"Friends" (© NBC) SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 27, 2000 -- From the closing days of April to the better part of May, tears will be calculatedly shed, market-researched miracles attempted and the monumental exit of "Beverly Hills, 90210," hitherto known as the show that started it all, finally realized. Nay, it's not a shift of cosmos in the universe of perpetually bad TV programming. Rather, the said tube highlights are merely part of that scheme known as the May sweeps, wherein -- from today until May 24 -- networks' best and brightest shows come out to compete for the almighty ratings points upon which ad rates for the upcoming season are based.
Besides the usual hubbubs of TV specials on the bill this May, we thought we'd mention the TV resurrection of personalities such as Bruce Willis and Jesus Christ -- who, if not for the sweeps, would probably never be mentioned in the same sentence.
Here're some other impending highlights battling for home viewers' fleeting attention spans during the sweeps:
"Party of Five" (Wednesday, Fox) -- The conclusion of this series' six-year run will be marked in a two-hour-long special in which the Salinger kids are rumored to go their separate ways.
"Beverly Hills, 90210" (May 17, Fox) -- If family breakup is the case for "PO5," then union it'll be for "90210." In the two-hour series finale, high school first loves Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) and David Silver (Brian Austin Green) are to liven the somber occasion up with a wedding.
"Spin City" (May 24, ABC) -- With star Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's-induced retirement in mind, the show's season finale is said to be a very emotional one in which the deputy mayor Fox portrayed says goodbye to City Hall. FAMOUS PEOPLE APPEARANCES
"Friends" (tonight, NBC) -- The first of three episodes where Bruce Willis moonlights as the father of Ross's (David Schwimmer) college-age girlfriend and falls in temporary love with Rachel (Jennifer Aniston).
"The X-Files" (Sunday, Fox) -- In a self-reflexive sendup, Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni guest star as movie actors who portray Agents Mulder and Scully in a flick based on the two truth-seekers.
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (Monday through Wednesday, ABC) -- David Duchovny, Drew Carey, Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Rosie O'Donnell, Vanessa Williams and Kathie Lee Gifford turn up as celebrity guests on the game show. They'll be battling for the same million-dollar pot for their favorite charities. BIOPICS, MINISERIES, TV MOVIES, DOCS
"Take Me Home: The John Denver Story" (Sunday, CBS) -- Donning a bad wig and an even faker looking smile, Chad Lowe re-enacts the life of the country pop singer in this two-hour TV flick.
"Arabian Nights" (Sunday and Monday, ABC) -- A four-hour miniseries on the phantasmagoric tales of "A Thousand and One Nights" starring Jason Scott Lee and John Leguizamo.
"The 70s" (Sunday and Monday, NBC) -- Starring Brad Rowe, this four-hour bell-bottom fest is said to be an examination of the decade through the changing friendships among four friends.
"Geppetto" (May 7, ABC) -- A musical treatment of the "Pinocchio" story starring, um, Drew Carey.
"Jesus" (May 14 and 17, CBS) -- A four-hour biopic on God. COMEBACKS
"The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood" (May 19, CBS) -- In this Very Special TV movie, the Dukes, Cooter, Cletus and Roscoe reunite and head out to Hollywood to raise some fast cash.
"Growing Up Brady" (May 21, NBC) -- Barry Williams (aka Greg on "The Brady Bunch") plays himself in this expose about the catfights and dysfunctionality behind the 1970s family sitcom.
"Murder She Wrote: A Story to Die For" (May 18, CBS) -- Angela Lansbury reprises her signature role as a mystery writer in this TV movie. MISCELLANEOUS
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Behind the Scenes Special" (May 18, ABC) -- The hourlong peek is to go tete-a-tete against the season finale of NBC's "ER."
"The 35th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards" (Wednesday, CBS) -- Country music people get their share of self-congratulating nods in this annual event.
"The 49th Miss Universe Pageant" (May 12, CBS) -- And in this annual event, women from all over the world get to parade around in various get-ups and then be judged.