Animated ‘Cats’: Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation is set to begin production in October on a full-length animated feature version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical “Cats,” to be released by Universal Pictures in 1997. The film, based on a screenplay by Tom Stoppard (“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” “Brazil”), will feature many songs from the original musical, including “Memory,” as well as a song composed by Lloyd Webber especially for the film. The most successful musical of all time, “Cats” has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide and is the winner of seven Tony Awards.
Back on Track: Michelle Pfeiffer and Richard Gere are a definite go to star in 20th Century Fox’s “Higgins and Beech,” a big-budget project that has endured a rocky history, bouncing among three major studios--Fox, United Artists and New Line Cinema. Written by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen, the film centers on Pulitzer Prize-winning Korean War correspondents Keyes Beech and Margarite Higgins and their passionate affair between deadlines. Filming is scheduled to start in March.
Permit Center Planned: Forty-five representatives from the film industry, city of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties met in Los Angeles on Thursday in the first step in creating a Southern California Regional One-Stop Film Permit Center. In the next of many hurdles facing the plan, the representatives agreed to seek approval from various government agencies that would be affected in the L.A. metropolitan area. L.A. County has already approved the plan and the city of L.A. is moving in that direction. Together, those two jurisdictions account for 70% of the filming that goes on in the area.
Best Showing Yet: “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno concludes his weeklong stand in Las Vegas tonight, with the road trip already paying off big in the ratings. Overnight ratings for the week’s first three programs showed “The Tonight Show” drawing an average of 660,000 more viewing homes each night than “Late Show with David Letterman,” resulting in Leno’s best advantage so far over his rival, who usually leads the ratings competition. Of the three nights, Wednesday’s program fared the best, drawing an estimated 5.9 million viewing homes and a 19% share of the audience. Letterman, meanwhile, attracted about 4.8 million viewing homes and a 15% audience share. And at home in Los Angeles, Wednesday’s Vegas program brought Leno his best ratings performance since May 5, 1993.
KCBS Suit: Two former KCBS Channel 2 News employees have filed race and sex discrimination lawsuits against the station, CBS and KCBS management. Liz Chavez, the station’s former programming and broadcasting standards manager, and Arturo Gonzalez, an assignment editor, both allege that they were harassed and mistreated at the station, and were the victims of racist and sexist employment practices. They also charged that they felt that the newsroom had an anti-minority atmosphere. KCBS executives would not comment specifically on the allegations, saying that they had not been served with the suits. But they denied that there was any discrimination or bias against minorities at the station.
Clinton’s Art Platform: The newly named President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities met for the first time at the White House Wednesday night, with President Clinton charging its members to support cultural programs that reach at-risk youth, expand private philanthropic aid for the arts and humanities, encourage international cultural exchanges, and develop new private sector resources for cultural organizations. The president on Tuesday named the committee’s 32 members, including Los Angeles playwright David Henry Hwang, J. Paul Getty Trust President Harold Williams, former University of California president David P. Gardner, record producer Quincy Jones, actress Rita Moreno, violinist Isaac Stern, and Irene Y. Hirano, director of Little Tokyo’s Japanese American National Museum.
Actor Noah Beery, 81, James Garner’s former sidekick on TV’s “Rockford Files,” was transferred to Bakersfield Regional Rehabilitation Center on Thursday, a week after undergoing a non-emergency craniotomy surgery in a Bakersfield Hospital to remove pressure on his brain. . . . “Grace Under Fire” star Brett Butler will be honored by the Sojourn Battered Women’s Shelter at the Regent Beverly Wilshire on Saturday for her “positive, empowered portrayal of a formerly battered woman” on the TV series. . . . Starting at 11:30 tonight, Cable’s Comedy Central celebrates the 20th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live” with a 24-hour marathon of the show’s best episodes.
Quotable: “We’re both standing in our robes like, ‘you first, make my day, babe, drop that linen and start grinning.’ And it was great, needless to say."--Film star Sylvester Stallone on today’s “Extra,” talking about the filming of his shower scene with co-star Sharon Stone in “The Specialist.”