Good grief! Charlie Brown, one of the most brow-beaten characters in comic strip history, can't catch a break even on TV.
Charles M. Schulz's orb-headed creation appeared to be headed to comic-strip retirement when the cartoonist announced he would stop drawing Peanuts in 2000, just months before he died. And now we find out that Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and the rest of the gang are expected to continue their antics on a series of half-hour television programs.
"A Charlie Brown Valentine," the first of those projects, will air 8 p.m. Feb. 14 on ABC, Channel 30. ABC is banking on the animated show to attract a large number of viewers to boost its ratings during the February sweeps period.
February is one of four months each year when television stations use ratings to determine advertising rates. The equation is simple: Higher ratings mean higher advertising rates. Other sweeps occur in November, May and July.
Networks lure viewers with high-profile casting on regular shows (William Shatner on ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" at 10 p.m. Feb. 11-13) and TV premieres of popular movies ("Patch Adams" on ABC at 9 p.m. Monday). NBC and its cable channels, MSNBC and CNBC, will air voluminous coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, including opening ceremonies Feb. 8 and closing ceremonies Feb. 24. NBC will broadcast Olympics coverage 7:30-11 p.m. nightly.
The extensive Olympic coverage means all the other special programs will have to compete for viewers with hockey, figure skating, skiing and luge.
Other special programming for February sweeps includes:
"Frasier," 9 p.m. Tuesday, NBC: Niles (David Hyde Pierce) leaves nothing to chance when he plans the perfect evening as the backdrop to asking Daphne (Jane Leeves) to marry him.
"A Town Without Pity," 9 p.m. Wednesday, CBS: Dick Van [filtered word] reprises his role as Dr. Mark Sloan in this new "Diagnosis Murder" movie. Sloan must rescue his daughter, who is missing after visiting a small California town.
"Sabrina Goes to Rome," 8 p.m. Friday, The WB: The young witch travels to Europe for her latest magical misadventures.
"Guilty Hearts," 9 p.m. Feb. 10 and 13, CBS: Oscar winners Marcia Gay Harden and Olympia Dukakis join Treat Williams in this four-hour miniseries based on a true crime love story.
"Temptation 2," 9 p.m. Feb. 14, FOX: The Fox Network celebrates Valentine's Day by airing the finale of this reality game show, which features lust, mistrust, anger and lots of name calling.
"When Animals Invade Your Home," 9 p.m. Feb. 15, FOX: Pesky critters send homes into chaos.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark," 7 p.m. Feb. 17, and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" 8:30 p.m. Feb. 18, ABC: ABC looks to the whip-carrying archaeologist to lure viewers away from the Olympics.
"7th Heaven," 8 p.m. Feb. 18, The WB: Actor and comedian Richard Lewis makes a special appearance as Rabbi Glass in five episodes of the WB's highest-rated series. Laraine Newman, best known for her work on "Saturday Night Live," guest stars as the rabbi's wife.
"World's Greatest Eating Competition," 8 p.m. Feb. 21, FOX: The network presents the first "Gluttony Bowl."
"American Pie," 8 p.m. Feb. 22, FOX: The raunchy teen comedy will go through some heavy editing to be suitable to air on network television.
"The Rosa Parks Story," 9 p.m. Feb. 24, CBS: Angela Bassett and Cicely Tyson star in this film tracing the life and history of one of the Civil Rights Movement's most indelible social activists. The made-for-television film explores the events in Parks' childhood and adult life that resulted in her historic peaceful defiance on a segregated bus in 1955.
"The 44th Annual Grammy Awards," 8 p.m. Feb. 27, CBS: "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart hosts the awards show originating from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
"Rush Hour," 8 p.m. Feb. 27, FOX: Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan work together to save the daughter of the Chinese consul.
"Survivor: Marquesas," 8 p.m. Feb. 28, CBS: CBS is not wasting time. Before visions of "Survivor: Africa" fade, the network launches the next edition of the reality game show. The castaway contestants return to an island setting, but this time they will be given no supplies.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com)