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

Paramount Leaders: This weekend’s box-office race ended in an apparent tie for first place between “Forrest Gump” and “Clear and Present Danger.” The two Paramount films each earned about $11.2 million at the box office, according to early industry estimates. New Line’s “The Mask” took third place with $7.3 million. In fourth, Disney’s “Color of Night” starring Bruce Willis, which opened to negative reviews, drew a disappointing $6.6 million. And at No. 5 was 20th Century Fox’s “True Lies” with $5.1 million. New Line’s “Corrina, Corrina” played well in limited release. The movie starring Whoopi Goldberg averaged $10,000 per screen in 22 theaters. The weekend also brought some good news for Disney: The company broke the box-office summer record for a single studio with a total $400-million gross, beating the $393-million record set by Warner Bros. during the summer of 1989. The success of “The Lion King” helped with the lion’s share of Disney’s summer take--the movie hit the $250-million mark this weekend, surpassing Warners’ “Batman” to become the seventh most successful domestic movie ever.

Penn Inks Deal: Sean Penn has signed a deal with Miramax Films to write, direct and produce movies. The three-year, exclusive first-look agreement was announced by Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein. The new relationship builds on Penn’s current project for Miramax, “The Crossing Guard,” which stars Jack Nicholson, Robin Wright and Anjelica Huston. The film, about two men whose lives collide, is currently in post-production and is set to be released later this year.

Jaded: David Caruso, who’s leaving the hit ABC show “NYPD Blue,” reportedly has signed a $2-million deal to star in the Paramount movie “Jade.” Caruso will begin working on the film after finishing four episodes of the police drama this fall, according to Sunday’s New York Daily News. In “Jade,” he’ll play a San Francisco D.A. who investigates the murder of a socialite. The twist: his character is the former lover of the suspect. The movie’s script was written by Joe Eszterhas; William Friedkin is set to direct.



The Doctor Is In: Rob Morrow has waved off a report that his Dr. Joel Fleischman character was being written out of the coming season of CBS’ “Northern Exposure” as retribution for his demanding a raise two seasons ago. Morrow corrected the rumor in a statement issued by a spokeswoman.

Out on a Limbaugh?: Tonight’s episode of “Entertainment Tonight” will look into the war of words between TV-radio commentator Rush Limbaugh and the new ABC sketch comedy show “She-TV.” On last week’s premiere of the show, cast member Nick Bakay did a parody of the newly married Limbaugh, in which he joked about Limbaugh’s wedding being performed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Limbaugh was not pleased with the way he was portrayed on the show and had his attorneys file a complaint with ABC. On “ET,” Limbaugh explains that the skit angered him because it made him appear to be racist. “She-TV” producer George Schlatter tells “ET” (KNBC Channel 4, 7 p.m.) that there will be no apologies from ABC or the show, and that this Tuesday’s episode will include yet another Limbaugh parody.


Jason and Julia in Westwood: Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be performing together on a Thursday night in something other than an episode of NBC’s “Seinfeld.” The “Seinfeld” co-stars team up on Sept. 8 at the Westwood Playhouse to give readings of a two-person dialogue based on the friendship between former “Saturday Night Live” writer Alan Zweibel and the late comedian Gilda Radner. The readings are based on the upcoming book “Bunny Bunny,” which features memories of conversations with Radner written by Zweibel as a way of coping with his friend’s death from ovarian cancer five years ago. Proceeds from the readings will benefit Gilda’s Club, which will provide free psychological and social support for people with cancer and their families. The first such club is set to open in New York this winter. Alexander and Louis-Dreyfus will give one reading at 4:30 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale today.



Rod Stewart Sues Tabloid: Raspy-voiced Rod Stewart says his throat is fine, and he’s suing a British tabloid for saying it isn’t. Stewart seeks at least $40 million in the lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles against News Group Newspapers Ltd., which publishes The Sun. A Feb. 22 article said Stewart suffered from inflamed throat nodules and was unfit to perform. It also said the problem eventually would destroy Stewart’s singing career.