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Morning Report

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

January 17, 2002

MOVIES

Initial Autopsy on Demme Inconclusive

An autopsy conducted on film and television director Ted Demme ("Blow," "A Lesson Before Dying") has proven inconclusive.

The 38-year-old filmmaker, a nephew of director Jonathan Demme, collapsed during a celebrity basketball game at the Crossroads School last Sunday. He was rushed to Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center in full cardiac arrest and pronounced dead 20 minutes later.

Investigators believe Demme died of natural causes, Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Scott Carrier said. But toxicology tests and further scrutiny of Demme's medical history, which could take up to six weeks, could provide a definitive answer.

TELEVISION

Zahn, Brown Address

CNN's 'Sexy' Ad

CNN's Paula Zahn, addressing a semiannual gathering of TV critics and reporters in Pasadena on Wednesday, called an in-house ad that touted her as "just a little sexy" a "gaffe" by the cable news network's promotion department. She sought to downplay the controversy it triggered, calling the short-lived ad "just one really bad promo that got on the air."

Fellow CNN anchor Aaron Brown also took shots at the promo for Zahn's "American Morning With Paula Zahn." "Dumb is dumb," he said. "But it's a misdemeanor dumb. It's not like we committed some journalistic gaffe."

'Sopranos' Among Writers Guild Nominees

Three episodes of HBO's "The Sopranos," two installments of NBC's "The West Wing" and an episode of CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" have been nominated by the Writers Guild of America as the best-written episodic drama of the 2000-2001 television season.

In the episodic comedy category, Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" and HBO's "Sex and the City" received two nominations each, with one apiece for CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" and Fox's "Titus." Winners will be announced March 2.

MUSIC

$20 Million More for San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony will receive an additional $20 million from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan, who last week announced they are pledging $100 million to the group--the largest single donation to a U.S. orchestra.

The additional money will go toward operating expenses that will tide the organization over until the endowment generates interest.

Jacobs said he hopes his contribution will help attract new musicians and a "very good" conductor to replace Jung-Ho Pak, whose contract expires this year. He also mentioned improving the concert hall and expanding educational outreach programs.

QUICK TAKES

The syndicated talk show "Iyanla," hosted by self-help author Iyanla Vanzant, has been canceled. Reruns will air through March.... Steven Spielberg will get the lifetime achievement award at the ShoWest convention for movie exhibitors on March 7.... In her first scheduling decision, newly appointed ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne is tabling "Once and Again" until March 4, when it will be moved from Fridays to Mondays at 10 p.m., a time slot in which it had run once before.... Music director Jeffrey Kahane has extended his contract with the L.A. Chamber Orchestra through the 2004-5 season.

Elaine Dutka

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