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

Dogged With New Charges: Rapper and murder suspect Snoop Doggy Dogg pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles court Friday to new charges of conspiracy and accessory after the fact. The controversial Long Beach hip-hop star, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, already faces murder charges along with co-defendants Sean Abrams and bodyguard McKinley Lee, stemming from an Aug. 25 shooting in the Palms area of West Los Angeles. The rapper acknowledges driving the vehicle from which Lee shot Philip Woldermariam, but claims the action was in self-defense. The new charges dispute that contention, accusing all three men of conspiring to commit the assault with a firearm. In addition, Broadus has been charged with accessory, in relation to the disappearance of the Jeep after the alleged attack. The murder trial is not expected to convene before October.


Music Center Cutbacks: As part of what President Shelton g. Stanfill calls a “de-centralization of fund-raising,” the Los Angeles Music Center--the fund-raising arm for the center’s resident performing arts companies (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, the Master Chorale)--has laid off one executive and three support staffers. Stanfill said that vice president of marketing and communications Larry Steven Londre and the lower-level employees were let go not only to save money, but as part of the Music Center’s on-going attempt to focus more on fund-raising, rather than on marketing. Stanfill added that the Music Center’s various volunteer support groups will now report directly to the resident companies, so the Music Center no longer needs a staffer to oversee those groups. Stanfill said that the vice president of development position formerly held by Susan Pearce--who resigned several weeks ago to take a position with a marketing consultant firm--will eventually be filled by one new executive who will handle both development and marketing.


Button-Down Bob: Bob Newhart, who began his career as a stand-up comedian in the late 1950s, is going back to his comedic roots after doing TV sitcoms for two decades. “I guess a lot of people don’t know that I did stand-up for about 12 years,” Newhart told the Boston Globe. “It’s a totally different type of discipline from TV. You have the freedom to go off in different directions.” Though he enjoys performing, this may be his last big tour because he wants to spend more time traveling with his family and playing golf.



New Series: Cable’s USA Network has ordered 18 hourlong episodes of “TekWar,” a new futuristic series based on novels penned by William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame. Shatner will serve as executive producer and will also guest star in several episodes. Greg Evigan, who starred in the “TekWar” movies, will headline the series set to premiere in January. USA also has acquired the rights to the four “TekWar” movies that were distributed in syndication this year.


Remembering a Playwright: A memorial tribute to playwright Robert E. Lee will be held Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the James A. Doolittle Theatre, 1615 N. Vine St., in Hollywood. The tribute is open to the public and seating is unreserved. Lee, who died July 8, at age 75, co-wrote numerous plays for the stage, radio and screen, including “Inherit the Wind” and “Auntie Mame.” Scheduled to participate in the remembrance are collaborator Jerome Lawrence, Jerry Herman, Gordon Davidson, Charles Champlin, Nina Foch, Eva Marie Saint, Hal Holbrook and Lee’s two children, Jonathan and Lucy.


Spoonin’: Israeli psychic Uri Geller, best known for his feats of spoon bending and watch stopping, has now twisted his mind toward art. Geller has covered his cherished shiny black 1976 Cadillac with 5,000 pieces of contorted cutlery, some of which Geller said he bent with brain power. The artwork, he says, is a symbol of peace, particularly in the turbulent Middle East. “One morning I woke up and I had this vision of my Cadillac riddled with bent spoons and forks,” said the 48-year-old Geller. The word peace is carved into some spoons in several languages, including Arabic and Hebrew. The car will be parked at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for two months.


Jim Carrey’s much-anticipated new film, “The Mask,” raked in $1.8 million on 1,549 screens during a nationwide sneak preview Thursday evening. The comedy officially opened Friday on 2,360 screens . . .The House of Blues has opened its doors to the Red Cross in order to help raise funds for the humanitarian efforts in Rwanda. Each House of Blues location--Cambridge, Mass.; New Orleans and L.A.--will set up information and collection booths for the Red Cross . . .Jackson Brown and John Hiatt also have dedicated a portion of their Aug. 27 concert at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre to victims of the civil war in Rwanda.