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A&E Stage (A&E, 9-11 p.m.): Music and reminiscence filled the air last fall at Southern Methodist University's Bob Hope Theater in Dallas, donated by the comedian some 25 years ago. Bernadette Peters (among others) sang, and words of praise were spoken by the likes of Angela Lansbury, producer-director Harold Prince, and conductor James Levine.

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The occasion - offered here in a taped version called ``A Tribute to Stephen Sondheim'' - was the bestowing of the Algur H. Meadows Award on the celebrated composer-lyricist, who is already the winner of eight Tony awards and a Pulitzer prize.

The purpose was to salute his lifetime of achievement, especially musicals that have entered the national repertoire - among them ``Gypsy,'' ``Follies,'' ``A Little Night Music,'' and ``Sweeney Todd.''


Messengers From Moscow (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): Now that the cold war is over, the ``now it can be told'' reports are in full swing, and this four-part series is one of them. Four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, these weekly programs provide an inside look at the USSR through the eyes of some of its key operatives - politicians, spies, military leaders - many of them not previously interviewed.

Speaking freely about once-guarded information, these insiders help the series in its effort to answer history's main question about those years of conflict: What did the Soviet Union really want? To advance the ideology of communism? To expand Soviet power in the more traditional, imperialist sense? Simply to protect certain national interests?

These questions pose another, of course: Was the West justified in dedicating itself for more than 40 years - at the expense of so many lives - to such massive resistance to Soviet policy?

The opening program, ``The Struggle for Europe,'' taps new evidence from Kremlin files to tell the story of Stalin's efforts to control Europe after World War II. (The remaining three shows air on successive Fridays.)

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Please check local listings for these programs.

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