National Medalists: Actors Angela Lansbury and Jason Robards, percussionist Tito Puente, sculptor Louise Bourgeois and bluegrass musician Doc Watson are among 10 individuals who will be honored by the President and Mrs. Clinton at the White House on Monday when they each receive the National Medal of Arts in honor of their work. Additional recipients include pianist and Metropolitan Opera director James Levine, dancer and Miami City Ballet Artistic Director Edward Villella, jazz vocalist Betty Carter, New York arts patron Agnes Gund and landscape architect Daniel Urban Kiley. New Hampshire's MacDowell Colony, an artists' community, also will receive the honor. Ten other honorees will receive the National Humanities Medal Monday; among them are musician Don Henley, for his philanthropy; Santa Barbara-based Chicano studies scholar Luis Leal; philanthropist Paul Mellon; and author Studs Terkel.
Museums' Windfall: Winding up the dispersal of most of his foundation's art collection as well as some of his personal holdings, producer Douglas S. Cramer ("The Odd Couple") is donating 34 works to eight U.S. museums. L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art will receive works by Frank Stella, Peter Halley, William Brice and Richard Artschwager, while the L.A. County Museum of Art has been promised works by Stella, David Salle, Andy Warhol and Julian Schnabel, pending approval by its acquisitions committee and board of trustees. The donations, which Cramer estimates have a total value of between $5 million and $15 million, were precipitated by the sale of his Santa Ynez Ranch, which contained 14,000 square feet of gallery space. "They're like my children," the producer says of the artworks he's given away and of others sold at auction last spring.
Half-Price Tickets: Times Tix, Theatre LA's long-discussed half-price theater ticket store, will open Oct. 16 at the Beverly Center. Named after the largest of six sponsors, the Los Angeles Times, the store will sell half-price day-of-performance tickets to as many as 40 or 50 shows per day. Hours will be 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10-8 Saturdays (when both Saturday tickets and Sunday matinee seats will be available) and 11-6 Sundays. Purchases require cash, and a service charge of $1-$3 will be added. The store also will sell promotional items from local productions and distribute free theater information. A partial listing of shows with available half-price tickets on any given day will be broadcast Mondays-Saturdays on KGIL-AM (1260) at 8:55 a.m. and KKGO-FM (105.1) at 9:05 a.m.
MOVIES & TV
AFI Fest: The 11th annual AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival will open at Mann's Chinese Theatre on Oct. 23 with the U.S. premiere of Beeban Kidron's romantic drama "Swept From the Sea." The seven-day festival--with events at the Chinese, Hollywood's General Cinema Galaxy Theatres and Laemmle's Monica Theatre in Santa Monica--will showcase more than 50 films, with a focus on new filmmakers. For the first time, the festival will feature an official competition--for international independent filmmaking, with competitors including films by Henry Jaglom, Zhang Yimou and Jakubisko.
Brinkley Retiring: Newsman David Brinkley, who has been lessening his work duties for some time now, announced Thursday that he was retiring from television altogether and that this Sunday would mark his last appearance on ABC News' "This Week."
Eyewitness Anchors: Veteran KABC-TV Channel 7 news anchor Laura Diaz has been named the station's lead female anchor, replacing Lisa McRee, who left Aug. 15 to host ABC's "Good Morning America." Diaz, who has been anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts since McRee's departure, will officially replace McRee as co-anchor at 5 and 11 p.m. while Michelle Tuzzee, an anchor at WSVM-TV in Miami, Fla., will join the station before the end of the year to co-anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, KABC said. Until Tuzzee's arrival, the spot will be filled by rotating staffers.
Good 'Dharma': The new sitcom "Dharma & Greg" gave ABC a good ratings vibe with its premiere Wednesday, while ABC's "The Drew Carey Show" barely edged NBC's "3rd Rock From the Sun" in their head-to-head battle at 9 p.m. "Drew" and "3rd Rock" attracted 15.2 million and 15.1 million viewers, respectively. The second half of the hourlong "3rd Rock," meanwhile, topped the 12 million viewers for ABC's "Ellen"--roughly a third as many as watched last spring's coming-out episode of Ellen Morgan. After receiving positive advance notice, "Dharma" drew a promising 16.1 million people, more than either of the established ABC shows that bookend it. The night offered bad news for two new NBC comedies--"The Tony Danza Show" and "Built to Last"--which finished fourth in their time slots. However, NBC's Emmy-winning drama "Law & Order" easily beat ABC's "PrimeTime Live." Overall, CBS won the night thanks to the Country Music Assn. Awards, which averaged nearly 21 million viewers.
Richard Jewell, who gained notoriety when he was falsely targeted as a suspect in the Atlanta Olympic bombing, will make a cameo appearance on this weekend's season opener of NBC's "Saturday Night Live." . . . Fans of James Dean on Saturday will take part in a caravan retracing the fateful final route the actor took in 1955 when he was killed near Paso Robles in a car accident. The caravan will leave between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. from Sepulveda Plaza, 6265 Sepulveda Blvd., in Van Nuys.