Windy City for Joffrey?: It looks like the Joffrey Ballet's reported interest in moving to Chicago is about to become a done deal. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Joffrey has signed an agreement to leave its New York base and merge with Ballet Chicago in a move designed to provide a better financial foundation for both companies. The Joffrey, which had no comment by press time Thursday, had previously said it was also considering other sites including Los Angeles and Orange County, but officials here said no actual discussions had taken place. The Chicago paper said that the merger would be finalized at the close of Ballet Chicago's spring season.
'Scarlett' Reward: Timothy Dalton, the former James Bond actor, reportedly won "substantial" but undisclosed libel damages Thursday from a London newspaper that alleged he had cast a slur on "Scarlett," the $45-million TV sequel to "Gone With The Wind." The Daily Express quoted Dalton, who starred as Rhett Butler, as saying at a news conference: "Frankly, I don't give a damn for Scarlett," echoing Butler's famous words in the original film. Dalton's lawyer, Oscar Beuselinck, told the London High Court that his client had never made the remarks. The paper has since apologized for the story, Beuselinck said.
Crime Tops the Agenda: Due largely to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, crime solidified its position last year as the hottest topic on network news. In an annual survey of news coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC, Washington's Center for Media and Public Affairs found that crime ranked No. 1 for the second straight year, with 1,949 stories in 1994--more than 50% above the No. 2 topic, health care, with 1,224 stories. Crime coverage accounted for more than 57 of the nearly 331 hours of regular evening news reporting during 1994. The Simpson case led the crime coverage with 431 stories in the six months since the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The rest of the Top 10 network news subjects: The economy (1,192 stories), the former Yugoslavia (656), the Middle East (655), Haiti (569), Russia (412), midterm elections (409), natural disasters (395) and Clinton scandals (304).
Sci-Fi Replaces 'Party': Fox, which earlier this month announced plans for a new Sunday-night science fiction drama series, "VR 5," on Thursday announced plans for a second new sci-fi hour, "Sliders," set to premiere with a two-hour episode at 8 p.m. on March 22. It will then move into its regular, 9 p.m. Wednesday time slot on March 29. The show, about four adventurers who discover a passageway that transports them to parallel universes, stars John Rhys-Davies, Jerry O'Connell, Sabrina Lloyd and Tony Award-winner Cleavant Derricks ("Dreamgirls"). It replaces "Party of Five," which airs its season finale on March 15. Fox will decide whether to renew the latter show in May.
Actors Speak Out: Eighteen top actors, including John Amos, Gregory Harrison, Rue McClanahan, Phylicia Rashad, Marion Ross, Susan Ruttan and Malcolm-Jamal Warner took out a full-page ad in Thursday's Daily Variety proclaiming that "God Is Alive and Well on American Network TV!" The ad urged viewer support for CBS' drama "Touched by an Angel," which has received low ratings but is being brought back for four more tryout shows starting Saturday.
News Shifts: Faith Daniels, whose five years at NBC News have included anchoring duties on "Today," "Dateline" and "News at Sunrise," plus a stint hosting her own national daily talk show, "A Closer Look," left the network Wednesday to pursue "independent ventures" that will allow her to spend more time with her children. . . . Jane Robelot has been named co-anchor of the "CBS Morning News," replacing Monica Gayle, effective March 20. Robelot has been co-anchor of the nightly newscast at CBS' Philadelphia station since 1992. The network still hasn't replaced Gayle's co-anchor, John Roberts, who left for WCBS months ago, so Robelot will handle the duties solo for awhile.
Pop star Courtney Love of the band Hole will make her feature film debut in New Line Cinema's "Feeling Minnesota," starring Keanu Reeves. Love's role--a four-day cameo shoot--will be as a waitress. Filming should begin in April or May. . . . "Hoop Dreams" director-producer Steve James makes his first network TV appearance since the controversial exclusion of his acclaimed documentary in the Oscar nominations, on tonight's "Late Late Show With Tom Snyder." . . . "Four Weddings and a Funeral" star Hugh Grant has switched management teams, jumping from International Creative Management to Creative Artists Agency, where he will be represented by Richard Lovett. . . . An image by Los Angeles artist Robbie Conal celebrating the ACLU will go up on 75 Los Angeles bus shelters today, with space donated by Gannett Outdoor. . . . Funnyman Jim Carrey will receive the Comedy Star of the Year honors March 8 at the entertainment industry convention NATO/ShoWest '95 in Las Vegas.