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TV highlights, Dec. 7

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MIRACLE MOVIE: Almost wasn't made.
  • MIRACLE MOVIE: Almost wasn't made.

BACKSTORY: MIRACLE ON 34th STREET
1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10
American Movie Classics (Comcast Ch. 31)

While an annual dose of “Miracle on 34th Street” magic has become de rigueur for many Americans, it was a movie that almost didn’t get made. Twentieth Century Fox Studio chief Darryl Zanuck hated the script, finding the tale of a department store Santa who thinks he’s the real thing too cornball and melodramatic. He disliked it so much, in fact, that he slashed the budget by half. When that didn’t stop director George Seaton from going ahead with the production, Zanuck had it was released in May — hardly primetime for a Christmas film. Nonetheless, “Miracle” went on to become one of the big hits of 1947, with Edmund Gwenn winning a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Kris Kringle. Tune in and learn more trivia about one of the most beloved Christmas films.

FRONTLINE: IS WAL-MART GOOD FOR AMERICA?
9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12
AETN (Comcast Ch. 2, Broadcast Ch. 3)

n Colossus Wal-Mart’s tendency to crush the little guy and go for cheaper at all costs has led to a firestorm of criticism in recent years. In this special, Frontline finally asks the big question that has been on everyone’s lips: Sure, Wal-Mart is successful, but is it good for America? On the up side, its cheap goods have spurred what some call “The Wal-Mart Effect,” helping keep inflation low. On the other hand, the company’s call for suppliers to constantly cut wholesale prices has led to a flood of American jobs headed overseas, where third-world workers can do the jobs U.S. workers once held for a fraction of the price.

MYTHBUSTERS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17
The Discovery Channel (Comcast Ch. 53)

n One of our favorite shows these days is “Mythbusters,” the Discovery channel video junk food where the hosts put those “friend-of-a-friend” stories to the test. More often than not, the things everyone knows turn out to be bunkum, though there are some surprises. This week, in honor of Christmas, the Mythbusters team takes on some of our favorite Yuletime myths and legends, including whether you can accidentally kill a dog by dropping a frozen turkey on its head, Santa Claus-centered myths, and exotic ways of keeping your Christmas tree from becoming a tinder-dry inferno waiting to happen. Chill the eggnog and settle in for some mythbusting fun.

— David Koon

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