Epic minis, wacky stunts, big audiences, and even bigger ad dollars. Did somebody say May sweeps? Here, some notable highlights. Take a good look; this is all that’s standing between you and four months of reruns:
Wrestlemania: The nets are going gaga for grapplers. In this corner, NBC has Hulk Hogan, who faces off against Brooke Shields for public office on Suddenly Susan; Randy ”Macho Man” Savage hits the ring with Helen Hunt on Mad About You; and ex-wrestler Nils Allen Stewart plays the pugilist-turned-politician in The Jesse Ventura Story. The challenger, CBS, has ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin reprising his ratings-grabbing Nash Bridges role as a cop hot for Yasmine Bleeth. Promises producer Carlton Cuse, ”Nash [Don Johnson] and Steve kick some major ass.”
Special specials: There’s Thumb Wars, the bizarro parody of Star Wars, starring a cast of, uh, thumbs (UPN); Busted Everywhere! (Fox), in which unwitting folks are caught on tape doing cringe-worthy things; and Britney Spears and Ricky Martin at The 1999 World Music Awards, though the real reason to watch is less-endowed cohost Pamela Anderson Lee (ABC). ”She’d committed before that,” sniffs producer John Hamlin. ”But do I think the attention will hurt us in the ratings? Probably not.”
Buh-bye: Jonathan Taylor Thomas won’t be back for Home Improvement‘s final bow, but take heart, girls: He will pop up in clips highlighting the series’ eight-year run (ABC). Fran and Maxwell have twins (oy!) in The Nanny‘s sign-off (CBS), and, after seven seasons, Melrose Place goes out with a bang that’s said to include the reappearance of Uberpsycho Kimberly, played by Marcia Cross (Fox).
Clued-in: Even ratings cellar dwellar Clueless (UPN) is not immune to sweeps stunts. On May 11, the kids go to the prom with stars from the netlet’s top-rated show, Moesha, and — gasp! — Leonardo DiCaprio. The hitch? Brandy isn’t one of the guests and Leo, well, he’s not Leo. He’s look-alike actor James Tyler, whom Amber (Elisa Donovan) claims is the Titanic star. Hey, whatever makes a sunk boat float.