Shandling’s Back … Here’s to You, Larry Gelbart …ABC’s Incredible Desperation Move … Dave’s New Dude

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It’s telethon time at WNET, meaning they go with their best stuff and make you suffer through desperate pleas for money. Prime time starts with Molly O’Neill’s New York: A Taste of the City, in which the New York Times food columnist seeks out cool, out-of-the-way places where people are making and growing and eating food-like Shaheen’s Sweets in Washington Heights and the Damascus Bakery in Brooklyn’s Little Arabia. She talks to chefs and counter people in a comforting, curious, Mister Rogers sort of way. Scripted exchanges between Molly and her Hell’s Kitchen butcher of 15 years transform cold New York into a gritty, happy, Channel 13 kind of place. Sample a line of her narration: “People are always calling New York a melting pot, but I think of it more as a spice cabinet, stuffed with crazy flavors from all over the world. Trying new combinations is what it’s all about.” [WNET, 13, 8 P.M.]

Comedy genius Larry Gelbart is feted at the Beverly Hills Writers Guild Theater in M*A*S*H, Tootsie and God: A Tribute to Larry Gelbart. “You shouldn’t have to endure people being kind to you for two straight hours,” Mr. Gelbart told NYTV by phone from his place in Los Angeles. “It’s really an embarrassment of riches. I think you can see how uncomfortable I am on the tape.” …

So, what do you watch now? “The news and The X-Files . When you’re writing comedy all day, you don’t really go home and think, ‘Entertain me.’ Television hasn’t changed. There was always some garbage and always some gold there. You cannot have this many hours of broadcasting and expect the consistency of quality. And by and large, even with all the negative things on TV, I think for the discerning viewer there is more quality there than in the theater and the movies. Broadway doesn’t encourage serious drama, and we know about the movies. They’re thinking globally. Most pictures are made to work in Ohio or Taiwan.” [WNET, 13, 10 P.M.]

Click away from the Gelbart tribute to check out his new Showtime series, Fast Tracks. [Showtime, 37, 10:30 P.M.]

Some staff news from Late Show With David Letterman : Tim Long has quit as head writer and heads for The Simpsons , that great decompression chamber in the sun where a lot of battered Late Show alumni end up. Others who have left Mr. Letterman for The Simpsons include Donick Carey and Ken Keeler. The new Late Show head writer is Rodney Rothman, who’s 24 years old.

Tonight, Dave’s a repeat, but it’s a nice one: Martin Short stops by, asks for a “bouncy C.” [WCBS, 2, 11:35 P.M.]

Thursday, March 12

Maybe you were meaning to rent it, but you somehow ended up with G.I. Jane instead. So here’s your chance to catch Crumb , Terry Zwigoff’s 1994 profile of comic book artist Robert Crumb. [TMC, 49, 10:30 P.M.]

Tortured comedian Garry Shandling hits The Tonight Show With Jay Leno . Something that probably won’t be discussed: Mr. Shandling’s lawsuit against his manager and executive producer of The Larry Sanders Show, Brad Grey, and the effects the suit might have on the entertainment industry. [WNBC, 4, 11:30 P.M.]

Friday, March 13

Some claaaassy sex stuff for premium cable viewers: Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1997) on Cinemax. [Cinemax, 29, 10 P.M.]

Saturday, March 14

Well, you know ABC is in trouble now. The network, which finished in fourth place (behind Fox) in the February ratings, is reviving the early 80’s “reality” show That’s Incredibl . Ach, what’s the difference. If Diane Sawyer was hosting it, instead of Baywatch girl Gena Lee Nolin, you’d think you were watching Prime Time Live. [WABC, 7, 8 P.M.]

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Travel up the dial, away from the late-night Saturday TV wasteland, for an hour of joy during the season premiere. The aliens crack wise along with a British sci-fi movie from 1967, The Projected Man. [Sci-Fi Channel, 44, 11 P.M.]

Sunday, March 15

A sermonette from NYTV correspondent, the Rev. Billy Berlind: Is there a greater pleasure on earth than Sunday TV? Oh, Baywatch, oh, golf, and if you’re truly blessed, a Corey Haim movie! As you negotiate the twists and turns of your hangover, carefully piecing together the previous evening, tabulating the ranks of the offended and preparing apologies-yes, friends, I know-that is when He can deliver your sorry ass. Who is He? Why, Jay Kordich, the Juiceman! …

Now you’re thinking, “Gimme a break, Billy. Infomercials? I know your game. I’ve seen ye kitsch hunters, lookin’ for a few knowing laughs at the expense of some hapless nugget of Americana.” Friends, believe me. Let Jay Kordich into your lives. Give him 28 minutes of your time, and be converted …

Nancy Nelson is your host. She’s a perky lady in her mid-40’s. She wears a sweater with vegetables on it and stands behind a table laden with produce. “Hi! How are you?” She speaks quickly to an attentive studio audience. “This is going to be such a wonderful half-hour. I don’t know about you, but I wanna to know how to be healthier and more energized? But it’s got to be fun. Well, you can’t do anything but have fun when you meet this gentleman. Most of you around the world are familiar with him. He has been juicing for very long time. And he’s been telling us to do it for a long time.” …

The Juiceman is 75. He was once at death’s door until a concoction of apples and carrots brought him back to life. He has big white eyebrows that speak of his abundant, overflowing health! Jay stands beside Nancy, bathing in the applause. “Jay,” she says, “I’ve watched you, like all of these people, and I sit at home and say, Yes, I understand, I should. But I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never juiced in my life.”

“You haven’t mentally, ” he says, “but your body has. Your body is a natural juicer. You see when you read these results and get these reports on testing and studies and everything, and they’re not conclusive yet, but it looks as though they’re favorable … Don’t wait till they say it’s scientifically proven. Start now! Don’t wait 20 years! I don’t have 20 years!”

“We get the point,” she interjects. “The time is now.”

They stand before a small white plastic contraption. The Juiceman gets to work. “Wait,” says Ms. Nelson. “You’re putting the apple in there, with the seeds?” Finally … full cups of juice.

“To you, Jay!” She sips the drink, rolls it around her mouth and looks toward the audience. Holy Mother, praise Him! She looks at Jay. He nods. He knew. “This is good!” she says. “This is really , really good!” Thank you, Jay. Thank you, TV. [WPXN, 31, 11:30 A.M.]

The first in a batch of 13 new episodes of The Larry Sanders Show . This will be the last season-and it starts off with a dark, complicated, funny episode in which Larry finds himself battling Jon Stewart for his own job as the network breathes down his neck. Winona Ryder, never seen on a talk show (if you don’t count Charlie Rose) , does a cameo. [HBO, 28, 10 P.M.]

Monday, March 16

` The life of Cary Grant on tonight’s edition of Biography. [A&E, 14, 8 P.M.]

Colin Quinn, Saturday Night Live’s new “Weekend Update” guy, tries to prove he really is funny on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. [WNBC, 4, 11:30 P.M.]

Tuesday, March 17

NBC’s last hope for unveiling one new decent show this season: The debut of Al Franken’s Late Line, a sitcom that looks behind the scenes of a Nightline- like show. [WNBC, 4, 9:30 P.M.]

Shandling’s Back … Here’s to You, Larry Gelbart …ABC’s Incredible Desperation Move … Dave’s New Dude