FRIDAY Tribute to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (NBC, 8-9 p.m.): Songs, kind words, and other events are part of this celebrity-laden salute to the retiring center of the Los Angeles Lakers, a basketball star if there was ever was one. Live From Lincoln Center (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): The title - ``Ray Charles in Concert With the New York City Ballet'' - conveys the unusual and fascinating idea behind this special: dances choreographed by Peter Martins and performed to the songs of the great jazz-blues singer. SATURDAY Indianapolis 500 time trials (ABC, 1-2:30 p.m.): True auto racing fans won't be waiting for the Indy 500 itself on May 28. They'll want to see the pole-position qualifying round being televised live on this first day of the Indy time trials.

MONDAY The Circus (CBS, 8-9 p.m.): Animal-trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams - who says he handles his wild beasts with kindness and care - makes a farewell appearance in this 119th edition of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.

TUESDAY Frontline (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): America's relationship with israel since the 1950s - especially the secret side of it - is examined in ``Israel: The Covert Connection.''

WEDNESDAY American Playhouse (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): A close and not very admiring look at materialism in the 1980s is the basis of ``Big Time,'' the story of an ambitious investment banker.

Please check local listings for all programs, especially on PBS.

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