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July 08, 1993|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Streisand's 'Back' on Top: Barbra Streisand's "Back to Broadway" album sold an estimated 120,000 copies during its first week in the stores, breaking Janet Jackson's six-week stranglehold on the No. 1 spot of the nation's pop Billboard chart, which hits the newsstands Saturday. Jackson' "janet.," which sold about 107,000 units, will slip to No. 2 trailed by Billy Ray Cyrus' 100,500-selling "It Won't Be the Last" at No. 3. Gloria Estefan's "mi tierra," enters the chart at 41, making it the highest charting debut ever of an all Spanish-language album. Insiders predict Streisand's reign at the top will be brief, as U2's new "Zooropa" is expected to outsell all competitors next week.


* Place Your Bets: Advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, having surveyed the 38 new series due on the networks this fall, predicts just four new shows are likely to make it to the Top 20 list for the 1993-94 season: ABC's "Grace Under Fire" and "Boy Meets World," NBC's "Frasier" and CBS' "Dave's World." The New York agency picked six more programs as long shots: NBC's "Against the Grain," "Cafe Americain" and "The Mommies"; ABC's "The Paula Poundstone Show"; and Fox's "Buddy Blues" and "The Robert Townsend Show."

* Suit Stands: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge left intact Ed McMahon's $5-million lawsuit against the Star tabloid over an item saying the former "Tonight Show" announcer drank so much whiskey during a flight to London that he stumbled off the plane. McMahon sued Enquirer-Star Inc. and gossip columnist Janet Charlton for defamation, being shown in a false light, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Star later retracted the April 13 report, attributing the error to mistaken identity.

* 'Law's' New Order: NBC's "Law & Order" will have two new cast members this fall: S. Epatha Merkerson ("Here and Now") and Jill Hennessy ("RoboCop III"). Merkerson will play Lt. Anita Van Buren, replacing Capt. Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) who gets promoted to police headquarters, and Hennessy will be assistant district attorney Claire Kincaid, replacing character Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks), who leaves for an uptown law firm. The changes are reportedly being made to halt criticism that the show lacks strong women characters.

* MTV Rocks Moscow: Starting Friday, music lovers throughout the former Soviet Union will be able to watch 43 hours per week of musical programming from MTV Europe, running on five different television networks throughout the region. The Pet Shop Boys will launch the new programming in Moscow, where they will "deconstruct" a huge, wooden MTV logo with axes.


Doin' the Art Thing: Hollywood is merging with local galleries this week. Comedian Billy Crystal was set to host a celebrity-studded opening Wednesday night featuring the collection amassed by his uncle, New York art dealer Bernhardt Crystal, at Beverly Hills' Salander-O'Reilly Galleries/Fred Hoffman. The opening was a benefit for Comic Relief, which provides services to the homeless. . . . In Santa Monica, Emmy Award-winning television writer-producer Tom Patchett ("Alf," "The Bob Newhart Show"), who is also a serious collector, has curated "Mr. Serling's Neighborhood," including psychologically based works by such noted artists as Chris Burden, Mike Kelly, Kiki Smith, Llyn Foulkes and Megan Williams. The show opens Saturday at the Christopher Grimes Gallery.

* Grants Survive: The city of Pasadena's $130,000 Grants for the Arts program, threatened with extinction because of severe budget cuts, has been reinstated for two years. "It's very exciting; we kept the funding at the same level," said Denise Nelson Nash, executive director of the Pasadena Arts Division. "A lot of people got behind us; it shows how important the arts really are to a city." Also reinstated was the city's arts education program.


* Margaret Ray, the woman repeatedly charged with pestering David Letterman, was arrested again early Wednesday after police found her sleeping near a tennis court on the talk-show host's Connecticut property. It was Ray's eighth arrest since 1988 for alleged trespassing on Letterman's property. . . . French film star turned animal rights crusader Brigitte Bardot has sent a written appeal to Russian President Boris Yeltsin to halt what she describes as a death camp-like massacre of baby seals killed for their fur in northern Russia. . . . "Seinfeld" co-star Jason Alexander will be a color announcer tonight on Prime Ticket's 7 p.m. telecast of the California Angels vs. New York Yankees baseball game.

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