TELEVISIONLooking at the World: National Geographic's acclaimed...

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Looking at the World: National Geographic's acclaimed hourlong documentary specials--which have aired on PBS for 20 years--will return to network TV in January with five prime-time shows a year on NBC. Meanwhile, PBS, which previously presented four one-hour shows each year, will switch to longer National Geographic productions, tentatively titled "National Geographic Horizons." Two programs will air in the 1994-95 season--"China Beyond the Clouds," a four-hour film about the people of southwestern China, and "The Great Indian Railway," a two-hour show illuminating that nation's rich cultural and geographic diversity.


House Rap Hearing Held: The recording industry fought against a rating system for rap lyrics on Thursday, telling a House subcommittee in Washington that a voluntary advisory label already alerts parents to lyrics emphasizing sex, violence or drugs. "Virtually every recording that has been the target of public controversy . . . has a voluntary parental advisory on its cover," Recording Industry Assn. of America president Hilary Rosen told the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection. Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.) called for the hearings to debate the effects of the violent, anti-women theme of many rap recordings. Thursday's session followed a similar February hearing, which Collins said had made the recording industry more willing to help and made more women express their dislike of derogatory references in rap lyrics. Lawmakers have said they don't want to censor rap, but they question whether the current voluntary warning labels--which read "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics"--are sufficient.


Togetherness: Hoping to dispel lingering rumors about trouble in their marriage, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford have taken out a full-page ad in today's Times of London that reportedly proclaims "reports of a divorce are totally false" and "we look forward to having a family." The couple's spokeswoman said that the ad, which blames rumors of their split on a French tabloid, would run only in the London newspaper. She refused to discuss its content, however, except to say that it is a "very carefully worded statement" and that the couple wants it to "stand on its own."


Slow Auction Start: The annual art auction season got off to a shaky start in New York this week, with several top lots at both Christie's and Sotheby's failing to find buyers. Sotheby's had the better response, ringing up more than $20 million in a Wednesday night sale that set a record for artist David Smith, whose large stainless steel sculpture "Cubi V" went for $4 million, twice the pre-sale estimate. But the evening's total take was still $10 million below the presale estimate, and 18 of the 63 works offered didn't sell, including a Jasper Johns painting that was expected to bring $7.5 million. At rival auction house Christie's, a disappointing Tuesday night sale brought in just $12.5 million ($19 million-$25 million had been expected), with only 44 of 76 lots sold. The night's top seller was a Jackson Pollock that fetched $1.76 million--well below the $2 million-$3 million presale estimate.


Documentary Focus: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the International Documentary Assn. are uniting to provide a one-stop center for the collection, preservation and study of documentary filmmaking at the Academy's Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills. The new facility was to be officially opened during a ceremony at the site Thursday night, at which director Steven Spielberg was scheduled to present academy president Arthur Hiller and IDA president Mel Stuart with a copy of the BBC documentary "Schindler," which Spielberg used in preparation for his feature film "Schindler's List."


Talk-show host Jay Leno guests on the May 15 edition of NBC's "Meet the Press"--the Sunday morning program usually devoted to statesmen and politicians. . . . Actress Meredith Baxter won a special award this week from the National Breast Cancer Coalition for "raising public awareness . . . on the subject of breast cancer." Her TV movie "My Breast" airs on CBS May 15. . . . Death Row Records CEO Marion (Suge) Knight will host a Mother's Day brunch open to all single mothers and their children on Sunday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel from noon to 3 p.m. Knight, whose record roster includes top rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, promises live entertainment and "surprises."

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