"LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER" AND "GREAT PERFORMANCES"--Typically, it's up to public television to provide an oasis of so-called culture in a week that falls during a ratings sweeps month.

Ratings sweeps are those thrice-yearly periods that determine advertising rates for most of the nation's commercial TV stations. Hence, networks try to help their affiliates by packing prime time with blockbuster or provocative programming a la "Hollywood Wives" on ABC. Love it? Great.

But if you're seeking alternatives, be thankful for refreshingly stuffy PBS. Stuffy to some, that is, exciting to others.

Renowned pianist Andre Watts, for example, performs a solo recital on "Live From Lincoln Center" airing Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 50, 8:30 p.m. on Channel 28 and 9 p.m. on Channel 15. Coming to us from Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Watts' diversified program includes three sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and George Gershwin's three preludes for piano.

The hour is part of the "Great Performances" series on PBS, as is "American Ballet Theatre at the Met," airing Friday at 9 p.m. on Channels 28 and 15, and Saturday at 8 p.m. on Channel 50. (In fact, there are so many great and near-great performances on PBS that it's hard keeping count.) This 90-minute "Dance in America" program features Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Les Sylphides," followed by Kenneth MacMillan's "Triad" and Natalia Makarova's staging of Marius Petipa's "Paquita."

It's not "Hollywood Wives," but hang in there.

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