WEEK AHEAD: Mardi Gras Boosts New Orleans
SATURDAY, FEB. 18: As New Orleans continues to get back on its feet after Hurricane Katrina, it'll get a much-needed boost of energy with the start of Mardis Gras. The inaugural parade kicks off 11 days of festivities, culminating with Fat Tuesday on Feb. 28, during which Kentwood, La., native Britney Spears will appear live from the Big Easy on Good Morning America. Other celebs who'll take part in the revelry: Michael Keaton, Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, who'll join in various parades.
SUNDAY, FEB. 19: Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) won't be the only woman trying to rule the household on Desperate Housewives: Her tough mother – played by Maria Conchita Alonso – is coming to Wisteria Lane and battling her for Queen Bee status (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
TUESDAY, FEB. 21: It's the women's time to shine as the female figure skaters hit the ice for the Olympics short program (part of the primetime coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET on NBC). The ice queens include U.S. star Sasha Cohen and No. 1-ranked Russian Irina Slutskaya. Meanwhile, Emily Hughes (who replaced an injured Michelle Kwan) picks up the mantle of older sister Sarah, the gold medalist at Salt Lake City in 2002. The long program takes place on Feb. 23.
FRIDAY, FEB. 24: In another step in his post-Newlyweds life, Nick Lachey adds to his acting resume with a guest spot on the WB sitcom Twins. The now-single singer plays a former underwear model trying to work his charm on star Molly Stanton (9:30 p.m. ET).
NEW THIS WEEK:
Movies (now in theaters): Freedomland, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore; Eight Below, starring Paul Walker; Date Movie, starring Alyson Hannigan; Winter Passing, starring Ed Harris, Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel
Music (in stores Tuesday): Ray Davies, Other People's Lives; Eels, With Strings Live at Town Hall; John Coltrane, Coltrane Live in Paris; William Orbit, Hello Waveforms; The Derek Trucks Band, Songlines; Janis Ian, Folk is the New Black
DVDs (in stores Tuesday): North Country; Rent; Domino; The Weather Man; All the President's Men (two-disc special edition); Midnight Cowboy (two-disc collector's edition); Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild