MOVIES & TV
Henry & Mickey: The Walt Disney Co. has quietly hired former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger as a consultant in its business dealings with China, whose leaders have expressed displeasure over Disney's plans to release a Martin Scorsese movie highly critical of China's occupation of Tibet. Kissinger, who aided then-President Richard Nixon in reopening Communist China to the West, was hired by Disney more than a year ago, but the studio has since been caught up in a political flap with Chinese officials, who have made it clear that Disney's business plans in the nation could suffer if the company follows through with the planned Christmas Day release of Scorsese's "Kundun." Disney has stuck by Scorsese. The film--shot in Morocco with an all-Tibetan cast--tells the story of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has long been a thorn in the side of Beijing's rulers. Disney said it hired Kissinger because it sees business opportunities in China. But a company spokesman conceded that Kissinger also has been advising the company about the controversy over the film.
Pickup Games: NBC has picked up its Thursday night hit, Kirstie Alley's "Veronica's Closet," for the rest of the season. The sitcom, which airs in TV's cushiest time slot, between "Seinfeld" and "ER," is ranked third so far for the season. . . . ABC has also picked up its biggest new hit, the Wednesday night comedy "Dharma & Greg." . . . UPN has ordered an additional nine episodes each of two of its new comedies: Monday night's "Good News" and Tuesday night's "Hitz," starring Andrew Dice Clay.
Michelangelo for Sale: One of the few Michelangelo drawings left in private hands will go on the block at Sotheby's New York auction house on Jan. 28. Described by Sotheby's as a "monumental and poetic" work, "Christ and the Woman of Samaria" is expected to fetch $6.5 million. The black chalk study of two figures--which will be exhibited at Sotheby's L.A. showroom Oct. 21 to 23--is being sold by Geneva's Martin Bodmer Foundation, which plans to establish an acquisition fund with the proceeds.
Ahmanson Mural: A mural depicting moments in the history of the Ahmanson Theatre will be unveiled Tuesday, joining a similar mural about Mark Taper Forum history previously dedicated on the walls of the Music Center Annex, across Temple Street from the downtown Music Center. Both murals were created by Judy Baca and Venice's Social and Public Art Resource Center. Images range from the Ahmanson's 1967 opening production of "More Stately Mansions" to the recent "Swan Lake."
Tickets go on sale Sunday for magician David Copperfield's Broadway hit "Dreams and Nightmares." Copperfield will perform two shows Oct. 31 at Thousand Oaks' Probst Center and three shows Nov. 4 and 5 at Pasadena Civic Theater. Tickets are $27.50 to $45. . . . Samuel L. Jackson, Yaphet Kotto, Pam Grier, Robert Townsend and Smokey Robinson will be honored at downtown's California Plaza Sunday during the Black American Cinema Society's 15th anniversary awards. . . . Independent Feature Project/West will hold a screening of Ang Lee's new movie "The Ice Storm," followed by a discussion with the director and star Joan Allen, on Monday at 7:30 p.m., at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Tickets are $15.