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Morning Report

October 03, 2002|Lee Margulies

THE ARTS

S.F. Opera in the Red to Tune of $7.7 Million

On stage, the San Francisco Opera has covered itself in glory lately, with critics nationwide glowing over its production of "Saint Francois d'Assise." But backstage, the red ink has been rising.

Opera officials this week disclosed that for the fiscal year ended July 31, the company spent $7.7 million more than it took in. That deficit amounts to the organization's worst financial performance in more than a decade, and a striking turnaround for a company that was reporting a balanced budget as recently as July 2001.

Board President Karl O. Mills has blamed the weakened economy for the funding shortfall--specifically, declines in ticket sales and contributions to the company, whose annual operating budget is roughly $60 million. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Connell Nielsen said the organization, which instituted a hiring freeze and tightened spending late last year, would use $7 million in unrestricted funds from its $44-million endowment to maintain cash flow in the short term, and in the longer term might consider higher ticket prices or further spending reductions.

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TELEVISION

Rapper Cut From Film; Activist Takes Credit

Rapper Snoop Dogg has been edited out of an upcoming Muppets TV movie, and an African American activist is taking credit for the removal.

Najee Ali, head of Los Angeles-based Project Islamic Hope, said he pressured the Jim Henson Co. to take Snoop Dogg out of NBC's "A Very Merry Muppet Christmas" because of the rapper's pro-drug persona and his involvement with several pornographic video projects.

Henson executives said that the editing of Snoop Dogg's appearance had nothing to do with Ali's protest. "As commonly occurs during this stage of production, we have had to cut several scenes originally planned for the movie which did not advance its story line," the company said in a statement.

Insiders familiar with the Henson Co. acknowledged that although Snoop Dogg's footage would have been cut because the movie was running long, executives were also concerned about information they learned recently that the rapper is planning to release another triple X-rated video this fall.

CNN Memo Touts Use of Hip-Hop Lingo

Hoping to attract younger viewers, CNN Headline News apparently will soon be using hip-hop slang in its news crawls.

"In an effort to be sure we are as cutting edge as possible with our on-screen persona, please refer to this slang dictionary when looking for just the right phrase," says a memo to some production personnel that was obtained by the New York Daily News.

Among the approved slang: "jimmy hat" for condom and "fly" for sexually attractive.

ABC's New Tuesday Lineup Holds Its Own

ABC's comedy block delivered a solid ratings performance Tuesday night, according to Nielsen Media Research viewing estimates.

With Fox's "That '70s Show" preempted by baseball, ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenager Daughter" improved over the previous week, to 13.4 million viewers, easily surpassing NBC's "In-Laws" in its time slot and finishing just behind CBS' "JAG." Another ABC newcomer, "Life With Bonnie," averaged more than 11 million viewers, compared with 14.5 million watching NBC's long-running "Frasier" at 9 p.m.

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