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Morning Report

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

March 09, 2001|SHAUNA SNOW

POP/ROCK

It Worked for ABBA: The songs of rock group Queen are to be turned into a stage musical, with Ben Elton, who wrote "The Beautiful Game" with Andrew Lloyd Webber, writing the show's script. In a London radio interview, Queen guitarist Brian May called Elton's script "fantastic," but said the show would not tell the band's story. "Young people will be in it," he said. "There'll be a lot of Queen songs with some new ideas." May said he hoped the musical would reach the stage late this year or early in 2002. Fronted by flamboyant singer Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991, Queen produced a string of hits in the '70s and '80s, including "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You."

Staying Solo Spice: Singer Melanie Chisholm, who began her career as Sporty Spice, said Thursday that she does not plan to keep working with the Spice Girls and will instead focus on her burgeoning solo career. Her decision could effectively be the death knell for the mega-selling British act. Chisholm, 27, considered by many to be the group's best singer, told Reuters that there are no plans for a new Spice Girls album. While vowing "I'll always be a Spice Girl," she added, "I don't intend to do any more work with the Spice Girls. . . . Really, I've not been comfortable being in the Spice Girls for probably the last two years. . . . I've grown up, and I just feel that I want to do things my own way and not compromise." The group's first defection was by Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) in 1998. The last Spice Girls album, "Forever," flopped in its release last November.

TELEVISION

Wally Cleaver Versus TV Land: Actor Tony Dow has sued cable's TV Land, claiming that a network ad campaign used his image, altered it, and placed him in "an unwholesome and negative light, quite contrary to the image of the character which he played on 'Leave It to Beaver.' " The TV Land ads--featured in print, TV and outdoor billboards--show a young Dow--who played the Beave's brother, Wally, in the wholesome 1950s sitcom--with tattoos on his chest and arms, accompanied by the words: "Times Change. Great TV Doesn't." Dow's suit says his image is "an extremely valuable commercial right," and claims he would have been paid "a very large sum of money" if he and TV Land had struck a legitimate deal. A TV Land spokesperson had no comment Thursday, saying the network had not yet been served with the suit.

Kidding Around: The WB network is adding several new series to next fall's children's lineup, including its first live-action Saturday-morning show, children's author R.L. Stine's "The Nightmare Room," and an animated series based on "The Mummy" films. At ABC, meanwhile, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the twins from "Full House," will be featured in a new animated children's series that will premiere in September. The 14-year-old duo--who will have a role in producing the show as well through their Dualstar Entertainment--will introduce episodes in live-action wraparounds.

UPN Moves: UPN will unveil a new midseason schedule in April, kicking off April 11 with the premiere of the 8 p.m. Wednesday sci-fi detective series "Special Unit 2," in place of "7 Days." The network will also introduce two Tuesday-night series on April 17: "Chains of Love," a staged, unscripted relationship show that was rejected by NBC, airing at 8 p.m., and "All Souls," a new Aaron Spelling hospital drama, at 9 p.m. UPN's movie block, which has been on Tuesdays, will move to Fridays at 8 p.m., effective April 20, while "Celebrity Deathmatch" goes on hiatus.

LEGAL FILE

Whitney Cleared: A Hawaiian judge has dismissed a marijuana possession charge against singer Whitney Houston after a New Jersey drug counselor filed an assessment on her behalf stating that Houston does not require substance abuse treatment. The charge had been filed after authorities seized Houston's bag at a Hawaiian airport in January 2000. According to court testimony, the bag contained less than half an ounce of marijuana in two plastic bags and three partially smoked marijuana cigarettes. Houston, 27, was not arrested, having left the bag behind to board her flight to the mainland before authorities arrived.

Claims Denied: An exotic dancer has sued Sylvester Stallone, claiming the "Rocky" star sexually assaulted her at a gym last year. Margie Carr, who seeks unspecified damages, claims Stallone ripped off her clothes and tried to force her into sex with him on a couch in the gym's office. Stallone attorney Marty Singer called the allegations "completely fictional," adding, "My client completely denies the claim. It's unfortunate in America that anyone can make up claims and file a lawsuit." Singer said Carr had previously sold the Globe supermarket tabloid a story saying she had had a 10-year secret affair with the actor and wanted to marry him.

QUICK TAKES

Actress Camryn Manheim of ABC's "The Practice" gave birth to a 9-pound, 2-ounce boy Tuesday at an L.A. hospital. The single mom, who turned 40 on Thursday, named the baby Milo Jacob. . . . Getting a lift from its "Survivor" tie-ins, CBS' "The Early Show" earned its best ratings ever last Friday with nearly 5 million viewers. For the week, however, the show averaged just 3.1 million viewers, far behind perennial morning leader "Today" (6 million) and ABC's "Good Morning America" (4.6 million).

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