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Morning Report

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

April 08, 1998|SHAUNA SNOW

TELEVISION

From Earth to Ratings Champ: Sunday's debut of HBO's "From the Earth to the Moon" drew stellar ratings for the pay cable network, with the first two installments of the 12-part miniseries drawing an 18% share of viewing households, topping all four broadcast networks in homes that receive HBO. Part 1, "Can We Do This?," which was seen from 8 to 9 p.m., was the fifth-highest rated cable program for the week of March 30, drawing an estimated 5.2 million viewers nationally. "Apollo I," from 9 to 10 p.m., did even better, drawing nearly 6.6 million viewers to rank No. 1 among all cable programs last week. And there were no doubt innumerable more uncounted viewers, since HBO was available for free over the weekend to nonsubscribers; figures for such viewers are not available.

ABC Loves Oscar: The Oscars will continue to be broadcast on ABC through the year 2008, the network and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday. As expected, the awards will move to Sundays starting next year. The annual broadcasts will also begin a half-hour earlier, at 5:30 p.m., preceded by a 30-minute "arrivals" show. In addition, commercials will be limited to "less than 10 minutes each hour," the academy said.

MOVIES

More Recovery Time: Elizabeth Taylor said Tuesday that she has canceled all of her previously scheduled upcoming charitable events because her back injury from a Feb. 27 fall at her Bel-Air home is more extensive than previously thought. "I have a severe compression fracture of my first lumbar [vertebra], which is taking its time healing," Taylor, 66, said in a statement. "To all those I made the commitments to, I am deeply sorry and my heart will be with you on the evening of each of those events." Taylor said doctors are closely monitoring her back and have instructed her to rest as much as possible for about four months.

RADIO

Let's Get Ready to File Motions: Infinity Broadcasting Corp. has filed a federal lawsuit against Michael Buffer, the boxing announcer known for his thundering expression, "Let's get ready to rumble," seeking to free the words for public use. Infinity said Buffer appeared on one of its radio stations before a Las Vegas boxing match several years ago and recorded the phrase for Infinity's use. But when the recording was played on Don Imus' show (which airs on Infinity stations), Buffer's brother and business manager, Bruce Buffer, wrote Infinity to rescind the right to use the phrase, the lawsuit said. Infinity said it filed the lawsuit after receiving a March 11 letter from Buffer's lawyer demanding $195,000 for copyright infringement and unfair competition. Buffer could not be reached for comment.

THE ARTS

Smithsonian Closes Recordings, Other Divisions: The Smithsonian Institution, which runs many of the federal government's cultural activities, said Tuesday that it will shut down three of its money-losing divisions: those that produce books, records and videos. Among those to go will be the Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, which has won two Grammys over its 20 years of issuing jazz and popular music records. Its Folkways Recordings label will continue and may take over the jazz and popular music. Smithsonian Videos will also be shut down, as will Smithsonian Books, which recently published a history of the Smithsonian's 150 years. But the larger Smithsonian Institution Press, which issues 60 new titles a year, will continue. Smithsonian Productions, which includes the three ill-fated divisions, lost $3 million last year and expects to lose about $2 million this year; it receives no direct government funding. The Smithsonian, which called the closures "hard choices," said the move will eliminate 10 jobs.

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