Leno Sitting Tall: Talk-show host Jay Leno, riding his highest wave of popularity since taking over "The Tonight Show" reins in 1992, has signed a five-year deal with NBC that will continue his hosting duties into 2000. Leno, who has posted recent viewership gains largely through such Simpson trial shtick as the "Dancing Itos," last week celebrated his eighth-straight ratings win over late-night rival David Letterman. "The Tonight Show" also won an Emmy in September for best comedy or variety series.
Blues Brothers Cartoon: The UPN Network has announced plans for its first animated prime-time series, "The Blues Brothers." The program, produced in conjunction with Dan Aykroyd and Judy Belushi Pisano, widow of the late John Belushi, is based on Jake and Elwood, the dark-suited Chicago musician-characters made famous by Belushi and Aykroyd. The series, from animators Film Roman ("The Simpsons"), will feature the voices of Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, John's brother, plus a number of guest stars. Aykroyd said the program will be "funny as well as educational in terms of blues music and the artists who founded rock 'n' roll." Although no premiere date has been set, the show is expected to begin in March, when UPN expands its prime-time programming to three nights a week.
Fox Schedule Shifts: Fox is pulling three of its comedies, "The Preston Episodes," "Too Something" and "Misery Loves Company," from its November schedule during the important ratings sweeps period. Although the shows will remain in production, a Fox spokeswoman said Tuesday, "Beyond sweeps, I can't say what their situation is." Starting Nov. 5, and continuing at least through November, "Martin" will move from Saturdays to Sundays at 8:30 p.m., replacing "Too Something." A second "Married . . . With Children" episode will fill the "Misery" slot Sundays at 9:30 p.m., and "Too Something's" Saturday 8:30 p.m. slot will be filled with "Encounters: The Hidden Truth."
Appealing to the Prez: The producers of "Three Wishes," a family movie opening Friday and starring Patrick Swayze and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, are appealing to President Clinton and Sen. Bob Dole to put their viewing time where their mouths are, so to speak. In an ad scheduled to run Thursday in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today, Rysher Entertainment CEO Keith Samples, director Martha Coolidge and others associated with the film beseech Clinton and Dole--who have lamented the lack of family entertainment fare--to see their movie. If the two political opposites view together, Rysher promises to donate $100,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with an additional $50,000 reserved for the charity if Clinton brings along his family. "This is a movie that answers all those things they're concerned about," Samples told The Times. "They've made entertainment political, when in reality, entertainment . . . and family values aren't political issues."
Gathering of Documentarians: Hundreds of filmmakers from all over the world will gather for the Second International Documentary Congress, a three-day public convention starting today at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills. This year's congress--a follow-up to a similar 1992 event--will include discussions with noted documentarians such as Ricky Leacock and Robert Drew. Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst for National Public Radio, is scheduled to deliver a keynote address this evening. The gathering was preceded by a monthlong screening program of 96 documentaries, some of which will be shown after the congress's close.
A Los Angeles judge Monday ordered rapper Tone-Loc to take a class in anger management, perform 100 hours of community service and serve three years' probation after the rapper entered a no-contest plea in connection with petty theft charges filed after an outburst in Los Angeles' Wilshire District over a pizza he didn't like. . . . Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin have a daughter. Basinger, 42, gave birth in a Los Angeles hospital Monday to the couple's first child, Ireland Eliesse Baldwin. . . . "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening will be at Melrose Avenue's Golden Apple at 5 tonight to sign copies of his new comic book, "Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror." Groening will appear at the same time in cyberspace via CompuServe and the World Wide Web. . . . KCBS-TV Channel 2 anchor Ann Martin on Tuesday received the Jewish National Fund's Woman of Achievement Award. As part of the honor, she will have a forest in Israel established in her name. . . . Actress Sharon Stone received France's highest award for artistic merit, the medal of the Chevalier of Arts and Letters, in a Paris ceremony Tuesday.