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Morning Report

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

September 24, 1997|SHAUNA SNOW

TELEVISION

Not 'Today': Elton John, no doubt tired of discussing his relationships with Princess Diana and Gianni Versace as he promotes his new album, has issued a statement saying that he "will not be making any further public comments to the media concerning the deaths of his two friends." The statement says that John was prompted by NBC News' "Today" show issuing what John called "a series of erroneous on-air promotions stating that [John] would be appearing on the program to discuss the deaths." John has since canceled the appearance, which had been scheduled for this morning. "Elton's always been a friend of the 'Today' show, and we're sorry we couldn't work it out this week," "Today" executive producer Jeff Zucker told The Times Tuesday. Zucker added that NBC had promoted the Diana-Versace topic because "This is NBC News . . . and those are journalistically appropriate questions." Meanwhile, John is not expected to keep his grudge against the show for long; sources said he had already sent flowers and champagne to "Today" anchor Matt Lauer to apologize for missing the scheduled interview. . . . One date John will keep, meanwhile, is on Oct. 8, when he guest-stars as himself on CBS' "The Nanny." In the episode, he hosts a dinner party attended by Fran (Fran Drescher) and Maxwell (Charles Shaughnessy).

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Top 'Tonight' Ratings: Jay Leno and his "Tonight Show" opened the new season on a high note when Monday's broadcast attracted a 17% share of the available audience, according to Nielsen's overnight ratings from the nation's top markets. That marked the NBC series' highest-rated season opener in 11 years.

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'Stern' Guidance: Cable's E! Entertainment Television will begin using the voluntary parental ratings system--which was adopted by the broadcast networks and many cable outlets early this year--on Oct. 1. For example, the popular "Talk Soup" will be rated a TV-PG (parental guidance suggested) while the channel's most controversial program, "The Howard Stern Show," will carry the slightly more restrictive TV-14 (guidance suggested for those under 14), the network said. The move will leave Black Entertainment Television as the only major cable channel not implementing the voluntary system.

MOVIES

Filming in Vietnam: An American film group says it has received permission from the Vietnamese government to make the first commercial U.S. movie to be shot on location in the country since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Producer Jason Kliot said pre-production on "Three Seasons" is already underway, and actual filming is expected to begin in late October. Harvey Keitel ("The Piano") stars as an American GI who returns to Vietnam in search of a daughter born out of a brief liaison with a Vietnamese woman during the war. "It's a Vietnamese story with an American element," Kliot said. "But it's not a war movie. It's a story from the Vietnamese perspective." The film is being produced by the American independent company Open City Films, in conjunction with a Vietnamese studio, Giai Phong (Liberation).

QUICK TAKES

"Friends" star David Schwimmer will chat online from the NBC series' set tonight at 6 at http://www.chat.yahoo.com The series kicks off its fourth season Thursday. . . . Beatrice Arthur will star in Anne Meara's "After-Play," scheduled for its West Coast premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse Nov. 16-Dec. 21. David Saint, who staged it off-Broadway, will direct. . . . Fox has canceled its weekday morning program, "The Vicki Lawrence Show," which replaced "Fox After Breakfast" only a month ago. The last original show aired Monday, although repeats will continue through Oct. 3.

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