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In the Know / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

Timing Not on 'Legends' Sequel's Side

September 18, 2000

Talk about your bad timing. The new teen horror-thriller "Urban Legends: Final Cut" opens Friday and, while it may not be the second coming of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," it comes at a time when Hollywood is trying to fend off attacks from Washington that it is purveying gratuitous violence to the nation's youth. Just last week, the Federal Trade Commission issued a stinging report accusing the entertainment industry of targeting children as young as 10 with music, movies and video games rated for mature audiences. It was followed by an often-confrontational Senate Commerce Committee hearing at which lawmakers branded some of the industry's most popular sellers "garbage" and its marketers "shameless salesmen." Senators then blasted Hollywood studio chiefs for failing to attend the hearing to defend what they sell. It is in this environment that Sony's Columbia Pictures will release Phoenix Pictures' production of "Urban Legends: Final Cut." According to those who have seen advance screenings, the film is not an extreme example of violence run amok, but it does contain scenes of college youths getting killed in some gruesome ways: a couple of electrocutions, a stabbing and beating, and even a hanging. Directed by John Ottman, who edited Bryan Singer's critically acclaimed film "The Usual Suspects," the new film features an ensemble cast of young actors--among them Jennifer Morrison, Jessica Cauffiel, Joseph Lawrence and Anthony Anderson--who play film school students at a fictional college who begin falling prey to fatal "accidents." The film is the sequel to the low-budget "Urban Legend," which opened in September 1998 and went on to be a modest hit, grossing $38.1 million domestically. But with real-life campus massacres now etched in the public psyche, from Columbine High School in Colorado to a spate of shootings in Kentucky, Oregon and elsewhere, does the sight of students getting bumped off still have mass appeal?

Olympics Cut-Ins Showcase KNBC Personnel

Let the Games begin--along with the shifting of the program schedule on KNBC-TV Channel 4. As the Olympics in Sydney move into full swing this week with the broadcast from NBC (as well as MSNBC and CNBC), the NBC owned-and-operated station in Burbank is taking the opportunity to show off its news personnel and programming. The station has sent reporter Kim Baldonado and sports anchor Fred Roggin to Sydney to provide local news and sports during breaks in the prime-time network coverage. The station's late newscast, which usually airs at 11 p.m., will air at midnight to allow for an extra hour of Olympic prime time. "We love to use the prime-time cut-ins so we can really showcase our news team," KNBC news director Nancy Bauer Gonzales said. In addition, the station will feature a daily edition of Chuck Henry's "Travel Cafe," which usually airs Sunday mornings. Henry will feature tours of Australian cities at 12:30 p.m.

U2 Airplay to Receive Single-Minded Scrutiny

Will a "Beautiful Day" blossom into a season of success for U2? The Irish rock band has just returned to the radio with a new single, the textured, melodic "Beautiful Day," and the airplay for the song this week will be watched as a key bellwether, especially after the commercial fizzle of U2's last album, 1997's "Pop." The new album, titled "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and due in stores on Halloween from Interscope Records, delivers a sound that is less layered with electronic effects than U2's recent albums. Frontman Bono has said the album is also influenced lyrically by his participation in a global crusade to forgive Third World debt and refocus resources on the quality of life in troubled nations. "The single is off and running," says Jeff Pollack, a programming consultant for scores of radio stations, MTV and VH1. "I think U2 is sort of back to what they do best: wonderful lyrics, beautiful melodies. No one really beats U2 when they want to deliver those kinds of records. . . . I think people feel that coming off 'Pop,' this was the perfect record to get back to the roots." But how will today's fans react to an album that harks back to the humanistic, thoughtful themes of the band's classic '80s disc "The Joshua Tree"? It's a mind-set that is not exactly at home with rap-rock or teen pop. No worries about the competition, says Bono. "We are the men," the singer wryly told MTV, "they are the boys."

--Compiled by Times Staff Writers

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