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MORNING REPORT

March 24, 1995|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

TELEVISION

Say Goodby: The revolving door at NBC's "Law & Order" continues, with actor Christopher Noth, the show's last original cast member, getting written out at the end of this season. Producers say that dropping Noth, who plays detective Mike Logan, is tied to creative reasons since the show wants a younger detective to bring in a "little more personal abrasiveness in the relationship" with fellow detective Lenny Briscoe, played by Jerry Orbach. "This had nothing to do with Chris' brilliance as an actor, nor with his following," said executive producer Ed Sherin. Noth, who got the news Tuesday, said: "I've had a great time. I'm sorry we couldn't work it out. . . . If they feel they can do without me, I'm fine with it. I've got a movie career." The 5-year-old series, which has had its best ratings ever this year, apparently hasn't suffered with the departure of other high-profile cast members, including Michael Moriarty, whose assistant D.A. role was assumed this season by Sam Waterston.

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New PBS Support: PBS announced Thursday that it was joining forces with MCI, the long-distance telephone service, in a new venture encompassing both new PBS programming and new media. MCI has committed a minimum of $15 million to public broadcasting over the first five years. In the announcement, PBS executives stressed that the funds would be used for "new initiatives," including educational programming, and that "existing PBS programs . . . will continue to be funded through traditional sources," by which they meant federal funds currently threatened in Congress. As part of the deal, PBS will expand its interactive on-line offerings and become part of the internetMCI. Specific program initiatives and new media services will be announced this summer.

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'All-American' Effort: The Los Angeles-based Media Action Network for Asian Americans has launched a postcard campaign urging the renewal of ABC's "All-American Girl," starring stand-up comedian Margaret Cho. Despite previous public criticism from some Korean Americans who say the show promotes stereotypes, the media advocacy group says "All-American Girl" is "the first situation comedy to feature an Asian American family and . . . has helped to humanize Korean Americans--and by extrapolation, Asian Americans--in the general public's eye." The group estimates up to 2,000 postcards have been sent to ABC Entertainment President Ted Harbert.

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No Ratings Rise for Kato: Despite the hoopla surrounding Brian (Kato) Kaelin's appearance in the O.J. Simpson murder case, viewers didn't exactly flock to their sets. Local station officials said Kaelin's testimony this week did not seem to have any significant effect on ratings for any of the stations showing the trial. Ratings this week have remained pretty consistent, they said. Meanwhile, Kaelin is scheduled to guest on Comedy Central's "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher" on Thursday at 11 p.m.

RADIO

Battling 'Rush': A fledgling radio network and the Colorado American Civil Liberties Union battled host Rush Limbaugh in a Denver federal court Wednesday over the network's plan to use "Rush" in the name of a liberal, counterpoint program to Rush Limbaugh's conservative talk show. Following Limbaugh's broadcast, Colorado-based USA Talk Network sends out "The Aaron Harber Show," which it calls a humor parody of Limbaugh's program, and wants to title it "After the Rush." Limbaugh's producer, PAM Media Inc., and syndicator EFM Media Management Inc., sued to stop usage of the proposed name, claiming it would violate trademark law and exploit Limbaugh's "fame and success." But the network, backed by the ACLU, contends it has a First Amendment right to use the word rush . Limbaugh's associates, meanwhile, are seeking at least $15 million in damages.

POP/ROCK

Worldwide Sales Charts?: SoundScan, the New York firm that revolutionized the nation's music charts in 1991, in September will begin monitoring album and video sales in Japan, the world's second largest music and video market. Under the SoundScan system, figures are automatically entered into a computer every time a clerk runs an album or video through a bar code scanner at the sales register. Data gathered from Japanese and American retailers will be available to all SoundScan subscribers but printed on separate charts. The move is viewed as a step toward establishing worldwide music sales figures.

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