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March 04, 1994|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Study Finds Doubled Violence Coverage: The three network evening TV newscasts doubled their coverage of crime and violence around the country last year, even though the nation's overall crime rate remains essentially unchanged, according to the Washington's Center for Media and Public Affairs. A survey by the center also found that coverage of murders was three times as high in 1993 as in 1992, while the national murder rate remained steady. The networks aired 1,632 domestic crime stories--accounting for one of every eight spots, the survey found. NBC had the highest tally with 626, followed by CBS with 557 and ABC with 449. This compared to 1992 when they aired only 830 crime stories--one of every 18 reported. "People's fear of crime doesn't come from looking over their shoulders," said Robert Lichter, the center's co-director. "It comes from looking at their television screens." ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, while noting that he generally distrusts "counts without context" by TV researchers, said that he too has noticed a surge in TV news' coverage of violence, coinciding with increasing public concern.

* Fox Tries Kids Radio: Fox Children's Network is breaking into radio with the launch of Fox Kids Radio, a "global kids radio network" scheduled to begin May 8 with a weekly two-hour countdown of songs chosen by children and teens. "By creating Fox Kids Radio, we have the opportunity to . . . create a unique entertainment source for children," said Fox Chairman Lucie Salhany. The syndicated programming is scheduled to be broadcast on Sundays in cities across the United States and overseas.

* 'Tom' Trails 'Beverly Hills': KTTV-TV Channel 11 was the most watched station in the Los Angeles market between 8 and 10 p.m. Wednesday as "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place" stomped the network competition with their highest ratings of the season. The Fox station averaged an 18.2 rating during that time (with each point representing about 50,000 homes), compared to 10.6 for KNBC-TV Channel 4, 8.7 for KABC-TV Channel 7 and 7.5 for KCBS-TV Channel 2, whose programming included the debut of Tom Arnold's latest sitcom, "Tom." Nationally, "Tom" ran third in its 8:30 time slot.


Domingo Starts Voice Contest: The first of what is planned as an annual international competition for opera singers sponsored by superstar tenor Placido Domingo gets underway in March. The Placido Domingo Vocal Competition, also called "Operalia '94," is open to singers up to age 33 and will start with national competitions in Argentina, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the United States. Semi-finals will then be held at the Vienna State Opera House in May, and the televised finals take place in Mexico City Sept. 17. Winners in five categories--soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and bass--will receive $25,000 each, plus singing engagements and possible recording opportunities.


A Christian Stamp of Approval: Sixteen of 1993's top 25-grossing films met with the approval of the Atlanta-based Christian Film and Television Commission, which announced on Thursday its "10 Best 1993 Family Films." Heading the list were "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey," "Searching for Bobby Fischer," "Gettysburg," "Free Willy" and "The Meteor Man." The group's chairman, Christian film critic Ted Baehr, championed the cause of family values during the group's annual awards luncheon, noted that three of the year's top 10 money earners--"Sleepless in Seattle," "Free Willy" and "Groundhog Day"--fit within the group's Motion Picture & Television Code. That success, he said, "confirms there's a huge audience of people who will support moral entertainment. . . . Success at the box office can be linked directly to stories that appeal to the broad segment of American society that upholds traditional Judeo-Christian ideals and values. You can bank on it."


Rapper LL Cool J will play the title role of "Jimi," a "historical fantasy film" inspired by the late rock star Jimi Hendrix. . . . "N.Y.P.D. Blue" co-creator Steven Bochco will receive the 1994 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television from the Writers Guild of America. The award is the guild's highest TV honor and is rarely presented mid-career. Bochco will receive the award March 13 during the guild's annual award ceremonies. . . . Barbara Walters interviews director Steven Spielberg in her annual ABC Oscar-night special following the March 21 broadcast. In addition to Spielberg, whose "Schindler's List" is favored to win several Academy Awards that night, Walters will interview "Sleepless in Seattle" star Meg Ryan and pop superstar Elton John. . . . Columnist Liz Smith reports that Linda Gray of "Dallas" fame, and not Raquel Welch as previously rumored, will play Heather Locklear's mother on "Melrose Place." Both will star in an upcoming Aaron Spelling spin-off series, "Models Inc."

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