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PEOPLE WATCH

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

Court Woes: Rapper Tupac Shakur, wearing a blue county jail jumpsuit and handcuffs, pleaded innocent Wednesday to felony charges of carrying a concealed handgun. The plea came a day after he began serving a 15-day county jail term for attacking director Allen Hughes on a music video set. Wednesday’s court appearance stemmed from the rapper’s April 30 arrest in Hollywood in which police said they found a concealed 9mm semiautomatic handgun under a car seat occupied by the rapper. That charge, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in state prison, was filed as a felony because Shakur had a previous weapons conviction. Shakur, 22, who co-starred with Janet Jackson in the film “Poetic Justice,” also faces two probation violation charges filed last week that carry a potential sentence of 18 months in county jail. In the Hughes assault and battery case, Shakur must follow his 15 days in jail with another 15 on a Caltrans work crew, then 30 days of community service. The rapper also faces two assault cases in Atlanta and sexual assault and weapons charges in New York.

* Sales Talk: Riding the crest of last week’s Academy of Country Music Awards, performers on the NBC-TV show saw substantial sales gains at record retail outlets across the nation. Co-host Reba McEntire’s “Read My Mind” album sold about 120,000 units last week to finish in the No. 2 position on the nation’s pop chart--just behind country newcomer Tim McGraw’s “Not a Moment Too Soon,” which sold about 133,000 copies. Sales for co-host Alan Jackson’s “A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ‘Bout Love)” doubled from the previous week to rank No. 44, with 25,000 units sold. Garth Brooks’ “In Pieces” also shot from No. 62 to No. 34, selling 29,000 units. . . . In other country music news, singer Billy Ray Cyrus and his wife Leticia have a new baby boy. Braison Chance Cyrus was born Monday at Nashville’s Baptist Hospital.

* It’s Over: Only hours after her publicist said she was happily married, actress Drew Barrymore filed papers in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday to end her marriage to British bar owner Jeremy Thomas. Barrymore, 19, and Thomas, 31, were married March 20 and separated April 19, according to the petition. Barrymore, the former child star of “E.T.,” currently appears in the movie “Bad Girls.”

ART

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‘Scream’ in Place: Edvard Munch’s masterpiece, “The Scream,” was returned to its place at the National Art Museum in Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday after nearly three months in the hands of thieves. Norway’s most famous painting, recovered Saturday, was stolen from the museum Feb. 12. Two thieves climbed a ladder, broke a second-floor window and climbed in to grab the painting. The 1893 work, which on Wednesday was hung away from windows in an alcove on the more secure first floor, shows a waif-like figure standing on a bridge with his hands over his ears and his mouth open in a scream.

* Auction Blues: An early 20th-Century painting by Maurice de Vlaminck fetched $6.8 million at Christie’s Tuesday night, easily topping its $3-million to $4-million pre-sale estimate and becoming the top seller in an otherwise disastrous showing. Although the bidding started out heavy, taking in $17.8 million on the first seven works, the New York auction of Impressionist and modern art soon turned slow, with only 38 of the 76 lots offered finding buyers. That 50% sale rate is astoundingly low by conventional standards, and among those pieces that didn’t sell were important works by Monet, Leger, Modigliani, Miro and Cezanne. Christie’s Chairman Christopher Burge called the sale the most “disappointing show” since 1981. In all, the sale brought in $50.7 million, far short of Christie’s pre-sale estimate of $89 million to $119 million.

TELEVISION

Leveling Off: David Letterman, who is broadcasting his late-night CBS comedy show from Los Angeles this week, apparently wore out his welcome with 65,000 Southern Californians after one night. His Los Angeles ratings dropped 16% Tuesday from the night before, from 400,512 homes to 335,428. Still, that was well above the 205,262 homes that “Late Show” had been averaging, and far ahead of the 195,249 homes that tuned in Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday. “The Tonight Show” had been seen in 165,211 homes Monday.

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* Entertainment Battle Date Set: Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has changed the name of its new entertainment news program from “Entertainment News Television” to “EXTRA--The Entertainment Magazine.” On Sept. 5, the syndicated “EXTRA” will replace “Entertainment Tonight” locally on KNBC-TV Channel 4, with “E.T.” moving over to KCBS-TV Channel 2. Although Warner Bros. reportedly won a court battle with cable network E! Entertainment Television, which felt “ENT” was a copyright infringement on E!, Warner Bros. changed the name anyway to avoid confusion with the competition, including “E.T.” Warner Bros. also announced that its series, “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” and “Babylon 5,” which air locally on KCOP Channel 13, will return in November for new seasons. “Time Trax” will not.


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