LOS ANGELES -- Consult CBS about its February sweeps plans and you get a triumphant one-word answer: "Olympics!"
The other networks may not have a sporting chance during this key ratings period, which is used to help set local advertising rates. NBC's 1996 summer Olympics coverage, remember, gave it TV's seven most-watched shows for two weeks.
But CBS' competitors aren't surrendering without a fight.
To counter Winter Olympic events such as figure skating, which tends to attract more female viewers, NBC is offering tough-guy films like Under Siege 2 tonight and Crimson Tide on Feb. 22. NBC will be home to five Olympics starting in 2000.
Third-place ABC offers a heavy schedule of specials and TV movies. There's a film produced by Oprah Winfrey and a show pairing the kid-fave Muppets with Cindy Crawford and Tyra Banks.
Fox has an episode of The X-Files co-written by horrormeister Stephen King.
CBS plans a sprinkling of sweeps programs after the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Here's what's in store:
Robin Williams is in full Genie voice for the animated Aladdin and the King of Thieves, 7 tonight, on ABC (WJBF, Channel 6). Aladdin is set to marry Princess Jasmine, but the Forty Thieves are in the way.
Bad as I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story, promises the private man behind the flamboyant NBA star, 9 tonight, on ABC. Newcomer Dwayne Adway stars; the real Rodman also appears.
Novelist Stephen King and Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, co-wrote tonight's episode of the Fox series (9 o'clock, WFXG, Channel 54), about a New England village facing a bizarre terror. Sci-fi writers William Gibson and Tom Maddox wrote the following week's episode.
Amanda (Heather Locklear) and Kyle (Rob Estes) are at the altar in a two-hour episode of Fox's Melrose Place, 8 p.m. Monday, but don't expect a worry-free wedding.
Shelly Fabares and Lisa Dean Ryan star in Playing to Win, about a teen-age girl sucked into the world of adolescent gambling. The film, co-starring David Lascher, airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on NBC.
Skyjacked stars Antonio Sabato Jr., Kelly Rutherford and Adrian Pasdar in the tale of a helicopter pilot ensnared in a convict's getaway scheme, 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC.
The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon, 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, on ABC. Tony Danza stars as a garbage collector who gets a shot at NFL fame.
1998 UPN alt.games, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, on UPN (WBEK, Channel 67), features ordinary people competing in such everyday tasks as uncorking wine bottles or opening a shrink-wrapped CD. It's listed as a comedy special.
Motown 40: The Music is Forever, on ABC 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, and Thursday, Feb. 19, celebrates the 40th anniversary of Motown Records. Diana Ross is host, with Little Richard, Smokey Robinson, James Taylor and Mariah Carey among those featured.
Elmopalooza! at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, on ABC is a musical tribute to 30 years of PBS' Sesame Street and its denizens, including Elmo and the Cookie Monster. Also appearing: Jimmy Buffet, En Vogue, and models Crawford and Banks.
Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding, 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, Feb. 22-23, on ABC, with Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield and Carl Lumbly. Adapted from Dorothy West's novel about an affluent black family on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Will You Marry Me? 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, is the fourth installment of a special featuring out-of-the-ordinary marriage proposals. Daisy Fuentes is host on ABC.
The Grammy Awards ceremony is at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, on CBS (WRDW, Channel 12), with Kelsey Grammer as host.
The 14th Annual Soap Opera Awards honors the shows and stars of daytime serials, 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, on NBC.
The Long Way Home, 9 p.m. Sunday, March 1, on CBS, stars Jack Lemmon and Betty Garrett. A man rediscovers life's possibilities on a cross-country journey with a young woman.
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