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HOLIDAY SPIRIT ABOUNDS ON TV

We just can't get enough of Christmas, it seems, even when it comes to television.

At least that's what the networks appear to think, judging by upcoming schedules filled with a festive array of new made-for-TV films mixed in with returning movies and family classics.

Here's a quick overview.

In the most interesting programming note of the season, TNT is presenting a one-time only airing (or so it says) of "Noel," a film already in limited theatrical release. Directed by esteemed actor Chazz Palminteri, the film stars Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon, along with Penelope Cruz and Paul Walker ("The Fast and the Furious") as three people searching for a miracle. "Noel" airs at 8 tonight on TNT.

Two new movies are wistful romantic fantasies revolving around Nick Claus, the son of Santa and his missus.

The Family Channel's delightful "Snow," stars the charming and hilarious Tom Cavanagh ("Ed") as Nick, who finds romance while searching for a missing reindeer three days before Christmas. It premieres at 8 p.m. Dec. 12.

Even Santa's son has dating problems in the Hallmark Channel's well-meaning, but slightly flat "Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus." The comedy stars Steve Guttenberg in the romantic lead opposite Crystal Bernard. As Santa's single son, he must find a wife before he can take over the family business. He keeps holding out for the right woman, much to his parents' chagrin. "Single Santa" premieres at 9 p.m. Dec. 11 on Hallmark.

Also on the Hallmark Channel, which already debuted the holiday romance "Boyfriend for Christmas," is the premiere of "Angel in the Family," at 9 p.m. Dec. 18. Meredith Baxter plays a deceased mother who returns to guide her troubled family through the holidays in this heavenly tale that also stars Ronny Cox and Natasha Wagner.

The great Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol" continues to be reinvented.

Kelsey Grammer gives Ebenezer Scrooge a musical twist in "A Christmas Carol: The Musical." The new film, based on the Broadway musical, airs at 9 tonight on Channel 2.

A mix of Scrooge and "Groundhog's Day" creates the USA Network's original movie, "12 Days of Christmas Eve," premiering at 8 p.m. Dec. 7. Steven Weber plays a self-centered business exec who must relive Christmas Eve as he's guided toward the true meaning of Christmas by a mysterious nurse (Molly Shannon). Model-actress Patricia Velasquez ("The Mummy" movies) also stars.

The ABC Family Channel begins its annual 25 Days of Christmas programming Wednesday with "Blizzard." In the film, airing at 8 p.m., a girl's aunt tells her the story of an ice skater and enchanted reindeer (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg). Brenda Blethyn and Christopher Plummer also star.

Set the VCR and gather the family for a Holiday Classics Marathon, beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday on Family. The 11-hour event includes back-to-back showings of such animated classics as the wonderful "Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey," "Rudolph's Shiny New Year," "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town."

Returning holiday movies on the Family Channel include "The Christmas List," a lighthearted romantic comedy starring Mimi Rogers as a department store clerk whose Christmas list comes true (8 p.m. Friday and Dec. 25) and the tearjerker "Three Days" starring Reed Diamond as a neglectful husband who loses his wife (Kristin Davis) and then gets a chance to relive their last three days together (8 p.m. Dec. 20).

The Cartoon Network gets festive with its first 30-minute holiday special, "Ed, Edd n Eddy's Jingle, Jingle, Jangle," premiering at 8 p.m. Friday. Eddy, disappointed when he finds his Christmas gifts early, needs to learn some lessons.

And it wouldn't be Christmas without countless airings of "A Christmas Story" starring Peter Billingsley as adorable little Ralphie. The comedy airs repeatedly, including a 24-hour marathon beginning at 8 p.m. Dec. 24 on TBS.

e-mail: truberto@buffnews.com