TELEVISION - May 24, 1994

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

Lansbury Recuperating: “Murder, She Wrote” star Angela Lansbury is recovering at her Los Angeles home after undergoing successful replacement surgery on her left hip last Wednesday--two days after completing scheduled filming of her top-rated drama. Lansbury’s surgeon, Dr. John R. Moreland, said the 68-year-old actress should be “fully prepared to resume filming” in August. “She is in marvelous health, and the surgery went without a hitch,” he said. “The transplant should eliminate any discomfort she has been experiencing.” Although Lansbury apparently planned the surgery several months in advance, a CBS spokeswoman said the operation came “much to our surprise.” But Lansbury and company already have a jump on the fall season, having completed four new episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” before going on hiatus.

* Houston’s Next Trophy--TV Ratings?: Singer Whitney Houston will headline the 25-minute pregame show for the World Cup ’94 soccer championship game at the Rose Bowl July 17. “As today’s top performer, Whitney is the perfect ambassador for the U.S. to welcome the world,” said a spokesman for Radio City Music Hall, the show’s producer. The performance and game are expected to be broadcast in more than 180 countries, with an anticipated audience of 2 billion. That could make Houston’s concert the most-watched TV performance in history.

* ‘Flintstones’ Promotion: Hanna-Barbera will attempt to break a Guinness Book World Record by rebroadcasting “The Flintstones” premiere episode, titled “The Flintstone Flyer,” in all 24 time zones on June 3. The program will air on Turner Entertainment Networks for a worldwide telecast via a global dual satellite feed reaching more than 67 countries and 80 million subscriber households. Hanna-Barbera also plans to show the cartoon on other international networks and non-traditional venues including airlines, cruise lines, major sporting venues and electronics stores.


* ‘Tom’s’ Second Chance?: Although CBS has officially canceled Tom Arnold’s low-rated series, “Tom,” the network now says it would consider bringing the show back as a midseason replacement in the unlikely event it brings in “great numbers” in the ratings when three remaining original episodes air next month. In nine outings this past season, “Tom” tied for 97th place among 129 network shows.


‘Twilight’ Wins Obie: Anna Deavere Smith’s “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” won the Obie Award for best play, announced Monday in New York. The Obies go to shows from New York’s Off- and Off-Off Broadway. “Twilight” qualified from its Off-Broadway run at the New York Public Theater. It later moved to Broadway, where it has been nominated for two Tonys. It was commissioned by L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum and premiered there last year. Another show that played the Taper before New York, Eric Bogosian’s “Pounding Nails in the Floor With My Forehead,” took one of the two Obies for playwriting, while the other went to a script that was initially commissioned--though not produced--by South Coast Repertory, Howard Korder’s “The Lights.”

* Conal Posters Challenged: Los Angeles “guerrilla artist” Robbie Conal is coming under fire once again for his politically themed street posters. “What we don’t need more of in Southern California is visual pollution and that’s what Conal’s posters are,” said L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who is calling for “appropriate jurisdictions” to fine Conal for his “latest act of illegally plastering posters on private and governmental property.” In 1988, Conal was fined $1,300 by the City of Los Angeles for putting his posters on public property. His latest poster--a depiction of Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) with the words “Nothing Personal,” and an inset of the late Richard Nixon, a dog and the words “Richard M. Nixon Memorial Pet Peeve Award Winner”--went up on the streets of L.A. and Orange counties over the last two weeks. On Monday, Conal explained the poster, saying: “Robert Dole’s tearful delivery of the eulogy at Nixon’s funeral . . . makes him the heir apparent to Nixon’s standard of smarmy political dishonesty.” Of Antonovich, he added: “Perhaps because he has no sense of humor about his profession (he) objects to public expression by people who don’t support his own obsolete position.”

* An Orchestrated Switch: The Orange County Chamber Orchestra announced Monday that Micah Levy, the orchestra’s founder and music director throughout its 11-year history, is leaving to pursue a musical arts doctorate. Levy will be replaced as music director and conductor by Diana Halprin, the orchestra’s concertmaster since 1987. Levy, who has been asked to return to conduct future concerts and will assume the new title of founder/music director emeritus, will study at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore as a doctor of musical arts candidate.


Barney the dinosaur, that purple TV hero of the preschool set, will make his feature film debut in Geffen Pictures’ “Barney: The Movie.” . . . Arsenio Hall, who winds up five years as a late-night talk-show host on Friday, continues a four-part interview about his most memorable “Arsenio Hall Show” moments on cable’s BET today through Thursday. The interviews, which also feature Hall’s comments on why he feels he let down the African American community, air at 3:30 p.m.