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October 31, 1994|BETH KLEID | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press


New Talk Shows Struggling: Virtually none of the new syndicated talk shows that premiered last month have won a significant audience locally. According to A.C. Nielsen Co. ratings for the month of October, programs starring Marilu Henner, Suzanne Somers, Susan Powter, Star Jones, Gordon Elliot, Dennis Prager, Marilyn Kagen and Jon Stewart have floundered in the Los Angeles market. But older talk shows have been flourishing. "Montel Williams' " ratings on KCOP-TV Channel 13 were up 41% over a year ago, while KCOP's "Ricki Lake Show" improved 65% from last October. Even KCOP's unheralded "Richard Bey Show," airing in the ultra-competitive 3 p.m. talk-show hour, was up 65% over last year, beating veteran "Geraldo," tying "Sally Jessy Raphael" and trailing only talk queen "Oprah Winfrey," whose own ratings dipped about 6% from the previous year.


Not Easy Being Green: Kermit called himself the "first frog to speak before the Oxford Union" as he delivered a speech to 1,000 cheering students at the British university on Friday. Kermit also pointed out that he was honored to be at Oxford since "frogs usually only get in here by being an experiment." But the fact that Kermit had arrived at all at the debating chamber irked some Oxonians, who wondered if a society whose past presidents include five British prime ministers should be giving lily-pad space to a frog. Is a Muppet fit to join a list of past speakers that includes Mother Teresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu? The current president of the Union, Jeremy Green, defended Kermit's visit: "Students of our generation grew up with the Muppets on television, and Kermit's got something to say."


T-Bone's Trial: Rapper Ice Cube's backup singer T-Bone is scheduled for trial next month on charges of shooting a man to death at a bowling alley. Superior Court Judge John Shook in Torrance set the Nov. 14 trial date for Terry E. Gray, 24, known as T-Bone. Gray, who is also a member of the rap group Da Lench Mob, is charged with murder and attempted murder in the February slaying of Herbert Battle, 22, and the wounding of Lashawn Townsend, 22, both of Los Angeles. Gray was freed in March on $1.5 million bail. His lawyer said he left the bowling alley before the shootings occurred.

Jay Thomas Settles: Deejay-turned-actor Jay Thomas reached a settlement with radio station KPWR ("Power 106" FM) over the loss of his job shortly after he began starring in the CBS television series "Love & War." A Los Angeles Superior Court hearing is set for Nov. 10 to approve the deal, terms of which were not disclosed. Thomas sued the station in June, 1993, saying the station suspended him, then fired him two days later in a breach of contract.


Shooting Star: "Stargate," the sci-fi adventure movie starring Kurt Russell, was first out of the gate at the box office during the weekend. The MGM film grossed $16.8 million its first weekend in release to take the No. 1 spot, according to early industry estimates. There was a significant drop to second place: Miramax's "Pulp Fiction" garnered $5.5 million for No. 2 after two weeks at No. 1. In third, Warner Bros.' "The Specialist" with $4 million and in fourth, Warner Bros.' "Love Affair" with $3.6 million. In a disappointing opening, Columbia's "The Road to Wellville" tied with Universal's "The River Wild" with $2.7 million apiece for fifth place. A box office note: Paramount's "Forrest Gump" has surpassed "Home Alone" to become the fourth highest-grossing domestic movie of all time. The film has taken in $286.2 million to date.


Christmas Cheer: While many are thinking Halloween, Mariah Carey is gearing up for Christmas. "Merry Christmas," a collection of Yuletide songs from the Grammy-winning performer, will be released Tuesday. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Silent Night" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" are among the holiday tunes that Carey, 24, sings on her fourth album.


In honor of Halloween, the sixth film in the "Halloween" horror flick series begins production today in Salt Lake City. "Halloween 6: Michael Myers is Back" will be distributed by Miramax . . . Rick Dees of KIIS (102.7 FM) will broadcast his "Morning Show" from inside the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland this morning from 5-10 a.m. . . . The New York-based "Rolonda" show will air 10 days of live shows from Los Angeles beginning today at 10 a.m. on KCAL-TV Channel 9. . . . Saxophonist Kenny G will perform live at New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Nov. 15 before the premiere of 20th Century Fox's movie "Miracle on 34th Street." (Kenny G at the Pond of Anaheim reviewed, F5.)

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