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October 14, 1995|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Charges Dropped: The New York district attorney has dropped misdemeanor assault charges against Robert De Niro stemming from an incident last weekend outside a New York nightclub, the actor's press representative said Friday. After the incident, video cameraman Joseph Ligier told the New York Daily News that De Niro "punched me in the nose and grabbed my hair" after the cameraman refused to relinquish a video he'd been shooting outside the Bowery Bar. De Niro's attorney, Edward Hayes, said Friday: "There was no substance to these charges."

POP/ROCK

Rapper Makes Bail: Rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was released Thursday from New York's Riker's Island prison after Death Row Records executives helped post $1.4 million for his bail. Shakur, who was sentenced in February to a term of 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison for a 1993 sexual assault on a woman in a Manhattan hotel room, will remain free pending an appeal. "Whether the odds are in your favor or appear to be stacked against you, the Death Row family sticks with you," Death Row Chairman Suge Knight said Friday. Shakur, 23, recently signed a recording deal with Death Row, home to fellow rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, after releasing several albums for Interscope Records, including his 7-month-old "Me Against the World," which spawned a No. 1 single and still ranks No. 108 on the nation's pop album chart. Shakur, who was shot five times just weeks before his incarceration, has faced criminal charges on four occasions since March, 1993, including weapons charges in Los Angeles, where a trial has been set for Nov. 16. Shakur, who returned Friday to Los Angeles, recently hired attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.'s firm to represent him.

TELEVISION

'ER' Wins First Showdown: The Thursday night showdown between NBC's "ER" and ABC's new series "Murder One" was about as one-sided as Mike Tyson's last fight, judging by preliminary ratings Friday. Figures from Nielsen Media Research showed that NBC's hit medical drama had nearly three times as many households tuning in as ABC's legal drama. ABC's ratings were an improvement over recent weeks, but "ER" drew about its usual audience.

Name That Show: Fox is turning to television viewers to suggest a new title for the network's Sunday night comedy "Too Something." In an unusual promotion airing this weekend and next, the network will solicit title suggestions that "best encapsulate the concept and mood of the series." Entries can be submitted via the World Wide Web at http://www.foxnetwork.com or by mail to "Name the Fox Show," P.O. Box 7229, Burbank, CA 91510-7229. The new title will be announced on the Nov. 5 episode.

ART

MOCA and Philip Morris: Internationally known artist Hans Haacke, whose work is often concerned with highly charged social and political issues, has sent an open letter to Museum of Contemporary Art director Richard Koshalek decrying the sponsorship by Philip Morris Companies Inc. of a new exhibition at the museum. Saying he was unaware of the sponsorship when he agreed to participate, Haacke, 59, wrote that Koshalek should not have allowed Philip Morris "the privilege of being associated with this event." The tobacco company has been involved in public health controversies concerning smoking and has supported reelection campaigns by North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, a vocal opponent of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1990, Haacke created an installation called "Helmsboro," which addressed the relationships among Sen. Helms, Philip Morris, the NEA and the tobacco company's cultural philanthropy. The artist declined to remove his 1971 work from the MOCA exhibition, which opens Sunday at the Temporary Contemporary in Little Tokyo, but the museum agreed to post a copy of his letter adjacent to his display.

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