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MOVIES’Clear’ Winner: Large audiences are plunking down...

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

MOVIES

‘Clear’ Winner: Large audiences are plunking down their money for Harrison Ford’s new action movie, “Clear and Present Danger,” which opened Wednesday on 2,324 screens. Distributor Paramount Pictures on Thursday said the film made more than $4.6 million its first day in national release, making it the second largest Wednesday opening ever for a non-sequel film. The biggest remains Paramount’s “The Firm,” starring Tom Cruise, which last summer grossed $7.2 million on its first day. Based on Wednesday’s numbers, along with the wide appeal of Ford and author Tom Clancy, upon whose best-selling novel the film is based, the film is expected to dominate this weekend’s moviegoing scene.

* Loverly Release: A fully restored version of “My Fair Lady,” the George Cukor classic that won the 1964 best picture Oscar, will be released in selected Los Angeles and New York theaters Sept. 16. The film, which stars Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, won eight Academy Awards, including best actor for Rex Harrison and best score for Andre Previn. The film was restored by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, who did similar work on “Spartacus” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film will appear in limited release in at least 15 major cities sometime in September. It is due to be released on CBS-Fox Video in October; an accompanying documentary is planned.

TELEVISION

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Emmy No. 1: ABC’s “NYPD Blue” got word on Thursday that it had won the first of what may be several Emmy Awards when it was cited for outstanding achievement in casting. HBO’s “And the Band Played On” will also receive a casting Emmy. Both awards will be presented in Pasadena on Sept. 10, the night before the televised Emmy Awards.

* College on TV: PBS on Thursday launched “Ready to Earn,” a national educational initiative aimed at “enhancing Americans’ career opportunities and strengthening work force competitiveness.” Announced jointly by PBS President Ervin Duggan and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Thomas P. Glynn, the adult educational programming will piggyback on PBS’ existing children’s initiative, “Ready to Learn.” The first “Ready to Earn” effort will be “Going the Distance,” a telecourse allowing students to earn an associate of arts degree from local colleges.

* Local Reality: KCAL-TV Channel 9 on Monday debuts “Special Access,” billed as “L.A.'s first-ever, locally produced reality show.” Hosted by Dave Forman, a former news and programming director at KFWB radio, the 5:30-6 p.m. program focuses on subjects including “The Real Baywatch” (about California lifeguards), “Border Wars” (insights on border patrols in the United States and Mexico and the motivations of illegal immigrants) and a local SWAT team.

LEGAL FILE

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Call It Square: Country singer Willie Nelson has settled his tax bill, which once ballooned to $32 million, for $16.7 million after 14 years of negotiations. To help pay the debt, the IRS auctioned some of his properties and Nelson made an album called “Who’ll Buy My Memories: The IRS Tapes.”

* Snipes Fined: Actor Wesley Snipes pleaded no contest Wednesday to a reckless driving charge for leading Florida police on a 120-m.p.h. chase on his motorcycle before he crashed. Snipes was sentenced to 80 hours of community service, $7,100 in fines and court costs, and six months’ probation.

QUICK TAKES

City parks commissioners have renamed Pacoima’s Paxton Recreation Center after “La Bamba” singer Ritchie Valens, who grew up in that working-class community. Valens died in a plane crash with Buddy Holly in 1959. . . . Actor LeVar Burton (“Roots,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) will join the cast of CBS’ “Christy” this fall, appearing with stars Kellie Martin and Tyne Daly. Burton plays the first African American to come to the town of Cutter Gap. . . . Actor Gary Sinise has received the Disabled American Veterans National Commander’s Award for his portrayal of a combat-injured double amputee in the movie “Forrest Gump.” . . . Los Angeles songwriter Jamie James has sued country singer Dwight Yoakam in U.S. District Court, claiming that parts of a song he composed--the Kingbees’ 1979 release “My Mistake"--were incorporated into Yoakam’s tune “Fast as You,” from the album “This Time.”

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