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May 24, 1996|ART BERMAN


Making Amends: Kathie Lee Gifford sent her ex-football star husband to a grimy New York factory Thursday, carrying envelopes stuffed with $300 apiece for garment workers who claim they weren't paid despite producing 50,000 blouses for her clothing line. "I am really sorry," Frank Gifford told a sobbing 32-year-old illegal immigrant who said she worked a 60-hour week but received no overtime. Gifford made the delivery shortly after his wife announced on her syndicated show, "Regis & Kathie Lee," that she would pay the workers herself. "I was physically sick to my stomach" upon learning of the situation at the New York factory, she said. Her husband, a broadcaster on "Monday Night Football," said his wife was too ill to join him Thursday. She was accused earlier this month of using a Honduran company that employed cheap and underage labor to make her Wal-Mart clothing line. He handed out 13 envelopes and said they would continue to pursue the issue.

Going Down Under: Jumping on the bandwagon of blockbuster miniseries, ABC has ordered a four-hour version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" for next season. The script is based on the Jules Verne novel, which inspired the 1954 Disney feature that starred Kirk Douglas and James Mason. Disney, of course, now owns ABC. No casting has been set as yet on the project, which will be shot in Australia. The announcement follows NBC's stated plans to produce "Homer's Odyssey" as a miniseries for next season in the wake of its success this year with "Gulliver's Travels" and "The Beast." ABC is also readying a new six-hour production of Stephen King's "The Shining."

Reeve to Direct: Actor Christopher Reeve, paralyzed in an equestrian accident a year ago, will direct a one-hour film for cable television, HBO Pictures and HBO NYC Productions announced Thursday. "In the Gloaming," adapted by Will Scheffer from a New Yorker short story by Alice Elliot Dark, will begin production this October for a 1997 showing and will be Reeve's first directorial assignment. The story, about a young man dying of AIDS who returns to his parents' home, is the first of a new group of hourlong films being produced by HBO NYC.


Legerdemain: Even Ricky Jay, the master manipulator, has been unable to pull tickets for his show out of the air, so an extra week of performances has been added by the Tiffany Theater. When sales for the run of "Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants" were first announced, the 99-seat theater sold out in a few hours. Since then, only occasional house seats have become available at the box office. The sleight-of-hand specialist is now scheduled to perform at the West Hollywood venue through June 9. Tickets are on sale through the box office: (310) 289-2999.


Collection Grows: Washington art collector and historian Thurlow Evans Tibbs Jr. is donating the best of his collection of 19th and 20th century artworks by African Americans to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the museum announced. The gift of 30 pieces from the Washington collector is valued at between $1 million and $2 million and includes Tibbs' extensive archives and research library. It will be known as the Evans-Tibbs Collection of African-American Art. Tibbs last month gave the Corcoran the painting "Into Bondage," a 1936 piece by Aaron Douglas.


Royalty Fight: The doo-wop group that wrote the music for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" claims it got stiffed out of 35 years of royalties. The four original members of the Tokens are suing the lyricists for back pay for the song, which was No. 1 in October 1961. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in New York, claims the lyricists made a secret deal to split the rights with Folkways Music Publishers Inc., original holder of the rights to the Zulu folk song "Wimoweh," which inspired the Tokens' only No. 1 hit. The song was included in "The Lion King" and a Burger King ad featuring the movie's characters. The defendants in the suit are lyricists George David Weiss and Luigi Creatore and the widow of lyricist Hugo Peretti. The four original members of the Tokens are Philip and Mitchell Margo, Jay Siegel and Henry Medress.

Assailant Sentenced: One of two men who carjacked Queen Latifah's $67,000 BMW at gunpoint was sentenced to 18 years in prison. "I want to say I'm sorry," Ricardo Rodriguez said in a New York court Wednesday. Rodriguez, 19, was convicted last month on charges of robbery and grand larceny but acquitted of attempted murder and assault in the shooting of the rapper's bodyguard, Sean Moon, 23. An accomplice, Rashien Fortune, 19, admitted he shot Moon and pleaded guilty in exchange for a 7- to-21-year sentence.


"60 Minutes" Executive Producer Don Hewitt wants Andy Rooney to do more interviews like the one he did with Dr. Jack Kevorkian recently. "I've asked Andy to do several of these 'conversations with Andy Rooney' each year," Hewitt told The Times. Rooney will continue his weekly commentary on the newsmagazine. . . . In another note on CBS planning, Leslie Moonves, president of CBS Entertainment, announced the signing of Tom Selleck to headline a comedy series to be developed for the 1997-98 season. . . . "Barb Wire," starring Pamela Anderson Lee, which opened May 3 but drew lightly at the box office, is coming out on video Aug.6.

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