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PEOPLE WATCHHurley Goes Public: In her first...

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

PEOPLE WATCH

Hurley Goes Public: In her first interview since longtime boyfriend Hugh Grant’s arrest with a Hollywood prostitute, actress and Estee Lauder model Elizabeth Hurley talks to ABC News’ Barbara Walters on Friday’s “20/20,” saying she was “miserable as sin” at the recent L.A. premiere of Grant’s film “Nine Months.” But, she says, “I don’t think you should hit someone when they’re down.” Hurley says she heard about Grant’s arrest from her agent “seconds before” she talked to Grant herself. “I think--I felt like I’d been shot,” Hurley says. “I ran out, I think I was--I think I’m in shock.” Meanwhile, as expected, Hurley has officially joined the cast of Jacaranda Films’ untitled action/adventure film set in South Africa and starring Ice Cube. Production starts next week.

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And on the Grant Watch: Hugh Grant, meanwhile, caused a stir in the couple’s native Britain on Wednesday when he flew to the United States, missing the London premiere of his film “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain.” Grant’s press agent said the trip was due to urgent discussions about an upcoming movie, but British newspapers speculated that the actor fled the country to avoid an embarrassing confrontation with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown, who had said she would attend the premiere.

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TELEVISION

Showtime Slate: Cable’s Showtime on Wednesday announced 17 new movies and miniseries in various stages of production and development that boast a slate of feature-worthy acting talent, including Debra Winger, Timothy Hutton, Louis Gossett Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Eric Stoltz, Mario Van Peebles, Sissy Spacek, David Straithairn, Beau Bridges, Helen Mirren and Kyra Sedgwick. Among the projects: “On Dangerous Ground” and “Eye of the Storm,” two miniseries based on the Jack Higgins novels and starring Rob Lowe as an ex-IRA terrorist-turned-government-agent; “Castro,” about the Cuban leader’s rise to power; “Father and Son,” a six-hour miniseries about Mafia insiders Joe and Bill Bonanno, co-executive produced by Bill Bonanno; and “Riot,” about the 1992 Los Angeles uprising.

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Donaldson Recuperating: ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson, 61, is on the mend after surgery to remove cancer from lymph nodes in his right groin. “He tolerated the surgery well and is recovering without problems,” Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute, said after the operation Tuesday. Donaldson will remain hospitalized in Bethesda, Md., for about a week. An ABC spokeswoman said doctors plan no further treatment and that Donaldson hopes to return to at least light work shortly after his release from the hospital.

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POP/ROCK

Rappers in No. 1: “E. 1999 Eternal,” the first full-length album from Cleveland rappers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, sold 307,000 copies to become the nation’s best-selling album in its first week in the stores, SoundScan reported Wednesday. In second place was Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View” (169,000), followed by last week’s No. 1, Selena’s “Dreaming of You” (164,000). Meanwhile, Michael Jackson’s “HIStory” sold 68,000 copies to rank 12th, falling out of the Top 10 after only five weeks.

MOVIES

Di Satire to Big Screen: Author Peter Lefcourt’s “Di & I,” a satire on the tortured love life of England’s Princess Di that hit bookstores last summer, has been optioned by Fine Line Features. It’s the second work by Lefcourt being groomed for the big screen. His “The Dreyfus Affair,” the controversial satire about a shortstop and second baseman who fall in love, is in development at Touchstone Pictures. Lefcourt is adapting the screenplay for both, executive producing “Di & I” and co-producing “The Dreyfus Affair.” Sources say Fine Line paid in the high six figures for “Di & I,” which is about a princess who falls in love with a hamburger flipper at McDonald’s after her marriage goes bust. In the screen version, the princess will not be from Britain, will not be a blonde and probably will have two daughters instead of sons, sources involved say.

DANCE

New ABT Head: Michael M. Kaiser has been named executive director of New York’s American Ballet Theatre. Kaiser, who has worked with ABT for 18 months as a consultant, replaces Gary Dunning, who resigned after three years in the position. Kaiser was previously executive director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation and general manager of the State Ballet of Missouri.

QUICK TAKES

Comedian Bob Hope, 92, will hold his second America Online chat session today to discuss his NBC special, “Bob Hope: Memories of World War II,” which airs Saturday. America Online users can reserve a “seat” for the 2 p.m. session beginning at 1:45 p.m. by typing in the keyword NBC, and then navigating to the NBC Auditorium/Odeum. . . . Tickets to the first joint Carly Simon and James Taylor concert since 1979 were scooped up in less than an hour Tuesday. The Aug. 30 concert on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., will benefit the area’s 136-year-old agricultural society. Simon and Taylor divorced in 1981 and have both remarried.

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