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October 30, 1998|SHAUNA SNOW


Venice Comes to Westwood: Five Italian feature films screened at last month's Venice Film Festival will have their North American premieres next month as part of Venezia a Hollywood, a new film festival co-sponsored by the Roberto Rossellini Foundation. "Fourteen Italian-language films played 1998's Venice Film Festival, and we selected what we thought were the best five pictures," said Renzo Rossellini, son of the late director. "They are representative of the very best Italian cinema has to offer." The Nov. 9-14 festival, planned as an annual event, will be held at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Westwood (1023 Hilgard Ave.). In addition to the five films from Venice--"Tu Ridi" (You're Laughing), "L'Albero delle Pere" (The Pear Tree), "La Ballata Dei Lavavetri" (The Ballad of the Windscreen Washers), "Del Perduto Amore" (Of Lost Love) and "Radiofreccia"--the festival will include a rare screening of a restored print of Roberto Rossellini's 1946 Academy Award nominee, "Paisan."


Getty in Czechoslovakia: A newly restored central panel of an important glass mosaic of "The Last Judgment" was to be unveiled by Czech authorities and J. Paul Getty Trust President Barry Munitz at Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral Thursday. The Getty and the Czech president's office have spearheaded a six-year project to restore the 14th century mosaic, one of the Czech Republic's most significant treasures. The 904-square-foot mural includes a majestic central image of Christ in a mandorla--an almond-shaped aura of divinity--surrounded by angels.


'Phantom' Sequel?: With the blessing of his good friend Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, novelist Fredrick Forsyth wrote "The Phantom of Manhattan," a novelized sequel to Lloyd Webber's musical "Phantom of the Opera," based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. Forsyth's book is soon to be published by New Millennium Entertainment--but a spokesman for Lloyd Webber says that does not necessarily mean a stage sequel is also on the way. And if there is one, it may not follow Forsyth's story, which takes the Phantom to the streets of New York, 10 years later. "Freddy [Forsyth] wanted to write a sequel, and Andrew basically said, go ahead and see what you can come up with," said Lloyd Webber's spokesman. "There is no commitment as far as we are concerned, and we haven't decided whether we'll ever do a 'Phantom' sequel."


Gay Ad Rejected: The nation's biggest gay church--the 3,000-member Cathedral of Hope in Dallas--has sued Chicago's WGN-TV, accusing the superstation of reneging on a contract to air a half-hour infomercial about the congregation. WGN, seen nationally on cable, accepted a $12,000 check for the first broadcast, according to the federal lawsuit. But the station later returned the money, stating it felt the infomercial was "not appropriate content" for the station, the church's lawyer said, calling the action "homophobia" and "anti-gay discrimination." He said the church had agreed to make content changes in the ad that had been suggested by WGN. A station spokeswoman, as well as WGN-TV's attorney, declined to comment on the suit.


Whole Lotta (Web) Noize: MTV President Judy McGrath, E! Entertainment Television President Lee Masters and RealNet-works CEO Rob Glaser, who pioneered sound on the Internet with the introduction of RealAudio 1.0 in 1995, are the scheduled keynote speakers at Webnoize '98, a three-day music and new media conference beginning Monday at the Sheraton Universal Hotel. A complete conference agenda is available at the conference Web site (


Singer Julio Iglesias Jr., whose first CD is set for a Valentine's Day release, has signed a music publishing deal with Warner/Chappel Music, whose roster includes superstars Madonna and Michael Jackson. . . . Oprah Winfrey's latest book club selection, Chris Bohjalian's "Midwives," is being developed by Columbia TriStar and Craig Anderson Productions as an ABC TV movie, with Jessica Lange set to star. . . . Underscoring the growing influence of the arts in Orange County, a new Chapman University study has found that the nonprofit arts sector pumps nearly $300 million a year into the local economy. Among the study's findings: Jobs provided by the county's nonprofit arts groups rose to 4,725 in 1997, up more than 10% from 1993, the year of the last similar study. . . . As expected, overnight radio talk-show host Art Bell (heard locally on KABC-AM 790) returned to the air Wednesday night, two weeks after he abruptly signed off citing a "threatening terrible event" involving his family. However, Bell shed no light on the reason for his temporary retirement, saying: "There's probably more theories about why I did it than why or who shot Kennedy."

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