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Quick Takes: 'Hatfields & McCoys' shoots to No. 1

May 30, 2012

If "Hatfields & McCoys" is any indication, viewers just can't get enough of old-fashioned feudin'.

History's three-part miniseries about the 19th century Appalachian clan war broke records with its first installment Monday night, attracting 13.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

That made it the No. 1 non-sports telecast ever on an ad-supported cable network.

"Hatfields & McCoys," which stars Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as patriarchs whose grudge match spans generations, shot holes in the competition. The latest episode of NBC's "America's Got Talent" drew 10 million viewers, while ABC's "The Bachelorette" averaged just 5.8 million.

—Scott Collins

New 'Producers' for the Bowl

When the Mel Brooks movie-turned-blockbuster-musical "The Producers" takes the Hollywood Bowl stage this summer, "Modern Family's" Jesse Tyler Ferguson will play Leo Bloom and Richard Kind will be Max Bialystock, the schemers memorably played on Broadway and on film by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.

Scheduled for a weekend run of performances on July 27-29, "The Producers" will feature two actors from the original Broadway company: Tony Award-winner Gary Beach will reprise his role as director Roger De Bris and Roger Bart will return as his assistant, Carmen Ghia. Rounding out the Hollywood Bowl cast is Rebecca Romijn as the Swedish bombshell Ulla.

Susan Stroman, "The Producers'" director and choreographer, will fill the same roles for the Hollywood Bowl production.

—Chris Barton

Opera house's plea to ministry

Musicians from a Polish opera house performed Mozart's Requiem — a funeral piece — in front of the Culture Ministry in Warsaw on Tuesday to protest cuts to its budget.

The Chamber Opera's orchestra, choir and soloists performed to the hearty applause of hundreds of people. A large banner saying, "Minister, Only You Can Save the Chamber Opera," hung above the artists.

They handed a ministry official a letter signed by some 20,000 people asking Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski to secure funds for the opera. Otherwise, they said, the 50-year-old company will have to close in the summer.

There was no immediate reply from the ministry, which is instituting cuts as a broader government cost-reduction effort.

—Associated Press

Bourdain adds CNN to his plate

Anthony Bourdain, the globe-trotting chef and food pontificator, is joining CNN as a host and commentator on the things he knows best: food and travel.

Beginning in 2013, Bourdain will be bringing his food and travel expertise to a new weekly show for the cable news network. He'll also be appearing across CNN's programming, offering commentary.

Bourdain is joining the network to bolster its weekend programming. CNN has been experiencing a pronounced ratings slump, with the channel's April ratings down an average of 21% from the same month a year ago.

The Travel Channel, which Bourdain has called home in recent years, said new episodes of his series "No Reservations" and "The Layover" would continue running through 2013.

—Patrick Kevin Day

Italian opera fest debuts at Soka

A two-year effort to bring Italian opera to south Orange County will come to fruition Wednesday with the opening of the three-night Tuscia Operafestival at the Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo.

Organizers of the festival, an annual summer event in Viterbo, Italy, first announced in 2010 that they hoped to present a three-week festival that September at a harbor-front park in Dana Point. Logistical and funding problems ensued, and the focus shifted to Soka University, where a new 1,034-seat performing arts center opened last year.

Claudio Ferri, executive director of Tuscia Operafestival, said Tuesday that the budget for its inaugural visit to Orange County is $500,000, provided largely by sponsors in Italy. It's scaled down from the 12-day, $1.3-million event that organizers envisioned when they announced last June that Soka would be the venue.

The downscaling, he said, was due to time constraints related to preparations for the home festival in Viterbo, which opens in July.

Ferri said that Tuscia Operafestival aims to return to Soka next spring with a full production of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," using 3-D projections for scenery.

—Mike Boehm

Finally

Broadway bound: The musical "Hands on a Hardbody," which opened at the La Jolla Playhouse on May 12, will make the leap to Broadway for the 2012-13 season. It's based on a 1997 documentary about an unusual endurance contest staged by a Texas car dealership that offered a new pickup truck as the prize.

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