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Morning Report

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

March 20, 1998|SHAUNA SNOW

STAGE

Shakespeare, Where Art Thou?: Several leaders of the London theater world are debating whether Britain has had too much of the Bard. "We've had Shakespeare musicals. We've had Shakespeare in the nude. The only thing we probably haven't done culturally is not perform him for 10 years--which is something someone should try," said director Matthew Warchus, whose credits include the current Broadway hit "Art" and an ongoing Royal Shakespeare Company staging of "Hamlet." Warchus was to be joined Thursday by playwright Stephen Poliakoff and Cicely Berry, the RSC's director of voice, in a London debate, "A 10-Year Moratorium on Shakespeare." Led by critical slams against recent Shakespeare productions, the proposal comes at a time when London will see three productions of "Much Ado About Nothing" this year alone. Not long ago, the city weathered five stagings of "The Tempest" virtually back to back. The RSC's discussion proposes that if Shakespeare's works were put aside temporarily, his three dozen plays might regain the quality of surprise some believe they have lost after 400 years.

TELEVISION

'Dharma's' Season 'Sein'-Off: ABC's hit comedy "Dharma & Greg" is planning a well-timed homage to NBC's much-ballyhooed May 14 "Seinfeld" finale. In "Dharma's" season-ending episode, which will air the previous night, the show's newlywed couple (played by Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson) decides to have sex in public places because everyone else is indoors watching "Seinfeld." "We're all fans of 'Seinfeld,' " said "Dharma" executive producer Chuck Lorre. "It's a chance to participate in that in a small way." The episode will be shot next week in Los Angeles and famous locations around San Francisco, where the series is set. Though Lorre said he doesn't anticipate copycat behavior, he suggested that any couples wanting to emulate "Dharma & Greg" could tape the final "Seinfeld."

BBC America: The British Broadcasting Corp. is launching a new cable channel, BBC America, that will be distributed by Discovery Networks starting March 29. The new channel will offer drama, comedy, news, arts and lifestyle programs, including many never seen before in the United States.

Animated Roseanne: King World Productions, which is producing "The Roseanne Show," the comedian's new syndicated talk program debuting in September, has also optioned an adult animated series, "Family Values," created by Roseanne and her two adult daughters, Jessica and Jennifer Pentland. Roseanne will serve as executive producer and provide voices for some of the characters, King World said. No premiere date was announced.

MOVIES

Bets Are Off: In a sign that some of this year's Oscar winners may be a foregone conclusion, London oddsmaker Ladbrokes has stopped accepting wagers for three major awards. "The odds on the favorites just became too short," said Ladbrokes' chief oddsmaker, Sean Boyce. Ladbrokes closing list puts "Titanic's" odds for a best picture victory at 2 to 9 (with "L.A. Confidential" the runner-up at 11 to 4), while the acting favorites are "As Good as It Gets" co-stars Jack Nicholson (1 to 3) and Helen Hunt (4 to 7).

ART

Rauschenberg Dispute Settled: German art dealer Alfred Kren has settled his dispute with artist Robert Rauschenberg over an unpaid debt that had led to the seizure last month of 15 Rauschenberg works from a traveling museum exhibition. "I think everyone was happy that it was resolved," said Rauschenberg's attorney; no details of the settlement, reached through a court-appointed mediator, were disclosed. A Texas judge had ruled last September that Rauschenberg owed Kren and the Austin Art Consortium $1.8 million for unpaid commissions, plus another $3.7 million in punitive damages. When Rauschenberg failed to pay, Kren's lawyers seized the 15 artworks from an exhibition at Houston's Menil Collection, threatening to sell them to make up for the debt. The paintings, however, were later returned.

Ancient Image: "Reliquary of the Mandylion of Edessa," a portrait believed to be the oldest surviving image of Christ, has been added to the "Angels From the Vatican" exhibition on view at the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art (through April 12). According to legend, the image, first documented in the year 593, was not painted by a human hand but was miraculously imprinted on the cloth. It features two angels on either side of Christ, who wears a crown encrusted with pearls and precious stones.

QUICK TAKES

Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder have been added to the list of performers for the April 4 reopening gala for UCLA's Royce Hall. . . . Grammy-winning poet Maya Angelou will perform May 13 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium; tickets are now on sale. . . . NBC has renewed its first-year Fred Savage comedy, "Working." The Wednesday night series drew its second-highest ratings of the season this week with a guest appearance by Savage's former "Wonder Years" co-star, Danica McKellar. . . . The movie "Amistad" and CBS' "Walker, Texas Ranger" won Movieguide magazine's annual $25,000 Epiphany Awards Wednesday for "creating inspiring entertainment which results in an increase in either man's love of God or the understanding of God."

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