* An American in Venice: Steven Spielberg will receive a Golden Lion career award at the 50th Venice Film Festival, even though his worldwide blockbuster “Jurassic Park,” which has its Italian premiere next week, is not in the festival’s competition. The heavy U.S. presence at the festival has angered many in the Italian film world, but festival director Gillo Pontecorvo said Tuesday that commercial American films were needed to “pull the crowds.” A screening of Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence” inaugurated the festival Tuesday evening, and other American films to be screened at the 12-day event include “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “Boxing Helena,” “Snake Eyes,” “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” “Short Cuts,” “Bronx Tale,” “The Fugitive,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Posse,” “In the Line of Fire” and “Dave.”
* Sitting on Conan’s Couch: Newcomer Conan O’Brien has lined up his first week’s guests for the new “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” show, which premieres on NBC Sept. 13. Opening night visitors are “Rose-anne” star John Goodman and actress Drew Barrymore. Rounding out the week’s guests are the musical group Radiohead, Mary Matalin of CNBC’s “Equal Time,” actress Mercedes Ruehl, actor Dylan McDermott and singer Jonathan Richman. . . . In other late-night news, “The Chevy Chase Show’s” elaborate set will include miniature replicas of 20 Los Angeles buildings, including such landmarks as Capitol Records (in a 15-foot-high model), Mann’s Chinese Theater (12 feet high) and Crossroads of the World (10 feet high).
* Cable, Fox Style: Fox says its upcoming cable network, FX, will be an “innovative, anti-couch-potato, general entertainment network” featuring “an enormous amount of live programming” and interactive elements. The new network is scheduled to debut March 1. The only specific programming announced so far is a live “breakfast show” highlighted by viewer phone calls and faxes. FX Chairman Anne Sweeney said the network has 10 other shows in development, but declined to give specifics. FX currently has commitments from 13 multi-system cable operators serving approximately 19 million homes.
* Sutherland Films His Story: Former hostage Thomas Sutherland, who was kidnaped eight years ago by pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim extremists, returned to Beirut this week with NBC and British Broadcasting Corp. television crews to shoot a film about his captivity. Among the first reported stops for Sutherland, the first former U.S. hostage to revisit the city, was a visit to the American University of Beirut, where he was dean of agriculture when he was abducted from the campus in 1985.
* Rock Against Rape: Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano will perform an acoustic set and Exene Cervenka of X will do a spoken-word performance at Club Lingerie Wednesday night in a “Rock Against Rape” benefit sponsored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Also on the bill are 7 Year Bitch, Pinching Judy and others to be announced. The event benefits First Strike Rape Prevention, which promotes education and empowerment through self-defense.
* Danish Master: Danish international ballet star Peter Schaufuss, 44, has been appointed to a seven-year term as the head of the Royal Danish Ballet, one of the world’s great classical companies. He begins full-time duties as ballet master in Copenhagen next summer, although he will leave Berlin’s Deutsche Oper ballet, which he currently heads, on Jan. 1. Schaufuss will continue to dance as a guest with other companies but says he has no plans to dance with the Danish company. He succeeds Frank Andersen.
* Film Score Farewell: John Williams, who is retiring later this year as conductor of the Boston Pops, chose to conduct his own works--including the film scores from “Star Wars,” “E.T.” and “JFK"--during his final concert at Massachusetts’ Tanglewood Music Festival Tuesday. Williams, 61, has conducted the Pops since 1980 and plans to devote more time to composing. His current project is the score for Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.”
* Chris Rock, a member of the “Saturday Night Live” troupe, is leaving the show to be a “special guest star” on Fox’s “In Living Color.” Rock, who co-wrote and starred in “CB4" this year, will appear in as many as six shows this season. . . . A rare Fernand Leger bronze sculpture stolen last week from Maui’s Grand Wailea Resort has been recovered by the FBI. The museum-quality sculpture was found in a Maui condominium where members of a Canadian rugby team had reportedly left the sculpture as a gift for a female resident, saying they’d bought it at a bazaar for $25.