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TELEVISIONSawyer Stays at ABC: After a highly...

<i> Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press</i>

TELEVISION

Sawyer Stays at ABC: After a highly publicized bidding war for her journalistic services, Diane Sawyer has decided to remain at ABC News, the network she has worked for since early 1989. Sawyer will continue as co-anchor of “PrimeTime Live” and will be co-anchor with Barbara Walters on “Turning Point,” the new ABC newsmagazine. In addition, Sawyer will contribute to “Day One,” another ABC newsmagazine. Sources say she will receive $5 million a year for five years. NBC, CBS and Fox all had bid for Sawyer, who had recently been expected to remain with ABC.

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Coming on NBC: NBC on Wednesday announced a slate of new programming, including an hourlong drama, “Winnetka Road,” which premieres March 12 at 10 p.m. The series focuses on the relationships among an ensemble cast--including Ed Begley Jr., Meg Tilly, Josh Brolin, Paige Turco and Megan Ward--whose roots are predominantly in the “townies,” the subculture of working people in a wealthy Midwestern suburb. The program temporarily displaces “Sisters,” which is scheduled to return April 23. “Winnetka Road” is co-executive produced by Aaron Spelling, who will be honored March 19 with a Media Award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Los Angeles for his inclusion of gay characters and themes in such programs as “Dynasty” and “Melrose Place.” . . . In April, the network will air “Then There Were Giants,” a four-hour miniseries depicting the relationship among the Allied leaders during World War II. John Lithgow stars as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bob Hoskins plays Winston Churchill and Michael Caine tackles the role of Josef Stalin. . . . The network has given a seven-episode order to “Roger and Me” director Michael Moore’s one-hour comedic news magazine “TV Nation” for broadcast later this year. . . . And a one-hour special, “Shattered Glory: The Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Story,” featuring interviews with both skaters, airs this Sunday at 7 p.m.

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MOVIES

Spielberg Watch: Steven Spielberg, speaking in Vienna Wednesday at the European continental premiere of “Schindler’s List,” ended speculation as to how he would follow a year that has brought him not only the year’s most critically acclaimed film with “Schindler’s List’s” 12 Oscar nominations, but also the biggest box-office success of all time with “Jurassic Park.” “I’m taking a year off or more to be with my family . . . I don’t want to follow it with something I don’t have my heart into,” Spielberg said, noting that the break would be his first in 20 years of filmmaking.

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Spielberg, Part II: Spielberg’s success this year apparently doesn’t much have pull in Sweden, where the national Censorship Board has prohibited viewing of “Schindler’s List” for Swedes under 15. The board ruled that the Holocaust-themed film could cause “psychological damage” in kids because it “features a large amount of scenes with gross violence (including) close-ups of executions, threats, horror and degradation of people.”

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Sheen’s Activism: Actor Martin Sheen was among 20 anti-war activists who disrupted the federal court trial of veteran peace activist Philip Berrigan in North Carolina on Tuesday by turning their backs to the judge, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and singing “We Shall Overcome.” Berrigan and three others are charged with pouring blood over and hammering on an Air Force jet. Sheen, 53, left when the judge, who later declared a mistrial, threatened to hold the demonstrators in contempt.

POP/ROCK

Braxton Takes No. 1: Boosted by her high-profile success last week with double wins on the American Music Awards and a guest stint on TV’s “Roc,” soul diva Toni Braxton’s self-titled album jumped to the top of the nation’s pop chart, selling more than 104,000 copies last week. That’s a 22% sales leap over the previous week for Braxton, whose album has sold more than 2 million copies since its release eight months ago. Whitney Houston’s sweep at the televised awards broadcast also helped push sales of her “Bodyguard” soundtrack album to 76,000 copies--nearly double the previous week’s sales--moving it up to No. 11 on the chart.

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QUICK TAKES

Janet Jackson, Dolly Parton and James Ingram have been added to the March 21 Oscar show to perform the Academy Award-nominated songs they recorded. Jackson will perform “Again” from “Poetic Justice,” Parton and Ingram will sing “The Day I Fall in Love” from “Beethoven’s 2nd.” . . . Parton, meanwhile, is forming her own record company, modeled on United Artists Corp., which Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and director D. W. Griffith founded 75 years ago in a quest for creative control. The new “artist-driven” label will be called Blue I. . . . The ‘70s pop group the Bee Gees canceled a planned European tour because singer Barry Gibb faced tests for heart problems.

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Quick Takes, Part II: Frank Sinatra will make a rare television appearance when he receives a Grammy Legend Award during the annual Grammy show on CBS March 1. U2’s Bono will present the award. . . . Marisa Tomei and Anjelica Huston are set to star in the Samuel Goldwyn Co.'s “The Perez Family,” a bittersweet romantic comedy set in Miami’s Cuban community. Mira Nair (“Mississippi Masala,” “Salaam Bombay”) will direct. . . . CBS’ “Traps,” a drama starring George C. Scott and Dan Cortese, debuts March 31, not this Thursday as previously reported.

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