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VALLEY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

November 21, 1996

WEEKEND: Politically Incorrect

Bill Maher has good reason to be excited.

Not only is his Comedy Central cable talk show "Politically Incorrect" moving to network television in January, but he's shooting his fourth HBO stand-up comedy special this weekend at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

"It's very exciting," Maher admits.

After years spent doing stand-up in comedy clubs all across the country and on occasional television spots, Maher debuted as the host and creator of "Politically Incorrect" in July 1993.

The show features group discussions between celebrities on various social and political issues, with Maher serving as host/referee.

While the topics are serious, the goal has always been entertainment rather than resolution. The show has won accolades, two Cable Ace Awards and a loyal following of folks who enjoys its humor, heat, spontaneity and controversy.

Celebrity guests in the show's sometimes heated conversations have included the likes of Roseanne Barr, Kato Kaelin, Arianna Huffington, Sandra Bernhard, Gordon Liddy, Quentin Tarantino, Marion Berry and Harvey Fierstein.

In January, "Politically Incorrect" will move to ABC, where it is slated to follow Ted Koppel's "Nightline" evenings Monday through Friday. Does that move mean the show will be "corrected" for network audiences.

"I hope not," Maher says. "the whole point of the show is to be controversial. It would be like going up to Rich Little and saying, 'Sorry, but cut out those impressions.' "

Since the show is a known quantity, having been on Comedy Central for four years, Maher says that ABC knows what it's getting.

"It's not like we're doing a pilot."

Maher has just finished shooting a "Politically Incorrect" greatest hits special that will air on ABC at 10 p.m. on Jan. 1, which will serve as an introduction to network viewers who haven't had the opportunity to see the show on cable.

Maher's third HBO special, last year's "Stuff That Struck Me Funny" has been nominated for a Cable Ace Award. Maher says his stand-up act differs a little from his work on the talk show.

"The mix is similar. On "Politically Incorrect," we talk about politics more," he says.

Finally, Maher is also excited that he's going to shoot this comedy special at home in Los Angeles. His first three were shot in San Francisco, Miami and Minneapolis.

"I like L.A., I live in L.A.," Maher says. "I even like Glendale, it's only sort of out of town."

* Bill Maher does the stand-up thing at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tickets are $15. Call (818) 243-2611.

*

Opera Lovers

For true opera lovers, there's no such thing as too much opera.

There are not many places to hear the music of Verdi, Wagner and Puccini in the Valley on a regular basis, and the occasional productions presented in Los Angeles are just not enough. Luckily for Valley opera junkies, Vitello's Italian Restaurant in Studio City provides a needed fix.

"We've been having opera here for about seven, eight years now," says owner Steve Restivo. "But, it's not all opera, we also have Broadway tunes and ballads."

Vitello's presents music Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday by a regular group of professional performers that includes Chris Taylor, Adele Albani, John Golitzin, Chris Feeney, Cat Pollon and David Romano.

* Vitello's Italian Restaurant, 4349 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, has opera 6:30-closing Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. No cover, but an at-table $10 minimum. Call (818) 769-0903.

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