Hume Cronyn in a new Christmas special -- He plays a homeless man in ''Christmas on Division Street''

Hume Cronyn is walking along a breezy Philadelphia street, dressed in the tattered rags of a homeless man — his wardrobe for a scene he has just filmed for the CBS movie Christmas on Division Street. The 80- year-old actor pauses at his trailer door and nods toward an old man garbed in nearly identical clothes curled up inside a cardboard box on a nearby street grate. ”Ironic, ain’t it?” Cronyn notes grimly.

In Division Street, Cronyn plays an aging hustler who first bamboozles, then befriends a lonely Philadelphia rich kid (played by The Wonder Years‘ Fred Savage). ”To me, this really isn’t a story about homelessness, about the politics of homelessness,” Cronyn says. ”It’s more of a Christmas story. It’s about a special relationship between two people. It’s a fable.”

Cronyn has been busy with more than fables lately: In September he published his memoirs, A Terrible Liar, and early next year he’ll star in an ABC TV-movie version of Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound. It has been a bustling year for Cronyn’s wife, Jessica Tandy, as well: She’s starring in NBC’s The Story Lady on Dec. 9, and in the feature film Fried Green Tomatoes, opening this month. What’s next on the couple’s career cards? ”Nothing,” says Cronyn. ”And I’m looking forward to it.”