TV & VIDEO
New Fox Schedule: Fox announced Tuesday that it will launch four new series in March. The new series are "The Great Defender," a one-hour legal drama premiering at 7 p.m. onMarch 5; "The Critic," the animated comedy series formerly shown on ABC, which starts its Fox run on March 5 at 8:30 p.m.; "VR 5," an hourlong science-fiction fantasy drama, which premieres March 10 at 8 p.m.; and "Medicine Ball," a one-hour ensemble drama about first-year residents at a Seattle hospital, which debuts March 13 at 9 p.m. The new shows will replace "Get Smart" and "classic" "Simpsons" episodes, which both have their final airings Feb. 19; John Leguizamo's "House of Buggin'," which completes its run Feb. 26 but will return with new episodes in April; and the hourlong series "M.A.N.T.I.S." and "Models Inc.," which end their current runs on March 3 and March 6, respectively. Fox indicated that those series still could be renewed for the fall season.
Power Rangers on Video: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fans will be able to catch a sneak preview of their television heroes' coming big-screen action on the April 4 video release of "The Pagemaster," a four-minute "featurette" about the upcoming film. The video, which will be available for both sale and rent, includes looks at the slicker movie version of the Power Rangers, interviews with cast members and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, which is slated for release on May 15. The preview is part of a $7-million marketing campaign for "The Pagemaster," which stars Macaulay Culkin as a young boy who plunges into a world where literary characters come alive.
Soul Train Nods: Boyz II Men received four nominations Tuesday for the 1994 Soul Train Music Awards, set for March 13 at the Shrine Auditorium. Anita Baker, Barry White, Brandy and the group 69 Boyz were close behind with three nominations apiece, while Aaron Hall, R. Kelly, Blackstreet and Aaliyah each received two. Vying for R&B;/soul song of the year is 69 Boyz' "Tootsie Roll," Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You," Kelly's "Bump 'N Grind" and White's "Practice What You Preach." In the album categories, nominees included Aaliyah, Baker, Brandy and Me'Shell NdegeOcello's (female, R&B;/soul); Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, Luther Vandross and White (male, R&B;/soul); Blackstreet, Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Zhane (group, R&B;/soul); and Bone Thugs N Harmony, Scarface, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Warren G (rap). The awards--hosted by Baker, Patti La Belle and Kenny (Babyface) Edmonds--will be televised on KTLA-TV Channel 5.
Hard Rock, Vegas Style: The Hard Rock Cafe will open its Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with a live MTV concert special on March 10, followed by an Eagles/Sheryl Crow show on March 11. Performers for the MTV special will be announced at a later date. Among the features of the 11-story hotel and casino: piano-shaped roulette tables, slot machines with guitar necks as their handles, and a memorabilia collection featuring an Elvis Presley jacket, Jimi Hendrix's "Flying V" guitar, and guitars from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and others.
Animated War Story: An animated version of the "Diary of Anne Frank" is scheduled to premiere in Amsterdam in May. The film, by Japanese producer Seiya Araki, is being made with the permission of the Basel-based Anne Frank Foundation, which owns the copyright to the famed diary written by the Jewish schoolgirl who hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam canal house. The diary, first published in 1947, has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Cocteau Showcase Closing: Irvine's Severin Wunderman Museum--which claims to house the world's largest collection of works by French playwright, librettist, film director and painter Jean Cocteau--will close its galleries Saturday. The museum, founded in 1985, plans to transfer its multimillion-dollar, 2,000-piece collection to another institution, not yet disclosed.
Arts Advocacy Efforts: The Los Angeles City Council today will recognize the American Council for the Arts and its efforts on behalf of national arts funding. The arts council has organized a "National Advocacy Day for Federal Support of Arts and Culture," in which arts leaders from throughout the country will converge in Washington on March 14 to visit members of Congress and urge continued federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
"NYPD Blue" co-star Gail O'Grady will portray Navy Lt. Paula Coughlin in "Tailhook," ABC's upcoming TV movie about the 1991 incident that led Coughlin to sue the United States Navy for sexual harassment. . . . Ubiquitous game show hosts Alex Trebek ("Jeopardy!") and Pat Sajak and Vanna White ("Wheel of Fortune") have signed long-term agreements to remain with the shows through the end of the decade.