Oscar parody better than original

Oscar parodies are almost as old as the Academy Awards themselves. Bugs Bunny began spoofing the big night back in the days of Clark Gable. The Cartoon Network continues this proud tradition with their "1st 13th Annual Fancy Anvil Award Show Program Special ... Live! ... In Stereo" (6 p.m., Saturday).

Hosted by the animated good ol' boy Johnny Bravo, "Fancy Anvil" begins with a glance at the cartoon competitors as they make their way down the red carpet. The nominated "stars" and audience members include characters from the past 70 years, from Bugs and Daffy to Scooby Doo's gang to the Flintstones and contemporary favorites like the Powerpuff Girls.

"Anvil" offers a smart, knowing, laugh-filled send-up of real awards shows, from the prerequisite song, dance and clip montage opening routine to the special moments of reflection. The real-life Sandy Duncan emerges toward the end of the show to bestow a Lifetime Achievement Award on Scooby Doo. Five of Mr. Doo's real-life co-stars, Don Knotts, Phyllis Diller, Davy Jones, Jonathan Winters and Tim Conway contribute fond memories. N'Sync's Chris Kirkpatrick comments on the eternal themes of father-son misunderstanding contained in the cartoon "I Love To Singa." Oscar veteran Debbie Allen introduces a salute to dance in cartoons, and Porky Pig contributes an elegiac glance at the works of three recently deceased animators, Chuck Jones, Bill Hanna and Maurice Noble.

While kids might enjoy the cartoons, "Anvil" is clearly aimed at adults with at least a fan's knowledge of animation history and contemporary popular culture. Host Bravo makes a pointed dig at the Cartoon Network's corporate parent, AOL, reminding audience members of the software disks located under their seats, in their gift baskets, in the lobby, in their hotel rooms and everywhere else they might go for the next seven years.

In fact, the Cartoon Network may have spoofed the Oscars too well. The publicity kit for the "Anvil" awards contains fake press credentials, rules for media behavior and driving directions to the obviously fictional Hanna-Barbera Pavilion. Maybe it wasn't obvious enough. According to my source at the network, at least three media outlets have called asking for additional press passes and directions to the two-dimensional pavilion. I've always suspected that "celebrity news" coverage lacked depth.

� Michelle Kwan and Irina Slutskaya are among the competitors featured on The World Figure Skating Championships (7 p.m., Saturday, ABC). While surprise gold medalist Sarah Hughes will not participate, ABC sports will air the half-hour special "A Story of Gold: Sarah Hughes" on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

� The History Channel presents its Fourth Annual "Harry Awards" (9 p.m., Saturday), honoring the film of the previous year that contributed most to the public's understanding and appreciation of history. This year's nominees include "A Beautiful Mind," "Black Hawk Down," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "Enemy at the Gates" and "Pearl Harbor." Previous Harry Award winners include "The Patriot," "Ride with the Devil" and "Saving Private Ryan."

� The Travel Channel observes Palm Sunday and the beginning of Easter Week with a three-hour spotlight on biblical locales, beginning with "Where Easter Began" (7 p.m., Sunday), "Secrets of the Holy Land" (8 p.m.) and "Jerusalem Top Ten" (9 p.m.).

Today's other highlights

� Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton star in the 1995 space drama "Apollo 13" (7 p.m., Encore).

� The hunt for a serial mercy killer on a repeat "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (9 p.m., NBC).

� Billy Bob Thornton hosts a repeat "Saturday Night Live" (10:30 p.m., NBC) with musical guest Creed.


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