This guide is designed to alert readers to the scope and variety of programming coming up. Listing is not meant to represent blanket endorsement. Viewers are urged to be selective. THURSDAY Norman Rockwell's `Breaking Home Ties' (ABC, 9-11 p.m.): This Thanksgiving special - at least its opening scene - was inspired by the painting. It tells the emotional story of a college student's coming of age, starring Jason Robards, Eva Marie Saint, and Doug McKeon.
FRIDAY Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus (NBC, 8-9 p.m.): Tony Randall, Lisa Bonet, and many other stars visit the Epcot Center ``big top.'' The Shooting Party (Arts & Entertainment cable, 8-10 p.m.): Fine atmospheric 1985 British classic about a weekend shoot in 1913, starring James Mason and John Gielgud. Celebrating Gershwin, Part I: The Jazz Age (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): ``Great Performances'' begins a two-part musical survey of George Gershwin's career, starting with a focus on Broadway with Bobby Short, Leonard Bernstein, and Maureen McGovern. Digging Dinosaurs (PBS, 10:30-11 p.m.): Some of the newest theories on how dinosaurs lived and died.
SATURDAY Remembering Bing (PBS, 9-10:20 p.m.): Dorothy Lamour is host in a tribute to `the Old Groaner,'' Bing Crosby, with film and TV clips. Footsteps (Arts & Entertainment/cable, 9-10 p.m.): Fabulous archaeological series that visits major digs of the world.
SUNDAY Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (PBS, 7-8 p.m.): Repeat of what some consider the ultimate family treat, featuring the Muppets, plus skaters from ``Holiday on Ice.'' The Long Journey Home (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): David and Meredith Baxter Birney star in a complex drama of international intrigue. The Next President (Syndicated; check local listings for time and station): David Frost interviews Presidents Reagan, Carter, and Ford in premi`ere of 13-week series on Presidents and candidates.
MONDAY The Secret Garden (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Pedestrian retelling of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel about the transformation of a lonely orphan and a magical garden that becomes the center of her life. The Sleeping Beauty (PBS, 8-9:20 p.m.): A lush production of this classic fairy tale ... on ice! Jessye Norman's Christmas Symphony (PBS, 9:30-10:50 p.m.): Derek Jacobi is host for an evening of seasonal and sacred music by Miss Norman at England's Ely Cathedral.
TUESDAY Political Debate (NBC, 9-11 p.m.): Live Kennedy Center debate between Democratic and Republican candidates, anchored by Tom Brokaw.
Listings are in Eastern time; other zones may vary. Please check listings for all PBS programs, since local option often results in differing days and times.