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Morning Report

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

April 04, 1998|SHAUNA SNOW

POP/ROCK

Watch Out Spice Girls! Barbie, the world's most famous doll, has signed a record deal with Sony Music and is even considering a live concert tour. Mattel Inc. said that the plastic bombshell will debut in the fall as the lead guitarist of a pop band backed up by her African American pal Christie on keyboards and Latina buddy Teresa on the guitar. In addition to the dolls, there's real music in the works, to be performed by actual singers under the Barbie name (the performers' real names have not been disclosed). Each band member doll will be sold separately along with an audiocassette containing a Barbie band single. The full-length compact disc will be sold separately on Sony Wonder, the children's division of Sony Music. A Mattel spokeswoman said that a proposed concert tour, if it comes together, would feature "human beings performing as Barbie, Christie and Teresa."

Nostalgia Night: When Natalie Cole, Bjork, Stevie Nicks and others perform at "Stormy Weather '98"--an April 16 all-star benefit for Don Henley's Walden Woods Project--don't expect them to sing their own songs. In keeping with the evening's '30s and '40s theme, singers at the Wiltern Theatre event will be backed by the 66-piece El Nino Orchestra as they perform an array of pop, jazz and blues standards from the era, including Sheryl Crow on "Ain't Nobody's Business" and Joni Mitchell on "Stormy Weather." "The best thing about these types of benefit events is that you can hear artists sing material that you would not normally hear them sing," said Larry Klein, the show's music director. Additional tickets for the show--which will also feature Paula Cole, Sandra Bernhard, Trisha Yearwood, Shawn Colvin and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani--were on sale Friday. Proceeds benefit the Walden Woods Project and the new Thoreau Institute at Walden Pond in Massachusetts; Henley, who is organizing the show, has raised $11 million for Walden Woods so far.

True Puff Daddy: Rapper-producer Sean "Puffy" Combs, who records under the name Puff Daddy, became a biological daddy on Wednesday when his girlfriend Kim Porter delivered a 7-pound, 1-ounce baby boy at a New York City hospital. He was named Christopher Casey Combs, after the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace.

TELEVISION

Watch That Talk-Show Banter: A state appeals court has affirmed a $475,000 defamation judgment that Rip Torn won against fellow actor Dennis Hopper over comments Hopper made on NBC's "Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The panel also ruled that Torn could seek punitive damages in a separate proceeding, Torn's attorney said. According to the suit, Hopper told Leno in 1994 that Torn was turned down for a part in Hopper's 1969 movie "Easy Rider" because he had pulled a knife on Hopper during an argument. Torn, an Emmy winner for his role as a talk-show producer on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," alleged Hopper was the one who pulled the knife. Hopper maintains he was not being malicious when he made the "Tonight Show" comments. His spokesman said Hopper's attorneys will fight the appellate decision. "We're shocked and disappointed," Hopper's publicist said Friday. "The case isn't over yet."

Minority Visionaries: HBO was honored for both best drama (the movie "Miss Evers' Boys") and best comedy ("Comedy Hour: Damon Wayans Still Standing") during the National Assn. of Minorities in Communications' annual Vision Awards recognizing outstanding cable programming that "reflects the true diversity of the nation." Other winners of the Vision Awards, presented Friday night at the Beverly Hilton, included Showtime's "In His Father's Shoes" (children's program) and Bravo's "Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz" (documentary). In addition, Brazilian actress Sonia Braga received the North Star Award on behalf of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, an advocacy group created last year by Braga and fellow actors Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales to promote Latinos in the performing arts.

RADIO

NPR Chief to Resign: Delano E. Lewis, president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio, said Friday he will resign in August to pursue teaching, lecturing and writing a book about his experiences. Lewis, 59, who has led NPR since January 1994, oversaw several changes at the public radio network, including an earlier broadcast time for the flagship afternoon news magazine, "All Things Considered." He also worked on building congressional support for public radio funding. NPR's board has not yet begun to look for a successor but hopes to have a new president by November, a spokeswoman said.

QUICK TAKES

Comedy Central said it has received about 1,800 complaints from viewers of its animated hit "South Park" after the network failed to reveal the father of character Cartman as promised on Wednesday's episode. The April Fools' show aimed to poke fun at the concept of cliffhanger television, the network said. The cable station promises, however, that Cartman's paternity will be revealed for real in May. . . . The Los Angeles Urban League will showcase 25 years of winners of the civil rights group's Whitney M. Young Award when it airs "A League of Legends" on KABC-TV Channel 7 on April 11 at 7 p.m. Among those taking part in the show will be producers Quincy Jones and Norman Lear, and singers Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight.

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