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Morning Report

Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The National Press



Anchoring Again?: ABC News President David Westin told advertisers and affiliates in New York Tuesday that Barbara Walters would be back to anchor the Friday edition of "20/20," and Walters herself showed up to promote the network's flagship newsmagazine. But Walters, who has been unhappy about the show's lead-in and declining ratings and has mused about leaving, has yet to renew her contract, which expires in September. Westin said later that he was "hopeful, even optimistic" that a deal would be concluded but said the two sides had just started to talk.


Who Wants to Be Accused: A former "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" contestant who wrote a soon-to-be-released book on how to get on the game show is accused of embezzling. Publisher Peter Kaufman of TV Books said he does not know yet what he will do about the release of Paul Barbour's "Who Wants to Be a Contestant." Barbour, 38, of Baldwinsville, N.Y., and his brothers, Mark and Mike, were the first three siblings to appear on the game show, though none made it past the preliminary "fastest-finger" round. A federal grand jury in July accused him and a nurse of defrauding an insurance company of more than $190,000 by authorizing dozens of payments to a phony medical services company in 1998, the Syracuse Newspapers reported Wednesday. Barbour, due in court June 2, has denied the allegation.

Off-Limits: Medical and financial information about late country music legend Tammy Wynette will stay off-limits to the public--and her four daughters--even after her widower, George Richey, hands it over to a federal court. In Nashville Tuesday, a U.S. magistrate issued a protective order and directed that the documents be returned to Richey or destroyed when the daughters' wrongful death lawsuit is concluded. An autopsy showed her 1998 death was caused by repeated blood clots that led to heart failure.

No Severance: Rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs has lost a bid in New York to separate his trial on bribery and gun charges from the trials of two co-defendants who were arrested with him after a nightclub shooting. State Supreme Justice Charles Solomon on Tuesday denied Combs' motion, saying he had "failed to establish good cause for granting a severance." The charges against Combs, 30, stem from a shooting at a Times Square nightclub Dec. 27 when a man allegedly threw money in the rapper's face. Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, 19, a Combs protege, is accused of shooting three people during the dispute; the other defendant is Combs' bodyguard, Anthony Jones, 34.


KLON-FM (88.1) hosts its first-ever Jazz and Blues Club Caravan tonight, shuttling fans between 14 Los Angeles-area clubs. Tickets are available through KLON at (562) 985-1686 and Ticketmaster. . . . Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor Hal Linden will receive a lifetime achievement award Friday from Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. . . . Atlantic Recording artist Steve Tyrell has added a late show at 10 p.m. Friday at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. . . . HBO has ordered 16 more episodes of the prison drama "Oz," with the first eight shows debuting Wednesday nights at 11 on July 12. The second batch will run in January.

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