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MORNING REPORT

October 27, 1994|ART BERMAN | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

POP/ROCK

Snoop Tops Chart: His legal troubles have been well-documented, but that hasn't dimmed the popularity of Long Beach rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose "Murder Was the Case" album entered the nation's pop chart at No. 1 this week with a whopping first-week sale of 329,000 copies--the third highest debut of the year behind R.E.M.'s "Monster" and Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell." "Murder" is the soundtrack to a short film starring Snoop, due to open in L.A. on Nov. 3, which also includes new songs by Jodeci, D.J. Quick, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. Houston rapper Scarface's new "Diary" album sold 155,000 units to capture the No. 2 spot just ahead of rock group Queensryche's "Promised Land," with 153,000 sales to enter at No. 3.

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Guns 'N the Vampire: Guns 'N Roses has recorded a version of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" that will be featured in the upcoming "Interview With the Vampire" film. The group did the song at the request of David Geffen, the film's executive producer and head of the band's record label. "Sympathy" will be included on an otherwise all-orchestral soundtrack album, due in December. Sources close to GNR add that guitarist Gilby Clarke was not part of the recordings, adding weight to reports that he has been fired from the group.

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From Beatles Archives: The prized vaults of unreleased Beatles recordings will finally be thrown open Dec. 6 with the release of a two-CD collection of live performances by the group from '60s BBC radio broadcasts. Although these sessions have been widely bootlegged, this is the first official issue from the archives. More unreleased material is expected to be part of a planned anthology series that is scheduled to include "Free Like a Bird," a song that Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr have finished from a work tape made by the late John Lennon.

TELEVISION

ABC Plans Switch: ABC will pull the sitcom "Thunder Alley" off the air temporarily after its telecast Wednesday and replace it with a midseason sitcom from last season, "Sister, Sister," beginning Nov. 16. "Sister, Sister," starring Tamera and Tia Mowry as reunited identical twins, ranked No. 19 among all TV programs in the ratings last season. ABC ordered additional episodes of "Thunder Alley" and plans to bring it back in March in a more protected time slot. After finishing last season ranked No. 13, "Thunder Alley," starring Edward Asner and Robin Riker, dropped to No. 55 last week leading off Wednesday night at 8 p.m. A special, "World's Funniest Commercials," will fill the time slot Nov. 9.

VIDEO

The King 'Lion': Disney will continue its unconventional marketing of "The Lion King" with a March 3 home-video release. That will be just months after the summer blockbuster returns to theaters in late November and obviously is not timed as a holiday video (unlike Disney's release this week of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"). Although the "Lion" release won't be officially announced for a few weeks, sources confirm the release date and a price of $26.99. . . . Meanwhile, the studio is considering a direct-to-video sequel of "The Lion King." Disney struck gold with its "Aladdin" sequel, "Return to Jafar," which sold 7 million copies. A second "Aladdin" sequel is already in the works.

ART

Dali Sculpture Swiped: While the Russian Union of Artists was toasting the closing of a Salvador Dali exhibition Monday night at the artists' union gallery in St. Petersburg, someone opened a display case and slipped away with an 8-inch figure of the Egyptian goddess Isis. The sculpture, one of 1,020 pieces in the Dali show, was worth about $50,000, police spokesman Igor Komissarov said. Police said the thief apparently knew the combination to the lock that secured the display.

STAGE

Slated for Pasadena: A three-show season of touring musicals has been slated for Pasadena Civic Auditorium: "Grease" with Rex Smith, Davey Jones and Sally Struthers as the high school principal (Jan. 3-8); "Jelly's Last Jam" with Maurice Hines, Savion Glover and Freda Payne (Jan. 24-29), and "Hello, Dolly!" with its original star, Carol Channing (June 27-July 2).

QUICK TAKES

Robert Abernethy, once a familiar figure on Los Angeles TV and an NBC news reporter for 42 years, is retiring from the network Nov. 1. Abernethy, 66, who studied theology at Yale Divinity School in 1984-85, will do occasional religion stories for NBC News. . . . Joaquim de Almeida, currently appearing in the film "Only You," has been signed to replace the late Raul Julia in Columbia Pictures' tentatively titled "Return of the Mariachi." . . . Johnny Mathis and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra perform Saturday night at the Long Beach Terrace Theater to benefit the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Center at Memorial Miller Children's Hospital. . . . "Eat Drink Man Woman," Ang Lee's acclaimed comedy that centers as much on tantalizing cooking as on family ties, has been named the official Taiwanese entry in the 67th Academy Awards, its distributor, the Samuel Goldwyn Co., announced.

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