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MORNING REPORT

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

September 03, 1997|SHAUNA SNOW

LEGAL FILE

Slater Update: During a closed-court hearing Tuesday, actor Christian Slater was barred from contacting his girlfriend Michelle Jonas, whom he is accused of beating during an Aug. 11 incident that included a confrontation with police that eventually led to his arrest. Tuesday's hearing followed the filing late Friday by the city attorney's office of six misdemeanor counts against Slater: domestic abuse of Jonas, battery on a police officer, being under the influence of cocaine, resisting arrest and two additional counts of battery. The actor faces up to 18 months in jail if convicted of all charges; his arraignment is now scheduled for Sept. 16. Protective restraining orders are standard in domestic abuse cases, city prosecutor Susan Schmitter said, adding that Tuesday's order also bars Slater from dissuading two of Jonas' friends from talking to police about the incident, during which Slater allegedly punched Jonas in the face and then bit a man in the stomach who tried to intervene. The actor's attorney, Michael Napier, told reporters outside of court that Slater, 27, is "dealing with the problems that caused all of this. . . . He's [being] prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law. Now we're facing serious charges, and we'll deal with it." Napier declined to address reports that Slater, who did not attend the hearing, is in a rehabilitation facility.

TELEVISION

A New Angel: Chris Burke, who in 1989 became the first actor with Down's syndrome to have a regular prime-time series role--as Corky on ABC's "Life Goes On"--will play a recurring character this season on CBS' "Touched by an Angel." Burke, now 32, appeared in an episode of the series last year as an angel named Taylor. In his first episode this season, he'll help a couple cope with the news that their unborn child has Down's syndrome. Bill Smitrovich, who played Burke's father on "Life Goes On," will also star in the episode.

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'Tom' to Change Diana Reference: The WB Network will change two references to the late Princess Diana in its new sitcom "The Tom Show," starring Tom Arnold, which premieres Sunday. The protagonist's ex-wife, a TV personality, mentions having to interview "Lady Di," and Arnold's character refers to the same event later. A WB spokesman confirmed the scene--shot more than a month ago--will be re-dubbed to remove Diana's name. It was not known yet whose name would be used in place of Diana's.

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'Ellen,' 'Ellen' Everywhere: All of the network's affiliates will be on board when ABC re-airs the "coming out" episode of "Ellen" tonight. WBMA-TV, ABC's outlet in Birmingham, Ala., had refused to air the episode when it initially aired last spring, angering some gay groups. The station also refused to air subsequent episodes in which she told friends and relatives she was gay. However, station officials this week agreed to air all the repeats, thus bringing their viewers up to speed for the series' Sept. 24 season premiere.

RADIO

New KUSC Leader: KUSC-FM (91.5) has named Brenda Pennell as its new leader, replacing Wallace A. Smith, the longtime president and general manager who resigned last September amid controversy over finances and programming. Pennell, now general manager of Cincinnati's WGUC-FM, will take the helm of the 50-year-old classical music station on Nov. 3. "I'm really looking forward to this opportunity," said Pennell, 37. USC Radio President Martha Harris, meanwhile, called Pennell "an experienced and successful radio executive who has a passion for classical music. . . . We believe she has exactly the skills and experience necessary to stabilize the station financially, to develop great programming and to make KUSC a major asset in the cultural community." Stephen Lama, who was acting general manager, will resume his former position as deputy general manager. Smith recently became general manager of WPBX-FM in Southhampton, N.Y.

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Grice Update: Meanwhile, former KUSC host Bonnie Grice--who was sent packing from the station last October in the wake of Smith's resignation (he is her husband) and later briefly hosted a Sunday opera show at KKGO-FM (105.1) and an afternoon show at KCSN-FM (88.5)--will have a new gig in the new year. National Public Radio has named her co-host of a forthcoming Saturday entertainment and information program called "Anthem." NPR is currently searching for a co-host for the program, which is slated to premiere in January.

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