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MORNING REPORT

March 14, 1995|ART BERMAN | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

STAGE

Not-So-Zany Jerry Lewis: Critics gave mixed reviews to comedian Jerry Lewis, who made his Broadway debut Sunday night as the devilish Mr. Applegate in the musical "Damn Yankees." The usually uninhibited Lewis, who turns 69 Thursday, drew both darts and laurels for slipping into the cast of the long-running play with a minimum of shtick. Linda Winer-Bernheimer of Newsday said Lewis "dwelleth in the uneasy limbo of underacting and overdoing. . . . A late-breaking stage discovery . . . he is not." Vincent Canby of the New York Times said Lewis "gives a good, thoroughly accomplished performance, singing a little, dancing a little and tossing off comic lines with ease, though not exactly with gusto. . . ." Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press: "To his credit, the man hasn't turned 'Damn Yankees' into a star vehicle. . . . He has only one solo number . . . (and) makes the most of it, adding a bit with top hat and several recalcitrant canes." Greg Evans in Daily Variety: "One hopes--and suspects--that Lewis will loosen up and have more fun as he settles into his long run. . . ."

POP MUSIC

'Pocahontas' Album: Vanessa Williams is set to sing the romantic ballad from Disney's animated feature "Pocahontas" for an upcoming album. While actress Judith Kuhn is the singing voice in the film's version of "Colors of the Wind," Williams--wrapping up her Broadway run as the lead in "The Kiss of the Spiderwoman"--will record a pop version of the song that will be released on a soundtrack album due in May, sources close to the project confirmed. Whitney Houston had also considered taking the job, but is tied up filming a starring role in the movie "Waiting to Exhale." Other pop stars who reportedly had been candidates to do the song include Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton and Celine Dion.

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Graceland Add-On: Elvis Presley's '70s-style kitchen in Memphis, Tenn., opened to the public Monday as part of the Graceland tour. The kitchen, famous for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, had been off limits because it was used by Presley's aunt Delta Presley Biggs, who died in 1993.

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Liza Back on Boards: New dates have been set for concerts by singer Liza Minnelli that were delayed while she recovers from her December hip replacement surgery. Minnelli will be at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts June 7-11 and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Aug. 9-2.

ART

Mexican Museum Picks Architect: The Mexican Museum in San Francisco announced Monday that its new facility will be designed by heralded Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, who revamped downtown L.A.'s Pershing Square. The museum is launching a $20-million capital campaign to finance the move from its present location at Fort Mason Center to the downtown arts district that includes the new Museum of Modern Art and the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens. Ricardo Montalban is the national honorary chair of the campaign. (An exhibit documenting works by Legorreta's firm opens today at the L.A. Pacific Design Center as part of WestWeek '95.)

MOVIES

Peeking at 'Batman': Sunday's L.A. Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention at the Westin Bonaventure offered moviegoers a chance to view a "film-clip preview" of "Batman Forever," the third film featuring the Caped Crusader. And while the eight-minute clip didn't show much of the movie--instead primarily offering comments from the principals involved in the production--it was enough to whet the fans' appetite for the June 16 release. "It looks like what I expected the first two times I went into the theater and didn't get," said Scott Ector, 25, of West Los Angeles, who was among about 1,000 fans who packed a ballroom to watch the clip. "This actually looks like it's going to be a Batman movie, and not a Joker or Catwoman or Penguin movie." "Batman Forever" includes several changes from its predecessors, 1989's "Batman" and 1992's "Batman Returns." The most notable switch is the casting of Val Kilmer in the lead role, replacing Michael Keaton. Joel Schumacher, who replaces Tim Burton as director, has redesigned Gotham, making it a little less dark. Bob Kane, who created the "Batman" characters for D.C. Comics in 1938, told Sunday's audience: "This is not really a sequel. It's a brand-new ballgame. It's an original."

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Now Wait a Minute!: Filmmaker Oliver Stone issued a denial after Time magazine reported he had a new conspiracy theory for his planned movie about Richard Nixon. The magazine said one early script has the former President organizing a hit squad to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, but the group runs wild and instead assassinates John F. Kennedy. "Ridiculous," said Stone, who took plenty of heat from scholars for the version of the Kennedy assassination portrayed in his movie "JFK." In a statement, Stone said: "If the media will allow us to finish writing the script, then shoot and edit the movie and present it to the public, I believe that we will be able to offer our audience an exciting and sympathetic portrait of the most controversial President in our history."

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