- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

Varied holiday flair

Although the beginning of the end of “The Sopranos” (Sunday at 9 p.m.) is TV’s hot topic, it’s by no means the only thing worth checking out on the tube over Easter weekend.

There’s also ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” which returns with a new episode (titled “Dress Big”) airing in the same 9 p.m. slot, opposite Tony S. and his crew.

Meanwhile, Silver Spring-based TV One kicks off its weeklong telecast of “Roots” (Sunday at 8 p.m.) as the storied and groundbreaking miniseries continues its 30th anniversary commemorative broadcast. The series will air in its entirety through April 13, with episodes beginning each weeknight at 8.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by the late Alex Haley, the 1977 series — which won nine Emmys and remains the third highest-rated program in American television — chronicled the tale of Mr. Haley’s family from their history in Africa to their enslavement in America and eventual liberation.

Among the holiday weekend’s other offerings:

Tonight:

• The hills come alive with Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp in the beloved Oscar-winning classic, “The Sound of Music” (7 p.m. on ABC Family). The cable channel’s telecast of the 1965 film, which waltzed off with five awards, including best picture honors, airs again tomorrow and Sunday at the same time.

Tomorrow:

• ABC clears its entire prime-time slate for its annual telecast of “The Ten Commandments” (7 p.m. on WJLA-ABC7). The 1956 Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic stars Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses, Anne Baxter as Nefretiri and Edward G. Robinson as Dathan.

Sunday:

• Jeffrey Hunter portrays Jesus in “King of Kings” (a role that was originally offered to Richard Burton, according to imdb.com). The 1961 classic also features uncredited narration throughout the film by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury.

• The great Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sing and strut their stuff in “Easter Parade” (5 p.m. on TCM), Irving Berlin’s cheery 1948 musical featuring a memorable title song and such showstopping numbers as “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” and “A Couple of Swells.”

Blonde ambition

Two famous blondes have inspired characters and stories from recent headlines for upcoming episodes of TV’s two top police shows.

According to E! Online, a Britney Spears-like character will show up on a “CSI: Miami” episode about an actor who’s killed during a stay in rehab within the next few weeks. During the installment, the David Caruso-led forensics team on the CBS hit will stumble upon a flaxen-tressed star who’s shaved her head while investigating the death of the actor.

It’s not the first time a hit police series has taken on the troubled Miss Spears, long a tabloid favorite. In September, NBC’s “Law & Order” premiere featured a star named Sky Sweet whose mothering skills come into question when she drives with her child on her lap and — in the Dick Wolf tradition of taking things a step further than reality — pictures surface showing her snorting cocaine while pregnant.

Miss Spears’ estranged husband, Kevin Federline, who also inspired a character in the “Law & Order” episode, guest-starred on “CSI” in October as a foul-mouthed gangster under investigation for a series of brutal beatings.

Likewise, the continuing Anna Nicole Smith saga will also get the “L&O” treatment from NBC during the pivotal May sweeps. An episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” will feature the untimely death of a spaced-out blonde bombshell, who will be played by original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Kristy Swanson. Comedian David Cross has signed on to play the “Howard K. Stern-ish” role, according to a show publicist.

Fleet feet

BET will trip the light fantastic with “The Top 25 Dancers of All Time” tonight at 10.

Hosted by Grammy-winning R&B sensation Chris Brown and music video director-choreographer Fatima Robinson (“Dreamgirls”), the special will celebrate the movers and shakers who’ve defied gravity, sparked trends and kept us mesmerized through the years.

The list includes siblings Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, the Temptations, Cab Calloway, Tina Turner, Alvin Ailey, Savion Glover and Beyonce.

Other notable voices — among them Omarion; actress-choreographer Debbie Allen; pop culture critics Nekesa Moody, Margeaux Watson, Michaela Angela Davis and Beverly Smith; and comedians Charlie Murphy, Nikki Carr, Capone, Godfrey and Sam I Am — chime in with critical insight.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kelly Jane Torrance from staff, Web and wire reports

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