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Quick Takes

November 18, 2011

'Fela!' in for 'Funny Girl'

Faced with reshuffling the Ahmanson Theatre's season after its planned January start of a revival of "Funny Girl" fell through, Michael Ritchie, the artistic director of Center Theatre Group, has begun moving pieces around to fill the gap.

On Thursday, Ritchie bought himself time by jumping the touring production of "Fela!" ahead by a couple of slots. The musical, based on the life and Afrobeat music of the Nigerian pop star Fela Anikulapo Kuti, will now run Dec. 14-Jan. 22 (plus a Dec. 13 preview) instead of April 27-June 3.

"We are fortunate to be able to make this change," Ritchie said, noting that the producers of "Fela!," who include rap star Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, revised its tour schedule to help the Ahmanson out. Ritchie said further news about the season's revamping will come in the next few weeks.

—Mike Boehm

'Sherlock' and 'Abbey' renewed

There's good news for fans of Sherlock Holmes and "Downton Abbey": They're both coming back to PBS next year.

An abrupt season ending to "Downton Abbey" with several unanswered questions — including whether the show was even going to return — led to angry phone calls from many fans, said Paula Kerger, PBS president.

The first season was only four episodes. The second season, set during World War I, contains seven episodes and starts Jan. 8.

The "Masterpiece Mystery!" presentation of "Sherlock, Series 2" is set in 21st century London and will air in three episodes in May, PBS said.

Cultural programming for the spring includes a premiere of Anna Deavere Smith's play "Let Me Down Easy," a music special on Tony Bennett's duets album and Michael Feinstein's "American Songbook."

—Associated Press

New works for Salzburg Festival

The Salzburg Festival has commissioned operas from composers Gyorgy Kurtag, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Thomas Ades and Jorg Widmann that will premiere one per summer from 2013 to 2016.

The ambitious program of contemporary music was announced this week by new artistic director Alexander Pereira, who will oversee the Austrian festival for the first time next summer.

"Salzburg has to be adventurous," Pereira said of the commissions. He said it was too soon to announce casting.

—Associated Press

Philbin prepares for 'Live!' finale

Regis Philbin says his fans tell him he made them happy every morning.

But his decades of regular visits with viewers end Friday, when he steps down from the show he co-hosted for 28 years.

He told reporters after Thursday's edition of "Live! With Regis and Kelly" that he feels "pretty good." But he noted that he may not feel that good next week.

After Friday's sign-off, Philbin, 80, will embark on a book tour for his memoir, "How I Got This Way."

Jerry Seinfeld will join Kelly Ripa on Monday as the first of her series of guest co-hosts. A permanent replacement will be named later.

—Associated Press

Protest opera premieres in N.Y.

Just two nights after New York City police broke up the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan, a new opera about student protest movements around the world had its U.S. premiere uptown at Lincoln Center.

And as if to underscore the connection, the performance at the Juilliard School on Wednesday drew a small group of demonstrators who stood behind police barricades holding signs and chanting "Off the stage, into the streets!"

The opera is "Kommilitonen!" with music by the British composer Peter Maxwell Davies and libretto by David Pountney, who also directed. In a program note, Pountney said they took student activism as their subject because, when they set to work back in 2008, it seemed the phenomenon had vanished.

—Associated Press

Moore splits with Kutcher

Demi Moore is ending her marriage to fellow actor Ashton Kutcher, she said Thursday.

Moore, 49, and Kutcher, 33, were wed in September 2005.

The couple's relationship became tabloid fodder in recent months as rumors swirled about Kutcher's alleged infidelity.

"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have decided to end my six-year marriage to Ashton," Moore said. "As a woman, a mother and a wife there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life."

Kutcher tweeted Thursday: "Marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail."

—Associated Press

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