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Morning Report

Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press.

November 14, 2000|LISA BOONE

RADIO

Grudge Report?: Despite being picked up in 135 markets, ABC Radio has dropped Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge's syndicated Sunday talk show, which airs locally on KABC-AM (790). "I see it as punishment for daring to report on ABC's activities," Drudge told the Washington Post. Julie Hoover, an ABC spokeswoman, said it was strictly a business decision made by Bob Callahan, president of ABC's broadcast operations. "Sunday night talk shows are just not a good business," she said. "We're just not going to be in that business anymore. . . . It takes up a lot of your time but makes very little money." Drudge said he thought the timing was odd because he had been talking with ABC executives about expanding his show and doing it on weeknights. Drudge said ABC News officials are unhappy with him because he has been critical of network analyst George Stephanopoulos and reported on political stories that the network was reluctant to run. Drudge will be continuing his show until his contract expires in December, Hoover said. "There are no bad feelings between ABC Radio and Matt Drudge," she said. "The air we breathe is free," Drudge told the Post. "The airwaves are not."

TELEVISION

Mister Rogers to Hang Up His Cardigan: After 50 years in television and 33 years as the host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," Fred Rogers will tape his final original episode next month, his production company announced. Family Communications was quick to point out, however, that Rogers, 71, is not retiring. Rogers plans to work on his Web site, publications and special museum programs. Rogers' television career began in 1951 when he was hired as an assistant producer for NBC. He worked in Pittsburgh television as a puppeteer and producer on "The Children's Corner," which introduced many of the characters that would become "Neighborhood" regulars. While lauded for his soft manner, Rogers taught children how to deal with tough issues such as the Persian Gulf War and divorce. "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" first aired on Pittsburgh's WQED in 1967, and PBS began distributing it nationally the following year. The program will continue to air in reruns.

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'Millionaire' Defense: Neither the Dream Team nor the Bible could unseat the latest celebrity edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," as the ABC quiz show attracted more than 25 million viewers Sunday, its highest rating since early June. That nearly equaled the combined audience for "American Tragedy," CBS' miniseries about O.J. Simpson's legal team, and "In the Beginning," a biblical epic on NBC, which averaged 12.5 million and 12.8 million viewers, respectively. ABC was also first from 7 to 9 p.m. with its new adaptation of "The Miracle Worker," which averaged an estimated 17.4 million viewers.

POP/ROCK

Hill Leads American Music Award Nominees: Country sweetheart Faith Hill, whose latest album, "Breathe," has been on the U.S. pop charts for exactly one year, received four American Music Award nominations Monday, leading a pack of artists vying for awards chosen by fans. Demonstrating her crossover appeal, the 33-year-old Hill received nominations for favorite female artist in both the pop/rock and country categories, favorite adult contemporary artist and favorite country album. Marc Anthony and the rock band Creed received three nominations each, while Toni Braxton, Destiny's Child, Celine Dion, Eminem, Alan Jackson, 'N Sync, Sisqo and Britney Spears--who will host the event--got two each. The nominees are chosen by music industry data, but the winners are selected by a national sampling of approximately 20,000 listeners. The awards will be presented Jan. 8 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

PEOPLE

Presumed Innocent: Actress Lara Flynn Boyle says reports of a fling with Harrison Ford are "poppycock." Boyle, who stars as ethical Helen Gamble on ABC's "The Practice," had been reported as dating the 58-year-old Ford, who has announced that he and his wife of 17 years were living apart. Boyle tells US Weekly it isn't true, saying pictures taken of her and Ford made her feel "terribly sorry I sat next to him for five minutes."

QUICK TAKES

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