TV column for Sunday, Feb. 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Academy Awards,
8:30 p.m. ET, ABC.

Billy Crystal is back for his ninth
turn as host, in a different world. The number of best-picture
nominees has jumped from five to nine; best-song nominees have shrunk
from five to two.

There will be funny presenters –
Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks and more – and a
massive Cirque du Soleil number. And there will be pretty people in
fancy clothes; other presenters include Jennifer Lopez, Angelina
Jolie, Halle Berry, Tom Cruise and Mike Douglas.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Life is
Short,” 10:30 p.m., HBO.

This gem – produced and written by
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant – offers a mock-reality version
of Warwick Davis, the tiny “Willow” and “Jedi” star. We see
him showing up – rather greedily – at a “Star Wars”
convention and at a “Star Wars”-themed wedding.

Still, the highlight is when he meets
Johnny Depp – whose movie was mocked by Gervais at the Golden
Globes. The Depp-Gervais scene is hilarious.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Amazing
Race,” 8 p.m., CBS; “Celebrity Apprentice,” 9 p.m., NBC.

The other broadcast-network shows duck
into reruns on Oscar night, but these reality shows boom ahead. Each
has its second episode tonight.

On “Race,” one duo is reduced to
tears; at the world's largst cattle market (in Argentina), numerical
skills are tested. And on “Apprentice,” each teams must craft a
Medieval-themed show.

Other choices include:

– Oscar previews. That starts early,
with ABC's “Good Morning, America” (check local listings); it's
based at the El Capitan Theatre, across the street from the Academy
Award ceremonies. Other previews start at 1 p.m. on E and 4 p.m. on
TV Guide Network. The red-carpet coverage starts at 5:30 on E; at 6
p.m. on CNN, TVGuide and Reelz; and at 7 p.m. on ABC .

– “Great Performances at the Met,”
noon, PBS (check local listings). Mozart's “Don Giovanni” is
large and, well, operatic. Fresh from conductor Fabio Luisi's
strident overture, there's a quick rape attempt and murder; then
things propel from there. Mariusz Kwiecien plays the lustful title
character.

– Basketball, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT.
Basketball's best players collide, in the NBA All-Star game.

– “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. A
“Treehouse of Horror” reruns starts with Homer in a sort of
Candyland. It ends with Bart in an “Avatar” parody.

– “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, Alicia must learn British law, to try a libel case via
satellite. Eddie Izzard, the British comic-turn-actor, is the guest
star.

– “Luck,” 9 p.m., HBO. As a
felon, Ace (Dustin Hoffman) isn't supposed to own a racehorse. He
tries to take control, however, after disagreeing with the trainer of
his horse.

– “Eastbound & Down,” 10
p.m., HBO. Last week's season-opener left us with the worst
possibility – Kenny Powers raising a baby on his own. Tonight,
there are some broad and funny moments – including the return of
Will Ferrell (one of the show's producers) as villainous mogul Ashley
Schaeffer.

– “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” about
midnight ET (after the Academy Awards and local news), ABC. From his
studio near the ceremony, Kimmel plans to have Oscar nominees (George
Clooney, Meryl Streep), humanitarian-award-winner Oprah Winfrey and
more. He'll start with Billy Crystal, end with Coldplay.