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September 10, 1993|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Top Talk List: CBS' David Letterman was back on top of the late-night pack after drawing more than 7.4 million viewers Wednesday, according to early Nielsen estimates. Fox's Chevy Chase, who squeezed past Letterman during his Tuesday debut, came in second among the talk-show hosts on Wednesday with more than 4.3 million viewers; NBC's Jay Leno drew just under 4 million. ABC News' "Nightline" beat everyone but Letterman, with about 5.2 million viewers. . . . Also on the late-night front, Max Weinberg, longtime drummer of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has been named music director of NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," which premieres Monday. Said O'Brien: "This is the first time in television history where the music director is better known than the host."

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Dan and Connie Inching Up: After a summer that saw "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather and Connie Chung" often beaten in the ratings by "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw," last week's Rather-Chung combo not only bested Brokaw but inched up on ABC's "World News Tonight With Peter Jennings." The numbers were close, with Jennings garnering 20% of the audience watching TV at the time, Rather and Chung drawing 19%, and Brokaw attracting 18%.

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International News Gathering: CBS News has joined with the Tokyo Broadcasting System, Belgium's VTM and SKY TV, Europe's 24-hour TV news service, to form the first international satellite news-gathering consortium. CBS News President Eric Ober said the consortium will "help each organization gain immediate, easy access to breaking news" while pooling resources to cover major international events.

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Hall to Stay at KFI: Turns out that KFI-AM (640) program director David Hall is not leaving the talk-radio station after all. KFI announced in mid-August that Hall was to have left the station for KIRO-AM/FM in Seattle today, but Hall has changed his mind. Reportedly the turnabout came during a flight back from Seattle. Neither Hall nor Howard Neal, KFI's executive vice president and general manager, could be reached for comment. Under Hall's leadership, KFI had risen in the Los Angeles ratings from No. 21 to No. 4.

MOVIES

The 'Joy' of Sales: The generational drama "The Joy Luck Club" opened to big business at the AMC Century City 14 on Wednesday. The theater, one of the nation's busiest, drew $14,919 in ticket sales for the day. The Disney/Hollywood Pictures movie, playing in only three cities, will open in more areas by the end of the month.

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'RoboCop' the Ride: For those who saw the movies, but want more: "RoboCop: The Ride" debuts at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona today. Created by Iwerks Touring Technologies, the same folks who created Peter Gabriel's video-ride Mindblender, the motion-simulation ride is described as an "action-packed adventure" that takes participants "through the streets of Delta City in pursuit of Cyberpunks who have kidnaped the mayor." The result: "For five minutes, you are RoboCop."

THE ARTS

Broadway Strike Vote: Broadway's musicians took a strike vote Wednesday in a contract dispute over the minimum size of orchestras for the musicals that are the theater industry's mainstay. If no agreement is reached, the walkout could take place at midnight Sunday, hitting Broadway shows as early as Monday. But unlike the last strike in 1975, which lasted 3 1/2 weeks, producers say they may use high-tech re-creations to keep theaters open.

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Anniversary Compositions: Twelve internationally renowned composers, including Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, Witold Lutoslawski and Steven Stucky, have agreed to write fanfares in honor of the L.A. Philharmonic's 75th anniversary season. The fanfares, for both full orchestra and brass ensembles, will be performed at the beginning of subscription concerts throughout the season, which begins Oct. 7.

POP/ROCK

Haggard Out of Bankruptcy: Country star Merle Haggard has raised more than $3 million by selling 600 of his songs to Sony-Tree Publishing--enough to rescue him from bankruptcy. Among the songs included in the deal are "If We Make It Through December," "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" and "Are the Good Times Really Over." Haggard, one of five finalists for induction this year into the Country Music Hall of Fame, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last December.

QUICK TAKES

Christian Murphy, a young son of Eddie Murphy, and the boy's mother, Tamara Hood, have sued the National Enquirer for $2 million in damages, alleging that the tabloid invaded the boy's privacy in a September, 1992, cover story. . . . The first Minority Motion Picture Awards takes place tonight at the Wiltern Theater. Previously announced recipients include Murphy, Halle Berry, Wesley Snipes, Cheech Marin, John Singleton, Cicely Tyson, Debbie Allen, Edward James Olmos and Denzel Washington.

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