounter with Julius Caesar for help.
"James Stewart; A Wonderful Life" (10 p.m.-11: 30 p.m., MPT, Channels 22 and 67) -- In a documentary from 1987, host Johnny Carson accompanies Stewart on a trip through his movie career. Among others on hand to sing the actor's praises: Katharine Hepburn, Charlton Heston, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Gene Kelly.
"The Richard Tucker Opera Gala" (10 p.m.-11: 30 p.m., WETA, Channel 26) -- Stars of the world's major opera houses gather at Lincoln Center to perform in an annual concert of excerpts from their favorite roles. June Anderson, David Daniels, Bryn Terfel, Deborah Voigt and Samuel Ramey are among the notables. PBS.
"Biography" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., repeats midnight-1 a.m., A&E;) -- "Dalai Lama: The Soul of Tibet." Isolated in the Himalayas, Tibetans had long been able to embrace the nonviolent principles of Buddhism. But since 1959, the Dalai Lama has been forced to live in exile in India, and the Chinese government has repressed Buddhism in Tibet.
"To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., Cinemax) -- A wistful widower (Peter Gallagher) worries his daughter (Claire Danes) by carrying on imaginary conversations with his dead wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) in this 1996 weeper about love and loss from David E. Kelley ("The Practice"). Also stars Kathy Baker.
"Discovery News" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., repeats 1 a.m.-2 a.m., Discovery) -- The Top 10 science stories of the year, from cloning and Pathfinder to vanishing coral reefs and motherhood at the age of 63, will be counted down by a team of experts from ABC News, including Steve Averson, Bill Blakemore and Ned Potter.
Pub Date: 12/26/97