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PICKS OF THE WEEK

"The Rise of Christianity" on A&E, Twinkies and other fun foods on Discovery and "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" on NBC top this week in television.

SUNDAY

"Elizabeth Taylor: The True Hollywood Story," 8 p.m., E! From the young beauty of "National Velvet" in 1944 to present-day legend and humanitarian, Taylor has never been far from the headlines, as acclaim and professional honors were mixed with a sometimes stormy personal life.

"The Rise of Christianity: The First Thousand Years," Part 1 of 2, 9 p.m., A&E. Starting with the earliest followers of Jesus after the crucifixion, this documentary follows how Christianity grew into one of the most influential forces in Western civilization. (Concludes at the same time Monday.)

"Our Favorite Fun Food," 10 p.m., Discovery. How do they get the filling inside a Twinkie? What is the origin of potato chips? Inquiring munchers want to know. Daniel Stern, the unseen adult voice of "The Wonder Years," is the narrator. (And yes, Wonder Bread is included. Introduced in 1930, it's said to be the first brand that came already sliced.)

MONDAY

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 8 p.m., Channel 4. Q. Why is Rudolph's holiday special twice as long as those of many other animated characters? A. Because he's the most famous reindeer of all. Q. Why is this special being shown in November?

"Profiles," 8 p.m., Bravo. A week devoted to "Great Authors of the 20th Century" starts with Oscar Wilde. The schedule for the rest of the week, in order of appearance: Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Paul Auster.

"The Ultimate Guide: Horses," 9 p.m., Discovery. Sure, they can run -- better than any other creature their size -- but did you know that their intelligence, hearing and vision are also unusual? And wild horses are among the species best-adapted for surviving in desolate areas.

TUESDAY

"It Could Be You," 7 p.m., MTV. HIV-positive filmmakers Rebecca Guberman and Jennifer Jako interview other HIV-positive young people in an effort to lower a daunting statistic reported on the program: Every hour, two people under age 20 are infected with HIV.

"An Evening of Country Greats," 9 p.m., TNN. The fifth annual event finds relative newcomers saluting older legends, the latter including Eddy Arnold, Harlan Howard, Brenda Lee and Earl Scruggs.

WEDNESDAY

"Christmas in Rockefeller Center," 8 p.m., Channel 2. For as long as most people can remember, the huge Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center has been a favorite sight on holiday visits to New York. But it's only in recent years that the tree has become, in effect, the star of its own TV show. (Back in the '50s, the lighting ceremony was shown first on "The Kate Smith Show" and later during "The Howdy Doody Show.") Performers tonight -- you can be sure they won't want to come on after the tree -- will include Garth Brooks, Jewel and Kristi Yamaguchi. Hosts: Jane Pauley, Matt Lauer and Al Roker.

"American Justice," 9 p.m., A&E. "Selena: Murder of a Star." A superstar singer in the Spanish-speaking portions of the Americas, Selena Quintanilla-Perez was poised for even wider fame when she was killed in 1995. This program looks at the sad story of the crime for which an associate is serving a life term.

"Alabama's Christmas Greetings," 10 p.m., TNN. The ever-popular vocal group is joined by Martina McBride, Mindy McCready and Aaron Tippin for a program of holiday favorites.

THURSDAY

"Diagnosis Murder," 9 p.m., Channel 4. George Lazenby, who had a brief career as James Bond ("On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), guest-stars in a story that finds the Sloans (Dick Van Dyke and Barry Van Dyke) racing to prevent a fourth murder in a series of attacks that are linked in some mysterious way.

"Fix-It Line," 6:30 p.m., Discovery. Sure, they may know a few things about fire safety or what to do during a tornado warning, but are the people in your house really prepared for an emergency? Safety expert Jim Christensen offers some advice on creating a family emergency plan.

Olivia de Havilland Night, 8 p.m., TCM. Five films, starting with her first, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1935), with James Cagney, Dick Powell and Joe E. Brown. (See listings for additional titles and times.)

FRIDAY

"Casper's First Christmas," 7 p.m., Cartoon Network. We don't like having all these holiday specials on so early, but at least they have happy endings. And if you don't pay attention, you may discover belatedly that your favorite was shown weeks before you thought about watching it. (Followed at 7:30 by "The Town That Santa Forgot.")

"Lions: Africa's King of the Beasts," 8 p.m., Discovery. The title of "King" doesn't mean much in the face of some of the problems that lions face today. In some parts of the Serengeti Plains, they are near extinction.

SATURDAY

15 Days of 007, 8:05 p.m., TBS. It's that time again -- 16 James Bond movies will be shown on TBS through Dec. 19. The first one, "Goldfinger" (1964), stars Sean Connery and is ranked among the best of the long series. Followed at 10:35 by a Bond of a different era, Timothy Dalton in "The Living Daylights" (1987).

"Holidays in Concert," 8:35 p.m., Disney Channel. Shawn Colvin, Monica and 'N Sync perform favorite holiday music and share Christmas memories in a program taped at Walt Disney World and hosted by Colvin.