'Grinch' a gift tonight

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Holiday-themed programming abounds one week before Christmas and the night before the beginning of Hanukkah:

Boris Karloff narrates the 1966 animated special "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (7 p.m., WB). adapted from the writer-illustrator's classic children's book.

"Biography" (7 p.m., A&E) asks all of the tough questions about the identity, legend and enduring appeal of Santa Claus, from his origins in the fourth century, to his proliferation in 19th century German, English and American culture, to his adaptation as a staple of Hollywood movies and commercial advertising. Experts on hand include author Chris Van Allsburg and actor Tim Allen ("The Santa Clause").

Peter Billingsley stars in the 1983 sleeper hit "A Christmas Story" (7 p.m., Turner Classic Movies), based on stories by the late radio raconteur Jean Shepherd.

A family struck by tragedy copes with the holidays in the 2002 TV film "A Christmas Visitor" (7 p.m., Hallmark), starring William Devane and Meredith Baxter.

Somebody is spoiling Christmas in the spooky town of Winter Hollow. So it's up to the gang with the van to spend a chilly night in a haunted inn in the 2002 animated special "A Scooby-Doo Christmas" (7:30 p.m., WB).

Tommy and his pals learn the story of the Festival of Lights in a repeat of a "Rugrats" (7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon) episode from 1996 featuring the voice of Fyvush Finkel.

Tiny burgs with large doses of community spirit are celebrated on "Ultimate Small Town Christmas" (8 p.m., A&E).

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Bonnie Hunt and Dave Matthews appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Uma Thurman, James Carville and Desert Sessions featuring Josh Homme and PJ Harvey on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).