New Jazz Channel: Jazz lovers will soon get their own TV channel when cable’s BET, also known as Black Entertainment Television, launches a spinoff channel, “BET on Jazz: The Cable Jazz Channel.” Scheduled to begin airing in the fall of 1994, the new network will feature jazz-oriented programming including music videos, live in-studio performances, coverage of national and international jazz festivals, concerts and jazz clubs, as well as talk shows, documentaries and biographical features. Some blues programming also will be incorporated. BET says it hopes the Cable Jazz Channel will help “rekindle the interest and enthusiasm . . . in this indigenous art form and its many dynamic styles.”
Strike Support: Emmy-winning actor David Clennon, Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler and Gene Allen, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will speak at a rally today in support of striking crew members on the new CBS series “Harts of the West.” Actor Ed Asner is also expected at the Sable Ranch rally in Canyon Country. The strike began Sept. 13 to protest what the crew says are unfair labor practices on the show’s non-union set; 98% of crew members have requested union representation. Production was shut down at the strike’s beginning, but has since resumed with replacement workers.
New Season News: The seventh season premiere of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (starring Patrick Stewart) won its time period in Los Angeles Monday night, beating out season premieres of CBS’ “Murphy Brown” and “Love & War.” Trekkies in about 771,000 homes tuned in to watch the syndicated show on KCOP Channel 13, as opposed to 691,000 homes watching the network comedies. . . . NBC will rebroadcast the pilots of its new comedy series, “The Mommies” and “Cafe Americain,” on Friday from 10 to 11 p.m. The pilots, which originally aired on Saturday, will bump the late-summer series “Trade Winds” which was doing poorly in the ratings.
Infomercial Nods: Seems there really is an award for everything. The National Infomercial Marketing Assn. has announced nominees for its Second Annual Awards for Infomercial of the Year and best male and female presenters. Among the nominees, letter-turning host Vanna White, exercise queen Susan Powter, and former figure skating champion Peggy Fleming.
Willie’s Second Hall of Fame: Willie Nelson has been named the Country Music Assn.'s 1993 Hall of Fame Award winner. He will be inducted into the Hall next Wednesday during “The 27th Annual CMA Awards” which air on CBS. Nelson is already a member of the Nashville Songwriter’s Assn. International Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. His other honors include eight CMA Awards, five Grammys and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ Governor’s Award.
Tracking Arts Funds: For those wondering where to find local arts dollars, the Los Angeles County Music and Performing Arts Commission has the answers. In a just-completed study analyzing the arts infrastructure in 81 county cities, the study found that 55 cities actively fund the arts, with 14 of those cities spending more than $250,000 and having at least one full-time cultural staff person. In fact, the City of Los Angeles’ much-heralded Cultural Affairs Department, which had a $12-million budget last year including $3 million in arts grants, accounts for less than half of the county’s municipal arts funding, with other cities spending a total of about $14 million. Other stats: the county has 34 civic art venues, 13 cities administer grant programs and 20 offer public art programs (11 are funded by “percent for art” fees). Laura Zucker, the commission’s executive director, says the study will help to develop arts programs in even more cities.
Hearing Set: A Los Angeles Municipal Court has ordered an evaluation to determine whether actor James Farentino, charged with threatening ex-girlfriend Tina Sinatra, is eligible for a domestic violence diversion program. If eligible, he would undergo extensive counseling while avoiding jail or other confinement and would emerge from the incident with no criminal conviction.
Country music star Clint Black has joined the cast of “Maverick,” the upcoming Western film starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner. It will be Black’s big screen debut. . . . Parker Stevenson moves in to Fox’s “Melrose Place” for six episodes starting Oct. 20. He plays an “entrepreneur” who sets his sights on Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith). . . . Maria Shriver gave birth to a 9-pound baby boy over the weekend, the first son and third child for the NBC News correspondent and her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger. . . . Polly Jean Harvey, lead singer of the critically acclaimed rock group PJ Harvey, will perform a solo acoustic set live at 11:15 a.m. Thursday on KCRW’s (89.9 FM) “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” . . . George Weissman, 74, chairman of New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts since 1986, will resign from his post in June to become chairman emeritus.