- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

HBO takes ‘Flight’

Dennis Quaid, the recent recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has one movie (“Yours, Mine & Ours”) opening in theaters this week and another making its cable debut tomorrow on HBO.

“Flight of the Phoenix” (airing at 8 p.m.) features Mr. Quaid as Frank Towns, a pilot whose no-nonsense attitude does little to prepare him for the problems awaiting him after his plane is downed in a horrific sandstorm in the Mongolian desert. He deals with the oppressive climate, an attack by smugglers and clashes with various crew members. As if that weren’t enough, well, there’s also that issue of an unexpected passenger on the flight — in this case, an arrogant aircraft designer who begins to undermine Towns’ authority with his plan to construct a new aircraft out of the wreckage.

John Moore directed the 2004 film, which also stars Giovanni Ribisi (“Cold Mountain”), singer-actor Tyrese Gibson, Miranda Otto (“War of the Worlds”) and Hugh Laurie (Fox’s “House, M.D.”).

Carell, West on ‘SNL’

After Eva Longoria’s dreadful turn guest-hosting NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” last week (the actress should thank her lucky stars for “Desperate Housewives” and concentrate on staying put for the time being) NBC’s long-running sketch-comedy show redeems itself tomorrow with “40 Year Old Virgin” Steve Carell doing the hosting duties.

The star of last summer’s runaway box-office hit (out on DVD Dec. 13) will be joined by rapper Kanye West as the week’s musical guest. The fun begins at 11:35 p.m.

A touching ‘Reunion’

How’s this for a bit of heart-warming holiday fare?

Cable’s Animal Planet serves up “Hurricane Reunion,” a documentary feature about animal lovers reunited with their pets after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Filmed in several states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and the District, “Animal Planet Heroes: Hurricane Reunions” features the emotional journeys of owners and pets as they struggled to survive the painful separation before coming back together.

“Exploring these stories and focusing on the numerous reunions that occur at shelters every day, viewers get a feel for the widespread success the rescuers are achieving,” says Maureen Smith, Animal Planets’ vice president and general manager. “It also illustrates the depth of love people have for their pets and the relief they feel once they have them back.”

Holiday ‘Bells’

Having learned a painful ratings lesson from airing a special-effects-filled disaster epic (“Category 7: The End of the World”) against ABC’s blockbuster “Desperate Housewives,” CBS offers less flashy fare with Sunday’s “Silver Bells.”

The made-for-TV film — which likely will face its own ratings crush opposite an action-packed “Housewives” at 9 p.m. — stars Tate Donovan and Anne Heche as a widower and widow who meet and put their painful pasts behind them to mutually experience the joy the holiday season can bring.

Elsewhere on the dial, NBC takes on ABC’s Sunday night juggernaut (“Extreme Home Makeover,” “Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) with the Disney-produced “Shrek” at 7 p.m. — and as an added inducement, it also will show exclusive footage from the upcoming remake of “King Kong,” due in movie theaters Dec. 14.

White House visit

With the holiday season well under way, HGTV is gearing up for its annual visit to the Executive Mansion.

“White House Christmas 2005,” which will first air on December 7 at 8 p.m., offers an inside view of the intense preparations involved with decorating and making the season bright for the president and his family at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and Web reports.

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