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Dmitry Medvedev helps honor Anton Chekhov

Russian playwright is feted on 150th anniversary of his birth.

January 30, 2010

Celebrating Chekhov

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev jetted Friday to Anton Chekhov's hometown of Taganrog in southern Russia to pay tribute to the country's most acclaimed playwright on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Clutching a bouquet of cream roses, the Kremlin chief said people can still learn from the dozens of Chekhov stories and plays, which enjoy an enduring universal appeal and have inspired other renowned writers, including James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

German director Peter Stein, in Moscow for the anniversary, said Chekhov was as important to theater as were Greek tragedy and Shakespeare. "These are the three basic columns of European theater. Shakespeare reinvented the Greeks for modern times and Chekhov for the 20th century," he said.

-- reuters Oprah's network buys movie

Oprah Winfrey was a player at Sundance.

OWN, the cable network she is launching next January in partnership with programming behemoth Discovery Communications, bought its first documentary at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

"Family Affair," written and produced by Chico David Colvard, tells how the filmmaker -- at age 10 -- shot his older sister in the leg. That random action, according to Colvard, shattered his family and exposed the abuse that his sisters suffered by their father. Thirty years after the shooting, Colvard visited with family members to document their pain, their resilience and "the nature of forgiveness." The film was also produced by Liz Garbus.

Executives at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network have been low-key about the strategy of the channel except to say it will feature inspirational programming with themes of empowerment. Plans for the channel include a monthly Winfrey-inspired feature called the Documentary Film Club. Last month, the channel entered a partnership with Ro*Co Films to identify documentaries for the channel.

OWN executives declined to say how much they paid for Colvard's documentary.

-- Meg James New telethon will help Haiti

Another telethon to benefit Haiti is in the works. Sean "Diddy" Combs, Queen Latifah and Pharrell are set to host a two-hour concert in Miami on Friday that will air on BET, MTV, VH1 and Centric.

The performers include Wyclef Jean, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Mary J. Blige, Drake, Justin Bieber, Keri Hilson, Robin Thicke and Monica.

The Haiti telethon that aired on dozens of networks Jan. 22 raised $66 million.

-- associated press L.A. theater may make 'Leap'

Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group says it is in talks to produce the world premiere of "Leap of Faith" at the Ahmanson.

The long-gestating stage musical is an adaptation of the 1992 film starring Steve Martin, Debra Winger and Liam Neeson. Oscar-winning songwriter Alan Menken has composed the score for the musical.

A spokeswoman for CTG said that a number of company leaders, including artistic director Michael Ritchie, attended a workshop production of "Leap of Faith" that was held earlier this month in New York.

"It is our intention to do it, but it is not set," said the spokeswoman. She added that if plans come together, the musical would possibly begin previews in the late summer with an opening in September.

-- David Ng Ke$ha to play Davis party

Ke$ha may have to forgo the beer for Champagne tonight. The annual music industry bash hosted by long-time executive and star-maker Clive Davis has booked the rising RCA dance party girl for its annual fete at the Beverly Hilton.

Other performers at the VIP event include crooner Harry Connick Jr., guitar god Carlos Santana, R&B singer Jennifer Hudson and Matchbox Twenty leader Rob Thomas.

Last year, the Davis party became an officially sanctioned Recording Academy event. Long seen as one of the industry's most in-demand pre-Grammy events, the bash won a reputation for showcasing artists who would receive a major push for Davis' Sony-affiliated labels. R&B belter Alicia Keys and British songstress Leona Lewis are among the artists who have performed at the party.

Ke$ha won't necessarily need any more hype. Her "TiK ToK," with the lyrics "Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer," has sold 3.2 million digital downloads, says Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Todd Martens Finally

Fond farewell: Conan O'Brien's final appearance as host of "The Tonight Show" on Jan. 22 attracted 10.3 million viewers, the largest audience he registered during his run of nearly eight months.

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