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Morning Report

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

April 25, 2002|Elaine Dutka

MOVIES

'The Rookie' Makes Its White House Debut

When Mark Johnson, a producer of "The Rookie," sat for interviews prior to the movie's March 29 release, he encountered a recurring refrain: "This is one movie that the president should see," a number of people suggested.

The $22-million, G-rated film is based on the real-life story of former pitcher Jim Morris who, at 35, got his first shot at the major leagues. President Bush was once an owner of the Texas Rangers and has a pervasive love of the game.

On Tuesday night, the White House presentation finally came to pass. Disney chief Michael Eisner and Motion Picture Group Chairman Dick Cook showed up, as did the actor who plays Morris, Dennis Quaid, accompanied by his son Jack.

Representatives of "The Rookie's" creative team toured the mansion and had drinks with the president and first lady before sitting down with them and other Washington officials for the screening. There was sustained applause at the end of the film, after which everyone sat down to a Tex-Mex meal of enchiladas and avocado salad.

"I was a little nervous going in--not only about things like the film being focused but about whether we'd captured everything accurately," director John Lee Hancock said afterward. "The president is intimately familiar with the subject matter, so there was a lot to lose.

"With the weight of the world on his shoulders," he continued, "Bush could be excused for dozing off. But I watched him out of the corner of my eye and he was totally with it."

And how did the down-home president handle Hollywood glitterati--many of them died-in-the-wool Democrats?

"Totally gracious," Hancock replied. "He seems like a guy who's really well acquainted with himself."

TELEVISION

Vieira the Front-Runner to Host 'Millionaire'

Meredith Vieira, a panelist on ABC's daytime show "The View," is expected to serve as host of the syndicated weekday version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," premiering in September.

Stations that have agreed to carry the show have grown increasingly antsy about the lack of a host. Buena Vista Television, the Disney subsidiary distributing the show, declined to comment, but reports indicate that Vieira will take on the quiz-show assignment as well as extend her agreement with "The View."

The arrangement comes at a time when other networks have been pursuing Vieira. CBS, for instance, has been interested in adding her to its struggling morning program "The Early Show."

TV Land to Enter Award Show Arena

MTV's Movie Awards, scheduled for their next go-round in June, have already become a staple of the film awards circuit. Now, sister network TV Land is adding to the award logjam with plans to inaugurate a TV Land Classic TV Awards ceremony next spring.

The event will honor both contemporary and classic shows, with specific categories still being worked out.

In other scheduling news, TV Land said Wednesday that, in November, it will begin airing "TV Land Legends: The 60 Minutes Interviews," drawing on 30 years of interviews with TV personalities conducted by the newsmagazine. TV Land and CBS are owned by Viacom.

QUICK TAKES

Royal Shakespeare Company chief Adrian Noble said Wednesday he'll step down in March 2003 when his contract expires.

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