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August 15, 1994|BETH KLEID | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press


Clearly No. 1: What better place to spend the hottest days of the summer than an air-conditioned movie theater? Despite the lack of any major new summer release, moviegoers turned out in force during the weekend and the nation's box office did strong business for what is typically a somewhat sluggish period. "Clear and Present Danger" was in the No. 1 spot for the second weekend in a row. The Paramount film starring Harrison Ford grossed $15.7 million, according to early industry estimates. Paramount's "Forrest Gump" held its own with $14 million for second place--the movie has grossed about $188 million to date. New Line's "The Mask" was third with $10 million. In fourth: Universal's "Little Rascals" with $7.2 million. And in fifth: 20th Century Fox's "True Lies" with $6.9 million.

Meryl of Madison County: Meryl Streep has been cast in "The Bridges of Madison County," Warner Bros.' film version of Robert James Waller's best-selling novel. Streep will play Francesca, the Iowa woman whose life is changed by an affair with a visiting photojournalist, played by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood will also direct the film. Steven Spielberg is an executive producer of the movie, which is set to begin production in Winterset, Iowa, in mid-September.

ART The Getty Gets Angry: The J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu has issued an angry response to the latest setback in its five-year effort to buy Antonio Canova's neoclassical sculpture "The Three Graces" for about $11.8 million and import it from Britain. London's Victoria and Albert Museum--which has led a fund-raising campaign to match the Getty's price and buy the sculpture for its own collection--on Friday announced that it had received a pledge of about $1.55 million from John Paul Getty II, the London-based son of the late oil barron. The pledge leaves a balance of about $1.24 million to be raised by Nov. 5. The surprise donation came on the heels of a British government decision to defer the Getty Museum's export license to Nov. 5. "Our efforts to acquire the statue . . . have been frustrated by deliberate manipulations of the system," Getty Museum Director John Walsh said in a statement released to the press. "This continuing sorry saga does not enhance the standing of Britain, and London in particular, in the international art market." John Paul Getty II's pledge is only the second in the fund-raising appeal to come from a private source, the press release noted. Most of the funds raised for the sculpture--which the British government refused to buy for $1.86 million, when it first came on the market in 1983--have come from tax-supported museums.

TELEVISION Grammer Back on Set: "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer called in sick last week, possibly with a case of David Caruso's ("NYPD Blue") blue flu. The New York Post reported Saturday that Grammer showed up at work unexpectedly late Friday after staying away three days in a pay dispute with producers of his hit "Cheers" spinoff. "Frasier" is set to go into production for its second season Wednesday. The Post said Grammer probably earned about $70,000 per episode last year.

'Geraldo' Suit: A self-proclaimed former Mafia kingpin who claims Geraldo Rivera lured him onto his talk show and then humiliated him with false accusations, has sued the talk-show host in Los Angeles for $20 million, alleging fraud and deceit. Sonny Gibson says he was accused of sexual harassment and rape by "paid shills" who appeared in disguise and under false identities at Geraldo's May 3 show on "Women Who Married Men in the Mafia." Representatives from the show could not be reached for comment.

STAGE 'Beauty' Comes to L.A.: The national tour of Disney's new stage version of "Beauty and the Beast" will appear in Los Angeles, with March 8 targeted as opening night, according to producer Robert McTyre. The Pantages and the Shubert theaters are the leading contenders in ongoing negotiations for the show, which will run "we hope for a long time," McTyre said. No casting decisions have been made, so it's not known whether some of the Broadway cast might move west.

MUSIC The Paris Opera Aftermath: The troubled Paris Opera said it would divide performances among several conductors after firing its music director, Myung-Whun Chung, just a few weeks from the season opening. The management contracted with three conductors for the main scheduled performances and said it would announce later who would take over the remaining concerts. The South Korean-born, U.S.-trained Chung, 41, was fired in a dispute over money and artistic freedom. He was to have started rehearsals today for Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra," which will open the season on Friday. Simone Young, a regular performer in Vienna, Berlin and London, will take over "Simon Boccanegra." Maurizio Benini of Milan's La Scala will conduct Puccini's "Madame Butterfly," and Alain Lombard, head of the Bordeaux orchestra, would perform Berlioz's "The Damning of Faust."

QUICK TAKE Garrison Keillor, Red Skelton and "The Burns and Allen Show" are among the latest inductees into the Radio Hall of Fame, which is located at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. They'll be honored during a broadcast, hosted by Charles Osgood, set to air on various radio stations across the country Nov. 6.

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