What a Legacy: Philanthropist Paul Mellon, who died Feb. 1 at age 91, has bequeathed $75 million in cash and more than 100 of his favorite artworks to the National Gallery of Art, the largest gift in the Washington museum's history. Among the paintings--which will remain with Mellon's widow until her death--are two by Vincent Van Gogh ("Still Life of Oranges and Lemons With Blue Gloves" and "Green Wheat Fields, Auvers"), 13 by Georges Seurat, three by Edouard Manet and 10 by Pierre Bonnard, plus works by Claude Monet, Winslow Homer, Paul Cezanne, Pierre Auguste Renoir and others. "What he has done is leave us a whole museum of French and American art," museum director Earl A. Powell III told the Washington Post. Mellon--whose father, industrialist Andrew Mellon, founded the National Gallery in 1941--had already given the museum more than 900 artworks.
Another Decade: Happy with the ratings for this week's miniseries "The '60s," NBC is already at work on the sequel, having signed executive producer Linda Obst and writer Jeffrey Fiskin to return for a follow-up project, "The '70s." Plans call for the four-hour miniseries to follow the same group of characters from "The '60s" against the backdrop of events ranging from the Watergate scandal to disco fever.
Andrews Tells of Voice Loss: Noting "I simply can't do a song for you," Julie Andrews talks for the first time to Barbara Walters on Friday's "20/20" about the "tragedy" of not being able to sing following surgery on her vocal cords nearly two years ago. "I think to some degree I'm in . . . a form of denial about it," Andrews says on the ABC program. "Because to not sing with an orchestra, to not be able to communicate through my voice, which I've done all my life, and not to be able to phrase lyrics and give people that kind of joy, uh, I think I would be totally devastated." Andrews adds that her doctors "say that they don't hold out much hope but that I should continue practicing."
Agency Protest: The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led a demonstration of more than 50 protesters in front of the William Morris and Creative Artists agencies in Beverly Hills on Thursday to highlight a lawsuit by five African American concert promoters, accusing the talent agencies of discrimination. The $700-million federal court lawsuit--filed in November in New York--alleges that both agencies routinely bar African Americans from promoting concerts by both white headliners and top-selling black artists, such as Elton John or Whitney Houston. Neither agency had immediate comment on the protest.
Blondie's Back: In the rock group's first full-scale L.A. performance since its breakup 17 years ago, Blondie was introduced Wednesday night at the El Rey Theatre by Nancy Sinatra and joined on stage for its new song "No Exit" by members of the rap groups Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep. "This just goes to show you anything can happen," singer Deborah Harry said, referring to her reunion with guitarist Chris Stein, keyboardist Jimmy Destri and drummer Clem Burke. The 90-minute show, a private industry showcase, focused on the band's hits plus tunes from the "No Exit" album, due Feb. 23. A reunion tour is planned this summer.
Wynette Death Case Closed: Nashville's coroner has turned down an appeal by Tammy Wynette's daughters to exhume her body and perform an autopsy, saying he was satisfied the country singer died from natural causes. Wynette, 55, died April 6 from what her physician declared was a blood clot in her lungs. Three of Wynette's daughters had claimed there were "curious" circumstances surrounding Wynette's death, including a delay in calling the police and her heavy use of prescription drugs.
Former "Saturday Night Live" star Julia Sweeney (see story at right) will speak at the Nuart Theater (11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.) tonight and Saturday in conjunction with the opening of her new autobiographical film, "God Said, 'Ha!' " Sweeney will appear before the two evening screenings on both nights. . . . Paul Schaffer, the music director of CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman," is forming an "all-kid house band" for cable's Nickelodeon network. Candidates will be culled from top performing arts programs nationwide. . . . USA Network's "Silk Stalkings"--cable TV's longest-running, original prime-time drama--will end its eight-season run with a two-part finale airing April 18 from 9 to 11 p.m.