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EW.com's guide to sweeps TV

EW.com’s guide to sweeps TV — Britney Spears is on MTV, Janet Jackson’s on HBO, J. Lo’s on VH1, and Barry Manilow’s on Bravo. Poor Bravo

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Carson Daly, Britney Spears
Spears and Daly: Frank Micelotta/Image Direct

In this, the third week of February sweeps, we invite you to celebrate the small, non-Olympic things. Follow our guide, and you’ll see that the alternative fare — Janet Jackson performing live on HBO; guilty pleasures counted down on E!, fearless fatties consuming mounds of mayo in Fox’s ”Glutton Bowl” — is a far cry from small potatoes. So go on and gorge yourself on the cream of the sweeps-tastic crop. You won’t be sorry. Here, a look at the week in sweeps.

Friday, Feb. 15

American Pie (Fox, 8 p.m.)
Wanted: a network ballsy enough to premiere the teen movie that inspired a generation to take (or at least fantasize about taking) horny habits into the kitchen. Totally Found: Fox, a fit home for the band camp/webcam brand of humor.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch (The WB, 8 p.m.)
The witch can stop time and talk to cats, but she can’t bring herself to tell her boyfriend that she loves him. Which is why R&B sensation Usher ventures into this irritating (and yet at times bizarrely watchable) sitcom as a ”love doctor.”

Cocktail (TNT, 8 p.m.)
In one of the many high points of this ’80s bar drama, Tom Cruise turns beat poet and sounds off to a crowd of uppity Alabama Slammer drinkers: ”If you wanna get loaded, why don’t you just order a shot?” And, if you wanna have a great throwback to synchronized boogie bartending, why don’t you just turn to TNT?

Reba (The WB, 9 p.m.)
Tonight’s divorce-erific episode marks the reunion of ”Newhart” veterans Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy. Hey, do you think that means Reba will wake up and realize the whole sitcom was just a dream? Nyah, we didn’t think so, either.

Inside the Playboy Mansion (A&E, 9 p.m.)
Hey, if someone asks what you watched Friday night at 9, you could answer, ”Oh, just something on A&E.” And they’ll think you’ve gone all art-house on ’em.

The In-Crowd and Social Cruelty with John Stossel (ABC, 10 p.m.)
What becomes of lunch-money stealing, leather-wearing bullies? (We could make a Judd Nelson joke here, but that would be too easy now, wouldn’t it?) Self proclaimed ”former geek” Stossel visits high schools — including his own alma mater — to answer this question and more in a deconstruction of real-life Breakfast Clubs.

Saturday, Feb. 16

MTV’s Mardi Gras (1-4 p.m.)
Carson Daly and Britney Spears at Mardi Gras? Let the wilding begin! No, seriously, that better be a Pepsi Britney’s drinking.

America’s Most Wanted (Fox, 9 p.m.)
Get those testosterone levels soaring with tonight’s edition in which two WWF warriors — Kane and the Undertaker — help authorities hunt down the killer of a WWF fan.

Making the TV Show: 7th Heaven (MTV, 8 p.m.)
According to the froggy network, ”7th Heaven” is the show that kids love to watch, but don’t admit to watching. This behind-the-scenes program should bring many Camden fans out of the closet.

Lumumba (HBO, 10:05 p.m.)
In 1960, Patrice Lumumba (Eriq Ebouaney) became Prime Minister of the Congo. He went through hell during his tenure in the violent region, and this excellent, harsh movie takes you there.