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Morning Report

Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press.

September 28, 1996|SHAUNA SNOW

TELEVISION

Brando Back in Mob?: Marlon Brando is said to be in negotiations to play the lead in "The Last Don," a six-hour CBS miniseries based on the bestseller by Mario Puzo, who also wrote "The Godfather." Puzo's latest novel is again set around the Mafia and details a powerful aging mob patriarch. Brando won an Oscar in 1972 playing mob boss Vito Corleone in "The Godfather" and subsequently spoofed the character in the 1990 comedy "The Freshman." Both CBS and producer Larry Sanitsky declined comment, and Brando's representatives couldn't be reached.

Nielsen Surgery: The third-season premiere of "ER" sliced through prime time Thursday with a whopping 40% of the audience--on par with the show's average for original episodes last year and enough to ensure its status as the week's top-rated program. The medical drama was seen by 34.9 million viewers, nearly 16 million more than the combined total for its competitors "Turning Point" (ABC) and "48 Hours" (CBS). In its second airing, meanwhile, Brooke Shields' "Suddenly Susan" was seen by 28.5 million people (about 1.6 million fewer than its premiere) but lost just 9% of the lead-in audience provided by "Seinfeld," only slightly worse than the previous week. . . . Separately, PBS' "The West" finished its eight-night trek, averaging 6% of the audience. The ratings were better than PBS' prime-time average but lower than those for its other major documentary series.

Heeeeee's Back: For TV nostalgia buffs or even those who just miss Ed McMahon's intonations of "Heeeeeere's Johnny," the Museum of Radio & Television is now the proud owner of all 1,500 "Tonight Show" programs hosted by Johnny Carson from 1980 through the final shows in May of 1992. The tapes, donated by Carson Productions, can be viewed at the Beverly Hills venue during regular museum hours.

OPERA

Straight From the Headlines: "Menendez boys, listen up." So begins a full-page ad for the Canadian Opera Company's production of "Elektra," suggesting that the troubled characters from the classic Greek tragedy would be suitable grist for TV talk shows because its tale of familial bloodshed compares to the patricide committed by the two brothers, now serving life terms in California prisons. The ad continues: "Not only did she get her mom and step-dad into the obituary column, she also got someone else to do the deed. No muss, no fuss, no killing time on death row." The campaign was developed after the Toronto-based opera company studied an American industry report on ways to attract new audiences. An official said the company has received one anonymous letter and a couple of telephone calls criticizing the ads, but overall, the response has been enthusiastic.

LEGAL FILE

Weezer Order Lifted: A federal judge on Thursday lifted a temporary restraining order against "Pinkerton," a new album by the rock group Weezer, saying that the financial hardship of not releasing the album while the case is decided would be greater on the band and its label Geffen Records than releasing it would be on the plaintiffs, the Encino-based security firm Pinkerton Inc. The restraining order had been imposed earlier this week after the company sued Weezer and Geffen, claiming they were cashing in on the firm's reputation. The band says the album is named after the "Madame Butterfly" opera character.

Another Mistrial: A mistrial was declared in the Loni Anderson infomercial case Friday after jurors considering punitive damages against the actress said they were hopelessly deadlocked. The jury already had awarded infomercial host Nancy Nelson $565,000, as compensation for Anderson's breaking an obligation to promote a planned "Loni" skin-care line. Nelson now can either keep the first award and waive the punitive damages phase, or can ask to retry the entire case. Meanwhile, Anderson's lawyer said he will appeal the initial award.

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