You know we're in trouble if the best television coverage of the lively Southern California arts scene is being provided by "Entertainment Tonight." That's why KCET's decision to produce a quarterly news magazine on that very subject was good news.
Tonight's premiere of "Arts Illustrated" (9 p.m., Channel 28) isn't such good news, however. Although serious-minded and earnest, the 90-minute program falls into the very stereotype that has long plagued the disciplines of art, dance, drama and classical music it seeks to cover: It's stuffy, dull and frequently inaccessible to viewers who aren't already familiar with the subject.
Producers Karen Minsberg and Roger Bingham (who co-hosts with Hunter Drohojowska) faced a tough job in establishing a tone that would serve both the sophisticated arts patron and the viewer who is interested but not well-schooled in them. The evidence here suggests they did not resolve the dilemma.
Nor, it seems, did they have a strong sense of purpose for "Arts Illustrated," other than to chronicle in this year-end edition the significant events of 1985, such as the New Music America Festival, the opening of the L. A. Theatre Center and the Maya art exhibit at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum.