Victory for Esperanza Center
A federal judge has ruled that the city of San Antonio violated the 1st Amendment by exercising "viewpoint discrimination" when it eliminated funding in 1997 to the city's Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, a 13-year-old arts and culture organization that supports gay and lesbian groups as well as other marginalized communities. The ruling said the city also violated the 14th Amendment for "appeasing public animus" toward the organization by eliminating its funding despite high ratings from a peer review panel. On Friday, Bob Lynch, president of the Washington-based Americans for the Arts, hailed the judge's decision. "It's not a comment on the art itself, but on the [funding] process. There can be no criteria that discriminate, and that's what happened here," he said. "The government doesn't have to make a decision to get involved in the arts, but once they do, they have to be fair."
My Dinner With Mikhail
A meal with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and a guitar autographed by Mick Jagger were among the prizes at a black-tie benefit to raise money for AIDS research, but neither brought in the bucks that Shirley Bassey did with a personal serenade. The Cannes gala for the American Foundation for AIDS Research was hosted Thursday by Elizabeth Taylor, who offered Bassey $100,000 to belt out "Goldfinger," her signature song from the 1964 James Bond film of the same title. The Jagger guitar sold for $52,000 and the Gorbachev date went for $28,000, helping the event raise $2 million.
POP / ROCK
Slim Shady and the Shock Rocker
Two favorite targets of culture and morality critics will be on record together: Rapper Eminem and shock-rocker Marilyn Manson will be heard on a new version of Eminem's "The Way I Am," a song from the Detroit rhymer's mega-selling "The Marshall Mathers LP." A spokesman at Interscope Records, the label home of both performers, said Friday that Manson went into the studio earlier this year to add his vocals. No release date has been set. "The Way I Am" is Eminem's rebuttal to critics of his graphic language and themes. The song also mentions Manson by name as a fellow scapegoat who took unfair blame in the wake of the Columbine High School shootings. Both Eminem and Manson have been cited by politicians and anti-violence advocates as irresponsible and even harmful to young fans, although fellow artists and many music critics have defended their work.
Still Loving Lucy
"The 'I Love Lucy' 50th Anniversary Experience," a nationally touring interactive attraction enabling fans to reenact memorable moments from the series, visits the Orange County Fair July 13-29 in Costa Mesa. The scenes feature the "Vitameatavegemin" pitch, the grape-stomping wine vat and the chocolates conveyor belt. Those partaking in the games will be videotaped for possible inclusion on CBS' " 'I Love Lucy' 50th Anniversary Special," due for broadcast in October. The attraction ($3 on top of fair admission; less for kids) also features screenings of series highlights; displays of original props, costumes, scripts and photographs; and replicas of three sets--Lucy and Ricky's New York apartment, the Beverly Palms Hotel and the Tropicana Nightclub.
Familiar Faces Back on Top
The "Friends" and "ER" season finales yielded a dominating performance for NBC Thursday, attracting an estimated 30 million and 30.7 million viewers, respectively--the season's biggest audience for the former and second-best for the latter. Things were more interesting at 9 p.m., where a one-hour "Will & Grace" dipped to 20.5 million viewers, versus 19 million watching the CBS show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." "Friends" nearly doubled its audience compared to the last three weeks, when the show was still facing "Survivor."
'Spin Room' Winds Down
CNN's "The Spin Room," the network's attempt at a younger, hipper political rhetoric show, has been canceled. The network said there just isn't enough major political news to sustain a nightly program. In its place at 7:30 p.m. starting June 4 will be "Greenfield at Large," with Jeff Greenfield taking on a range of topics, including media, culture and sports, but, he has previously said, with "no spin at all." "Spin Room" co-hosts Bill Press and Tucker Carlson will continue on CNN's "Crossfire," where Carlson will become a regular panelist, in addition to his duties on "Inside Politics." Separately, CNN said it was allowing "Moneyline" anchor Lou Dobbs to keep a commitment to give a paid speech to executives at Ford, a company he covers, because he made the agreement before rejoining CNN this week.