It's not just a picnic and a few sparklers this week -- it's the centennial celebration for the refurbished Statue of Liberty, with a "reillumination" that includes music and fireworks and stars of the human kind, choreographed by David Wolper, who coordinated the Los Angeles Olympic Games extravaganza.
ABC in particular intends to make this a festive occasion. That network takes the air at 8 on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. CBS will check in at 9 p.m. Thursday and for three hours Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. NBC carries the Statue dedication at 10 on Thursday, and hands the Friday morning coverage to its "Today" show.
Starting Monday, CBS' 6 a.m. news report takes up week-long residence at Governors Island. "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather on Thursday and Friday and Bob Schieffer on Saturday also originates from Governors Island. More coverage will be offered on "Nightwatch" Friday at 2 a.m. and "CBS News Sunday Morning" at 9 next Sunday.
Wednesday, ABC begins with an hour-long "Liberty Weekend Preview" (Barbara Walters interviews Medal of Liberty winners, Hugh Downs reports on the Tall Ships, David Brinkley relates the history of the Statue).
Thursday, ABC bumps its noon programming for a half-hour special on the ships attending the celebration from a dozen nations, then checks in at 8 to begin coverage of the opening ceremonies, including the relighting of the statue's torch by President Reagan and his presentation of Medal of Liberty awards to 12 distinguished naturalized Americans. The program also includes simultaneous induction of thousands of new United States citizens at Ellis Island and four other cities by retiring Chief Justice of the United States Warren Burger; a specially commissioned musical work performed by choir and symphony orchestra, and entertainment by Frank Sinatra, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, Debbie Allen, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck, Jose Feliciano, Mikhail Baryshnikov and more.
CBS (as well as cable channel CNN) takes the air at 9 p.m. on Thursday for Statue of Liberty dedication ceremonies. The unveiling and reillumination of Lady Liberty gets five hours of coverage for CBS, from 9 to 11 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Friday. CBS plans live coverage as well of Chicago's lakefront concert and fireworks display, and profiles of people who dream of emigrating to the United States. NBC plans to keep most of its popular Thursday night series, even if they are all repeats, and checks in at 10 for the Statue of Liberty festivities, anchored by Bryant Gumbel and Tom Brokaw.
Friday, NBC's "Today" offers a special four-hour edition beginning at 7 a.m. and including the International Naval Review of vessels from more than 12 nations and Operation Sail (Walter Cronkite anchors from the Coast Guard ship Eagle). ABC bumps all its regularly scheduled programming for four hours, beginning at 9 a.m. when President Reagan opens the parade of the Tall Ships from the deck of the USS Iowa, continues its coverage of the weekend's festivities until 1 p.m. and takes to the air again at 8 for three hours. The evening lineup includes a 90-minute concert by John Williams and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra presenting music by great American composers, fireworks in the New York City Harbor, and a segment on the meaning of liberty with Sam Waterston portraying philosopher Henry Thoreau. Among the performers at the Liberty State Park concert will be John Denver, Johnny Cash, Jack Lemmon, Barry Manilow, Joel Grey, Whitney Houston, Simon Estes and Clamma Dale. The International Fireworks Spectacular -- 40,000 fireworks effects from nine countries launched from 30 barges surrounding lower Manhattan -- will begin about 9:30 for approximately 30 minutes. ABC continues at 10 with another hour-long special co-hosted by Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs.
Locally, if you can't attend the the National Symphony Orchestra concert from the Capitol, tune to 22/67 or 26 at 9. The program includes a work composed for the occasion by Henry Mancini called "Salute to the Services," and appearances by Sarah Vaughan and pianist Andre-Michel Schub, 1981 Van Cliburn Competition winner. The orchestra, under the baton of Mstislav Rostropovich, also offers a tribute to composer Aaron Copland. E.G. Marshall hosts.
Saturday, ABC carries the New York Philharmonic's two-hour concert from 8 to 10 p.m. on the Great Lawn of Central Park. Zubin Mehta conducts. Guest artists are Marilyn Horne, Placido Domingo and Itzhak Perlman. (Early reports mentioned Sherrill Milnes, James Galway and Pinchas Zukerman as well.)
Patriotic movies? Certainly. CBS gets off to an early start with its repeat of "Ellis Island" at 9 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, featuring Richard Burton in his last performance, as a senator, and his daughter Kate as the senator's daughter. WTTG schedules "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with James Cagney at 7:30 on Thursday, and on Friday at 1, the station airs "Stars and Stripes Forever," the story of march king John Philip Sousa.
Other programs: today at 5:30, Channel 54 offers "My Friend Liberty," a child's fantasy trip through time with the Statue of Liberty. The special includes the Oscar-winning animated short "Sundae in New York." PBS' "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" this week features a series of video essays exploring contemporary America in the context of the State of Liberty's centennial week. The essays, blending the spoken word with edited video images, feature location shots from Brooklyn to Missouri and California.
Monday, MPT stations carry "Dreams of Distant Shores" at 10, an Emmy-winning documentary about immigrants to America, narrated by James Whitmore. Wednesday at 8, PBS' hour-long Oscar-winning documentary "The Statue of Liberty" tells the story of the statue as a gift from the French to the American people. Historian David McCullough narrates. Thursday at 8, Channels 24 and 50 run a one-hour special, "Lady Liberty: A Musical Salute to America," featuring Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA," T. Graham Brown's "American Me," and Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Hal linden hosts; celebrities include John Denver, Martin Sheen, Tony Danza, Robert Guillaume, Stanley Kramer and Mike Love.
WTTG's "PM Magazine" skips Thursday, then returns Friday to show how the Grucchi family sets up the fireworks display for the Statue of Liberty celebration, and goes to the Capitol Hilton for a National Lady Liberty look-alike contest -- the winners will participate in the July 4 celebration in New York City. Friday at 4, Channel 9's "Hour Magazine" features segments about Fourth of July picnics, refugees and immigrants, and a musical tribute from Wayne Newton. And Saturday, should you be partial to the Boston Pops, you'll find a Fourth of July concert from Boston (8 on Channel 20) featuring the "1812 Overture" played against a fireworks display over the Charles River.
-- -- Patricia Brennan