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Morning Report

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

June 01, 2002|Elaine Dutka

POP/ROCK

Franklin Rebuts Tabloid in Defamation Suit

Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin is suing the Star tabloid magazine, alleging defamation over a story that said the singer has a drinking problem that's threatening her life and career.

"The lawsuit is a rebuttal that everything in the article is false," said Franklin's lead attorney, Barry B. Langberg of Los Angeles. "Literally millions of people read that garbage."

The Star story, published in December 2000, quotes unidentified "insiders" and "pals" of Franklin who claimed to be worried about the 60-year-old singer's drinking. They said it had led to her canceling performances.

Franklin's suit, filed in federal court in Albuquerque, names as defendants American Media Inc., American Media Operations Inc., Star Editorial Inc. and the author of the story. Richard Valvo, senior vice president of corporate communications for American Media Inc., declined to comment.

MOVIES

In Hollywood, Politics Is a Hot Potato, Poll Finds

More than three in four Americans disapprove of Academy Award presenters and winners injecting social issues into the annual awards show, and nearly one in two say they'd try to avoid paying for a film starring an outspoken actor with whom they disagree.

Those are the findings of a poll conducted for the Hollywood Reporter and published in the trade paper Friday. The survey was done by the firm E-Poll, which sampled 1,041 adult Americans of all political persuasions in March.

Charlton Heston topped the list of celebrities most admired for their public political stances with 11%, followed by Rosie O'Donnell (8.7%), Arnold Schwarzenegger (7.7%), Oprah Winfrey and Bono--the last two tied at 4.4%. Because both Republicans and Democrats were part of the mix, two of them also made the "least admired" list: Heston (10.8%) and O'Donnell (9.2%). The latter list was headed by Jane Fonda (11.8%).

TELEVISION

Donaldson to Become a 'Nightline' Regular?

Sam Donaldson has been approached by "Nightline" to become a contributor--most likely for its new midnight edition to premiere in early July, ABC sources say.

The ABC news veteran, whom the network is replacing as co-anchor of "This Week" this summer, is not expected to become a full-time "Nightline" correspondent or anchor but would be part of a beefed-up staff when the show expands to an hour. That extra half-hour will replace "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher" until Jimmy Kimmel's new late-night show premieres in January.

The network is said to have picked former Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos as solo anchor of "This Week" after Donaldson and Cokie Roberts leave.

THE ARTS

Philanthropy Fuels Chicago Museum

A collection of 41 drawings, watercolors and monotypes by Postimpressionist Paul Gauguin has been donated to the new study center for prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Institute officials also confirmed a previous gift of more than 90 Renaissance and Baroque drawings, including works by Raphael, Titian and Tintoretto, from Chicago collectors Jean and Steven Goldman.

Though the financial value of the gifts was not divulged, professional estimates range between $5 million and $10 million for the Gauguins alone--which were donated by Art Institute trustee Edward McCormick Blair Sr. His collection is considered to be the largest single gift of the artist's works on paper to an American museum and will form the centerpiece of an exhibit next year marking the centenary of Gauguin's death.

The institute--owner of such high-profile pieces as Edward Hopper's "Nightthawks" and Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte"--already has an international reputation. The new gifts are expected to provide increased visibility for its 80,000 prints and drawings.

QUICK TAKES

Nora Ephron will direct an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's 1993 novel, "Desert Rose"--a mother/daughter story set in Las Vegas--for Columbia Pictures, Variety reports.... "Contact," Susan Stroman's critically acclaimed dance-play, will close Sept. 1 after 1,174 performances--the longest run ever for a Lincoln Center Theater production.... Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia and Liev Schreiber will star in Showtime's "The Yeltsin Project," the true story of a trio of elite American political consultants secretly hired by Russian businessmen to manage Russian President Boris Yeltsin's successful 1996 presidential bid.... The Los Angeles Press Club is honoring KTLA's Warren Wilson, one of the first African American broadcasters in Southern California, with the Joseph M. Quinn Award for Journalistic Excellence and Distinction at a dinner at Le Meridien Hotel on June 22.... NBC has scheduled "Dog Eat Dog," a 13-week series that mixes trivia and stunts, to run at 9 p.m. Mondays after "Fear Factor," starting June 17.

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