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MORNING REPORT

February 25, 1997|ANGIE CHUANG

RADIO

Grant to Return on Rechristened KTZN: Radio psychologist Toni Grant, who pioneered the phenomenon of advice talk radio, returns to the Los Angeles airwaves March 17. Her outlet for a new nationally syndicated three-hour weekday call-in program will be KTZN-AM (710), formerly KMPC-AM. Monday morning at 7:10, the station officially changed the call letters it had used for 70 years. Explaining the change, Maureen Lesourd, president and general manager of the three ABC-owned and -operated Los Angeles radio stations--KABC-AM (790), KLOS-FM (95.5) and KTZN--noted that "the station has been evolving toward a lifestyle-oriented format over the past six months. . . . Because this format is a unique approach to talk radio, we decided to brand the radio station in a new and exciting way and call it 'The Zone--AM 710.' " Dave Cooke, operations manager and program director of KTZN, said the station "will be targeted to women 30 to 49 years old" and anticipates that KTZN's audience will eventually be 60% female and 40% male. "Most conventional talk radio stations are basically the opposite." Wheeler noted that although negotiations are going on across the country regarding Grant's show, Los Angeles is the first and thus far only confirmed market. No time for the show has yet been set.

TELEVISION

'Schindler's' Showing: NBC's television premiere of "Schindler's List" attracted a staggering 34% of available viewers Sunday night, based on preliminary results from Nielsen Media Research. The Holocaust epic--presented virtually uncut and without commercial interruptions--exceeded expectations, scoring the highest rating for any movie since NBC's broadcast of "Jurassic Park" (also directed by Steven Spielberg) in May 1995. The network estimates 65 million people watched at least part of the 3 1/2-hour telecast, compared to 25 million who viewed the film in theaters. Audience levels gradually rose throughout the evening, peaking at more than 25% of homes in major cities metered by Nielsen from 10 to 11 p.m. ABC averaged 12.5% of homes with the movie "Volcano: Fire on the Mountain" and CBS a bit more than 10% during the same hour with the first part of the miniseries "Night Sins." The movie also attracted more than a third of the Los Angeles TV audience. Containing graphic violence and nudity, "Schindler's List" is the first network broadcast to receive a TV-M rating, signaling mature audiences, since TV's adoption of a content ratings system in January. National results will be available today. "It could not possibly be more gratifying to the survivors and to the millions who did not survive that such a large segment of the population embraced this memory of the Holocaust," Spielberg said in a statement, thanking NBC and Ford--which sponsored the telecast--for presenting the movie "with taste, dedication and dignity." A spokeswoman said that since the telecast, more than 4,000 phone calls have been logged to the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which is working on documenting the Holocaust.

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Don't Break a Nail, Vanna: Believe it or not, "Wheel of Fortune" hostess Vanna White's job has become easier. The popular TV show's puzzle board has been outfitted with state-of-the-art electronics that allows the former letter-turner to merely touch a switch to activate a high-resolution Sony monitor, which reveals the letter. The new letter board made its debut Monday night. White said she is thrilled with the changes. "The new puzzle board was designed especially for me. I'll still be making letters appear, but in a brand-new way. I've always felt that I have the most fun job on television," she said. "Now, it's going to be even better."

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Network Challenges Food Lion Verdict: ABC asked for a new trial Monday in a lawsuit by a supermarket chain that resulted in a $5.5-million punitive damage award against the network for a 1992 hidden-camera expose. The motion was one of several filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, N.C., the court clerk's office said. At issue was the jury's verdict that ABC must pay Food Lion punitive damages for lying to get videotaped evidence it used in a "PrimeTime Live" report accusing the chain of selling rat-gnawed cheese and expired meat. The case was closely watched because it opened a new line of legal attack against the news media and put hidden-camera journalism on trial. U.S. District Judge Carlton Tilley, who has the authority to reduce the damage award, could schedule a hearing on ABC's motions or could make his ruling based on the court filings, his case manager said Monday.

KUDOS

Novak, Others Honored in Berlin: Kim Novak, famed for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," received a lifetime achievement award at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival. Novak, a Hollywood sex symbol in the '50s and '60s, accepted the award at Berlin's Zoo Palace cinema. The festival, which closed Monday, honored Leonardo DiCaprio as best actor for his leading role in "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" and Juliette Binoche as best actress for her portrayal of a nurse in "The English Patient."

QUICK TAKES

Charlie Sheen was arraigned in the Malibu Municipal Court Monday morning on charges of battery. Sheen was charged Friday, accused of attacking his girlfriend, Brittany Ashland, in December. The 31-year-old actor was arrested Dec. 21 after the incident at his suburban Agoura Hills home and had been free on $20,000 bail.

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