Letters to Santa provide heart-warming stories

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Who knew a trip to the dead-letter office could be so heartwarming? Jim Belushi is host of "Dear Santa" (8 p.m., ABC), a glance at the thousands of letters children send to St. Nick every year. "Santa" focuses on just six of these missives, and sets about trying to fulfill each child's wish. And these kids aren't just asking for a new Playstation.

Kedra, 9, wants Santa to help her find her long-lost grandfather whom her mother has been trying to locate for the past 20 years. A child with leukemia requests a trip to Elvis' Graceland mansion, and one child hopes Santa can make it snow in Arizona in time for Christmas. Ten-year-old Manny has a simpler request -- he wants Santa to help his mother look nice, smell good and be happy. I bet she'll be thrilled to hear about that letter.

Tonight's installment takes him to Myrtle Beach, S.C., during "Bike Week," when thousands of motorcyclists descend on the beach. "Insomniac" becomes more interesting after even the most diehard bars announce their last calls. With no drunks or raunchy tourists left to interview, Attell visits workers on the night shift at Myrtle Beach airport and helps feed the critters at Alligator Adventure, the largest reptile park in the world. With his hangdog looks and sardonic, self-deprecating wit, Attell is the perfect tour guide to America's freaky demimondes.

A veteran of hundreds of cheap, quickly made films like "Attack of the Crab Monsters," Corman taught two generations of actors, producers and directors to make entertaining movies that were completed on schedule and under budget. Corman made the 1960 classic "Little Shop of Horrors" in just two days, "borrowing" sets, costumes and props from the just-finished $50,000 feature "Bucket of Blood."

Interviewed here, directors Demme, Howard, Cameron and Scorsese look back fondly at their Corman experience. But while they appreciate the fact that he gave them their big break, none would probably return to his style of filmmaking. As Ron Howard recalls, "Roger told me that if I did a good job on (the 1977 action comedy) 'Grand Theft Auto,' I'd never have to work for him again."

Tonight's other highlights

Series notes

Eviction number 11 on "Survivor" (7 p.m., CBS) : Ross and Mike (Paul Rudd) spend some uneasy moments on "Friends" (7 p.m., NBC) : A mad scientist schemes to wipe out the island's Stegosaurus population on "Dinotopia" (7 p.m., ABC).

J.D.'s moods swing on "Scrubs" (7:30 p.m., NBC) : Ben Stein guest stars on "Do Over" (7:30 p.m., WB).

Jake meets Dylan's mother on "Good Morning, Miami" (8:30 p.m., NBC) : Back-to-back improvisation on "Jamie Kennedy Experiment" (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., WB) : An 11-year-old disappears in a subway station on "Without a Trace" (9 p.m., CBS).

Late night

Jennifer Love Hewitt, Diving Dogs and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) : Jay Leno greets Billy Crystal, Denise Richards and Alanis Morissette on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Look for Jackie Chan, Marlo Thomas and Ricky Jay on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC).