Suitable for Framing: In a departure from the usual magazine cover, Vanity Fair will drop most front-page wording in the November issue it mails to subscribers in order to show off what it calls "a keepsake" portrait of Madonna. The photograph by Mario Testino shows Madonna, in black hat and furs, as Eva Peron, the role she plays in the forthcoming "Evita." The magazine includes daily diaries Madonna wrote while making the film as well as a portfolio of photos of her taken by Testino. Newsstand copies of the magazine, at $3.50 each, will carry the traditional headlines announcing articles inside.
A Wimp No More: George Lucas made his hometown of Modesto famous in "American Graffiti," and his classmates want to thank him for it. A monument to the movie-maker will be erected on a street Lucas used in the film as a cruising route. The site will be named George Lucas Plaza and feature sculptures of a teenage boy and girl and part of a '57 Chevy. "It's time George was honored," said Susan Filippi, a member of the reunion committee at Downey High School, Lucas' alma mater. "I think one of the reasons our class has been so cohesive has been George and the fact he made a movie about Modesto and our era." His classmates hardly thought the creator of the "Stars Wars" movies would become rich and famous. At their 20th reunion in 1982, Lucas' locker partner, Dennis Kamstra, remembered him as "the kind of wimp you used to slap around with a towel."
Help Comes Marchin' In: Suzanne Somers and Barry Manilow have teamed up to rescue a college music department. The former star of "Three's Company" and the singer of "Mandy" and "Can't Smile Without You" donated $5,000 each to replace musical instruments stolen from the College of the Desert in Palm Desert. About $93,000 in equipment was stolen, forcing cancellation of the school's band and orchestra classes. Somers is asking other celebrities to pitch in, saying band practice helped her overcome low self-esteem when she was young. "I began to accept the fact that I was not smart, bordering on stupid," she said. "I finally found myself through the music department at my school. That is where I soared."
Don't Call Them Helmsmen: Rock superstars Pearl Jam got political again Friday, using a concert stop in Charlotte, N.C., to urge young fans to vote against conservative Republican Sen. Jesse Helms, who is up for reelection in November. Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder joined feminist Gloria Steinem, Los Angeles artist Robbie Conal and representatives from Artists for a Hate-Free America and Musicians Organized for Voters Education (MOVE) at a preconcert press conference to bash Helms and rally young people to get out the vote.
PBS Cancellation: The Public Broadcasting Service is cutting off funding for "Wild America," a nature series that had been accused of staging wildlife scenes. But a PBS spokesman said that PBS, which paid wildlife filmmaker Marty Stouffer $3.2 million for the show's three-year run, simply wants to use the money for new programs and that the allegations did not affect the decision. The move comes months after the Denver Post reported allegations that Stouffer staged fights between predators and filmed supposedly wild scenes in cages. Stouffer has denied harming animals, and said most of the questionable filmmaking was done early in his career.
Bye, Mr. KFI: We hope he doesn't have trouble finding work elsewhere, but the announcer who calls himself Mr. KFI has left KFI-AM (640), program director David G. Hall said. Taking over the 9 p.m. to midnight shift from Monday to Friday, effective Monday, was Phil Hendrie. He's returning to KFI after stops in Ventura, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Miami. Hall said Mr. KFI was offered an overnight slot but declined.
Coronet Theatre Sold: The complex housing the 272-seat Coronet Theatre on La Cienega Boulevard has been sold to Dee Gee Entertainment Group, consisting of the L.A.-based Deborah Del Prete and Chicago-based Gigi Pritzker. They plan to use the complex for rental productions and as rent-free headquarters of the Playwrights' Kitchen Ensemble--a group that has produced play readings for the last seven years. Del Prete and Pritzker are members of the Playwrights' Kitchen board. They bought the building for $2 million from Petrie Robie.